A long, hot summer The Mars Retrograde Cycle for June through November 2003

This summer brings the rarest of all planetary retrogrades into full play. Mars’ complete retrograde cycle occupies the entire summer and autumn from June 18th through November 9th, Though its actual period in retrograde motion is from July 29th through September 28th, the approach to Mars’ station-retrograde, and its passing past the degree at which it did station-retrograde, occupies almost six months - that is one-half of the year - to fulfill.

Remaining in the first 10° of the sign Pisces for the entire six months of summer and autumn, it traverses forward, backward and forward again over those degrees. It first reaches 0° of Pisces on June 18th (the degree at which it will station-direct (Sd>) in November); then stations-retrograde (SRx) at 10° Pisces on July 29th; then stations-direct on Sept. 28th (at 0° Pisces).  Then, finally, moving on to complete the full cycle by November 9th, when it crosses back over the tenth degree of Pisces, which was its (its station-retrograde point in July).

Retrograde Cycles and Mars

All retrograde motion - both stations direct and retrograde - is triggered by the transit of the Sun against the backdrop of the zodiac and its position relative to the superior planet itself. From our geocentric viewpoint there are precise periods for each planet wherein it appears to stop, track back against the zodiac, stop again, and begin to move forward once again. Of the superior planets, Mars is unique in the timing and aspect pattern of retrogression. Whereas all the other planets have an annual, rhythmic pattern - from Mars through Pluto - Mars retrograde cycles occur only every two years and two months. (For full solar system interpretations and cycles of all the planets read “Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape”. By Erin Sullivan, (Weiser Books) available online on this site - go to Books, tapes, Videos on the main navigation bar.)

Both collectively and individually we become accustomed to Mars’ straightforward direct transits as it marks its two-year two month return cycles, spending approximately two months in each sign.

The whole of the retrograde cycle itself - not only the period of actual retrogression - which is around sixty days or two months - involves the “shadow” phase, the actual retrograde motions and its aspects with the sun, and other significant planetary contacts, and then the “fallout” phase, the third phase when Mars has turned direct, and begins its forward motion to the degree at which it stations.

So, the full Retrograde cycle begins when Mars transits the degree at which it will station-direct four months later, and ends only when Mars passes over the degree at which it stationed-retrograde (again, four months later) - as mentioned above, this cycle covers oneself of a year. Because of this incredible duration, Mars dominates half of 2003.

Why does it do that?

Due to its orbital eccentricity as well as its period of orbit - which is almost exactly a double-twin to that of earth’s - the stations of Mars occur most frequently in the area of Cancer, Leo and Virgo, and least frequently in Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius. See the diagram. The other superior planets, Jupiter through Pluto, have annual cycles, thus becoming infused into our unconscious, which readily adapts to regular, ritualistic and cyclic activity.

Although the other superior planets too have their “shock points” and destabilizing effects at the stations, they are more harmonically ingrained into the psyche because of their regular stations and retrogrades each year in rhythmic fashion. They each have their own cycles, which you can read about in Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape. (This book is available on this website, under “Books, Tapes” through Amazon.com, at good prices, by the way.)

Mars is like a “double twin” of our earth. It’s axial tilt is virtually the same, and it has a similar four-season year, but while its seasons are six-month seasons, earth’s are three-months long. The earth orbits the Sun in one year and Mars in two, so earth finally catches up with Mars in its orbit about every two years and two months - then, after a retrograde period of about two months (average of sixty days), it resumes its direct motion for another two years and two months.

Another significant difference between Mars and the other superior planets is its relationship to the Sun around the times it is stationing - both retrograde and direct:

Whereas all other superior planets are already retrograde when in a trine to the Sun, Mars is not.

In turn, this ten degree span will focus on a specific area of one’s natal horoscope, and spend at least half the year in one house, or transit retrograde back into the previous one for part of that time! Thus, from mid March to early September Mars will slowly, thoroughly transit a small sector of the horoscope.

Mars Retrograde: Maverick Ares, God of War

In the retrograde pattern of all superior planets other than Mars, there are only three Ptolemaic aspects made by a superior retrograde planet to the Sun - a trine, a quincunx, and an opposition. Those three aspects are the retrograde aspects formed in the retrograde zone. However, when Mars is retrograde, it makes only the quincunxes and an opposition. No trine. The significance of this will be made clear later on in the precise timing given in this article.

Mars has its own period and cycle, differing radically from all other superior planets and its physics generate its nature - rebellious, assertive, proactive, aggressive, filled with a lust for life and projects self expression. Mars rules thumos, the ancient Greek concept for ‘life force’, the ‘libido’. When Mars begins its lengthy, maverick wandering back over degrees already touched, and back over again, the cycles of Mars retrograde, are useful to work with.

The slow burn that the transit of Mars retrograde engenders can be both corrosive and psychologically depleting and it can free up frustrated energy - simultaneously. The opposition from the Sun in mid cycle can detonate anger, frustration or hostility, while at the same time, illuminate issues that may have lain dormant or unspecified.

Over time, people often ignore or suppress frustration, which inevitably becomes aggression, easily misplaced or displaced. This state of ‘unrealized Mars’ is the origin of all discord and conflict - often which is difficult to name.  On the psychological level, during the retrograde cycle we can heal distress caused by frustrated creativity and passion and unfulfilled desire and ambition. It is a time for civilizing the animal nature, and cultivating raw potential. However, all things, great and small require work and effort, and this cycle is all about that.

Because Mars focuses on a specific place in the natal chart, while the transiting Sun illuminates several distinct phases of development as the Sun transits six signs throughout the entire Mars Retrograde cycle, one can work through a lot of issues that have gone unaddressed for over two years.

Collectively, Mars is almost always associated with global unrest and war. This summer, following on from the last Mars Retrograde phase in 2001 (which, by the way ended on September 9th of 2001, just two days prior to the 9/11 World Trade Attack, which means Mars was virtually “motionless” in its station at the attack an the subsequent horrors that have followed since that date).

