Mars retrograde

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

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Going With the Retrograde Flow

By Randi Hausken from Bærum, Norway (In the stream) [ CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

By Randi Hausken from Bærum, Norway (In the stream) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, life seems to be at a standstill. This might be one of those times. Currently, five planets are in retrograde. They appear to be moving backwards. This is an optical illusion. Planets don’t actually move backwards. If your life appears to be slogging along, that is an illusion, too. There really is no time. Time itself is an illusion. But illusions are convincing, and our entire existence depends on them. What you’re feeling is likely convincing and real. That’s okay. You’re probably not alone.

Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto all appear to be moving backwards. The most significant of these are Mercury and Mars. These two cycles are overlapping, and that is rare. It’s rare because Mars turns retrograde only every two years. And its correlation with Mercury retrograde enhances all this retrograde energy that saturates the air. Some things get stuck during retrograde cycles while others actually begin to move. It all depends on what it is.

But at the moment, both Mercury and Mars have just recently changed direction, that is, moved from forward to backward motion. And when that happens, things often feel stagnant and possibly frustrating. Mercury relates to communication and commerce while Mars deals with passion and willpower. Mercury is in Taurus and Mars is in Sagittarius. Uncertainty about resources and your personal values are likely. Lost passion and subsequent frustration (and anger) over a lack of perspective or adventure in life are likely too.

The good news? Retrograde periods are moments of revision and an opportunity to do things differently. They open new realities and worlds to us. But there’s always a transition. We are at such a time. Use this time to pause and step back. Take a break from how you typically approach what it is that’s not doing what you want it to. And over the next few weeks, you’ll find that a new approach is emerging if you are open to it.

For Mars, you are building up some momentum that will carry you far. That will relate to something specific in your life. If you know some astrology, look to the house in your natal chart that Mars is currently in. If not, trust your impulses and desires right now (the ones that won’t get you into serious trouble). This is an opportunity to change your life in some drastic way. Think about something you have always wanted. Now is the time, over the next two months, to build the foundation for its attainment. This is powerful magic.

With Mercury, over the next three weeks, tune into your body. Take some time to relax and trust that there aren’t many things in life that can’t wait three weeks. You are on the threshold of a potential breakthrough in many ways. And that is exciting. Make more illusionary time in your life over these three weeks for flexibility and changes of direction.

Keep your mind open to new perceptions regarding your body and the natural world around you. The universe will give you extra time for whatever you feel you don’t have time for. Get it? Good. Trust it. I’ll leave you with a quote from Lewis Hyde, author of Trickster Makes This World, “the agile mind is pleased to find what it was not looking for.”

Building Momentum: Mars Retrograde 2016

Archers in East Timor; author unknown via Wikimedia Commons. 

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius/Scorpio April 17- June 29, 2016

Feb 17      23 Scorpio 03'       Enters Shadow

April 17    08 Sagittarius 54'  Stationary Retrograde

June 29     23 Scorpio 03'       Stationary Direct

Aug. 22    08 Sagittarius 54'   Leaves Shadow

On the days surrounding April 17, the planet Mars will appear to completely stop, turn backward for a little over two months, and then stop again to resume its normal west to east direction on June 29. This is known as a Mars retrograde cycle, and it happens roughly every two years. Unlike Mercury retrograde (occuring three times a year) Mars retrograde is a rare retrograde event, the rarest of all. The last Mars retrograde occurred from March through mid-May 2014 in the tropical sign of Libra. This year, Mars will backtrack through two signs: Sagittarius and Scorpio. That gives us two distinctly different archetypal themes through which Mars retrograde will find expression.

But first, let’s learn a little bit about Mars. Mars is associated, in Roman mythology, with the God of War. To the Greeks, it was known as Ares. But the Roman perception of Mars was more than just a war god; Mars was a source of virility; it was a life-sustaining impulse needed to bring crops to fruition. From the Roman perspective, Mars was also an agricultural guardian. The planet's bright, red color evokes a sense of passion, lust, desire, stamina, assertion, competitiveness, and very often anger, hostility, and violence. If we view the solar system as an archetypal depiction of the structure of the human psyche (the basis of astrology applied psychologically), then Mars, as an inner planet (that is to say, within the bounds of the asteroid belt, preceding the gas giants and other outer planets), it is symbolic of an archetypal construct that is close to the ego and individual identity.

