Dear Friend and Reader:
Mars is about to be retrograde. It’s also true there’s a solar eclipse coming, in Scorpio, one of the signs that Mars rules. This is adding to the sense of anticipation. So too is the fact that Jupiter is sitting on the Mars-ruled Aries point.
The retrograde will take place in Gemini, which hints at a realtime experiment in getting along with ourselves. We all know by now that most of the real challenges of accord and resolution are inner rather than outer, and that most of what manifests as outer is what we project into our relationships.
Mars retrograde in Gemini seems designed to take us on a tour of this region of consciousness: of the place where projection meets perception. It’s an opportunity to work out something that deep and otherwise elusive.
Mars represents old material, possibly the oldest that we think of as human. As the planet of motivation and of desire. It’s the influence that makes you want to do something different than you’ve already done, or be someone you have not been before.
Holdover from System One
A few years ago, I was watching one of those cable TV astronomy programs, and the focus was Mars. The topic was how Mars was the last intact holdover from among many similar planets in an earlier version of the solar system — estimated to have been about 40 of them. We don’t know how astronomers got to that number, but that’s what they offered.
Mars in its current form remains more or less as it was, an artifact of an earlier epoch. Considered a “planet embryo,” it skipped over the kinds of formation events (for example, planets smashing together) that the Earth and other bodies experienced. It’s an artifact of the early solar system every bit as much as Pluto is. We send a lot of robots over there to see what is going on: there have been six successful ones so far, two of which are ongoing (Curiosity and Perseverance).
Mars as a holdover of another epoch reminded me of something I read in Esoteric Astrology by Alice Bailey (published in 1951), which is that we are currently living in “System Two,” or the second major iteration of our solar system. Somehow she knew this long before scientists did (which is often true of so-called occultists). By this theory of Mars, we have in its expression something original and unchanged, going back to a much earlier era.
Most of the astrology of the next few weeks, and of the next few months, comes back to Mars. This is because Mars is about to station retrograde in Gemini.
In contemporary astrology, outer planets such as Chiron, Neptune and Pluto are often held out as representing the facets of consciousness that drive growth and evolution. We think this way at the expense of all there is to learn about the close-by and seemingly ordinary states of being.
I think that Venus and Mars tend to be downplayed as deep influences because they require consideration of the so-called “lower” mind — for example, where we experience sexual attraction and need, crave and explore fulfillment through the senses, as well as competitive and possessive feelings, and call for accepting the full spectrum of experiences of being in a body.
All these things are held as dirty or at best unnecessary by most spiritual traditions, and something we’re supposed to transcend rather than engage or confront.
There are relevant questions that also are easier to avoid than to explore, such as how much of our experience of “opposite” and of “otherness” is projection and how much is real. Here, we are into the very substance of how consciousness works.
It’s much easier to talk about abstract ideas such as “evolutionary impulses” and “wounded healers” than it is to take possession of one’s desire nature and what it says about us; of the very basics of being human. However, the astrology of our moment probes deep into the exploration of opposites, of gender, of feelings and the drive to connect.
The Great Duality
Alice Bailey wrote in Esoteric Astrology, “In Gemini, the relation between the great duality of soul and body emerges in which, at this stage, the body or form serves the soul.” This implies that there are two purposes, potentially in competition, and we find out about them in the sign of the twins.
Here is the scene of Mars retrograde, when all the assertiveness of Mars is turned inward, and into a question: am I this, or am I that, and what is the relationship between the two? And it’s often unasked, or held as irrelevant. While our society does not openly accept reincarnation as a fact of existence, we certainly live like we have thousands of lifetimes to while away, avoiding this primal confrontation with our own consciousness.
In the human-sign Gemini, the conflict of Mars becomes introverted and personal. Remember that Mars is currently in a long square to Neptune. To my ear, the core matter of this aspect involves acknowledging the problem of self-deception, also known as denial. This is yet another unpopular topic, because so many people use so much denial to get through the day. Yet if the notion of spiritual means anything, it begins with telling oneself the truth: knowing what you know, and acting as if it’s true.
It will be easy to foment division and chaos under the influence of Mars retrograde in Gemini, which is another way to say there will be plenty of opportunities for healing. It’s the square to Neptune that is likely to cloud this potential. The challenge of the square is being able to express anger rather than to depress it, and therefore not take it out on ourselves. Gemini is a hall of mirrors — one long study in projection and perception. The key to mastering a planet is integrating its many expressions, without leaving any out. So as Pink Floyd said so long ago, this includes:
All that you touch and all that you see
All that you taste, all you feel
And all that you love and all that you hate
All you distrust, all you save
And all that you give (all you give) and all that you deal
And all that you buy, beg, borrow, or steal…
The Long Cosmic Time-Out
Among its distinctions, Mars is the planet of warfare. Mars in Gemini is the intersection of emotional drive and the mental environment. Both A Course in Miracles and existential philosopher Simone de Beauvoir agree that the most serious war is the one we wage against ourselves. This has consequences.
