Mars Rx, Pt. II: The Return to Scorpio


Mars has now been retrograde for just about a month now, and it still has another month-and-a-half or so to go… but the Mars-retrograde vibe is about to change significantly for its latter portion.

Over the course of these next couple weeks, we'll experience a perceptible transition between 'Mars rx, part I' and 'Mars rx, part II', as a result of a few big astrological shifts.

Right around the same time Mercury ends its retrograde and returns to direct motion (May 22), both the Sun and Venus will be moving into Gemini (May 20 and 24, respectively). Then, a few days later, Mars will reverse out of Sagittarius (May 27), where it's been since early March… and retreat back into Scorpio, to stay for the remainder of its retrograde and into August.

Courtesy of the Sun and Venus, this awakening of the Gemini influence should immediately give us a bit of 'breathing room' (as the air-signs do) after a few-weeks' worth of dense, slow, fixed-earth Taurus energy… opening us back up more widely to fresh ideas, alternative perspectives, more communicative externalizing, and a greater diversity of social inputs.

While Mercury will remain in Taurus for another three weeks after going direct (until Jun 12), Venus's simultaneous occupation of Gemini means these two planets will be in mutual reception that entire time. Mutual reception is the astrological condition that arises when two planets each occupy a sign ruled by the other—in this case, Mercury will be in Venus-ruled Taurus, while Venus will be in Mercury-ruled Gemini—creating a mutually sympathetic relationship in which this pair favorably feeds off one another for expression.

This situation differs from the previous dynamic which existed between these two during Mercury's entire retrograde, when Venus was still in Taurus along with Mercury. During that now-waning period, Mercury was essentially 'reporting' by dispositorship to Venus, indicating its most effective executions would necessarily be filtered through Venus-in-Taurus's pragmatic materiality, relational conservatism, and cautious leaden-footedness. That's why this Mercury retrograde has proven least disruptive—and, in fact, potentially benefic—to those of us who intentionally stayed put, hunkered down (with a delicious Taurus-type treat or two), and deliberated while waiting it out.

Now, during these next weeks, this Mercury-Venus mutual reception encourages us to be a bit less cautious or conservative… and a little spunkier about following our curiosities, reaching out to prospective new contacts or different types of friends, and engaging additional conversation. While Venus in Gemini favors a willingness to try on various guises so as not to needlessly limit our options, Mercury in Taurus still wants to vigilantly hang tight for a spell rather than committing to anything right away. A slower pace allows time to tell whether a cool-enough-sounding idea could be successfully actualized in the real world, or if it breaks down once subjected to practical vetting.

This mutual-reception mix is pretty ideal to accompany Mercury's rolling back through its post-retrograde shadow: We can tentatively explore uncharted possibilities for how to break through our prior Mercury-rx stalemates, yet continue to subject them to sustained pragmatic-minded consideration before confidently signing on.

The big foil to all this, alas, is Mars.

During its last few retrograde days in Sagittarius, Mars will face dual oppositions from first the Sun and then Venus as they each enter Gemini (May 22 and 24, respectively). Such Mars oppositions can frame situational standoffs in which we feel we're being confronted, challenged, or attacked by some antithetical or antagonistic force that demands its dissenting impulse be acknowledged and/or obeyed.

In this case, the retrograde Mars in Sagittarius challenges the noncommittal up-in-the-air-ness of the Sun/Venus-in-Gemini tentative explorations and provisional interests. Mars threatens to assert trademark Sagittarian impatience with the open-ended nature of Gemini's curiosities… even as Venus's mutual reception with Mercury in Taurus clearly endorses more-moderate pacing. Mars pokes and prods and presses for an answer, one way or the other, pick a side, take action now, no point in dragging this out, it argues. Only, too hastily decisive an act, and we shut down all those other options we were just now beginning to consider in earnest.

Throughout these two-and-a-half months Mars has been in Sagittarius, we've continuously had to contend with this overeager, geez-let's-get-there-already streak of bodily antsiness. As I've described before, this Sagittarian restlessness proved a thorny astrological counter-trend to the slow-and-steady Taurean rhythms which recently predominated. But now, with Mars forming direct head-on oppositions to planets in less-staunch-and-secure Gemini, the tension between 'one foot in, one still weighing the options' and 'all in, all at once' grows to a starker extreme. The conflict feels more insistent, immediate, urgent… and, as a result, we're even likelier to jump the gun, making a black-and-white judgment call before finishing our survey of all the possibilities.

These Sun and Venus oppositions could bring arguably the most precarious, reactive, kneejerk moments of the whole Mars-retrograde configuration.

Once Mars backsteps into Scorpio shortly thereafter, the restless Sagittarian vibe gives way to a heavier, more intense encounter with our root desires and/or the undercurrents of frustration or resentment which lurk beneath our business-as-usual surfaces. Mars is so powerful in Scorpio (a sign it traditionally rules) because it'll excavate through hell-and-high-water to triumphantly snag what it wants… and won't be intimidated in its efforts by scary monsters, intense confrontations, or one more tumble in the mud. Mars in Scorpio fights to the death, eat or be eaten; nothing less than total victory or utter defeat provides a sufficiently passionate charge.

For those of us who fell victim to Mars-retrograde-in-Sagittarius's inciting of premature decisions, oversimplifying assessments, and/or step-skipping advances, Mars's return to Scorpio could raise whatever troublesome repercussions organically result from our recent sloppy, hasty, and/or incomplete actions… forcing us to look more bravely into our unconscious motivating drives, invest in more thorough efforts, and/or face up to the mess we just made.

For those who've so far faithfully persevered through this progress-thwarting limbo, meanwhile, the renewed Mars-in-Scorpio influence promises to point us toward the knottier-than-first-suspected psychological blocks, transgressive or taboo desires, and/or stubbornly unshakable complications we've resisted dealing with which have prevented us from free passage forward. Even while making peace with such inconvenient truth is ultimately our only way through, that doesn't make the process any less intimidating, intricate, or intense.

In any event, this Scorpionic second-segment of Mars's retrograde is apt to feel more psychically penetrating and emotionally demanding than the first… though the short-tempered edginess and jittery eagerness for movement of any kind ought to subside, as we (hopefully) accept the fact that actual progress toward what we really want will require a more serious, sustained, sweeping investment than we perhaps first understood. Mars retrograde in Scorpio is supposed to pull us back down into the nitty-gritty, gloves-off, nowhere-to-hide depths of our experience—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so we're under no delusions about the situation-at-hand.

This phase may bring reminders of former trials or tragedies which permanently etched themselves upon us… histories which continue to own us as long as we keep trying to push them out of our consciousness… imprints and inheritances we can never escape from but, if properly picked apart and digested back into raw source-emotion, serve as nutrient-rich fodder for powering our next incarnation. Scorpio is, after all, the sign of the phoenix rising from the ashes of its former self.

Not all Mars-retrograde-in-Scorpio re-entrenchments will carry a tragic or trying tone, of course. We may be on the verge of a genuinely splendid transformation… in which case a repeat encounter with our gravest fears, deadliest shames, and/or most unsavory urges at this time is, despite any corresponding upset, a potent opportunity to clear the slate once and for all. The less unprocessed crap we bring with us to our next stop, the fresher-and-cleaner our capacity to grab these new experiences by their horns—and engage our lives with total, unadulterated passion.

Mars will be retrograde until June 29, then retraces its steps through these later degrees of Scorpio before landing back in Sagittarius on August 2. Mars finally leaves its post-retrograde shadow on August 22, and conjoins Saturn two days later.