And no one sings me lullabies / And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide / And call to you across the sky
Dear Friend and Reader:
Mars is now retrograde in Aries for the first time since the summer of 1988. This will take some getting used to; give yourself time to adapt, and to express and explore the qualities of Mars inwardly, as opposed to the usual way, which is outwardly.
You might think of Mars retrograde as a time to figure out what you want. This is the most important thing you can know about yourself. What you want is your actual intent, whether you recognize that or not. If we invert that, this is also a time to figure out what you’re angry about.
Both anger and desire are taboo subjects. They are usually cloaked in some degree of denial. For many, a good bit of denial is used to keep desire and anger behind a scrim. It is a crude defense, though in some ways it serves its purpose: to insulate the mind against what might threaten one’s concept of seeming reality. Be on notice every time you hear yourself think or say some form of the idea, “I refuse to believe…” That is a veil.
Speaking of: we need to remember at all times that Neptune is in Pisces. I know, it’s easy to forget. Yet this factor alone is responsible for considerable distortion. It’s as if we live under a condition of parallel worlds, where contradictory things can be true at the same time. I wrote about that during simpler times, back in February.
Neptune in Pisces is a reminder that we are all dreaming this dream together. The world we live in is maya. The laws of space and time bend and flex. Mostly, we are subject to our own imagination, for good or ill.
We are on notice many times over that the entire world of digital is a mirage. Anything that happens in the digital sphere is an illusion made of zeros and ones. We give it all the power it has. When we withdraw our attention, we numb out and go cold. In many ways the current condition of the world offers the temptation to go back to sleepy time. However, it is time to wake up. Mars retrograde is a wakeup call.
Mars is Close to the Earth Right Now
First a little tech: Mars moves in retrograde motion for 72 days every 25.6 months. The current retrograde will extend through Nov. 13, encompassing the election and some of its aftermath. As regards the election, that also occurs during Mercury retrograde.
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 rarely in Aquarius or Capricorn, and only occasionally in Aries, Taurus and Pisces.
A Mars retrograde occurs when the Earth, which moves faster than Mars, passes between Mars and the Sun. All retrogrades have one thing in common: the Earth is closer to the retrograde planet than at other times.
This also 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 the same direction, but the slower one seems to be travelling 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.
It is not an illusion in the sense that the relative motion described is real, even though nothing is moving backwards.
There are a wide diversity of opinions as to what retrogrades mean. If you are new to reading charts and trying to figure out what one is about, I suggest you not push the matter, but rather note the fact of the retrograde and set it aside for future consideration. You will need to do that with many things in the chart. Reading astrology takes patience. In sum, retrograde planets will represent a point of special focus.
There is no literal interpretation to any astrological factor. All astrological meaning is figurative. This is a clue to the deeper idea that all meaning is figurative; symbols, such as the ones you are reading now, are metaphors. However, language does have a literal level. In astrology, an example of a literal statement we have is, “The Sun is now in Virgo,” or “Mars is now retrograde.” Every other kind of statement depends upon inference and interpretation.
Retrograde planets suggest a few possible topics. Generally, they are references to the past. You can think of them as indicators of the need for review. They suggest looking to the past for information about that topic, or pertain to an event or past condition. They can represent stuck points or hang-ups. They can represent latent talents and energies seeking to be expressed.
Some say they describe past life conditions or carryovers, though I am guarded about such interpretations as they cannot be verified in the same way that present-life conditions can be. I am not denying they exist, though I have careful guidelines for sussing out past life material with clients that I will share in another article. In any form of healing work, speculation is dangerous.
In seeking an understanding of retrogrades in your chart, I suggest you study your early life, and your relationships with your parents and other caregivers and see if you can do some matching. My favorite key to using retrogrades comes from Martha Lang Wescott, a Uranian astrologer who is also a master of the asteroids.
She suggested that retrograde planets represent talents, abilities and awareness that were turned off during childhood so as not to threaten our parents. They can represent things gone missing, though really, they are hidden — from ourselves. I explore that and other theories in this post on retrogrades I wrote back in the day for Jonathan Cainer’s website.
Retrograde of Mars: Aggression, Guilt, Victim Consciousness
With Mars retrograde, the issues of Mars are turned inward. Mars represents assertiveness, will, determination and aggression. All of these are issues in our society. We have Mars issues here in the “free world” where people have very little freedom.
We see aggression and rage, and anger management issues. People have very little idea how to actually handle or express anger, so it tends to simmer and seethe. One form of old anger is resentment. Resentment also covers old pain and regret. When this is expressed outward, it comes off as bitterness toward others. When it’s turned inward, that is guilt.
