Mars Astrology

Close Encounters: Earth, Sun, Moon, and Mars

Photo by  Georg Slickers  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Georg Slickers via Wikimedia Commons

Mars is nearing an intimate flyby with our home planet soon. Intimacy in astronomical terms is about 35 million miles, but if you've been paying attention to Mars lately, via the night sky, you've seen that's quite a statement. On July 26/27 (depending on your time zone), Mars will make its exact perihelic opposition to the Sun. 

If you looked down from above the solar system, you would see a straight line formed between the Sun, Earth, and Mars. If you could somehow perceive the orbital paths of these objects, you'd notice that both Earth and Mars run along an ellipse and that both planets were at their closest points relative to one another. 

This opposition of Mars and Sun is one of three rare and significant events at the close of this month, and all of them involve the infamous, red planet. Following the Sun and Mars' exact opposition, a total lunar eclipse occurs July 27/28, entirely or partially visible for much of the globe except North America and Greenland. 

This eclipse occurs in conjunction with Mars, as the red planet emits its orangish-red beams just beneath the eclipsed Moon. This eclipse will also be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting about an hour and 42 minutes for those on the direct path, such as Eastern Africa and the Middle East. 

And finally, on July 31/Aug 1, Mars will make its closest approach to the Earth, crossing that roughly 35 million mile mark. Mars hasn't been this close to Earth since 2003, and before that, nearly 60,000 years. We are speaking of a few million miles difference for some other Sun/Mars perihelic oppositions, but when it comes to astronomy, numbers seem to count. 

In astrology, Mars is a challenging planet to integrate. It's not a "bad" planet, that is, it doesn't always portend tragedy or crisis, but its emergence into both the personal and collective field is often uncomfortable. I believe that's because Mars is a catalyst, and whether we're responding to pain, anger, or fear, something is prodding us into action. 

Mars' perihelic opposition to the Sun always occurs during Mars' retrograde cycle, every two years. When Mars is retrograde, it's a chance to make adjustments to our aggressive, sexual, and passionate nature. But this cycle, Mars is a little bigger and brighter than usual, and perhaps that physical closeness relates symbolically to a heightened sense of passion, lustiness, aggression, or a willingness to fight. 

As an astrologer, I think that the archetype of Mars exists within us all, but that everyone's response to it is different. Mars has a "primal" vibe, in that it relates to thoughts, feelings, or compulsions which are seemingly beyond rational control. As Mars makes its opposition to the Sun, that primal wave will take over the ego momentarily, and we are given a window into that unfiltered, and untamable void. 

It's what we do with our passion, rage, or fear that matters most. Some things are beyond our control. People may trigger us, a health issue can arise, or an accident. Perhaps nothing so serious shows up for you, but you're feeling fed up with the way things presently are. Catalysts can arrive both inwardly and externally, but what we do with them, how we let our experiences define us, is indeed the most critical work. 

The synchronicity of a historical lunar eclipse and Mars' closest terrestrial encounter is both beautiful and intimidating. Always, on the global stage of political/cultural changes, we see the most cartooned version of astrology, such as a building aggression surging out of control. But with Mars retrograde, something different might show up, a critical adjustment or shift in the tide of war. 

With Mars on the lunar South Node, we know that some karma has ripened, some past, unresolved or unexpressed frustration seeks closure and release. With the Sun now in Leo, nearing the lunar North Node, we can only do our best to take the higher road, to stand confidently and courageously in our power while acknowledging the heart. 

Leo's positive face is that of generosity but also humor. Taking things too seriously could blow up in our faces. The higher road might also suggest the lighter path, where laughter is good medicine and reminds us of our humanity. Beware of the pitfalls of extreme alienation or "higher than thou" attitudes. Remember that a unique feature of humanity is the necessity of community. 

The negative face of Aquarius, the tropical zodiac sign both Mars and the lunar eclipse will reside, is anti-social-like apathy or the rebel without a cause. A Mars-like field as potent as this reminds me of Carl Jung's hypothetical enantiodromia, which warns us that when we polarize against an evil other, we risk eventual assimilation of that which we fight.

In looking at the astrological clock, it's evident that we could all use a catalyst, so let us be thankful for the reminder that life is worth living and that there are things worth fighting. Mars is the warrior after all, but a warrior defends what is sacred and vulnerable. There are harshness and injustices in the world, but Mars inspires us to protect what matters. 