We forget that one of the distinctions of humanity is that we are a warfaring race. Steven Greer, founder of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), says that humans are banned from meaningful contact with other civilizations — and therefore from real space exploration — lest we export our nearly insatiable propensity for war. We are in the midst of a long, cosmic time-out.
We think of this acted-out conflict as being about nations and governments, though even in a village, individual people seem to have no limit to their appetite for conflict with their neighbors.
Now we live in the Global Village of the internet, which is multiplying aggression by creating the illusion that everyone is a nobody who wants to be somebody. Many of those who want to be somebody will go to any lengths to get there, or at least to feel like they already have.
The thing about peace is we really need to want it if we are going to have any. And that means protecting the peace, privacy and sanctity of others in an age when there seems to be a firm commitment to violating these things.
Neptune in the Background
I’ve mostly emphasized Mars in this article, though Neptune (being acted upon by Mars) may be where the action is.
Neptune is the property of dreaming. It can reveal (or conceal) a parallel reality that often seems overlaid on normal waking consciousness. It can be about various forms of escape, though the ability to envision a new stage of life, or to create new experiences within your present one, is a useful and creative form of ‘escape’.
Dreaming also provides the crucial space to work out tension in the psyche, and to be shown the meaning of our lives in a succinct if not symbolic form. Most of us live in times and places when it’s difficult to sleep, which would make it difficult to dream. Between melatonin depletion, being irradiated by countless devices, networks and wavelengths of radiation, ordinary stress and a diversity of medications that get in the way, I wonder how many people still have full access to their dream life.
Neptune taking a long square from Mars feels like pressure on the function of this delicate muse-like spirit, and onboard therapist. It has the feeling of making something happen that wants to happen naturally. This will draw some into a little (or a lot) extra use of consciousness-shifting substances. The pressure may feel like an enhanced need to go into a plasma state of consciousness.
If you do take advantage of any enhancements or accelerants, remember what you learn in whatever state of mind you attain. You are not merely a spectator; you are the center of your experience, and it’s here for you.
You may use the added flexibility and suspended inhibition to allow yourself to consider, feel and potentially do what normal waking consciousness might obstruct. Whatever may be percolating around, take notice. It’s all relevant, and all designed to teach you who you are.
Upcoming Events Related to Mars
Venus and the Sun enter Scorpio within a few hours of one another on Sunday, Oct. 23. Venus can take to Scorpio nicely as long as you’re not in conflict with your desires. This is an opportunity to work out any such tension or dissonance.The Venus-Sun Scorpio lasts for a few days.
The Moon-Venus-Sun conjunction at exactly 2 degrees Scorpio on Tuesday, Oct. 25 is the New Moon and a partial solar eclipse in Scorpio. This is the exterior Venus-Sun conjunction, halfway between the Venus retrogrades. The solar eclipse corresponds to a total lunar eclipse on Nov. 8 in Taurus. Eclipses happen in little bursts twice a year; the most recent ones were in late April and mid-May. Prior to that they were in December 2021.
Eclipses represent points of acceleration and the shifting of continuity. We move through them like a vortex and can come out in a radically different place. The conjunction to Venus makes this eclipse especially emotional and influential. It has the feeling of embracing one’s opposite qualities.
Jupiter re-enters Pisces in retrograde motion on Friday, Oct. 28. This will be a very brief hiatus there (about seven weeks); Jupiter stations direct on Nov. 23, and then re-enters Aries on Dec. 20, just ahead of the Capricorn solstice. It then sweeps through the entire sign Aries in less than five months and emerges in Taurus on May 16. May people have important natal planets in Aries — many have Chiron here; nearly everyone has Eris; and a many people have Saturn in Aries. Jupiter will be activating all of these planets in one rapid transit across Aries.
Mars stations retrograde in Gemini on Sunday, Oct. 30, which for some sensitive to Mars may have the feeling of forward progress stalling out. Progress these days of compromised possibilities must be graded on a curve. Mars stations direct on Jan. 12, 2023, though it will spend a bit over two more months in Gemini before entering Cancer on March 25.
Mars makes its retrograde square to Neptune on Nov. 19 and its final square to Neptune on March 14.