But where Mars differs (from Venus and Mercury), is its ability to travel further away in the zodiac from the Sun’s position at any given time. Venus and Mercury are never too far away and are incapable of forming certain aspects or geometric relationships (such as a 90 degrees square or  180 degrees opposition) to the Sun—the symbolic core of personal identity. As an archetype, Mars has the ability to challenge the Sun, the center of gravity and heartbeat of the solar system. Mars is the first archetypal symbol of tension and confrontation. This corroborates with its ancient association with the warrior archetype and its relation (in its entropic expression) with violent or hostile compulsions.

But ultimately, Mars symbolizes our ability to defend ourselves and our right to existence. Mars embodies a philosophy that we must act, with courage and intention, to get what we want from life and to defend our right to live. From Mars’ perspective, actions are the path to freedom and the attainment of desire. But Mars is equally a source of passion and life force. Mars symbolizes vitality and vigorous life force that animates all sentient beings. For whatever lives, desires to do so, and desires to defend its right to existence. When a planet turns retrograde, first, we experience a change in the flow of archetypal energy related to that planet. In the case of Mars, our ability to defend ourselves, fight for what we want, to attain our desires, and to cultivate the will to exist goes through a shift or change of direction.

Mars is also associated with physical exercise, stamina, libido, sexual lust and the building of strength to enhance one’s capability and confidence to withstand challenges. My view of Mars retrograde is to imagine that throughout the duration of the retrograde, it’s as if you are building momentum that will, once the planet turns direct, catapult you onto a new path of decisive action. That path or direction will have the flavor of Mars and will be seasoned by the sign(s) which it retrogrades through. Throughout this process, we must step up to a new challenge and rediscover strength, courage, and stamina that we didn’t know we had.

 Mars retrograde can also work to renew our life force energy and our desire to exist. We may discover the passion for something we left behind or something we have pushed aside. The house placement of Mars in your natal horoscope will provide a deeper understanding of where this process is likely to take place and the sign it's in will flavor it.

Imagine yourself as an arrow placed against the string of a bow, and as Mars turns retrograde, that string is getting pulled back, further and further, until it reaches its point of maximum tension. And when the planet turns direct, if we have worked cooperatively and consciously with this process, we are flung forward and our efforts throughout the retrograde will carry us far into the future. This is the most practical understanding of this cycle and one that you will find most useful. Many astrologers would caution you to reconsider launching major projects or pushing forward with the initiation of anything you deem important.

I think the reasoning is that Mars retrograde is a time to build momentum and that the launching pad will ideally be when Mars has turned direct. Consider that when a planet is in retrograde, its archetypal function is going through a revision process. But the mistake is to suggest that we will not have the energy, drive or desire to push forward with important matters, and that is simply not the case. Mars is Mars, retrograde or direct. Its retrograde cycle highlights the reality that the archetypal current associated with Mars is undergoing a change in its expression, and for Mars, that expression is always related to actions. However, consider that Mars, depending on where it is in your chart, may relate to actions taken outwardly or inwardly. It takes courage to face your inner demons just as it does to face the “demons” in the outer world.

But like anything in astrology, we have free will. A Mars retrograde cycle will not force itself upon you. Often, during these times, we are responding to an inner need to change something. But the choice is yours to make. When we fail to respond to a Mars moment, it is often because we allow fear to keep us from moving forward. What scares you the most is usually something that could greatly strengthen you. Often, this cycle will reveal an opportunity or will generate a desire to accomplish something challenging, or to finally step up to something or someone you fear. It is simply the season for this to happen, and if you take this time to build up strength and a strong foundation; you’ll be tougher and more resilient in the future.

