Gemini possesses extraordinary mental deftness. It’s the sign of the Twins and the back and forth. Gemini is paradoxically a place of the binary and duality as well as the perspicacious perception that discovers non-dualities within the conflicts of duality we suffer. Gemini is prone to fragmentation yet also discovers unity within the multiplicity of fragments its questioning breaks open. Just like the Twins symbolize symbiosis in the womb that becomes differentiated into separate paths emanating from a shared source, Mercury’s rulership of Gemini reveals its capacity for mediating polarities and considering the nuances in between opposing perspectives. Gemini delights in languages and sounds of the sacred, finding pleasure in transmitting their complex meaning through handiwork such as writing, weaving, and sculpting material forms. While Full Moons in Gemini tend to be an especially active time for mental pursuits and social engagement, the mental wattage of the Gemini Full Moon on December 7 will be excessively amplified due to the Moon closely applying to Mars retrograde in Gemini.
The darkness of the night will be set against the glowing orb of the Moon and the brilliant redness of Mars, as Mars will be in its brightest phase and as close to us in orbit as it is possible for Mars to be. As the Sun sets in the west, the Moon and Mars will rise together in the east. Yet just as we will be able to witness Mars in its peak redness within the blackness of night, there will be a lunar occultation of Mars (in some locations) that will temporarily consume our visual sight of the red planet. The Moon’s disappearing act with Mars is a potent sky omen that speaks to the deeper meaning of Mars reaching its solar opposition phase. I find resonance with the perspective of astrologer Adam Gainsburg who has described the solar opposition phase of Mars as initiating us into a radical commitment to our authentic vision, as well as reframing the meaningful motivation of Mars from being all about one’s own needs into serving societal needs. The Full Moon in Gemini will spotlight how to direct the fiery impulses of Mars into forms and expressions that can serve the needs of your community or audience.
Gemini like its ruler Mercury has affinity for the crossroads where one path separates into a choice of options. As we come to the end of 2022 and the season of increasing darkness in the northern hemisphere, the illumination of the Full Moon in Gemini will provide penetrating insight into the changing nature of storylines from the past year and the choices which need to be made on the direction to follow in the year ahead. Though Gemini is known for becoming scattered and becoming burdened by too many interests and potential paths to pursue, the close application between the Full Moon with Mars will provide a burning intensity that can cut to the heart of the matter and the core values and desires that need to be honored in any decision. There may be a need for meditative and other calming practices to mediate an increase in mental anxieties provoked by Moon and Mars adhering to one another, yet when channeled into work, art, and creativity the amalgamation of Moon and Mars can bring an immense activation of drive and resilient tenacity in making forward strides and significant development despite whatever obstacles we may be facing.
Though the Gemini Full Moon is an incredible alignment of both the Moon and Mars cycles coming together at the same time, it’s not unusual – for comparison, you can reflect upon past times this has occurred such as the Full Moon in Sagittarius conjoining Mars retrograde in Sagittarius on 21 May 2016, and the Lunar Eclipse conjoining Mars retrograde in Aquarius on 27 July 2018. Some of what sets the present alignment apart is it occurring in Gemini with Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces in the tenth place from Mars, giving Jupiter a superior influence over Mars. Furthermore, Venus in Sagittarius is separating from Neptune and applying closely toward a catalyzing square aspect with Jupiter that involves mutual reception, due to Venus occupying the fiery home of Jupiter and Jupiter occupying the exaltation of Venus. James Hillman in The Myth of Analysis captured some of this meaning when he wrote that “Those twins, compulsion and inhibition, are familiar enough in all creative efforts where one is both driven and blocked, enthusiastic and critical, on fire and fearful . . . Demon and daimon are one; if we suppress the compulsion, we lose touch with the guiding voice of the daimon . . . At the deepest level of fear an eros appears . . .” The synergy between the Moon and Mars may not be pleasant, and could bring distressing fears to the surface. Uncovering the daimonic eros emerging out of your recent trials and tribulations will provide the lodestar needed for navigating out of the storm.
Saturn in Aquarius is in position to provide stabilizing support, as the Gemini Full Moon is applying to a flowing trine aspect with Saturn that can help with centering upon one’s core purpose and walling off the distracting noise of the nonessential. Moreover, Mercury in Capricorn as the ruler of the Gemini Full Moon is also in a place of pragmatism due to occupying the nocturnal and earthy home of Saturn. Mercury excels in holding the tension of paradox, probing the meaning that weaves together differences, and questioning the certainty of righteousness in order to tease out the insight necessary for a deeper engagement. In Capricorn, Mercury is particularly adept at devising plans of action that can adjust to changing conditions, making decisions in a grounded manner that recognizes the reality of what will work while staying aligned with the required integrity. As the Full Moon peaks in light, Mercury in Capricorn will be on its own without any immediately applying aspects, giving the star of Hermes space to contemplate the recent messages it received from its fiery conversation with Jupiter in Pisces on 5 December. In contrast to Venus becoming enflamed by the Moon, Mars, Neptune, and Jupiter, Mercury in Capricorn is in a cool, solitary place of contemplation that will facilitate separating the wheat from the chaff.
Mars has spent the first half of its retrograde phase locked into a battle with Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces that has ranged between chaotic confusion and creative inspiration. As Mars reaches the alchemizing midpoint of its retrograde movement during the Gemini Full Moon, Mars is beginning to gain significant separation from its last square aspect it completed with Neptune on 19 November. With Neptune stationing direct on 3 December in the week before the lunation, Mars and Neptune will now be moving in different directions away from one another until they much later come back into one final square aspect on 14 March 2023. Though the combined presence of Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces is still holding an influence over Mars during the Gemini Full Moon, the flowing trine aspect between the Gemini Full Moon with Saturn in Aquarius can facilitate discernment regarding whatever deep wells of imaginal material have been stirred up by Mars clashing with Jupiter and Neptune. The cutting intellectual blade of Mars retrograde in Gemini can be utilized to slice through beliefs, ideologies and illusions you have been adhering to without question. Whether you have disillusionment or inspired idealism to sort through, allow the presence of Jupiter and Neptune together to bring the underlying truth of your experience to the surface.
While the Gemini Full Moon is applying toward a trine aspect with Saturn, Mars is gaining further separation from the exact trine aspect it formed with Saturn on 28 November while applying toward a resonant sextile aspect with Chiron in Aries. Mars separating from a trine with Saturn and applying toward a sextile with Chiron while in the heart of its retrograde phase signifies initiation. Mars will form an exact sextile aspect with Chiron on 19 December 2022 at the same time that Chiron will be stationing direct on 23 December. The sextile between Mars and Chiron that will be slowly building from now until the Capricorn solstice is potent due to the activation of Chiron’s presence through stationing while Chiron is also being received by Mars into its fiery home of Aries. The reception between Mars with Chiron brings a critical test and training that has the ultimate expression of Mars for the greater good in mind. The interplay between Saturn, Mars, and Chiron may bring up painful wounds and difficult patterns to awareness, yet the harmonious reception between Chiron and Mars indicates there is something important about your relationship with Mars that is being sharpened, honed, and developed.
Reflecting upon the previous sextile aspect between Mars in Gemini with Chiron on 17 September 2022 may give insight into the process underway for you with Mars and Chiron, as well as issues that came up around the Full Moon in Aries that was conjoining Chiron on 9 October. For example, you may have gained increased awareness of patterns stemming from past wounding and alienation that have been creating important matters to work through in relational dynamics. Or issues involving the intersection between societal systems of oppression with one’s identity and core purpose, and whether you feel you have the agency to pursue what you want to create in life. Do you feel disempowered due to a sense of futility in the face of obstacles, or are you acting as an agent of societal institutions rather than following your genuine desires? Let Chiron coax a more empowered expression of Mars in your life.
