From Venus to Mars


Anybody following the latest astro-scene knows that it's been dominated by Venus, thanks to her recent retrograde, which wrapped up about a week ago… though her story's not quite over yet.

In the meantime, her counterpart Mars is now stepping up for his upcoming close-up. Yes, folks, Mars will be claiming the spotlight for the last part of this year and into '08, for he, too, will endure a retrograde (Nov 15-Jan 30)—the first taste of which (well, it's more a big gulp) enters our sphere this week.

For a fuller picture of the general retrograde experience, we look beyond the actual retrograde in both directions… to what is called the shadow, or the period during which the planet involved is within the same span of zodiac degrees it'll cover while it's retrograde. Venus has not yet left the shadow of her latest retrograde, while Mars entered the shadow of his approaching retrograde yesterday (Sun Sep 16).

Let me clarify a bit more. Take Venus, for example. She shifted to retrograde motion on Jul 28, when she was situated at approximately 3 degrees Virgo… and returned to direct motion on Sep 8 at around 16 Leo. So, if we want to figure in her retrograde shadow phase, we'd look to the first time that she hit 16 Leo—before the actual retrograde began—which occurred back on Jun 23. From Jun 23 onward, Venus was already involving herself in the thematic tales that would develop to a striking climax during the retrograde. On the other end, Venus won't leave her shadow until Oct 11, when she finally clears 3 Virgo again… at which point we will have had ample time to integrate the newfound appreciation of what's valuable to us into the fabric of everyday life. (Got it? Good.)

Oftentimes, as a consequence of the retrograde phenomenon, planets sort of 'get stuck' on an aspect—that is, they'll repeat the aspect three times in a relatively short time-frame, as if to stress to us, 'You folks really better get this one.' The first pass occurs before the retrograde, the second during, and the final after the fact… only bringing us its final resolution at the last go-around.

On Friday (Sep 21), we're experiencing the third and final pass of Venus's opposition to Neptune… the beginnings of which we initially encountered back on Jun 30. As I wrote back then, this Venus-Neptune opposition is integrally tied up with Saturn, as a result of the past year's Saturn-Neptune opposition (finally leaving us alone, now that Saturn's moved into Virgo). In other words, Venus must also clear a third-and-final conjunction to Saturn (on Oct 14) before all is truly said and done and we can at last let the whole Venus-Saturn-Neptune lesson rest.

As far as this week is concerned, what does this final Venus-Neptune opposition mean? Venus and Neptune as a pair are highly romantic, which can unquestionably help us bridge the gaps of our differences and accept each other in our blessed imperfection… or can lead us to overlook the reality of a problematic situation, just because it feels better to turn a blind eye and keep the illusory bliss going as long as we can (until the lights come on or the drugs wear off).

Because this is the third time around, and in light of all the interaction with Saturn, I must hope that we've all worked out (perhaps painfully, but nonetheless resolutely) where we should stand vis--vis our relationships (and also our pocketbooks)—and can enjoy the more beneficial blissfulness of this opposition. For those of us who are putting recent lessons into practice and upping our interpersonal games, this is a wonderful chance to show your heart, through gestures that lower your ego walls and draw you closer together.

Yet, if we weren't exactly satisfied with the sobering actualities of our current Venus circumstances, this Neptune influence could drive us back to the wishful fantasies we're desperately clinging to… though that doesn't make them any less true, nor particularly healthy for our self-worth, if we're so willing to dispose of our dignity for another fleeting whiff of unsustainable ecstasy. Rather than tossing ourselves under someone's else train and inviting them to run us over (since Neptune can inspire the absolute worst of self-martyring behavior), our only other choice is to drift through the Neptunian disappointment and melancholy—with nothing to 'do' other than feel it. It will later pass, of its own accord.

But enough about Venus already.

The other big news of the week is Mars moving into opposition with Pluto (also on Fri Sep 21)… a first pass of an aspect that'll repeat twice more (on Jan 2 and Mar 7 08), and ushers in the huge sign-shift of Pluto from Sagittarius (where it's been since 1995) into Capricorn. (Plenty more on that in coming weeks and months!)

Mars-Pluto oppositions are nothing to chuckle about, as they pit the planet of physical self-assertion against the dark 'Lord of the underworld', in an aspect that bespeaks loudly of power struggles, deep and nasty conflicts, and other such confrontations between immediate desire and intense complicating factors… with the ultimate hope of us realizing there are often complex ramifications to pursuing what we want, including gnarly contradictions within ourselves that lead us to undermine ourselves in psychological traps we don't always catch until they burn us badly.

Of course, it's far easier to recognize these contradictions when we externalize them… projecting our garbage onto other people who seem to stand in our path to attaining desired goals. And how convenient to demonize such folks, calling 'em horrible names or wishing destruction upon them, just as we perceive them doing to us. If we feel we're 'in power', we may seek to hold them down… doing our damnedest to perpetrate whatever terrors are necessary to ensure our dominance. If we see ourselves as disempowered, we'll cling to our victim status, all the while looking for sneaky and underhanded methods for 'taking The Man down', making sure everybody else is as angry as we that evil appears to be triumphing over good again. No wonder we feel justified in slashing the tires, planting the false evidence, or spreading ghastly rumors.

Over the course of the next week or so, this Mars-Pluto opposition could motivate us to get somewhat uglier in our disagreements… adding an undercurrent of intensity that can clue us into the fact that perhaps it's about more than we're letting on, whether the 'it' is a scuffle among friends, a workplace dispute, or one of those ambiguous tensions that could be sexually charged or not. If we're neither malicious nor masochistic, we must watch out for flarings-up of viciousness, so as not to participate in exchanges we'll later come to regret. On the other hand, if we're willing to take it to its logical extreme—and confess to the secret underpinnings beneath our superficial stories, which maybe we are just now coming to see in ourselves—we could make some progress, but not without airing the dirty laundry.

Nothing, it seems, will unfold as simply or casually as we might wish, thanks to Mars and Pluto. And even should we reach some satiating conclusion, we mustn't forget: It's still only the first pass, and Mars will be retrograde in just under two months from now.