The Changing Face of Mars

This brings us to another layer of a retrograde process. Interestingly, all classical planets that turn retrograde (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), have dual sign associations. Traditionally, they are said to “rule” two signs. In modern, evolutionary language, we prefer to say that these planets have a resonance or archetypal association with these signs. In the case of Mars, it is associated with Aries and Scorpio. Aries is Mars’ extroverted function, and Scorpio is its introverted function. When a planet turns retrograde, its archetypal face often reverses. We are going from Mars’ introverted expression to its extroverted function, or vice versa. 

However, this does mean that the initiation of action is hindered in some way. As I said, Mars is Mars, retrograde or direct. It is simply changing the way that it expresses itself. The Aries side of Mars places an emphasis on outward action; Aries relates to the optimum expression of willpower to initiate change, to push forward, to face stress and challenge, ideally, in healthy ways to build the strength we need to assert ourselves. The Aries side of Mars seeks new adventures outwardly in the world. The Scorpio side of Mars places emphasis on the acquisition of courage to face the inner dimensions of our own psyche and intimate lives.

As I said, it takes courage to face our inner demons. Scorpio is a sign that also relates to deep intimacy and connection with another soul—certain individuals whom we can be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with fully, to reveal parts of ourselves that we do not share with those we do not trust as deeply. This takes courage and bravery to do. It takes courage to be vulnerable and real with someone as well as ourselves. And it takes the ability to assert our will to enter that kind of deeply intimate space. Intimate relationships can be a battle ground, just as the outer world can be.

If we have been primarily outward prior to Mars turning retrograde—seeking new, external stress and adventures, fighting for freedom and independence, then Mars retrograde can indicate a time where we may need to turn inward and channel our Mars energy into the intimate chasms of our personal lives. Conversely, if we’ve been in that deeply intimate space prior to the retrograde, we may find ourselves switching to a focus upon challenges and stress seeking in the outer world. The retrograde will change the face of that Mars function. And as we build momentum throughout the retrograde, we will be placed on to the pathway of a new phase of Mars’ expression as it transits the zodiac.

Karma and Serendipity

There is a curious association with Mars and Venus retrograde cycles relating to profound shifts and turning points in our personal lives and relationships. The rule of thumb here, however, is that often this is most notable when the retrograde planet stations on an angle of our chart, or a significant planet or focal point. The station is the degree of the zodiac where that planet will stop and change direction (either move from direct to retrograde or retrograde to direct). In the case of this particular Mars retrograde cycle, Mars will station and turn retrograde at 8 degrees of Sagittarius. It will station and move direct at 23 degrees of Scorpio.

Look to those areas of your chart. If an angle (the first, fourth, seventh, or tenth house cusps), or if a significant planet is placed there (or in the general vicinity, within 1 to 2 degrees, possibly more), then this particular cycle will likely be more pronounced for you. Also, if the retrograde happens to take place in an angular house (first, fourth, seventh, or tenth), it may also be more meaningful. Venus retrograde can often correlate with a period of serendipitous encounters with individuals that end up having a major impact on our lives. We often look back on these people as having profoundly inspired us in some way or were involved in a major shifting of our values and priorities.

Sometimes, these relationships last a long time and develop in complexity. This is, of course, because Venus is the most potent astrological symbol for relationships. Mars retrograde, however, carries a different archetypal function, due to its ability to challenge and break free of the Sun, which carries an association with relationships. In its Scorpionic face, Mars connects us to experiences of deep intimacy. Thus, we associate Mars with life force, libido, and sexual energy. Mars’ sexual expression is related solely to the act of intercourse, typically related to the release of primal, sexual energy. Put simply, Mars is our desire for coitus—but not particularly lovemaking in the romanticized sense.

Consider that when Mars turns retrograde, we are revising the way that we assert ourselves, and how we go about getting what we want—attaining our desires. Mars turning retrograde in a sensitive zone of your personal horoscope can indicate a time where you must defend yourself against someone or a situation, break free of situations that limit your boundaries, or finally recover the courage to take action and make some much-needed change in your life. This can often involve serendipitous encounters with others, or circumstances that involve you shifting in such a way to catalyze the initiation of action. These can be significant moments in our lives where we can forge new pathways and set ourselves on a new course of action.

