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Mars in retrograde motion and its meaning

Mars retrograde between Aquarius and Capricorn

On 26 June 2018, Mars started its retrograde cycle at 9° Aquarius. He then moves backwards, reaches 28° Capricorn on 27 August 2018 and resumes his forward course. Mars' first transit on 28° Capricorn occurred on 11 May 2018.


The last phase will take place on 9 October, when Mars transits 9° Aquarius again. In brief, the effects of this cycle will be felt more or less intensely during several months. Here are a few basic explanations regarding this phenomenon and what it may imply for us.

Principles regarding the cycle of Mars

Mars takes approximately two years to travel around the zodiac. In other words, its apparent orbit around the Sun lasts 687 days. The retrogradation cycle last two months - two and a half months, to which must be added the period during which Mars, in direct motion again, transits the point where his loop ends. Throughout this stretch of time, his energy is different from what we are used to, as explained further down.

The Ludovisi Ares, an Antonine Roman marble sculpture of Mars

The Ludovisi Ares, an Antonine Roman marble sculpture of Mars

Since Mars is an inner planet, his effect on us is very personal. Each phase of his cycle lasts approximately two weeks (conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition, etc.). For instance, his transit on our natal Sun lasts two weeks or so.

Therefore, the impact of those passages are less important than the transits of slow-moving planets, because they stay longer on one or several objects and often bring about real changes, depending on their nature.

Nevertheless, what we want to get at is that the retrogradation of Mars must be given some attention since he "insists" on a specific area of the chart roughly every two years, and his strength may equal that of slow-moving planets.

Our perception will obviously differ depending on the impact in question. If the transit occurs on the Ascendant, or on a rapid planet, or if it forms one or several major aspects with other planets, we will inevitably be influenced.

The symbolism of Mars

In a natal chart, Mars represents action. He is a Fire planet. He is the ruler of Aries and the second ruler of Scorpio (N.B.: before Pluto was discovered, Mars ruled the 8th sign), and he is exalted in Capricorn. In the sky, the planet is red, a strong colour associated with courage and war-like features. In the Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war (Ares for the Greeks) and was worshipped for his good graces. It must be reminded that Mars' ardour is also at the service of love. In the mythology again, he forms a pair with gorgeous Venus (Aphrodite for the Greeks). Therefore, the tradition assigned sexual drive to Mars, for good or ill.

On the upside, Mars gives strong energy, skills in sports or military matters, the capacity to make decisions, strength, courage and loyalty.

On the downside, Mars may be synonymous with violence, wounds, anger and aggressiveness. The natal sign in which Mars is posited in the chart provides excellent information on how these qualities and flaws are used (as explained for example in Astrotheme astrological portrait). Thus, Mars in Aries has nothing in common with, say, Mars in Cancer.

Mars culminating on the Midheaven, therefore dominant, gives a Martian personality even when for instance the Sun is in Pisces, the characteristics of which are very different. The same logic is applied to the aspects Mars forms. When in contact with the Moon, Mars intensifies the primary temperament, impulsiveness, and bubbling emotions; with Pluto, he heightens resistance, and with Venus, he brings about feisty eroticism.

Another representation of Mars

Another representation of Mars, by Al-Qazwini, a Persian jurist of the thirteenth century

Of course, the parameters of the entire chart must be considered, as well as the person's age, condition and gender. In any case, a transit of Mars is an opportunity offered to us to examine an area where we must take action and get involved personally.

In the case of the present retrogradation, we must bear in mind that Mars' characteristics described above are supposed to be toned down. This is even more interesting for this planet because being hampered does not correspond to what it represents. This does not mean that the potential is cancelled, only that it requires more time to materialise.

For example, we may undergo unusual fatigue or discouragement depending on the obstacles encountered. Moreover, throughout the retrogradation cycle, if we intend to embark on any sort of initiative implying rivalry, disagreement, or settling of scores, we must be cautious. We would be well advised to slow down the pace, to step back and to reflect thoroughly before taking action.

Effects of Mars in Aquarius and Capricorn at the collective level

In 2018, it must be remembered that Mars, who entered Aquarius on 17 May turned backwards on 26 June. In the 11th sign, our desire for freedom becomes fierier. We want to get rid of our chains, think outside the box, and tackle collective issues.

However, the retrogradation in Capricorn indicates that it is necessary to work on the same topics again before we benefit from the wind of change. We must take political, administrative or just professional decisions (the symbolism of Capricorn) to provide a steady base to our future actions. The task may not be easy in 2018, because Mars faces several impediments during the summer. It is only when he gets out of the zodiacal loop, on forthcoming 9 October, that the context will eventually foster emancipation.

Mars' main aspects

Several aspects have taken place already in June. On 27 June, the beginning of the retrograde cycle, Mars still opposed Venus, with an orb of nearly 7°. The aspect will occur again during the first three weeks of September, which will probably bring inhibition issues to the fore. In early August and until the 11th of the month, Mars trines Venus and facilitates encounters during this period. Desires, summer encounters or hopes of conquest prevail. However, beware of dampers in autumn.

Example of a retrogradation of Mars

Example of a retrogradation of Mars in 2003

Several times during the first half of July, Mars clashed with Jupiter, challenging social structures and the need for concrete actions. Balance was hard to achieved.

Mars-Uranus square is the toughest aspect of this loop. Uranus has been transiting the first degrees of Taurus since 15 May 2018. Both planets fight against one another throughout the second half of July and in August and September 2018. Between revolutionary Mars in Aquarius, and impatient Uranus in Taurus, there are serious and real risks of conflict, accident or attack (trains, planes, mechanical falls).

As mentioned above, it will be only on 9 October that this dangerous backdrop will fade away. Until then, the agenda will be full of surprises mixed with tensions at the international, collective and individual level. People will be vulnerable to the Mars-Uranus square or if these planets transit sensitive spots of the natal chart.

Lastly, Mars was conjunct the South Node in early June and plays around with this karmic point. This transit insistently underlines that some events must be put behind and that it is indispensable to sweep away the past to move forward (Aquarius).

A few pieces of advice

We have described the overall ambiance Mars is setting for this period. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that the consequences should be analysed in accordance with the natal chart. Does Mars transit key areas? In which House?

It is obvious that, a priori, people having the Sun in the last degrees of Capricorn or in the first decan of Aquarius will need to ponder over their mode of action. More than anyone else, they are urged to spend a quiet summer and to avoid all challenges.