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Posts Tagged ‘Mars Retrograde’

A Complex Series of Retrogrades 2014

Published on March 4th, 2014 | Posted by Jim Sher


There are times when it seems pretty easy to interpret the nature of the transits we are under. One can use basic astrological principles and glean all the necessary factors and come up with a pretty clear sense of where we are and are going. And then, there are times like this. Ever since December 21st, when Venus went retrograde, we have been under a series of retrograde planets, one after the other, which complicates things enormously.

I think it’s best to start by saying that there is one idea you may find useful right away. When I find it to be easy to describe what is likely to be happening, it also means that I am fairly certain about it. Of course, this also tells you that the nature of where we are now is the exact opposite, i.e., very uncertain. What is useful here is that uncertainty tells us that we are freer, have more free choice than at other times. Astrology deals in probabilities. There are times when those likelihoods are higher than at other times. That means that when things are flowing well, we usually go along and continue in the same arc as we’ve been in. But, when uncertainty increases, we can no longer go on as usual. Questions arise as to whether we need to take a new direction and if so, what should that direction be. In other words, even if there are painful decisions to be made, it is also true that we are being given new opportunities to learn and grow. In other words, we are more free, not less.

Some Details

At the winter solstice, Venus went retrograde for 6 weeks or until the end of January. Then, just as Venus returned to its direct motion, Mercury went retrograde which lasted for most of February. Now, as Mercury and Venus are moving forward, Mars and Saturn have begun their respective retrograde periods. Specifically, Mars will be retrograde for 11 weeks from March 1, 2014 to May 21st. Saturn will be retrograde between March 2, 2014 until July 20th.

It can be helpful to understand what happens when planets shift direction. Planets move at certain speeds in relation to the earth and these speeds are not constant. In fact, when planets are in the process of changing direction, they will either be moving very slowly or not moving at all. This is important because for the past several weeks and for most of March, FOUR planets will be moving very slowly. This includes Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and for a week or so, Mercury. This is unusual and significant.

What this tells me is that many people may be feeling stuck, even immobilized, confused and uncertain as to how they should move forward. It may be that each time one tries to make a decision, new information comes in that changes the equation. Also, there may be an intuitive sense that we are in a period where many more things may be changing in the near future that could be even more unstable than what we are experiencing now. This is true as I will go into in a bit.

Let me be more specific. During the Venus retrograde, we were asked to question our values, priorities, our likes and dislikes, our relationships, etc., to see what is working for us and what is not. This reorientation is internal in many respects, though it may reveal problems that we must act on during that cycle. For example, we may be leaving outworn and dysfunctional relationships or, the opposite, committing more to the one we are in. Then, when Mercury went retrograde, we began a process of reviewing our thinking about certain things that we needed to process. Now that these two planets are moving forward, some kind of new cycle has begun. (The way astrologers can tell what area of life these shifts occur in is determined by the houses that are affected by these transits).

So, with Mars retrograde, the principle of action, making things happen, self-assertion, etc., this period is important as a good time to review one’s activity, closely examine your strategies in your personal life, business or any projects you’re working on. Mars only goes retrograde once each 2 years, but when it does, it strongly affects the house where the retrograde takes place. For example, Mars will be in Libra for almost 8 months. That area will be of great focus for quite a long time, much more than usual. This period is not a good time to start something completely new. The reason is that one’s Will is not yet able to place the necessary focus on whatever one has decided to begin. It is best to wait until the retrograde ends and then one can more confidently go with gusto towards the goals one has established during the retrograde period.

Finally, Saturn will also be retrograde during this period. Saturn rules structures, both psychological and physical. It is a stabilizing force, as its rings act as the symbol of the principle of setting boundaries and working with the rule set of our reality. It asks us to make conscious choices and to take responsibility for them. We can get frustrated with Saturn’s slow pace and delays, but actually this period is not about mere delays or stoppages, though this can occur. There is a purpose to the Saturn retrograde period and it is this. There is something we need before we can go forward successfully in whatever we are working on and this is the time to go back and pick it up. We often do not know what that is exactly. It could be knowledge, information, etc., or it could be a person we need to meet and perhaps partner with, before we can achieve the aims we’ve set for ourselves. We are just beginning that period now. It helps to remember that there is a purpose to this part of the Saturn cycle and that delays are more than inconveniences.

When you combine this with the Mars retrograde, you can see that this can be a frustrating period if there are expectations that one should be able to move forward easily. I think of it as having to take steps backward in order to be able to successfully move forward later. And, in the meantime, one must do what is necessary and if it doesn’t work out perfectly, make it OK.

April and the “Cardinal Grand Cross”

I will be writing much more about this powerful transit in the next 2 months. I am referring to four planets in exact square to each other. These planets are Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto. They will all be at 13° of Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn and this is one of those transits that astrologers have been writing about for years. To be exact, the date for this is April 22, 2014. In a word, it can bring about significant paradigm shifts. As we get closer to this period feel free to post your own stories as it might help other readers learn more about what this interesting period of time presents and what the best strategies might be to cope with the many changes on the way.


Venus Retrograde 2013-14

Published on December 20th, 2013 | Posted by Jim Sher


Background – I must start this article by looking at the nature of retrograde cycles in general. The reason for this is that we are now entering a period that is very different from the typical retrograde pattern. Normally, retrograde cycles are a basic part of the astrological landscape, especially when we look at the planets in the outermost location of our solar system. Many of them spend 4-5 months each year in retrograde motion. Also, Mercury, the planet with the most frequent retrograde cycles, is retrograde every 4 months for about 3 weeks. All of these cycles are regular and thus have become a part of our life, even for those who know nothing of astrology. We have become accustomed to the natural rhythms of these predictable patterns. Right now, however, we are in a very unusual time period that can become much less difficult if we understand what is being asked of us.

Let me be more succinct. Venus is a fast moving planet, but unlike Mercury, only goes retrograde every 19 months or so. When it does, that period lasts for about 6 weeks. The other odd retrograde cycle is Mars. This planet only retrogrades once every two years, but it is retrograde for up to 11 weeks. Because these two planets do not retrograde frequently, they sort of make up for it by lasting longer than one would expect and then by making their effects quite noticeable. What makes the period we are entering even more rare and much stronger is that they are about to occur one right after the other. In other words, they will be linked. These two retrogrades will last from December 21, 2013 until May 20, 2014 which is 5 months.