Chiron ultimately functions as a mentor archetype, shown through both his mythology and astronomy. In myth, Chiron was a wise centaur who fostered and trained heroes. In astrology, Chiron’s eccentric orbit that weaves in between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus symbolizes how it facilitates a deeper connection with our nonconformist side that does not fit easily into conventional society. Chiron in Aries combined with Mars retrograde in Gemini will bring opportunities to recover whatever you have felt you needed to abandon about your essential purpose to fit in with cultural expectations. What have you been sacrificing about yourself in order to meet the material demands of society? Who are you serving with your power?
The application of the sextile between Mars and Chiron will extend through the rest of the time period that Jupiter will be occupying its watery, nocturnal home of Pisces. Jupiter will exit Pisces to enter Aries on 20 December, a day before the Capricorn solstice. Jupiter will not be in another one of its domiciles until entering Sagittarius in 2030 and will not be in its exalted sign of Cancer until 9 June 2025. Utilize the final days of Jupiter directly expressing its procreative life force through Pisces to envision the life you most dearly wish to create, allowing your imagination to run wild. The activation of the Aries point by Jupiter at the same time as the Capricorn solstice will make it a powerful time for dreaming on the darkest day of the year, conceiving the plans and projects you can take direct action on in the year ahead.
During the waning half of the lunar cycle, in the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere, Venus and Mercury will be adorning the evening twilight with their light. The return of Venus to visibility as an Evening Star is especially powerful, as it marks the end of her long underworld journey of invisibility that lasted from September through November. The renewal of Venus into visible light will ignite a revived embodiment of desires that can guide decision making. Whatever was emptied and purified during the past three months of Venus traversing the celestial underworld can now be transmuted into dynamic creativity and renewed values. By December 10, both Mercury and Venus will be traveling together in Capricorn for the rest of December, creating a supportive astrological atmosphere for generating creative possibilities as well as refining options into focused goals you can develop strategies to achieve.
The waning Moon during the solstice on 21 December will add to the potency of the fertile darkness that will contain all five visible planets in the sky following sunset. Mercury will be at its maximum elongation as an Evening Star during the solstice while separating from a flowing trine aspect with Uranus in Taurus it will complete on 17 December. Meanwhile, Venus will be applying closely to a liberating trine aspect with Uranus that will become exact on 22 December. With both Mercury and Venus carrying a torch of Promethean fire, we can experience an emboldened pursuit of innovative creative directions. Combined with Jupiter occupying the first degree of Aries, it will be a powerful time for reflecting upon the changes and growth you have experienced during the past year while turning toward the new year to envision what you wish to create.
Gemini 2 Decan
The Gemini Full Moon will illuminate the second decan of Gemini associated with the Nine of Swords arcanum illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Nine of Swords involves an image of nightmarish worry and anguish under a cover of astrological symbols. The image for the Nine of Swords takes on new meaning when considering that Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Hermaphrodite” to this face. Coppock described the second face of Gemini as being a place of mediating “continuing duality” in which “we must learn to reconcile angels and demons within a single soul.” The obsessive, negative thought cycles shown in the Nine of Swords through this lens reveals an “inability to reconcile dualities within oneself, within the world,” to Coppock, “the moments of despair” which can occur within the “irreconcilable places” found within this decan. Yet to Coppock there is a great gift to cultivate in the second face of Gemini in terms of recognizing how each side of dualities like love and war perpetually turn back into one another through the “arts of union and separation.” Coppock concluded that whoever “accepts these oscillations comes to understand the whole of interaction- they are unbothered by either, knowing the other waits in turn.”
Fittingly for a hermaphroditic decan, the second face of Gemini is ruled by both Mars and Venus with numerous ancient texts ascribing images of dualistic forms. The Hellenistic text 36 Airs attributed the ancient goddess Cybele to this face, whose creation story involves an original hermaphroditic form. The Liber Hermetis described a double faced man holding a bow and arrows, treading on rabbits with both feet. Ibn Ezra in The Beginning of Wisdom described another man holding a bow and arrow, but one whose head is bound in lead with an iron helmet featuring a silk crown, who is enjoying “ridicule and mockery” while walking around a garden playing music and picking flowers. While the Picatrix described an eagle-faced man also with bow and arrows, iron helmet, and silk crown, the Yavanajataka described a graceful black woman in bright garments who delights in the arts, singing and storytelling and who is pleased to be holding a lyre.
The storytelling and songs contained in the image from the Yavanajataka are mediums through which the complexity of the second face of Gemini can be expressed, as the artistic artifice of storytelling can create space for the tension between dualities to reveal insight and revelations. In Henrich Cornelius Agrippa’s The Celestial World, the capacity of the second face of Gemini for mediating dualities is shown through the form of a trickster figure: “In the second face [of Gemini] rises a man who holds in one hand a [shepherd’s] pipe and has the other curved and digging into the earth. [This image] signifies infamous and dishonest actives, such as jesters and tricksters, and signifies labors and laborious searches.”
The Gemini Full Moon conjoining Mars in its own face of Gemini will amplify the symbolism of the second face of Gemini. While this can be an extremely cunning, strategic, and cruel placement for Mars, Agrippa’s image of a trickster digging one hand into the earth reveals a higher calling for Mars that can also be found here. In the Orphic hymn to Ares, Ares is petitioned to turn his fury and weapons into the procreative production of Demeter that discovers abundant riches within the earth. With the star of Ares in his peak light aligning with the peak light of the Moon, consider how you can transmute the tenacious frenzy and passion of Mars into useful creativity and brilliant insight that is grounded in practical application.
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Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Hillman, James. (1978). The Myth of Analysis. Harper Colophon.
The Mars retrograde that begins April 17 at 8°54′ Sagittarius and ends June 29 at 23°4′ Scorpio promises to generate intense, life altering events. Mars retrograde periods correspond symbolically with extreme inner heat that amplifies the potential for complete transformation of life circumstances, and this particular Mars retrograde coincides with last quarter squares between Jupiter and Saturn as well as Saturn and Neptune, in addition to a Mercury retrograde phase and the superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun. Mars goes retrograde the least often, only once every 26 months or so, for about a period of three months. Mars is closest in its orbit to Earth when it is retrograde, signifying an intensification of all things Mars, while its apparent retrograde motion signifies an inward turn to the normally outwardly directed force of Mars. In collective events, the ramping up of Mars through the constraint of its stationing will correspond with explosions of conflict and martial forces in need of mediating.
Traditionally, Mars has been associated for millennia with separating and dividing, catalyzing movement, conflict, and eruptions of symbolic and literal heat. Mars also has a tradition of corresponding with courage and those who will protect, guard, defend, and serve others unconditionally, embodying the highest ideals of a warrior protector. In the alchemical process of separation and union, Mars can be associated with the power and strength of the flame that effects change through separating and purifying component parts in its fiery heat. During Mars retrograde our inner fire combusts and from a centered place of alchemical fire we melt the chains of our past and regenerate our sense of willful purpose in life. With the Mars retrograde turning the separating and dividing function of Mars inward, a core process ensues of realigning ourselves toward our most deeply felt desire and purpose in the moment. By embracing the corresponding constriction upon external martial flow and the magnification of inner fire, during Mars retrograde we enter a period of dramatic shifts, changes, endings, and beginnings occurring in our myriad relationships with the world around us.
Some people seem to be more profoundly impacted by Mars retrograde periods than others, and some people also seem to be more strongly impacted by Mars retrograde in certain signs than in other signs. As a general rule, Mars retrograde periods can be one of those magical astrological vortexes in which significant encounters and experiences carry a destined feeling of gravity. A great way to get a feel for how Mars retrograde periods impact you is to reflect upon your experiences during the past Mars retrograde periods. Below is a list of the Mars retrogrades periods that have happened since 1999- note that from May through June of 2001 there was a Mars retrograde that also occurred in Sagittarius, though a completely different section of Sagittarius than the current one:
March 1 – May 19, 2014: stationed retrograde at 28 Libra, stationed direct at 10 Libra.
