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Mars Retrograde (with Venus in Pisces)

The skies have been clear in southern Oregon this last week, and both Venus and Mars have been visible in the sky.

Mars is high all night, and beginning to set in the west as the Sun rises. Venus is now coming to her maximum brightness as an evening star, brilliant in the western sky after sunset.

Mars is close to the Earth and moving at his quickest pace in the retrograde phase as he approaches an opposition to the Sun on March 3rd.

Sometimes I turn on the cable news during the day between work projects to see what everyone else is doing. It’s probably always the case, but this past week all I saw was everyone fighting over everything: most obviously the astounding pettiness of the Republican candidates and massive arrests of Occupiers in California and Washington. Even more troublesome, the terrible increase of violence and repression in Syria, Egypt, Tibet — and Israel and Iran again getting to the brink of making serious threats.

We’re all living with Mars retrograde, so there he was, all over the place: outer turbulence, as in bloodshed, war and troubles of all kind are part of Mars’s hierarchy of meaning.

In the mysterious and multivalent world in which we astrologers dwell, each planet has innumerable guises.  Tem started a thread on Facebook about our experience with Mars retrograde, and there’s been a vigorous and lively conversation. (If you read TMA’s FB page, go to Tem’s January 28 entry; there are 81 comments so far.)

Mars retrograde has been dominating my view very personally these days, which may be more meaningful when I say that my natal Mars is retrograde in Libra and, by progression, it is now at 22° Virgo, still retrograde.

I do, perhaps, have a natural need and propensity to look inside, to go deep, go back and re-examine, again and again. So, I have been catching the iron of Mars these past weeks in different layers of experience.

Turning on the world news is one way to notice Mars. At another basic level, Mars is the men in one’s life. Practically every man in my life, i.e., friends and relatives, past partners and those with whom I am currently close are making an appearance.

(If you have gotten to my age without any hints of incompletion or messiness from your past, maybe you haven’t lived, at least not with the messiness of a retrograde natal Mars in Libra.)

Last week, Mars was directly opposite Venus — she at 22°34’ Pisces and Mars in Virgo. In the tradition of rulership, Venus is exalted in Pisces. I am beginning to write with Venus at 27° Pisces, considered her very degree of exaltation, capable, perhaps, of her very best behavior, insights and qualities. Neptune has just moved into Pisces, providing a long, soft backdrop to all Pisces planets.

On the day of the opposition between Venus and Mars, I woke from a dream; had an unexpected visit (explained below); and received phone calls and emails from males that I can loosely categorize as having some significance in my masculine/feminine dance.

One striking event involved a gentleman who I had not seen for a few months. He was a close friend who had played a very supportive role in a very stressful time last summer. He dropped by unannounced (which alone puts a Scorpio Ascendant into panic) to tell me about a situation — from a year ago! — that he was very mad at me about. I felt like I had entered a psychic battlefield. I was stunned, but did my best to take the high road and take responsibility for my part in (what seemed to me) a long ago miscommunication. That worked for a few minutes, but then it seemed that my willingness to be vulnerable riled him further and, in my own tribute to Mars, I had a fit and asked (told?) him to leave.

Talk about Mars retrograde bringing unresolved issues (with anger, with men) from the past. This event was quite literal and personal between him and me but there are other layers too.

Overall, with transiting Mars conjunct progressed Mars (both retrograde), I would say I’ve felt an increased intensity on all levels of experience. One day, I had a near panic level of internal anxiety, along with a few very demanding days of client work.  (Mars is naturally relentless.)

I felt so stressed, I didn’t know what to do … but then, the light goes on: I’ll clean the bathroom! Yay! The stovetop too gets a fine scrubbing before I have settled down. (All homage to Mars in Virgo steering me to take action in something practical.)

Psychologically, Mars retrograde can signify the retrieval of memories of actions left incomplete; we may see patterns long hidden. A clue with a retrograde is to look within. I won’t need to comment further on this thought, but a close friend of mine (not an astrologer) dreamt last week that I was remodeling my bedroom.

Knowing I was in the realm of a deep clearing, I had some sessions with a healer (a technique called BodyTalk) to help all of this inner activity move along constructively. She strengthened my connection with certain male ancestors, including my grandfather who died when I was very young but whom I remember as a very kind and soft-spoken man. There was also retrieval and releasing of a very traumatic event in my (long deceased) father’s life that was apparently still impacting me. As we are sometimes acutely aware, the past, the present and the future can collapse into a timeless moment.

Bringing in Venus again, in basic psychological understanding, we see the opposition aspect as one of projection — the notion that we attract from life itself what we cannot see in ourselves, to be part of our path towards wholeness.

The Venus-Mars opposition (exact on February 1) was being squared by the transiting Moon at 24° Gemini on February 3rd, when Neptune entered Pisces. There’s something about the influence of this (very intimate) planetary combination — the Moon, Venus and Mars — that will be an ongoing theme during Neptune’s time in Pisces.

Planets in opposition stand apart from one another across the vast expanse of space and can illuminate the other from afar.  We could say that the wisdom from the masculine and feminine forces have been at their most visible and striking.

