Mars Retrograde

By Eileen Nauman, DHM (UK)
Copyright 1999-2012. All Rights Reserved.

Mars has an orbit of 22 months around the Sun. Every once in a while, it goes “retrograde,” or backwards (seemingly) in motion, as it passes Earth, which has a shorter orbit. This usually happens once every 22 months.

What does retrograde mean?

What does “retrograde” mean? It means “backwards movement.” The Earth has an orbit around the Sun. So does Mars (and Mars’ orbit, because it is farther to the Sun, is longer in circumference than Earth’s).

At certain times in that 22 month orbit, Mars (because it has a longer orbit than Earth) will “pass” Earth. As it’s moving “away” from Earth, to an observer standing on Mars, it looks like Earth is moving backward as this is happening. Mars is surging ahead and Earth is left behind. This is retrograde motion.

Another way to explore this is: Most of you have probably ridden in a motor boat. When the engines are in forward position, you zoom around. When you want to back up the boat, you put the throttle in reverse position. Have you ever watched the surge and turbulence of water beneath the engine, at the rear of the boat when it’s put into reverse to back up? That’s retrograde motion. All turbulence, frothing, bubbling and boiling as water, which is flowing nice and smooth one way, suddenly has this engine and motor come and stir it all up as it reverses motion! And you really don’t get anywhere very fast in the boat in reverse motion, do you? The same holds true of the planetary energy when it’s in backward or retrograde motion, too!

Take Mars and Earth in the same analogy: Mars is the speedboat. Earth is the water in which it floats. As Mars passes Earth due to its longer orbit around the Sun, this turbulence energetically is created between the two planets for what seems like a LONG time. And we know Earth is not in reverse motion–the concept I’m trying to visually give you is that when Mars passes Earth as it moves around on it’s longer circumference orbit, invisible “waves” of energy are created. And this energy is translated into retrograde motion by astrologers.

Another way to state this visually is: You’re in a boat on a lake. You zoom past another boat that is anchored and the gal is fishing in one spot. You watch the waves your boat has created by forward motion impact that other boat. That other boat will bob and move around as the current of the lake water, set into motion by your speeding boat, strikes it. The waves pass, and the boat that is anchored, becomes still once more.

Even though we can’t see the energy and turbulence as the faster moving planet in orbit affects a slower moving planet in its orbit, the turbulence is still there. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there and isn’t happening–because it is.

When ANY planet goes retrograde (and they all do sooner or later), the heavier they are, the more impact they produce in our daily life. Those with larger, longer orbits about the Sun produce deeper impact. Those with shorter orbits, such as Mercury and Venus, cause less havoc. However, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, create more havoc or changes. The outer planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto create changes on a more global or generational level. The three that have a lot of personal, deep impact are: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These are highly personalized and lives can change drastically when they go in retrograde or direct motion.

Direct motion is a phenomena when Earth, in it’s orbits, passes up the slower moving planet and seems to move ahead of it once again. So, any planet can go retrograde or direct as we stand on Earth. They all do. How and what they impact in our lives is the only other consideration that we are really interested in.

Depending upon what zodiac sign the planet is in when it goes retrograde and direct, is of major interest. Those people born in that sun sign and it’s opposite sun sign, are more likely to receive the impact and implications of this planet as it goes retrograde (and later, direct).

A planet from Mars to Pluto, will have a longer period of retrograde, than Mercury or Venus simply because their orbits are much larger that these two smaller planets found inside Earth’s orbit. For instance, Mars, when it goes retrograde, it is usually for, roughly, 2 1/2 months at a time. That’s a LONG time! The outer planets can be retrograde for much longer, depending upon their individual orbit.

What does Mars rule?

In order to ascertain what can happen when Mars goes retrograde, you must first understand what it rules:

  1. The release of energy
  2. Our metabolism, which burns off calories
  3. Our thrust into Life and the world, our eagerness, our energy to go out there and get things done
  4. Being a leader
  5. Making things “happen”
  6. Creating a new chapter in our life (a job change, a move, a birth, a death, a gift, the end of something, the beginning of something by our decision making process)
  7. Impulsiveness
  8. Our courage
  9. Driving force (toward a goal/idea/ideal/vision)
  10. Our self-will (our ability to will ourselves in the direction we see ourselves going
  11. Being adventurous
  12. Being assertive (take charge, take the bull by the horns, getting personally involved in some thing)
  13. Our desire
  14. Out going energy (this is RIGHT sided energy–it is energy, like an arrow shot from a bow, that we send out into our world to make things change or “happen”)
  15. Being rash
  16. Aggression
  17. Warlike nature/violent/combative/raging
  18. Being angry, the ability to express our anger (either positively or negatively)
  19. Inflammation/high, sudden fever/rashes/sudden infection/killer epidemic
  20. Highly sexual; strong libido
  21. Being passionate (in an emotional sense) about your goals/ideas/dream and willing to throw yourself into it completely
  22. Struggles within yourself; struggles/fighting with others/war of words or war of actions/resistance–standing one’s ground and fighting for it
  23. Executive ability–you can make decisions; no wavering; it’s cut and dried 24, our animal instinctual processes; being in touch with them, our sense of survival and making good decisions that keep us alive or safe
  24. Injury around fire arms, fires, and machinery
  25. Being forceful; pushing, bending, folding and creating your reality through your own desire/will/energy being focused
  26. Our masculine energy (our RIGHT side of ourselves, regardless of our gender). Being in touch and integrating our masculine energy and using it when we need too (again, regardless of gender).

What does Mars going retrograde do to all of this?