Specific Timetable:

Venus Retrograde

  1. Venus will begin its retrograde cycle on Dec. 21, 2013 at 28°59″ Capricorn at 1:53pm PST.
  2. The next most important phase is when the transiting Sun conjuncts Venus. It is called the Inferior conjunction and is the mid-point of the retrograde cycle. This occurs on January 11, 2014 at 21°Capricorn at 4:25am PST.
  3. Finally, Venus retrograde ends on January 31, 2014 at 13°Capricorn at 12:49pm.

Mars Retrograde

  1. One month later, Mars begins its retrograde cycle. This begins on March 1, 2014 at 27°Libra at 8:24am PST.
  2. The next important phase is the opposition between the Sun and Mars. It occurs on April 8, 2014 at 2:04pm at 18° of Libra and Aries.
  3. Finally, Mars retrograde ends on May 19, 2014 at 9°Libra at 6:31pm. The entire Mars retrograde period lasts 80 days or about 11 weeks.

Venus Retrograde

This article will focus on the Venus retrograde period, but I will mention some of the implications of the coming Mars retrograde period as they are so connected. Here are some of the important things to consider during this period:

1. Venus rules relationships, partnerships, and our values. This includes the issues that matter most to us, our priorities, and all of these things will need to be reviewed, questioned and examined.

2. Venus is the principle of attraction and repulsion, what we want to draw towards us or what we want to push away. This is a time to look at what we really want, what is authentic for our own being, and what expresses our best qualities.

3. Venus is the principle that guides us as we decide with whom to align. It rules affinity as who we associated with directly reflects on who we are as a person.

4. Venus retrograde may bring about an assessment of our allegiances as we question who helps us establish a productive and harmonious lifestyle.

This retrograde occurs in the sign of Capricorn which focuses on effectiveness, the ability to manifest what we want in the world and who can be helpful to us for that purpose. This sign tends to reduce the tendency to get involved in blind romance in favor of practical values.

The Venus retrograde is best seen as a cycle, one that actually started in November. If you want to know something about what the next 6 weeks will be concerned with, just look at what you’ve been thinking about during this period. Astrologers often talk about reviewing things at this time, and this is true, but there is more to it than that. I know many people who have received promotions, entered into relationships and ended and started new friendships. I’ve been asked by clients and students if Venus retrograde will mean that there will be breakups or job losses, etc.? Although that is remotely possible, when we understand the whole cycle, we will see that this is unlikely.

In honor of Venus in Capricorn, let me use a concrete example. A person receives not only a new job, but a newly created position. They are not merely entering a pre-existing position, but one that was developed as part of a major reorganization in that company. Their new position is therefore still being developed. This person is coming in to direct a reform and make significant changes. But he is not part of the history or ‘institutional memory’ of that organization. In fact, this is partly why he was brought in. There is much he does not know or understand so he must learn quite a bit, must catch up to what others already know, while also keeping an eye on what will need to be changed or not. In addition, there is resentment with some people as some felt they deserved the promotion and are angry that an ‘outsider’ was brought in. Thus he is faced with many different kind of challenges, roadblocks, challenges and resistances from staff. The Venus retrograde period is about engaging in this process as he wades through the troubled waters of that company.

What astrology can help us do is develop understanding of the nature of the cycle we are in, The new manager must be patient, develop equanimity, and work step by step combining good public relations with hard core analysis and assessing of the strengths and weaknesses that must now be faced. In brief, Venus retrograde is a time for assessing. Later, Mars will enter the picture and will focus on developing new strategies, but that is premature. Can our new manager be content to work patiently and wait to take strong actions rather than immediately institute new changes or reforms? Chances are if he is not content, not only will he be met with resistance, but the plans may be undeveloped and incomplete. If he acts too soon, could his credibility be needlessly be undermined? Yes! Every act will be highly scrutinized right now, so his best bet is to research, gain information, study and monitor the climate of the company until he is ready to deftly begin the necessary changes. Also, to focus on building relationships so that he gradually learns more about the staff he has inherited.

In the real world, we may not be able to wait as much as one would like, but it is still a good idea to avoid needless risks or alienate others by running around like a bull in a china shop. Care and concern are the characteristics needed now while maintaining a clear eye toward future changes. One should be open to meeting new people, to taking a good look at those who might be aligned with our purpose and to reassessing values and priorities. It is likely we will want to make some significant adjustments during this period and if we give it the attention that is needed, we will be happy with the outcomes we create when February comes and this cycle begins to stabilize.

I will be writing more as the transits shift for us. I want to wish my readers a very Happy holiday season.

Thanks for being a part of our School.





Mars Turns Direct- 2012

Published on April 16th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Sher


After 11 weeks of Mars being in retrograde motion, it has finally turned back to its natural, direct motion.  Mars is retrograde only 11% of the time, so its rarity makes this time period quite important.  Let’s see what this might mean for all of us.  Now that this part of the cycle is completed, we have learned much and can now begin to safely put into place whatever plans have been developing during the retrograde period.

This period has the value of helping us look at much of what we do from a new perspective, a new attitude or approach. Mars in Virgo rules matters of health and diet.  Many people have reported to me that they have been taking medical tests, devising new diets, or discovering new ways to maintain or improve their health.  Now, it is a great time to devote effort to putting into practice whatever has been learned.  Virgo also rules our attitudes about work and events that occur in the work place.  Many have told me that this part of their lives has been very difficult the last few months.  One person was terminated through no fault of her own just as Mars went direct.  Another revealed that disturbing issues at her workplace have begun to be addressed and may turn in a new direction, although even this possibility remains uncertain at this point.  What is certain is that both of these people have a new perspective on how to deal with their work life.

Virgo can be quite critical and obsessed with perfection.  And some people have had to examine this during the past few months.  Others affected by this transit have told me that they have relaxed some of their rigid attitudes lately and have been pleasantly surprised at how good it feels to let go of some of their workaholic tendencies.  This is where astrology is so interesting.  Often we see that archetypal issues can go either way for a person and may not reliably predict which way it will go.  Some people have obsessed more than usual about work issues while others have relaxed.  What is common is that people are taking a good look at this area of life.

