Every couple of years Mars turns retrograde for approximately two and a half months. The last time Mars went retrograde was from December 20, 2009 to March 10, 2010 in the sign of Leo. This time the retrograde will occur in Virgo from January 23rd to April 13th.
There are many interpretations of this astrological signature. Keeping it simple however, requires only that we look to the archetypes of Mars and Virgo to further understand the energy and influence of this celestial event.
Virgo is the sign associated with work, health and service. This sign typically operates through crises that lead to intense self-analysis in order to understand what needs to be changed or adjusted to resolve the perpetual or cyclic nature of the crises. Once the necessary adjustments have been made, self-improvement occurs.
Unfortunately, Virgo tends to focus disproportionately on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. This negativity often devolves into judgment and criticism and the need to ‘atone’ for past mistakes. A feeling of ‘not being good enough’ can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors and can even become the causative factor for illness. Unconsciously, Virgos often use crises to distract themselves from themselves! They’re so busy putting out fires that they never get around to addressing their own personal ‘stuff.’ Another classic Virgo tactic used to avoid doing necessary self-improvement work is becoming a workaholic. There’s never enough time to do what needs to be done to take care of the self.
From a total zodiacal perspective, Virgo is a transitional archetype. It is the last sign associated with development of the individual self (Aries through Virgo) before we experience the need to progressively socialize and integrate into the whole of society with others as an equal (Libra through Pisces).
Following Leo, the sign associated with the full development of the individual ego-centric identity and the need to creatively express that unique identity, Virgo provides a necessary deflation of the ego that prepares us for the task of entering into relationships with others on an equal basis. Virgo teaches humility which is often learned through a process of humiliation that serves to not only deflate the ego, but also to realign the ego-centric identity with its own Higher Self or Divine Will.
Mars is considered by Astrologers to be the ‘lower octave’ of Pluto and therefore directly associated with the Soul (Pluto). Pluto operates at an unconscious level and is the source of the Soul’s evolutionary growth intentions in each lifetime. For most of us, we can only come to consciously know our Soul’s intentions through Mars. This is because Mars is the principle of instinctive action and what it instinctively acts out or acts upon are the desires for growth that emanate from the Soul. So through Mars, we act on our desires and through this process, become the person our Soul intends us to become.
Because Mars always acts instinctively to pursue desires, it typically will not brook any interference in those pursuits. When it meets with such interference or obstruction, anger usually results. This is why Aries/Mars individuals require so much personal freedom. Adequate freedom allows them to instinctively pursue their desires in an unfettered way.
Now imagine the planet of instinctive action, which naturally becomes angry whenever its actions are interrupted or interfered with in any way, having to STOP, turn around, and begin to move BACKWARD through the zodiac! Suffice it to say, retrograde movement does not make Mars happy. What retrograde movement of Mars does accomplish however is a slowing-down of the instinctive impulse to act so that thorough and thoughtful review of desired actions can take place. Mars retrograde facilitates the necessary planning, analysis and preparation that results in greater success once actions are taken.
So in a nutshell, this upcoming Mars retrograde through Virgo will likely bring crises, delays, obstacles and a general thwarting of actions and initiatives for the purpose of necessary review. Taking the time to thoroughly analyze problems and goals will allow for crucial changes and adjustments to be made that will have a positive effect on the outcome of actions that are ultimately taken.
So get ready for review time! The best use of this Mars retrograde is to become more aware of the nature of both desires and crises in your life. Perhaps you’ll notice a pattern in the kinds of problems you typically experience. Or perhaps you’ll discover the extraordinary effectiveness that crises have had in your life relative to keeping you from doing what you know you should and could do for your own health and well-being.
Be prepared to positively manage your frustration when setbacks occur. Consider whatever obstacles do show up to actually be your allies. Accept the nature and timing of those obstacles as totally right and proper. In fact, those obstacles will no doubt be the perfect facilitators of the need to rethink or review your plans. Solicit and surrender to the guidance and direction of your Higher Self through prayer and meditation.
Virgo’s opposite sign is Pisces. Opposite signs always point the way forward for evolutionary growth. Pisces is the sign associated with spirituality and the desire to reunite with the source of our creation. The spiritualization process is often facilitated by disillusionment or disappointments that reveal that what we thought had meaning and would provide happiness or ultimate fulfillment isn’t actually capable of doing so. Through dissolving the meaning we falsely assign to desired people, places and things, Pisces serves to realign us with reality.