January 24 – April 14, 2012: stationed retrograde at 24 Virgo, stationed direct at 4 Virgo.
December 20, 2009 – March 10, 2010: stationed retrograde at 20 Leo, stationed direct at 1 Leo.
November 15, 2007 – January 30, 2008: stationed retrograde at 13 Cancer, stationed direct at 25 Gemini.
October 1 – December 10, 2005: stationed retrograde at 24 Taurus, stationed direct at 9 Taurus.
July 29 – September 27, 2003: stationed retrograde at 11 Pisces, stationed direct at 1 Pisces.
May 11 – July 19, 2001: stationed retrograde at 30 Sagittarius, stationed direct at 16 Sagittarius.
March 18 – June 4, 1999: stationed retrograde at 13 Scorpio, stationed direct at 25 Libra.
Mundus est Fabula (1959) by Max Ernst
Astrology like other meaning we discover in life is rooted in the personal story of our experiences. In the interface between one’s personal narrative and the collective narrative, the complex web of interrelationships shifts and mutates across time. The meaning of our past experiences and how it impacts our choices in the moment can change radically in the split second of an epiphany. We tell our life story to others, and the narrative telling of our life changes: how we describe our life story today is vastly different from how we would have told it in the past, or how we will tell it in the future. Sagittarius where Mars is stationing is the home of outwardly directed Jupiter and an archetypal place of discovering personal truth in life experiences, a knowledge that goes beyond belief. With Mars stationing in range of a square to Neptune in Pisces, as Pluto stations retrograde the following day, and Saturn is co-present with Mars in Sagittarius, a restructuring and regeneration of our meaning and purpose in life is underway.
In times of strife, demanding tasks and difficulties, we come to a deeper understanding of our personal truth as well as discover new sources of strength inside. Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn, the home of Saturn, a day after Mars stations retrograde, and since Mars is stationing for the entirety of April while being co-present with Saturn in Sagittarius, there is a strong element of Saturn bringing karmic tests or challenges requiring disciplined perseverance during this Mars retrograde. In experiences of melancholy corresponding with Saturn, we can also tap into the vast suffering of the collective. Most vitally, the binding of Saturn combined with the catalyzing of Mars can be put to the creation of great works if the necessary focused effort and determination is applied. While contemplating Mars retrograde recently, the theme of “the wand chooses the wizard” from the Harry Potter stories came to me. By this I mean that a destined calling could arise in this period deeply bound to the fabric of one’s nature. It will work best not to willfully demand certain choices but rather to accept and align with the mission, project, relationships, or journey that has chosen us to be a vital player in.
Bird with Void by Morris Graves
Mars and Pluto
The simultaneous stationing retrograde of both Mars and Pluto is fascinating from the perspective of the Evolutionary Astrology system developed by Jeff Green, as here the relationship between Mars and Pluto reveals the leading edge of desires emanating from the Soul. In Evolutionary Astrology, Mars moving direct corresponds with desire for unrestricted freedom that can be both impulsive and instinctual. When Mars moves retrograde, however, the inward direction of Mars ignites our inner energy field and we become drawn into taking greater consideration of our Soul. Astrologers view Mars retrograde periods as times in which Mars is untethered from conditioned constraints and more of a maverick force, yet Evolutionary Astrology points to the possibility of using Mars retrograde to access greater consideration in action and less impulsiveness.
There is an interesting connection between the meaning of Mars retrograde in Evolutionary Astrology and the heliocentric nodes of Mars, with the South Node of Mars being Scorpio and the North Node of Mars being Taurus. The South Node of Mars being Scorpio connects perfectly with Scorpio being the home of Mars, a sign where Mars is most comfortable and natural. In Evolutionary Astrology, the South Node of Mars being Scorpio also connects with Pluto sourcing the desires set in motion through Mars. The Scorpio South Node reveals the evolutionary arc of Mars coming from a desire to merge with external sources, whether that be sexual merging with a lover, spiritual merging with a belief system, or any other act of merging with any external source. The North Node of Mars being Taurus reveals an evolution of Mars into the inner, self-reliant realm of Taurus that is centered within an inner source that is not dependent upon, or conditioned by external sources.
Though Mars retrograde is a completely different concept than the heliocentric nodes of Mars, the opportunity to utilize the Mars retrograde for centering does have some resonance with the Taurus North Node meaning. Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn the day after Mars stations retrograde, in correspondence there is an opportunity to go deep within our inner recesses and explore what from within is informing our external action. As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our Soul’s intention and purpose. To achieve this requires listening inwardly and reflecting before launching into impulsively egocentric action.
Chiron from Greek vase
The mutable, yang, and fiery nature of Sagittarius is paramount to take into account regarding this Mars retrograde. Mars will spend all of April stationing in Sagittarius, and will continue to be retrograde in Sagittarius for all of May save about four days. Sagittarius is a double-bodied sign symbolized in the image of the centaur, half human and half horse. The half horse aspect of the centaur is connected to the instinctual, survival based realm of the lower torso, while the half human part contains the chest, heart, throat, mind, dexterous hands, and other instruments of human consciousness. Sagittarius is a sign of creative manifestation, of mediating spiritual forces in the body through the mindful focus of an archer locked on a target. Sagittarius feels the inexorable magnetism of the eternal horizon and the undiscovered, full of desire to experience adventure and the fullness of life.
With Mars stationing at a standstill in Sagittarius for so long, while we will no doubt feel a call to adventure of one sort or another, the astrological fact Mars is basically not moving for over a month creates great astrological constriction. While we can experience expansion within this containment and associated experiences, the expansion is likely to come from inner pressure creating bursts of expression or release. For example, I recently participated in a stimulating webinar entitled The Alchemy of Colour by Dr. Aaron Cheak, in which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s color theory that a boundary is necessary to produce colors was explored. Though creation does come from chaos, the co-presence of Saturn with Mars retrograde in Sagittarius will reveal how structure and containment leads to expansion of wisdom and creativity. As Sagittarius is the home of Jupiter, this Mars retrograde will bring opportunities to discover a deepening of philosophical awareness and associated ethics to live from, rooted in visceral understanding through experience.
The intuitive knowing and self confidence of Sagittarius can also lead to dogmatism and a crusading mentality that creates violence and terrorism based around belief systems such as religion, politics, and philosophy. Unfortunately in world events, as there are already innumerable conflicts rooted in these Sagittarius themes, greater violence, warfare, and human suffering is likely to occur during this Mars retrograde. Activists also become crusaders around desire to end oppression and uphold principles of social justice, and so the timeless debate of how direct and violent this sort of actions needs to be to effect change will once again dominate. There can also be a crusading mentality rooted in peace and nonviolence, that utilizes the creative visioning of Sagittarius to manifest complex acts of direct action and protest aimed at shutting down oppressive power structures without creating collateral casualties in the process. With Uranus in Aries, the home of Mars, there is likely to be a great resurgence of protest movements arising with reinvigorated force.
Antares in the heart of the Scorpion from Uranometria by Johannes Bayer
A crucial, unique aspect of this Mars retrograde is that Mars stations while conjoining the fixed star Antares. Antares is named for being the “rival of Mars” because it is a giant binary star that glows red in our night sky. Antares is one of the four ancient royal stars of Persia that were utilized in the past by sky watchers to anchor the seasons, with Antares holding down the season of Fall in the heart of the Scorpion constellation. Though the four royal stars no longer line up with the seasons in the tropical zodiac utilized in western astrology, they still carry ancient symbolic significance: Aldebaran (opposite to Antares in Gemini now, and connected with Spring Equinox), Fomalhaut (located at about four degrees Pisces now and connected with Winter Solstice), and Regulus (located at the beginning of Virgo now and connected with Summer Solstice). If you remember, the Venus retrograde that occurred last July and August 2015 began with Venus stationing retrograde while conjoining Regulus, and so this further deepens the meaning of us now experiencing Mars stationing retrograde while conjoining Antares.
