Mars Enters a Familiar Shadow-Zone


As of this coming week (Feb 17), Mars will be officially within the shadow that precedes its upcoming 2-month retrograde (Apr 17-Jun 29).

That means the steps through the zodiac-wheel which Mars will now make, as it approaches its mid-April station (the point where it appears to change direction and start heading backwards), will be retraced twice more before Mars finally leaves its post-retrograde shadow during August's second half.

This is important news to factor in as we direct our assertive energies, pursue our desires, and/or propel ourselves toward one goalpost or another. The efforts we make over these next couple months are much likelier than usual to demand a successive second (or even third) act, to overlook a vital step or critical consideration and require an eventual redo, and/or to face unforeseen interruptions or disturbances later, before the whole enterprise has had its fair chance to securely take root.

From my perspective, this is not a convincing reason to screw off for these next several months, under some self-indulgent belief that you might as well not try to move anything forward until the astrological conditions supposedly improve. There's always an extenuating astro-circumstance (and, in fact, many) to consider when attempting to understand the descriptive qualities of any given moment in time, but it hardly supports our evolutionary process to employ it as an excuse for legitimizing inaction, resignation, or fear.

Awareness about Mars's upcoming retrograde does, however, emphasize the current value of perseverance over flippancy… and of thoroughness over speed. We mustn't pretend that a few honest weeks of dedicated initiative now is going to comprehensively 'do the trick' forever, thank you and good night. We cannot at present see exactly which of our maneuvers will later prove insufficient, misguided, extraneous, or obsolete. We also can't know in advance what sort of wild-card incidents or unintended developments might ensue once Mars goes retrograde—for one of the commonest Mars-retrograde expressions is for us to confront an unexpected issue, hitch, or obstacle which necessarily diverts our instincts or attentions away from where we'd intended to aim them—and, therefore, can do little to explicitly prepare.

For the moment, it's enough to accept the likely possibility that the arrow of our progress, between now and late August, won't carry us in a straight-line. It could instead be choppy, discontinuous, multi-directional… and potentially frustrating to loyally follow. Yet, if we still wish to end up at that chosen destination it points us toward, we've got to try our hardest to keep heading that way.

The 'arrow-of-progress' metaphor is no literary accident, by the way, but a direct reference to Mars being in Sagittarius at the time it goes retrograde. Though Mars is presently still in Scorpio, it moves into Sagittarius on March 5. Once retrograde, Mars retreats back into Scorpio on May 27. Then, when direct again, it'll return to Sagittarius on August 2, not to clear the post-retrograde shadow until August 22.

Above all else, Mars in fiery Sagittarius is decidedly eager to ride that speeding arrow straight into the heart of the progressive action, hungry for adventure, restless to learn something new or go somewhere different… and far less interested in hanging tight, making plans, double-checking details, and frittering away precious life-moments. But before ever making it to Sagittarius, Mars first spends its time in Scorpio, one of its home-signs and a place where its capacity to tap into the innermost root-source of our impulses and desires is unrivalled. Because Mars in Scorpio is so psychologically attuned and strong, it enables us to drill deeply into the core of human motives—to bravely touch upon whatever terrors, traumas, or taboos might be blocking us from more shamelessly pursuing what we truly want—so we can fight more effectively, against inner obstacles and/or outward foes, for our own victory.

While in Scorpio, Mars's expectation is that we will get all the way into it: with ourselves, our always-still-evolving emotions, our most compulsive or incomprehensible drives, and those other individuals who trigger, torment, titillate, and/or otherwise consume our psychic attention, for one reason and another. Once Mars arrives in Sagittarius, it's more than ready to get the hell out of that pressure-cooker. It quickens its pace, draws the most obvious (though not particularly nuanced) conclusions about where it should head next (based upon what it's just had to confront while in Scorpio), cuts through any remaining 'noise' (meaning: ignores everything else that seems not directly relevant), and sets off for greener pastures.

If Mars should make it to Sagittarius without having probed thoroughly enough into our psychological motives, complications, compulsions, and/or blocks during its time in Scorpio, however, we may find we've leapt too boldly or hastily ahead. A critical stone was left unturned, with important material buried underneath. A key component was forgotten (or willfully avoided); a consequential snag was underestimated. We got careless, sloppy, carried away by our urge to move on already.

Mars's impending retrograde, which carries it from Sagittarius back into Scorpio, will force us to confront any such glossed-over complexities, miscalculated challenges, or suddenly-more-urgent crunches.

If the thematic tale I'm telling sounds familiar, it absolutely should. The specific portion of the zodiac-wheel where Mars's retrograde will take place has only just recently hosted a visit from Saturn… and, in fact, during the middle of last year, Saturn retrograded through this very same zone, retreating back into Scorpio from Sagittarius and thus raising very similar issues.

Let me repeat, for emphasis: This Mars retrograde will tread the identical ground Saturn covered throughout much of 2014 and 2015, providing us a defining chance to demonstrate how the lessons we've learned over these past couple years (specifically related to matters of authentic emotion or desire, self-defined purpose, and/or the appropriate balances of intensity and motion) have sharpened our tools, improved our battle tactics, and/or emboldened us to take rightful action.

Likewise, any issues we stumbled over or struggled to master during that time are likely to re-introduce themselves in the months to come. Did we skim too superficially along the surfaces of a situation with a lot more to it than we'd acknowledged? Or have we simmered too long in a noxious stew of our own recirculating juices, torturing ourselves by refusing to face the truth and proceed accordingly? Have we resisted properly orienting ourselves onto our path of greatest potential value, meaning, interest, or virtue, afraid to choose one fork-in-the-road over another? Or did we dash ahead without appropriate foresight, leaving major details unaddressed in our impatience? This is our shot to make up for past aversions, omissions, obsessions, and overenthusiasms—or to feel anew the pain their inevitable intrusion causes us.

Mars is our planetary warrior, the trailblazer, the courageous hero, an insurgent thorn-in-the-side, a real contender. Deployed capably to a certain end, Mars gets the job done; handled recklessly, it causes problems of excess impulsiveness, anger, competitiveness, and ego. Now that we've entered the sphere-of-influence of its retrograde, Mars remains in an astrological starring-role through these next several months. Please stay tuned.