Used unwisely, Pisces can also provide an escape hatch for those not yet ready or willing to deal with reality or to see their life circumstances clearly. We all need to ‘let our hair down’ occasionally. But substance abuse and addiction can occur when escape becomes the preferred way of coping with disappointing realities. On the upside, Pisces can provide the inspiration to ‘reimagine’ problems and opportunities.
Neptune rules Pisces and will enter Pisces for the next fourteen years on February 3rd in the midst of the Mars retrograde period. When the Mars retrograde period ends on April 13th, Mars will be within just a degree of an exact opposition to Neptune. This connection is typically associated with severe disillusionment and even deception so be especially mindful of the timely need to face realities squarely and to see things and people clearly as this Mars retrograde comes to an end. Finding the courage to do so will be the factor/choice that allows you to move forward, slowly but successfully, once this retrograde period comes to an end.
Virgo and Pisces natives (and to a lesser degree Gemini and Sagittarius) will feel the influence of this Mars retrograde the most. Aries and Scorpio natives will also be significantly affected since these two signs are ruled by Mars. However, this retrograde will have some effect on nearly everyone since we all have Virgo somewhere in our chart. Look to the houses where Virgo and Aries and Scorpio are on the cusps (Mars rules Aries and co-rules Scorpio) for clues about what areas of your life are due for an in-depth review during this retrograde.
Take ‘time outs’ to deeply ponder what’s not working in your life especially if it involves your everyday work routine or health. If a health issue does need attention, consider the usefulness of natural remedies (Virgo). Take steps now to improve nutrition and to ensure that you get plenty of rest. And if diagnoses are confusing or uncertain (Pisces) don’t hesitate to get a second opinion especially if surgery is recommended. Pets may also need extra attention during this retrograde period since Virgo rules them too. Be extra kind and forgiving with everyone especially yourself. And most importantly, resolve to make necessary changes and adjustments one step at a time as this strategy is most effective in overcoming Virgo’s ‘perfection paralysis.’
Every outer planetary retrograde reaches its halfway point when it opposes the Sun. This Mars retrograde will be at its halfway point on March 4th. The ‘review’ process encouraged by this Mars retrograde period will be the most intense during its first half from January 23rd to March 4th. From March 4th to April 13th increasing energy and urgency to move forward and implement plans will begin to unfold. If possible, it will be best to delay the beginning of any big new project or initiative until mid-April when the retrograde is complete. But if you must begin something sooner, at least be aware of the likelihood of setbacks occurring that will probably prove frustrating, albeit necessary for ultimate success.
Above all else, use this retrograde period to generally SLOW DOWN! Turn the focus of your attention inward. The answers and insights you need now to make positive and necessary changes that can result in real evolutionary Soul growth in your life will be found by looking deeply inside. And don’t forget to ask for help from whatever source of higher guidance you believe in. The highest potential and best use of this Mars retrograde can result in tremendous personal healing, for individuals, and for our planet.
“A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his or her individual karma. The horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing the unalterable past and its probable future result. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by those of intuitive wisdom; these are few.”
Swami Sri Yukteswar
Over the years, my work as an Evolutionary Astrologer has given me many opportunities to address the question of fate versus free will as clients often ask, “Is my life path pre-destined, or do I really have free will choice?” My answer is always, “Yes!” I say yes because I believe that fate and free will co-exist and actually work together to facilitate ongoing evolutionary growth.
Let me explain…
I believe that each of us is born out of a primary desire to continue on a path of evolutionary growth. Evolutionary Astrology reveals the precise path of evolutionary growth each individual intends for each incarnation. Additionally it reveals information about past life experiences including where that individual ‘left off’ in their last life relative to their evolutionary growth intentions.
These past life experiences provide insight about past life choices and are directly associated with the ‘unalterable past’ referred to by Sri Yukteswar.1 The ‘probable future result’ he also mentions speaks to the natural law of karma – that every choice made or action taken has a related outcome – a ‘probable future result’ that is commensurate with that choice. In other words, choices and actions have consequences.
Choices and actions take many forms. Besides literally taking action, there are additional human behaviors and attributes that also create karma or have consequences. Among these are thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and emotions. Besides choosing to take action or act in certain ways, we also choose to think certain thoughts, choose to believe certain things and choose to feel certain ways. All of these behaviors – thoughts, actions, beliefs and feelings are chosen. And all choices and actions have consequences because they set energy into motion that will ultimately manifest. Perhaps the most important attribute of actions and choices however is whether they are chosen consciously or unconsciously. My experience as an Astrologer for the last 27 years tells me that most are made unconsciously. More on this later.