Fritz and Laura Perls, early pioneers of Gestalt Therapy, taught that guilt is resentment turned against itself. Generally speaking, children, being the powerful yet powerless critters they are, take upon themselves the notion of “fault and blame.” They cannot imagine adults (who are personifications of the gods and goddesses) making an error. If they do, it’s still the “fault” of the child. Adults play into this and blame kids for all kinds of things they have nothing to do with. Yet kids pick right up on the approach.
“If only I would’ve done this or that, daddy wouldn’t hit me.” Or, “If I was quieter, mommy wouldn’t drink.” And so on. Since they are at “fault,” they are “guilty,” and since they cannot rage against the adults very successfully or have a real impact on the direction of events, they turn the resentment at being pruned, modified, corrected, disciplined, strongly directed, or dictated to, back at and onto themselves.
This is not just a childhood experience. It is a childhood emotional pattern, encrypted into the memory-keeping facility of the brain, that is carried into adulthood. For this and other reasons, past injuries can seem to exist in the present as if they happened an hour ago. Situations where it is wholly inappropriate to feel resentment or guilt can be translated through these filters and seem to be something they are not — and the result can be poisonous. The one poisoned is the one feeling the guilt and resentment.
The central illusion of guilt is that it is evidence of having done something wrong. In rare cases that is true. I said rare. Nearly all the time, it’s a control device used by someone who wants you to feel like you’ve done something wrong, so they can keep a grip on you. But then it is internalized, and the same device is used by people as an attempted self-control measure. In almost all cases, guilt fails at doing anything except making one feel guilty.
It also creates something else dangerous: victim consciousness. The sum total of all the guilt and fear in our minds and that surrounds us is the sensation of being a victim. It can be convincing. Very early on in A Course in Miracles is the teaching “I am not the victim of the world I see.”
Encountering Abuse Legacy
As I described in Monday’s edition, Mars will make retrograde aspects to a group of planets in Capricorn — the same ones that symbolize what is going on in society right now and has been for many years. Yet those events broke open on the day of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction on Jan. 12, the day that China released the PCR sequences for an allegedly novel virus. That happened on the very day of the one-time-only conjunction.
Capricorn activity also includes the Jupiter-Pluto series of conjunctions which concludes in November, just as Mars retrograde ends. As of today (and for the past few months) these points have all been retrograde, representing all kinds of encrypted, hidden Capricorn material.
On the mundane level, this is the smoke-filled room where all the secrets of corporations, governments and non-governmental organizations are being kept. Oh to read the memos and emails that are flying around behind the scenes! Some of that is starting to leak out. In the next two months, we are likely to see much more emerge. However, public incredulity will make sure that only a few people actually have a good look.
What all that Capricorn also represents is family legacy. There are so many people dragging around what they think of as the weight of their past. Most of that is guilt, though it seems to take other forms. For example, when guilt becomes unbearable, it is almost always projected as attack (this is a central concept in A Course in Miracles).
If we think of Mars retrograde as a quest for self-actualization, consider what it does: makes a series of squares, by retrograde, to all those planets. Think of Mars as “knocking” on them, with some energy, and the energy is the deep drive for realizing one’s being. Though people try to resist, it is a kind of unstoppable force.
One by one the contacts from Mars will shake them up. The square is an action aspect, though the direction of movement is internal, and then external. The squares are likely to manifest first as pain and frustration; as guilt and resentment in their many forms; and as anger or even rage. These feelings are the invitation to work out these feelings and the underlying material they represent. Think of Mars as offering the leverage to crack through the emotional and karmic crust covering the deeper stuff you want to get at. Remember your motivation: TO BE WHOLE AND FEEL BETTER.
This is a very important time to do self-development work! Astrology has a helpful map: one side of the equation is the self-actualization impulse of Mars, which is notably going to be conjunct Eris (a calling to reassemble yourself).
The Mars retrograde is providing exceptional opportunities to improve your life and claim back your power. You will have leverage where before, you seemed to have none. Please take advantage of this.
PS — I reveal much about this astrology in the September monthly horoscope, as well as the latest Monday horoscope. In addition to The Story of I AM, I have two videos — an introduction to the I AM readings and to Mars retrograde, and a new Planet Waves TV that I recorded on Wednesday.
PPS — The other week I asked you to suggest your own “alternatives to therapy.” Several readers responded with their ideas. Here is the link.
Get instant access now | The Story of I AM — 2020 Autumn Reading
Mars retrograde in Aries is the final transition, the emotional, psychological and experiential bridge, to the last event of 2020: Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aquarius. Mars retrograde represents the work of individuation and of self-actualization that will make the group experience in Aquarius more relevant and more easily workable.
Borrowing a line from Lou Reed, “Self-knowledge is a dangerous thing — the freedom of who you are.” Dangerous perhaps to a way of life that involves allowing yourself to disappear and be insignificant. Mars retrograde in Aries invites boldness and embodiment and the exploration of your will. Order here for instant access, or choose your individual signs here.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”