In general, Mars retrograde asks us to focus on our ambitions and goals.  They can be in small important areas such as remodeling or restructuring something old, or in much bigger areas such as wanting to start major new projects or renovations.  In business, it has been necessary for companies to develop new strategies in their approach to marketing and their managing style.  To not take these issues seriously will very likely to cause major problems later on.

I see this period as a very important one.  Ordinarily, Mars moves almost one degree a day, so it keeps us moving at a steady or even rapid pace most of the time.  When it slows down, we need to take advantage of this opportunity to examine and become open to new approaches and solutions.  Our minds need to consider new things and find ways to implement them.

So, now that we have finished the retrograde portion, it is time to start implementing what we have either thought through or have decided upon. That’s what’s up for us now.  The remodels have started and now must be finished, so to speak.


As one cycle ends, a new one begins.  From mid-May to late June, Venus will be retrograde.  The affairs of Mars and Venus are quite different.  Venus rules our relationships and our approach to them, our values and even our financial affairs.  All of this will go through a review in the coming months just as we had to review our strategies and goals during the Mars retrograde.  But, prior to any planet going retrograde it first must travel into the territory that it will retrograde back through during its retrograde period.  Venus has now entered that territory.  In astrology, this period is called the ‘Shadow’ period.  It is because already any Venus matters are casting a shadow on all of her affairs.  On May 15th 2012, Venus retrogrades at 23° Gemini and goes back to 7° Gemini on June 27th, 2012.  Venus is now in that area of the sky, which means that the cycle has actually begun although we may not be aware of any critical matters coming up for us yet.  What can be helpful is to be aware that whatever ‘Venusian’ issues are coming up for you now, will be reviewed and considered again in the coming months.  This suggests to me that there is no ‘rush’ to solve relationship or financial problems since a broader viewpoint is much more balanced and appropriate here.  Sure, if there are real issues going on that must be solved now, then, of course, they must be taken up and handled.   But, most of the time, this level of ‘urgency’ is not the case.  Patience may be a better approach since any Venus issues coming up now are likely going to be reviewed anyway.

Putting it all together, Mars is now beginning a new cycle and Venus is about to end one and begin a new one as well.  Many things will be much clearer when July begins.  But, for now, be patient and move forward carefully and as safely as possible.  With Virgo and Gemini (the signs of the retrograde planets) ruled by Mercury, we will need great communication and careful thought in order to navigate through what, at times, will seem like murky waters.  I’ll be writing on this cycle much more in the coming months.


The Retrogrades are Coming to an End

Published on April 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Jim Sher


Over the past several months we have been experiencing many retrograde periods, the chief ones being the Mars and Mercury retrograde cycle. On Wednesday, April 4th at 3:11am, Mercury will go direct at 23° of Pisces. This has contrasted greatly with Mercury’s short entrance into Aries, the sign of the doer. For many of us, the urge to move forward strongly just a few weeks ago, has changed to varying degrees of doubt, uncertainty, and a feeling that something important must be changed. We probably have been experiencing delays, new issues or questions, etc. This is now coming to an end.

The helpful thing to know from astrological transits is what is the nature of the cycle in which we find ourselves. What we can know from this is that within a few days from now we can become confident that the ideas that have been developing the last month have now been fully processed. We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review and examine all kinds of issues, problems and plans so that we can now move forward on them with a high degree of certainty that we are moving in the right direction.

In the short run, however, there may still be some difficulties. Why? Because when a planet changes direction, that planet is stationary for a few days. This means that from the viewpoint of the Earth, the planet seems to not be moving. In the case of Mercury, it can result in the feeling that either the mind is a bit stuck or even in a rut. It can feel like too much Mercury, that is, too much thinking, too many imaginings which do not take you anywhere.

This particular transit is really affecting me. My natal Mercury is 22° Virgo, which means that as I write this Blog, the Mercury at 22° Pisces is exactly opposing my Mercury. Boy, am I feeling this. Virgo is by nature logical, orderly, rational etc., and emphasizes exactness. Pisces on the other hand is much more feeling oriented, intuitive, enjoying swimming in the waters of music, imagination, and sensitivities of all sorts. So, to the Virgo oriented person, this can feel like my mind has gone muddy, less able to focus in the usual way, and forgetful. In response to this, I have been using the Calendar function of Outlook and writing down appointments and tasks that I never do ordinarily. Even so I’ve double booked, which is something I hardly ever do. I had an astrological class last night and was missing the simplest of transits. They were correcting me constantly. I felt sorry for them; though I know they know me well enough to know that I’m not usually this weird. I was even thinking of things correctly, but saying them wrong. It felt like I was in a fog. I was unfocused on the everyday matters and only in the mood of following. Everything was easy peazy, a phrase I have been using a lot lately. For some people, this is no big deal, but for me it is bugging me greatly. I have to go to the store and find out what is going on with the battery in my cell phone and can’t get up the energy to actually do it. Oh well, I’ll do it later.

Is this what you Pisces people out there deal with all the time? If so I think I sympathize more than I ever have. Just so all of my readers know, a person can understand astrological principles and have the ‘right’ words to express something and not really know by experience what we are talking about. We just look good on paper. But, when we have to experience something like this transit, we get a firsthand look at what we have taught and wrote about and I tell you one thing for sure. Actual experience is NEVER the same as one’s mental understanding alone. Sometimes words are just words and it is best if we recognize this. It’s always a bit humbling to directly experience something new that we ‘thought’ we already knew. That’s when we find out how limited our understanding actually is.

The Mars retrograde is also winding down. It will turn direct on Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 8:53pm PDST about 10 days from now. After 11 weeks of Mars retrograde it will be interesting to see and feel this change of direction. If any of you are sports enthusiasts, you may get a chance to see the effects of this rather quickly. Teams that have been doing really well may suddenly begin to lose, while other teams may make quick turnarounds. I’ve seen this many times. In other words, Mars turning direct can create game-changing momentum shifts that surprise many people. It will affect every arena of life, including politics, religion, business, etc. For example, watch and see what major public announcements are made. You can bet that all of them will have gone through a lot of development time as many hours of thought and planning went into what is finally being announced.