Quantum science now understands that individual and collective human consciousness influences real outcomes or reality.2 This new understanding is reflected in current ‘New Age’ phrases like, “Energy follows thought” and “Thoughts manifest” and “Energy flows where thoughts go.”
The quality of each individual’s consciousness is directly associated with and influences the choices that individual makes. Remember, each choice we make, whether consciously or unconsciously, ultimately manifests and creates our reality. Every thought, feeling, belief and action sets energy into motion — and that energy manifests. Once a choice is made or an action is taken, the energy it carries is set into motion. Once set into motion that energy cannot be altered. It is ‘unalterable.’ It is the energy of each choice that determines its ‘probable future result.’ I believe choices, once made, are what constitute Fate.
Consider Webster’s definition of fate: “… the principle or determining cause by which things are believed to come to be as they are, or events to happen as they do; an inevitable outcome; destiny; a pre-determined state or end…”
The good news is we are always making new choices! In fact, human beings are specially endowed with the ability to make choices. We have the freedom to direct our will to make choices relative to what we desire. Think about how many choices you make every single day! As each of us contemplates and makes new choices, we are exercising free will. This, I believe, is what constitutes ‘Free Will Choice.’
Often however, humans become dissatisfied with their reality. They become disappointed or even distressed by certain situations or outcomes to the point where they desire a change in that reality or set of circumstances. Considering that current reality is a consequence of past choices, then to create a change in reality, different choices must be made. There’s an old saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!” This adage teaches that if a different outcome is desired, a different choice must be made.
Evolutionary growth is synonymous with the process of change. So if you wish to evolve, you must make changes. If you wish to make changes then you must begin by making different choices. Free will choice gives us the opportunity to make changes and evolve by makingdifferent choices. Changing our choices means that we will change our outcomes. We will manifest a different reality. Free will choice gives us the opportunity to manifest different ‘probable future results.’
Evolutionary Astrology teaches that choices are the driving force of human evolution.3 Let me state that crucial point again: HUMAN EVOLUTION IS FACILITATED BY FREE WILL CHOICES.
Remember, in every moment we continue to make new choices. In every moment, through what we choose to do, believe, think and feel, we set energy into motion that will create our future reality. Throughconsciouslymaking different free will choices, we can over time, change and alter the ‘probable future results’ we’ll experience due to the changes in the choices made or actions taken. Through the process of free will choice, we can direct our own evolutionary growth.
The greatest value of Evolutionary Astrology is this: It provides invaluable insight and understanding about what an individual Soul’s evolutionary intentions are. It also allows for the development of conscious awareness of what that Soul/individual has been doing (past life choices it has made) which helps make sense of their current reality (the consequences of those past choices). In other words, it can explain WHY an individual’s life looks the way it looks. Evolutionary Astrology’s value is that it can provide information that allows individuals to be more conscious about the choices they make. This in turn allows them to make choices that will manifest what they want instead of what they don’t want and ultimately change their reality. It short, it helps them to consciously evolve.
This is why Evolutionary Astrology focuses primarily on counseling rather than prediction. Although traditional astrology has primarily been utilized over the millennia for predictive purposes (royal heads of state historically depended upon the predictions of their court Astrologer to help them govern the affairs of their kingdoms), its greater value in my opinion is its ability to support individual Soul growth. By providing crucial information about the Soul’s evolutionary past (what is fated) and its intended evolutionary future (what probable future results conscious free will choices can manifest) Evolutionary Astrology can be invaluable for clients who wish to evolve, grow and fulfill their Soul’s path and life purpose.
This is why I believe it is so important for Astrologers to approach prediction with extraordinary care and consideration of exactly who is responsible for deciding what to do in any given situation. Given the fact that individual choices have karmic consequences, Astrologers operating with integrity must do all they can to provide their clients with pertinent, meaningful and insightful information regarding what they intend to accomplish in this life; their Soul’s evolutionary growth intentions. This then allows the client to become consciously aware of those intentions so that they can take full responsibility for their choices knowing that they are the manifestors of their future experiences and reality.
In summary, I’ll share a simple analogy I often use when discussing the topic of fate vs. free will. In this analogy, life is like a card game. Consider fate as the ‘hand you dealt yourself’ coming into this lifetime. Consider free will choice as how you choose ‘to play the hand you were dealt.’ And finally, consider this: If you know what game you’re playing, it’s a whole lot easier to win!
1 Quoted by the Hindu Yogi, Sri Yukteswar, who was a student of the great sage Lahiri Mahasaya and Mahavatar Babaji, who was the guru of Mahasaya. Sri Yukteswar’s foremost disciple was Paramahansa Yoganada.