Mars retrograde

Mars goes retrograde 2016: What it means for you

Mars retrograde 2016The planet Mars is essentially the driver of the psyche.  Mars energizes us, motivates us, inspires desire and want and need.  Mars helps us to set boundaries and defend ourselves, it also gives us the chutzpah we need to go on the offensive where necessary.  If that primal instinct to need and defend is thwarted or blocked or oppressed, Mars can run amok into rage and violence so we often tend to be afraid of that instinct.

When I see a client whose Mars is powerful in the chart but it is blocked in some way, or perhaps affected by other planets which weaken its effect, they will often say “I never get angry because when I do I blow up and it frightens me.”  This is a signal that Mars needs to find expression in a healthy way.

Mars turns retrograde (meaning it appears to move backwards from our perspective on earth) every couple of years and like all retrograde cycles, retrograde Mars operates on a much more personal and intense level when retrograde.  Mars turned retrograde on April 17th, and until June 29th when it turns direct again we are likely to be much more aware of our inner frustrations and resentments.  It likely will be more difficult to assert ourselves and to express that urge into the outer world – Mars retrograde turns the focus within so that we can ultimately find greater personal expression of that primal urge to manifest desire and find our own independent way in the world.

Pluto turned retrograde at the same time as Mars, and because Pluto represents a higher octave energy of Mars there is parallel activity occurring here on both the personal and transpersonal levels.  Pluto is retrograde for six months every year so this is not as dramatic an occurrence as some articles may have led you to believe.  But the combination of Mars and Pluto stationary in the sky, beaming a laser of potent aggressive force, is a powerful one.

Mars is in freedom-loving Sagittarius now where it doesn’t appreciate being repressed and held back, which could heighten the sense of frustration.  Physical activity is always a great way to discharge built-up Mars energy and that is especially true in Sagittarius.  On April 28th Mercury will turn retrograde and that will make communication more difficult, potentially resulting in greater problems especially after May 28th when Mars retrogrades back into Scorpio and builds more power.

Remember that everyone is affected by these impulses, so the people around you are likely to exhibit frustration and rage and there is greater potential for conflict.  Mars energy can express itself in weird ways – those with difficulty expressing our anger and frustration can sometimes goad another into blowing up instead.  This is a good time to be thoughtful and conscious about how these energies operate in our lives so that they can be channeled effectively.

The key to getting the most from these planetary events is to pay close attention to your instincts and your desires and needs, and work to develop a clear strategy for achieving some sort of satisfaction and success.  Understand that the Mars-y energy is affecting everyone around the world, and remove yourself from situations that could become dangerous.

We will likely be frustrated in attempts to make anything happen between now and the end of June.  But we can certainly become more aware of the inner drives that motivate us and engage in positive actions to move forward in the direction of maximizing our potential for the ultimate achievement of those goals.

By | 2016-07-29T06:43:12+00:00 April 20th, 2016|Planetary cycles|13 Comments

Anger and heart disease

mars retrogradeConnections between anger and heart disease are nothing new, and a recent New York Times article announces that anger can set off a heart attack.

Researchers combined data from nine studies of anger outbursts among patients who had had heart attacks, strokes and related problems. Most of the studies used a widely accepted anger assessment scale; one depended on a questionnaire administered to patients.

They found that in the two hours after an outburst of anger, the relative risk of angina and heart attack increased by nearly five times, while the risk of ischemic stroke and cardiac arrhythmia increased by more than three times. The findings appeared in The European Heart Journal.

One might read this and decide that squelching one’s anger is the best way to ward off heart disease, and that concerns me.  I have a bit of a specialty in healing what I call “Mars problems” – issues in the astrological chart where Mars, the planet of desire and need, is afflicted in some way and unable to find its best expression.  What I have seen (and I have to add a big disclaimer here that I have no medical training and this is not to be construed as medical advice) is that when people have Mars problems in the chart they are often more prone to medical events.  (See this article for more information on that subject.)

All emotions hold energy – whether that emotion is fear or grief, or the continuum of Mars emotions which begins with frustration, moves through anger and eventually becomes rage.  When we try to avoid feeling an emotion that begins within us, the energy of that emotion lacks an outlet and builds up internally where eventually it will need release.  If we are unable to release it through the emotional body it will attempt to break through the physical body in health problems and sometimes through the astral body (in which case it can feel like a psychic attack).

Using a more mindful approach to be as aware as possible of what we are feeling and breathing through the energy of those emotions seems to me to be the most effective way of clearing these problems.  Sometimes when we are dealing with anger and rage there are things that need to be expressed – ideally, in a way that is productive and appropriate.

I have clients with Mars problems who tell me they don’t like to get angry because when they do they explode, which in itself is a sign that their anger has gone on too long without an appropriate expression.  If something makes us angry, ideally that problem needs a solution.  Swallowing the anger is NOT a healthy reaction since it neither solves the offending problem nor eliminates our reaction to it.

Mars teaches us to set good boundaries and to express our needs when necessary and appropriate.  If we learn how to befriend Mars and learn the art of self-assertion, there will be no need for Mars to escalate into anger and rage.  It’s a tough lesson to learn, and one that likely takes an entire lifetime.

