Mars represents initiative, assertion, ambition and goals, how you go after what you want and how you use your energy. When the planet goes retrograde all these areas come under scrutiny so this period can be quite disruptive. (More on Mars here.) No matter how well organised you are, Mars retrograde can put an unexpected spanner in the works. You may experience a decrease in energy, loss of focus or ambition, frustration, disorganisation, and explosions of anger, not to mention the breakdown of equipment and machinery.
But no matter what happens, this is an opportunity to reassess your goals and how you use your energy so you can be more productive once the retrograde period is over.
Mars goes retrograde every two years and two months, but because its orbit isn’t regular, this happens most often in Cancer, Leo and Virgo, and least often in Sagittarius and Aquarius. The retrograde period itself lasts about two months, but as with all retrogrades there’s a lead in before the station retrograde and a lead out after the station direct. For more on what retrograde motion means and how it works, see the post on Mercury retrograde here.
With the Mars retrograde cycle, Mars trines the Sun about a month before the station retrograde, and then again about a month after the station direct. This means that the retrograde can take you by surprise when the flowing energy of the trine suddenly implodes when Mars changes direction. But it also helps to make for a faster recovery after the planet goes direct.
This year, Mars goes retrograde in Aquarius – the first time since 1971 – so make the most of it! Here are the dates for the 2018 retrograde cycle: (for this year’s dates go here: The Astrology of 2020)
- Mars entered retrograde zone on 12 May at 28° Capricorn
- Sun trine Mars on 24 May at 2° Gemini & Aquarius
- Mars stations retrograde on 26 June at 9° Aquarius
- Sun opposes retrograde Mars on 27 July at 4° Leo & Aquarius
- Mars stations direct on 27 August at 28° Capricorn
- Sun trines Mars on 27 September at 4° Libra & Aquarius
- Mars leaves retrograde zone on 8 October at 9° Aquarius
The Mars retrograde cycle can be broken down into three periods: station retrograde, sun opposition, and station direct. The peak often occurs when the Sun opposes Mars in the middle of the cycle, but this isn’t always the case. As with all transits in astrology, what happens depends on how you’ve been using your Mars energies before the retrograde period begins.
Check your horoscope to see where Mars will be transiting during the cycle because this is the area you’ll need to focus on. When Mars goes retrograde you might lose your sense of direction or personal power in that area. But when it goes direct, you’ll receive fresh inspiration and a new, more realistic goal to aim for.
Don’t be fooled by the Sun trine just before the retrograde cycle begins. The easy energy of this transit can make you think things are going well, but then it can suddenly change when Mars stations retrograde. There might be a build-up like you get with Mercury retrograde – slowly fading in – but with Mars, it’s more likely to be an abrupt shift.
Mars Station Retrograde
You’re bimbling along happily and then Mars goes retrograde and suddenly you can’t get off the sofa. You might lose interest in what you were doing, your energy levels drop, or your motivation changes and shifts focus. It can feel very frustrating if you’re trying to get things done, especially if you’ve got deadlines or specific goals you have to meet. But your energy and drive have turned inward, so it’s time to slow down and assess where you’re at.
This lack of energy and motivation could slow things down for the entire retrograde period, even stretching all the way to when Mars leaves the retrograde zone long after the station direct. But this really depends on how out of touch you are with your deeper needs and how willing you are to change.
During the station retrograde and the following weeks you may feel stuck and not sure what you want to do – like you’re waiting for something to happen. You may experience a reversal of interest in what you’ve been doing or trying to achieve. Plans, projects, relationships, and jobs could get disrupted or put on hold. Suddenly things feel wrong or you have a sense of disorder and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get on top of things.
This can cause problems if you have deadlines or plans you can’t easily change. But you don’t necessarily have to change course at this time. Don’t assume that because something has gone wrong that you’re doing the wrong thing. It might be a case of waiting for the right moment, which is later than you think it should be.
Mars retrograde is asking you to shift your perspective. If your routine gets disrupted, try to see it as an opportunity to learn about your habits and explore alternative ways of doing things. Normally you bimble along and don’t think much about what you’re doing, or question why or how. This transit provides a chance to see how you make decisions and work towards your goals.
It’s also an opportunity to look at the goals themselves to make sure they’re still what you want to be doing. You might be doing the right thing but in the wrong way. Or maybe you’re using your energy well but focusing it on the wrong things.
Take some time to turn inwards and become more self-aware around your goals and ambitions. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you doing things for the right reasons? There’s no point working towards a goal that you don’t really want, but it can be hard to convince the ego to surrender control to a deeper motivation. As Erin Sullivan says in Retrograde Planets:
“An internal battle ensues between the ego which wants things done and the Self which wants things to be.”
Now is the time when you can become aware of what you really want. This isn’t always an easy process because it can bring up suppressed anger, and old wounds and fears can get reactivated. Issues from the past might come back so you can let them go. You can finally admit to yourself what you’ve been feeling or holding back, which can be liberating and positive too.
