Mars in Motion, 2016 (written by Rose Marcus, all rights reserved)
Mars is a feature planet to watch in 2016. Its retrograde transit is an exceptionally potent one in terms of bringing each and every one of us face to face with something of critical importance in terms of moving past the past and optimizing on the future. The particular signs involved and various planetary contacts it makes along the way provide many opportunities for Mars to thrust itself into experience and to flex its muscles in a unique fashion.
With an orbital period of slightly less than twice that of the Earth, Mars orbits the Sun once every 687 days. Unlike the rest of the superior planets (those situated beyond the earth) that take an annual retrograde, Mars travels retrograde approximately every 26 months. The retrograde cycle spans 60 to 80 days. The synod conjunction (when Mars and the Sun align their orbits as viewed from earth), occurs every 780 days. The current Mars/Sun cycle launched on June 14, 2015 (23 Gemini). The next Mars/Sun cycle begins on July 26, 2017 (4 Leo).
Coming full circle with the Sun by conjunction every two plus years, Mars begins another activation program, prompted by the soul’s desire for fresh and new experience.
When a planet is retrograde, we are observing the apparent backtrack motion of that planet in relationship to the Sun from our earth-based view. The earth, represented by the chart itself, is the plane of manifestation. The Sun is the life-giving force of our solar system and for all that we are, all that we give life to, that we express, that we are becoming. The Sun lights the consciousness of our being. It is the centralizing creative force that supplies energy to all that is brought to life. Astrologically speaking, the Sun represents the heart of one’s being and the core of one’s potential.
Mars and the Aries archetype are where the journey of self-discovery begins. Mars, the action and assertion planet, is the manifesting vehicle through which the soul produces experience for its ever-evolving desires. As Mars revolves around the Sun, it seeks to fulfill the soul’s desire for fresh experience. Through its individuation process, Mars, the lower octave of Pluto, makes conscious the unconscious side of desire, enabling one to “know thy self.” The Sun supplies creative energy to the Mars initiative.
A naturally occurring interlude for all planets (excluding the Sun and Moon), all retrograde cycles necessitate review and reassessment. Whether it is a natal chart signature, a progression, or transit influence, a retrograde cycle serves to raise consciousness and shift perspective, to intensify introspection regarding motivations, to accelerate experience, growth, and learning. The Sun moves faster and covers more distance than the retrograde planet, allowing for that planet to maximize from the creative process.
When Mars travels retrograde, the soul seeks to self-examine regarding the nature of its desires, impulses, instincts, and actions. The specific circumstances and relationship dynamics will be indicated by the sign Mars tenants and aspects it makes to other planets while in retrograde. Note that the retrograde of all superior planets takes place in opposition to the Sun, when the earth, the plane of manifestation, is situated between that planet and the Sun.
Due to its retrograde cycle, a planet will travel over the same degrees three times, once before, once during, and once following the retrograde. As such, the pre and post retrograde periods should also be considered as contributors. The pre-retrograde phase is often referred to as the shadow period. Leading up to the retrograde, the Sun forms a first-quarter phasal relationship with Mars. Dane Rudhyar coined the term “crisis in action” for this phase. It is an active time of building and developing, of establishing and taking root. It is also a cycle of separating from the past and a time when one is face with fork-in-the-road choices. Following the retrograde, the Sun forms a disseminating phase relationship with Mars. This phase is future-bound. It is one directed toward new exploration and implementation; to the broadening of scope, knowledge, and experience.
Mars is naturally an outgoing, yang, passion driven energy. Mars desires freedom and independence in order to gain new experience, but when traveling in retrograde motion, that outgoing initiative meets with external friction and conflict. “Traveling with the brakes on”, Mars retrograde is no longer freely expressing or accessing the out-going/out-bound energy or that which is outside of itself. Its initiative is met by a frictional force that can often thwart or frustrate outward action-taking but that serves to thrust Mars back in on itself, that inverts its energy. The drive switches to an inward pull. It is heating up internally as friction always produces heat. This inward or reverse pull serves to widen the divide between subjectivity and impulse, between desire, drive, and experience, between self and soul.
The soul uses the frictional energy generated by the retrograde cycle to fuel greater observation of self-in-action. Through this intensified observational mandate, the soul seeks to check-in with itself, to gain a fresh perspective, to re-enforce its momentum or to undertake whatever adjustment is necessary in order to create better inner accord, a more “united front”, and more effective action. The retrograde cycle allows for the soul to examine its inner drives and motivations, to determine what desires are or are not in keeping with its contemporary and evolving wants and needs, what adjustments may be needed regarding action and self-assertion, and if there is something new to add that will serve to create an advance, a realignment, or an acceleration. If the soul manifests new desires, they will be implemented once Mars ends retrograde and resumes direct motion.
