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Having set aside Friday afternoons for writing, I find myself with so many threads of ideas that it’s hard to coalesce the various pieces into a whole. I often rely on my first impressions upon waking, as I find these carryovers from sleep life to be extremely valuable. This morning’s impression was about the planet Mars.
Mars is the first planet outside Earth’s orbit around the Sun; it circles the Sun in approximately 2-1/2 years, compared to Earth’s cycle of 365-1/4 days. Last Saturday, December 7th at 3:41 p.m. EST, Mars changed signs and moved into 0° Libra, in the area of the sky where Libra, the sign of the scales, resides. Mars was last in Libra from July 30 until September 15, 2010, a normal passage of six weeks. (If you have kept a diary, going back to those dates will give you a clue as to what the issues will be for you this time.) This time, however, Mars is going to be in Libra until July 27, 2014 – more than six months! This is when the study of planetary cycles can be so helpful. By becoming aware of the possible repercussions of this long transit of volatile Mars, we can pro-actively use it, rather than be used by it.
In order to understand the entire transit of Mars in Libra, we must investigate the parts. “Mars is the principle of energetic force, the impulse and capacity to assert, to act and move energetically and forcefully, to have an impact, to press forward and against, to defend and offend, to act with sharpness and ardor; the tendency to experience aggressiveness, anger, conflict, harm, violence, forceful physical energy; to be combative, competitive, courageous and vigorous.” (1)
Libra is the sign of the scales, where we weigh and balance things. Justice, who holds the scale, wears a blindfold. Libra is a cardinal air sign, initiating the season of fall; it has to do with building one-on-one relationships, where, like the scales, there is equality, balanced communication, and, potentially, peace. Libra loves Universal Harmony, Ideal Relationships, the marriage of Spirit and Matter. There is an urge to cooperate, to seek compromise, with an ability to make adjustments that encourage a more harmonious experience. (The Congressional budget compromise last week comes to mind as a manifestation of the change of Mars moving into the sign of Libra.)
If combining these two vastly different energies, Mars and Libra, brings a disconnect in your mind, you are not alone. This combative energetic force (Mars) must be used for peaceful, humanitarian purposes (Libra) or it is bound to bring trouble. Mars passing through Libra, Venus’s domain, brings battles for just social causes or stalemates where one cannot decide which side to take. Mars is out of place in this gentle, peaceful sign, preferring a cause to rally and fight for or defend against. (Although Librans do make good generals, as they instinctively need to know what the other side is doing; they can see both sides, and thus be prepared.)
So, just how can you use this transit and not be used by it? First, you can recognize that when Mars went into Libra last Saturday, he entered a new department of life in your natal birth chart. It is impossible to pinpoint which area of life that is without knowing your birth chart. But you should have gotten clues this week as your energy, assertiveness, and focus went in a different direction than before December 7th. (You can also go back to the time period listed above, when Mars was last in Libra, for clues.)
Secondly, keep in mind that Mars will be in this department of your life for six months, not the usual six weeks that flies by so fast one hardly notices. But during a six-month Mars transit, you are bound to notice the shift in focus — your energies, drive, direction, and often work, will be different in August 2014 than it is now. Even if you stay in the same profession or job, something about the situation and your direction or purpose therein will have shifted.
Two more ideas come to mind. When Mars went into Libra, the planet passed into 0° Libra, which connects directly with its opposite, 0° Aries, the beginning of the zodiac. We all have that point someplace in our natal chart. It is where we connect with the general public and what we will be known for after we die. Some of us have that point more strongly connected to our personal life than others. We had a huge demonstration of the impact of Mars entering cardinal sign Libra this week with the death of Nelson Mandela. This event was brought to and mourned by the whole world. Rightly so, as Mandela is such a strong example of a person energetically working, struggling, and fighting (Mars) for social justice (Libra).
The study of planetary cycles enables us, like Janus, the Roman god, to look both backwards and forwards. By looking into the historical cycles in U.S. history, which are fairly well documented, we can get a sense of what is ahead for the country. (Your personal life can be managed this way as well, if you are a reflective person.) We are exploring Mars at 0° Libra; it has happened before and will happen again as Mars revolves around the Sun over and over.
