Mars retrograde: are you feeling it? If you know what to look for, I’ll bet the answer is “yes.” Because, let’s be honest: when the Planet of Action is treading backward in the heavens, projects take a little more “oomph” than usual to complete. IF you get to cross them off the to-do list at all, that is. Because one annoying, nagging problem that crops up when Mars turns retrograde is—yep, you guessed it—you get to do things again! Projects you thought were finished boomerang back. A signature on page 58 was omitted. There’s a new superior who wants to reinvent the wheel. Or that segment you glossed over needs more specifics (this retrograde is in Virgo, after all, a sign known for its devotion to detail!)
We entered 2012 with Mars slamming on the brakes. An interesting note about the Red Planet: normally this fellow zips through one zodiac sign in four to six weeks. But when he does the retrograde dance, once every 2.2 years or so, he spends up to eight months in one sign! This time around, he’s in the much-maligned sign Virgo. By January 24, when he stopped altogether, he was at 23 degrees Virgo. Remember, there are 30 degrees in each sign, so he was well on his way when everything came to a halt.
He’ll backtrack until mid-April, when once again he’ll slow down, stop, and change direction so he’s once again moving forward in the sky. Of course we’re talking about apparent motion here—the planets do not actually stop in their tracks and go backward! No, planetary retrograde motion is an optical illusion, but a very interesting one. Mars will still be in Virgo when he turns direct, but very early in the sign. Then he’ll proceed forward again, slowly at first, but quickly picking up speed, covering for the third time the same ground he first plowed months before.
Now here’s where it gets interesting.
Pretty much as soon as Mars retrograde is out of the picture, our next-door neighbor on the other side, Venus, also goes retrograde! Of all the planets, she is in this condition the least, only 7% of the time—remembering, of course, that neither the Sun nor Moon are ever retrograde. In 2012, Venus will head backward on May 15 and won’t turn direct again until June 27. All’s not fair in love and war when fair Venus is retrograde, a subject you’re sure to hear more about as the time approaches. It’s quite unusual for Mars and Venus to have back-to-back retrogrades, and no doubt this expresses a universal urge to revisit and review gender and sex roles, among other things. Such an examination is well supported by Saturn’s journey through relationship sign Libra until year’s end.
Meanwhile, there’s something very interesting about the spot where Venus stations; that is, where she stops and turns around. She will turn retrograde at 23 degrees of Gemini. Keen readers will remember that Mars turned retrograde at 23 degrees of Virgo back in January. Our ears should perk up when we notice the same degree being triggered like this. It means there is some kind of connection between the two events.
The signs Gemini and Virgo speak a common language, for they are both Mutable signs. This group of signs includes not only Gemini and Virgo but also Sagittarius and Pisces, and it is these signs that are the last in their respective season. We use the equinoxes and solstices to divide the year into four seasons. Each season consists of three months. The first month is marked with a Cardinal sign—Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn. In the old days, these were called the “changeable” signs, because they bring change by initiating something new. These signs are tasked with getting things underway, and then they exit, stage left.
Who picks up the plot at this point? None other than the Fixed signs—Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. This group is known for longevity, work ethic and loyalty. They have more endurance than the Energizer bunny, stubbornly plodding along through force of will or habit. Eventually, though, even the Fixed signs have to hand over the reins to the Mutables, the final sign in any season. Pity the Mutables, whose dual duty it is to integrate the season that is ending, while at the same time prepare for the season that is yet to come. Job qualifications include flexibility and juggling ability.
So let’s get this straight. In 2012, both Mars and Venus turn retrograde, one right after the other, at 23 degrees of the Mutable signs. Sounds like a lot of hemming and hawing, backtracking, finding excuses, holding off. Male and female, integrating and preparing, cautiously engaging in a months-long cosmic dance, but not quite ready to commit. Each of us can mindfully participate, but folks who have Sun or other planets or points at this degree will be more affected than others. This includes (but is not limited to) people who have birthdays March 13-15, June 14-16, September 16-18 or December 15-17. The most potent periods in 2012 are mid-late January and mid-May. The early part of the Mutable signs is not immune to these retrogrades either. Mars turns forward at 3 degrees of Virgo; Venus changes direction at 7 Gemini. This will affect people who have birthdays in the last week of February, May, August or November. Key 2012 dates are April 13 and June 27.
The heavenly handwriting is on the wall, especially for those who have the Mutable signs emphasized in their charts. Work on projects that are already underway, and don’t get frustrated if things are not going as speedily as you wished. Entertain new possibilities when it comes to relationships and gender-assigned roles. This summer is the perfect time for thinking out of the box, such a perfect task for the Mutable signs!
Linea Van Horn offers fundamental, intermediate and advanced astrology classes locally in the SF Bay Area, and online. Learn more here.