Mars Stations Retrograde Wednesday at 6:22 pm EDT

The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth’s Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The origin of the Valles Marineris remains unknown, although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Recently, several geologic processes have been identified in the canyon. The above mosaic was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Today and Thursday I’ll have details about Mars stationing retrograde, which occurs at 6:22 pm EDT (22:22 UTC) on Wednesday, Sept. 9. First, though, let’s consider the movements of Mercury and Venus.

This past weekend we’ve had two inner planet sign changes. Mercury entered Libra on Saturday, and Venus entered Leo on Sunday. Inner planet sign changes shift the emotional tone and the color of perceptions, and I dare say that if the planets are a measure of anything at all, there is more optimism available.

However, as Mercury in Libra moves through many points located early on the cardinal cross (mostly in Aries and Capricorn), you can expect to feel the impulse for a more balanced discussion. Right now the seeming dominant ethos of our times is, “My fear is backed up by what I imagine as science, therefore, I win.” Yet there is no logic there, though we need it dearly.

Mercury is gradually coming into alignment with a Pluto-like planet called Logos (a Kuiper Belt object with a 307-year orbit, discovered in 1997). Consider the necessity for actions taken in your outer environment to match true, valid logic in the mental environment. We don’t have that right now. Much of what people are experiencing is below the level of language: amorphous fear, confusion and stressful emotional overload.

At the moment, many consider their personal belief irrefutable proof of the truth. Consider the danger of that: hallucinations can and often do rule the day, and much more. The problem is, we don’t usually identify them as such. As long as something has a hashtag, it’s thought to be solid as quartz.

There seems to be a boundary lacking: you are entitled to your reality, though you are not entitled to impose your perceptions on someone else. Lacking any dependable baseline or trustworthy authority, the most terrifying possibilities are the ones we react to as a herd.

This is like a crowd thinking it really is the best idea to start running, no matter who gets stampeded. Thought is the wrong word, though. Does anyone run for any reason other than everyone else is doing it?

Panorama of Mars by Opportunity Rover, taken 2011-2012. The robot’s camera also photographed some of its own equipment. Read about it here.

The Need for Organized Thought, Not Gospel Truth

We live in times when, if one brings up logic, they could be accused of being a slave to the patriarchy (that is the accuser’s fantasy). So unless you want to live in a world where anyone’s fears or personal trip can be imposed on you as the truth (gospel, scientific or whatever), you will need some basic procedures to get out of the maze — and you will need to be willing to change your mind when you encounter information that requires you to do so.

For most people, what we call thought is untrained, and does not work especially well. Actual thought is what connects the mind to the heart, and is based on a balanced discussion that takes both into account. It must include a process of weighing and balancing: a way of thinking judicially. Be aware of what points of view you react to and refuse to consider. Those are the ones to devote the most attention to.

Another option is described by a body of knowledge connected to one’s inner authority. Yet that too takes training, and practice, and it takes recognizing that obsessive fear is not a helpful emotion.

Just after Mars stations retrograde, Mercury forms an opposition to Chiron in Aries. That is some form of a face to face confrontation with reality, which will be propelled, deepened and empowered by Mars changing directions.

Then there is Venus, newly in Leo, which to my ear is a caution against false pride. Leo at its true essence is about devotion to service. Leo holds things together, as a consequence of its being — not for appearances. In fact both Mercury in Libra and Venus in Leo caution against overdoing it with appearances in any form. Stick to the underlying reality.

If you catch a glimpse of yourself doing anything for the sake of being seen doing so, stop and question yourself. If you find yourself making an excuse or rationalizing anything you might do for appearances, stop and question yourself. Who are you trying to impress and why?

Martian canyon landscape painted by environmental artist Jakub Cieślik for his Mars Surface Scene.