In the natal chart for the U.S. (July 4, 1776), planet Mars is in Gemini, but it progressed into 0° Libra on September 15, 1940, as we were vacillating about entering the European conflict. FDR signed “The Selective Training and Service Act” the next day. This was the first time in U.S. history that we had a peacetime draft. Early Americans considered a permanent standing army a form of tyranny; militias were called up and disbanded repeatedly after a crisis. (We have come a long way from those founding perspectives.)
On July 20, 2006, three years into the Iraq War, progressed Mars in the U.S. chart (in Libra since September 1940) appeared to stall. Although it is just an optical illusion, it is illustrative and useful in understanding cycles in history. Thus began an 80-year period when the planet of forceful action (Mars) was no longer speeding ahead but slowly, from earth’s vantage point, appeared to be moving from one side of the Sun to the other, “retrograding.” During these months in 2006, a Congressional Iraq Study Group (ISG) was meeting, and they concluded in December that “U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.” (2) The U.S. Mars went retrograde in Libra; we can infer that the U.S. should be retreating (Mars retrograde) from the use of military force to resolve conflicts.
In keeping with our Janus theme of looking backwards and forwards, the first time transiting Mars moved into 0° Libra after the birth of the country was December 16, 1776. Congress had abandoned the capital, Philadelphia, amidst fears that British General Howe, already in control of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, was ready to seize it. To forestall an attack on Philadelphia, and “to serve as a tonic to his dejected compatriots” before enlistments in the army expired at the end of the year, General Washington “began to think creatively” and “awakened from the mental torpor that had shadowed his footsteps since the Long Island disaster.” (3) Just as Mars changed signs, moving to 0° of Libra, the Continental Army crossed the Delaware and entered New Jersey, striking a blow against the Hussein mercenaries in Trenton and then Princeton. “The consecutive victories exalted George Washington to a new pinnacle of renown…..The battle’s repercussions were world wide, overturning the presumption that amateur volunteers could never defeat a well-trained European army. Even Frederick the Great added his congratulations.” (4) This was a huge victory for Washington. This was Mars in Libra fighting for social justice, in this case for the colonialists to have the same rights as Englishmen.
As we have said, in studying planetary cycles we look both backwards and forwards because we are caught in our circular or elliptical solar system. All the planets moving around the Sun return to a position against the backdrop of the zodiac repeatedly. Looking ahead, on March 28, 2086, the U.S. progressed Mars will end its retrograde motion and move forward. This will be at 0° Libra, where it was on September 15, 1940, when FDR called up the first ever peacetime draft. Thus the events of this last week during Mars’ ingress into Libra, and everytime Mars has done that or will do that in the future, foreshadow the events in 2086. (Although we are talking specifically about the U.S. chart here, the same principle can be applied to your personal life.)
Although March 28, 2086 is way beyond our lifetime, the study of historical planetary cycles — what happened the last time and when — is illuminating. Hopefully, we will have learned some hard fought lessons in the 146 years since the cycle began in September 1940 about our use of force (Mars) to make peace (Libra). Will it be necessary to call up an army again? Will we have abandoned our standing military by then and directed the money into social justice causes? Or will we need an army to fight for a just cause and have learned nothing? The point is that the U.S. will have a second chance to redo our position on the use of force. Habits begun and perpetuated since 1940 began to be questioned in 2006, and should be completely overhauled by 2086. That is the value of observing a planet’s very long retrograde time period. And if you really want your mind blown, the U.S. progressed Mars will not leave Libra until March 2, 2170!! Surely we should be working on peace and harmony by then.
(1) Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas, Plume, 2006.
(2) Washington Post
(3) Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow, Penguin, 2010.
Bio: Kate Plumb is an NCGR, Level IV astrologer. She is on Facebook and is available for astrological consultations. Please visit her at Kate Plumb Astrology, email email@example.com;or phone (631)725-9133 if you are interested in making an appointment.
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