In our fighting, let's not lose sight of compassion, or fall into the trap of making our enemy a literal embodiment of evil. There are profound lessons in a moment of terror, and immense strength acquired through every battle, no matter how small. And when you look out into the world, realize that everyone is in the midst of a personal crusade, even if you can't see it. Use that insight to connect yourself to the greater whole, and perhaps not feel so alone. 

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

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Defying Boundaries: Mars Retrograde 2018

Base jumpers; photo by  Xof711

Base jumpers; photo by Xof711

This year, Mars turns stationary retrograde on June 26/27 (check time zones below). On this day, the red planet will stop moving, reverse direction, and appear to move backward for about two months. It'll pause again around Aug. 27/28, returning to its usual west-east path and ending its retrograde cycle. 

Mars retrograde happens every two years as it reaches its perihelic opposition to the Sun. When this happens, Mars is closer to the Earth and appears brighter in the night sky. In fact, when Mars is retrograde, it's visible throughout the entire night due to the Sun's opposition. 

This July and August, Mars will outshine Jupiter, making it the second brightest planet in the sky (except for the Sun and Moon, of course, which are considered planets in astrology). For skywatchers, this is an optimal year for viewing Mars, whether with naked eye or telescope. 

Mars will reach its closest approach to Earth on July 31, a few days after reaching maximum brightness at the exact opposition to the Sun on July 26/27. This year is the nearest approach Mars has made to Earth since 2003. Mars will be roughly 35 million miles away from us, compared to its average distance of 140 million miles (though still incomprehensibly far).

And before 2003, Mars hadn't been this close in nearly 60 thousand years. Will Mars' closeness to the Earth this year give us some extra juicy Mars drama? Perhaps. In looking at 2003, there were some interesting Mars-like events like record-breaking heat waves in Europe (causing 35,000 deaths that summer), historic wildfires in California and Germany, and the initial stages of the "War on Terror" via the Invasion of Iraq (which reached its 15 year anniversary earlier this year). 

Did I mention that Mars has a 15-year cycle? Mars will be retrograde in both Aquarius and Capricorn this year and turning stationary retrograde near the lunar South Node. The last time Mars turned retrograde in Aquarius was in 1971. Just days before its retrograde station that year, then U.S. President Richard Nixon certified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18. 

Also, the Apollo 15 mission, the fourth manned mission to the Moon, literally goes to the Moon and back within this retrograde period. The 1971 Mars retrograde cycle was the first time the lunar rover drove on the Moon's surface. I want to point out that sending some guys in a rocket ship to the Moon to drive around in their new all-terrain vehicle is hugely Mars-like. Interestingly, the first manned-lunar mission occurred just 13 days after Mars stationed direct in 1969 (that time, at the first degree of adventure-seeking Sagittarius). 

Dave Scott on the rim of Hadley Rille at Station 10 during the Apollo 15 mission; photo by  NASA .

Dave Scott on the rim of Hadley Rille at Station 10 during the Apollo 15 mission; photo by NASA.

How Will Mars Retrograde Effect You? 

I don't believe that Mars' closeness to the Earth has any physical effect, which is to say that just because Mars is closer to us, doesn't mean that it's causing anything to happen. I view astrology as having a correlative or symbolic significance. So how will Mars retrograde correlate with changes in your life?

Unlike Mercury retrograde (which occurs quite frequently but isn't always significant for everyone, every time), Mars retrograde is rare, but its most notable impact likely happens when it stations retrograde or direct on prominent places in our horoscopes. 

You might read that Mars retrograde isn't a good time for starting a business, a new job, sexual relationship or otherwise living your life as you would typically do. We could probably find evidence to corroborate some of that, but honestly, I wouldn't stick to that view dogmatically. 

When Mars is retrograde, you can still have great sex and launch into new directions, but you need to be extra mindful of acting solely on impulse. When Mars is closer to the Earth during its perihelic opposition and retrograde cycle, the Mars archetype gets louder. If we imagine that Mars is the archetypal warrior and trailblazer, then those impulses within each of us get a bit magnified. 

Perhaps, you'll find yourself or others feeling extra lascivious. You might notice the rise of inner assertiveness or less tolerance for those who infringe on your boundaries. You might see some usually timid people feeling audacious, more willing to make bold moves. Controlling a temper could be a problem. 

And with Mars stationing near the lunar South Node around June 26, you might find yourself needing to release some unresolved anger, anxiety, aggression, or face some unresolved conflict or fear you couldn't deal with before. Mars dares us to live and defend our right to do so. 