Shadowed Mars:

An unrealized or shadowed Mars leaves us open to happenstance aggression; if a person’s will is not personally engaged, often the predominant complaint is of ‘a bad fate or ill luck’ or ‘other people’ are doing things.

Astrology tends not to put anything down to bad luck, but through it, we attempt to understand how a person acts within the context of his or her own natural flow of energy, personality and what the horoscope indicates. Since Mars is a highly projectable agent, that is, so very easily externalized and put ‘out there’, we simply must reconcile our own role within our eventful environment!

Low grade anger and rage results in what is called “projection” - a symptom of an unintegrated Mars - and is the source of some of the most common complaints people have - bad timing; accidents; misdirected anger; guilt; introjected blame; self abuse; painful relationships; depression and health problems. And, within those maladies, lies the cure.

If we cannot acknowledge our own shadow, then it will appear in the form of an event, or as a projection because the outer world is an eventful mirror of the inner self. With Mars, particularly, projection is commonplace - it is so much more economical to have other people declare our wars, and behave badly because then we might not have to assume responsibility ourselves!

A shadowed Mars might behave in a way which allows us to be a victim, a hapless recipient of other people’s anger; if this is the kind of experience you are having it might do to look at your own role in this during the Mars retrograde period. If our own personal Mars is projected, then other people are left to do the dirty work of being angry with us, rejecting us, and acting out our own aggression on our behalf!  In the management of personal energy, Mars cycles play a positive role. Some feelings uncovered during Mars retrograde may be uncomfortable, such as infantile rage, suppressed painful memories, old passions long dormant, infantile or knee-jerk reactions or fantasies of revenge. But, they are all to the good if healing and consciousness are at the forefront of the mind.

Depression, normally associated with Saturn, also is a Mars function. Melancholy is a ‘black anger’, from the Greek melan (black) and cholos - the bile which chemically activates anger. People with natal Mars retrograde often have to cope with an underlying depression of energy and operate in spurts of revolutionary activity.

Melancholy is an embodied psychic condition, and presents physical symptoms such as skin conditions and eruptions, bone/joint problems - arthritic conditions, dental problems, headache, kidney malfunction, exhaustion, immune-deficiency, poverty, lack of motivation, self-destructive acts and lastly, a clinical depression.

All these affairs sound pretty dreadful, but in fact, all people experience various aspects of those symptoms to some degree. It is when one or more become dominant, autonomous if you will, that we are looking at a “Mars problem” - one that can be moderated, and especially during the Mars retrograde cycle.

There are psychopathologies also associated with inverted Mars, such as unresolved conflict and anger (intimately related to arthritic conditions); accidents due to carelessness; lack of coordination; low motivation; irritability; arguing and “bad timing” and, ultimately, a profound melancholia, better known as depression. It is no stretch of the imagination that all these difficult symptoms lie buried at the root of bad relationships as well.

All these conditions can be exacerbated when Mars is retrograde - hence, working on body/mind issues is a necessity during this time, in accord with natural rhythms in our system. Repressing rage is a false economy - it will erupt or be displaced, causing no end of problems that are difficult to source. Best to go to the origin of the feelings.

Similarly, all cultures have Mars in their collective psyche, and war is no stranger to history. Indeed, the rise and fall of all dynasties, empires and cultures are based in and around war.

Mars is significant in the individuation process of cultures especially in the realm of boundary definition and alpha aggression. Hence, the individual relationship we have with Mars is simply writ large but not as easily civilized as it might be with an individual. Mass psychology is a difficult animal to train, and most often - in fact, always - war is a male prerogative.

This being the case, once Ares/Mars mobilizes as a directive force, and the masculine takes over its territorialistic animus, then we are in a place of grave danger. Unfortunately, this particular Mars cycle is just that - a grave danger. Many individuals within our culture do not ascribe to this martial ethos, but it still dominates the drive to success in many ways. Ultimately, as Joseph Campbell states in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”,  “It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal - carries the cross of the redeemer - not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair”. (These are the last words of the book.)

Coming to Our Senses:

When Mars is transiting retrograde, it is an excellent time to determine the difference between a depression of the senses, or psychic apathy, and a simple lack of interest in whatever has been going on. To press on in a situation which is fruitless is sheer bloody mindedness, not brave assertiveness nor reliability! Thus, a conscious ‘letting go’ can be a resolution, rather than soldiering on in the face of adversity.  Projects and long-term plans will need to undergo a review, if not a total withdrawal for a while. Retrogression of a planet is a clear indication that it is time for an investigation into one’s motives. It may be appropriate to relinquish a once beloved goal, ideal, idea, attitude, project, relationship or plan, rather than persist in out-moded actions. If this is what you need to do, then do not fear it because the space you make will become a creative source for new, more appropriate ways of using your self and energy reserves.

This six month period is the time in which to evaluate personal energy level; the quality of work/play time; personal ‘truth’; beliefs, ethics and relationships with learning and knowledge. Too, generally assessing health as an asset and all investments of time, love and money along with where ambitions and passions are really heading will bring positive results. If one is living a lie, a hypocrisy, then one becomes tired, dispassionate and ultimately soul sick.

The answers to the questions that arise during the retrograde cycle of Mars are deep within, in the most primal and gut instinctual place within yourself.

The Collective Picture: In the United States and the World:

The entire Mars Retrograde Cycle this year begins with a bang - on June 22nd, Mars is at 2 degrees of Pisces conjunct Uranus which had stationed retrograde just 14 days earlier, thus is powerful with change and disruption and revolution. In the Mars Rx cycle of 2001, it recalled the unfinished Gulf war scenario in 1990, and in my article on that cycle (“Maverick on the Loose”) I said, . . “ it might well initiate a new “smart war”.” Which, in the light of history, did - 9/11 was the outcome of the previous Mars Retrograde.

