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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.