In a society of phone addicts, Mercury Retrograde can feel like the worst kind of punishment. In a society of productivity addicts, Mars Retrograde can feel even worse.
The phrase “you are worth more than your productivity” is what comes to mind here, because we’re now hunkering down for a summer of slower doing and more deliberate movement. Any forceful attempts to speed things along will likely end in whiplash and frustration.
To understand Mars Retrograde, you have to understand Mars. Mars loves moving direct because he’s the literal (okay, metaphorical) god of war, barreling toward his enemies with his little pointy spear. Mars is the active principle of the cosmos: how we move, fight, fuck, desire, stand up for ourselves, assert our will, and motivate ourselves to keep going. When Mars goes retrograde, as it does roughly every two years or so, the war path is coated in a layer of molasses, and the army is forced to slow down and carefully consider every move (versus acting on impulse, or from a reactionary place). More than anything, the soldiers might suddenly find themselves with more time on their hands to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Is war really worth it? Is this the best use of my energy? What do I even want, anyway? And can I summon the motivation to actually go after it?
With Mars backpedaling through the revolutionary, community-oriented sign of Aquarius throughout most of its journey, the collective cud we’ll be chewing on this summer will involve themes of progress and activism. Burnout is a common pitfall of sustained, meaningful activism, and real change requires more than quick bursts of social media fury. The problem posed to us now is that it’s exhausting to be on-guard and pissed off 24/7, but the people in charge are pretty much counting on us to lose steam. When Mars goes retrograde, we’re often forced to face our burnout (wherever we happen to be experiencing it in our lives) so that we can learn to keep moving forward at a sustainable pace.
Another important flavor of this Mars Retrograde period: the redux of that hella-agitated Mars/Uranus square from early May (you know, the one that made you flip out, flip your desk, and put in your two weeks). Mars will square Uranus two more times over the course of the next few months, and we can probably expect a continuation of the narrative that began at that first pass. Hold on to your butts, I guess, but also know that we’ll be approaching things from a slightly older (and wiser) place. When Mars and Uranus are in hard aspect, we won’t be in the mood to tolerate anyone’s bullshit (or any circumstances that are constraining us or limiting us in any way), but there’s also a real possibility of summoning a disproportionately hectic response. Either way, this tension can serve as a catalyst for something bigger — something that disturbs you out of a “this is fine, I guess” sense of complacency.
What we do with that disturbance is key. Mars Retrograde is not the best time to start a war (both real or metaphorical), and it’s really not the best time to initiate much of anything. Quite frankly, we might be low on energy (and low on drive). That’s not to say everyone’s sex life is going to suddenly grind to a halt, or that every single one of your endeavors will sputter along with agonizing futility. Mars-dominant folks will probably feel the effects of this most, as will those of you with important planets or points in the war-path of Mars. The red planet will be retrograde from 9 degrees Aquarius to 28 degrees Capricorn. Look for conjunctions, squares, and oppositions to those degrees, first and foremost.
The beginning of this Mars Retrograde journey is also flavored by a rather stern full moon in Capricorn on the 28th. Between our fuel tanks running low with this Mars station on Tuesday and a very Saturnian full moon on Thursday, this week may feel like a major drag at best (and like life knocking the wind out of you at worst).
The moon is generally not as comfortable doling out emotional TLC in the somewhat uptight domain of Capricorn, where “adulting” and “learning lessons” are basically the same thing as a hug. And to top it off, this moon is almost exactly conjunct Saturn, which is more interested in boundaries and lessons than comfort.
As an opposition between the Cancer sun and the Capricorn moon, this annual event always involves the tension between our private and our public lives; home and work; mom and dad; emotional vulnerability and emotional reservation; and “doing the work to earn the thing” versus “being unconditionally cared for.”
Interestingly enough, last summer’s Capricorn full moon was conjunct Pluto, which functions like a wrecking ball that demolishes old, outdated structures. With the moon conjunct Saturn this year, we might very well be erecting a new edifice in the place of whatever was destroyed about a year ago. But unfortunately for our feels, building something solid requires us to not cut any corners and make sure everything’s fully up to code. It also means taking responsibility for the quality of the work. If we’ve dropped the ball, refused to take responsibility for ourselves, ignored our limits, or made it optional for others to respect our boundaries, this message is probably meant for us.
Full moons bring fruition, and Saturn is stepping in as the building inspector now, asking us to take a hard look at what we’ve created for ourselves over the last few months. If it’s anything less than ideal, our confidence is liable to suffer for it, and we might not even have enough energy to draw on to really care or correct it at the moment. By the end of the summer, retrograde Mars will dip back into Capricorn to clear the way for a breathing spell (and a recalibration). By the time it stations direct again, we might know exactly what we need to do.
Craving a personal touch in the midst of all this change? I’ve got a personal horoscope with your name on it, boo.