Planet Waves
New York, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

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This is a reprint in the Eric Francis Classics series, which we will be mailing a few times a week. Please note this article is from 2011. This is the latest installment in a series of classic articles by Eric. If you're not already a member, you may sign up here.

A Decade of Mars Retrograde

Mars retrogrades for 72 days every 25.6 months. A Mars retrograde occurs when the Earth, which moves faster than Mars, passes between Mars and the Sun. This creates the effect of Mars seemingly moving backwards, much like if you're on a faster train passing a slower train. Both trains are going ahead, but the slower one seems to be going backwards from the perspective of the faster one. The effect is supposed to be an illusion, but it's one that can wiggle your stomach and get you to question reality for a second -- just like a Mars retrograde.

Planet Waves
The Vulva on Mars -- the biggest canyon in the solar system -- dwarfing the Grand Canyon -- is on Mars. Photo courtesy of APOD and the Viking Project.
Mars will be visible in the sky through the winter and spring, as it always is when the retrograde happens. Remember that one definition of 'retrograde' is 'close to the Earth'.

The distribution of signs where Mars retrograde occurs is grossly uneven. The retrogrades tend to concentrate in the range of the zodiac between Cancer and Sagittarius. They occur very rarely in Aquarius or Capricorn, and only occasionally in Aries, Taurus and Pisces.

The experience of any inner planet retrograde is shaped in part by the planets that are aspected in the process. This year, planets in Pisces, the sign opposite Virgo, are the main actors shaping Mars retrograde. These include Chiron, Neptune and, briefly, Venus.
Here is an overview of Mars retrograde from 2001 through 2012, with additional research contributions from Dave Roell and Kirsti Melto. These dates were calculated using Io Sprite from Time Cycles Research. Kirsti's research was done in Riyal by Juan Revilla. All dates are in Eastern Time.
May 11, 2001 - Mars stations retrograde in Sagittarius
July 19, 2001 - Mars stations direct in Sagittarius
This was a difficult and complex retrograde phase, involving a series of conjunctions to Pluto and Chiron, with Pluto sitting on the Great Attractor in mid-Sagittarius. Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest known planets, were opposite the Sagittarius circus in Gemini, which created a great deal of opposition energy. Note, this was the Mars retrograde pre-Sept. 11. It was one of several indicators that something was up, mainly because of the connection between Pluto and the Great Attractor. This was major emphasis on Sagittarius, and the fact that something was about to stir up the international waters should have been plainly obvious; it was, to some astrologers. During this retrograde we experienced a rare total eclipse of the Sun on the summer solstice -- just four hours into summer, the Sun was eclipsed by the Moon in the first degree of Cancer -- in an exact square to the Aries Point.
July 29, 2003 - Mars stations retrograde in Pisces
Sept. 27, 2003 - Mars stations direct in Pisces
Mars has a strange relationship to Pisces. It is the ruler of the water signs, but the nature of Mars is very different from that of Pisces. This was the Mars retrograde associated with the start of Bush War II -- the false-flag invasion of Iraq. It was emotionally difficult for many people, and was also challenging on a collective level; it came with a massive heat wave across Europe where thousands of people died in France and other countries. This was a year of enormous emphasis on Pisces, including the ingress of Uranus into this sign.
Oct. 1, 2005 - Mars stations retrograde in Taurus
Dec. 10, 2005 - Mars stations direct in Taurus
Mars began this retrograde exactly opposite Venus. That seemed interesting at the time, and the buildup to the retrograde was emotionally intense. Oppositions can be aspects of direct confrontation or encounter, but sometimes the feeling is more alienating or distant. Mars and Venus were in mutual reception -- Mars was in one of the signs ruled by Venus, and Venus in one of the signs ruled by Mars. So this was, at least symbolically, a time of experimenting with gender identity, gender roles, and our other concepts of male and female.
Nov. 15, 2007 - Mars stations retrograde in Cancer
Jan. 30, 2008 - Mars stations direct in Gemini
This is an interesting retrograde because Mars seems to burrow backwards through an emotional cosmos (the sign Cancer) and pop out in a mental one (Gemini). We go beneath those high-energy experiences of emoting and emerge on the mental plane, where we can see alternatives, choices and the various shades of dualism that lurk beneath all the emotions we feel so often. Mars makes a series of oppositions to Pluto, first in Sagittarius and then in Capricorn, and is one of the invocations of Pluto's residency in its new sign -- always a distinct turning of an era. Personal, close-by planets make the movements of the outer planets more tangible and visceral.
When Mars makes its first opposition to Pluto across Cancer/Capricorn on March 7, 2008, we will know that something interesting is afoot: the new placement of Pluto will be personalized and expressed within our personal desire nature. That chart marks a kind of grand culmination of the Mars retrograde process, featuring a Pisces New Moon, and a grand conjunction in Aquarius between Chiron, Mercury, Venus and the North Node (Rahu). The Mars-Pluto opposition is exactly on the Aries Point, from a political standpoint unfortunately not the happiest portent in an election year but a real call to action and involvement.
Dec. 20, 2009 - Mars stations retrograde in Leo
March 10, 2010 - Mars stations direct in Leo
This retrograde marks an extremely, as in brilliantly, unique moment in the 21st century's astrology history: the long journey of Neptune in Aquarius and Chiron in Aquarius is set off by Jupiter in Cancer making a simultaneous conjunction to both. In other words, a triple conjunction of three slow-movers -- Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune, all of which are opposite Mars in Leo. Even the Moon is in Aquarius, about to oppose Mars. The station retrograde occurs close to the winter solstice. The Sun is close to the Galactic Core. There is a Saturn-Pluto square from Libra to Capricorn. When the station/direct occurs in March, Chiron and Neptune remain in an exact conjunction (at 27+ Aquarius) but the emphasis of the sky has shifted to Pisces. Jupiter, Mercury, the Sun and Uranus are there. Mars stations direct in the very first degree of Leo, trine Venus on the Aries Point and Saturn in very early Libra. Interesting times, with Aquarius vibrating so fast you could have a spontaneous orgasm walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Jan. 23, 2012 - Mars stations retrograde in Virgo
April 13, 2012 - Mars stations direct in Virgo
This is the Mars retrograde at the beginning of that mythical year, 2012, the year where the 13th Baktun of the Mayan calendar comes to an end. This is Turn of the Millennium Part Two, a chance for a do-over after we botched the first one falling for the Sept. 11 false flag "terrorist" attacks. In an interesting but probably meaningless synchronicity, the Moon is in Aquarius this time, too. Mars is opposite Neptune (now in Pisces) at the time of the station, and many other planets are in Pisces as well: Chiron, Pallas and Mercury. This is taking place in a whole new astrological landscape, as Uranus is in Aries and about to make its revolutionary square to Pluto in Capricorn. Whatever else it may be, 2012 will not be a boring year.

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