A quote from the previous article on the 2001 Mars cycle: “From then, the international picture continued to escalate into tension and boundary crossing (read: invasion, pogrom, isolation, aggression) all through the year, and the United States will lose a tremendous amount of respect in the international scene.” This has come to be true. The instigation of the “Iraq Attack”, and the controversy it has engendered, and continues to engender, is about to come to a head in this year’s cycle. It is a long, hot summer for the world!

The strange election of George Bush in November 2000 simply exacerbated the United States’ growing negative global image, and from a Jungian perspective, it means that the Shadow of America is no longer unconscious, hidden and underground, but now in full sight of all the world. To some degree this is a relief.

Certainly, the election of this man recalls both his father’s and Ronald Reagan’s administrations, because George W. is an astrological extension of his father (see the StarIQ.com brief article on George W. Bush I wrote in the spring of 2000). The justice of Zeus is upon us, since George W was elected in the famous Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, and his vice-president, Cheney was born under the same Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Taurus.

The ancients called the 60 year/20 year cycle of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions the “Golden Triangle”. That cycle has a strange and fated link to the presidential order in the US. Every president who has been elected in that cycle has not lived out his office, and Reagan was the only one to defy that. Partly because of modern medicine, and partly due to the “mutation” of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius, his own sign.

In America specifically, the issue of ecological conservation, help for the homeless and the indigent and all matters that pertain to the “people” will take not just a back seat, but will be relegated into the invisible realm of “they don’t exist”. . . The sign of Pisces itself has to do with “hidden matters”, secrets (secret enemies) and encompasses the vast spectrum from spirituality in the truest sense, through to toxic waste and sacrificial acts.

The primary focus on subversive, secret military (Pisces) manoeuvers and religious (Pisces) matters in the U.S. As well as continuing to explore and develop toxic substances (plutonium, nuclear weaponry) will continue to undermine humanitarian needs and goals within the homeland itself.

By February 2001 the funding for environmental projects was cut hugely, and some highly important groups already have lost their status due to lack of funding -such groups that research nuclear sites and super-fund plume sites, that work in the communities that are affected by pollution and deadly effluvia, that aid homeless and ill and elderly, and in general, all the helpless in the country. Health support, attention to education and important domestic issues will continue to decline while Mars is in Pisces - “victims” of the ongoing War will be not only the international population but also the domestic community within the US itself!

It is likely that civil unrest will become as incendiary as it was in the mid to late 1960’s, resulting in domestic “terrorism” rising appreciably during the summer and autumn of 2003.

The financial picture for this period is also highly volatile, and since we are also working with the entry of Saturn into Cancer, the national security is on everyone’s mind. National security is not just armed guards at airports, and watchfulness at borders, reactivation of the nuclear sites and bomb-making in New Mexico and Arizona - the true sense of “national security” lies in areas such as the economy, the housing market, the ability to pay bills, feel at home, and feel secure for the future. All these values are in hiatus for the summer and winter of 2003.

The world is in for a total reevaluation of the global market. In specific, the potential for a revolution in the stock market is high this spring, and will likely result in chaos right through the end of this year, but specifically until the end of September, when the Mars Retrograde Cycle is completely finished.

Global uncertainty, unrest, and anxiety, and living with unexpected change and transition occupies the entire summer till November 9th when Uranus stations-direct in the last degrees of Aquarius, and Mars leaves the retrograde zone at 10 degrees of Pisces.

Financial, international and judicial issues in each country in the world will take up much of the year itself, but the most intense period will be during the actual retrograde time itself - June 12th - July 20th, with the flashpoint being August 28/29th when the Sun in Virgo opposes Mars Retrograde in Pisces - the culmination of the entire Retrograde Cycle.

However, as with all previous Mars Retrograde cycles, it would seem that the heat of the last days of August merely fuel the final outcome of the entire cycle in November - the 8th/9th/10th of that month will bring the end results to manifest whatever it is that actually happens.

All Together Now - Mars Retrograde and Some Aspects it Makes

When Mars arrives at 0° of Pisces on June 18th, it is trine Saturn in Cancer and conjunct the stationary-retrograde position of Uranus - this powerful combination exacerbates the level of heat and passion in the collective - world events become increasingly chaotic and volatile. The element of Pisces is water, and in itself, Pisces is a mysterious sign, wherein many secrets lie.

Psychologically, Pisces and Neptune and the twelfth house are associated with the collective unconscious, and the ancestral line of the human race. It is also the place wherein the deepest link to the anima mundi, or world soul lies. The feeling that the world, or the earth itself (Gaia) is in threat is high. There is a sense of threat underlying the world’s spiritual future, and the alarming aspect of Pisces/Neptune is associated with toxins, viruses, biological weaponry, secret organizations, infiltrations of all kinds, people and groups in disguises, sacrificial acts (for instance suicide bombers) and a feeling of helplessness in the face of adversity.

Along with the ominous interpretations, too there is a global concept of ideal unity that exists within the aspects. Individuals and groups both, will sacrifice their own safety to uphold their highest ideals - whatever those are. The “people” will rise to push against the oppressors, whomever they are in each culture.

However the aspects play out in real time, with Mars Srx conjunct Uranus - the station-retrograde of Uranus, mind you - and then, moving quickly to the opposition of Jupiter as it enters Virgo September 1, at the trigger point of Mars’ station-direct on July 20th, we will find the year 2003 a major turning point in global affairs on high levels of politics, religion, law, and it may well mark a most critical period in the unity or disparity within cultural relations. Those ideals have been in chaos since the last Mars Retrograde cycle in 2001, but will come to a significant juncture in this phase.

We are in an epoch of synchrony of time, space and event. Fused within much of our personal experience is the anxiety/elation level that the world experiences as an organic whole. We are no longer just individuals, isolated “persons”, we are “persons in the world”. Thus, global events as they unfold during this time, will directly affect each of us as individuals - not only philosophically but with actual events - which we will see writ large in the global community.

