You probably know Mars as the warrior planet, associated with anger, drive, sex and passion. Every so often, however, Mars turns retrograde, and when that happens, we need to re-assess the energy of this highly charged planet.
What Happens When Mars is Retrograde?
Seen from our perspective here on earth, Mars sometimes appears to be moving backwards. It isn’t – it’s always orbiting on its normal path with forwards motion – but because Mars orbits the Sun at a different speed to earth, this optical illusion occurs. It is this period of time, when Mars seems to move backwards, that we call Mars Retrograde.
Mars turns retrograde once every two years, for approximately 60-80 days each time.
In astrology, Mars retrograde manifests in two ways. Some people are born during a retrograde period and therefore Mars is retrograde in their birth chart – we call this natal Mars retrograde.
The other way it manifests is through transits, which we call transiting Mars retrograde. Transits are the current movements of a planet (Mars in this case) considered against or superimposed on your natal chart. In particular, the astrological house of your chart that Mars is traveling through during its retrograde period gives us insight into how the retrograde energy will reveal itself in your life at that time.
What Is the Importance of Mars Retrograde in Astrology?
We generally associate Mars with high energy. When the planet is retrograde, this energy is lacking, and what energy there is tends to be turned inwards upon ourselves rather than expressed out in the world. This means that Mars retrograde is not the ideal time to start something new and important, such as a new relationship or a new job. You may struggle to sustain your energy or interest, which could lead to problems when Mars finishes its retrograde period and turn direct again.
During Mars retrograde, the anger that Mars sometimes brings is internalized. This can lead to emotional and physical frustration – something of a pressure cooker atmosphere. We also find it more difficult to act on impulse and as such we spend a lot of time second-guessing ourselves, perhaps missing or wasting opportunities due to hesitation or fear.
Clearly, Mars retrograde does bring some problematic energy into our lives. However, as with all retrogrades, it also brings a learning opportunity. This is a very good time to look back on previous arguments, rows and power struggles, and to recognize how your actions contributed to the problem. By understanding this, you can handle such situations better in future.
Mars Retrograde in the Natal Chart
If you were born during a Mars retrograde period, the way Mars energy is expressed in your natal chart will be subtly different. Although inwardly confident and self-assured, you may find it difficult to be challenged. This struggle to stand up for yourself may lead to you becoming angry with yourself and focusing on your perceived shortfalls instead of your talents.
Those with natal Mars retrograde will find that their energy is more slow-burning than full-on. There will still be ambition and determination, expressed through the zodiac sign where Mars is found, but success will tend to come in fits and starts rather than in a sustained way. You may need to cultivate patience and self-belief – if you keep going, you will succeed, but the key is to not be too hard on yourself when success doesn’t land in your lap immediately.
If Mars is retrograde in your natal chart, this can also sometimes signify sexual frustration or an impaired sex drive. Sometimes, these issues can lead to self-harm, so it’s very important that you seek therapy or counseling to help with any frustration or tendency to self-blame.
Mars Retrograde Transiting the Astrological Houses
When it comes to retrograde planets, the zodiac sign the planet is traveling through gives us an overall flavor of what to expect, but this changes during each retrograde period. For a better insight into what to expect during a Mars retrograde transit period, we look at which astrological house the planet is moving through.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 1st House
Slow down and don’t push too hard in your efforts to get what you want. What you think you want may not be what you actually need, and you’ll only anger others and frustrate yourself if you are too insistent. Take time to acknowledge where you have hurt others and take responsibility for your own actions.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 2nd House
Tone down your spending and try to put major financial commitments on hold if you can. Impulse spending could land you in trouble at this time, so don’t be wilful when it comes to buying things you don’t really need. Take care not to allow jealousy in relationship to become the dominant factor in your love life.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 3rd House
Ideas and plans are not thought through properly during this period, which can lead to a lot of wasted energy chasing dead ends. It may be difficult to stay organized, so keep lots of lists and schedules if you need to stay on track. Don’t expect others to be true to their word if they offer support or encouragement – you should also try not to make promises you can’t keep.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 4th House
During this period, you won’t be able to push ahead against an obstacle. Your starting point – your foundations – are not quite right. Fix that before you expect to make any progress. At home, try not to be passive aggressive with your kids or your spouse. Beware of expensive DIY projects which turn out to be a liability.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 5th House
Your focus may be too narrow at this time. Widen your options and try different things; don’t be afraid to have multiple projects on the go. You won’t finish them all, but somewhere in the chaos there could be a nugget of gold. This is one of those rare times when it’s a good thing to have almost too many irons in the fire.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 6th House
A lack of physical and emotional energy is the biggest issue here. If you have a demanding job or family life, you will need to pace yourself and to perhaps stagger your tasks instead of expecting miracles from your own energy reserves. This period can be stressful if you have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. It’s OK to ask for help, and to delegate.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 7th House
Conflicts within a relationship can come about due to misunderstandings. There’s no animosity here, but you probably haven’t heard your partner properly, nor they you. It’s important to keep talking and to reach a compromise, otherwise the suppressed frustration of Mars retrograde will quickly build up to something bigger.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 8th House
Start with what you already have. This is not a good period for acquisition – whether, that’s money, property or a new love affair. You already have more than you need. Look to see which of your emotional or material resources are under-used and under-valued, and work to maximize what is already at your disposal.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 9th House
There are bigger picture issues at this time, and you may be too obsessed with detail. Have you lost track of where you’re heading? Take time out to review your roadmap and your progress towards your goals. Don’t be afraid to take a detour; things which you may ordinarily consider a waste of time can be very illuminating just now.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 10th House
Tone down the competitive urge in your career and your ambitions. You’ll make more progress at this time through collaboration or a sideways move than through trying to win by force. Finding a solution which works for you and benefits others too is a more sustainable route through a potential career impasse.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 11th House
Teamwork suffers under this influence, because the blame game begins. Be aware that it’s not always someone else’s fault, especially not within your social circle. Sometimes, it’s you. Regardless who is to blame for a problem, this is actually a good time to renew bonds of friendship – provided you genuinely care for someone are not just using them.
Mars Retrograde Transiting 12th House
The situation feels out of your control – and it is, for now. This period is about surrender and acceptance. Try to leave behind your need to be in charge and simply allow life to unfurl around you. You won’t like everything that happens, but it’s your attitude and reaction to events which really counts, not whether you are in the driving seat.