Jeffrey Wolf Green taught that when natal Mars is retrograde, it is suggestive of past lives when the soul was overly wild, willful, and egocentric, that the soul now intends to create a consciousness that “looks before it leaps,” to tame the impulsive nature of Mars. The intention is to respond rather than to react, to take actions that are considerate of potential consequences and effects, in order to minimize the creation of conflict or caustic results. One must look to the chart condition of natal Mars retrograde to determine whether it is a weak-willed influence where self-assertion is difficult or problematic, or a strengthening influence that assists individuation, independence, the courage to be one’s self and to carve one’s own path. Depending on the individual’s age, when secondary progressed Mars turns retrograde, it can continue for a major portion, perhaps even the duration, of one’s life. The year of the station retrograde can be one of a significant lifestyle redirection, such as a change of career, or an end or beginning of relationships.
Mars Retrograde, April 17 to June 29, 2016:
In 2016, Mars will travel retrograde from April 17 through June 29. Mars is typically a fast mover, spending an average of six-plus weeks transiting a sign. Due to its retrograde cycle, Mars will tenant Scorpio and Sagittarius for two-thirds of 2016. Mars begins retrograde on April 17 at 9° Sagittarius. It will backtrack into Scorpio from May 27 to June 29, and station direct at 23° Scorpio. Mars in direct motion first entered Scorpio on January 3. On March 4, Mars first entered Sagittarius. Following the retrograde cycle, Mars will exit Scorpio and enter Sagittarius on August 2.
It is particularly noteworthy that Pluto begins retrograde on April 18, 2016, less than 24 hours after Mars begins retrograde. Most planets tend to be not as eventful as Mercury can be when it first starts a retrograde cycle. However, that both Mars and Pluto station retrograde within such a short time span can produce a noticeable effect. Coordinating at the other end of the transit, Pluto stations direct on September 26 and Mars leaves Sagittarius on September 27, 2016.
Before the turn to retrograde in 2016, Mars will have spent two months immersed in the agenda-setting sign of Scorpio. Working under the dictates of dispositor Pluto in Capricorn, Mars in Scorpio suggests a soul agenda of significance is in an intensified development phase. Whether it has been experienced as an undercurrent or has been a confronting experience, the transit has drawn from a specific item in the catalogue of our long-standing personal and collective history and it has been specifically marked for this particular time-is-right juncture. Keep in mind that Pluto’s transit through Capricorn operates along a dual track. It works to bring to culmination an entire chapter of evolution, while at the same time it builds the foundation of a new reality base. As an interesting aside regarding the Mars/Pluto interface, note that during the Pluto in Capricorn 2008 to 2024 years, Mars will work through 8 “sub-cycles” with Pluto and travel retrograde seven times. The first four Mars retrograde cycles, including the 2016 transit, are in waning aspect to Pluto which is suggestive of the soul’s primary concentration toward a dismantling or completion agenda regarding the bigger picture mandate. The last three are in waxing aspect. While Pluto in Capricorn will continue along its dual track, the switch from waning Mars retrograde cycles to waxing Mars retrograde cycles relative to Pluto’s transit is subtle, yet highly significant. The last three Mars retrograde cycles in waxing aspect to Pluto in Capricorn is suggestive of a new orientation in the lead, that of the soul’s focus on building and incorporating new elements.
Transiting Mars retrograde in Sagittarius, April 17 to May 27, 2016:
When Mars begins retrograde in Sagittarius, intuition sends a stronger signal and prompts an intensified questioning and soul-searching period. Does the experience meet with what has been promised or envisioned? Faith, trust, beliefs, and the future falls under greater questioning and testing. Beliefs that have propelled conviction and action can now fall short. That which has been previously adopted as the only viewpoint or only way may now prove to have been tunnel vision, that has led one astray. Fact may be revealed to be a half-truth, wishful thinking, or complete fiction. That which has been cherished as absolute, timeless, or all encompassing, may no longer hold up or go the distance. Mars retrograde in Sagittarius serves to curtail that which has run rampant or wild or has grown out of proportion, to cut back that which is in overgrowth or surplus, to deflate that which has been inflated or exaggerated. What looked like opportunity can prove to be out of reach, a liability, lost, or non-existent. Optimism may be replaced by cynicism. When Mars is retrograde in Sagittarius it can be difficult to travel or mobilize oneself with the same ease, freedom, and abandon. What had seemed so clear, so justified, so right, so on target can become indistinct, confused, irrelevant, lost in translation, or prove to be off the mark, by a little or a lot.
At the same time, Mars retrograde in Sagittarius necessitates the intake of more diversified information and experience. It can prompt or force consciousness to open up to more varied ideas, concepts, opinions and information sources. What is gained in the process may initially compete with, contradict, sidetrack, usurp, or invalidate what was previously known, gathered, or learned.
While Mars tours retrograde in Sagittarius, one can lose sight or become confused regarding the way forward and the optimum course of action. The transit can be an appropriate one for setting things aside for a temporary period in order to engage elsewhere. in other activities. It can be an ideal time to travel for broadening one’s knowledge or to replenish spiritually. Time away or distance from the immediacy of an experience can allow for greater objectivity, for personal awareness to grow, for energy or passion to be replenished. When Mars travels retrograde in Sagittarius, we can re-connect with teachers, teachings, and story tellers, or revisit places and adventures from previous lives. Often there is a ready sense of déjà vu or knowing when this occurs.
