Mars is retrograde in 2020 from September 9 to November 13/14; its path is from 28 Aries to 15 Aries. Where do these degrees appear in your chart? This is the area of life where the retro may express itself.
Planet retrogrades indicate times when the gods will mess with you—at least that’s what many astrologers say. The planet that seems to be traveling backwards is in a weakened state. The activities it rules will suffer.
Mars is the archetypal warrior. During his retrograde, sex drive and ambition can flounder. New initiatives—a new job, project, or relationship—can stall, veer off course, meet a torrent of obstacles. You might feel reckless, frustrated, adrift, or angry. Avoid speeding. Don’t over-exert yourself. Surgery is ill advised. Steer clear of combative people.
Planets don’t really travel backwards. Retrogrades are actually illusions—from our vantage on earth. My policy is to use astrology & myth to design the best possible illusions. And while life can indeed fulfill the calamities predicted—these won’t occur for everyone.
Retrogrades signal a universal energy event—or as the ancient Mesopotamians viewed it—a timely message from the gods. We can navigate through these periods unconsciously or wisely; that’s our free will.
In the retro weeks, there’s often a colossal story of some Mars initiative gone wrong. During the spring 2014 retrograde, shortly after take-off, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took a bizarre turn and flew for several hours off course before disappearing—a mystery yet unsolved.
During the summer 2018 retrograde, a young Thailand soccer team was famously trapped in a network of caves flooded by monsoon rains. Boys—athletes—are Mars people (the team was named, appropriately, the “Wild Boars”). The military, police, and first responders–these too are Mars people; all were at the center of this event. The boys couldn’t swim and the rescue was harrowing (a diver died)—the whole world got caught up in this very Mars story.
My Mars retro experiences are much less dramatic. Mostly I’m just clumsy. I drop or break things. In the kitchen I cut myself along with the vegetables. Walking on a flat surface, I can suddenly stumble. This too is divine messaging. What is Mars saying?
Mars goes retrograde every 25-26 months for about 80 days. Dates and degrees for the last 5 are below. About these weeks, what does the god most want us to know?
What Mars retro means: it’s time to call the warrior home
Warriors can’t fight on the front lines all the time. It’s the nature of Mars to be active, to be doing, desiring, and delighting the king with his victories. Mars serves our archetypal Sun—the ego—with his energy and courage. He protects the boundaries and fulfills our initiatives. He’s a pathfinder. He fuels us with enthusiasm and desire.
Yet every two years-ish, the warrior taps out. He needs a retreat. If you push him too hard, he could break. Mars needs to rest.
During his retrograde, we can watch him as the planet Mars in the night sky—zigzagging or cutting a loop away from the battlefield. Unlike retrograde Venus—who gives us a beautiful sky show, first disappearing as the evening star into the underworld, then emerging as the morning star—Mars doesn’t give us a repeating event. True to his nature, he takes a slightly different path each time, but always during the retrograde, going home, back from where he came.
What happens when the warrior can’t retreat? Athletes are Mars people. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics were held while Mars was retrograde. The fatal crash of a Georgian luger made for an unsettling beginning, as did the opening ceremony, when the fourth leg of the Olympic cauldron failed to rise.
Lindsey Vonn, arguably one of the world’s best female skiers, suffered a serious shin injury, a fall, a broken finger, and dashed hopes for five golds. The phenomenal Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer was on his way to gold when his coach sent him to the wrong lane and disqualified him. And curling, of all things, became the rage. This slow-moving sport is perfect for warriors in retreat. I remember this–watching grown men shout and slide stones into painted circles as their pals furiously swept the ice. It was oddly comforting.
During the 2020 retrograde, we do have good reason to worry about reckless warriors storming the streets before November’s election. People out doing Mars things–like carrying weapons or driving fast cars –are not in their best minds. The archetypal Berserker can be at his most dangerous during the retro weeks. Over the years, I’ve come to expect small local stories of people (mostly men) struggling and erupting with rage during this period. I don’t know how to fix this. I agree with most astrologers–stay away from combative people. And use this time wisely–in a positive way for yourself.