Retrogrades also take us back to situations or experiences from the past. We often encounter individuals that we’ve met before in this lifetime. From the evolutionary viewpoint and hypothesis, most, if not everything in life, is the result of our karma. Thus, many encounters may, in fact be the residue of some past experience from a previous lifetime. With Mars retrograde, we may be brought back to a situation where we must defend ourselves or muster the courage to overcome it or to finally take some action we didn’t take before. And this may be particularly significant if Mars retrograde is hitting you in a personal way.

Sagittarius/Scorpio

From April 17 to May 27, Mars will retrograde through Sagittarius. Signs flavor or add a certain texture to anything placed inside of them. During this portion of Mars retrograde, there will be an accentuation of the things in your life that have become too predictable and habitual. Mars may ask that you take a risk and stretch yourself beyond what is too familiar. Sagittarius seeks adventure and exotic, foreign experiences. It deals with adventures in the real world as well as adventures in the mind. There is also a philosophical, spiritual or ideological nature to Sagittarius. The momentum that you build during this cycle will likely correlate with these themes.

Perhaps you will find yourself thinking in much larger or abstract ways. Maybe you decide to travel somewhere that seems extremely familiar—a foreign place you may have been before (in another lifetime?). During this portion of the cycle, you are rediscovering the courage and strength needed to make your life more interesting and inclusive of perspectives that challenge your current worldview. It’s time to face your fear of the unfamiliar. However, try to remain practical and mindful of reality. Don’t confuse your need for new adventure with the need to throw all safety and caution to the wind. Don’t leap without looking first. Healthy reality testing is needed!

From May 27 to June 29, Mars retrograde will enter Scorpio. As I said before, it takes courage to face our inner darkness. During this phase of the cycle, you are gathering the momentum needed to make meaningful connections. You are finding the strength to step up to new challenges surrounding intimacy and honesty. Scorpio is an archetype that deals with everything we culturally subjugate or attempt to deny—often by making fun of it. Death is one of those things, and so is sex. Imagine that throughout this portion of the cycle, you need to rediscover your ability to step into that dark morass of repressed subject matter. Whatever new challenges you take on, will likely feel uncomfortable and may ask you to reach beyond certain boundaries.

But if you take on the challenge, you will be set on a new course of deeper self-knowledge. You’ll find that from here on out, you’ll have strengthened your capacity to be honest with yourself and with others. There may be intense experiences and encounters you avoided in the past but need to face now. There may be particularly “karmic” situations with individuals coming into your life. There may be a need to release pent-up or repressed desires. But try not to lose perspective. Don’t get too caught up in your own issues or inner darkness that it makes you moody and depressed. Come up for some air when you need to. But if you keep up the momentum, this will be a highly transformative cycle. 

In conclusion, don't confuse a retrograde for a time of inaction. It's simply not true! And when it comes to Mars, inaction is the last thing you should consider. A retrograde cycle is a time of transition and often an opportunity to make some kind of breakthrough. It may not be the most significant moment of your life (it happens every two years), but if it triggers a potent portion of your horoscope, it just might be. This is time to build new strength and momentum. It's like positioning yourself before a great wave of immense force. But you have to be willing do this by responding to your desires for change. As always within the paradigm of astrology that I practice, trust and follow those impulses and desires for positive change. If you do, you'll find yourself stronger and readier for the what lies before you. 

Into the Hot Zone: Mars Retrograde and the North Node In Libra

Mars Disarmed by Venus and Three Graces by Jacques Louis David, 1824.

