The past refuses to be dismissed, for it is the voice of all human wisdom. If ignored, the past exacts its vengeance; men who forget the past are indeed condemned to repeat it.
The astrological Mars often gets a bad rap. Mars is associated with war, hostility, anger and rage; it fuels the primal “id” of need and desire – all things we consider “bad.” But Mars is also the factor that provides energy and motivation, fueling our desires so that we can accomplish our goals and dreams. We need Mars, and can’t live without it. But we need Mars to be healthy and clean of extraneous issues and ego needs.
That’s where the retrograde cycle of Mars comes in. Every two years or so Mars turns retrograde (meaning it appears to move backwards from our perspective here on Earth). Mars is an action planet and easily frustrated, so Mars is not very happy or comfortable during the retrograde periods which can make things more difficult for us individually since the force of Mars tends to be expressed more internally when Mars is retrograde. We are more likely to feel frustrated and angry if things don’t go our way, and less able to put our plans into motion.
Retrograde cycles are an important part of the unfolding story of our lives, and connecting ourselves with the rhythms of the planetary movements helps us to unlock the power of the planets to guide and help us shape our destiny. There is a time for action when planets are direct, and a time for rest and reflection when planets turn retrograde, and this is especially true for Mars. During this period we may find it more difficult to initiate new action – there is a tendency to feel like we’re going one step forward and two steps back. Retrograde periods of Mars can feel frustrating because our desires are often thwarted. If we listen to the planetary wisdom of the retrograde cycle and turn our attention within, we can utilize this time to re-assess and re-evaluate our desires, hopes and wishes.
What’s known as the “shadow period” of a retrograde cycle begins when a planet slows down in anticipation of the retrograde turn. As it comes to a “station” (still point) its energies are most potent. During this “shadow” period we are being prepared for the retrograde cycle. Our spiritual brakes are applied, usually without our conscious will, and the world begins to slow down around us. We may find ourselves becoming more frustrated, and that can lead to anger.
This shadow period began in October and Mars turned retrograde on October 30th, but we can use this retrograde magic to pay attention. Where are we trying to make something happen but the doors keep closing around us? Where are we feeling weak and unable to assert ourselves? How is our body’s energy system coping with the retrograde?
Everyone will experience this cycle differently depending upon the health of Mars in our own charts, but here are some strategies for everyone to get the most out of this retrograde period.
- Most importantly, take care of your health and your physical energy. With any challenging Mars cycle, this means physical activity of some sort, and with as much vigor as intensity as you can muster. Physical activity is an excellent way way to balance the energy of Mars.
- Advice you may hear to avoid conflict during Mars retrograde periods is really not helpful. Conflict often cannot be avoided, and in my view the best way to manage conflict is to express it early. Mars retrograde periods can be excellent for resolving longstanding conflicts and for bringing up issues that need to be dealt with. In fact, the retrograde period will force the continued reflection of the conflict until it is resolved.
- Reassess your greatest desires; write down the five most important priorities to you at this time in your life. This is not a time to begin implementing action to make those things happen, but instead to reflect on your current priorities and see if any of them need to be adjusted.
- All retrograde periods are excellent for reviewing our internal landscape: our thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires.
- Mars retrograde periods are excellent for repairing your home, but not for beginning a new addition or new home project.
- Mars fuels passion, and when retrograde our passions may wane or fizzle out altogether. This is a normal part of the natural rhythm of the planets so don’t worry! Conserve your energies and gather your strength so when the retrograde is over, and Mars has picked up energy again, you will have the force of Mars to assist you in taking action once again.