The same is true for this Blog. As many of you have noticed, we have not been running our AstroCast portion of the newsletter. It is going through several changes and new areas of interest are being developed as well. We hope we will soon be able to offer new types of articles. Also, I have not completed my series on Pluto through the signs of the last decades as I take a deeper look at the nature of Pluto in Capricorn. You can look forward to the continuation of that series.

I also would like to encourage my readers to inform us if you would like to see certain subjects included in the newsletter. We are open to considering other subjects, so just let us know.

We would love to hear from you if you have any stories to tell us about how you experienced the planets of Mars and Mercury changing direction, so if you desire please feel free to respond to this article.


Mars and Mercury Retrograde – OY!

Published on March 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Jim Sher


OK, the title of the article is exaggerated. I admit it. And, it is a bit different from my usual attempts to be objective and rational. But, this Mars retrograde is conjunct my natal Sun and the Mercury retrograde is squaring my Moon, so for the moment, I am feeling a great desire to write a personal Blog article. The notion of straying far from my ordinary way of expressing feels very freeing.

When both of these planets are retrograde and also tied together (since they are in mutual reception), it creates a very unusual set of effects for each of us.

Well, my car’s power steering finally got so bad that it had to be fixed. Lots of students tell me that they have had flat tires, brakes needing to be replaced, and transmission problems, etc. This is typical of these types of transits and is actually due to the fact that we had been ignoring the need for preventive maintenance. For me, my power steering problem was due to the fact that I hadn’t replaced the fluid and there were bubbles in the system as well. I would have saved hundreds of dollars if I had made sure the maintenance was done when it should have been. So, cars, ruled by Mars, are indeed part of the retrograde period.

Let’s take a deeper look – a Mars retrograde only occurs once every two years, making its retrograde cycle the least frequent of all of the planets. That alone makes it significant. But, if it is also in the sign of your Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, it is much more important. Let me explain. Usually, people think that the only important time of a transit like this is when the planet is retrograde. In this case, Mars went retrograde on Jan. 24, 2012 and will turn direct on April 14, 2012. So, this 11 week period is all we need to know about it, right? Well, no, it isn’t. Others say that since Mars will go back and forth in the territory between 3° and 23° of Virgo that the period between Nov. 1, 2011 and June 25, 2012 are what matters. Well, no, that also is not the entire explanation.

What the retrograde period does is bring things to a head and then change the direction of things based on what has been revealed. And, they can be life-changing ones. So, the effects of these transits can last for many years or even a lifetime. For example, a famous professional basketball player had to end his career due to injuries as Mars entered its retrograde period. He is now in the process of redefining his purpose in life. That’s pretty big. Well, guess when the injuries occurred. It was exactly two years ago, when that Mars retrograde, which was in Leo, conjuncted his Sun. But it wasn’t until the next retrograde period that the effects of the initial injuries became apparent. Now we’re getting somewhere.

If we focus only on events, we miss the meaning and significance of what is happening and what is being set into motion. It is better to regard what is happening as harbingers of future issues and cycles of action. The truth is that each Mars retrograde creates new cycles to some degree. They will emerge in strength in future months or years. So you can see that with this orientation, one will see that this Mars transit is much more significant than just the fixing of tires or a power steering system.

For me, major family patterns (the Moon) are being examined and new cycles may be emerging now. I say “may”, because it is still too soon to be sure if the new phase will be born or not. But, some changes have already begun. Also, my Sun in the 9th house aligned closely with this Mars retrograde is bringing in many new ideas and possibilities that could allow for a big expansion of the School and other aspects of my spiritual work. Nothing specific has happened yet, but my attention and intentions are clearly changing. So, if what is happening to you isn’t about making actual plans, don’t worry. It might be about becoming more aware of a new, emerging strategy that, if acted upon, will begin many years of new activity.

This is why I feel so strongly that this retrograde transit is much bigger that just when the planet(s) itself is retrograde.

The process of dealing with the events and activities that are occurring right now can be quite difficult and confusing. For me, it feels like there is no ground under my feet. I just don’t know where things are going exactly or if they are going to go at all. But, can I recognize that groundlessness itself is a necessary condition if change is going to occur? I’m asking if I can open myself to change, even if it seems like things are going the wrong way or into a huge unknown territory.

That’s the challenge I am facing just as many of you are as well. For me, all the changing spectrums of my life evoke feelings of instability and agitation. But with that is also a powerful sense of excitement and happiness with the possible changes that I do really desire to see happen. So, some of you may feel restless and even a bit overwhelmed as future moves may be considered seriously now. It might be harder to focus now as well, but the good news is that you may not have to actually make a concrete decision yet. So, ask yourself if you are concerned about something prematurely. I am reminding myself that if no specific decision is being asked of me that there isn’t really anything to think about. Hmm! Can I stay quiet inside with all of the uncertainty? I’m making the effort to do just that.

That’s a brief look at my experience so far of this rather intense Mercury and Mars retrograde period. It isn’t over yet. That will happen in mid-April. So much more activity and thinking is still to come and I know it. It seems that knowing the nature of the process I am in really does help.

I hope this article helps some of you as well.

In the Teeth of Mars Retrograde

Published on March 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Jim Sher


As many of my readers know, we are in the middle of an unusually long Mars retrograde period. Mars is only retrograde once every two years or so, so when it does move into this phase of its cycle, the ‘red’ planet can affect us quite strongly. One small example of its power is the recent storms in the Midwest. Right now, we are in the middle and the most intense part of this retrograde cycle. This is when Mars is in exact opposition to the Sun. This transit occurs on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 12:10pm PST. You can read more on this astronomical event here:

From an astrological perspective, this midpoint in the Mars retrograde period is very significant. The reason is that Mars is closer to the earth than at any time in its two-year cycle which creates what is called a ‘sensitive point.’ This point can create events both now and in the future when other planets touch this newly created point. When it does, more will be revealed of the ‘intention’ of the present cycle. Another way to sense the importance of this transit is to see it as an indicator of great tension and stress. The good part of this is that it can force us to take action or to really examine what approach we need to take in life and gives us the Will and desire to make the appropriate changes. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult. This is a time to make changes in our approach, which means that we are being encouraged to do something that is truly new for us. That tells us that there may be some resistance to this new way of looking at things. Another way of seeing this is to remember that Mars has been retrograde for 5 weeks or so and is now in full effect. We are seeing the results of all that has been building up to this point. So, let’s look a little deeper at what we’ve learned about Mars retrograde so far. The following is written from what I’ve witnessed myself and heard from students, clients and friends.

