Mars, God of War[as Ares, by Genzoman]
Mars Retrograde in Virgo, 2012
Part 1: Life on Mars
Mars is the planet of war, of explosive passion and of instinctive growth. The ancient Warrior God is at the peak of his influence between November 18th 2011 and June 19th 2012, due to a potent retrograde phase in Virgo that awakens some powerful aspects in the heavens. Neil Giles, astrologer, mythologer and runemeister, and an Aries himself, returns from a stint in the badlands to discuss the awesome effects of these aspects on the sublunary realms...
On the tides of the heavenly sea sails the good ship Mars, a red vessel of fiery impulse, courage and initiative, usually found running at breakneck pace towards horizons new. However, Nov 7, 2011 saw the cosmic captain raise the banner of Virgo aboard the Martian mariner, signalling the inception of an earthy and more practical course for this outrider of the cosmic fleet.
Virgo is the sign of the Virgin, a discerning and critical perfectionist who aspires to service, usefulness, routines and adaptive genius, one who needs to be set in motion by external forces, yet one who can also fall prey to carping, worry, anxiety and nervous tension. Where Mars is rash, Virgo is cautious. Warrior Mars is instant but also slapdash, starting furiously then flagging in the middle to leave the end unexplored, while Virgo will be thorough, meticulous and bent on completion of the task.
Where Mars rules the sex drive and savours it, pushing all else aside, Virgo apportions time for necessary tasks (delightful interludes may be included). While Mars seeks to confront or even provoke opposition, Virgo prefers to work around hostile forces, seeking to do the job no matter the cost. Mars is at the forefront, leading the way, burning with passionate fire and sweeping aside the small things with the scorch marks of big achievements, while Virgo remains in the ranks, dutiful though often gaining a measure of control through a focus on the detail and minor necessities about which the Virgin knows best. Mars can be the sacrificial Ram, giving up personal desire for a higher calling, but others will certainly hear about it. Virgo will surrender to the needs of others, but, if you listen for a murmur under the breath, you may just catch a whisper of criticism. Mars does not always seek to win by beating others (though this can be the case), but certainly wants to be the first to go there. Virgo seeks self-improvement, aspiring to standards sometimes so idealised that they may not be achievable.
The Virgo emblem is not a comfortable colour for warrior Mars to bear into life's battles, for it marks the perfectionist, idealist or fundamentalist whose wars may be with a world they find wanting. Yet this critic (Mars in Virgo) will save the most stringent examination for themselves, a process the warrior planet does not bear easily, turning inner tension to personal turmoil. Kindness and compassion are good lessons for this demanding but capable and often brilliant placement.
Remember too, Mars covers the ground from fearless fighter to skilful surgeon, steel being in the Martian domain along with guns, knives, blunt instruments, words used as weapons and the love of freedom. Virgo too, after overcoming ingrained issues of self-worth, can organise an office, an army or a nation, yet the sign also runs to genius in the study of the sciences, the arts and human behaviour. Together, what can these two not do if they work harmoniously?
However, when the cosmic captain raised the Virgo ensign on the ship of Mars, back in Nov 2011, it was not for a traditional six-week jaunt that marks the Martian passage through any of the twelve signs… for this one is a voyage of Columbus-like proportion, going forwards into new territories then backwards into the old, to flounder and perhaps retrace the steps of earlier journeys.
Mars is set to turn retrograde in the coming year of 2012!
Mars Turns Retrograde
On Jan 24, 2012 at 00.54 AM (GMT), Mars, still in Virgo but having lost his accustomed heavenly velocity, comes to station (stillness) and begins a period of reverse motion, causing the Warrior God to remain in the sign of the Virgin until Jul 3, 2012—a duration close on eight months, leaving us all a deal of time to ponder what sort of actions bring the perfection we desire. Remember, the planets do not actually move in reverse but simply appear to do so, both from our standpoint on Earth and due to their relative motions in the solar system. Retrogradation is a perceptual phenomenon and all planets have retrograde cycles in the course of time. Were there to be observers on Venus, Mars, Saturn or any of the orbiting worlds, Earth would appear to move in reverse at cyclic intervals. In light of this, it is important for us to adjust our view or perceptions accordingly. Don't change the channel, tweak the picture or the tuning.
Mars loves forward motion and immediate action, thus his retrograde phase is not comfortable for him or any of his minions here in the sublunary realms. With Mars in reverse, there will be obstacles, delays or frustrations as the retrograde energy pushes us to internalize and review, rather than externalize and activate. Employ the natural genius of Virgo to adapt what you are doing and the way you are doing it.
