The author of this article, Rob Tillett, has been an astrologer for more than three decades. A poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist and composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many of the articles on this website.
Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.
Mars Retrograde 2005
On October 1, 2005, Mars, conjunct the pulsating, ill-omened star Caput Algol, reaches his station in preparation for a period of retrograde motion which will last until December 10th. On top of that, the effects of the retrograde period will continue to be felt until he returns in direct motion on February 4th, 2006 to the degree where he first made his station (23° Taurus 22'), with a restimulation of the unfortunate fixed star, Algol, the Gorgon's Head. Algol – the power of the feminine to turn men into stone – has had a lot of bad press, but astrologically it has been more than justified over the long years since the Greek Hero Perseus slew the once-lovely Medusa, by cutting off her head. The first beginnings of the effect take place from August 11, as Mars begins to slow, so prepare for issues to cloud, especially if you have strong Fixed Sign placements in your chart. The Fixed Signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.
Mars turns retrograde only once every two years and two months, but the effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Mars Retrograde 2005).
A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. This traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system.
Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this illusion. Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon.
As a rule, retrograde planets presage a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events, which relate to their sphere of influence. They present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. For example, Mars retrograde in Cancer presents quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into Gemini.
A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when the planet begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac and ending when the planet returns to the point where it first paused. However, during the cycle, the planet's energy is most powerful (and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance) when the planet makes a station, appearing motionless in the sky. These stationary periods occur at the beginning of the cycle (when the planet first halts as it prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again.
What does Mars affect?
In general, Mars, the god of warriors, rules physical energy and efforts. His placement in your chart expresses the strength and direction of the physical force that drives your ego. Mars fires your emotions, but also powers your mental endeavours and communicative skills.
Mars describes male relationships and associations, risk-taking inclinations, and the physical challenges you are likely to encounter. Well-placed, Mars endows powerful energy and an indomitable will to succeed, but when poorly placed can mean accidents, injuries, warfare or other forms of violence, according to the inclinations of the sign and house concerned.
Mars retrograde gives rise to irrational action; introspection; depression and self-assessment; relationship conflicts; major rethinks and reorientation of current projects are also often required.
When Mars is retrograde, everyone's thought patterns are more introspective and we tend to think about issues and concerns which relate to the sign involved. With Mars retrograde in Taurus, people with Sun or Moon in Taurus, or Taurus rising, will be especially prone to such introspection. There is little choice but to reconsider personal views and opinions about life, for it presents an opportunity to gain insight into unconscious motivations.
Retrograde in Taurus
Mars retro in Taurus, the sign of the Bull, is heavily practical and deliberate, but blocks foresight, disturbing organizational and executive action. Circumstances tend to be thwarted by obstacles and and the desire to push forward until your goal is reached. Control the tendency to overspend on luxuries, especially clothing and fine foods. People tend to be exceedingly stubborn, and communication is not diplomatic, but blunt and when people become angry they are apt to be bullheaded. If legacy comes to you there is danger of losing it through legal trouble. There is also danger of unfavorable unions, powerful opponents, scandal and monetary difficulties which are usually the outcome of living too lavishly or from domestic troubles. Drink adequate amounts of water (6-8 glasses daily) and avoid eating hot and spicy foods to offset infection and inflammations, particularly of the throat.
Mars turns retrograde in 2005 at a very sensitive cosmic moment, right at the focus of a Yod, or "Finger of God" aspect from Jupiter (political leaders; expansion; over-confidence) and Pluto (power struggles). This suggests that a remarkable series of events will take place in the political arena that will have long-lasting consequences — and notably, Jupiter enters Scorpio on Oct 25. The last conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, marking a new phase of human development, occurred in May/June 2000 in the sign of the Bull at 23° Taurus, and this major point of departure will be re-activated on October 1, 2005 when Mars turns retrograde at 23° Taurus. The timing is especially potent in that the retro turn heralds an Eclipse of the Sun two days later on October 3. Since Mars (conflict; passion) turns in partile (exact) conjunction with Israel's natal Sun (character), I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Mars will also be in partile opposition to Venus (forming a rare "tetradic yod") when he turns retrograde, so sexual encounters, financial and emotional upheavals of all kinds are high on the agenda. Venus is conjunct the malefic fixed star Alpha Serpentis (which featured so strongly in the 1999 Turkish earthquake disaster). At the same time, there is another powerful yod in action, between Sun and Saturn (sorrow; karma), focused on Uranus (sudden upheavals; unexpected catastrophe). Expect some rough patches to emerge...
2005 is especially notable in terms of retrograde planets and other cosmic nasties. In particular, the stresses will be intensified when Saturn turns retrograde in square aspect to Mars. This happens in November and December. Mercury turns retrograde on Nov 14, Saturn on Nov 22, and Venus on December 24. The difficulties and delays we experience during this period are likely to be caused by lack of preparation, planning, and organization—either on our own part or that of others. The maddening thing is that even if you are the most careful individual, you are apt to be caught just when things are in disarray, or, just when you need something, it cannot be located in time. Bad timing is, in fact, one of the biggest obstacles to progress. Others may physically resist or even threaten your seniority or position of authority. Political situations are likely to become dire.
Neil Giles, astrologer, mythologer and runemeister, has provided a more detailed examination of the Mars retro period in 2005. Please click here to read The Red Planet. And for your interest, check these articles on Mars from the previous retro phase in 2003, as the Planet of War approached perehelion: A Close Call from Planet Mars, by Richard Giles. For a deeper look at the nature of Mars and its cycles, check out Mars, the Red Orb, by Malvin Artley.