Mars goes into apparent retrograde motion approximately every eighteen months and stays retrograde for approximately three months. The retrograde motion means that the planet is closer to earth than usual and the energetics of that planet will be felt more strongly. We experience Mercury going retrograde every four months and generally by the time Mercury resumes his normal motion whatever static has been experienced goes away quickly.
The challenge with Mars is that in addition to his fierce, fiery and impatient nature he moves more slowly than Mercury or Venus which causes him to stay in one or two signs for approximately eight months. Because of the slowness of his movement a Mars retrograde can affect the planet for the entire eight months until he moves beyond the one or two signs which have been most affected by his energy. In this particular cycle Mars will move back into Scorpio on July 12th at approximately 6:00 a.m., eastern daylight time. Mars will be in Scorpio until September 18th when the movement of Mars into Sagittarius will signal the end of the eight months of Mars being so difficult.
It can be very challenging to have Mars influencing only one or two signs for such a long period of time because the energy of Mars is difficult and as the anger, frustration and aggression builds those who are influenced through their personal charts often experience negativity, opposition and unexpected events in their lives. Besides our personal charts and lives being affected the world in general can seem to be a place of anger, violence and aggression filled with accidents, bad weather and decisions based on anger and irrationality.
America is a country which has a very prominent Mars in its natal chart and will be strongly affected by the movements and placements of the transit Mars. The past few weeks in this country have been painfully difficult as Mars had retrograded back into the gentle Libra. Libra is the sign of balance, relationships and harmony and we have all watched that balance and harmony be destroyed by the aggressive anger of Mars pushing those whom were already seeped in anger to act out on their most base and/or insane emotions.
Mars is not only about violence and anger as he also has a strong influence on independence, farming, construction, art, math, athletics and laughter. America being so strongly influenced by Mars used the more positive qualities of Mars to build a country that, at one time, excelled in all of the areas ruled by Mars. Unfortunately, the recent decades have seen America become more interested in the war-like qualities of Mars.
I looked back at a few retrograde cycles to see if we had experienced similar events and this is what I discovered:
1993 – First bombing of the World Trade Center.
1995 – Timothy McVeigh blows-up a Federal Building. Interestingly, he was sentenced to death during the 1997 Mars retrograde and put to death during the 2001 retrograde.
1997 – Heaven’s Gate mass suicide.
1999 – Columbine which was the first massacre at one of America’s schools.
2001 – World Trade Center attack.
Other years of the Mars retrograde saw the Haiti earthquake, riots in Cincinnati over the killing of an unarmed citizen, James Holmes massacre in a movie theater, the massacre at a Sikh Temple in WI, the decision by the US to attack Afghanistan and assorted attacks around the world along with awful accidents.
One of the greatest frustrations to being an Astrologer is that we watch events like these knowing that, if like the old Kings and Queens of another time, world leaders would pay attention to the movements of the planets some of the tragedies could be prevented.
We can not force leaders to pay attention to Astrology but we are fortunate to know that there is an end to each Mars retrograde cycle and by the end of September of this year life will not seem as hopeless and violent as it is today. Mars is in Scorpio along with Saturn which happens to be the only planet which can stand up to the fiery Mars. Saturn is the planet of the people and we can help by taking care of ourselves and not giving into hatred and violence. Mars is a builder and perhaps Saturn’s truth is that much of the planet needs to be rebuilt along with many other pressing problems. We can demand as a unified people that we use the energy of Mars for productive action rather than destruction.