With Mars going backwards, we may find ourselves in too much of a hurry to do things, perhaps unaware of the dimension of our chosen tasks, lacking the necessary skills or preparation essential to the effort, or simply having left things too late at the start. Remember, leaving it all until the last minute can be a common failing for the Aries, or the strong Martian nature. Obstructive people or situations may challenge us or block the path, but lowering the head for a full on charge will not serve. Work out an alternative approach, examining the means of taking action in order to see if the seeds of a problem (or an impasse) lie therein. It may be time for an upgrade in strategy or style. This can mean that we choose to improve, or that some person or obstacle will force our hand to make us do so. Improvement is the Virgo motif.
We may find our judgement in the execution of normal everyday actions is not up to scratch. Thus, it will be all too easy to bump into the furniture or clash with things or people (especially males) that seem to get in our way because we have not read a situation correctly. Retrograde Mars can be accident-prone and, with energy internalizing in this manner, the red planet can become an explosive stockpile of introversion, frustration or angry self-absorption. Under this influence, it can be harder than usual to see beyond our own feelings or wants to those of others, or of the situation we are in. Equally, strong feelings can build up in others in a way it would be risky to miss observing before the fuse is lit.
A planet in reverse is magnetic, drawing inwards, rather than radiant, expressing outwards, as it is in forward motion. So Mars in reverse will magnetically draw the people, events or experiences set to trigger the stockpile of anger or frustration we have hidden away or held over from the past. We may also, unknowingly or not, play that role for others.
Mars and Venus, by Carlo Saraceni
The key to moving forward under these auspices is to do so slowly, going back over old ground when it proves necessary. As Mars turns retrograde in harmony (a trine aspect) to Mercury in Capricorn, frustration and past emotion will bubble to the surface easily. Whether they will morph into concrete forms of planning or change, we must wait and see. The trine by nature inclines to the line of least resistance, even though it is regarded as harmonious. Work to ensure that you do not come to July in the same place you began in January.
Sex and sexuality can become an issue during Mars retrograde, especially where situations with work, health or daily routine are involved, as Virgo is the sign of this reversal. There may be simple disruption to relations due to work or health concerns, or to a change of routine. There may be problems with a build up of feeling that needs release, so take steps to ensure an impulse or promiscuous act does not create costs that last far longer than momentary satisfaction. If there is a surge of feeling between you and someone else, reflect on what it is and where it may lead before jumping off the high board. You may simply find your sex life is unsatisfying without knowing what to do. If so, seek changes in the habit, pattern or technique of what you do to explore new thresholds or set new boundaries. Restraint can sometimes be a better teacher than licence. An old flame may burn bright again, or a new one may flicker and die unexpectedly... or in frustration.
Overall, it is worth noting that sometimes, in the matter of review or retracing the steps, the retrograde phase of any planet's motion, including that of Mars, can bring long outstanding matters to a conclusion or a resolution. This phase may clear the 'matters pending' box for some, but whether that is to complete or simply call a halt is a matter for the stars to determine.
Motor vehicles are the domain of Mercury, but the analogy of driving is a useful one in consideration of retrograde Mars—especially as the combustion of Mars drives the engine. As you would if driving, check the rearview mirror, watching the road behind, slowing or stopping when you have to, backing when necessary at a gentle speed, rechecking the ground covered for salient points or landmarks you may have missed in haste or impatience.
The devil is in the detail with Mars in reverse in Virgo and you may have missed a crucial part of the building or development process in any journey you are undertaking, especially those which began in early November, 2011. Like a courteous driver, let off steam before you react. Give yourself permission for a few well-chosen but silent expletives in the fray, then head home to smash a plate or punch a pillow behind the curtain of privacy. Avoid publicly inflaming a bad situation. It will only become worse. 'Let off steam before you react' should be the mantra! If you are brought up short by an error of some kind, look for the seed of it in the rearview mirror.
The Lunar Influence
Just as Mars performs his volte-face and shifts into reverse, Lady Moon adds her mystic mixture to the cauldron by coming to the new in the sign of Aquarius, in a T-square (tension, conflict) with Jupiter in Taurus and Saturn in Libra. This presages a new start through pressure or unexpected shifts, one that sets the picture of Mars retrograde in Virgo in a new light. Change that comes in the guise of a unexpected development, a temporary disruption or a delay may bring a long term or abiding shift of a radical or surprising nature, especially as the New Moon comes in a charged aspect (sextile) to independent and forceful Uranus moving forward in Aries.
In part two of this article, Neil Giles examines the effects of the Mars retrograde in Virgo phase on each of the 12 signs and marks out some key dates.
Click to read Part Two of Martian Volte-Face: Life On Earth.