About Mars Retrograde in Virgo



Virgo rules among other things issues of health and the healing process. I have been seeing many cases of people dealing with all sorts of health issues. With Virgo ruling the intestines and digestive system, I’ve seen people diagnosed with ulcers and other stomach issues. Others are reminded of the importance of getting the preventative care needed such as colonoscopies (intestines) and endoscopies (stomach).

Since Mars rules the blood and the principle of cutting (surgery), others are being forced to deal with blood problems, which can be quite serious. This will include blood diseases as well as the need to deal with mundane things like blood pressure issues. Also, in general the entire body may be under greater stress than normal, revealing chronic conditions that have not been recognized until now.

Psychological Factors


Virgo rules the principle of analysis and refinement. While Virgo is often regarded as the critic and it certainly is capable of going there, Virgo does best when it focuses in on how to refine something. By refine, I mean to engage in a process where the ‘essence’ of a thing, or of an idea or concept, can reveal itself. This revealing is an opening of its own essence to a person. One can think of it as something that is ever-present, but not seen until one engages with it in such a way that it can disclose itself to us. This is when we must participate in the process of opening, meaning we must open to it. But, Virgo is capable of finding ways to improve or enhance that process, for oneself and others too. It is a potential skill that Virgo has, but it must get out of its own way before that skill can emerge. It does this by avoiding negative emotions such as worry, self-criticism, etc. Another word for ‘essence’ is ‘purity.’ It is the ability to see something as it is, but not simply in a mere mundane way. I know this is hard to describe, and the truth is that philosophers have tried to go into it for ages. Maybe an image for this is that refinement can be seen as a process that leads us to the magical seeing of something in its fullness of expression, such as when we look at a room that has been painstakingly put together and we suddenly see it as a Whole. We find that we can see the room as more than the sum of its parts. Some might tell me that this is what Pisces does, but I see the signs in terms of polarities, meaning that to understand Virgo, we must also know about Pisces and vice versa. Virgo and Pisces are two sides of the same coin. They evoke each other. To express one side really well requires that the other side also be expressed well.

I am saying this not only because it reflects how I see the world as well as my own Sun sign, which is Virgo, but also to let you know that this Mars retrograde has been focused on this very theme for the entire cycle. For example, I am asking questions such as, “How can I refine my thoughts so that when I teach, I am able to pull down these archetypal images in such a way as they have a good chance to become ‘real’ to my students?” It often feels more like an art form, rather than simply the presenting of mere data. And I think it is artistry, if art refers to the process of revealing something that is both self-evident as well as unseen. Yes, something can be both self-evident and unseen. Why? Because we are perceivers and just because something is in front of us does not mean that we can ‘see’ it. This is the art of engaging in a process of revealing of ‘essence’ and this is what Virgo is capable of due to its sensitivity to the world. Ask yourself how well you are truly ‘seeing’ that which is right in front of you. That kind of question and others like it is what Mars retrograde can be concerned with.

So often we see astrology only in terms of events. We focus on what happens to us as if the naming of a particular event can tell us what it means to us. But, we human beings are “meaning-makers.” We determine what events mean to us and how we process that experience. There are nearly an infinite number of different ways we can process an event. What a Mars retrograde cycle can aid us with is the importance of understanding this fact. This can free us up to take great care in how we process the events that happen to us each day. And, by engaging in this way we can can live a more ‘magical’ and full life.

We would love to hear how you are being affected by this Mars cycle and welcome you to share it.

Mars Retrograde and More

Published on January 26th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Sher


OK, it’s here. Mars is now retrograde. It went retrograde on Jan. 23, 2012 at 4:54pm PST and occurred right after a New Moon. I’ll write about the significance of this later on. This retrograde period is unusually long as it lasts for 11 weeks, returning to direct motion in mid-April. As this cycle begins, Mars is moving slowly, so its full intention has not yet been revealed. What do I mean by ‘intention’? Every retrograde cycle has a purpose. They are not mere inconveniences or hassles. Often people think of them solely as just ‘something to get through.’ They may indeed cause delays or even reversals, but to only see these cycles in this way is too limited and even negative.

Instead, it is better to ask the following questions:

  1.  What is being revealed to me?
  2.  What do I need to discover?
  3.  What new things are coming into my life?

Armed with this approach, we are open to understanding the meaning of both whatever happens or whatever doesn’t happen. Reversals and shifts are meaningful and important. While doors may close, new doors will open. And, without the closing of an ‘old’ door (the ending of a cycle of action) we wouldn’t see an approaching opportunity or ‘new’ door that will excite us, allow our imaginations to soar, and take us down new paths toward unknown territory that our Soul actually needs for it revival and growth.

At this point in the cycle, however, the new has not yet emerged. It is too soon. So, it can feel like things are moving more slowly or, for some people not moving at all. We could feel a bit lost or even frustrated not knowing what to do. Worse yet, we could blame ourselves for what is or is not happening. This is needless because for the most part we are not in control of the situation. We can only do what we can. It is so helpful to know about the existence of cycles and to perceive our lives through that awareness.

During this 11 week period Mars is in Virgo, but it will affect all of the mutable signs as well (Gemini, Sagittarius and Pisces). This is especially true if you have planets between 3° and 23° of those signs.

The General View of Mars Retrograde


The usual statements of astrologers about this period are that it is not a good time to start a completely new project. It is a bit more complicated than that however. Firstly, you may not want to do so, because it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Or, you may find that circumstances don’t permit you to act, at least not yet. There are two things to look at that will be helpful:

  1. This is a time to finish old projects or complete any activities that remain open for some reason. This part of the cycle is about ‘clearing the decks.’
  2. Also, it is a time to be open to new ways of self-assertion or activity. It is important to note that as we get into February or March, we will be approached or approach others about some new and unexpected opportunties. In fact, there may be many opportunities showing up. The best thing to do if this happens is to explore whatever you feel good about so you can patiently determine if you want to move in that direction.

