Three (or Four) Takes on Mars Retrograde

Dear Planet Waves Subscriber:

We’re now well into Mars retrograde; our closest planetary neighbor stations direct in about a month, on March 10 in the first degree of Leo. It then spends the next three months working its way back across that sign. That’s how Mars works; due to its retrograde, it spends up to seven months in one sign, then covers the other 11 signs in about 17 months.

Artist’s conception of the Phoenix Lander arriving at Mars. Credit & copyright: MAAS Digital, SVV Project, NASA.

This prolonged experience ought to be giving us something to consider. I keep working through the themes of the current Mars retrograde, of which I have several for you today, but I would like to comment for a moment about repressed anger. Mars is a planet associated with anger, and the retrograde turns it inward.

As I write, a company called AIG is handing out $100 million in bonuses to its executives and employees. This company still owes the taxpayers $182 billion for various rescue packages, which we could classify as the result of some serious management incompetence. We were told in late 2008 that if AIG went under, it could take the global economy with it, and people actually believed this lie. That kind of conduct, hardly worthy of reward, they all get checks. Note, this is business as usual for capitalism. We just happen to be hearing about it now.

While we’re being told that the public and those in Congress are angry about this, where, exactly is the rage? Where is the action, the resistance, the moral indignation? Stuffed inside us, is where. Part of why we may be afraid to let it out is that once we start, we may not know when it’s going to end. There’s so much to be angry about. But one way or another we’re going to have to process that rage, or it will eventually have its way with us. Meanwhile, we are free to camp out in our anger.

Yet one problem with repressed anger is that it jams our circuits, keeping us in a stupor. Anger serves to block much else we might otherwise feel — all the other forms of passion, pathos and curiosity associated with Mars, and in this respect it can be useful to those intent on not living fully.

A Long Retrograde in Leo

Mars is retrograde second least of all the planets, about 10% of the time. But the months before and after the retrograde itself count as part of the process. In broad terms, I am counting the whole time Mars is in Leo as being associated with this event. Arrived in Leo on Oct. 16 and leaves Leo on June 7, right before one of the most significant astrological events in several generations: Jupiter conjunct Uranus on the Aries Point.

This is a time-lapse image of a recent Mars retrograde (in 2005), as seen from Earth. The effect is created by the Earth going past Mars, which has a slower orbit. Credit & copyright: Tunc Tezel.

Both events are connected by the common element of fire; and of Mars, which is the planet most often associated with Aries. Think of it this way: all winter long we are experiencing Mars tracking backwards (meaning, the Earth is going past it), which is like a windup of all that Martian-Aries energy.

Then within days of Mars leaving the sign where it was retrograde (ingressing from Leo to Virgo), there is, well, there’s a kind of explosion in Aries: one that’s going to make this a truly interesting spring; a season to remember; a kind of awakening. But we’re not there yet, not collectively. We’re still in the prep phase of Mars retrograde, gathering up all that Leo energy, pulling back the slingshot; and Mars is about to get mixed up with some slow- moving planets. One way to look at this is that Mars retrograde is jumping into the conversation that is currently underway between Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. Let’s come back to that one last.

First Theory of Mars Rx In Leo: Contacting Desire

One of the ideas that kept coming through again and again during the writing of Cosmic Confidential is that Mars retrograde in Leo is about contacting authentic desire. Retrogrades have a few common properties: inwardly directed, oriented on a review, and revealing of the shadow properties of the energies involved. As regards desire, particularly sexual desire, we live in the land of shadows these days, wherein denial and hypocrisy are causing many psychic disturbances and contributing to a general state of frustration.

NASA image of Mars, showing the atmosphere.

Mars represents drive and the motivation for action; Leo represents the heart, passion and creative impulse. So we have a story here about finding one’s heart’s desire. This is a vital part of enlightenment, as far as I can tell. I recognize that the Buddhists have given desire a bad name, saying it’s the root of all suffering. However, most of us here in the West are not on a path of renunciation, and even if we were, that would not work unless it was our heart’s desire.

On its face, this would seem to be a philosophy of selfishness that defies any sense of collaboration or community. However, we have a much more serious problem in our society caused by people who have no idea what they want; or they have a vague idea when they need a clear idea, in order to make that happen. Being out of contact with one’s desires is a good way to be misled. This condition helps explain why so many people end up with so much that they don’t really want.

Here’s where it makes sense to look at the shadow side of desire, which is guilt. Guilt is basically a way of life in a repressive society, and there are few desires that we don’t associate with guilt. For many people, every bite of food, stopping somewhere on the way home from work or doing anything fun (such as admitting or acting on a sexual desire), are all associated with guilt.