Stationary retrograde: March 1, 2014- May 19, 2014
Stationary direct: May 19, 2014
Enter shadow: October 31, 2013
Leave shadow: July 22, 2014
Sun/Mars opposition: April 8, 2014

The planet Mars is in Libra for roughly eight months this cycle, due to his most infrequent retrograde cycle.  Libra and Mars are two very antithetical archetypes, logically because Mars rules Aries, Libra’s opposite sign. But, antithetical isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. It simply means that two elements are coming from two distinctly separate points of view.

The collision can be messy, wrought with hostility and resistance; or a meeting of two complementary pieces that create such sharp contrast that both ends of the spectrum are more dignified and interesting in the presence of one another.

Traditional astrology has a rather grim take on planets in the signs opposite their rulership. Those old crotchety astrologers see nothing but doom and gloom for Mars as he travels this most foreign and offbeat of territories. But, there’s a definite logic that supports that perspective. Put simply, Libra and Mars aren’t cut from the same cloth.

That mixture of two distinctly different textures presents us with a certain kind of challenge, one that urges us to become more aware and conscious than usual. It takes a little hard work and extra effort to make something beautiful or worthy of visual digestion—Libra’s modus operandi. 

Whatever Libra comes into contact with, there’s a certain aesthetic response from that element. Libra seeks to make things more pleasant for the world—tasteful, elegant, harmonious and dignified. In order to achieve that visionary perfection, lots of different options are weighed and contrasted. Trial and error and prolonged gazes, scrutinizing from extended distances are all a part of that process.

Libra thrives on a multiplicity of perspectives, options and opinions. Finding common ground and reconciliation can be a time consuming process. Libra equally wants everyone, in some way, to have their cake and eat it too. That’s not always possible, but if any sign can get close enough to meeting the needs of all involved, it’s Libra.

Mars is a planet that’s all about action, assertion, willpower and facing fears—boldly stepping up to any challenge and meeting it head on. Mars thrives on the power of initiation, and the prospect of the new, uncharted frontier. Mars prefers more simplistic decisions.

While walking through the woods and coming face to face with a bear, there should be very few options in that moment. To make things easier, Mars distills it down to two choices: fight or flight. Okay, maybe that or with a little knowledge we may choose to duck and cover or play dead. Anyway, the point is, in that moment Mars serves us best.

Primal involuntary instincts come under the Martian terrain. When we need them, they serve us well. We don’t have to think about it. We just, somehow, know exactly what to do. With the help of a little adrenaline, we’re one step (or leap) from solving the problem.

Libra is an air sign. That means we’re dealing with a more mental and cerebral landscape. And that’s what really underlines Libra’s problem solving and diplomatic talents. While Mars is in Libra, his catalytic initiatory powers get rather muddled—filtered through this more unified and holistic Librian perspective.

Needless to say, that process can be a little frustrating for Mars. His actions are conceded. His instincts warped and contorted. Spending eight months in this state of pause and reflection can certainly ignite some irritation. Those of us more Martian prone—with a strong planetary presence in Aries or Scorpio, are more likely to feel this particular response.

Now let’s throw the retrograde into the mix. It seems a hopeless situation for Mars indeed. The planet of initiation, action and forward momentum going backwards in this antithetical element doesn’t look good for poor Mars.

But, fear not. If anyone can handle it it’s certainly the Martian warrior. I’m sure he’s gone through worse. I mean, the planet has probably seen some pretty intense cataclysms and climate reversals-- enough to make Al Gore shudder in horror. Yes, Mars is a tough guy. Don’t let the perceived direness of the situation fool you.

NASA image of Mars taken June 26, 2001
by the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
So what’s the point? Well with Mars in Libra we’re forced to become more conscious of impulses, desires and jerk-reactions. That means that mindless activities that usually work in our favor aren’t likely to while Mars is in Libra. We’re forced to deal with very differing and contrasting perspectives.

We either resist these perspectives, resulting in a messy battle of egos and willpower, or we choose to make some concessions; to broaden our perspective with the inclusion of these antipodal worldviews. It’s certainly not an easy task, but if successfully accomplished we have a more comprehensive awareness of the world around us.