Let’s look at the whole cycle of Mars retrograde, and some of the most powerful aspects it makes in the cycle. Then, following with its “flashpoint” at the Sun-Mars opposition, as it evolves with its unfailing regularity by aspect to the Sun, and intermediary aspects with any superior planets:

Mars enters the Retrograde Cycle

June 18 - Mars 0 Pisces. This is the degree at which Mars will station-direct at the end of September, thus is the beginning of the entire six month cycle. It ends with Mars passing the degree at which it stations-direct, which will be at 10 on November 9th.  The entry of Mars to its cycle brings conscious awareness that “something is about to happen”. Often plans are made unconsciously that are in total accord with the long term outcome of the following six months. Certainly, people find that they enter a period of uncertainty and confusion about how to go about making plans or even continuing on with already active projects and ideas.  The subtle reversal of forward motion - though Mars is certainly applying to the station with vigor - is not often accepted, and forcefully proceeding with plans results in frustration later, when Mars actually does station-retrograde.  Politically, this is a time when secret strategies are in place, and await activation. The “warrior” factor of Mars in Pisces is about secrecy; subversion; deception; illusory or even false statements; mistrust is high among previously aligned members of a faction or group; people resign, change tacks and dissemble.

June 22nd: That Mars’ entry to the cycle is also with its conjunction to Uranus, hints at spectacular events that will ultimately revolutionize the current status quo, and may affect the earth for centuries. It will bring in numerous surprise factors to the war-effort - and will affect the United States directly. Politically, there are likely to be many defections, resignations, splits and factionalism with new technologies applied to “war”. New or newly employed weaponry will be high on the news lists in this week. Of course, much of this will be “spin”, as the general public will not have a clue as to what is actually going on.

Individuals will find that sudden reversals in partnerships, plans, joint projects and long term ideas occur with a shock. Much “processing” is needed before acting on anything of major significance in one’s life. This is a time to “lay low” and to withhold aggression and attack even if one feels it is warranted. The reality of what is now coming down, will unveil itself in the first weeks of October. So, ultimately, one must rely on faith, not hope, but faith that if one’s inner motives are clean, that the ultimate outcome will be in the very best interest of one’s long term reality.

June 22nd: Mars is trine Saturn in Cancer. This gives hope - not faith - to the long term validity of one’s own goals. Ideally, this is the time to plant a seed for the future, and keeping in mind the above caution, stick with your inner fortitude. The stability that Saturn offers in this aspect, concurrent with the upheavals, lies deep within one’s own capacity to “stay the same”. The homeostasis of Saturn’s agency is a blessing here, because it allows chaos to reign without completely destroying the structures that really count.  We will find out who our true friends are, and in the same light, our secret and open enemies!

The Timing of Mars Retrograde: In relation to the Sun:

1. June 25th. The Sun is trine to Mars from 3° Cancer to 3° Pisces

This solar aspect signals the station-retrograde of Mars in thirty-two days. This is the longest time possible between the Sun trine and the Station-retrograde - Mars in Pisces is not a friendly transit when retrograde.

There is a rush of activity and inflated aggression toward anything in which one feels thwarted - the problem is the situation is “slippery” and very difficult to get a grip on. The problem with Pisces is its shape-shifting quality, and the capacity for circumstances to be twisted, misunderstood, hidden and distorted is so very strong. The fact that we are looking at so much watery astrology now means that our feelings and our emotions are engaged in an area in which only cold, calculating tactics will work.

Keeping a grip on one’s feelings of rage, betrayal anger and disappointment is important, and will leave one with a strong sense of personal integrity and truth - if one can control the emotional content of whatever it is that is “going wrong”.

If a betrayal, or a removal or a blocking of energy and forward motion has been part of the initial phase, then this aspect can bring a false sense of security. Hence, is rather dangerous in its deception, and thus all the more reason to keep one’s own counsel and to behave with integrity. Positive releases of anger, aggression, lust and ambition are more important now than ever.

The phenomenon of the Sun Trine to Mars prior to the Station-retrograde alters the quality of Mars’ station-retrograde in comparison to the other superior planets, in that the excitement of potential just prior to its retrogression is often over inflated, resulting in the shocking ‘surprise factor’ and sudden withdrawal of direct energy at the station itself. Conversely, the Sun-Mars trine following the station-direction of Mars supports a quick recovery and a re-establishment of the equilibrium which may have become chaotic during the retrograde time itself.

The Sun-Mars trine highlights the deepest resources we have at our disposal, as well as the energy we have to enact and use our resources - energy which will be needed in the ensuing months. The Sun in Cancer trine Mars in Pisces can bring strong feelings and anxiety about security to the forefront - we all need to cease overextending our resources, but to fall into the grips of terror over money, property or material goods is unhealthy.

This Sun/Mars aspect affects us both individually and collectively. Where you have Cancer and Pisces in your chart, is where you need to examine your reserves of energy and strength, your deepest most important values, your sense of self worth and value - based on faith and good action. It is time to move to your most basic values, and keep your self clean and out of the way of any psychological “damage” - no manipulations, lies, deception or people who are doing this - and most importantly, do not succumb to the instinctive desire to act in this way in return!

This trine can be deceptive - a complacent attitude will not serve the needs or the intent of Mars retrograde. Think of this next period as a time when to look seriously at the areas in which you have been wasting time and energy. One can become exhausted under its backward trek, and depleted - especially if the cycle is entered on a false high. Therefore, martial all forces - assets, health, money, love, time - and be aware that self awareness and honesty is the best defense.

2. July 29th (07:28 GMT) - Mars stations-retrograde at 10° 08´ Pisces, while the Sun is at 6° Leo:

All externalized drive and focused energy reverses its direction. The daily progress we take for granted suddenly becomes effort filled, and creative ways of “putting things off” or delaying (in a positive attitude) what you feel is not working is necessary. Look to the house the Sun is transiting in your chart at the station (Leo) for illumination about areas you need to explore for success in the coming autumn.

