When planets go retrograde, we have the opportunity to deepen into the expression of their symbolism. This is a psychological and emotional journey, which not everyone welcomes. It depends on other factors at play and our personal situations. At times we can react with projection, blame and resistance because conscious growth is not easy.
The slower moving planets are retrograde for long periods so their stations (turning points from retrograde to direct and vice versa) call the most attention.
Challenging effects of the personal planets (those with faster orbits) Mercury, Venus and Mars, are more obvious when retrograde — because we see results in our responses and personal relationships. The degree of which this occurs has to do with your sensitivity and if the planet makes direct connections to your natal horoscope.
The planet Mars goes retrograde about every 26 months; in 2020 Mars will be in the sign of Aries for six months. That is a boatload of time for the planet that symbolizes desire, action, libido and aggression to be in one of its simpatico signs Aries: cardinal fire.
In its essence, Mars in Aries is upfront, dynamic, bold, spontaneous and decisive. It does not hesitate or over-think an impulse. It doesn’t get hung up by a misfire; it moves on. By the time an apology may be expected, its already on to the next enticement. Mars in Aries likes to start something, but follow-through — not so much.
A natal placement of Mars in Aries indicates you like to be inspired by the task or captured by the moment. This is great for someone who goes in to set up a business and then leaves the keys for someone else.
Because of the retrograde, Mars in Aries colors the second half of 2020 with fiery strokes. When Mars in Aries is direct, we feel a push to get out and go — at odds with the pandemic. Those who practice safe protocol feel a need to move, but do so with a warrior’s precision: shield, tools, ready! Those who ignore or disbelieve the concerns of COVID, move with increased singularity of purpose. The “in your face” meltdowns that go viral are the “me, my way or the highway” expressions of an untethered Mars.
When one is born with a prominent or challenged Mars placement, the native needs to learn from an early age how to control that engine… otherwise it invites conflict, implosion and even danger. In its ideal, Mars reflects how we assert ourselves, express desire, what stokes our passion and drive. Anger is a vehicle of Mars and our understanding of what triggers us and how to channel that anger makes or breaks effective dialogue and response.
An example of dominant Mars in a horoscope is Donald Trump with Mars in Leo on his Ascendant. Leo Rising people like to be noticed; they call attention to themselves with no effort. This coupled with Mars gives Trump an impatience and assertiveness.
Since Mars makes a picture with his Gemini Sun and Sagittarius Moon, Trump is impulsive and needs to talk. Everything we see about this man is reflected in his chart. The person is always reflected in the chart, but it’s not always visible to all.
In mid-August, the op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd wrote: “Trump represents the last primal shriek of retrograde white men afraid to lose their power. He’s a dinosaur who evokes a world of beauty pageants, ‘suburban housewives’…” Dowd wrote retrograde in reference to white men afraid to lose their power while Mars moved through the shadow of the upcoming Mars Retrograde.
Whether or not Dowd is aware of astrology, she has called out a very real symbolic battle that affects more than the USA. Fortunately, not all white men are retrograde, but those that are would do well to consider their dinosaur status.
When Mars is retrograde, we look to where it travels through the natal horoscope; it’s sign and if it engages with any planets in the sky today and/or an individual’s natal planets.
We assess what has happened in the past when Mars is retrograde and marry that with where it travels today. This paints a picture of how delayed, frustrated, focused or effective this period will be in general but also for a person, country or business.
Looking back at Donald Trump’s presidency and the last two Mars Retrogrades: from late June 2018 through late August 2018, themes involved the Kavanaugh hearings, his questionable meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Stormy Daniels and the embezzled NY charities. Prior to that, mid April 2016 through late June 2016, his polling numbers were low in the race and documentation shows that his campaign had regular discussions with Russia.
Let’s look at what gives this particular Mars Retrograde so much force.