Mars Retrograde: The Inquiry Into Self

Mars stationing retrograde Wednesday will — if we allow it to — bring up more questions than answers. This is a complicated retrograde: Mars will make a square to Saturn, a conjunction to Eris, and then a square to Jupiter and Pluto. It’s done all of this in direct motion; the retrograde brings up many other sides of the story.

The most vital questions of Mars involve fear. People remain easily manipulated by fear, whether individually, in groups or en masse. This is a complex topic, as it goes deeper than anxiety and reaches into the deepest primordial fears that even the most advanced swamis must confront, known in Sanskrit as the kleshas.

We share some common ground — our society has its own version of these, which stem from the ignorance of our own beings. This is an engineered ignorance, which is injected into and plastered upon everyone. Some break free; some struggle to and may partially succeed; most pretty much stay put where they were as young people.

The aspects Mars retrograde makes describe a process of cracking through the layers. Those are the retrograde squares to Capricorn planets. Those Capricorn planets represent the zone where family trauma meets the dysfunction and chaos of society. If you are wondering what we are witnessing, there you have an idea.

The astrology we’re about to experience builds to a peak through the first part of November. Combined with the most explosive political campaign in American history (in part due to Covid, and in part due to various “end of days” scenarios playing out), everyone capable must do their part to maintain a semblance of sanity.

Think of the public as a crowd of people, most of whom are not individuated and therefore subject to the stampede of mass consciousness. Then imagine that scattered throughout the crowd are people who are aware of what is happening and have a certain amount of influence over those who immediately surround them. Their role will be to maintain awareness, reason and a measure of calm. With enough of those people functioning, we can avoid a stampede and thousands getting trampled.

You are very likely to be one of them. Your first responsibility is to monitor your own fear. Equal to that is commitment to truth. That means being sensitive enough to your own thoughts to know when you are making assumptions, believing someone else, or in some form of denial.

You will need access to your unimpeded awareness to fulfill your function.

With love,

Composite mast cam image by Mars Curiosity rover. Read about this image here.

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Monday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. News Editor: Spencer Stevens. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. Client Services: Amy Elliott and Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Senior Finance Minister, First Cavalry of the Local Economy: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Cate Ryzhenko, Emily Thing. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Rachel Chaput, Loreen Costa, Robin Dann, Yuko Katori, Kirsti Melto, Cindy Tice Ragusa, Abby Rohrer, and Carol van Strum.

2020 Autumn Reading — Instant Access:
The Story of I AM is Now Published

The Story of I AM series of readings is now completed, published and available for instant access. We are still offering them at the pre-order price of $99 for all 12, and you can now choose your individual signs here.

Dear Friend and Reader:

We have now published The Story of I AM — the 2020 autumn reading. These are a set of 12 astrology readings for each of the Sun and rising signs, each lasting 40 minutes.

The preview is available — a 30-minute discussion of what Mars retrograde is about, how it relates to the Capricorn alignment, and what its message is likely to be. We will learn more as we go through the experience (which lasts from Sept. 9 through Nov. 13).

Still from the Scorpio edition of The Story of I AM. You may watch the free video preview to the whole series at this link. There are also samples for all 12 signs linked below this letter.

This series is available well in time to consider the implications of this unusual transit. Mars has not been retrograde in Aries since 1988; Mars favors retrogrades over on the Leo-Virgo-Libra side of the zodiac, so like many things happening in 2020, this is a generational event.

Though we are in challenging times, I take a positive approach. I’m reading astrology, through the philosophical lens of self-actualization and human potential: ideas we have not heard discussed in a very long time. And they are ideas we can benefit from now, and which a few of us remember.

To this work, I bring all of my experience supporting countless individuals through many sensitive transitions in their lives. My training in Gestalt Therapy (in the tradition of Fritz Perls), Hakomi Therapy (personally with Ron Kurtz) and Holistic Therapy (with Joseph Trusso) contribute greatly to my knowledge base, all of which take a client-centered approach rather than a theoretical or analytical one.