The station itself can be an abrupt phenomenon, creating a cessation of interest, drive, energy and focus on what might have been an important project or relationship prior to that station. It may also act in a more subliminal way, such as bringing feelings of despair, boredom, lack of drive and so on. If your passion, drive, ambition and focus makes an inner shift, go with it knowing that it can be an exceptionally productive time in your deepest Self. This liminal phase could last through the entire retrograde period, past the station-direct of Mars right up till it reaches the degree at which it stationed and turned retrograde. (Around November 9th).

Clearly this can create practical problems especially if you have a deadline, or limited time or funds in which to achieve a chosen direction or goal. Living in a threshold is not comfortable, however, one must press on regardless of retrogrades, so a change of perspective is in order. Mars retrograde seems to arrive unexpectedly, and, consistent with Mars’ behavior, this cycle is disruptive of routine, established energy patterns, habits and feelings of drive and ambition.

The station-retrograde does not cause all activity to cease, obviously, but the change of direction often precipitates a period of reactive rather than active experiences. Depending on the natal house in which it stations, (Pisces) you are likely to find that there is a quantity of unresolved anger or rage that could date back years.

Check to see what the most recent transits have brought out, and what you might reflect upon that could clear up any unresolved issues. In specific, those pertaining to self direction, ambition, self-assertion, personal worth, fairness, and feelings of health and well being. Too, the position of the transiting Sun in the natal chart at the station of Mars will illuminate the true “intent” of the Mars activity (or lack of as the case may be).

I have found that people who are close to burn-out, having been under duress for a long time, and also have had stressful transits over a period of years, actually do burn out at the station-retrograde. This is nature’s way of forcing visceral truths into a reluctant consciousness. Thus, Mars retrograde can coincide with lowered immunity defenses in the body - only if there is a vast dissonance between the inner truth and the outer actions.

If we lived in a world in which natural cycles were acknowledged, this time would be when more days off work, ‘mental health’ days, and holidays were established. Since many people cannot regulate their working schedules to astrological cycles, they can compensate for this by realizing that they need to shift their priorities during this time to incorporate more rest time, more review time, more inner reflections and, yes, if there is a huge well of anger within, find the source and work through it. If one is in therapy and working on self development, then this time is most productive.

With respect to time sensitive projects. . . unfortunately, the gods do not care much for man-made law. Natural law states that time is relative, and if you have something on the go which must be done, do not be disappointed if all the timing changes during this whole period. The timing of a project is mysterious, like an infant in utero, it has its own time, and its own cycle, and the project will finish or it was not mature enough. You may be able to pick it up and run with it when the station-direct occurs.

If a valued idea or project terminates during the Mars retrograde period, let it go. Sudden reversals of interest (passion) and drive (ambition) are likely to occur during the retrograde phase - an internal battle ensues between the ego, which wants things done, and the deeper self which wants thing so be. Listen to the Self.

Mars stationary retrograde conjunct, or in tight aspect to a planet (2°-3°) or an angle in the natal chart will be marked, and may bring suppressed feelings of hostility or frustration to the surface, which occupy your energy and delay forward progress temporarily. Your recognition of what levels of unresolved conflict have been incubating is liberating, allowing you to marshal your forces more appropriately. You may be surprised what hostility you or others have been harboring, having been suppressed, lost, forgotten or deliberately repressed because of their disruptive qualities.

Old wounds, hurts or frustrations might arise but the reason this is occurring in context with your houses and planets, is to heal - bringing these old festering sores to the surface, cleansing and purging them, will serve you in the long run, giving you vast amounts of energy and reserves you did not know you had.

3. August 2nd - Sun at accelerating quincunx to Mars from 9° Leo to 9° Pisces:

Mars is beginning to move more quickly in retrograde motion at this stage, and assumes a quasi normal acceleration (negative acceleration). By this time, we have assimilated the retrograde motion, and the quincunx marks a few days in which we find ways of adjusting to the new patterns and rhythms of energy. This marks a time in which political circumstances require huge amounts of diplomacy to accommodate problematic relations. It is a time of financial instability which is acute, creating great stress in the collective resources.

But, the adjustments that are made, the changes that we can accommodate in this new phase of Mars retrograde, will show returns at the next major phase - at the opposition point of the Sun to Mars. It is essential that we try to adjust and accommodate without seriously compromising our ‘truth’ and ethics and deepest beliefs. No good comes from closing off and benefits arise from recognition and acceptance of the inevitable. There are good times to beat your head against a brick wall, but this is not one of them!

If it is simply too hard to put up a fight, then don’t. Let go. . . and prepare to take up ‘arms’ later, much later, when the stress of the change is done - after the decelerating quincunx, which heralds the upcoming station-direct.

Transiting Mars retrograde shows us where we must lose control of a degree of personal power - it is reflected in the house that Mars is traversing to and fro. In this case, loss of command establishes an equilibrium, creating psychic ‘fairness’. Ranting and raving does not seem to be effective, whereas relinquishing what is meant to be free is!

Inspiration often goes underground around this aspect, to resurface upon the direction of Mars with a new and more realistic passion., It is as if the battle between conscious will and unconscious intent needs to take place in extreme privacy and secrecy, revealing itself only when the victor is assured of its supremacy. In this case the battle is been the instincts and the conscious mind, and in the meeting of those psychic functions, a new way is found.

August 11 - 18th: Mars will trine Saturn again, but this time from 8° Pisces (Rx) to 8° Cancer.  Another period of stabilization in the midst of massive change and chaos give a breather to any personal projects or relationships that have undergone stress. There is some sense of compassion to this aspect, especially in the midst of the most aggressive if mysterious of experiences.

