Mars Retrograde vs. The Eclipse's Best Efforts to Get Us Going


Wacky astrology looms large, in anticipation of next Monday's solar eclipse in Libra.

Those who have followed this site long enough (or who at least understand the basics of our revered astrological art) know what that means: Eclipses equal change, in the manner of a flipped page, a tale's dangling question brought to conclusion, dazzling twists and turns, jarring introductions or recurrences, a goodbye and a hello in the same sentence, the program switching backdrops or inducting long-lost cousins or other characters who promise to provide fresh blood to the same worn-out premise, and bam! there's a new game in town.

This eclipse vibration—the invisibly palpable sense of something coming—shows up a couple weeks in advance of the actual celestial event, and maybe you've already perceived traces of its approaching disruptions, climaxes and unfolding opportunities. Within a month or so, you'll have a clearer idea of what these specks and tinges are foreshadowing. The purposely enigmatic tone of my mystical ramblings will translate into real events in real life, stuff you will witness and react to and participate in.

Think about this new angle to your life, because it's developing right now as I write and as you read. See if you notice your week winking at you. 'Notable' is worth noting for later reference, though it may mean little now. You'll discover you knew more all along than you thought you did, spry foresight conspiring with hindsight for 20/20 perfection.

But even an eclipse is not enough to explain the buildup, the bottleneck, this not-one-more-thing-or-I'll-explode quality pervading our days… a physical energetic of latent aggression barely spilling over the edge, or respectfully refraining from it … unrelated causes intermingling, one trigger threatening to turn another spigot another go-around (tighten or release?), slow to unscrew but raring to flow, and if let go, too torrential to shut off.

Mars is master of the physical plane, and the man behind this tightly bridled ballyhoo. What's up with him? He's at an apparent standstill, staring us down from rock-solid Taurus, decelerating in motion through the weekend, when he flips direction and moves into a two-month retrograde (Oct 1-Dec 9).

Mars retrograde: Our energy to get up and go gets all goofy and goes off in a different direction. But it is not, as one might fear, completely get-up-and-gone. Push against the right spot on the wall, and the secret door opens up. Just don't be so silly as to think turning the knob will do the trick.

Last time Mars went retrograde in Jul 03, I initially made the error of assuming the effect would create sluggishness and exhaustion. Turns out, my experience was instead marked by a passing upset stomach, followed by unreliable expectations and surprising patterns of how I spent my personal energy.

Mars retrograde: We still have our Martian drive to assert individuating will, only we find it pushing toward anomalous objects of desire ('this isn't where my main focus should be, is it?'), deploying seemingly ass-backwards procurement techniques ('why can't you just tell me what you want?') or following from a to b by way of p and q ('where have you gone?'). We still possess our strengths and our weakspots, though we can't be sure which are which. Our best shots could fall far from the red targets on the bales of hay, but they'll hit some other important mark we probably should have been paying closer attention to anyway.

We've already been under this Mars funny-business influence since early August, when Mars first entered the zodiacal zone he'll be retracing during this upcoming retrograde. What made itself known in our lives at that time may seem to have gone along nicely… but nothing's done and over yet, is it?

Our personal progress unfolds at a snail's pace, capturing us in suspended animation. Who among us will do the conservative thing and hold out, with untiring hands folded in stoic persistence? And who will blow a gasket, upend all the furniture in the room and simply lose it, spoiling the progress (yes, I swear there's progress!) because expressing frustration is more important than securing the goal?

Let's be honest, Mars in Taurus is already a bit slow by its very nature. As I described it back when Mars first entered Taurus in July, he is nothing if not stubborn. Likes: food, drink, backrubs, lucrative financial incentive packages, taking his own sweet-ass time, dipping one toe in the pool first before going all the way, careful consideration. Dislikes: hare-brained schemes, abstract intellectual theories with no real-world application, bungie-jumping, poverty, being rushed, being pushed, being told what to do.

But despite potentially negative reads on his manner, Mars in Taurus will get the job done if he intends to. 'Slow and steady wins the race' is an overused cliché for a reason, after all. If you've got the patience, he's got the goods.

Combining 'Mars in Taurus' with 'Mars retrograde', we understand the current value in endurance over impulse, composed strength over fearsome ferocity. Think of these next couple months as a test of your fortitude—if you can't bear the weight of the wait or the endless security checkpoints along the road, maybe you're barking up the wrong tree. Either patience will be rewarded, or impatience is a clue to what isn't getting enough of your attention.

Whenever Mars is retrograde, there's a good chance that projects will sputter, switch gears in some ostensibly huge-seeming waste of time, or fail to reach completion—efforts must be rechanneled, and commitments recommitted to. That's why Mars retrograde isn't necessarily the best time to initiate something new. Rather, it's good for revisiting old business, as well as tweaking the physical mechanisms we use (including our bodies) so they have enough steam and solidity to continue forging onward.

It'll be interesting to see how Mars retrograde will impact the effects of next week's eclipse, considering the eclipse energy is so initiatory and yet Mars wants us to go slow and steady and recommit to existing circumstances. With the eclipse falling in Libra, it's pretty clear we'll be challenged to balance (1) the newly developing demands of interpersonal relationships with (2) individual perseverance with regards to personal ventures… the familiar old 'us' vs. 'me'. How can I keep doing what I'm doing, while adapting to what the partnership now needs? Hmmm…

Sure enough, at the very moment Mars turns retrograde, it opposes Venus in Scorpio and shoves this divergence between 'me' and 'us' up in our faces, not so subtly. And with this Venus-Mars opposition still in play at the time of the eclipse, we know it's a divergence that will color our next several months.

My best advice for honoring this inherent split is this: When the answer seems simple, it's one that suits either you or the other person. When the answer involves diligent negotiation between two unflatteringly clashing psychological motivations, then it's probably the right one for both of you… and too damn bad it'll take so long to uncover and arbitrate.