I take a positive and practical perspective, and a deep one. Astrology grants the ability to see behind the scenes, and to spot issues that might otherwise get missed. When done well, astrology can save years of work. In our time, anyway, we don’t have years, and cost is a factor. With an astrology reading, even one gem of an idea can focus your intentions and your progress.

These days a video chat with a therapist costs about $100. For just $99, you will get a series of 12 videos, all of which you will gain something helpful from. Your Sun and rising signs will be the ones to go to first, though Aries and Aquarius are the reference readings for this series. [The price for all 12 will go up to $111 very soon.]

These are readings that call for multiple viewings, and which will be worth watching again in six months.

You can get all 12 signs of The Story of I AM as one purchase per household — you may share with loved ones and intimate partners if you think the work will benefit them. Alternatively, you may choose your individual signs.

Thank you for your business, and for trusting me as your astrologer.

With love,
PS — This reading is included with the Backstage Pass.

Here are free five-minute reading samples for each sign:


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Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscope for September was published on Wednesday, Sept. 2. We published your extended monthly horoscope for August on Monday, August 3. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope after the Sun has entered a new sign.

Planet Waves

Chart for MN-244 horoscope below. The chart is set for Mercury opposite Chiron.
Monday Evening Horoscope #244 for Sept. 7, 2020 | By Eric Francis Coppolino


Aries (March 20-April 19) — Mars retrograde officially begins Wednesday, though you’re probably familiar with the personal material that this transit will bring up. That Mars will track backwards in your sign describes both retrieval of past events, and also the opportunity to reconcile with them. This is not the kind of thing that happens overnight. If subject matter emerges, such as family issues, or past situations in relationships, it’s safe to assume that truly getting a sense of what’s happening, and making progress working it out, will last into January, when Mars finally leaves Aries and enters Taurus. I suggest you take a positive approach to this. You are being afforded an opportunity to sort out a topic that has long challenged your ability to solve it. One way that it’s interfered with your life is your career progress, particularly in leadership roles, where you have often clashed with people in positions of authority. Take the issues slowly and thoughtfully as they arise. Recognize the benefit of looking at issues from different points of view.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Aries preview video


Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Pay attention to what irritates, annoys or frightens you, and you will gain leverage over those problems. What has long been invisible or lurking outside your awareness will come to the surface, increasingly so as Mars retrograde continues into Scorpio season (it begins Sept. 9 and ends Nov. 13). One of the benefits for you is getting a closer look at what kinds of underlying material make it difficult for you to relate to others. You think of certain elements of your personality as fixed objects, when in truth they are no such thing. It’s only your ideas about them that create the illusion of fixity, and ideas are the easiest thing in the world to change. Or at least they are in theory. You can go a long way by asking yourself, “What do I really want from this situation?” any time the least hint of conflict arises. This, by the way, is training from A Course in Miracles, which suggests asking this all the time, whether what’s happening seems negative or positive. You may not always get what you want, though wanting that outcome is one of the most dependable indicators of whether it will happen.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Taurus preview video


Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Among retrogrades, Mercury gets all the press. Thanks to the internet, these days just about everyone has heard of it, compared to approximately 0.2% of people in 1980 (astrologers, their clients and anyone who read Secrets from a Stargazer’s Notebook). One is coming up in about a month, though this week Mars stations retrograde in one of the most interesting angles of your solar chart: the place where you relate to the public. You might not feel like the flavor of the month under this transit, though there is power in unpopularity. One of the gifts it affords is the ability to be yourself at all times, while learning to be at peace with yourself. For you, that would count as an important life lesson: you don’t have to be everyone’s friend, nor must they be yours. Honesty is a much better policy, and that will lead to some friction with some people. You don’t have to go looking for it, nor provoke anyone; rather, this is about how you work with social tensions when they arise. ‘Tis better to stand your ground than compromise your integrity.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Gemini preview video