Because Libra is also a sign that rules relationships, Mars in Libra is a time when our energy is more successfully channeled into this direction. Wherever Mars goes, that’s where we are expending the most energy at any given time, and also where we’re confronting fears and meeting challenges.

On a collective level, Mars in Libra is about funneling energy toward more diplomatic efforts--learning to acquire agility and compromise within complex social situations and putting intense effort toward creating harmony in the world around us. Before we go rushing into something, before we instinctively react to any given challenge or situation, we’re required to really pause and consider what is arising from deep within us.

This process will become even more ubiquitous once Mars actually turns retrograde on March 1, 2014. While Mars is retrograde, we’re dealing more profoundly with the pause and assessment of our actions. Of any retrograde cycle, the Mars retrograde cycle is the least conducive for initiation and confrontation.

That doesn't mean to go into hiding or to avoid implementing anything of value or importance. But it does mean that whatever you do decide to initiate should be very carefully assessed and reflected upon—particularly giving time to carefully implement all the factors and all the other people's involvement.

When Mars is retrograde, desperate acts of impulsivity rarely turn out favorably. The launch of some important matter often ends up losing steam and dwindling in momentum once the planet turns direct. But just because this is a likely manifestation, doesn’t mean to avoid action. It simply means that this is a time to be more conscious of your actions, and to anticipate a change of course or direction later down the road.

As with any retrograde, we are in a process that requires us to reassess and reflect. It is a very introverted type of cycle. But with Mars in Libra (a more extroverted sign), we’re reflecting and strengthening our capacity to deal with multiple perspectives within relationships and more complicated social dynamics.
Hans Sebald Beham,Mars,
from The Seven Planets with the Signs of the Zodiac, 1539
(Bartsch 116; Pauli, Holl. 118) , via Wikimedia Commons

Some other factors to consider: Anger is a common manifestation when the Martian energy is somehow blocked or stagnated. Finding a healthy outlet for the expression of anger is highly recommended. Because Mars is in Libra, and retrograde, this cycle is likely to bring up territorial issues or deeply embedded fears or unresolved anger within relationships.

Remain conscious of this reality. Do your best to deal with these issues openly and as civilly as possible. But do not suppress or attempt to hide what needs to be communicated or expressed cathartically. There is a fine line between consciously expressing frustration and allowing it to take over, resulting in violence or rage.

Because Mars is retrograde, it is actually much closer to the Earth than usual. This invariably amplifies this archetypal power within each of us. Be mindful that things may not go as you expect or anticipate. Projects launched are likely to encounter setbacks, delays or frustrations. Be wary of the fact that many people may choose to express the more unsavory aspects of the Martian energy; don’t be the one to set them off!

Mars retrograde is a time to strengthen and reinforce situations that have already been put into motion. Big initiations are best implemented once the planet has gone direct. With that said, don’t over think it. Go with the flow. Mars and Venus retrograde cycles are unique in that they often correlate with significant turning points and mile-stone transitions.

We sometimes meet new people, or come into contact with familiar folks who we have seemingly met in some prior lifetime. These karmic connections are often important, and will unfold and develop in synch with future retrograde cycles.

Follow the Libran North Node

Just prior to Mars turning retrograde, the North Node transitions (backwards) from Scorpio into Libra. This is an equally significant transit, since the North Node indicates our collective destiny and objective at any given time.

On Feb 19, 2014, a rather poignant conjunction of planets occurs here. The North Node conjoins Mars and Vesta in Libra and Ceres in Scorpio. This is a very interesting conjunction, foreshadowing the coming onset of Mars’ backward motion.


Mars is slowing down to stationary motion. That warrior-like initiatory drive is coming to a standstill. Our defenses are down. This is a point of tremendous vulnerability, but a moment that also provides us with a glimpse into relationship dynamics to point us toward things that likely need to be worked on and reinforced over the next few months.

Vesta’s conjunction with the North Node at the anaretic degree of Libra points to a critical turning point and transition, one that gives us a razor sharp look into how others think, to become more compassionately aware of where they’re coming from.