Ptolemy famously linked Antares with Mars and Jupiter, and Vivian Robson portrayed Antares as causing “malevolence, destructiveness, liberality” and making “natives rash, ravenous, headstrong, and destructive to themselves by their own obstinacy” (p. 137). Reinhold Ebertin deduced “Antares makes people tough, belligerent and pugnacious” and though could be connected with “mental alertness, strategic ability, and courage . . . If associated with Mars, courage is said to become foolhardiness, leading to increased dangers” (p. 70-1). There is a long tradition of warning about the dangers of hubris yoked to headstrong martial force in connection to Antares, yet the clearly forceful and determined correspondences of Antares could also be put to thoughtful use. It seems the positive interpretation of Antares bound to the beginning of this Mars retrograde is to strengthen the resolve of one’s inner warrior and resiliency, as long as consideration is taken to not be overly self righteous, stubborn, and egotistical. An aspect of Sagittarius that leads to difficulties comes from impulsive action lacking foresight, and so finding disciplined practices to utilize for centering and mindfulness will be especially helpful.
8 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith
Sagittarius 1 Decan
The first face of Sagittarius where Mars stations retrograde is ruled by Mercury and associated with speed of movement, as the image of the corresponding Eight of Wands card in tarot displays. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces wrote this face “entails the swift emergence of a motivating vision and the attainment of a vehicle to move one toward the pictured goal” (p. 194). Mercury connecting to this Mars retrograde bridges the swiftness of our mind and imagination to the martial transformation at hand. At the time Mars stations retrograde, Mercury will be in the middle of Taurus in its Evening Star phase. Mars stationing in a face ruled by Mercury brings up interesting connections, as similar to Sagittarius, Mercury also is a lover of the road, finding its home in the “in between place” between the beginning of the journey and the destination. As Mars is known for conflict, so is Mercury known for contrariness, and so this resonance further amplifies the level of heated exchanges that will commence. From the flames of conflict the inessential will be burned off to reveal primal, authentic passion and purpose.
Mars entered Sagittarius on March 5, and will be retrograde in the first face of Sagittarius from April 17 – May 27, 2016. After stationing direct in Scorpio at the end of June, Mars will return to the first decan of Sagittarius at the time of a New Moon in Leo on 2 August 2016, eventually entering the second decan of Sagittarius around August 22 when the Sun enters Virgo. Mars will not leave Sagittarius and enter Capricorn until 27 September 2016, a day after Pluto stations direct in Capricorn.
As a result, from April through May we are introduced to the vision and goals that will be signified by Mars retrograde, yet associated challenges will limit the ability to fully accelerate to the finish line. Vitally, the heart of the Mars retrograde phase when Mars becomes exactly opposite the Sun will occur on May 22 with Mars at two degrees of Sagittarius and the Sun at two degrees of Gemini- this binds the visionary meaning of the first face of Sagittarius even more strongly to this Mars retrograde phase. Then later in August, during a crucial period in which Mars will be conjoining Saturn in Sagittarius, Mars will return to the first face of Sagittarius and we will have uncovered a deeper sense of purpose and emboldened will-force with which to act from and respond. In between, Mars will retrograde and then station direct in its home of Scorpio where we will be dipped into a boiling cauldron of transformation.
7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith
Scorpio 3 Decan
Mars will retrograde back into the third face of Scorpio on May 27, station direct on June 29, and eventually leave Scorpio to return to Sagittarius on August 2 during the darkest of a Dark Moon. The 7 of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith is associated with the third decan of Scorpio, and inside the image are seven chalices holding visions of human desires such as fame, wealth, and power. Yet the cynosure of this assembly is a veiled figure with open arms emerging from the center cup. The meaning includes being overcome by the illusions of our desires, with the possibility of discerning the one choice that will bring clarity and increased opportunities for true desires. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces analyzed this decan as being “ultimately a face of wrestling with one’s own desire nature, for it leads one inevitably back to confrontation with the nature of desire itself” (p. 187). Coppock suggested that the illusions surrounding our desires and the loss of being separated from the object of our desire takes us into a destruction and regeneration process that liberates us through “laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy” so that new desires can grow from their putrefaction (p. 188).
Venus is a fitting ruler of this decan as she could be interpreted as our inner source of desired visions emanating above our horizon. Potently, Venus will be purified within the rays of the Sun at her superior conjunction while Mars is retrograde in Scorpio, creating a direct confrontation with one’s desire nature. Mars is at home in Scorpio, and so this period of the retrograde from the end of May through the end of June will be full-on Mars, with the flames of surrounding conflicts and drama rising. On personal levels, there is potential for some to lose control in a frenzy of fixation on desires on the one hand, while on the other hand there is also potential to purify and regenerate one’s desire nature, shedding and then intensifying purposeful will-force.
Emblem 33 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier
Mercury Retrograde in Taurus
There is incredible synchronicity in the timing of this Mars retrograde and the Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May. To begin with, on 28 April 2016 Mercury will station retrograde at 24 degrees of Taurus, which is exactly opposite the degree of Scorpio where Mars will eventually station direct on June 29, 2016. Additionally, on 22 May 2016 when Mercury stations direct, Mars will be exactly opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase on the same day. Mercury when retrograde corresponds with the Hermes Psychopomp of myth who guided Souls and had the ability to descend into the underworld and reascend into the upper world. This means that our Mercurial functions and perceptions will be regenerated and reborn in the buildup to Mars reaching full opposition with our Solar Light. While Mercury will be in between Earth and the Sun in orbit, Mars will be as close to Earth as it gets on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun and Mercury. Fascinatingly, the degree at which Mercury stations direct is fairly close to the degree in Taurus of the heliocentric North Node of Mars. There is a clear omen here of our Mercurial perception, discernment, and expression being recalibrated in synchronous timing with our Mars will-force and desire nature.
With Mercury still and stationing as Mars reaches the heart of its retrograde cycle, there is a clear message from the universe to create space and structure in life to quiet and center the mind during this Mars retrograde period. Mercury stationing direct midway through Taurus also points toward cultivating patient and grounded processes as well as being self-reliant in terms of sourcing our motivation and action, instead of losing our sense of self in external relationship or trying to force issues that simply are not happening. If you have significant astrological placements in the third decan of Fixed, Earth, or Water signs, it will be worth the time to contemplate the fact that Mercury will station retrograde at the end of April at 24 degrees of Taurus, and Mars will station direct at the end of June at 24 degrees of Scorpio.
Emblem 34 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier
Mars and Venus
Mars retrograde periods often coincide with ruptures and new beginnings in relationship, and this particular Mars retrograde promises to be especially potent in the realm of relationship as Venus and Mars have compelling aspects in their cycle to consider. As astrological tradition ascribes separation to Mars and union to Venus, the changing state of becoming that will coincide with this Mars retrograde will bring realization of the ancient idea of Heraclitus that separation is union, and that union is separation. Venus will be under the beams of the Sun (using the orb of 15°) for the entirety of the time Mars is retrograde, meaning that as we experience the inner heat of Mars retrograde we will also experience Venus in a process of being purified in the regenerative rays of the Sun. As arguments and strife in relationship are likely to occur repeatedly during this Mars retrograde, patience will be required as well as focus on mediating and resolving conflict.
On June 6 Venus will merge into the heart of the Sun as enflamed passions seek effusion and emanation. Leading up to this pivotal moment in the synodic cycle of Venus, Mars retrograde will form an exact opposition with Venus at the first degree of Sagittarius and Gemini on May 24, 2016. Oppositions in astrology are known to create conflict and difficulties, but in the polarization of energies can also spark expansive growth. In the case of Venus and Mars being opposite, there will be a fiery force within their polarity that can be expressed through artistic creation, sexuality, determined work, and innumerable other outlets that allow for an outpouring of passionate desire. After Venus separates from her face-off with Mars, she will turn to chase after and unite with the Sun. Mars retrograde will stoke the flames burning off Venusian dross, and as the old patterns of Venus combust we will simultaneously experience a rebirth of Venus on inner as well as outer levels. While some relationships will end at this time, the relationships created or deepened will catalyze and nurture the essential elements of our nature being revealed.