Cancer (June 21-July 22) — This year, Mars is spending six months in the career angle of your solar chart, which is covered by the sign Aries. There is an excellent chance that this is bringing out your most aspirational self. There is something worth reaching for, and that something is who you want to become. Remember this personal element supersedes what you want to accomplish. Who is always more important than what. The content of your life is meaningful, though not nearly so much as your way of life and, in particular, your way of leadership. What is crucial now is that you fully engage your inner authority. This is the thing you want. The Human Design system describes this beautifully: “The inner intelligence that enables us to know whether a decision is correct for us or not is called Inner Authority. It is as though each of our bodies possesses an inner compass or device that reveals whether something is a healthy and fulfilling use of our energy, or not. Our Inner Authority is a body-based knowing that precedes the cognition of the mind, and thus accessing it requires us to become more embodied and to listen better to our bodies.”

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Cancer preview video


Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — The spiritual quest begins and ends right where you are today. You need not search to the ends of the Earth, visit the Great Pyramid or spend seven years in Tibet. You are who you are. You are exactly as enlightened as you want to be. Yet often two things stand in the way. One is hangovers from the past that seem to snag us on a level of awareness or experience that is unpleasant. This could include emotional difficulty or being with a person you know is not right for you. The other is embodying your ideas and your ideals: actually living in the world of people and events you hold to be true, or want to be true. This has proven to be a vexing problem for even some of the greatest minds. Combined, these issues are why so many people have such a challenging time growing, living their truth, speaking their truth, or even acknowledging what they want. You know what is right for you, even if you try to talk yourself out of it. You know what is true, even if it seems easier to live with what is untrue. If you feel so inclined, you might test that one out.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Leo preview video


Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — To what extent do you base your identity on your involvement with other people? Whatever you may think the answer to that question is, you are about to find out. Mars retrograde the next two months takes place in a sensitive area of your solar chart, where you merge your identity with others in relationships. Often this involves finances, which is part of what makes relationships so challenging to adjust when you are not happy in them. What would you do if you were financially independent of any other person? How would you conduct your life? What decisions would you make that you could not make today? It’s possible that you’ve already started moving in this direction, or if you’re older and wiser, you’ve figured out that where you need to be is responsible to yourself. Mars retrograde in Aries will not necessarily help you resolve these matters all at once. However, you will notice points of adjustment that need to be put on an agenda and worked with consciously and regularly. In the coming weeks, motivation to do so will be in abundance.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Virgo preview video


Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Peace and harmony are not all they’re cracked up to be, especially if you have to suppress your feelings to keep the calm. Or, if you need others to do so. For the next couple of months, you may notice that people are hanging a little more loose than usual: a little more blunt, and wearing their inner conflict on their sleeve. You don’t like to exist in this kind of environment; you prefer a world where everyone is polite and does the right thing. Yet this can be like suppressing forest fires for decades on end. When they get going, they really get going. So think of what occurs as a controlled burn. Let go of some of your attachment to the status quo, and participate in the world where feelings are out in the open. You do need to know where you stand with people, and you need to know who they actually are. This would take you beyond your projections and expectations, and also beyond the public relations efforts that so dominate the social world in which we live. A little grit is good for the digestion.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Libra preview video


Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The retrograde of your ruling planet Mars will help you analyze your sense of mission, purpose and most valuable service. But more to the point, you will benefit most from noticing how you feel about the purpose you express and the work that you do. You have some time to make an assessment, though you will probably have all the data you need by the end of the week. With the rest of the Mars retrograde you can either collect data to refute your theory, or gather the courage to make a decision, or you may go into planning and action mode. It is unlikely, though, that you will have much leeway in whatever determination you come to: your experience related to your purpose will be undeniable. Yet we live in a world where denial often rules the day. Sooner or later, one wakes up. Mars will challenge you to both find and express your will; to be honest about your desire. That is the challenge, and it’s going to come on full force, particularly over the next four weeks. Be prepared.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Scorpio preview video


