Mars is a survival planet, often operating outside our conscious awareness. And while we may have the illusion of control, our responses and patterning are often shaped by early events. As Mars goes retrograde on September 9th, we may become aware of the armoring we have been carrying. Whether the threat of the virus brought heightened tension and valiant determination, or a retreat into safe places; these behaviors reflect the patterning of our natal Mars. Some of us scan the media and the outer world for hidden threats. Others scrupulously observe the new protective rituals. Mars may also defend through bravado and risk-taking, or through attention on what’s hidden underneath.
If you’re like me, you may wake up feeling the tension that runs through sleep during times like this. Looking back, I realize that I have been throwing myself into work obsessively, grateful to be of value, and at the same time unable to relax, even on vacation. I needed to drop into my feelings in order to see that I was being driven by my Mars to do more, because there are so many other things I can no longer do. Short term, Mars brings a welcome boost of adrenaline. In situations where danger continues over a longer period of time, Mars keeps priming our system, urging action in the face of the impossible, and it leads to exhaustion, irritability, or worse. Sometimes the accumulated rage is acted out on other targets. This Mars retrograde brings an opportunity to acknowledge that there is another way. Mars will be retrograde until November 13th. Its repeated squares to Saturn and Pluto add urgency and complexity to the months ahead.
If the world had not changed, I would have been arriving for The ISAR conference in Colorado, to a large astrological conference, which is now rescheduled for next year. And I would have gone to San Francisco to speak on Mars for the association there. Instead, I will be teaching on line the weekend of September 26th and 27th, for two and a half hours each day. The workshops will be morning in California 10:00 am-!2:30 Pm each day, and evening In Paris and London. I will explore Mars in depth in the individual chart. Mars has been a subject of reflection for many years, it’s often overlooked in individual work, and I have come to see its fundamental relationship to both the luminaries in our chart. And Sunday September 13th I will be part of a presidential election panel organized by ISAR. With four wonderful colleagues J Lee Lehman, Caroline Casey, Christeen Skinner and Ray Merriman. There is also an all day event on Saturday “Reimagining the Future,” with ten astrologers looking forward to December’s Jupiter Saturn conjunction in Aquarius.
Mars works for the survival of the tribe. There has been so much bravery, so many dedicated health professionals fighting quietly to save lives, and often falling sick themselves. Like the firefighters in California, and those standing up for social justice, these are heroic manifestations of Mars. But Mars is also dangerous to collective harmony. It can attack when it feels threatened, explode into anger and destruction. Mars retrograde is still Mars, if we are unlucky it may bring ever more regressive behavior. Last December I wrote an article for OPA on mars Retrograde. I have extracted some of it here.
We know that retrogrades are the apparent backwards motion of the planet in the sky. Ancient astrologers were keenly aware of these shifts in motion, and saw them as negative indicators. This time Mars will be powerful in its own sign, Aries, as it turns inward, and it will also square both Saturn and Pluto, three times. The stage is set in 2020 for a push-back against the authoritarian forces that have been growing in the world. Success is not guaranteed, but Mars strength in its own sign will give power to challengers, and hope to insurgents. However, if things go badly, it could increase the brutality of those in power, leading to tragic events. There are times when the madness of violence is unleashed in the collective and we must all hope to avoid the worst face of Mars.
Mars will retrograde September 9 2020 at 28°03 Aries and turn direct on November 13 2020, at 15°13 Aries,. The shadow period will last from July 24th to January 2, 2021.
Mars Retrograde in Aries: Looking Back.
During the 20th century Mars retrograded wholly or partially into Aries just a few times. In 1909, 1941, 1973, and 1988. I have looked at three of these passages as well as a counterpoint to the retrograde with Mars retrograde in Libra in 1935. Each of these cycles has a different arc, they corresponds to shifts in power, extremes of aggression, a rebalancing of economic and global influence, and the rise of previously unknown dangers. Conflicts may end, and others swirl into being from unexpected quarters.
Mars Retrograde in Taurus/Aries 1973: Re-balancing World Economic Power
A certain number of conflicts begin and end with Mars Retrograde. The initial surprise of an invasion may give way to quick changes and reversals, as it did in 1973 during the 21 day October War between the Arab States and Israel. Mars began its retrograde at 9° Taurus on September 19 1973. This cycle is relevant for us today for a number of reasons, Saturn and Pluto were in an exact square at that time, activating the cycle in effect during the foundation of the state of Israel. Saturn was also conjunct the south node, as it has been much of 2019. On October 6 1973, A coalition of Arab countries invaded Israel, making quick territorial gains, especially in the Sinai Peninsula. However these successes were quickly reversed, and Israeli troops surrounded Egyptian forces in the Sinai as well as invading Syria. They came within 30 kilometers of Damascus. A cease fire was negotiated on October 25th. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that all Mars retrograde periods will be met with immediate failure, and the conflicts that arrive can have larger, more long lasting repercussions. During the 1973 conflict OPEC made the decision to stop sending oil to the United States, quadrupling prices for oil in the short term triggering a recession, and forever changing the dynamics of global politics.