Living doesn't stop just because Mars is retrograde, though because it appears to be moving backward, we might find ourselves reviewing or reconsidering how we're utilizing our inner Mars. During this time, we're collectively building up momentum and giving our actions, desires, and impulses extra thought and attention. 

Also, since Mars is opposing the Sun during its retrograde cycle, it's making a somewhat rebellious statement. Since the Sun is the ruler of the solar system, and Mars is in opposition and retrograde, Mars is less restrained by the Sun's rule and control. Thus, during Mars retrograde, we might find ourselves or others more likely to break the rules. This rebellious theme is especially pertinent this cycle because Mars will backtrack into a square aspect to Uranus.

Sometimes those rules were self-imposed or enforced on us by family, society, community, culture, or authority figures. When Mars is retrograde, we are tempted to break free of restraints or restrictions to forge new paths for ourselves with either positive or negative consequences. When Mars is retrograde, we're more prone to crossing new boundaries and thresholds which once contained us. 

If Mars stations or is retrograde near critical placements in your chart, especially if making difficult aspects, you might need to be extra cautious about pushing yourself too hard, trying to force something to action prematurely, or seriously watch your temper or immediate, automatic reactions (violence represents the negative extreme of Mars energy). 

While this Mars retrograde cycle might not be a good time to start an actual war, rebellion, or revolution (those instigating the fight aren't likely to succeed), its a good time to check in with how we've allowed others to control our actions. And observe how we have silenced ourselves or kept our inner warrior from getting what it wants and deserves. 
 
Mars retrograde, especially at the stations (June 26 and August 27), can limit or even slow down our momentum. While sometimes frustrating (or amplifying repressed or unacknowledged frustration), it gives us a chance to reconsider our current trajectory or gain more clarity about our ultimate target. If you find yourself losing steam or unable to act with confidence, utilize this retrograde period to regain your strength, courage, willpower, and passion so that you'll be ready to launch when the time is right for you. 

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True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet; photo by  European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet; photo by European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Mars Square Uranus, Mercury Retro, and Eclipse Season

Due to its retrograde cycle, Mars will square Uranus three times this year. It made its first square on May 16, one day after Uranus entered Taurus. The second, retrograde square occurs on Aug. 1, and the final square happens on Sept. 18. The most problematic square is likely to be in early Aug., with both Mars and Mercury in retrograde. 

Taking significant risks at that point without full consideration of the consequences, or lacking a very carefully laid out strategy could lead to problems. If you find yourself unable to move forward at this point with specific plans, intentions, or ambitions, step back and reassess. 

If you intend to move forward with some important matter in the first weeks of August, be prepared for unexpected changes, detours, delays, setbacks, or breakdowns and plan accordingly. The combination of Mars and Uranus is highly volatile and unpredictable.

On another level, however, this combination of planets in late July/early August gives us an opportunity to define and defend who we are on a deeper soul level. While you can expect considerable resistance from others, the tension inherent to this aspect can be helpful for strengthening a commitment to a unique path or destiny. 

Working at a higher level with Mars/Uranus will likely require upsetting other people for the sake of being true to ourselves, but ignoring our authenticity can be equally painful. With the Mars/Uranus square occurring alongside Mercury retrograde, don't resist the flow if you feel obstructed. Sometimes, the best thing to do is wait things out, at least until after Aug. 18/19. 

Also, consider that from July 12-Aug. 11 we'll be in a triple eclipse season, so this will be a profoundly transformational period for many of us. Both prominent retrogrades and eclipses often lead to significant changes of direction, focus, and perception. Consider that your current plans or intentions are likely to change in the coming months quite suddenly, so remain flexible.  

Johannes Kepler's depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from  Astronomia Nova  (1609).

Johannes Kepler's depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from Astronomia Nova (1609).

Mars stationary retrograde @ 09 degrees Aquarius

June 26, 2018

2:05 PM Los Angeles

5:05 PM New York

10:05 PM London

June 27, 2018

1:05 AM Dubai

5:05 AM Beijing

7:05 AM Sydney

9:05 AM Auckland

Mars stationary direct @ 29 degrees Capricorn 

August 27, 2018

7:05 AM Los Angeles

10:05 AM New York

3:05 PM London

6:05 PM Dubai

10:05 PM Beijing

August 28, 2018

12:05 AM Sydney

2:05 AM Auckland

Life feels overwhelming when faced with things outside of your control. Understanding yourself is key to finding your power and place in the world. While you can't control fate or the chaos of life, your destiny belongs to you, something you can always strive for to gain command of your life path

CLICK HERE FOR PERSONAL READINGS