This is a very unusual Mars retrograde and may be much more favorable than most. There is a very powerful earth grand trine that will bring many of us some amazing possibilities. Thus, I cannot just glibly say, “Don’t start anything new.” In general, one should really take a good look at whatever emerges, but they should not be rejected out of hand. There’s even more than this.

But…..There’s Even More

Complicating things further, there are four coinciding transits of which we can be aware. They occur on February 6-7, 2012 and are as follows:

  1. There is a Full Moon which can bring some new things to a head or to some fulfillment.
  2. There is the Superior conjunction between the Sun and Mercury which is the fulfillment of the Mercury retrograde cycle two months ago.
  3. Saturn will turn retrograde at 29° of Libra.
  4. Neptune enters Pisces which will last until 2025.

Any one of these is important, but together they could bring about some unexpected opportunities. I will write more on this as we get closer to those dates. As you can see, the Mars retrograde may not act in a normal manner, so we will all get to watch it together over the next fewe months.

As always, we love your input so feel free to let us know your thoughts about this interesting period of time.

It’s Getting A Bit Complicated

Published on November 29th, 2011 | Posted by Jim Sher


The study of astrology becomes really interesting when we have several significant astrological factors happening at one time. The period we are in right now is one of those times. Here’s what is happening:

  1. Mercury is in retrograde, which began on November 23, 2011 and will continue that way for two more weeks.
  2. We had a Solar eclipse on November 24th and will have a Lunar eclipse on December 10th.
  3. Mars is in its ‘shadow’ period.
  4. There will be the Inferior conjunction between the Sun and Mercury on December 4th.

Any one of these is important by itself, but together it creates a confusing, but active period full of cross-currents and complexities that can defy our attempts to navigate if we only use logic as our guide. You may want to refer to my previous article for more information on the Solar eclipse and Mercury retrograde which you can find here.

What I want to talk about in this article is how the Mars transit fits into all of this. To understand the Mars cycle, you will need to know that ordinarily Mars moves along smoothly at a fairly rapid speed. It moves almost 1° a day for most of its two-year cycle. Thus, unless it is transiting a particularly important part of our chart, we may not take notice of its influence. It takes about 2 years for Mars to orbit the Sun, but for 6-7 months, Mars does something very different and this 6-month period is actually 25% of its 2-year cycle. What makes this so important is that it spends this period in only 20° of the zodiac. This means that during this time, we are going to be very focused on a very small portion of our chart when it comes to Martian matters.

What Does Mars Rule?


The Mars energy is how we assert ourselves, how we project our Will out into the world, to affect it the way we want or, as is often the case, the way we must. It rules our strategies, approaches to projects and the way we act or behave to get what we want and need. During this high focus Mars period we are forced to really consider what we are doing. We will need to take a really good look at what we want to achieve and how we should go about doing that.

The Mars Cycle Itself


Mars will go retrograde on Jan. 23, 2012 and stay in retrograde motion for 11 weeks. Ordinarily, Mars is retrograde for only 8 weeks.  So this upcoming period of review is going to last much longer than normal and therefore be more intense.

Why Talk About this Cycle Now?


On November 17, 2011, Mars entered the territory it will retrograde back to by April 14th of next year. So, it is already in the area of your chart that will be a part of the “review and discovery” process that will last until early summer of 2012. That’s seven months. So, even though Mars will not go retrograde for another 7 weeks, the Mars cycle has actually already begun.

What This Means


Let me first say that this does not mean one should not act or do things. Such a notion would be ridiculous. But it is going to be helpful to note that whatever is set into motion right now, could be reviewed and/or modified over the next months. I’m suggesting that one ‘expect unanticipated results or effects from whatever we begin at this point.

Remember that with Mercury retrograde right now and a coming lunar eclipse, we are in a state of great transition. This is not a stable period of time, especially if your chart is affected by these transits. What I do during periods such as these is make sure that whatever I choose to do is as well thought out as I can possibly make it. I will tend to avoid snap decisions if I can and wait until I’m sure of whatever decision I’m thinking of making. But it is just as true that amazing new ideas can begin to come in to us. We should not refuse them, of course, but we also should not act on them yet as they are not likely to be fully formed for quite awhile.

Mars in Virgo


Mars is now in Virgo and will be for 7 months. Virgos love to break things down into their parts and see what is out of balance or what isn’t working the way it could. Then, after that, they want to organize it into a comprehensive whole. That’s the hardest part for them as they can focus excessively on details and not see the whole picture. They also love to improve the techniques or style of whatever they are involved in. This is a great time for all of us to focus in on health, diet, and nutrition issues as we can discover new ways to take care of our body and mind. Also, any health issues that come up for you now or in the near future, should be taken seriously as they could be hints of problems you will want to address.

Mars square Mercury While Retrograde


In the middle of all this, we also have a potential crisis that we would do well to handle without falling into a severe argumentative approach. This transit which happens on December 4th and January 1st, 2012 is a time I would suggest all of us watch carefully. These two periods are a time where people could take belligerent or argumentative stands. Things could easily turn nasty and create long-lasting effects. What this period is good for, if both parties of a dispute can remain composed and focused on solutions, is to find creative ways to look at their conflict from a new perspective. Another constructive aspect of this transit is that if two people are trying to work something out AND one of them has been less powerful than the other in the past, then this period could allow for things to equalize. The weaker person may suddenly want to be heard and seen. The outcome will depend on how well the stronger person handles this ‘new’ approach by the other. If the dominant one doesn’t like the change they see, they could fight back aggressively and become intransient, which would make moving forward impossible. For some, this could be a trying time. Patience and calmness is extremely important now. With the Sun/Mercury Inferior conjunction also occurring on December 4th, clarity is possible as we can see more than ever how things really are. What we do with that clarity is important, but I suggest that we not rush to resolution. Issues coming up now may be significant ones, so much so that they cannot be solved quickly. It will be enough to agree to enter a process with the other person, if both sides want to work through the problems. But it may be that the conflict cannot be resolved. This is another reason why it is best to wait and see rather than push towards a solution that cannot happen right away.

