The planet Mars is the governor of energy and sex. He is the warrior, and he represents the masculine. It’s best not to pick a fight with a child of Mars, because they will fight back. Mars and Venus are the two planets closest to the Earth in the solar system, and compared to the others, their orbits are not that different than ours. Venus requires 225 days to orbit the Sun, and it takes Mars 687 days. (Mercury orbits the Sun every 88 days, and Jupiter requires 12 years.) Retrogrades occur when a planet is passing the Earth, or the Earth is passing a planet on our solar racetrack. Because Mars and Venus have orbits so close to ours, they don’t retrograde as often as the other planets. Mercury retrogrades three or four times a year, and all of the planets outside of Mars retrograde once per year. But, Mars only turns retrograde once every two years and two months.
Because Mars retrograde doesn’t happen often, it usually knocks us off kilter. Its not part of our natural subconscious rhythms like the other outer planetary retrogrades. Mars will always come to a trine (a very positive aspect) with Sun fifteen to twenty days before his retrograde begins. This usually brings up a lot of excitement and positive energy, then… BAM, retrograde catches us off guard. Mars will come to a second trine with the Sun fifteen or twenty days after his retrograde ends. In fact, many astrologers feel that we don’t really get out from under Mars retrograde until Mars comes to its second trine with the Sun. Mars will also come to an opposition with the Sun half-way through his retrograde. Subconscious energy that has been building since Mars retrograde began often comes to a head during the Sun-Mars opposition.
Astrologers would like to warn people not to sign any contracts or make any life changing decisions while Mars is in retrograde, but we understand, because Mars retrograde lasts for about two months, that isn’t always possible. But, be sure to use caution, and postpone what you can. The slow burn of Mars retrograde can either be psychologically depleting and corrosive, or it can free up frustrated energy. Pockets of anger may flash and surprise us during Mars retrograde, and repressed rage and passions could bring knee-jerk reactions. Some may call it ill fated or bad luck, but astrologers understand it may just be a case of bad timing. If you are already feeling disorganized or your life is chaotic, Mars retrograde will likely exacerbate those feelings. When it comes to marriage, Mars retrograde may make us aware of our abilities for diplomacy and strategy. Patience and alertness must be employed or depression could ensue. Illness and stress could weaken one’s immune system, and sickness is most likely to attack when Mars turns direct, so be sure to take care of yourself throughout Mars retrograde. Sometimes we lose our inspiration when Mars is in retrograde, but it always resurfaces with new and more realistic goals after Mars turns direct.
When Mars hits his retrograde station (the beginning of his retrograde) our drives and our energy reverses direction. Simple chores can suddenly become huge efforts, and our routines can become greatly disrupted. Our interests and focus can stop altogether, and some things may not seem all that important anymore. This feeling of lethargy can actually last until after Mars has turned direct and returns to the point where his retrograde began, which takes about four months total. Mars retrograde marks a period of reaction rather than action. We may decide to spend some time reflecting our own moral and ethical motives. Ventures and other kinds of projects in progress may get postponed or even terminated. Our passions and our ambitions could actually get reversed. Often Mars retrograde brings up repressed feelings of hostility or frustration. Old wounds, hurts, or frustrations could come out at the most inconvenient time causing unexpected disruptions.
When Mars comes to an opposition to the Sun, the retrograde halfway point, all that internal energy that has been gestating and cooking since Mars retrograde began becomes external. Get ready for drama! Because Mars and the Sun are at an opposition, when looking at your natal chart, you will also need to check the house opposite of transiting Mars, the house the transiting Sun will occupy. This Sun-Mars opposition will cause a conflict between the two houses in your own chart. This could bring us in contact with deep-seated and often disguised forms of rage, passion, heat, energy, raw libido, and ambition. It could bring an explosive moment that will clear the air, or it may ignite a series of frustrations that will not let up until Mars turns direct again.
After we pass the Sun-Mars opposition a period of reconsidering will come about. We will be ready to rethink any new directions that may have emerged during the first half of Mars’ retrograde. We may need to totally re-evaluate our goals and plans during this period to bring about a reclamation of our own personal power. We may have a tendency to deflect or displace anger, irritation, or fear while Mars is in retrograde, but these sore spots have a tendency to erupt when Mars comes to his direct station (the point where he changes from retrograde to direct motion).
As I mentioned before, some astrologers believe that Mars retrograde influence doesn’t really end until Mars comes to trine the Sun fifteen or twenty days after his retrograde ends. That’s because this period of time is often marked by tense apprehension. You can feel the need for change, but the time isn’t quite right. Often struggles come to solution after the second Sun-Mars trine. Most find that any harbored animosity has a tendency to clear out. But, this author thinks the best thing about Mars retrograde is its proximity to the Earth. So be sure to get outside and take a look at that big red star in the sky.