We may cast ourselves as selfish people, and recognize the arrogance and self-centered quality of the Western world. It seems like nobody can have a big enough truck. Yet this to me is all about a reaction against being stalked by the shadow of guilt. We tend to be attacked by that guilt when we want something that is different than what we were told or conditioned to want.

Leo, like any fire sign, is about taking risks. To have that spark of individual, inner, actual personal desire, we must gamble something. There is a lot about sex in this transit: about understanding ourselves sexually. There are few opportunities more poignant to be ourselves than when sex is a factor; and part of that being oneself involves both knowing what you want, stating what you want, and standing in your desire and availability with self-affirmation and without guilt. This mainly requires one thing: self-knowledge, which is almost always based on courage and necessity.

We spend so much time and energy worrying about who we might offend with our desires that we rarely get so far as to figure out what they are.

Second Theory: Busting out of Conformity

Leo is opposite Aquarius. These two make an interesting pair, having lots to do with the intersection of the individual and the collective: that is, the many places in astrology where I becomes We. If that we is any form of social group, its rules can be harsh and in many cases not openly stated. Many of those rules set a low tolerance for individuality and the expression of curiosity, no matter how ‘progressive’ the social group in question may fancy itself being.

Operating on martian time, the Spirit rover sent back this color postcard image, recorded on Sol 5 of its stay on the martian surface, which looks eerily like an Earth desert. This was in 2004. Photo by Mars Rover Mission, JPL and NASA.

Leo describes a special kind of individuality: it’s expressive in a way that Aries only begins. Aries is the point of initiation and Leo is the point of more mature, creative, stable expression. True, Leo is associated with kids, though the Sun (which rules Leo) is associated with adults and expressing adult power. Those who devote themselves to creative process need to be in contact with both the adult and the child aspects of Leo at the same time: the child for curiosity and inspiration, and the adult for guidance and boundaries. This is not so easy for most people, who tend to be in parent/child mode: for example, needing to be told what to do, feeling powerless or over-controlling, or being unable to handle their whims.

Aquarius presents another aspect of the challenge. This sign represents the psychological tension between an individual and a group; or an idea supported by a group. Aquarius is the sign of individuality, and also the sign of rigid conformity, often to the notions of people who have unusual influence. It reminds me a little of the Army, which sells itself as elite and individualistic, but it’s really about doing exactly what you’re told. To break out of that takes self-awareness and a deep, soul-felt desire to individuate.

Nobody is advertising that product these days. Our current social language lacks the words and phrases for this process of becoming an individual; it used to be called self-actualization, individuation or waking up.

Today we think of it as having your iPhone set up perfectly. We think of it as knowing exactly what kind of Honest Tea you like best. Marketing culture has in many ways ruled the Western world since the 1960s, but it’s never been this bad; we have never had our minds colonized with so many contradictory messages to conform.

We do not recognize this as the psychological abuse that it is. In fact, most of us see it as a benefit, because as long as we play along, then in theory we don’t have to worry about what we might really want, or the consequences of not snapping into line. The current conjunction of the Sun and Nessus speaks of this collective abuse of individuals and individuality by various collective forces. Do these forces con us into being thought for, or do we willingly give up our power? Well, it’s a lot of both.

Mars retrograde is an impulse to reach inside for one’s own desires, needs and creative impulses regardless of what others might say, think or make a drama out of. It is an opportunity to be conscious of your tendencies to play along with the game the crowd is playing, and make another choice. Yes, there is a risk involved, but most of it is in your mind. Most of the risk that is not in your mind involves how to deal with hypocrisy; that begins by being aware of it when you see it.

Third Theory: Getting Involved in Something Larger

Now we can look at the exact aspects Mars is about to make to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. Mars is a personal planet. For the next several months, Mars will be making contact with Saturn and Pluto, which are transpersonal in nature; and for a brief while, Jupiter will be in the mix. Saturn and Pluto are dancing around the Aries Point, which is another transpersonal kind of thing, connecting individuals to much larger processes. Unlike Aquarius, which does basically the same thing only it’s full of psychic tension, the Aries Point comes bursting into your life one day.

A massive canyon on Mars, dwarfing the Grand Canyon on Earth, resembles a vulva, interesting for the planet we use to define maleness. Photo by NASA.

So what could this mean? I think it’s about getting over ourselves. There are so many factors that isolate us in our era, most of them psychological, many of them how we use technology, that the isolation itself has become invisible. We don’t question what it means to be slaves to our anxieties, our habits, our insistence on perfection.

In the Taurus chapter of Cosmic Confidential, I described something I called defensive individualism. Here’s how I phrased it:

Being who you are is in truth not about defending yourself over what you might not be; it’s about a positive, direct expression of your existence. Someone can define themselves as a vegetarian; but the question is, what do they eat? Someone can define themselves as ‘not religious’, but the question is, what values do they espouse?

