More Thoughts on Mars Retrograde


As I mentioned in my last article, Mars—the planet regulating our physical drives and our will to act—turned retrograde in Pisces last week. Click here to read my preliminary comments about this phenomenon.

As Mars only moves in retrograde motion for a couple months every two years or so, this is the first time I've experienced it since starting this website. Over the past couple weeks, I've definitely felt this occurrence of this Mars shift in my own life and noticed it in those around me. Let me share some of my latest observations about the nature of this Mars-retrograde effect on us.

When a planet changes direction (i.e., moves from direct motion to retrograde), the effect begins to become noticeable for a few days to a couple weeks before the actual change occurs. To understand this, you must imagine being on one of those roller-coasters that takes you through the entire course, then switches direction and takes you back through the same course in reverse motion. As it finishes up the first forward-moving round, the car slows down and, for a split second, is stationary, before it starts going backwards.

The past couple weeks have been this slow-down-stand-still-and-turn-back-around period. Usually we're moving, stealing glimpses of scenes as they pass by the window on our way. But for just a moment, movement slowed and halted, revealing to us a still-life snapshot of where we were. Perspective changed as we stopped moving. Then we started again, but in a different direction.

As Mars switched direction, I underwent a set of somewhat sharp (though ephemeral) perspectival about-faces, which coincided with a few days' worth of out-of-the-blue digestive problems. I usually have a stomach of steel, so it took me by surprise to literally hear my gastric juices bubbling and feel my intestines churning. "Charming" (your inevitable reaction to my need to (over)share on this subject) doesn't do justice to the heartburn and nausea and other delightful symptoms of upset I endured (let's just say I didn't, er, couldn't leave the house for a couple days).

And I wasn't alone, as several other people I know also withstood a fleeting batch of minor stomachaches, headaches and sore throats—the kind of bodily inconveniences that usually greet us during climate changes or directly following outbreaks of added stress. Then, as quickly as it came, my ailment gave way to new bursts of energy for… well, I haven't quite figured out yet what the new bursts are for, but they've certainly benefited my gym workouts in the past few days.

My best description for how the retrograde Mars might be connected to passing bodily discomforts (as described above) is as if a switch has been flipped, changing the polarity of all positive phenomena to negative, negative to positive, active to passive, passive to active, black to white, white to black or blue or yellow-with-purple-polka-dots. Of course the body, our physical vessel for living in the world, is liable to pass through a moment of adjustment (which could manifest in increased mucous or a rash or a bout of the runs) as it weathers this switch, just as squeamish air passengers are most likely to feel their squeamishest at take-off and landing, when the transition from earthbound to airbound existence and vice-versa occurs. Once the "cruising altitude" has been reached—or the movement of Mars has begun again, even if in apparent reverse—the transitional anxiety subsides, and "regular" activity (or, in the case of air travel, the flight attendants' service) can resume.

Though some accounts of Mars retrograde herald a sluggish and more low-energy atmosphere as one of its consequences, I must admit that I haven't necessarily found this result to be completely true. Sure, during the transitional station of Mars, energies were lower as we adjusted. But I find that physical energy has returned to its pre-retrograde levels a week into the retrograde—though the manner in which this energy manifests and the targets to which it's directed may have shifted.

To reiterate the polarity-shift theory, those areas of our lives which had previously been getting lots of attention are suddenly getting less. Meanwhile, other areas have consequently become hot-spots. If we are usually tired in the mornings and alert at nights, maybe now we find ourselves enjoying the mornings more and/or heading to bed earlier than usual.

These and other little turns might surprise us to the extent that we mistrust what our bodies are telling us—since we never have upset stomachs normally or we never get up this early, never stress about money, never want to exercise this much or this little, never have a second cup of coffee at home… It's this mistrust due to overturned expectations—an internal conflict—that is likely to deplete our verve and wear us out, more so than the actual physical effects of Mars retrograde.

Mars may be moving backwards, but it's also reapproaching a conjunction with Uranus, which amps up its electrical charge. Plus, the Sun, Venus and Jupiter are all still in fiery Leo. There is still plenty of potent moxie to go around. We just aren't accustomed to its stirrings driving us to act the way it's driving us to act (or want to act, if we're unwisely holding back).

And because actions are somewhat unpredictable or at least unusual, Mars retrograde is also wreaking a little havoc on those of us who rely on our intuition to "feel out" the emotional tenor of a situation. After all, this retrograde business is keeping Mars in Pisces for a full six months (though the average Mars transit through a sign is less than two months). Flashes of intuitive insight rest on truths inherent to a given moment—we can then make decisions for future action based on the expectation that events will unfold according to those truths. However, at any point, this future glimpsed by intuition can change as readily as any individual can decide to do things differently, to experiment and/or to stretch the prior limits of his or her consciousness.

Thus, with Mars retrograde resulting in plenty of things being done differently and expectations being overturned, we cannot necessarily trust our intuition to respond as reliably (i.e., in the same fashion) as we like. Particularly for those whose hunches depend on a Pisces-type relinquishing of personal boundaries to empathically "get into" another person or environment to glean wisdom, we must take everything with something of a skeptic's eye.

Expect a wide range of messages to show up on the radar—and to give way to others that contradict them—as each of us teeter between our normal frames of references and our "abnormal" drives, like babies learning to walk alternate between their newfound balancing ability and the old standby of crawling.

Don't get too fixated on the less favorable potentials; let them go as easily as they come, rather then grabbing onto them in fear and confusion and inadvertently assisting in their realization. The way things are right now, even the keenest visionaries will have a hard time seeing what's coming next, since it truly has yet to be written.

And as I wrote that last sentence, my stomach let out another grumble…