Mars Retrograde 2018

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


Free Yourself: Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius 2018

By Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Lunar Eclipse, Star Dune, and Elk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Lunar Eclipse, Star Dune, and Elk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse @ 4 degrees Aquarius 45'

July 27, 2018

1:20 PM Los Angeles

4:20 PM New York

9:20 PM London

July 28, 2018

12:20 AM Dubai

4:20 AM Beijing

6:20 AM Sydney

8:20 AM Auckland

At the end of July, a total lunar eclipse will be entirely visible from the Middle East, Central and East Africa, Central Asia, and Antartica, while West Africa, Europe, Austrailia, New Zealand, South America, and the Eastern Caribbean will see a partial lunar eclipse (Iceland and West South America will catch some of the penumbral phase). Pretty much everyone except those residing in North America and Greenland will witness some or most of the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. Totality will last an hour and 42 minutes for those first regions listed.

But even more uniquely, this long-lasting lunar eclipse will conjoin the planet Mars while at its brightest since 2003. Those lucky enough to see it will witness a diminishing of the Moon's reflective light and the piercing, red glow of Mars beneath it. In fact, during a lunar eclipse, the Moon turns a reddish orange hue. So, both the Moon and Mars will be distinctly red beacons in the night sky. 

If you're unable to see this historic event, you can still witness the extra brilliance of Mars as it makes its peak opposition to the Sun on July 26/27 and then closest approach (and brightest shine) to Earth on July 31. Mars is currently retrograde, which happens when the red planet reaches its perihelic opposition to the Sun every two years. Read more about that in my article here. 

Okay, now for the astrology. Cue the shrieks of terror! Mars is not a friendly planet. It's the God/Goddess of war. War is not pleasant; it's divisive and hostile. But divisiveness is an essential part of life. In fact, tension, frustration, destruction, even combativeness can be healthy and appropriate at times. Have you ever been in a relationship with a sociopath, malignant narcissist, or otherwise abusive person? Have you had a tick attached to you, gleefully enjoying your blood? The best solution to those problems is a fundamental Mars function. Cut your ties! There are situations in life when peace and love are not useful options.

By Farhan Perdana (Blek) from Jakarta, Indonesia (Lunar Eclipse: Umbra) [CC BY 2.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Farhan Perdana (Blek) from Jakarta, Indonesia (Lunar Eclipse: Umbra) [CC BY 2.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons

In astrology, a lunar eclipse is an extra-potent Full Moon, and when total, it's even more powerful. So a lunar eclipse is a dramatic peak, culmination, crisis, or ending. Something has reached its furthest state of growth and achievement. As mentioned, Mars is also reaching its peak of brightness just as the Full Moon/eclipse culminates. Coincidence? I'd like to say it's a byproduct of synchronicity and an intelligent universe. We have two peak experiences reaching their peak at about the same time. 

As always with astrology, significant events like this are not massively substantial for everyone. If you have planets or critical placements around four degrees of tropical Aquarius, you should pay more attention. And for those residing in the regions where the eclipse is most visible, we may see some significant events develop around these themes in those places in the following weeks or months. 

With the lunar eclipse/Full Moon in Aquarius conjunct Mars retrograde, and in square aspect with Uranus, these are some seriously volatile and rebellious vibes. Confrontations as a result of diminished freedom, autonomy, or individualistic expression are all highly possible manifestations of this eclipse. "Enough is enough" is a potent phrase for this eclipse, especially with both Mars and the eclipse conjunct the lunar South Node. For those that have been oppressed, dominated, or kept silent, this lunar eclipse provides an empowering surge of retaliation and rage. 

If this eclipse speaks to you, and it will speak to us all in some way, it encourages a fight for individual rights. It stimulates the bravery needed to demand freedom and to liberate oneself from stagnant situations. As an air sign, Aquarius expresses itself through thoughts, ideas, and information. Perhaps this eclipse empowers us through knowledge or an enlightening, objective perspective on reality. However, with Mars retrograde, and the Moon at its peak, this is not necessarily an ideal start for a revolution. Those seeds were planted in the distant past.

Chart for the Total Lunar Eclipse July 27/28, 2018. 

Chart for the Total Lunar Eclipse July 27/28, 2018. 

Here, at the Full Moon phase, we are reaching the peak tension, and the consequences of our actions will come upon us soon. As the Full Moon/eclipse culminates, it would be wise to be extra cautious with overly risky endeavors, or intentionally putting yourself in situations where danger is a high possibility. Pushing yourself or others past reasonable limitations might not go too well. Using the mind's power of reason, and cool rationality, take a good look at your feelings, impulses, and reactions and assess whether or not you should indulge them. 

Consider long-standing situations which have caused you to amass frustration, anger, or resentment. Consider in what ways you've been held back or not allowed the freedom to be who you are or to follow your unique path in life. Notice how those situations are reaching critical points of crisis or culmination, and how you can handle the situation the best way possible. Perhaps, you'll need to cut ties, or maybe you'll need to set firm boundaries and divisions. Either way, Mars is assertive, and this Full Moon is not your usual lunar culmination. 

Conversely, as mentioned, this is a South Nodal eclipse, which brings up the past in a dynamic way. And given that Mars is retrograde, unresolved, past conflicts, or the eruption of unexpressed frustration could be a major theme of this eclipse. The karma has ripened, as the saying goes. With the lunar North Node in Leo, conjunct the Sun raging and roaring in its home sign, the eclipse opens a pathway forward which requires increased visibility, self-expressiveness, and passion for following through. 

And sometimes, an excessive focus on rebelling or being different can be alienating. The North Node in Leo conjunct the Sun suggests coming into the light and moving out of isolation, which takes courage. The Sun in Leo says that it's time to speak up and be heard. This eclipse requires more than embracing individuality or jumping onto the next revolutionary bandwagon. It's an invitation to create a bridge into the real world to allow yourself to be an effective truth speaker or freedom advocate. After the war is over, life must go on. Free yourself. 

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