This could bring a major shift in political leadership, and the loss of a sense of safety is counteracted by a new and potentially more solid base for political policies. An attempt at cohesion is very likely, but not stable. There is too much in the way of deception that is part of the Mars in Pisces. . .And too, the Unites States will have Saturn conjunct its natal Sun at 11° Cancer all during the two weeks prior to the final phase of the Mars retrograde period.

Certainly the American international persona will undergo a humbling experience. The status and merit of the United States’ policies and actions may well be in disfavor in ways which truly undermine its power. As an adult country in an aging world, this might well be the beginning of the decline of the empire. . .or, if hubris prevails, and the Justice of Zeus continues, it augurs the beginning of the oppression of the nation’s peoples.

Next will be the opposition of Sun to Mars - the “flashpoint” of the entire cycle.

4. August 29th - Sun opposite Mars from 4° Pisces to 4° Virgo:  FLASHPOINT - The Confrontation: Nature vs Culture

Mars is moving at its greatest speed in retrograde motion at this aspect, as well as being its closest to earth. In this case, Mars is closer to the earth than it has been in centuries (a huge cycle). From this point on, it will begin slowing down again, toward the decelerating quincunx and the eventual stopping and station-direct.

The opposition of the Sun to a retrograde planet marks the mid-point of the entire retrograde cycle, and is the illumination point. When the Sun opposes Mars, it externalizes subverted or suppressed force which has been gestating and “cooking” in the unconscious. Whether that be the collective unconscious or the personal unconscious - both are linked, and often are synonymous in action. The Sun-Mars opposition always is particularly dramatic and highlights the two houses in one’s natal horoscope across which this opposition occurs (see the latter part of this article for delineation of the opposition in the six house polarities).

That this cycle occurs from Virgo to Pisces amplifies the Big Secrets we hold in our deepest recesses of the soul, and which are manifest though our bodies - in work, goals, ideals, practices, health, psychological balance - indeed, the psycho-somatic aspect of the Virgo/Pisces axis is dramatic!

Politically, it will exacerbate any splits or “wars” between various ideals in politics, personal and collective ethics, religious expression/spiritual alliances, law, global values and the relationship between the aggressor and victim. Mobilization toward full expression of the entire Mars Rx cycle begins at this Flashpoint - and may not be fully manifest until the first week of November, when Mars reaches the degree at which it stationed. Remember that 9/11 took place two days after the final pass of Mars out of the Rx cycle in 2001! (see the article on my site in the archives - “Coming to our Senses”)

Pisces is what we are in our soul and Virgo is what our manifestation - our bodies - do with the soul. Pisces is the anima mundi and Virgo is the magna mater - the world soul and the great mother are in opposition to each other, and the disparity between the two, could result in a big mistake.

The “mistake” is hinted at in the other aspects that this flashpoint coincides with - namely a contact to Uranus and very quickly after, to Jupiter.

There also is the Station-direct of Pluto on the same day, which is the aspect, back in August 1992, that is associated with the advance on Kuwait.

August 30th, just one day after the Flashpoint, Jupiter opposes Uranus from 0° Virgo to 0° Pisces. . . This is still within tight orb of the Sun/Mars opposition, and we can assume they are in tight alignment.

The combination of Jupiter/Uranus in opposition alone speaks volumes about sky gods and their confrontation. Ouranos was the consort of Gaia, mother Earth, and the Heavens themselves. He was not a “god” per se, but a place, an entity surrounding the earth. His rendering into planethood gives him an autocratic, superior, elitist and idealistic character. As an agency Uranus is associated with reform, revolution, transformation in systemic and technical ways; it is also associated intimately with the process of individuation - that is, becoming who we are meant to become even if it seems shocking.

There are many earthy issues here at play - Jupiter, formerly Zeus, is a god associated with war, elitism, xenophobia (hatred of “strangers” or “others”), bigotry, zealotry, hubris (overstepping one’s true mortality and nature); Zeus is a ruthless and manipulative god, and both a misogynist and misanthrope to boot!

Taking on too much, not knowing one’s boundaries and limits as well as assuming aggrandized stances will only result in a fall. The intent of planetary patterns is to describe the content of a circumstance, and within that content, act accordingly. All these aspects suggest that we - individually and collectively - keep a sensible head and a low profile.

That the Justice of Zeus is loosed upon the world, we already know, but if it is coming to a head, only the stars know. Certainly the aspects of Mars (old primitive god of war and riots) and Jupiter (the belligerent god of the sky and war from the sky - (see the “Lightning Struck Tower” article on this site) - of shapeshifting, of hating strangers, that is foreigners or “barbarians” - both are in high form! And, then, Uranus, the elitist and revolutionary!

Jupiter also rules tribalism (see “Tribalism in the Twenty-first Century” article on this site). The clanning together of groups of individuals is based on so many things, not least of which are blood ties, history, dogma, politics, geography - and force. In the case of certain tribes, the individuals within them may not be voluntarily part of the tribe. In these days of chaos, many cultures and tribes have splits and factions within them which are adverse to the tribal statement.

Uranus rules “groups and organizations” but not in the same sense as the Jupiterian tribal instinct. The Uranian groupings are voluntary, (modern) and have to do with affinities such as ideologies, class structure, educational opportunities, economic class, and so on; and are a direct collective reflection of the individuals that have subscribed to the “group”. It is by nature an elitist type of grouping because people “join” voluntarily to separate themselves from other such “groupings” which do not reflect them as well. Inherent in the Uranian group is xenophobia and underlying that type of grouping is Saturn, the god of the status quo.

And with all that in mind, Pisces rules things that creep and change shape. It rules toxins, viruses, bacteria, cancers, and so on, as well as biological weaponry (Mars = weapons; Pisces = illness/weakness). Jupiter brings an inflation to whatever it contacts, so whatever it is will be massive and global in effect, as well as invasive and territorial to specific locations.