There was also a new connection between the continents of Asia and Europe made at this time. One day after Mars slipped back into Aries, the Bosphorous bridge in Istanbul was completed. It’s fascinating that this real world connection arrived just as the West could no longer ignore the Arab world, and the larger relationship with the Middle East. Mars Retrograde interfacing with the larger collective cycles works to destabilize existing power structures. The 1973 Mars Retrograde also corresponded to important events during the Watergate scandal, including the infamous Saturday night massacre., where a wayward president Nixon was under investigation by Congress.
Mars Retrograde in Libra square Pluto 1935: A Return to Power in Germany
Another Mars retrograde with parallels to 2020 began on February 27, 1935, when Mars turned retrograde at 24°Libra 37, in an exact square to Pluto, and opposition Uranus. Just before the retrograde the industrial Saar region voted to be reunited with Germany, after 15 years under British and French control. This vote gave Hitler access to manufacturing and coal, to the power to build the Third Reich. In the following two months, he would announce the creation of the the Lutwaffe, the German Air Force, give the order to build 12 submarines, and reinstate the draft. He openly defied the treaty of Versailles, and reasserted German power and sovereignty under this Mars Retrograde. Hitler’s Ascendant at 26°41’ Libra is intimately involved with this cycle. A French, British, and Italian coalition was formed to counter Hitler’s aggression, with little effect. It’s interesting to note that in a previous Mars retrograde, in early Aries in 1909, a 20 year old Hitler left his lodgings in Vienna, and spent several months homeless, in tattered clothes, sleeping on Park benches. What happens in one Mars retrograde cycle can be reversed in another. In 1909 Mars retrograded into Pisces, activating a square to Pluto at the end of the retrograde, in a mirror relationship to the opening square in 1935.
1941: Mars retrograde in Aries: Barbarism Unleashed.
1935: Mars rx 24°17 Libra – 1941 Mars RX 23°43 Aries
September 7 1941 Mars stationed retrograde at 23°43 Aries, just 3 degrees from Hitler’s Descendant, and opposite the 1935 retrograde. This 6 to & year oppositions are part of the Mars Retrograde cycle. They link two periods in time. In 1935 Germany reclaimed its power, in 1941 it used it to devastating effect. Just days before the retrograde the Nazis first used Zyklon B at Auschwitz to execute Soviet prisoners of war, In September alone, over 70.00 Soviet citizens, mostly Jews, were massacred by German paramilitary death squads ( Einsatzgruppen D) in the Ukraine, in the Nikolaev and Babi Yar massacres. During this time the destructive power of the god of War was fully unleashed. Perhaps significantly, Mars is without any major aspect to the outer planet cycles. It may be this gives greater scope for Mars to let loose, without constraint, When working with Mars retrograde in Mundane astrology, the whole cycle is relevant. That includes the shadow period on either side of the retrograde, the moment Mars reaches the degree where it will later make its direct station. After it turns direct the shadow extends to the degree where it originally turned retrograde. Towards the end of the Shadow period in 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States declared war on Japan.
1988: Mars Retrograde in Aries/Pisces : The End of Conflict and invisible Enemies
The 1988 retrograde went went from 11° of Aries to 29°53 Pisces Just before the retrograde the ten year Iran Iraq war came to an end, it seemed a cycle of aggression was exhausted. Yet another organization would spring up; Osama Bin Laden secretly formed Al Qaeda, anticipating the Russian retreat from Afghanistan. While on the outside the end of the war seemed promising , the warriors who had been trained in a war of attrition vowed to continue jihad. A totally new weapon also came into being with the launching of the first computer virus, the Morris Worm. on November 2, 1988. Mars was at 0 Aries square Saturn and Uranus in late Sagittarius, The worm signaled a whole new form of possible warfare. Its inventor, a doctoral student named Robert Tappan Morris, spent 3 years in jail for his out of control experiment.
Mars Retrograde in 2020 : Passion and Conflict in the US Elections
Mars will retrograde September 9 2020 at 28°03 Aries and turn direct on November 13 2020, at 15°13 Aries,. The shadow period will last from July 24th to January 2, 2021,
Mars in Aries calls up courage, gives power to individual outrage. It can sustain us in the face of danger , or spill into wildness and destruction. This Mars retrograde will mark a turning point for all of us. As we have seen in previous cycles Mars retrograde redirects power, and no matter what the outcome of the US presidential elections, authoritarian impulses will be countered and weakened by the courage of a few individuals. This Mars retrograde gives hope in the face of the authoritarian impulses inherent in the Saturn Pluto conjunction.
We will need heroes during the Mars retrograde in Aries, those who stand up to an abuse of power. Mars retrograde, after all is changing its relationship to the Sun, trying to find an inward directness rather than bend to outer authority. When Mars goes out of control it is terrible, when it serves us to change course, it can work for the greater good.