Mars cuts, separates, distinguishes, compartmentalizes. Venus merges, wants connection with all that is. It’s a conversation and dialogue that transcends inner and outer.

Venus is powerful in Pisces, what does she want? Maybe she knows what she wants, and Mars may be willing to negotiate. He’s in retreat after all and re-evaluating his approach.

Here are a few other stories from my week:

I have a friend with Pisces rising; the transiting opposition is across her 1st and 7th houses. She engages directly with the interchange of the masculine and feminine energies in her business life (she works in large and small business settings), and is also in a dynamic love affair. She seemed to be living in the opposition of Mars and Venus last week and wrote a beautiful poem in which she spoke her insights into the wounded side of both the masculine and feminine.

I know a man (with natal Saturn at 23° Gemini) who made what he said was a “sorrowful but necessary” choice this week. He let go of a musical partnership with a lovely outer muse (Venus in Pisces) to commit to another lady who has been a long and loyal friend.

I heard from a friend about a corporate meeting where the men in the group very much dominated the conversation and the (far fewer) women felt trampled upon and ignored. (This is a quite sophisticated company where such things don’t usually happen, but Mars retrograde can reveal its shadow of aggression and insensitivity.) After the meeting, the women spoke up (Venus in Pisces), and the company is beginning another close look at gender issues.

I heard this morning about an unresolved dispute about money (from 20 years ago) that got sorted out and settled in the last few days. The dispute originally involved two men, and a woman facilitated the reconciliation. The people involved are moving ahead in business matters with a fresh understanding.

Venus moves into Aries on the night of February 7th (Pacific Time). In her forward motion she will meet (still retrograde) Mars in an inconjunct (i.e., “they don’t see one another”) aspect at 17° Aries-Virgo on February 22nd.  She will ingress into Taurus on March 5th and conjoin Jupiter at 9°, where both will trine Mars at 9° Virgo (and Pluto at 9° Capricorn) on March 13th.

That’s a moment in time before Venus moves into Gemini on April 3rd. She will square retrograde Mars on April 7th. Mars is then at 3°  Virgo, the degree of his direct station on April 13th. Venus is slowing down for her retrograde on May 15th, and squares Mars, now direct, again June 4th, right before her eclipse of the Sun on June 5th.

Heaven only knows what will be happening by then, but for now, I am taking respite in the lessons accrued as the eternal lovers have acknowledged one another from across the vast sky.


  1. You write beautifully Mary. I appreciate how your literary gift comes through so clearly, without getting bogged by astro-babble. My strong sense is that everyone would be able to understand you, even if they didn’t know astrology.

    The interchanges and ‘shared agency’ you describe of Mars for Venus and Venus for Mars likens to a slightly different view of their cycles. This June marks not only the Venus Transit but the first time in over 3 years (2 Venus cycles) in which Venus will NOT be in a synodic cycle with the Sun ruled by Mars (2009-2010 was the Aries cycle of Venus, 2010-2012 is the Scorpio cycle). Perhaps this Venus Evening Star period and Mars opposition period we’re in now for the next few months is our clearing up of those social/sexual/intimate connections we’ve left uncleared to now. Venus’ next cycle starting in June is Gemini so Mercury will ensure we’re leaving no heartstone unturned when it comes to outward, better communication and inward, greater honest communication with ourselves.
    Thank you for a wonderful post.

    • Hi Adam,

      Thank you…I love your observation about “This June marks not only the Venus Transit but the first time in over 3 years (2 Venus cycles) in which Venus will NOT be in a synodic cycle with the Sun ruled by Mars”

      and yes to “leaving no heartstone unturned when it comes to outward, better communication and inward, greater honest communication with ourselves.”

      As I’ve said to you in personal conversation..I wish I could hold the cyclic, synodic, spatial cycles like you can…Robert Blaschke could do that so effortlessly too..His Asc is 22 Virgo, missing him a lot now too..

      Love to you

  2. Great article, Mary. You really conveyed something here. I also have had Mars retrograde by progression most of my life, since age 2. I wonder if you noticed anything big when progressed Mars opposed your progressed Sun. Mine did that in early 1991 when I first partnered up with Kate in Berkeley.

    • Thanks Tem…I’ll look back and let you know…(maybe not publically, this has been a lot of sharing for a somewhat private person!)

      Thanks to you and Adam for being some of the very good guys in my life right now..


  3. What I feel may be an important relationship has just come into my life from out of the blue. More than usual, I see other relationships around me beginning and ending, or being strengthened. I think the retrogrades will be testing the relationships just beginning. Mine began with the Moon in Scorpio, in the area where the last Venus retro took place.

    I’m very curious as to what will take place when Venus meets Uranus, as they both trine my natal Uranus. I wonder if it will spice up the transiting Pluto/Uranus square. Will it be a cosmic Valentine, or will it manifest as another sex scandal?

    • Hi Carl,

      good wishes with the new person…yes, the Venus inferior conjunction with the Sun was late Oct 2010..