The following quotes are all from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer and touch on some of the pertinent themes of this Mars retrograde:
Freedom should be recommended only to someone who knows what boundless responsibility is.
It is possible in art to stay always with “what one already knows,” and by staying within that sphere of knowledge and experience, it expands and always again leads beyond the self. The “ultimate premonitions and insights” become reachable only for the individual who resides in and remains at work, and whoever contemplates from a distance will not gain control over them.
To be close to another person who holds opposing views while being a deep, committed friend can be a wonderful, shaping influence. For as long as one remains forced to consider (as one is primarily in one’s relation to one’s parents and other older people) anything other as something false, bad, hostile instead of plainly other, one will not enter into an unforced and just relation with the world where all things are meant to have a place: part and counterpart; I and the one who is most different from me. And only when such a complete world is admitted to and considered possible will one succeed in arranging one’s own interiority with its internal contrasts and contradictions generously, spaciously, and with sufficient air to breathe.
For love is the actual climate of fate: no matter how far it stretches its path through the heavens along its milky way composed of millions of stars of blood, the land beneath those heavens lies pregnant with disaster. Not even the gods in the metamorphoses of their passion were sufficiently powerful to liberate from the entanglements of this fertile soil the startled, fleeing beloved on our earth.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Ebertin, Reinhold. (1971). Fixed Stars and their Interpretation. Ebertin-Verlag.
Robson, Vivian. (1969). The Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology. The Aquarian Press.
Mars entered his retrograde shadow zone (9-10 Libra) on December 27, 2013
January 16, 2014: Venus retrograde (19 Capricorn) squared Mars (19 Libra)
February 28, 2014: Mercury stationed direct at 18 Aquarius /// New Moon at 11 Pisces
March 1, 2014: Mars stationed retrograde at 28 Libra
March 2, 2014: Saturn stationed retrograde at 24 Scorpio /// Venus (28 Capricorn) squared Mars retrograde (28 Libra)
March 6, 2014: Jupiter stationed direct at 11 Cancer
Mars retrograde will create a Cardinal Grand Cross in April with Jupiter in Cancer, Uranus in Aries, and Pluto in Capricorn around 12-14 degrees of the cardinal signs. The grand cross will be intense in the days surrounding April 23, with a Lunar Eclipse on April 15 and Solar Eclipse on April 29.
Mars will station direct on May 19 at 10 Libra
Mars will leave his retrograde shadow zone on July 22, 2014
March fittingly began with its namesake Mars claiming center stage by stationing retrograde at the end of Libra, in between Mercury stationing direct the day before and Saturn stationing retrograde the next day. A few days later on March 6, Jupiter stationed direct, creating an extraordinary week of intensity. Every time a planet stations it means their energy is saturating our astrological atmosphere: with so many occurring at the same time the effect was dizzying and disorienting, but since Mars only goes retrograde about every 26 months or so, his stationing was especially dramatic. A raised Mars vibration became even more pronounced at this time because his stationing occurred in conjunction to the shift of the true node of the Lunar North Node into the sign of Libra, meaning that Mars also became the lord of the South Node of the Moon in Aries. As Mars is occupying the sign of Venus, conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, we are at a time of a Mars initiation under the auspices of Venus.
Mars initiating a collective and personal shift at this time was symbolized in current events by Russia invading the Crimea region of Ukraine at the time of Mars stationing retrograde. Mars is of course the god of war, with an ancient link to the Greek Ares who was particularly bloodthirsty in battle and obsessed with creating conflict and strife. The Russian invasion also connected to the shift of the South Node of the Moon into Aries that is ruled by Mars, as it brought to the collective mind a fear of another great war breaking out between global super powers, all the while evoking collective memories of the cold war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union that dominated the second half of the twentieth century. However, fitting to a Mars retrograde occurring in Libra at this time, instead of an actual world war of mass killing breaking out what instead has occurred so far is a war of diplomacy and behind the scenes maneuvering of diplomats and dictators.
While Mars does have a mythic connection to the Greek Ares, his appearance in Roman culture was of supreme importance as Mars was a founding father of the Roman people through his fatherhood of Romulus and Remus. In addition to being a god of aggression and violence, the Romans also saw Mars as a passionate, and scandalous lover- in fact the lover of Venus who was quite willing to ignore the fact that Venus was married to Vulcan. This love affair between Mars and Venus was also found in the Greek version of numerous love affairs between Ares and Aphrodite who likewise transgressed the marital vows of Aphrodite and Hesphaestus (the Greek Vulcan). Through the heated passion and sexual intercourse between the Mars and Venus of myth we can also find the astrological meaning behind Mars as an indication of our passionate and erotic desire that resists restrictions or limitations of any kind.
Another ancient connection to Mars was as a harbinger of plagues, pestilence, and disaster, as can be seen in his traditional association with the XVI Tower card of the Tarot Arcana. I feel through modern astrology we have come to associate outer planets like Pluto and Uranus more so with crisis and calamities, but it is important to remember that Mars was always seen in this role and connected with disastrous events such as the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine at the time of a Mars stationing. As a result, we can apply the theme of the XVI Tower card to events at this time, with the higher potential of this correlation being that we can become electrified and shook wide awake by dramatic events. Indeed, Mars is also one of the traditional malefics of astrology along with Saturn, seen in night charts as representing the sorts of challenges that make us stronger and in day charts the sorts of challenges that simply make us lose our shit. Through the myths and astrology of ancient Babylon, we can find all of these meanings, as Nergal (the God associated with the planet Mars in Babylon) was also a god of violence, plague, and disaster, who was also the brother of Ninurta (the Babylonian Saturn, the other traditional malefic of astrology).
Michael Baignet in his incredible book From the Omens of Bablylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia analyzed translations of ancient tablets and text to reveal a vivid portrait of the Babylonian Nergal who was associated in astrology with the planet Mars. Nergal was like a combination of the Mars and Pluto of myth, a lord of the underworld who was considered to be evil and violent in addition to being a judge of the dead. In fact, through Nergal we can discover the patriarchal takeover of the underworld as he forced himself unto the goddess of the underworld and into a seat on her throne. The story began when Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, sent an emissary to represent her at a feast of the gods. Nergal intentionally gave a sign of disrespect to the emissary that led Ereshkigal to demand that Nergal be sent down to her so that she could kill him as punishment. Nergal was unable to argue his way out of being sent down for retribution to Ereshkigal, but he was able to successfully negotiate the right to take fourteen of his companions down with him for protection, giving him one guard for each of the fourteen doors in the palace of Ereshkigal (this mythic action also reveals the Mars skill in manipulation, negotiation, seduction, diplomacy . . . ). After placing a guard at each of the doors of the goddess of the dead, Nergal charged full speed ahead into the throne room where he took Ereshkigal by surprise, forcibly grabbing her by the hair and forcing her into the floor with a knife to her throat. Somehow this great goddess found herself pleading for her life and making an offer to become his bride in exchange for Nergal letting her live. And so Nergal became the husband to Ereshkigal, the lord of the underworld, the god and judge of the dead.