Ceres brings up issues of nurturing, compassion and nourishment. We are invited to make contact with others who may be of assistance to us in these areas, or who may provide important information that can help us to see ourselves or a specific situation more objectively.

The North Node will transit Libra until November 2015. While the North Node was in Scorpio, and Saturn in Scorpio, we have all been forced, in varying degrees of intensity, to face deeply embedded material that lay dormant in the unconscious. Fears, vulnerabilities, deeply buried emotions and issues surrounding death and joint finances were all prevalent themes that needed to be constructively integrated.

We are shifting our attention away from these deeply intimate and secret chasms, to redirect attention from seriously intense subject matter towards some semblance of calm and homeostasis. While the North Node travels through Libra, there is a collective need and desire to open ourselves to the perceptions and perspectives of other people.

There is a drive to seek out experiences and connections that can assist in creating cohesion, equanimity and balance. The North Node in Libra can help with integration and digestion of everything that has come up on a personal and collective level.

So, this is a cycle that allows us to transcend the limitations of personal and biased viewpoints, to gain more awareness of our place in the larger scheme of things. This North Node transit also helps us to realize that there is greater power in numbers and that by embracing cooperation and mutual understanding, a lot more can be accomplished with greater ease and efficiency.

Mars in the Cardinal Hot Zone

Because Mars is going retrograde in Libra, it is activating the Uranus and Pluto square, the sign of the times. On April 22-23 Mars will form an exact grand cross configuration involving Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter. This is known as a cardinal cross, involving the cardinal zodiac signs, which have been a rather powerful symbol of the current changes taking place worldwide.

With Mars retrograde, this will likely correlate with the rise of collective events that bring to our attention to the need to strengthen and reinforce our personal and collective willpower. It is a powerful opportunity that generates an impetus to make dramatic changes and transformations through the awareness of new perspectives or worldviews.

Due to the intense nature of this configuration, there is likely to be a lot of conflict and tension. It is through this overwhelming friction that the world can wake up to new realities and alternative points of view it was previously closed off from.

Whether this particular grand cross will correlate with a specific event or not remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: it symbolizes a significant milestone in the collective psyche, one that will likely put into motion massive cultural, political and economic changes.   

Of particular significance is the fact that this grand cross will be in aspect to the radix Sun in the mundane horoscope of the United States. Obviously we can draw from this the fact that the U.S. will be the most significantly impacted country by this event. This symbolizes the first exact contact that the U.S. will have with the Uranus/Pluto square—so it’s a little unsettling given the current circumstances.
Horoscope of the United States (Sibly) with transits on April 22, 2014. Note the grand cross hitting the radix Sun and Saturn.

Many astrologers are concerned that this may have a significant impact on the economy, since we’re already in the midst of much economic instability and uncertainty. I personally can’t say for sure whether it will or not. Astrology cannot predict the exact turn of events. But given the nature of the cardinal axis, this energy will not just affect the U.S.--it will have a broad and far reaching global impact.

Such is the reality of the situation. What happens in the U.S. doesn’t just stay here; it has many implications for the economies of other nations. Regardless of what happens collectively, of which we as individuals have little control of at this point, each of us will inevitably feel the need to look beyond our personal limitations and rediscover the power that is available when we integrate with like minds and souls.

Again, be on the lookout for rising frustration and anger that may manifest. Mars retrograde indicates that the collective willpower is somehow stuck and stagnant. This is not a time to incite a war of any kind; the momentum just isn’t there. This cardinal grand cross is more symbolic of an awakening, one that reminds us of the power we truly have and that has been there all along.

There is tremendous creative potential here, and regardless of the turmoil that may manifest collectively, we can each use this energy constructively and consciously toward more productive outlets. The Uranus and Pluto square is about dramatic, sweeping global changes—conflicts between an emerging new horizon and the powerful established order.