      Here’s to Cosmic Valentines…


      • Nothing but Jerry Sandusky on the news today- more Mars retro…backpedaling by the lawyer, etc. Venus conjunct Uranus now manifesting…Feb 10th. Still, there IS a cosmic valentine on its way, I feel certain. Moon into Libra?

  4. Some of the things I’ve noted so far with Mars retro:

    Mars turned opposed Romney’s 21 Pisces Sun, just at the time of the first pre-Florida primary debate, and his renewed vigor was universally commented upon; within three days and the next debate, he was very aggressively attacking Gingrich, Mars bringing out the fighter in him and reinforcing his rather passive natal Mars in Pisces.

    In Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s Sun at 18 Virgo is also under the Mars retro gun, as well as natal Pluto, Uranus and Mercury, all of which will be crisscrossed by Mars, and the station degree squared the nation’s Saturn at 21 Gemini. The escalation of violence there since the station has been horrific, with Obama and others renewing their call for Assad to step down.

    On the home front, Mars turned on my natal Moon, and I had to put down a loved pet on Jan 20th, my cat Hallows, then on Feb 1, one of the stray cats we feed got hit by a car, the damage was too extensive, and he also had to be euthanized (he had been with us for three years, and was a constant presence on the property). In addition to being a marker of major changes on the domestic (Moon) front, Mars natally rules my Sixth, traditionally governing pets, and the retro was in tight square to my natal Jupiter (which some relate to pets, also often prominent in death charts). I also joined a gym on the 16th, and the week of the 23rd overdid it on the eliptical, resulting in major muscle and joint pain I am still suffering with, certainly a Mars/Moon manifestation.

    • Thanks for the Romney and Syria gets worse every day for the Syrians, maybe Romney too?

      but, most personally, the cat stories..

      I found out early Monday morning that my last male relative of the older generation had passed away late Sunday night after terrible car accident.. it was too raw to mention when I wrote the blog…but your sad cat stores prompted me to share another Mars tale..

      Thanks Alex

  5. Thank you Mary, this was a very meaningful article and it helped pull me away from my self-absorbed view of transiting Mars and Venus. I too have a Mars retrograde (by progress went direct years ago) but more to the point you make, my progressed Sun, Venus, Neptune are on or near the 22 degree mark of Virgo. No old loves giving me grief though, it’s my wisdom teeth and how it’s affecting the other teeth!

    Yeah, Neptune is the ruler of my chart (the old ruler, Jupiter has been squared by Pluto to the degree until a couple of days ago), so the 1st house body-head problems have been plaguing me greatly. I think the Venus energy may be expressing via my financial concerns over the repeated visits to the dentist, as I don’t have dental insurance. That and I don’t like pain and prefer eating (too bad about that) and comfort.

    About the Mars T-square with Moon and Venus and how it affects the Neptune in Pisces era, you might have noticed that Sedna went direct shortly after that. So during her station she was at 22+ Taurus and trined Mars in Virgo. She was being squared by Nessus the centaur at 22+ Aquarius too.

    Boots Hart wrote about Sedna and emphasized how she represents that part of us which doesn’t want to grow up; that she has to be pushed out of the nest so to speak. To me this translates to an increased push toward evolution, and I see that as part of the Neptune in Pisces era too. You can find Boots’ article in the archives at the Daykeeper Journal site if you care to read the whole piece.

    • Hi barbk,

      thanks for the tales, dental woes though they may be..that is a packed 22 Virgo for you..good luck with it..

      I will read Boot’s article….she is a wonderful astrologer..

      (And guess what? the gentleman who came over and was so angry with me called today to apologize, he left a voice message…wow, does that ever feel good..begins to clear the “psychic battlefield”

      thanks for writing (you seem also to have a good sense of humor which I always appreciate..)


  6. Would you be so kind as to be more specific about the facebook posting about mars retrograde? Mars retrograde is tromphing all over my husband’s moon and he is fighting cancer through this and i would like to better understand by reading about community responses to this transit.
    I have no idea what TMA is.

    • Hi Mimi, TMA stands for The Mountain Astrologer and on TMA’s Facebook page there is a post (if you scroll down a bit) where people are commenting on their experience with Mars retrograde so far.

    • Hi Mimi,

      Did Tem’s comment help you find your way on Facebook?

      Best for now,


  7. Looking at the larger picture, it’s interesting to see the huge outcry from religious organizations over last week’s decision by the administration to come down on the side of women’s health in the health insurance mandate, which allows all women employed by these institutions contraception coverage. While even many women within these religious institutions applaud the decision, the male hierarchy within the Catholic church has denounced the decision as against their teachings and beliefs. Perhaps this is another example of Mars (male energy) stationing at 23 Virgo (health and work). It will be a while before resolution. Will Obama cave to the pressure and risk outrage from the other side? This follows on the heals of the Susan Komen foundation vs. Planned Parenthood fiasco.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Yes, thanks for noting those events in the masculine/feminine realms..I was thinking of that too, but was kind of lost in my subjective experience with this blog…so I greatly appreciate your broader view!



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