So the question is for you: how do you want to participate in society, as an affirmative statement? I think you actually do know. In fact I think that knowingness is so intense as to be burning up your mind, and causing you to reconsider your whole life to allow it to happen. Yet it may be scaring the bejesus out of you.

Yep: there is plenty in this Mars retrograde about dancing with fear. It looks like the fear of existence, which is a strange thing because it’s really all we have.

And how about that?

Yours & truly,

Updates daily at Planet Waves and Cosmic Confidential Diary.



By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

You don’t have to wait for it anymore. Change is here. It’s happening in you, me, us. Even as our reptilian brain — that ancient portion of us that handles emergencies related to survival — responds to the difficult twists and turns of our current sociopolitical circumstances, there’s something quite unique bubbling in our Higher Minds. If someone asked you how to close out an Era, how to prepare yourself for a leap in consciousness and recreate your essential humanity while rattling around in the chaos of structural dissolution, you would probably just stare at them, wide-eyed and speechless. And so it is these days, when people ask us what we think. We aren’t sure, and that’s because we aren’t thinking; we’re feeling our way through this.

Harvester of Open Minds. Artwork by Ariel Brierly.

Some of us are denying those feelings of something unprecedented occurring, hoping that everything will go back to normal eventually. Others are exploring the emotions, allowing them to pass through the landscape of our minds, giving us the opportunity to separate what’s valuable while discarding the old paradigm baggage that has kept us in place so long. This thing that’s going on is organic, aligned with galactic forces, cosmic imperatives and planetary necessity. It’s both creative and destructive, summoning the energy of the Hindu goddess Kali, the Dark Mother of Time that slays the ego with reality. It’s inexplicable and exhausting. It’s simultaneously frightening and exhilarating, pushing us forward even as it seems to be pulling us backward. It’s the last step before the first step. It’s a dimensional doorway.

Again and again, over these last months, I’ve read channeling that pronounces this magnificent experiment within our own hands, within our own minds, as co-creators of an unknown future. Much like self-fulfilling prophecy, this will be what we decide it will be, both in the collective and in our own personal experience. The conundrum of facing so great a challenge as a Shift of Ages while we feel the most fragile and helpless contains the seeds of the consciousness we seek. This would not be on our plates if we didn’t have the ability to meet it squarely, so even if we don’t feel prepared we must assure ourselves that confidence is somewhere within us, waiting to be found. Yet many of us stand at this transitional crossroads, turning our attention to endings rather than beginnings, to strategies for the short-term rather than visions for the long-term. We must begin to trust not only the intuitive wisdom we’ve brought into this lifetime but also the clues that are continually being fed into the public consciousness, like little sparks of Light.

Continued at this link…

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, February 5, 2010, #803 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Avoid public dramas if you can, which may mean staying out of public places, or at least choosing from among places that qualify as friendly territory. Inside your home is going to be the best bet. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your own tendency to be temperamental when you’re under stress; if you can do that, you’ll have a significant advantage when you’re in tense environments, if you cannot avoid them. Meanwhile, a partner or significant other may be more emotionally sensitive than you’re aware of, or even than he or she is aware of. He or she may mirror back to you some of your own inner struggle. Significant similarities exist between what you’ve been through and your response to those experiences; and there are significant differences as well. Be mindful of both.

Regarding a professional matter, there seem to be two possible choices, but really there are two mental outlooks you can apply to the situation. One is about how most matters of ‘personal expression’ are not so personal. Often, they are about patterns that were set in motion long before we showed up on the planet. The second involves the feeling of extreme vulnerability that can manifest when you make a choice that actually does set you in the direction of what you want, and what serves you — or even when you step up to the commitment to do so. Be aware that you exist in a mental environment first, and an ‘economy’ or ‘society’ second. Your frame of mind is nearly enough to determine the outcome you want — if you know what that is.

You’re coming around to a new approach to a contract or agreement that’s been driving you mad in recent months. Your updated thought process could have a significant influence on a creative project or professional situation, particularly if an investment of some kind is involved. Yet once it gets dark out and the Moon comes up, don’t forget your other agenda — getting some of, more of, or all of the sex you want. Was that some kind of New Year’s resolution? If not, I suggest you add it to your list of the necessities of life, not the luxuries or ‘distractions’. I would add a reminder: sex happens in the context of relationships, which are based on agreements. A negotiation process is involved, which involves stating what you want and dealing directly with the response.

The answer is not to detach from your feelings, but rather to go deeply into them. You have an excellent grasp of how you feel on an intellectual level, yet there is an aspect of this situation that is showing no mercy. In the minds of most, that is not an invitation to be more vulnerable, but rather a cue to be more aloof. Remember, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, and the last I heard, sensitivity was neither an Olympic sport nor a commodity traded on the Nasdaq. You can start with being aware of what you feel, and your ideas will give you a good idea where to begin. A creative outlet of some kind will guide you deeper into yourself, and that’s the place you’re going to find refuge, release and the sense of connection that you seek.