Jupiter in Cancer points to the past and to the collective desire to hold on to those nostalgic elements that support the foundation. Jupiter also expands whatever it comes into contact with.
With Mars retrograde, we can anticipate an explosive energy, one that creates many contradicting desires. There is the desire to break free and forge new frontiers, the desire to maintain the past and hold on to what has been proven to work (security), and then the desire to integrate foreign perspectives which can reinforce our current position.

If you feel yourself pulled into these multiple directions, you aren’t alone. A grand cross isn’t easy to integrate because it challenges the psyche to implement all ends of the square in such a way that neither one overpowers the other. I think that is really the whole point of this configuration, it urges us to implement massive checks and balances so that neither of these facets has more power over the situation.

Looking at all the planets involved, it’s easy to point out all the facets currently involved here. Pluto in Capricorn definitely represents the overarching government's invasion of our privacy, and amping up as a police state. It is symbolic of the all-seeing eye of the oligarchy and plutocracy that currently holds the reigns of the economy.  

But Pluto in Capricorn is also a symbol of the emerging wisdom of the ancient past; the unearthing of powerful secrets long concealed or forgotten by the world. As much as it symbolizes a clash with authority, it equally awakens the power of the people to govern themselves, equipped with this newfound secret knowledge.

Uranus in Aries is the nascent frontier; the spring Sun rising on the horizon, offering the hope and prospect of something entirely new. Technologically (of which Uranus aptly correlates), we are seeing the emergence of an entirely new paradigm of global communication which is greatly impacting the power of self-expression (Aries).

Uranus in Aries is entirely experimental; it also inspires us to forge new pathways in many unique and radical ways. It offers us the promise that there is always another way, a direction we’ve had yet to dream of or imagine. Jupiter in Cancer is the power pulling us toward the familiar elements of society that have withstood the test of time. It draws the collective into an introspective gaze, dreaming of the good old days.

Jupiter in Cancer is placing emphasis on the desire for security and economic stability. In many ways, it is resistant to the progressive changes symbolized by Uranus, and suspicious of the powers exhibited by Pluto in Capricorn. So as much as we want “change”, as promised by many politicians these days, we equally don’t want to rock the boat too much that it threatens the security of the floor beneath our feet.

Finally, Mars retrograde in Libra is the awakening realization of our collective power. It is the emerging awareness that we need help; we can’t solve all these problems by ourselves. As much as our collective ego has convinced us of our absolute independence, we must admit that input from foreign sectors is much needed now, and that with greater objectivity each of us will find that we have the strength and capacity to endure the hardships to come.

Onward Into The Great Unfolding….

In conclusion, there is a lot we need to consider over the next few months. Mars retrograde and the North Node in Libra urge us to consciously weigh the pros and cons. But don’t feel rushed to do so. Work with these cycles and allow the process to unfold in its own timing. Remember that Libra needs to take its time to consider all the perspectives it seeks to assimilate.

When in doubt, stop, pause and reconsider. Taking more time now to deeply reflect, and ask for the opinions and perspectives of those around you, will save you much time and pain in the future. If things aren’t moving in a timely manner, look to see what’s missing, or reach out for help when necessary. We don’t have to do this all alone. In fact, that would be completely counterproductive to the whole process at hand.

We are entering a very uncertain time politically and economically. Decisions and choices we have all made in the past, or that we have allowed others to make for us, are now revealing their consequences. The complexity of the grand cross reveals that the solutions to our current problems are not simple. They are incredibly complex and involve the participation of everyone on the planet, in some shape or form.

If you feel the call to break free of oppressive and stagnating circumstances, you are simply responding to the current energies flooding the collective psyche. How successful we are hangs on our ability to consciously and patiently work through these complexities and integrate all the conflicting desires arising from deep within us. But whatever we choose to experience, remember that it's all a part of the great unfolding. When in doubt, trust the process at hand, no matter how dire it seems.

Mars reminds us that we are far more powerful than we know. Awaken the power within you to shape your life and the world into something more aligned with your ideals and dreams. This isn’t an end, but rather the birth of a new beginning. Don’t fight the current, flow with it; you never know how things will eventually unfold.

Conscious travels.