There’s a classic “Peanuts” comic strip in which Linus, holding a lit candle, explains to Charlie Brown that he’s heard “it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness”. Charlie Brown acknowledges this truth, but suggests that not every one will agree with Linus. The last panel shows Lucy shouting “YOU STUPID DARKNESS!” out into the night. These next couple of months may find us empathizing with Lucy, but we’ll want to follow Linus’ example. (See the whole strip here.)
This retrograde (Rx) period of Mars has been heralded by much cursing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth on social media, along with predictions of doom and depression. Nope. Sure, bad things happen, but Mars Rx is not the proximate cause — humans and nature are. Let’s light a candle, take a few deep breaths, and look at the best way to handle this two-month retrograde, because the difficulties can be mitigated, and pivotal lessons learned.
If you’ve read my post on Mercury retrograde, you know I think retrogrades simply reflect natural life cycles, just as the seasons do. They’re not “bad” any more than winter is bad. You don’t wear a down parka in high summer in Florida, or a bikini in January in New England. You adjust your behavior to suit the weather, and we can do the same during the times a planet is retrograde.
Just as Mercury Rx challenges us to pay more attention to our communications, technology, infrastructure, and travel arrangements, Mars Rx asks us to look at how we go about getting what we want in the world.
Mars is the part of each of us that establishes our place in the world, protects our personal identity, and will fight to protect what we love. Mars is the planet of direct action and confrontation. It does not like to be curbed, and that’s what a retrograde can feel like. So it’s important to consciously re-direct that energy into viable pathways — to harness it rather than block it.
When Mars’ energy is not appropriately directed, frustration is the inevitable result.
Those viable pathways are going to be different for all of us, depending on your natal chart — what house Mars falls in, its sign and aspects. But during this time, simply paying attention to where you feel frustrated will tell you in what areas of your life you are being challenged to change your approach.
You may find that you are being challenged to move forward in areas where you feel stuck or stagnant.
For instance, Mars is about courage, and this is a good time to look closely at the fears that are coming up for you, particularly the ones that are blocking you from moving ahead. Track them down. Trace them back to when they were first imprinted in your mind. Consider if the fears are valid — what’s the worst that could happen? How likely is it, realistically? How would you handle it if it did happen?
Often, fears disappear when you look at them closely, and take some time to understand their source. But if the fear is still there after you’ve looked at it closely, try a bit of Martian magic.
- Write your fear down on a piece of paper. Write as much or as little about it as you want.
- Then sit at your altar, or some quiet, peaceful place that is yours, and take a few minutes to meditate, or just quiet your mind while holding your paper.
- Now call on whatever spiritual beings you work with. If you don’t regularly work with any, you can call on the planet Mars itself. Like Earth/Gaia, each planet is a conscious being in its own right.
- Ask that the fear be taken from you.
- Burn the paper in a fireproof dish or outdoors, then let the ashes be taken by the wind. If you used a dish and can’t get outside, rinse it out, letting the ashes go down the drain or onto the earth.
- Finish by giving thanks and an offering. If you are working directly with the planet, good offerings are red wine, or any of the following herbs: basil, mustard, cayenne, ginger, garlic, rue, nettles. You can make a tea, or offer the herb(s) directly.
It is not only old fears that will be brought up by the retrograde. Mars affects our physical body, our sexuality, our tempers, and our “fighting spirit” — our willingness to confront those who oppose us. In general, Mars Rx periods are not the best times to schedule surgery (if surgery is unavoidable, be extra careful about following doctor’s orders, and, if possible, bank your own blood well in advance) or start new sexual relationships (though re-igniting previous ones is fine, and a not-infrequent occurrence during Mars Rx).
Another common issue with Mars Rx is mechanical failures. It’s kind of like Mercury Rx, but for cars instead of computers. This is a good time to get your car and any other mechanical equipment you rely on checked and maintained. Mars Rx is also a really bad time to start a fight or a war — the person who starts it is likely to lose it. And be very, very, extra-super-duper careful with fireworks this week.
Most of these problematic outcomes are entirely avoidable if you take a bit of extra care with Mars-related items and situations. Just don’t be careless, and keep the candle of your attention lit.
If you’re interested in learning more about what area of your life Mars Rx is likely to affect, and getting a basic understanding of your natal chart, check out my booklet “How To Read Your Own Astrology Chart”, which comes with a computerized interpretation of your natal chart. Or contact me for a consultation.