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By | 2014-03-19T08:08:28+00:00 March 19th, 2014|Health & Healing|6 Comments

Planetary news this week: Mars and Saturn change direction

Art from Deviant Art

Art from Deviant Art

I am late with the Planetary Illuminations report this week, but you all may be feeling the influence of Mars turning retrograde on March 1st followed immediately by Saturn on the 2nd.

Planets don’t travel backwards, but because astrologers view the movement of the planets from our perspective on earth they sometimes appear to travel in reverse direction.  Before a planet changes direction its movement slows down to a crawl and they appear stationary in the sky at the time the change of direction actually occurs.

When a planet is stationary its influence is more powerful.  Mars only turns retrograde every couple of years and the fact that it is retracing its steps over the challenging dynamic square between Uranus and Pluto makes this a significant event.  I discussed this back in December when Mars entered the sign of Libra:

The archetype of Mars is the “God of War.”  This gives Mars dominion over the human quality of aggression and the emotion of rage, but it also helps us to define boundaries and defend ourselves. Mars has been called “the lesser malefic” but it is also the desire nature – the drive that gets us out of bed in the morning and instills excitement and eagerness to make something happen.  When Mars is repressed or afflicted in the natal chart it becomes more difficult to express, resulting in fatigue or health problems.

Mars is said to be in its detriment in Libra, meaning it is not very happy there.  Rather than be directly obnoxious, as Mars prefers to be, Mars in Libra covers its irritation and anger with a veneer of Libran polish so that it can be difficult to really see the truth that lies beneath.

Over the past few months Mars made it almost to the end of Libra before it turned retrograde, and between now and May 20th when Mars turns direct again it will travel about 20 degrees back through Libra.  During this time it will become part of the big Grand Cross alignment in mid-April, intensifying the challenging dynamics and likely igniting some big fires of passion and aggression.

We are also under the influence of Saturn sitting stationary in the sky, having just turned retrograde and at a virtual standstill as it begins to pick up speed for its travel back through the past to clean up any areas of our lives that need work.  At the best of times Saturn will try to put the kibosh on impulsive behavior, and Saturn retrograde periods are important times to take responsibility and face the hard realities that may be present in our lives.

With both Mars and Saturn retrograde we will likely find it more difficult to begin anything new.  While Mars generally initiates activity, when retrograde he looks backwards towards the past.  “I wish I had done something else” will likely be a common complaint.

Where Mars is conflicting with the outer planets, though, Saturn is harmonizing with the power of transformation symbolized by Uranus and Pluto. The energy now is focused on cleaning up commitments and strengthening responsibility.  This can cause a great deal of frustration because instead of two steps forward and one step back, we are just walking backwards for some time.  But you can find comfort in the fact that this rearward focus will help you to build the strength and resilience that will be required when the call for change of the April planetary events begins to blare through our consciousness.

Still – with Mars not finding its full expression in the polite sign of Libra, and Saturn creating restrictions and delays, a great deal of frustration may build up if we don’t find a vehicle to express this frustration productively.  Developing better communication skills, holding meetings where our opinions can be openly aired, and of course finding a physical outlet for this energy through exercise, dance, sports, and other Martian activities – all of these solutions will be very helpful in navigating the next few months.

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By | 2014-03-05T07:52:19+00:00 March 5th, 2014|Planetary cycles|4 Comments

Mercury turns direct today!

Mercury direct 2012When Mercury is retrograde all kinds of chaos can ensue and this is the one astrological factor that more than any other single one helps to convince the skeptic about the validity of astrology. This Mercury retrograde period was likely more difficult for many of us because Mercury began the retrograde journey in Aries.  Aries is all about moving forwards – as quickly and with as little thought as possible.  So Mercury in Aries really resists that forced turn backwards of the retrograde, and on the journey it slipped back into Pisces where things may have become a bit confused.  What actually was happening, of course, was that intuition (Pisces) was taking a front seat to intellect, but that’s not always an easy transition to make. All retrogrades do serve their purpose, and these are times to look back over anything that needs revision or re-imagining.  But with Mercury turning direct we will begin to turn our attention once again to the future, and those pesky breakdowns of communication (Mercury) equipment are likely to diminish.  Mercury will re-enter Aries on the 16th, just after Mars (ruler of Aries) turns direct after a long retrograde period itself.  At that point we will likely feel that we are being shot out of a cannon, like a rubber band that has been pulled to its maximum before being released.

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By | 2012-04-04T05:10:17+00:00 April 4th, 2012|Astrology|4 Comments

Mercury and Mars and the Trayvon Martin case

revised with correct birthdate for Trayvon Martin. Being in the middle of my own personal maelstrom I didn’t even hear about the Trayvon Martin case until late last week.  Trayvon Martin was a 17-year old young man who was shot by George Zimmerman, an armed community watch volunteer, in Sanford Florida on February 26th.

Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was not arrested by police, and there was no investigation until the FBI stepped in on March 20th, shortly after Mercury turned retrograde on the 13th.  Mercury rules communication and its retrograde periods, when it appears to be traveling backwards, are often times when situations are revisited in order to find a new perspective.