And, Uranus is our technological revolution - all very well in an humanitarian ethos, but we are not in a compassionate, one-world collective right now. What new thing will come to us via these aspects in the latter days of August and the month of September?

It makes me fully aware that mutation and evolution are tied in together, and if that is what we are facing as a global phenomenon, then we must be part of something much ,much bigger than politics and war.

What revelation is at hand! “What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” says W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”. 

The Personal Experience: From Soul to Body and Back:

Since the Sun is the trigger, and now opposes the retrograde Mars, the aspect is reflected in the natal chart from one house to the opposite one. The position of the Sun is the place in which our unconscious ‘work’ has been done during the first half of the retrograde period, and Mars will show the external results of this inner development.

In this aspect, the Sun is more important than is Mars. Since the station-retrograde, it is likely a lot of work has been done to find solutions to a situation, and the eruption of the ‘truth,’ the solar ‘intent’, underlying the important inner war now emerges in the light of awareness.  Because it is an opposition aspect, it often brings in others to reflect back into our own psyche that which we cannot see; we need the ‘other’ to help us see our own projections and conversely, to see how we have received any harsh or sharp projections from others.

This is the clarifying aspect, and being aware of its arrival will modify any surprises, and works civilize any potential outbreaks of ‘war’ in one’s life.

The Sun illuminates the house - therefore, the area in life - wherein latent needs and talents lurk. Often these dormant traits lie in the spheres of self-expression, such as: willful direction; ambition; drive; healthy rage; energy; primal instincts - passion, desire, lust; physical expression, whether that be sports, dance, activities that enliven our bodies defenses. The Sun illuminates the manner in which we have been undermining ourselves relative to the house from which it makes that opposition.e collective, we become very aware of those who are being oppressed, invaded, killed, politically suppressed, maltreated, isolated, hurt, and so on. Hence, the global and domestic political unrest will be uppermost in the media around this week.

The natal house in which Mars has been retrogressing is the house in which the conscious, external work is being done. There is a tendency to focus on the retrograde planet alone, thinking that it is the one doing all the work, but in this way we see that it is a dance, a collusion between the two fiery planets, both of which are fundamental in the development of an healthy ego. The ego is essential to carry out the soul and our deeper Self’s intent, and we need strong, healthy and large egos to further our destiny. Ideally the ego should be as big as the Self, as big as the universe, so it isn’t undermining our desires and inhibiting our productivity and creativity in the world around us.

The Sun-Mars opposition is a time of en-light-enment - a time period when we connect with inner levels of energy that want “out”. The solar light is illuminating the brilliance of the red planet at its highest frequency. The energy that emerges is often raw, undeveloped and primal, thus may expose parts of our psyche that are more uncivilized than we care to acknowledge. Our life-force needs this periodic expulsion of repressed energy, and thus our more instinctual nature relishes such richness of expression, but remember, civilization of the unconscious requires effort and conscious awareness.

About a week or so after the opposition, there is a sensation of relief, a new way of functioning and problem solving has developed. This is a very productive time, when the ‘things’ that withdrew at the station, can be seen in the clarity of full knowledge. The secret maturation that occurs during retrograde will begin to become apparent, and a new form of energy source will find its way into your system. Should there have been no overt directional changes in the first half of the retrograde cycle, then the opposition is an explosion, and the release, with a radical change marked at this point.

5. September 24th - Sun at decelerating quincunx to Mars from 0° Libra to 0° Pisces:

Mars is slowing down . . . heralding its station-direct. In this period, the adjustments needed are all centered around refinement of energy. This is the time in which we re-evaluate all that has transpired in our lives. Because of Mars’ proximity to earth in this cycle, and its odd orbital periods, not only is it super close to earth still, but also the days between the decelerating quincunx and the Station-direct is only five days (it can be as many as twenty).

So any adjustments will need to be implemented fairly quickly once the direct motion begins  However, the usual period between quincunx and direction brings a time of quiet, a time in which one senses impending change, but no evidence is in sight. It is filled with intuitions, sensations, synchronicities and moods. We are all on animal sensor. . . our reptile brains are in full awareness. It is rather like being Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch, we know the fox is out there, and we sit quietly, watching and waiting for the ‘all clear’. Find a balance between being socially correct and instinctually truthful.

6. September 27th - (07:53 GMT) - Mars station-direct at 0° 07´ Pisces:

The period between the station-direct of Mars and the subsequent solar trine to it is marked by tension, a feeling of waiting - the psyche knows that a situation, circumstance, or condition is unsustainable in its old form, and that an overt, radical change must take place. A self regulatory device is triggered off in the psyche and the system will organize itself around an existing problem to protect itself, often solving the difficulty in the unconscious.

The station-direct may not mark an event, but it not only registers in the unconscious of each of us individually according to our own charts and aspects, but also within the collective as it prepares to shift its energy outward again. Cautiously, we climb out of the protective chrysalis that formed after the decelerating quincunx, and find a refreshed perspective on all the issues that arose in the past two and a half months.

Giving birth is painful and raw . . . nerves may be a bit frayed, and our step forward uncertain, but as Mars accelerates toward the Sun trine, we become more invigorated, revivified and filled with a new sense of direction. Symbolically it is ‘spring’. New shoots of ideas, plans and projects begin to poke their vulnerable heads out. It is best to wait for the Sun trine to Mars to enact any new ideas because they may still be weak and embryonic, needing further maturation.

If transiting Mars stations direct on a planet or angle or sensitive point in your horoscope, then there will be a show. Mars will trigger off the incubating situation and give it a push to emerge. The power point of of Pisces, and all the mutables and harmonics to that point, are highly sensitized because of the station of Pluto there, and also to Jupiter’s transit at that mutable degree of 0° Virgo (in late August), along with Uranus retrograde back over 0° Pisces in August/September.

