The world is a busy place. But never-ending activity leaves little time to reflect on where we’re going. Or why.
A Mars retrograde is Nature’s way of reminding us to slow down. To pause and reflect before we act. It’s a chance to learn more about who we are.
And if we listen, we can do more than just survive — we can thrive.
What is a Retrograde?
A retrograde occurs when a planet appears to reverse its direction in the sky. Of course, we know it’s just an illusion. Planets don’t actually change direction. But imagine for a moment that all the planets are like cars moving along a racetrack.
The planets on the inside tracks closer to the Sun have a shorter distance to travel, so they lap the planets on the outer tracks. In the case of Mars, it’s the orbit of the Earth that’s closer to the Sun. As both planets move along, every 26 months, it’s the Earth that catches up to Mars, then passes it from the inside “fast lane.”
As Earth is passing by, Mars appears to slow dramatically, then reverse direction. After 72 days, he changes direction again and speeds up to resume his normal motion. It’s this phenomenon that we call a “retrograde.”
Now, planets are closer to the Earth while they are retrograde. In the case of Mars, that means it’s also at its brightest in the sky. Therefore astrologers say that a planet’s action intensifies during a retrograde. It wants to be noticed. But that also means the usual rules don’t apply.
And so WE may have work a little harder to integrate the energies of a retrograde planet into our daily lives.
The Meaning of Mars
To understand how to work with a Mars retrograde, we first need to understand the energy of Mars. Against the dark night sky Mars is a glowing red ember.
To the ancients, the action of Mars was to burn. Literally sometimes, but also figuratively. With him our passions are enflamed. We get fired up. Over a romance. A project. Or a cause.
As the first planet that’s outside the Earth’s orbit, Mars is like the energetic teenager willing to break away and blaze her own trail. He’s the planet of ACTION. With him we’re willing to separate from the crowd. Or at least what others expect us to do. He’s the planet that inspires us to actually FOLLOW our bliss.
Astrologer Joanne Wickenburg summarized it well: “Mars acts on what Venus wants. He initiates action drawing on information from Mercury’s perceptions and intelligence.”
There’s also a protective side to Mars. He says “Don’t tread on me” — we have the courage to stand up for ourselves and in what we believe.
How to thrive when Mars retrogrades
Retrogrades of any planet imply the need to slow down. We sense that there’s more to a situation than just the shallow surface appearance. We want to research, reflect and go deeper. Since Mars is the planet of action, it’s what MOTIVATES us that’s up for re-evaluation.
You may have a deep need to understand and evaluate the WHY of something… what motivates you at your core. You may even come face to face with your own power to take action. But it’s not enough to understand your motivations and your power, you need to explore HOW you take action in your daily life.
Is what you are doing the BEST way to use your energies to get what you want? Are your actions supporting or prohibiting your growth? Do you even want what you’ve been spending so much time to acquire? Would you be willing to change what you’ve been doing, or even breakaway from the “norm,” to have more success in your life?
Don’t be surprised if you have to confront the past and release its energy in order to move forward in the future.
Examine how you are using your energy and resources. Are you making progress toward your goals? If not, what needs to change? It’s time to research and strategize alternative solutions, perhaps even brainstorm a 2-year action plan for the next Mars cycle. Gather your resources, but don’t invest until after retrograde ends.
In Love and Relationships
Relationships started under Mars retrograde tend to fizzle fast. If you want to love em and leave em, no worries. Compromise yields better results than taking a hard line. Practice diplomacy
In Health and Wellness
Don’t overdo it. Manage your energies. Review your diet and exercise routines — are you taking care of yourself the way you need to? Postpone elective surgery, but don’t fear doing emergency procedures — Mars supports emergency actions.
Article written by Donna Woodwell
If you’re interested in embodying your unique, higher octave Mars expression, check out The Mars Course: Unifying Desire & Purpose from Adam Gainsburg.
The Mars Course is a deep-dive education into the Mars-Sun cycle and its 13 phases, the sky-factors that contribute to your “masculine dharma,” and how to identify your unique desire and purpose for individual embodiment of your Sacred Masculine, in service to our shared, collective evolution.