Direct from the Trenches: Mars Turns Back Around!


Ah, at last… sweet relief. Today (Fri Dec 9), Mars is finally shifting out of retrograde, and back to normal direct motion. Personally speaking, as far as this victim is concerned, it's none too soon.

For a couple weeks there, my arms had been coursing with surges of energy from the inside. I could hardly keep them still. I was something of a madman.

This sensation of superfluous torrents of undirected ch'i blasted through my body in a very-far-from-comfortable manner. It impelled me to throw my hands into the air, violently almost… to wiggle my fingers and twist my wrists in continuous circles… to gesticulate wildly, like I was yelling or screaming or trying to get somebody's attention, only without making a peep of noise… to do whatever I could in hopes of releasing whatever nerve juice was pent up in my poor well-intentioned body. You wouldn't believe how silly (or out-of-my-friggin'-mind crazy) I looked, like some psychotic witch-doctor wannabe desperate to exorcise his demons.

It wasn't just Mars's maddening crawl through the Taurus mud that had me chomping at the bit. We must remember to regard Mars as part of the larger grand cross configuration—four planets tensely squaring one another, each grinding against the other three in hopes of receiving its due respect. But in my opinion, the most torturous offenders have been Mars, retrogradishly haywire for the past two months in a sign not known for get-up-and-go flexibility… and Saturn, who truly needs no introduction (but, incidentally, can be especially ego-deflating and confidence-killing in Leo).

Some of us got it worse than others, depending upon what's going on in our individual birthcharts. Specifically, folks with personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars) in fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) have borne the brunt of the grand cross's grating grit. See, if a key natal point is triggered by one of these transiting grand-cross planets, then it's triggered by all four for them. Four, four, four transits in one. And no matter how you cut it, two of them will be squares and one an opposition… squares and oppositions generally considered to be the roughest of the major transits.

Take me, for instance. (Please… take me…[groan]…) In my natal chart, the single sharpest aspect is a Mercury-Mars square. My Mercury is in Aquarius (which makes me the odd-minded intellectual visionary you all love), while my Mars is in Taurus (which is why my body moves much more slowly, prefers rich foods and a comfortable reclining position, and doesn't like to be pushed).

Lo and behold, once the skies introduced this current set of grand-cross transits to my life, both my mental capacities (Mercury) and my physical resolve (Mars) became challenged to behave appropriately. Transiting Saturn in Leo—opposing my Mercury, squaring my Mars, and every faculty I've tried to apply would inevitably bump up against some limitation or another. Transiting Mars retrograde in Taurus—squaring my Mercury, conjunct my natal Mars. My Mars return (i.e., when the transiting planet returns to the spot it was when I was born), ordinarily the beginning of a new energetic cycle of asserting personal will, has been all tangled up with Mars retrograde. My ready-for-something-new, which started back in Aug 05, has been stalled and drawn out… and my actual third-pass-is-the-charm Mars return won't finally arrive until Jan 06.

So the buildup to my forthcoming Mars-return blastoff has been peculiarly prolonged and protracted, thanks to the 2-month retrograde… to the point that the anticipation physically accumulated in my body. I literally felt it. It woke me up night after night like clockwork (at one or more of the following times—1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, on the dot)… and I'm not the type to have trouble sleeping. But suddenly I was wide-awake, and barely able to lie still.

And this physical feeling was near-excruciatingly annoying, like an inch that can never be scratched because it's in your nerve endings and tissue walls. I would try to shake my limbs hard enough to get it out… and for a spell, it would work, the twitching-from-inside subsiding to leave an echoing shadow of tingle in its wake. But, oh no, it would return. Even two-hour gym workouts weren't enough to blast it out of me.

Finally, this sensation has gone away, now that Mars slowed to its stationary point and started moving forward again. Still, I'm not fooling myself into believing all my grand-cross troubles are over—and neither should you.

The four planets involved in the grand cross are still squaring off, and will continue to do so as Mars retraces (for the third time!) where it's been over these past four months. He won't make it to new ground until early Feb 06… and in the meantime, stays within range of grand-cross territory throughout December and January.

The difference, though, is that direct Mars enables us to make some progress in working through some of the tests, trials and troubles brought to our awareness since late summer. We have more ability to do something, rather than hunkering inert (in fear? frustration? befuddlement?) and watching the walls close in. Our will is no longer inhibited in expression or exclusively inward in focus.

As with any planet returning to forward motion after a retrograde phase, we must give Mars a moment to catch up with himself and regain a normal pace. It'll take a week or two, at least… and more than another month to fully clear the retrograde shadow.

The good news, at least for me, is that the internal pulsing and throbbing has finally spent its term. And last night, I slept all the way through to morning without a single interruption. I appreciate the respite, Mars.