7. October 30th - Sun trine accelerating direct Mars from 6° Scorpio to 6° Pisces 

Because Mars is moving so slowly at this early stage of direction, when the Sun makes its trine to the actual station degree, it will release the product of the last few months. Now is the time for forward action, new starts, new projects, ideas, relationship goals, health matters, goals and businesses can start to build anew.  With the Sun in Scorpio and Mars in Pisces, the most positive outcome heals betrayals and ethical rifts while communication systems - interpersonal or technical - are now progressing. Anger, if transmuted and processed, now can become healthy energy, a supportive life-force, bringing a renewed love of adventure.

The full cycle is complete on November 9th, when Mars passes over the degree at which it stationed retrograde, six months ago! Now there are two more years of forward motion to work with the renewed energy of this past cycle - breath more easily!!! And, allow the process of the past six months to be absorbed and when Mars enters Aries, it begins to form trines and sextiles to other planets, such as Pluto and Neptune - the new year is a new year indeed.

The opposition point across the natal chart house axes:

The personal confrontation of Sun and Mars in the natal horoscope:

It is likely that Mars remains in one house in your chart for the entire cycle of six months (or making a very short span over two houses - in this case, only 10° of Pisces is transited in a six month period) . The house that Mars is transiting actually does the overt work, and the house the Sun is in brings to consciousness that which has been brewing in the unconscious, and needs to be brought to light. That is, illuminating the area where conscious change and redirection of energy can take place - with effort.

The opposition of Sun to Mars on August 29th will highlight and focus in the following areas for about two weeks :

First to Seventh house: This polarity emphasizes the need for deeper understanding of relationships, how to maintain appropriate boundaries within those relationships, and your personal truth in partnerships. The ascendant and the first house/seventh house axis relate to our origins and our earliest relationships, thus, how we were perceived by our family and how we bonded to individual family members forms the foundation for continuing adult relationships. This time is volatile but rich with awareness within the context of your own beliefs and needs and what you and your relationship need for healthy boundaries and communications. It is a difficult time to begin a new partnership, but not impossible - it will have a few tests ahead in the next two months, indeed all relationships will be tested for their authenticity.

Second to Eighth house: This polarity accents our own self value and any resources that we share intimately. The Sun-Mars opposition will illuminate how well you have balanced your own personal worth and your expenditure of time, love or money in relationships with others. Trusting and being trusted come up as issues for resolution because it is a time of checking and balancing the degree of honesty in the most enmeshed of our relationships. Re-balancing dependence/independence issues arises, as well as a balancing of one’s check-book (especially the joint checking account). An idea or project for the future can emerge that will begin to regulate one’s energy and drive for success. Keeping with an old theme is best, it is not a good time for new investments, but a time to let existing ‘accounts’ sort themselves out.  If you have been overspending, or over investing time, love or money, you will be able to see your problems clearly, and begin to work on them over the next two months - and if you are not deceiving yourself, then you can certainly make positive advances in your “asset/liability” ledger.

Third to Ninth house: The opposition occurring in this axis will demolish any trite assumptions and superficial ‘Band Aids’ you have applied to mask deeper issues attached to values, beliefs, moral codes, ethical matters and your relationship with the divine - with God. The disparity between what is spiritually correct, and socially acceptable becomes a strong issue in your mind. A war between your shallow side and your higher mind ensues, so you might dialogue with yourself about what you truly hold fast and valuable philosophically - and be encouraged to live those beliefs to the letter! Any feelings of inadequacy about education or true knowledge can come to a head, resulting in plans for study and intellectual/spiritual enrichment. Mundanely, it is not a great time for long travel excursions in the next few weeks.

Fourth to Tenth House: The opposition occurring along this axis dramatizes any insecurities around your bases of operation - home, office, city, culture or country. Established patterns of maintaining ‘security’ will need to be examined - are they based in truth or on habitual patterns. Work and privacy become an issue - balance, hard won, will return after a complete overhaul of priorities. This may come through a literal opposition from someone close to you, or you are the issuer of the ultimatum. Family, parental issues and your needs for balance in the family are very important to attend to and work on over the next couple of months. You need to explore your directives and beliefs to discover their origins - are your current biases and visions really current or are they received from the family, the culture or the status quo? Ideally, this is a confrontation between the deepest truth within and the conventional wisdom from without - resulting in renegotiating one’s life priorities.

Fifth to Eleventh House: The fundamental integration between the ability to give and receive love are the issues highlighted in this axis. But from Sun in Leo to Mars in Sagittarius, the revelation is about what you really expect from life, and how you experience your ‘rewards’. This opposition emphasizes a revolution in the area of what you consider to be creative and useful, and what your actual investment is. You may find a discrepancy has formed in the last two years between your expectations of life’s rewards and what you are actually getting. Thus, it is time to balance out what you do with what you get. Also, your relationships in the social sphere of your life are under scrutiny - you may find yourself necessarily impatient with non-productive (or ambivalent) groups, societies, collectives. More time is needed to rebuild your creative core, the essence of your self before you can offer up your strongest ethical position. You may need to do one of either of these things: cut back on ‘volunteer’ energy output into the community or, conversely, put more into the community in your sphere, dwelling less on your own self - depending on where the imbalance lies.

Sixth to Twelfth House: Recognition that the body is the vehicle for the soul is the most important illumination this opposition can bring. The psyche/soma (soul/body) balance has been pushed to the limit and the emergence of a psychological or physical problem can alert you to the need to change your behavior emotionally and physically. Chronic physical or psychological conditions can become acute under this aspect, and point clearly to a method of repair or healing. Work can be very stressful, and the utmost of discretion needs to be exercised in dealing with colleagues. . . on both sides. Ideally, the happy soul living in truth brings a healthy functioning body. The apparent polarities of health and exhaustion, work and rest, body and soul are all fused along the sixth/twelfth house and we can do much work on all levels. Because often it takes a surprise to find out which aspect of the self is undernourished, this confrontation between the inner life and how it manifests in the outer world around.