Your environment is hypersensitive and potentially over-reactive. Nobody feels like they can do anything right, though you’re the one who is able to sense that this is not as much a personal issue about any one person as it is about the state of the world. I suggest you keep a clear eye on the psychological patterns that do so much harm to so many, and be the one who guides the people around you out of them. You’re the one who is aware, so you have the first advantage here. This cannot be addressed on a superficial level; somebody has to ask the real questions, if anyone wants the real answers. You can go a long way if you start there. The planets suggest that at the moment people are susceptible to old personal material, so old they may have discarded it as irrelevant long ago.

Take off the mental stress; this is one of those phases when it could have a significant physical impact. If you can ratchet down a few levels, you’re likely to find yourself in a place of profound understanding that could influence the decisions you make. To be sure, you make different kinds of choices depending on your frame of mind at the time you’re making your decision. I suggest you take your time with something you’ve been working out since December. Put your emphasis on settling your restless nature a bit, and letting some of the emotional charge dissipate. You keep telling yourself you can keep your cool, but this is a question of layers. As each one of them comes off you will make a new discovery about yourself and what is important to you now, rather than in the past.

One of the great obvious mysteries is what sexual experience has to do with creative experience. The simple way to explain it is they wake one another up. Sex creates more than babies; it creates awareness. Art creates consciousness, not just works on paper. What they both have in common is that they require a willingness not only to have life be ‘nice’ but to delve into a world of light and dark, fear and passion. Both sex and art involve transmuting taboo emotions into something that is creative or pleasurable. If that is the working concept, then you can regard all feelings as healthy, normal or acceptable. Most pain comes from judging feelings; it’s one thing to feel shame and it’s another to say it’s bad. Or pleasure; or love; or the craving for emotional freedom that would open the way to any or all of them.

Mars has reached a point in its retrograde where it’s aspecting the Saturn-Pluto square. Jupiter is also involved; so we are adding some energy to the equation, and some inspiration. Oh! That stuff. There is only so inspired you can be on a backwards, uphill run. Yet certain developments suggest that you may suddenly remember why you’re on this journey, and why you committed to making the changes that you once feared were inevitable: only now they seem more welcome. The soul aspect of Pluto is coming out in this arrangement, rather than just the obsession/compulsion aspect. So too is the attribute of Saturn that says it’s easier to get what you want when you know what it is, and when you set goals, and when you set limits.

You’re getting to the heart of a thought process that’s been lingering like a fog for more than a year. Suddenly you seem to feel the promise of clarity, rather than just a question. But I would ask: is the issue clearer, or are you feeling better for other reasons and looking at it with greater clarity? Maybe this is a chicken and egg kind of question, though in that particular riddle, what is missing is the awareness of a point of origin, or of a much earlier timeframe. I suggest you take this opportunity to go back in time and get a look at the actual roots of your situation. Not incidentally, this is the aspect of any personal growth situation that most of us are trained to avoid looking at, and it’s usually the aspect that grants the greatest sense of strength.

This is a moment of significant contact, though it may feel like an inconvenient kind of good fortune. Here is the thing to remember: your friends can help you, and you can help them. You certainly seem to have professional matters on your mind, and you may be wondering whether you’re making progress toward building your house, or just making more sawdust. That matters less than making sure the community that helped create you, and that you helped create, gets some of your attention. Professional contacts and success are one thing; helping weave the world is another. You are part of a network of light, and if you turn your energy in that direction some of it will shine right back on you.

This may be a really strange few days to be an Aquarius. You tend to live with one foot in the dreamtime; abstraction is as real to you as scrambled eggs for breakfast. Yet you’ve been experiencing something unusual: in mundane terms, a sense of purpose, combined with a sense of potential, combined with a deep questioning of why either of these things matter. They may not; that is for you to decide, and the good news is that you have a sense of your own depth that would give you access to some real information. You may at this point in your life be discovering how personal meaning really is. You are the only one who gets to determine or decide on the relevance of your feelings, your experiences or your perceptions.

It’s as if your world has been strung with a ray of light, on which anything can pivot: fate, fortune, love, existence itself. You are standing in the place from which you can go anywhere. Now the question is, where do you want to go? Imagine for a moment that past commitments don’t matter; all that matters is what you want, in this moment. What, where, and who would that be? If this is the question you avoid, forget about why, and embrace it now. Likelihood is irrelevant; the cosmos has moved into one of those rare moments of long odds opening up. If something is standing in the way of your faith, go around it. If something is standing in the way of action, summon your will and allow your small volition to merge with something far greater.

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