Basically, it pulls the plug on it. The first thing people experience, especially if the transit of Mars is either conjunct or opposite one of their natal planets in their astrology chart, is a LOSS OF ENERGY. It’s very real. You can see this as Mars being the helium-filled balloon and the retrograde as a pin puncturing the balloon. All the “air” or ‘fire” goes out of the balloon and it deflates and falls listlessly to the earth. That is how you will feel. Let’s look at what can happen to our Mars list:

  1. Physical energy is not as available. Or, your energy is depleted quickly. You cannot do as much as you did before. You need to rest or nap more often in between jobs/tasks.
  2. Energy needed to continue working toward your goal/dream/vision is put on “hold.” Nothing works out for you. All the “steam” and stream of energy toward making things happen dissolves mysteriously and quickly.
  3. No matter how hard you try to PUSH, nothing will happen. It seems like everything is in stasis or is very sluggish or does not respond quickly or as usual to your energy or input that you place into the project.
  4. This is the WORST time to start a new business, to start anything new, a new idea, effort to write a book, effort to pitch a new idea, because it simply will fritter away and deflate like a balloon with a leak in it. It just will go nowhere.
  5. Where life seemed to be moving in rapid forward motion and things were happening and clicking right along–they won’t now. They will slow down. As if in slow motion. But that’s not to say it’s bad–when things slow down, you get to sip more deeply from the well instead of just taking a quick gulp of water and speeding off. Take the time Mars is giving you and go DEEPER into whatever it is that holds your attention or responsibility. There is a reason for it and behind it, even if you or I don’t know what it is at the time.
  6. You will not have the “push,” “shove” or “passion” you had before Mars went retrograde. The volume is turned down–way down. Your get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went….
  7. Your usual spontaneity will go on the back burner and simmer.
  8. Your “drive” will be cut back.
  9. You’ll need more rest than usual.
  10. You’ll need more sleep than usual.
  11. You will feel like the Hanged Man of the Tarot deck–hung by your feet, suspended in mid-air, dangling there and no way to get down or get out of it.
  12. Your life will go into a kind of cocoon-like stasis. This is a waiting and developing period–not a pushing, shoving, let’s-build-a-nation kind of time.
  13. You’ll feel less inclined to fight, be combative or stand up to aggression. You may get a more live-and-let-live attitude during this time frame.
  14. Sexual drive may wane; don’t worry–it will be back when Mars goes direct. Consider it a reproductive vacation.
  15. Your energy will be held and contained; not outgoing as before. I call this ‘paper bag time.’ You feel like you’re in a huge, invisible paper bag and nothing is going on schedule or right for you now.
  16. Projects lag to a crawl. Things that were supposed to get done, don’t. This isn’t a good time to take on a new project, either. It will fail–miserably. Wait and be patient until Mars turns direct.
  17. Injury around fire arms, fire, and machinery are very likely around the retrograde and direct period.
  18. This is a time to switch from Life outside yourself to a large degree and go inward (like a bear goes into hibernation to connect with its powerful dreamlife) and work on your inner “stuff.”
  19. Consider this period a time of outer, external calm so you can do homework on your inner self. It’s an excellent time for therapy, for digging out deep, rooted patterns of harmful behavior that you’ve been carrying around like a good friend. Many ‘aha-s’ about one’s self are made at this time.
  20. Your instinctual, animal self may not be operating as keenly as before–so think 2 or 3 times before you commit yourself to anything. REALLY size it up, be patient and wait it out if it doesn’t quite feel right to you.
  21. Your masculine energy is going into hibernation. This is a good time to switch over to your feminine energy (the touchy, feely, blind-as-a-bat-yet-you-know-where-you’re-going intuition) and use it. It will keep you out of trouble if you listen to it. If you’re male; you probably will not listen to it, and you will hit a few brick walls as a result before you learn to pay more attention to that little feminine voice inside yourself.
  22. The outer world, all the demands on you, will ease up to a degree during this period. That’s good news–it gives you time to catch up on a lot of loose ends (like filing…) that have been sitting around and begging for attention for months–so use this “quiet period” to mop up some messes you’ve been letting go for sometime…..
  23. You are going to be more open and vulnerable to STRESS–so get out of the way of it, take care of yourself, get your down-time, nurture yourself and rest…if you don’t, then….
  24. Your immune system will be lowered during this period. You cannot take the normal stresses and demands life places on you. It’s a good time to think about extra Vitamin C (3,000 mg daily) and pantothenic acid (250 mg a day) to feed your adrenal glands directly so they can juggle the stresses that you’re not coping with as well as you usually do. Once the Mars retrograde period is over, stop taking the above vitamins. Your adrenals will go back online at that time without help.
  25. Above all, this is a time of gestation; sort of like a pregnancy. There is much movement on the deep, inner structure of yourself at a subconscious level. There is a reason why you are in “bag-time” and you’re suspended and nothing seems to be working out like you thought or hoped it would. The internal energies that are now gestating within you need time to form and create the outer physical reality–which will come and introduce itself to you when Mars goes direct.
  26. Most importantly, during a Mars retrograde, have patience with yourself and others. Patience is the key to this period. If you do that, you’ll kick back, lay in the hammock, watch the clouds scud by in the blue sky and be utilizing this energy properly.

Surviving Mars retrograde

It’s pretty easy, really. You expect that you’re not going to have all that energy you had before and you cut back accordingly. You also expect that nothing is going to go right in your life–either professionally or personally. There are going to be deviations, set backs, changes–and if you remain flexible and in touch with your inner feminine intuition, you’ll get through this period just fine.

It is those who are rigid, controlling, stubborn or just plain stupid, who refuse to change their gait to the drummer’s beat, which is beating a lot more slowly now, that get in real trouble with this retrograde.