The connection between Mars and Pluto we can see in Mesopotamian myth is also found in modern astrology where Pluto is considered to be a higher octave of Mars by many astrologers. The ancient embodiment of Mars as lord of the underworld in myth goes well with the effective use of Mars as the ruler of Scorpio in Hellenistic and other traditional forms of astrology, while there are also some modern astrologers who have done powerful work using Pluto as the ruler of Scorpio. The link between Mars and Pluto is especially important in the system of evolutionary astrology developed by Jeff Green, in which the analysis of Mars is a key window into the desires radiating from the soul. To Green, Mars correlates with our instinctual hunger to act on the desires coming from our soul and so the Mars archetype can help us become aware of our continuous state of becoming through activity. Mars has a thirst for freedom and an aversion to restriction of any kind: when Mars is moving direct, we take action that moves out from our soul. In contrast, when Mars goes retrograde we take instinctual action that returns us to our center instead of moving out from our core. Mars retrograde inverts the desires emanating from our soul so that we pause and reflect before taking action, leading to “considered action versus an impulsive action” (Green, p. 255). As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our soul’s intentions and eliminate or remake what is not serving our soul purpose. In this way, during a Mars retrograde time-frame we have an opportunity to counterbalance past compulsive and overly willful egocentricity through listening inwardly, looking before we leap.
At this time of the Ides of March approaching, I am reminded of the famous speech given by Marc Antony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that to my mind is exemplary of both a Mars stationing and a Mars retrograde sort of action. Here we have an excerpt spoken by Marlon Brando, an actor filled with the vigor of Mars in every performance:
Marc Antony would have been full of rage at the murder of Caesar, yet instead of reacting with destructive violence or direct attack he paused and considered how to craft persuasive language that would ignite the people of Rome to mutiny against the assassins of Caesar. The dramatic atmosphere of this moment ripe with the potential for war is fitting for a time of Mars stationing like we experienced last week. Yet through taking the time to reflect upon how to craft the most persuasive language possible instead of impulsively shouting diatribes against the plotters who tried to seize the throne through killing Caesar, Marc Antony’s speech also connects to the energy of a Mars retrograde. Furthermore, Marc Antony’s speech also contains a deft use of Libran diplomacy, seduction, and social manipulation, as he cleverly called the murderers of Caesar honorable while nimbly weaving words and phrases that would arouse the passions of the Roman people to his cause for revenge. Each time he called Brutus or the other assassins “honorable,” he created an increasingly “dishonorable” impression of them in his audience through his considered choice in language that made his audience feel his own sense of wounding and wrongdoing.
As our current Moon cycle is waxing toward the Virgo and Pisces Full Moon of March 16, we have entered an energy field that is settling into the energy of the Mars retrograde more so than the more catalytic and disruptive energy of the Mars stationing last week. In the same way that Venus retrograde cycles can coincide with fateful events carrying a sense of destiny in some personal birth charts, so can Mars retrograde cycles also be especially fateful for certain birth charts. If Mars is a major factor in a chart a Mars retrograde cycle may always be significant, whereas for other charts it may have more to do with the specific zodiac degrees involved in the retrograde cycle. For our current Mars retrograde cycle, you will want to pay close attention to the area of your chart holding nine to twenty-eight degrees of Libra (the Mars retrograde zone) as well as nine to twenty-eight degrees of every other cardinal sign in your chart (Aries, Cancer, and Capricorn- the Mars retrograde will be forming a square or opposition to these points), or other Air and Fire signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Leo, and Sagitarius- the Mars retrograde will be forming a trine or sextile to these points). If you want to think about personal experiences relating to past Mars retrograde cycles, I will include some of the dates below. You can also add in a couple of months before and after these stationing dates in order to capture the full retrograde shadow journey of Mars:
January 24 – April 14, 2012: stationed retrograde at 24 Virgo and stationed direct at 4 Virgo.
December 20, 2009 – March 10, 2010: stationed retrograde at 20 Leo and stationed direct at 1 Leo.
November 15, 2007 – January 30, 2008: stationed retrograde at 13 Cancer and stationed direct at 25 Gemini.
October 1 – December 10, 2005: stationed retrograde at 24 Taurus and stationed direct at 9 Taurus.
July 29 – September 27, 2003: stationed retrograde at 11 Pisces and stationed direct at 1 Pisces.
May 11 – July 19, 2001: stationed retrograde at 30 Sagitarius and stationed direct at 16 Sagitarius.
March 18 – June 4, 1999: stationed retrograde at 13 Scorpio and stationed direct at 25 Libra.
Mars in the sign of Venus
Mars stationing retrograde in Libra is very significant in relation to Venus, including that Mars is considered to be in “detriment” in Libra. The detrimental label of Mars in Libra connects to Libra being the polarized opposite of the sign Aries that Mars loves being in, as well as that Libra is a sign ruled by Venus. Astrologers often think of Libra as a sign of balance, overly concerned with relationships and the needs of others, a sign of beauty that doesn’t quite jive with the freewheeling nature of Mars that will strike up conflict and want to have things its own way. However, though balance is the aim of Libra, many Librans are in reality extreme in behavior and more in a process of searching for balance through extremity of behavior than beings whose every gesture is of rarified air. Libra can have a manipulative talent for diplomacy, for getting its way through cooing negotiation, and for becoming enraged over social justice issues and oppression, all behaviors that do correlate to the willful Mars. And just because the red planet is moving backwards in the sign of Venus does not mean we should think it a detriment, when instead we can celebrate the fact this planet of desire is moving under the guidance of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.
Jeff Green’s perspective in evolutionary astrology I feel is beneficial to consider regarding Mars in Libra because he doesn’t get hung up on analyzing it as a “detriment” but instead looks at it as it is what it is, so let’s explore what it is. There are a number of issues connected to Mars in Libra in Green’s evolutionary astrology I have been sensing connect with the current retrograde transit: learning to actualize our soul intentions through initiating relationships with people from different beliefs, values, and backgrounds, learning to expand our consciousness through understanding our reality in a new way through relationship, learning to understand ourselves in a new way through the perceptions of others in relationship, learning to balance our need for independence versus our need for interaction, learning how to balance giving and receiving on an equal basis in relationship, and learning how to understand the nature of projections we receive from others as well as the nature of the projections we make on others in relationship.
Again, since the retrograde movement of Mars inverts the energy of the red planet toward our soul, instead of more impulsively acting out from our soul desires, during this retrograde transit the issues we encounter surrounding our relationships will help us eliminate what is not truly “us” in our behavior, and help us align to a greater extent with our soul purpose. While this inverted energy of Mars may heat up our inner sexual desires, it does not necessarily mean we will be impulsively leaping into wild, lustful encounters with the people we become attracted to at this time, but in contrast we may find ourselves with an opportunity to pause and consider the reasoning behind the sexual desire we feel inside, helping us to better understand our own sexual nature in the process. Jeff Green has also drawn attention to the link between Mars in Libra and sexual karma, and the karmic binding we create even in one-time sexual encounters. In his second Pluto book, Green made the point that the archetype of Mars in Libra emphasizes the need to make our sexual intentions conscious so both partners are aware, from a one-night stand to a new attraction developing outside the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. Along these lines Green stressed the importance of being honest or resolving the karmic agreement of the current relationship before entering into sexual relations with the new attraction. The concept of mirroring, in which our relationships will mirror active elements of our psyche to focus on and learn more about, will be very active during this Libran retrograde and so acting with integrity in our relationships will be even more important than normal.
Along these lines, we will want to make sure that we are listening to the true needs of others in our relationships instead of what we want to hear, as well as making sure that we are likewise expressing our true needs in our relationship and having the personal integrity to believe and expect that our needs will likewise be acknowledged and honored. Jeff Green also illuminated the tendency of the Mars in Libra archetype to be so overly concerned with the needs of others that they lose touch with their own needs. This leads to great difficulty such as others projecting their own needs and expectations on us that have nothing to do with our actual reality, as well as our own danger of becoming incredibly angry at our needs not being met and at risk of projecting this anger on anyone that crosses our path. While the sacred concept that the receiving is in the giving will be something we can experience at this time, we will want to take accountability to maintain the balance that our own needs are also being met and that communicating our needs will always be a good choice for us to make in the type of relationship we want to truly be inside. If we have been someone who has been the scapegoat of our family, or have been carrying around karma and issues that are not even our own and have been projected onto us from others, we can at this time come into greater awareness of the nature of these projections from other people and clear out what does not truly belong to us.