As you can see, the first 10 days of December are quite difficult for some of you. We will succeed if we can hold our tongues while still asserting ourselves in as constructive a manner as possible and remain patient and non-reactive.

I will be writing more through December as so much is going on.

Mars Going Back to Its Direct Motion

Published on March 4th, 2010 | Posted by Jim Sher

Well, it’s not the most exciting title I’ve ever come up with for an article, but given the fact that Mars has been retrograde for 10 weeks, the fact that it is about to return to its normal direct motion, will hopefully be exciting enough for us. The end of any retrograde cycle is often the most difficult part to handle. The reason is that on one hand we’ve been working with whatever the cycle demands of us for a long time but at the same time we’re somehow not quite done. Worse yet, is that the planet is moving ever so slowly at the end of the cycle, so that it sometimes just tests our patience. “Why can’t we get started already,” can be our plaintive cry. Right now, Mars is only 13 minutes from where it will be when it turns direct on March 10, 2010 at 0° Leo. So, it is barely moving at all. This means that it can feel like there’s nothing we can do to move forward, and that to try to force anything can only bring frustration. This is not to say that some of us are not busy. But what we’re busy with is often concerned with the finishing up of an old cycle.

Another common theme at a time when Mars is moving so slowly is that whatever has been building up and has not come out into the light of day, will do so now. A friend reported to me today that she was at a meeting where things that have been discussed privately between many of the staff for many months, has suddenly come out into the open and in front of the supervisors. Here again, this group was dealing with old business that had been avoided. How many things in our life can be characterized by the term – ‘Hiding in plain sight!’

I would urge my readers to use this often frustrating time to make sure that anything you know that is ‘Hiding in plain sight’, be allowed to break free from its deadly silence and let out into the open plains of our conscious mind. I know that Mars is often associated with war, conflict, anger, and even violence. But ironically, such things occur in life when aspects that really need attention are resisted or worse, completely avoided.

Mars will go direct at 9:09am on Wednesday, March 10th. This should quickly bring a sense that things can begin to move again. Many of us will feel the shift pretty soon after the change occurs. But just as Mars is going very slowly now, it will continue to do so for many weeks. So, it’s best to not expect a sudden turnaround of momentum during most of March. By April, Mars will begin to get back to its normal speed and with many planets in Aries by that time, we will be able to really feel like we can get started into new territory. By then, the winter slowness will be quickly fading and feel like a distant memory.

Pluto in Capricorn

With Pluto now having moved fully into Capricorn (5°) we are beginning to see its meaning. Also, the square it is making to Saturn,( which is extra important since Saturn rules Capricorn), the meaning of this transit is also becoming clear. If I had to give you one word to describe the essence of this transit, that word would be DEBT. Of course there is much more to it than that, but let’s take a look at how deeply the use of debt has become in our society. Our entire economy has been based on it. We go into recession or worse, when people stop living with large debt. This means that the nature of our present model that operates our economic system is that it has encouraged us to live beyond our means. That is what is changing right now as we are having to look at the results of this. By the way, this problem has reached a peak in the European economy with the debt crisis in Greece and its spillover into all of Europe. We automatically assume that somehow it will all work out. Well, now we are discovering that this assumption is false.

One of the telltale signs of the beginning of a sea change has been the increased status in the Obama administration of the economist Paul Volcker. This change has been a part of the Mars retrograde cycle. Volcker was the head of the Fed in the early 80′s when he raised the interest rates to record levels (18%) in order to stop inflation. He was demonized at the time, but the effect of his action was profound. Not only did inflation stop, but the economy has avoided high interest rates for the last 30 years. So, Volcker represents an official who did what was necessary even if it was unpopular. He saw what was needed for the long-term and ignored short term pain. That kind of approach seems nearly impossible today. What Volcker is proposing now is a major set of reforms of our economic system. Right now, it is Volcker who is representing the major thrust of the Saturn square to Pluto in Capricorn. Not surprisingly, his proposals are being attacked and resisted. So far, economic reform seems to be in a stalemated position as the mammoth banks are fighting back with all their might. Here are a few of his proposals: He wants to prohibit risky investments by commercial banks. Also, he proposes that banks be limited to trading within their own accounts. Simply put, he wants to ensure that the economic crisis that we’re still in, is prevented from happening again, though I think it’s fair to say that our human species has a strong tendency to forget once the crisis is over. He also added that although this country may never return to having the manufacturing base we once had, it is necessary to begin ‘making things’ here again. He proposes more manufacturing and less importing. Why? Because we are so deeply in debt and continuing to move rapidly into even worse shape, that he is afraid a real crisis is inevitable if this doesn’t change.  We need to begin making things again that can be exported to other countries. His fear is that if we don’t do this, we are on the way to becoming more like a third world country than any of us could have ever dreamed. For years, our middle class has been dying out.

In a recent interview, he very calmly described our beloved Congress as the most “dysfunctional” he has ever seen, describing it as unable to enact any meaningful legislation of any kind. The Republican party won’t even allow for the confirmation of key positions in the Dept. of the Treasury, making it unable to do its job. He also said something else that is worthy of serious consideration and asks important questions about the present values of our nation. He reminded the interviewer that in the past, our best minds went into engineering, physics, medicine, etc., but that now those same minds have become ‘financial engineers.’ They produce nothing. They create no real wealth. They just create schemes for making money. And they create such complex systems, that not only does no one really understand how it works, but even more scary is that no one knows at all what the effects will be on the economy of our nation, as they pile up. How can an economy survive when the obvious is no longer understood or even seen?

The problems this country is facing are hiding in plain sight. But with Pluto now fully in Capricorn, we will be forced to experience the reality of our short-sightedness and greed. The party is over, but it does not appear that we realize it. You can watch and see for yourself how things develop in Congress with regard to financial reform. There is a really funny skit at the following link  from Funny or Die that you might enjoy if you haven’t seen it already. I’ll be commenting more in the near future about Pluto in Capricorn, especially as we approach the summer transits.

