As we enter a Mars retrograde period, it may be helpful to take a good look at its possible effects on us as Mars does not retrograde very often. In fact, it only moves in retrograde motion once every two years. No other planet retrogrades this infrequently. However, when it is retrograde, its significance seems can be greater due to both its infrequency as well as to the length of time of the retrograde period. In the 2016 period, Mars will be retrograde for 10 weeks, although the cycle itself is much longer than that.
Mars begins its retrograde motion on Sunday, April 17th at 5:14am PDT at 8° Sagittarius 54’. The period will end on June 29 at 4:38pm PDT at 23° Scorpio 3’. What I would like to also point out is that while the time period in which Mars is retrograde is obviously important, what may be more significant is the fact that Mars will be traversing the territory I just mentioned for 6 months. To be specific Mars entered the area in which it will return (23° Scorpio) on February 17th and will leave the territory of its retrograde cycle on August 22nd. That’s 6 months and one week. This means that Martian energy will be in a small zodiacal territory (15°) for about 190 days. This brings tremendous Martian focus into this part of a person’s chart or any chart for that matter including the charts of corporations, organizations and nations.
What Might This Mean?
I regard each and every astrological period as good for some things and not so good for others. This is an important principle for several reasons:
- To think otherwise is to create for oneself self-defeating attitudes and behaviors that can border on self-sabotage.
- Life, whether or not a person uses astrology, is constantly challenging us in a wide variety of ways. To try to simplify life into just good and bad events that happen to us trivializes both astrology and life itself. The way that astrology can help us is by using it to help us understand the usefulness and challenges that each transit provides.
- All too often interpreters of astrology contribute to the stereotyping of astrological principles. Concerning Mars retrograde some astrologers have regarded it as negative or as a weakening of the Martian principle. But, if that’s true then why do many athletes have Mars retrograde in their natal chart? Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant are just two examples of great athletes who have Mars retrograde in their birth chart.
The Nature of Mars Retrograde
Mars is the archetypal force that rules the principle of self-assertion and the style in which we go after what we want. There are many different styles or strategies people use to act in the world and astrology can offer a great insight into what those different styles might be. When Mars is direct in a person’s chart, they are not often going to examine what their personal style is. It is likely to be a ‘taken-for-granted’ set of approaches and behaviors to life. How often do we question what our style of taking action is? Do we ask ourselves how well our strategies are working and whether or not it would be a good idea to shift our approach? And, when we do question these things, are we not doing so as the result of something happening to us that tends to force us to look at ourselves and our style of action? In other words, as a general rule do we inquire into our style of self-assertion?
The Mars retrograde time period is exactly the time to look into our styles of self-assertion. We may do so on our own or we might be asked to do it by the feedback we get from other people with whom we may be in conflict. This is the advantage and positive aspect of a Mars retrograde period. It is a time to reflect on our ways of asserting ourselves into the world and examine how we are being received. We can reflect on our successes and failures and see if our actions have enabled us to achieve what we have set out to reach or rather have been part of why we have failed. So, it is important to pay close attention to whatever feedback we are getting and to focus on learning from them.
Clearly, since this principle is occurring for everyone, we will also find ourselves dealing with other people’s behaviors and possible aggression as they too will need to learn from the feedback their environment is giving them. So, we may need to develop patience with others at this time as it will be important to consider how you respond to any aggressive people coming at you.
What state must we be in to have the patience we may need at this time or to be able to truly reflect on one’s way of acting in the world? Does ego and pride block our ability to reflect honestly and openly receive positive feedback? These attributes can seem amplified right now as any resistance to engage fully in this process is likely to backfire on us and demonstrate how important it is to put that resistance aside and look at any pride or ego we might have that blocks us from making the changes we need to make for our behaviors to become more constructive. We benefit from striving towards impartial observing of ourselves, and working to be as authentic and honest as possible.
Generally, astrologers urge that we not begin new projects during the Mars retrograde cycle. What’s interesting is that most of the time we don’t really want to take new actions anyway, unless we are forced by specific events in our life. This does not mean that we should avoid action. In fact, Mars retrograde is time when we may need to act on certain things that are now becoming necessary. We should do whatever we know we must do and then to do so without resistance or fear. Why? Because the actions required of us now are preparing us for the future and for new actions that will be possible when Mars turns direct.
The Joy and Love of ‘Self’-Assertion
When our acts are pure, natural, creative, simple, clean and without thought of reward, our actions are joyful. We will feel we are acting in harmony with life and with our own highest destiny. In fact it is in the Mars retro period that we might discover the value of this ‘mode of being’ or way of approaching action. Too often astrologers create fear during retrograde periods. It isn’t necessary to be fearful at this time. If this period blocks us from accomplishing something we want to do, accept it. It is either not good for you or not the right time. Try not to resist what’s happening or not happening. If you can do so, just turn towards living simply and without ego. And, if you feel you need to take time out to assess and reflect on your ‘styles’ of action, then do so as impartially and non-judgmentally as possible. It will pay off later.
Another factor that Dane Rudhyar illustrates is that the Mars retrograde period is also when the “Full Moon” phase of the Sun-Mars cycle occurs. So I’ve found it helpful to go back to last June and review the Sun-Mars conjunction to see what “seed” was planted during that time. Now I can view this retrograde period as a time of fulfillment of that seed rather than as a time of obstacles and challenges only. Rudhyar used the expression “self-induced obstacles”, reiterating your point about fear and ego blocking us from re-examination of ourselves. Thus embracing vulnerability during this time should actually serve to remove the obstacles.
Thank you so much for your clear and direct perspective! I am doing some big reflecting and releasing right now and it feels so validating to read this. Thank you as always, Jim.
Thank you for this very clear information about Mars Retrograde. I have been strongly feeling the effects of this coming since mid February. And there have been some major events in my life that have happened in the last 6-weeks that I know are preparing me for the transformation that I am in the midst of. I do have faith that these events are necessary for me to experience, as unpleasant as they have been. I am focused on assessing what I want & making sure that I am coming from an authentic non-ego based perspective.
Your commentary on Mars retrograde is very thought provoking (as usual), especially as you encourage us to look into our styles of self-assertion, and to impartial observe ourselves, and work toward being as authentic and honest as possible. I’m looking forward to this retrograde, as an opportunity to gain deeper insight, and self reflection.
As always, it is a pleasure to read your perspective, and your thought-full words of insight.
Thanks for this thoughtful, balanced and helpful article, Jim. I will share it on my astrology questions and answers Facebook Page.
Jim, thank you for clarifying the nature of Mars retrograde and the beneficial approaches to handling its influence. I think I already started feeling its effects in the last three weeks, and the fact that Mars entered its 6-month long retrograde territory on February 17th might partially explain why I feel this way. Negotiating this transit, without losing face, has been a particularly slippery slope, given my innately ‘Mars conjunct Sun’ conditioned responses to life. Btw, would this transit also encourage the native to reflect specifically on one’s ways as they pertain to the planets that Mars retrograde passes by in one’s natal chart, between now and August 22nd? Anyway, hope I’ll gracefully manage to learn the lessons and make the discoveries that this constellation has in store for me, without trampling on anyone’s feelings and without losing faith in myself.
Hi Jim, thanks or your thoughts and advice on Mars retrograde. You’ve helped me let go of much apprehension I’ve been having about it.
Thank you for the sound, balanced advice.