Mars in Sagittarius begins retrograde in a balsamic phase to Pluto in Capricorn. For both the personal and collective journey, it is suggestive of a karmic priority timetable that references a past, a desire, and an implementation program that has been long in the works and that also has long range application regarding where the future is heading. As a duality archetype, Pluto in Capricorn brings the past to culmination while at the same time it crystallizes a new reality base.
Mars in Sagittarius is disposited by Jupiter in Virgo. Jupiter began the year in retrograde applying to the North Node. It will end retrograde on May 9, while Mars is still in retrograde and it will realign with the North Node while also forming a disseminating trine with Pluto. Experience is the best teacher. Jupiter in Virgo enlarges the scope of necessity and facilitates our current accelerated learning curve. It provides a great opportunity to correct, heal, upgrade, and repair. Jupiter’s applying trine to Pluto in Capricorn allows for an examination of judgements and a questioning of beliefs and rationales that have been used to create and perpetuate our existing reality.
A few days prior to the Sun/Mars opposition on May 22, Mars will back into a last quarter phase with Pluto. This is suggestive of something yet to be triggered, finished off, and/or carried forward for further development and integration.
By May 22 (the same day Mercury in Taurus ends a three-week retrograde cycle), Mars retrograde in Sagittarius will form an opposition with the Sun at 2° Gemini. This marks the midpoint peak of the retrograde cycle. A trend or compass is set that will point the soul in the direction it needs to go, toward the knowledge and experience it seeks. Mars is now picking up speed. It will stay in its closest proximity (perihelion) to the earth through the end of May. The next time Mars will be in close proximity to the earth is 2018. The opposition of the Sun and Mars marks the peak of the cycle, and start of the full-phase portion of the retrograde journey. The earth, the manifesting plane, is situated between the Sun and Mars. At this point, Mars receives maximum information feedback through circumstances, relationships, and through its own inner exploration.
Transiting Mars retrograde in Scorpio, May 27 to June 29, 2016:
As of May 27, Mars revisits Scorpio. Mars retrograde in Scorpio is a particularly dynamic soul-searching, reclaiming, and re-empowerment transit. The energy fields/magnetic pulls are greatly intensified. The lower octave planet in its higher octave sign takes soul to a deeper level, through an intensified review of its own choices and emotional dynamics. When tenanting the sign of Scorpio, the yang energy of Mars is pulled inward and inverted. The combination is naturally frictional, creating the dynamic or heating up energy necessary to spark accelerated evolution. When Mars in Scorpio is retrograde, it is even more pressurized and combustible. Here, the soul is consciously and deliberately choosing to confront, examine, and question itself, to penetrate its emotional core. The soul takes aim on itself, it digs deeper, looks for deeper root causes, peels back the layers, examines the motivation, compulsion, and psychology that have perpetuated a particular experience or emotional dynamic, and that has prompted passion, action, and desire. Instincts are now in a state of deeper questioning, re-prioritization, and re-calibration. How has the soul seduced, undermined, or empowered itself? How has the soul used or misused its power? How has it manipulated itself or others? How has the soul used its sexual energy? Why? To what purpose? What is at the base of one’s fears, possessiveness, trust issues, anger, rage, or self-destructive tendencies?
This retrograde cycle alludes to a fixation complex, an obsession, a taboo topic, a soul mystery that must be penetrated and solved. Mars retrograde in Scorpio aims to pierce through a soul complex, one that is multi-layered, one that may be a repeating loop that has been revisited over many lifetimes. As a trauma signature, Mars retrograde in Scorpio taps into many lifetimes of sexual, emotional, or psychological trauma. It taps soul memories of abandonment, betrayal, violations of trust, corruption, addiction, loss, death, suicide, sexual history, sexual violation, etc. While Mars is retrograde in Scorpio, the soul revisits a critical piece of its karmic history. The intensified drive behind this Mars initiative is to make use of the experience, to recycle the liability or debt into useful soul growth, to reclaim and re-empower itself, to revive, revitalize, and to re-generate itself, to reconvene with and to recommit to that which is most sacred to itself. Mars retrograde in Scorpio seeks to merge self and soul more consciously and completely, to realign and to unify personal will and soul will, personal desire and soul desire.
Mars retrograde in Scorpio serves as internal combustion and a momentum-building influence. Through June, Mars retrograde will maintain a disseminating trine with Chiron in Pisces. Chiron provides ready access to the soul’s peak memories. It allows for the soul to surrender to its own process and potential for healing.
Once Mars completes retrograde on June 29, it will be sufficiently informed and primed for action. It will meet up with Saturn in Sagittarius on August 24 within one degree of the Mars station retrograde in April. While there is still further to go, together, Mars coming full circle (conjunct) with Saturn suggests an important paving stone is set in place, that the future course is now crystallizing. Another critical cross-road, decision-making time will appear near the end of August when Mars squares the transiting Lunar Nodes. By October 19, Mars will conjunct Pluto, and by July of 2017, Mars will complete its two-year journey with the Sun, to start all over again with a different set of variables.
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