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Mars retrograde begins this week, and it ends in mid-November at another point of culmination — the conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto. This adds urgency and emphasis onto the primary theme of the retrograde, which is you making contact deeply enough with yourself to actually stay there for a while. There are perils to this journey; the real courage required is what it takes to fully engage your interior being. You contain all the actual mysteries of life. The physical world around you, the galaxies and stars of many kinds, are much easier to decipher than the spiral into eternity within you. This could hold to the degree where you avoid your inner realm entirely, and instead only pursue what is interesting in your outer environment. That might work for you, though: sooner or later you will stumble upon what you contain, and be deeply grateful that you did. You will discover the truth of who you are. Given the relatively short duration of physical life, I would propose that sooner is better than later.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Sagittarius preview video


Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Tribes tend to own the identities of their individual members. The family is the first tribe, and for you the dominant theme of Mars retrograde is to claim your identity back from your family. Through the time that Chiron has been in Aries (starting in the spring of 2018), you’ve been getting rumblings of this, which have intensified since July. You might, however, be wondering in what ways who you are is in any way owned, controlled or subverted by your relatives or your tribe. There is only one way to find that out, which is to push the limits. You tend to be the law-abiding type, though some things that claim to be are not really laws, and they need to be pushed — especially if you want to go in that direction naturally. There is an essential element of conflict and of challenging authority. It can take strength to find the words, though it is fair to say to others, “You do not get to hold that limit over me.” To the degree that you are holding limits over yourself, the thing you must challenge is your own fear.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Capricorn preview video


Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — In order to change your mind, you would need to know when you are not doing so. You would also need to be willing to change personally, since changing your mind means changing yourself. With Jupiter, Saturn and ultimately Pluto entering your sign, that’s going to happen one way or another. The variables are the extent to which your vision is included in the changes you go through, and how much energy you put into resisting your own evolution. Neither is a small matter. Without your vision, your life is less likely to resemble something you actually want. If you resist your own will, you can snap some element of your personal structure in a way that will be difficult or impossible to repair, and precious time will be lost. Your opportunity during Mars retrograde is to conduct a review of all that you believe, and identify its basis. Belief in this case means what you think you know, and that usually means what you assume. You can see how vague this can all get. There is nothing vague or obscure about the truth once you encounter it.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Aquarius preview video


Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Look for the people with whom you agree on the level of your values. That means what actually matters to you in the deepest areas of life. It also includes whether one actually expresses them in meaningful ways, rather than holding them as secrets or as hidden ideals. Nothing less can be called “authentic,” which means “acting on one’s own authority.” This is sensitive territory, because that can involve asserting oneself against social norms, patterns, opinions and even laws. It’s also sensitive territory when doing what one is told is made to seem so normal — even and especially if it requires self-deception. The place to start (or continue) unraveling this is to be real with yourself, hour to hour, day to day, and person to person. You know some of the ways in which you violate your own principles. You can assume there are others. You know you’re more likely to do this under some circumstances than others. Make a note of what those are.

Story of I AM: All 12 signs | Choose your signs | Pisces preview video

For the Faithful — How deep is your commitment to truth? How do you even measure that? One way to recognize your truth is to ask yourself what you want from any situation, or from any person, and to make thoughtful note of that. What you want is what you want; you may compromise but that does not change your underlying intent or desire. Another measure is that of the small lies you are willing to tell — the ones that are social niceties, or to not rock the boat, or because you fear how someone will feel about you. Fear of being rejected, of seeming worthless, and of being abandoned by society exist close to the deepest existential level, and it is here that many need to challenge themselves and do some exploring. To do this, it is necessary to go to uncomfortable spaces. And it is necessary to have spiritual assistance or intervention, which comes from deep within yourself but is not “you” as you currently think of the concept. As has been written, “You cannot be your guide to miracles, for it is you who made them necessary.”

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