My Mars retrograde challenge: making the most of this time
Mars is retrograde for 80 days. Unlike Venus retrograde–whose 40-day interval coincides neatly with the world literature of underworld transformations–there are no ancient myths for the retro Mars period. There is, however, a relatively recent one (it’s about 150 years old). Perhaps these words have already run through your mind: “Around the World in 80 Days”—from the 19th century adventure novel by Jules Verne.
In it, a relatively staid & boring gentleman, Phileas Fogg, reads that a new railway line in India makes it possible to navigate the globe in 80 days; he gets into an argument about this with his men’s club and makes a reckless dare. He bets half his fortune (roughly 2 million dollars today) that he can do it. He can go around the world in 80 days.
During Mars retrograde, we don’t literally want to travel the world–especially during a pandemic! Nor–during the Venus retrograde–did we literally want to dig a hole and enter the underworld. Circumnavigating the globe is our guiding metaphor. In 80 days, we’ll go all the way around our world and come back to where we started, and be richer for it (presuming we win the bet). Instead of an outer adventure, we’re going on an inner one, all while the warrior is resting.
Fogg is an unlikely Mars avatar and his journey is filled with missed connections, obstacles and calamities. The news story that had started him off–about the Indian railway–was incorrect. He has to travel more slowly, by elephant, and loses even more time saving an Indian princess (who joins the journey). In the Americas, he’s delayed by a herd of bison & a falling suspension bridge, and attacked by Sioux warriors. Closer to home, he’s mistakenly arrested as a bank robber, losing a day, which means he arrives in London too late. As he’d spent all his money on travel–now he was penniless. Until he realizes–because of the international date line (a concept not yet invented during Verne’s time)–he had not yet seen 80 sunrises. He had arrived in London on time!
Of course Jules Verne gave us a “science-y” solution–but I like to interpret it more simply. That it’s the Sun who saves him affirms that Nature is there for us. Despite all the voodoos of our ambitions (to borrow a Mary Oliver phrase), we can trust in the rhythms of the natural world, even when everything else seems to go wrong.
Every Mars retrograde asks a marvelous question: How do you navigate through the ups and downs of life when you’re depleted? How do you get things done when the warrior is disabled? You need to develop a different way to respond when things go haywire. During the retrograde, you need to work smarter. And the most able archetypes you have to do this are the Divine Feminine ones–your Moon and Venus.
I know another wonderful myth that describes the important role of the Divine Feminine during Mars retrograde. I’ll share this with you next time. Come back at the Virgo New Moon. In the meantime, here’s a practice to get you started once the retrograde begins.
Perhaps the boldest act Mars takes each day is getting you out of bed–which for most of us happens in a quick, unconscious way. During the retrograde I invite you to linger a moment before leaping. While still in bed, gently scan the space of your body and the energy field surrounding it. Receive all the sensations.
Every morning your body has a message for you. Perhaps you’ve already noticed this, but if you haven’t, the retrograde is a wise time to learn. Maybe you can put the message into words (I’m still tired, I feel great, I’m hungry, my arm hurts ). But often enough you can’t. Wordlessly receive this anyway. On a deeper level, you’ll absorb the message. And this will make all the difference in your functioning for the rest of the day.
Receptivity is a feminine art. Starting September 9, let the Goddess hold the Warrior briefly at the start of your day. For the next 80 days–and it’s okay if some days you forget–receive yourself this way. This embrace will help to rejuvenate your weary warrior. Or–the motherly you is hugging the young boy in you before he leaps into the adventures of the day.
Research recent Mars retrogrades
Perhaps the dates below will trigger significant memories. But it’s also likely they won’t. Which is pleasantly sobering if you’re worried about getting jinxed by the retrograde. Not all activities will fail. The negative predictions simply describe what happens to a lot of people when their Mars function is weakened. If you have to launch a project during the retrograde, don’t worry overmuch. Just take care of your warrior.
|Mars Retro||Degree||Mars Direct||Degree|
|December 20, 2009||19 Leo||March 10, 2010||0 Leo|
|January 24, 2012||23 Virgo||April 14, 2012||3 Virgo|
|March 01, 2014||27 Libra||May 20, 2014||9 Libra|
|April 17, 2016||8 Sagittarius||June 29, 2016||23 Scorpio|
|June 26, 2018||9 Aquarius||August 27, 2018||28 Capricorn|
|September 9, 2020||28 Aries||November 13/14, 2020||15 Aries|
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