Mars has been traveling retrograde since late December, creating tension and bringing aggression and assertive energy into the forefront of our consciousness.  Mars is the planet of drive, desire and anger – but also enthusiasm and motivation.  We NEED Mars to get out of bed in the morning, but when Mars is corrupted or repressed it can be unleashed in ways that are not helpful or comfortable.

George Zimmerman was born October 5, 1983 with the Sun in Libra bestowing a need to create harmony and peace in the world around him.  Yet he has a conjunction of Jupiter to Uranus, the two planets of liberation and freedom, in a challenging square to his Virgo Mars.  People with Mars in Virgo tend to be perfectionists: they see where their world needs to be changed and redefined and re-ordered for greater efficiency.  When Jupiter squares Mars there can be an overblown sense of confidence and assuredness in one’s own mission, and when Uranus squares Mars there is a fierce rebellion and desire to create change.  Mars in Virgo doesn’t really appreciate change – there is a tendency to cherish the security that comes from knowing that things will be predictable.  So Jupiter and Uranus are not particularly friendly to the Virgo Mars, and that is even less the case when they are locked in a challenging square formation.

When this dynamic combines with a Libra Sun who tries to mask all of this roiling conflict with a harmonious demeanor, you can get an explosion of anger and rage when that Mars is affected by a planetary transit and that is exactly what happened when the shooting occurred.  Transiting Uranus was in a nearly exact quincunx (150 degrees and before arguing with my use of this term please read this post) to his natal Mars, triggering a discomfort for which relief could not easily be found.

We know that Zimmerman had anger management issues: In 2005 he was arrested for interfering with an arrest with assault and battery on an officer, and that same year an ex-girlfriend filed a restraining order, claiming that he assaulted her. In 2005 Zimmerman’s progressed Uranus aligned exactly with his natal Jupiter, bringing the natal configuration to a head and inspiring a fierce need to explode out of any restrictions that would have been imposed on him.  And exacerbating this was a transit of Uranus in the sky, forming a challenging square to both the natal and the progressed combination.  Uranus transits demand that we pay attention and tend to create explosions of the repressed subconscious into the conscious mind where they must be acknowledged.  It’s easy to see how that would have triggered Zimmerman’s anger issues that were repressed by the Libra Sun.

Over the past few weeks this case has captured the attention of the nation as emblematic of the racism that still exists in this country.  Initial reports about the incident appeared to indict Zimmerman in cold-blooded murder with a racial motive.  With Uranus in an approaching square to Pluto, the planet of death and transformation, the revolutionary fervor that we saw last year when this cycle began is coming to a peak this summer and needs only a case like this to trigger widespread reaction.

Characteristic of the Mercury retrograde period we are currently in, a recent news article reports that much of what Zimmerman reported to police has been corroborated by witnesses.  Mars is at a virtual standstill right now in preparation to turn direct on April 14th and it will only travel about three degrees between now and the middle of May.  With Mars at a standstill, or “station,” its aggressive energy will force itself to the forefront of human experience so that it must be dealt with.  Right now Mars is part of the Grand Trine which tends to promote ease and lacks the power to generate much conflict.

It’s interesting that at the time around March 20-22nd when the investigations into this case began, Mars in the sky was exactly opposite Chiron, the planet of wounding and healing.  Chiron demands that we examine the root of the wound, and Mars stimulated that examination.  Mars will next oppose Chiron in mid to late May, at the time the Uranus/Pluto square is beginning to tighten.  I would watch that time for an explosion of protests in a number of different areas, but likely also regarding issues surrounding this case.

And what about Trayvon Martin’s chart – does it show someone who, as Zimmerman asserts, would assault a complete stranger in a public place at 7 pm?  With the Sun conjunct Mercury in Aquarius, Trayvon was a bright boy, and likely one that was easily bored.  Uranus, planet of rebellion, rules Aquarius and he would not have been a follower by nature, someone who steps in line when others tell him too.

Mars was opposite his Sun (though wide of Mercury), and his Mars was in Leo where it is boisterous and dramatic and driven (Mars) to shine and be admired and respected by others (Leo).  Mars was retrograde in the chart, making its expression more difficult and this could have created an experience of resentment and an inability to speak his mind when necessary.

His Moon was in Taurus and likely trine his Venus in Capricorn, so he was also grounded in his responsibilities towards others.  There is no water in this chart, so he likely lacked empathy and would have found it difficult to understand the feelings of others.

This is the chart of a rebel, but there’s not the kind of rage in this chart that we see in the chart of George Zimmerman.  Just before the shooting transisting Chiron squared his Sun, amplifying any wounds or emotional triggers that he may have had and that would have still be in in effect at the time of the shooting.

This is the chart of someone who would have been rebellious and sullen and who resisted being stopped by a self-appointed community watch vigilante with an attitude.  It’s hard to see this chart as someone who would attack another person out of the blue for no reason, although we CAN see that lack of impulse control in Zimmerman’s chart.

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By | 2012-03-27T04:45:21+00:00 March 27th, 2012|Crime|2 Comments