Mars goes Retrograde on September 9, 2020 at 28° Aries and appears to travel backward until November 14 at 15° Aries. Yes, Mars will be retrograde during the USA election (as will Mercury), so US citizens need to vote early and prepare for delays — especially when the vote is by mail.
I will write about this more, but please note that Mercury stations direct on November 3, so we can expect controversial results. To gain perspective on this, the 2000 election also had the Mercury station.
I will stay away from the election for now and focus on you, although keep in mind, one of the lessons of the pandemic is that we are all intricately connected to the whole.
Since Mars is in Aries, it already has and will square with the 3 planets in Capricorn: at present Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. These are challenging configurations and indicate action/reaction depending on what they trigger. Because the Saturn/Pluto conjunction occurred in early January and Saturn moved on from that point, other planets revisit that energy through geometric configurations.
In mythology, Saturn was the god of time, so he symbolizes limits, responsibility, structure and fear. Time is running out! Fear of mortality plagues many humans. One of the most famous tales about Saturn was how he devoured his children when they were born, so afraid was he by being usurped by one. Yet a vice-grip on power and authority makes one brittle, guarded and unable to enjoy life. It becomes a prison of one’s own making.
When Saturn comes in conflict with Pluto, the god of Death and Irrevocable Transformation, time runs out. Those who sense this and resist will hold on in spite of signs of the inevitable shift. The belief that power and authority is held by sheer force of will is an illusion. To swallow the potential of fresh ideas and deny growth denies Life; that is a sobering lesson of Saturn.
Saturn’s mate Rhea gave him a rock wrapped in swaddling after she birthed Jupiter. A creature of habit, Saturn devoured it.
She hid her newborn and when grown, Jupiter tricked his father to disgorge his full-grown siblings. United at last, the siblings vanquished Saturn. This myth suggests that when we move past the limitations of fear, we meet so many aspects of our psyche — which can be a lot to digest! Yet this is the only way to become a fully dimensional being. Jupiter symbolizes knowledge, justice and wisdom.
Jupiter became the King of the gods and his brother Pluto, god of the Underworld.
Saturn’s gluttonous response to preserving his power identity is a warning tale about how Fear implodes… and a reminder that no one rules forever. At present, these three planets, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto travel in the sign of Capricorn. Although an earth sign, Capricorn is cardinal which means it starts and leads. It is significant that Jupiter and Saturn have aligned with Pluto before they move into Aquarius in late December. More on this here.
His mother Juno sought to have a child without insemination after her husband Jupiter “birthed” Athena, who sprang from his head in full armor. Anger and competition are qualities linked to Mars. Juno used a magical flower which did the trick, with Mars the fruit. A goddess of childbirth, Juno was not interested in child-rearing, so Mars grew up raw, wild and self-sufficient.
The Greeks called him Ares; their version was coarse, a war-monger and disagreeable. However, the patriarchal Romans venerated the male ideal of Mars as rugged and handsome with superhero strength, agility and courage.
When we consider the archetypal qualities of our inner Mars, it’s desirable to hone the blade of the sword. A warrior’s courage, passion and direction point to the positive side of this spectrum. Revenge, anger, cruelty, bullying and violence are the negative side. Each of us has specific ways that we express desire, go after what we want, react in anger and get in motion.
When Mars is direct, we move without thought towards goals and routines. When Mars is retrograde, we have an opportunity to evaluate strategy (or the lack of), go over past actions when appropriate (even in some cases, get a “do-over”) and slow down. Sometimes it feels as though the blocks in our path, delays and detours are done to us. Yet however the retrograde presents itself, we get better results when we work with the situation rather than against it.
On one hand, there’s certainly an appeal if Mars Retrograde meant that war would go away, but unfortunately, that doesn’t historically happen. Mars Retrograde does offer a time to reevaluate strategy, so hopefully our leaders take note. In astrology, Mars symbolizes action, passion and desire. When retrograde, people are less likely to feel a motivation to get involved (unless they are already). Since we’re in the period leading up to Mars retrograde which begins September 9, the lethargy may be setting in.