Venus Making Its Appearance

Published on February 9th, 2010 | Posted by Jim Sher

While we have focused as of late on the Mars retrograde cycle, which is still in effect and the even tougher aspect of Saturn squaring Pluto, beginning this week Venus is rising to get our attention. But this is a less personal Venus since it will have a very Piscean tone to it. It may start out feeling a bit subtle, but it will be gaining strength in the next week. It began by conjuncting Neptune on Sunday, February 6th at 25 degrees of Aquarius and then will amplify its Neptunian ambiance as it enters Pisces on February 11th, 2010 (the ruler of Neptune) and then conjuncts expansive Jupiter at 7 Pisces on February 16th. Not only does this conjunction occur in Pisces, but Jupiter is the co-ruler of this compassionate water sign and Venus is exalted in it as well. We are about to experience this archetypal energy in a very powerful way.

Of course you’re asking what this means and I must tell you a brief story. Last night in class, a student expressed the fact that she has a very hard time understanding and talking about Pisces. Then, another student who has the Moon in Pisces in her birth chart, said, “I know, even I do too!” The reason for this is that this sign is such a dissolving archetypal form, that it defies and must defy simple verbal definition. It literally rules the principle of imagination and idealism, so no wonder that when we approach trying to describe it, we find that we must do so by using images, story, metaphor, and so on. The symbol of Pisces is literally two fish looking at or opposing one another, and yet tied together somehow. This immediately evokes the image of contradiction and to those familiar with archetypal transformational symbols, the notion of reconciliation of opposites. Another story that might help is the woman who called me a few days ago and asked me what was ‘up with the stars’ last Sunday. She said she was watching all of the Dr. Drew Celebrity Rehab shows that were on that day. Well, sure enough that was the very day that Venus aligned with Neptune. So why did this show pique her interest? Because Pisces/Neptune rules both drug addiction and the possible rehab/recovery process. But let’s go deeper. Sure, it tests us in intense ways, but it also takes us into a place where we must learn to have compassion for both ourselves and others. I know several people who participate in 12-step programs and do not have specific addictions. For them it is a way of participating in a spiritual process with others who must move towards being able to reach into one’s very bottom of despair, hopelessness and fear and come out the other side as a transformed person. It also represents ‘every-persons’ connection with one’s own human vulnerability, imperfection and even sorrow…. It is sometimes a specific sorrow that pertains to something that has happened to us, but often it is more of an existential sorrow that does not connect to anything we can clearly identify. And it can connect us with whatever we consider to be God, the Divine, or Life itself.

Archetypally, Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac and this itself is quite helpful to us as we attempt to understand this mysterious sign. We can think of life as a building up process that moves us from Aries to the next to last sign, Aquarius. As we grow in concern from oneself, to one’s family, to our relationships with others, and then to society in general, we must finally arrive at Pisces, the symbolic end of the cycle. Because it represents the ending, its aspects must include surrender, letting go and a sense that only we, as individuals can regard the entire cycle as meaningful or not. Sometimes, we see that Pisces can be morose, negative, hopeless and even depressed. It can do all it can to escape the harshness of life and even the sense that it is all meaningless since we all die anyway. But this is exactly where Pisces can ennoble us and take us to new territory. What we are really needing to surrender is our ego attachments to a dying cycle. In doing this we may discover that it is not ‘we’ who are dying, but our identifications that are coming to their inevitable end. Thus, it is Pisces wherein we may encounter our own immortality, but not without a crisis first. That crisis is the result of our having to meet our own mortality and surrender to its inevitability. As we surrender our identifications and even identities, we find that what we are really doing is letting go of all the things we are NOT. It is only then, that we are able to witness what is left when all that we are NOT has dissolved.

One of the ways this can happen to us is through an encounter with the harsh aspects of life. What do people face when they are either in some sort of recovery or in close connection with someone who is? They face BOTH sides of the life cycle. First there is the fear, disgust, desire to flee that always comes with an encounter with people who are at ‘bottom.’ But then, at least for some, there may come the other side, where unconditional love is felt and experienced. It is where we let go of our judgments of self and others and arrive at a deep and profound acceptance of all that is Life. It’s amazing highs and gut-wrenching lows. It is in Pisces where every part of human life is validated, confirmed, and then appreciated and seen as necessary. Not only do we realize that there cannot be highs with lows, but more significantly we see that life without ‘everything-in-it, could not exist. This is the mystical experience of total immersion into all of Life and how we are transformed by this degree of Divine Love and Total Acceptance.

Now that Jupiter has entered Pisces and will soon be followed by Venus, we are going to each of us have a chance to experience this level of love and compassion. But it is also likely that we will also experience the other side as well. In Pisces, ALL of life emerges from the unconscious and while we face the harsh side of life, we can simultaneously also see, sense and experience the deep compassionate side as well. Venus and Jupiter are identified as the higher and lesser benefics, so when they come together, it is generally considered to be a very fortunate time. And they indeed are likely to be. But perhaps it is best if we do not forget that this period could easily take us into an aspect of life that asks us to surrender our judgments and ego-attachments and just BE. Just BE with oneself, with others and with Life. Relationships may indeed form now, but they may take on a tone that is less personal than Venus alone. Venus can be motivated by physical attraction and personal desire. It can express itself as love and beauty in a positive sense, but it is also the Evil Queen who spoke those memorable words – “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all.” The coming Venus-Jupiter transit is going to have a concern for others that can go way beyond ego- gratification and exemplify the best of what Love can be.

Mundane World - It is likely that although most Republicans are wanting the health care bill to die, under the transits that are going in the next weeks, what is more likely is that the bill will be ‘resurrected’ in a new form. The Mars retrograde has brought about large changes but will probably not end the process completely. The next step will be to find some sort of compromise that at least can be embraced by a larger majority than before. It may be much smaller in scope than it was originally, but some sort of compassionate response will be more wanted now than ever. Also, I suspect there will be an increased willingness to take some actions that will relieve the sorrows of those of us who are the least able to take care of themselves.

As always, I hope many of you will tell us how you are experiencing the upcoming transits. We will all appreciate it.


Jim Sher