Mars Retrograde in Libra: Alternate Currents


Mars took his first backward-facing steps on Saturday (March 1), commencing a 2-month period of retrograde motion which lasts until May 19.

Following right behind an extra-thorny Mercury retrograde and, before that, six weeks of Venus retrograde, this Mars retrograde only further reiterates that this first half of '14 is meant for revisiting and/or wrapping up old business. So much coincident personal-planet retrograding has kept our immediate attentions essentially frozen in the same place for some time already, and now it continues.

Of these three, though, a retrograde of Mars threatens to be the most aggravating. After all, Mars does represent the manner in which we outwardly express our assertive will. And when he's stuck retrograde-style, moving slower than usual, retracing steps he's already taken once and will later take again, we often feel like we must repeatedly assert and re-assert our will toward the same purpose in order to achieve our desired results. Obviously, this can grate on our nerves and/or try our patience.

Maybe this job, this battle, this shuffling of energy-investments, whatever it may be, in fact requires all this sustained intentness. Maybe it really is that big, that demanding… and this Mars-retrograde 'stuckness' is just what the doctor ordered so you can finally get it done.

Perhaps it's more that your impulses won't allow you to concentrate on anything else, try as you might, because you're indefatigably fixated on this one objective. One-track attitude! Shouldn't you just instinctively follow the momentum wherever it's coursing?

Excuse me while I interrupt the jerky spurts of my writing process, but I am dying to go to the gym. Though I'm driven to fulfill the calling to translate these celestial happenings to you in that quirky tone only I convey, my body would really rather not be resigned to this seated posture for the time it'll take to communicate these reflections. I want to swim and jog and work my muscles. I want to ride the rowing machine like it's a bucking bronco. I want to sweat it all out. (I've experienced this surge of hunger for physical exercise during a prior Mars retrograde, too. I've also experienced the opposite: a sudden crash in my desire to move my body any bit at all. Mars is our bodily get-up-and-go; when it goes retrograde, those energies often get scrambled.) Still, I'd better finish this off.

Would you rather not be relegated to an extended stay in this spot (whatever it is), but encumbering circumstances are compelling you to perpetuate this continued pressing-forward through unwelcoming territory… and you've just got to keep going if you hope not to lose ground and actually, eventually, to triumph? Who or what can you get fuckin' pissed off at about it? Or is this just 'the way it's got to be'?

Mars also symbolizes how we experience aggression or anger when we're blocked in our self-assertive efforts… and when retrograde, those aggressive feelings which arise in us aren't entirely sure where to direct themselves. We may only now be noticing anger that was previously repressed, pent-up, and/or lobbed indiscriminately outward. We may suddenly find ourselves furious with someone who never made us mad before. Or we might point our inflamed temper inward because we aren't sure who or what really deserves it, or out of self-punishing habit (which, under the retrograde influence, becomes a now-blatantly-obvious problem instead of staying an unexamined norm). Though we're only apt to learn about where and how we ought to express our discontent through this process of having to sit with it longer than usual (thanks, retrograde 'stuckness'), we must deal with plenty of moments along the way during which we aren't so sure—and are instead left in suspended animation, unsettled yet unclear about whether this or that action will indeed 'settle' these stirrings or just stir them up further.

I readily admit to finding Mars retrograde a most slippery astrological phenomenon, eluding a single reliable interpretative narrative that'll resonantly apply to each distinct occurrence. I've found some to be invigorating, and others draining. I've been more upbeat than usual under some, and irritated as hell under others. The specifics of a given Mars retrograde will depend on (1) its particular condition, in zodiac-sign and through its aspects to other planets, and, maybe even more importantly, (2) where exactly it falls in one's own birthchart, what region it's 'stuck' in and which natal aspects it sets off.

What I can confidently say about it, however, is that our physical rhythms (Mars) are due to operate as if according to an alternate (retrograde) current. Where we might've hoped or planned to invest our energies here, we unexpectedly find ourselves pulled elsewhere. There's absolutely no initiative to do this, but suddenly a strong drive to do that instead. Mars is a very embodied archetype, so we're likeliest to feel the alternative urges he incites in our bodies. Anger, for example, is often a very physical sensation, potentially causing us to get out of our seats or tighten our muscles or throw a glass against the wall while screaming obscenities. Sexual interest, too, is felt in the body. We mustn't ignore what our bodies are telling us in these (and other) contexts, even if our minds are begging us not to listen.

With this Mars retrograde happening in Libra, a sign of his detriment (i.e., where he doesn't perform most comfortably), a sense of 'stunted' progress may result from our being reluctant to take action because we're struggling to bust through a mental stalemate. Libra (a Venus-ruled sign) can be prone to indecision, due to its impeccable ability to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each and every option. But Mars hates to waffle: He does what he's moved to do, knowing if an unforeseen problem or consequence shows up, he'll figure out some response on the spot, only once it happens. Mars retrograde in Libra, then, pushes us to honor the instinctual bodily truth (one which is rarely ambiguous) with just as much trust as we place in our cerebral reasoning. The thwartings or hesitations which result from excessive consideration (or 'overthinking') remain a likely source of frustration. Perhaps there isn't a flatly 'right' or 'wrong' choice, merely the need to choose one and run with it…?

Likewise, when it comes to expressing anger or discontent, Mars in Libra is often challenged to do so in a direct, uncompromising fashion. Mars's protracted retrograde presence could prove to be of great personal value—in the end, mind you, though not necessarily right away—by creating an extended up-close-and-personal encounter with such antagonistic emotions. Mars in Libra sometimes has a way of inspiring us to project our antagonism, alleging that the contentious attitude is coming from the other person when it's coming from us. Mars has been in Libra for four months already, and, during this time, we might've built an excellent case for how a certain someone has been pissing us off. This retrograde phase, therefore, promises to help clarify who's mad at whom, and for what… and whether these indictments are legitimate or misguided.

Indisputably, the messiest moments of this Mars retrograde are due to occur in the second half of April, when Mars forms a grand cross (or four planets at odds with each other, by square and opposition) with Jupiter and the ever-squaring pair of Uranus and Pluto, and smack in the midst of an eclipse period no less. Seriously bumpy astrology, no question about it. This is the second chapter (albeit the more unstable one) to the grand-cross 'razzmatazz' we dealt with at the Christmas/New Year's season. During that time, we should expect to find ourselves cornered into taking action (whether or not it's what we planned or desired) due to a swift or unusual confluence of circumstances, some of which will definitely be beyond our control… and/or encountering a surprising chain-reaction cascade of ramifications from some action we do choose to take, which only demands more responses and creates more fallout. The interconnectedness between previously-imagined-to-be-separate life-sectors will be unmistakable.

Mars doesn't clear his post-retrograde shadow, to start treading new ground, until July 20… and finally enters Scorpio, one of his rulership signs and thus a place where he's far better equipped to fulfill his purposes, on July 25. Between now and then, we probably ought to adjust our standards of 'progress', carefully heed our body's 'alternate' rhythms, and make the productive best out of wherever Mars retrograde has 'stuck' us.