How do we take advantage of the Mars retrograde? We work on projects already in motion. This is an excellent time to revitalize the passion in both business, exercise routines and romantic relationships. Sometimes no matter how much we love what we do, something gets stale. It may be time to reengage someone or something that you’ve put on the shelf. If things seem to slow down, then you have the opportunity to “get under the hood” and see what is needed for maximum performance.
The one thing that is essential to keep in mind with the Mars retrograde is that it is best to avoid being the initiator in a situation. That’s why it works best when we stay with what’s already in process, or go back to an overture already made. If you’re in sales, you can show product but let the potential buyer initiate discussion; your job is to ask questions that invite disclosure.
If you’ve been procrastinating on a creative project, this can be an ideal time to battle through the inner demons that have kept you stalled.
This may not be comfortable with Mars in Aries, because in general, we want to burn through whatever course we are on. As I write this, we have already passed some points of extreme discomfort.
We can expect frustration and rebellion as Mars squares Saturn on September 29 and Saturn goes Direct (25 Capricorn°). The US Census has an accelerated deadline scheduled to end the month of September, so this may be part of the friction and grievance against authority.
Mars is closest to the Earth when the Sun appears opposite; expect volatility on and around October 13.
When Jupiter conjuncts Pluto approaching November 12, anticipate a resurgence of pandemic pandemonia and racial unrest. How extreme this is has everything to do with if the fires are tempered beforehand. The drive for conquest is strong with Mars in Aries. When Mars is retrograde, it’s essential to remember that the aggressor or instigator does not win. If you feel frustrated, angry or have a blind desire to intrude, pursue or drive, it’s better to burn off the energy through exercise, martial arts or a self-improvement project.
The last time Mars went Retrograde in Aries (without going into Pisces before it went direct) was September 1941 through November 10, 1941. The Nazis began to label Jews with yellow stars and began their mass-murders at that time. They plowed into Russia during the increasing cold as the Japanese made plans to attack Pearl Harbor. Mars in Aries can be brutal, selfish and raw. This is an extreme reminder that those who attack and pursue during Mars Retrograde become the losers.
Unless you are born with Mars Retrograde, set goals and start projects before September 9. Once Mars Retrograde is activated, accept setbacks with grace. View it as an opportunity to rework concepts or to shelve them for awhile.
Avoid starting ANYTHING of importance while Mars Retrograde is happening. Whoever initiates is not the one who succeeds. If you start something, the odds are someone else profits from your action.
This is a powerful time to contemplate how you get angry or take action. You may go over situations in the past to solve a more effective way in the future. If someone instigates something at this time, do not lash out. Decide the best way to respond and do so. Do not let the anger or grievance fester, or when Mars goes Direct, you most likely erupt.
Mars Retrograde is a valuable time to encourage appropriate manifestations of anger, assertion and desire. It can be a highly beneficial time to work these engines in a more productive way.
Forgo ambivalence or any tendency to shortchange your desire. You can truly use this time to forge a blade of decisive intention that has the right combination of hardness, strength, flexibility and balance. Those are the four components of a great sword. Swords symbolize justice — the blade that cuts through deception, prejudice, greed and confusion.
We cannot maintain structures that have lost their integrity. Many existing structures are not appropriate for this fledgling millennium. Because of its squares to the Capricorn planets, the transit of Mars symbolizes challenges to the status quo.
Think about the California forests that we struggle to maintain in ignorance of the sustainable model that indigenous people designed long before the European conquest. As a small part of land has gone back to stewardship by the Esselen Tribe in CA, we see an opportunity to learn and create new structures in tandem with ancient wisdom.
We can design systems that accommodate all people and creatures. We can create institutions that serve and support people rather than control and limit them. Instead of lashing out against perceived limitations, this Mars retrograde gives an opportunity to strategically consider how to move forward anew.