If we are not feeling stirrings for new relationships at this time, or working on re-making an existing relationship to be more fulfilling, another area we may find connection to Mars being retrograde in Libra is through artistic work or creativity in any medium or material. Libra is a Venusian sign of creativity and artistry, and so this Mars retrograde time will be opportune for entering into a sacred space of artistic creation, making sacred art that calls to our soul, viewing or experiencing art that feels sacred or soulful, or making choices to practice simple acts of creativity and joy whenever a moment arises. Entering into an artistic or creative process of any kind, being open to observing whatever emerges, can be another helpful guide for us to align to a greater extent with our soul purpose and intention at this time.
Affairs of the Heart
In the painting Parnassus above, painted in 1497 by Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna, we can see the lovers Mars and Aphrodite standing tall over a dance of the nine muses, with Mercury standing watch in the foreground, and the husband of Aphrodite, Vulcan, looking distraught in the background. Over the past year the planets Mars and Venus have been involved in an intense affair, as their new cycle began around April 6, 2013 with a conjunction at 20 Aries. Today we are just past a very long first quarter square phase that took months to complete: the first time Mars and Venus squared was on September 28, 2013 with Mars at 20 Leo and Venus at 20 Scorpio. Next, they squared on January 16, 2014 during the Venus retrograde with Mars inside his retrograde shadow zone, with Mars at 19 Libra and Venus retrograde at 19 Capricorn. Significant to the Venus retrograde cycle of that time, Venus was just arising from the underworld as our Morning Star at this time following her inferior conjunction with the Sun on January 11. And then last week on March 2, 2014, the third time was the charm as just at the time that both Mars and Saturn stationed retrograde, we had the final first quarter square with Mars retrograde at 28 Libra and Venus moving direct at 28 Capricorn. Amazingly, this means that this final square between Mars and Venus in this cycle occurred at the exact time Mars was stationing retrograde and Venus was leaving her retrograde shadow journey. Even more astounding, at the final square of this series on March 2, Mars retrograde was conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, and Mars at the same time was the ruler of the South Node of the Moon in Aries. Meanwhile, Venus in Capricorn was in a square to the lunar nodes, making the intensity all the more grandiose.
What does a first quarter square between Mars and Venus mean? It means, relative to this cycle that began on April 6, 2013, that we have crossed through a significant gate of challenge and crisis, made more so in this case because it took about five months to complete and involved retrograde cycles of both Mars and Venus. From the lunar phase perspective, a first quarter square is about establishing the roots of our new direction, a phase full of tension, strength, and force that requires the building of a structure that can house the new purpose. This phase requires a pioneering spirit that must confront and overcome past patterns and deal with their own sense of rage at having to face limitations and perhaps vestiges or triggers of past issues. From this perspective, look back at what began last April of 2013: any new relationships, projects, or desires? Was anything culminating or clearing in the time leading up to last April? Likewise, where is 20 Aries in your birth chart for the start of a new cycle? Where are all the degrees of the first quarter square- 20 Leo, 20 Scorpio, 19 Libra, 19 Capricorn, 28 Libra, 28 Capricorn? From last September until now, through two of our four seasons, we have been facing crises and challenges connected to whatever new soul intention connected with our Mars and Venus we begun last April.
I want to come back once again to Jeff Green and evolutionary astrology, because I believe Green developed some valuable insights illuminating the archetypes involved in the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus:
From an evolutionary point of view, the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus will correlate to how the Soul is oriented to actualizing the relationship dynamics for itself, and how its needs for necessary freedom in order to actualize its overall evolutionary and karmic intentions interrelate.
–Jeff Green, Pluto Volume II, p. 259
From this same perspective, the first quarter square phase we just completed made us aware of new ways for us to be in relationship that reflect a new understanding we have for ourselves and how we relate to our soul. At the first quarter square, we develop the courage to stand up for ourselves and assert our individual values whether or not others around us share the same values. Part of the crisis of this stage then comes from the fact that we have a new sense of individuality we are developing that we fear we could lose by entering into relationships with other people, especially into intimate relationships where merging and bonding can occur. As a result we can come into conflicts in our relationships because we may not truly commit, keeping our options open for an escape due to a fear of losing our individuality in the relationship. To Green, the lesson of this stage “is for the Soul to realize that the individuality that has been established will not be lost, that this fear is a fear only, and to align with other individuals who have the same courage to project their own individuality in the face of the consensus . . . they need to choose an intimate other who is evolutionarily evolving in the same way” (Green, p. 262). If we are currently in a relationship, we may need to reflect upon the dynamic and see if things can be reworked for greater harmony and a sense of personal freedom to develop in accordance with the calling of the soul. If we are lacking relationships, we can hopefully find a new group of like-minded souls for friendship and collaboration, as well as gain greater clarity for the type of intimate partner we wish to eventually commit to.
For the rest of March we will be inside this first quarter phase of the Mars and Venus cycle, but at the very end of March we will have an opportunity to creatively actualize more of our new direction because Mars retrograde at 23 Libra will form a trine to Venus at 23 Aquarius on March 29, 2014. This does not mean everything will become easy for us, but it does mean that whatever desire, issue, project, or relationship we are working on in connection to this Mars-Venus cycle will demand more of a yearning from us to manifest it to a greater extent, and with Venus being in Aquarius no doubt this will feel like a burning sense of liberation from within us. This new, impulsive, liberating energy will be all the more intense because there will be a New Moon on March 30 that is conjunct Uranus in Aries, square Jupiter in Cancer, and square Pluto in Capricorn. Events at this time will help us become aware of all the myriad of issues that have led up to this point, and with making the whole process more conscious we will have increased capacity to make our soul desire more of a reality, or at least create an effective plan to make it happen eventually. Using this time for this purpose of clarifying our soul desire and then beginning the process of actualizing it in our life is of supreme importance because as we enter April we enter a time of intense aspects that many astrologers are signalling high alert to the collective regarding- a lunar eclipse, a cardinal grand cross including an exact square between Pluto and Uranus, and a solar eclipse among other things . . . These intense aspects also are fitting for the Chinese astrological perspective of this being the year of the Wood Horse, because although this energy could indeed correlate with some crises and stressful experiences, it is also the type of energy that can completely liberate us from our past and help us break free into uncharted territory- the transits have an extraordinary pioneering spirit to them at the same time they portend extremely challenging events. But what does a pioneer do except face the greatest challenges and obstacles imaginable?
As we enter this intense April time period, we will likewise enter the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle around April 9 or so with Venus at the beginning of Pisces conjunct Neptune in Pisces. This gibbous phase will take us through the eclipse season and cardinal grand cross of the rest of April because we will not hit the full phase of Mars and Venus, their opposition point, until around May 11, 2014. Fitting for the intense astrological climate of April, the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle could have us needing to withstand extreme criticism from our relationships and surrounding environment concerning the soul intention we are desiring to pursue as part of this cycle. Part of the crisis we can experience in our relationships during April will be to help us make modifications in our relationship patterns so that we can adjust to the energy of others in our environment and learn to interact in more of a balanced manner. Since this phase will begin with Venus conjunct Neptune in Pisces, there could be a very idealized aspect to our soul desire- it will be good to take time to pause, reflect, and center in accordance with the Mars retrograde and discern if this is a truly spiritualizing desire or more of an illusory escapist sort of Neptune desire. Venus and Neptune conjunct in Pisces, however, can also help us step into a higher vibration of love in all of our relationships and more of an unconditional acceptance for the people we care about and where they happen to be in the moment with their own issues. In line with a gibbous phase, we will also need to practice acceptance and unconditional love for ourselves because this phase of the Mars-Venus cycle can often correlate with becoming self critical and focusing on what we perceive as our own “shortcomings, inadequacies, imperfections, indiscretions, and lacks” (Green, p. 263). If we are also being criticized harshly in our personal environment we will need to be careful of taking on projections and victimizing ourselves to such an extent that we become so angry that we cause destruction in relationships that are important to us. Jeff Green views this phase as reflecting the need of the soul to humble itself and move out of any superior complexes in relationships that come from an actual inferiority complex underneath it all- we are called at this time to make modifications to how we take in criticism from others and learn that they mirror in a way our own self-criticism. The lesson we can learn from all of this is how to make effective adjustments in how we interact with the greater world, which in the end will help us actualize our soul intention connected with this Mars-Venus cycle to a greater extent.
