What is Mars Retrograde? Occasionally, Mars appears to be moving backward in the sky. “Appears” is the key word here, because, technically speaking, no planet actually moves backward in their orbits around the Sun. In fact, they don’t even slow down. Retrograde-station-direct cycles are essentially illusions that result from our point of view from Earth, simply because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun at a different speed than the other planets. Mars is Retrograde approximately 2 years (or says 26 months).
When Mars is in its retrograde cycle, we are forced to re-assess our current projects, our approach to getting what we want, and our desire nature. Rather than directly assert our desires, we tend towards introspection. While Mars in direct motion is direct, straightforward, assertive, and aggressive, with Mars in retrograde motion, Mars energy is essentially turned inward–it’s internalized, intensified, personalized, and perhaps pressurized. We can be hesitant about taking action, second-guessing our instincts or our natural impulses rather than acting upon them. The way we react to situations under normal conditions doesn’t necessarily work for us now, or we don’t exactly trust our instincts.
When anger is internalized, there can be some rather negative by products, such as tension, resentment, depression, apathy, and even some paranoia. On the other hand, it can also be personalized and made more intimate. Our goal during a Mars retrograde period should not be, however, to simply sit on our impulses or to squelch our enthusiasm. Rather, it should be to better understand our impulses, our survival instincts, our anger, our sexuality, our inner courage, and the ways we go about getting what we want from life. The cosmos are asking us to look before we leap rather than throw ourselves into action, just for the time being.
It’s a time when hesitating is more likely than throwing ourselves into new endeavors. We might require more rest than usual. Some of us are more accident-prone or illness-prone, almost as if the cosmos are forcing us to slow down if we haven’t listened to our natural impulses to take a break. It’s time for regrouping, and this is important on both physical and emotional levels.
When Mars is retrograde, it reaches an opposition aspect to the Sun yet is closest to the Earth. This suggests that a completely new perspective on our desires, anger, and motivations is possible during this ten-week cycle, particularly as we are closer to these things, and also through the pitting of our desires against our wills. We can more clearly see the differences between what we feel we should do and what we want to do, and this can lead to greater insight into how we’re managing our lives.
Rather than choosing direct and healthy expressions or outlets for frustrations, we might resort to sneaky, indirect, or obtuse methods of going after what we want. If we push ahead impulsively, we run into problems, obstacles, and frustrations, however. The answer lies somewhere in between – slowing down, strategizing, and pacing ourselves.
Mars is courageous, competitive, assertive, defensive, dynamic, territorial, sexual, passionate, and self-centered. While Mars is retrograde, acting in these ways may not yield expected results. It’s not so much a bad time to take on new projects as it is a time when we may be less courageous and more anxious about doing new things. Slowing down makes sense. We shouldn’t panic if a new job, project, interview, or relationship happens during the Mars retrograde period, but we should probably adopt a wait-and-see attitude and take things slowly before locking something down since our perspective may change once Mars turns direct and our needs can seem considerably different.
There is definitely going to be a stronger focus on the past while Mars retrogrades, and this is a good thing to a certain point if we are taking a lesson from past experiences. However, it’s better not to put too much energy into rehashing those things that can’t–or shouldn’t–be changed.
There can be a stronger desire than usual to go back to “fix” old problems and especially disagreements. Returning to old relationships that didn’t end well or that otherwise broke down may not be the best idea, although it can be tempting, as the problems may seem easier to resolve or non-existent. However, after Mars’ direct turn, the frustrations can emerge once again. It’s, in fact, a very good time to look back at a relationship or endeavor from a new perspective – one that is less clouded by anger – but not so wise to make final decisions based on what we’re seeing or experiencing now.
Aggression and competitiveness are less overt during Mars retrograde. We may be rethinking old relationships or jobs that ended because of disagreements. While we may to some extent make peace during this period, it’s better to take things slowly, largely because the old problems and conditions may resume after Mars turns direct.
As well, until we really get into touch with our desires and goals, it’s better not to commit to something important, mainly because we could discover that the goalposts can change more than once going forward.
Next: How this 2018 Mars Retrograde cycle affects each sign of the zodiac.