Sun opposition Mars
If you become aware early on in the retrograde cycle that you need to make changes, then the opposition will bring clarity and a turning point that helps you to rethink your plans through the rest of the cycle. But if you’ve avoided making changes or aren’t aware you need to, then the opposition is more likely to be disruptive or explosive.
Whatever has been brewing in your subconscious will burst out now. The energy may have been building since Mars went retrograde and now it peaks. This applies whether the energy is positive or negative – things will either blow up in your face or you’ll have a breakthrough.
This could also be the moment when sudden blockages happen that frustrate you until Mars goes direct. You may have been struggling and trying to get on with things as normal, but this is the point where you’ll be forced to admit it’s not working or that you need to change direction or try a different approach.
It’s difficult to predict what will happen because you’ve got no idea what’s lurking in your subconscious or what your higher Self has planned. It all depends on how self-aware you are and how much you listen to the promptings of your intuition, dreams, and synchronicities. There’s a good chance that if you think everything is fine, then you’ll get tripped up by this transit. Just be willing to slow down a bit and pay attention to what you’re doing.
Pay attention to what comes up during the opposition because that’s what you need to work on. You can get in touch with feelings that have been festering for a while – like anger, rage, blocked ambitions, passions, and desires. It’s also possible that these emotions will get projected onto others, so you might find yourself surrounded by enraged people, or you have an accident, or your car suddenly breaks down, and so on.
You might also feel stuck, blocked, or depressed now. If that’s the case, then you need to dig down into those feelings and get the energy moving again. Depression is often blocked anger so you may need to find a way to get back in touch with what you’re really feeling and get it out of your system before you can continue to grow. (Easier said than done, I know.)
Mars Station Direct
When Mars turns direct things can feel tense, as if you’re holding your breath, waiting for things to change or turn around. You know things can’t go on as they have and you’re ready for change. If you’ve been putting up with a bad situation, you might break free of it now. But sometimes it can take until the following trine before the release happens.
Between the station direct and Sun trine Mars, you may have a sense of anticipation. This is a good time to review what’s been going on and make a plan for your next move. Often your unconscious will provide a solution when you’re not expecting it – you suddenly know what you need to do. The answer drops into your lap.
Now is the time to research alternative solutions to the problems you’ve uncovered during the retrograde cycle. If you need to make changes to your life, your higher Self will start to give you a prod or a heads up. Look out for synchronicities and pay attention to your dreams. Deep down you know exactly what you need to do. Trust yourself and the answers will come.
Mars Retrograde Advice
This transit can really mess things up, but it’s important to remember that the planets don’t make things happen. If you have problems during Mars retrograde it could be a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Bad timing, misplaced anger, depression, headaches, psychosomatic illness, insomnia, low energy, guilt, bad luck, accidents – all these are a sign that you’re out of touch with your natural Mars energies.
When the natural assertiveness of Mars is allowed to flow constructively into areas that are aligned with your true Self it’s not disruptive and you shouldn’t encounter too many problems. But if you’re already feeling disorganised and messed up then Mars retrograde could make your life even more frustrating.
Use the two months of the retrograde period to assess your goals and ambitions and look into how you assert yourself and use your energy. The tricky part is working out the difference between what your ego wants and what your higher Self wants. If things go wrong, then the Self is clearly trying to get your attention but understanding what to do about it isn’t easy.
If you feel stuck with something and it’s not working, then maybe you should give it up. But maybe you just need to change your approach. Or you might think you’re being ambitious and disciplined and working hard towards your goals, but you might also be fooling yourself and wasting your time and energy on something that’s never going to work.
In general, don’t start anything new during the retrograde period. Avoid making contracts or agreeing to anything, and don’t initiate – as Lynn Koiner says, “Whoever initiates loses.” Obviously it’s not always possible – sometimes you have to just get on with things as best you can. But be aware that you might be forced to wait or slow down or change tactics.
Also be careful of your health during the retrograde because the frustration can be very draining physically and psychologically. Stress can be hard on your body now, especially if you try to keep going when your body is telling you to rest. Illness might force you to slow down and take better care of yourself. This would also give you a chance to rethink how you use your energy and where your priorities should be. Nothing is worth making yourself sick over.
Even if you don’t get ill, you can still become aware of better ways to handle your energy. It’s a good time to be disciplined and exercise regularly – channel your stress and frustration into sorting yourself out and getting organised. If you have a tendency to kick off at the slightest provocation, now is the time to learn patience – walk away from fights and count to ten before answering.
Mars retrograde can uncover useful things too, not just rage and frustration. You may discover positive resources, skills and potentials you can tap into that will help to get you moving in the right direction. By the time Mars goes direct, you could be brimming with greater motivation, achievable ambitions, and exciting possibilities for the future. Good luck!
More Mars Retrograde Advice:
- Everything that you ever wanted to know about Mars Retrograde
- Your Guide to Mars Retrograde
- Mars Retrograde: Transforming the Brave Heart