Fittingly our current Mars-Venus cycle reaches its halfway point, or full phase opposition point, toward the end of the Mars retrograde cycle with Mars beginning to station again. This will occur on May 11, 2014 with Mars retrograde at 10 Libra and Venus at 10 Aries. We will have accumulated a huge amount of information from the eclipse season of the cardinal grand cross that is simply impossible to predict at this time- whatever that information and events turn out to be, however, will add incredible understanding of our personal issues linked to this Mars and Venus cycle. Since Mars will be entering a time of stationing at this time, although we may not be able to predict specific events we can know that most likely events will be very dramatic and possibly cataclysmic, and so we will want to be prepared to pause and reflect for our optimal response to whatever situation occurs. Incredibly, in the following week around May 19 Venus will return to the same degree she was at the start of this cycle, 20 Aries, at the same time that Mars stations direct. This is so beautiful and perfect in its pattern that it gives me great hope for this upcoming time period no matter how difficult our life may appear in moments of desperation. Although events at this time may seem overwhelmingly challenging, the full phase point of the Mars-Venus cycle occurring as Mars stations direct is also perfect for Mars intensifying the energy of Libra, as the lesson of this phase between Mars and Venus is for us to learn how to cultivate equality in our relationships, find greater balance in our giving and our receiving, and learning how to integrate our unique soul needs into our social environment so that we can get what we need from our environment. Difficulties in relationships can be learning tools that help us learn how to truly listen to what others need instead of what we think that they need: as we learn to objectively understand the reality of others around us we will likewise attract a partner or relationships who have this same objective awareness of us. We will also need to learn how to balance our feelings for spending time alone versus spending time in relationship: the retrograde movement of Mars will help us tune into our instinctual soul desires of when we really need to spend time by ourselves, for example, and so we must have the personal integrity to honor these feelings and not succumb to pressure from others to socialize needlessly when we are not truly called to socialize.
We also will want to honor our sexual feelings and desires and come to greater awareness and understanding of our sexual nature at this time. As previously stated, the retrograde movement of Mars through Libra will heat up our inner sexual vibration through the inversion of Mars energy- the soul intention of this will be to come to greater awareness of our erotic nature so we will want to avoid judging and shaming ourselves. With all of the eclipse and cardinal grand cross intensity, putting shame into our game ain’t gonna make things easier. Coincidentally, I recently had an epiphany regarding self-shaming of sexuality through attending a webinar by Demetra George on the fifth house of good fortune, where Venus has her Joy and greatest affinity from a traditional Hellenistic perspective. In her webinar Demetra traced how the love affairs associated with the fifth house over time came to be labeled as being scandalous and risk-taking of the adulterous variety, much like the celebrated extra-marital affairs of Mars and Venus in myth; she did so in order to make the counter-point that the sexual desires where Venus has her Joy are in actuality divine and life infusing, fortunate and inspired by gods, noble and pleasurable. Demetra incorporated a lesson from Plato’s Symposium to make her point, wherein Phaedrus described how Eros and our beloved can inspire us to act with greater integrity and aspire to the divine, so that we will be held in high esteem in the eyes of our beloved. During this Mars retrograde in Libra we will have the opportunity to become clearer about the relationship we want to be in, the type of partner we want to attract, as well as gain clarity on our true values and desires we will live from that will simultaneously help attract our desired partner or relationship. We will want to honor the sexual desires we experience as providing us with pleasure, inspiration, and even important information instead of judging or shaming ourselves- for example, if we experience attraction outside the boundaries of a personal relationship, we will want to remember to have integrity with how we deal with the situation, instead of acting from a place of shame and judgment toward our self.
In addition to relationship attractions and issues, the Mars and Venus square can connect with our inner masculine and feminine, as well as social justice issues such as the fact many do not even believe in concepts like masculine and feminine and suffer oppression in our society as a result. Through the internalizing energy of the Mars retrograde we have the opportunity to cultivate greater balance between our inner yin and inner yang energy. However, as Mars is moving retrograde all the way back to creating an extraordinary cardinal grand cross in April of 2014 that will occur during eclipses and another exact square between Pluto and Uranus, lets just say that many people around us will not exactly appear to be balanced and we could be witnessing examples of oppression as well as feeling oppressed ourselves by how fucked up the world has become. What can we do? We can use the retrograde energy of Mars in Libra to feel the oppression around us but instead of just becoming angry and destructive, move the energy into compassion for others, being a good listener to the problems and struggles of others, learning to listen to what others truly need, as well as being willing to express our own needs for help and support and being willing to receive and accept help and support from others. Mars in Libra can correlate with us forming not only new relationships, but coming into contact with a diversity of experience from others that are different from our own experience, which in the end will help us develop a greater understanding of reality outside of our own subjective experience and perspective. As a result, we will have the opportunity to learn how to accept and support the individual reality of others, no matter how different they may appear to be from us, or how different their background and culture is from us. As we learn more about the relativity of truth through the perspectives on truth from different people with different opinions and values, in the end we will have the opportunity to expand our consciousness and understanding of the world in a way that will enable us to better support and give to others in need, as well as will enable us to more effectively achieve and manifest the soul purpose associated with this current Mars and Venus cycle.
Post-script: Vesta in Libra
I may later write another post about this, but I would like to briefly mention the amazing synchronicity that at the same time Mars stationed retrograde to move back through Libra in conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, the asteroid Vesta did as well. In addition, Ceres was also nearby at the beginning of Scorpio and Ceres will also eventually be stationing retrograde to move back into Libra by the end of March. However, since Vesta never made it to Scorpio and turned around at the same time with Mars at the end of Libra, I feel Vesta has helped initiate our transition into this Mars retrograde in Libra that will be taking us all the way to a cardinal grand cross in April of Libra Mars, Cancer Jupiter, Aries Uranus, and Capricorn Pluto. It is a further sign, along with Venus ruling the North Node of the Moon that Mars retrograde is conjunct, that the retrograde journey of Mars is being initiated by goddesses, including the magnetic, celestial, and earthly Aphrodite, and the focused, sacred, and independent Vesta. Vesta being part of this initiation means that we will be re-focusing our energy and will to experience more of our authentic self, in a space outside of relationship at times, even though Vesta in Libra enjoys relationship as all celestial spheres do in the sign of the scales. Even if we are in a relationship we will be re-focusing and re-establishing our presence inside of it, as Vesta is an independent goddess who belongs to no man and does not make herself dependent upon anyone else. As Demetra George has taught, Vesta “teaches the wisdom that periodic retreat from others in order to cleanse and regenerate the self can lead to a clarity of vision and purpose” (Asteroid Goddesses, p. 34). Vesta’s presence at the initiation of a Mars retrograde that happened in a square to Venus also means we will be re-focusing our sexual nature and desire, including sexual issues around fear, projection, repression, judgment, sin, sacredness, and sexual discernment in choice of partners. Vesta in Libra carries with her all of the issues associated with Libra I have previously mentioned here in connection with Mars, but Vesta in particular has a gift for focus. As a result she will help us focus to a greater extent on our soul intention through the inverted movement of Mars within us, and eliminate what is not in alignment with our soul purpose in our relationships, self, and life.
Baignent, Michael. (1994). From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia. Penguin Arkana.
George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.
Green, Jeffrey Wolf. (2009). Pluto Volume II: The Soul’s Evolution through Relationships. The Wessex Astrologer.