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Slowing Down and Getting It Together, Mars Retrograde Cycle Part 1

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As this new year kicks off, we all might be feeling the rush of getting ourselves back on track, getting our finances in order, writing those resumes, or starting that project we’ve been putting off forever.  This new year brought us a rare few weeks of having all the planets moving in forward motion, so many of us have been riding this wave of progress.  However, that is all about to change and it’s possible some of us have been feeling the slowing down of things in our lives as the planet Mars prepares to reverse its direction. 
About every twenty-six months Mars turns retrograde. Mars is the planet of action, physical energy, inspiration and sex. Being the “god of War” it is associated with conflict, anger and aggression, where we impulsively react to situations instead of responding to them.  It is also our desire nature, leading us hopefully in healthy ways in the direction of our passions. It rules the sign of Aries, and co-ruler of Scorpio, and represents our warrior nature, our adventurous spirit, and our ability to take initiative in our life. It’s what gives us the drive to take action towards manifesting our dreams and inspirations.  A lot of power and energy comes with the expression of this planet.  Each planet represents a different part of our psyches, and depending on how we are working with these parts, or energies, within ourselves will reflect how these energies manifest in our external world.
So what happens to the planet of action when it goes retrograde?  It sits back in that lounge chair on the beach, sips on a freshly cut coconut and listens to the waves roll in until the sunsets. Ah, if only it were that simple. Regardless of what Mars is doing in your own natal chart, there is a collective effect when Mars turns retrograde.  Our ability to have patience and remain calm as we are seemingly paddling upstream is the ultimate test here.  Any attempt to start something new, a relationship, a job, a project, will be met with obstacles, delays, and frustrations and it’s possible that the situation will shift gears or dissolve completely once mars turns direct.  Our judgment is poor during this time, our energy levels are low, and we may be confronted by situations that ignite feelings of irritation or anger.  We are more likely to get sick especially if we are not handling our emotions well and not taking necessary time to rest during this period.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all sit on a beach, bury our head in a good book, and listen to the waves roll in until it was over?  Well, chances are that most of us will have to continue on with our daily lives, relationships, and projects, and make decisions during the next 4 months. 
Yes.. did I mention that this retrograde cycle would last for 4 months?  What could be better than 4 months of opportunities for practicing patience and getting in touch with our anger?  With all sarcasm aside, what is this mars retrograde cycle good for?  First it’s important to note that mars is currently transiting, or moving, through Virgo.  This is the collective theme that all of us will be experiencing and holds valuable lessons for us.  However, this retrograde cycle will affect a specific area of our life differently depending on what your sun sign and ascendant sign are.  Later I will go into more detail about how Mars retrograde will impact each sign, but for now, lets talk more about what Mars in Virgo means.
Mars begins retrograding on January 23, 2012 at 23 degrees Virgo and will turn direct on April 13 2012, at 3 degrees Virgo.  With Mars retrograde in Virgo, we will be focusing on the details in our life and thinking about ways to make things run more efficiently.  Retrograde cycles, for all planets, are times of introspection, reflection, re-thinking, re-organizing.  This just happens to be Virgo’s specialty.  Mars retrograding in Virgo will show us what in our life needs attention and will give us all an opportunity to see what’s not working and find solutions.  As I said before, it’s not the best time to start anything new, however, already established projects may still succeed, but will probably slow down in their progress and require re-evaluation.  Once Mars goes direct again, expect things to pick in speed.
Virgo loves bringing attention to detail, especially the details of things that aren’t working.  However Virgo has a tendency to criticize and obsess over what’s wrong, so watch out for criticism of others or yourself, as this is counterproductive.  Instead, bring these details into focus.  Healthy criticism is good.  It brings to light old and worn out processes, behaviors, and ways of relating.  Now is the time to find ways to practically and efficiently solve problems.  Virgo loves efficiency.  A new course of action will be formed and set in motion, and it will be one that feels clearer and more effective once Mars goes direct. 
Self-care and daily routines, including work and health programs, are also highlighted in Virgo.  With mars retrograde here, we can re-asses how well we are taking care of ourselves on a daily basis.  Do we have a good balance of self-care and work? Do we have a daily practice of meditation or other stress releasing techniques?  Are we exercising enough?  Are we eating properly?  Now’s the time to re-organize your daily schedule and make sure you’re taking care of yourself in the best ways possible.  If this aspect of your life is not in order, you may find yourself getting sick more often than usual, as Virgo rules health, or getting into more accidents, since mars rules accidents.  You especially may be more prone to accidents if you are not handling your anger and other emotions properly.  During this retrograde, allow yourself to slow down.  Don’t act impulsively, as mars may normally allow you to.  Instead, look to see where the anger is coming from and find a healthy way to release it and relate to it. ­­­
Virgo is also about setting clear, healthy boundaries.  We have the opportunity now to practice getting in touch with our emotions, and expressing our needs in clear constructive ways.  Situations that we may have put up with in the past, or avoided, will no longer be allowed to continue.  Confrontations may arise that clearly bring into view weak spots and uncomfortable issues in our relationships, work, and projects that need to be addressed.  Have we been giving too much of ourselves in these situations and not speaking up for our needs, stuffing our anger and creating resentment?  Or have we been overpowering a situation in which maybe we should be learning to compromise. How we respond to these confrontations or frustrations will give us a clear view of our unhealthy emotional and behavioral patterns, from where we can learn to grow.
Now is a good time find support through therapy or friends who can offer us reflection and tools to address our anger. It is also a good idea to carve out time for self-reflection where we can regain some balance and replenish our stores of energy. Retrogrades offer a time of healing as the energy turns inward and we get to visit parts of ourselves that we may unconsciously keep buried.  These parts of ourselves need to be expressed, and if we fight to keep them hidden, they may find their expression by erupting in conflict, sickness, or accidents.  Let’s give Mars a little help by consciously choosing to work on ourselves as the uncomfortable situations arise, so we can avoid breakdown and illness.
During Mars retrograde we will also rethink the direction we have been going in and question if this is really the direction we want to continue going.  An effective weeding out of unhealthy relationships and situations is underway.  It’s time to let go of projects and dreams that are unrealistic.  Virgo will bring into focus what dreams ARE realistic and practical, and the rest will fall away, hopefully gracefully if you’re willing to let them go.  If things do start to unravel and dissolve, it’s important to remember that this is part of the process and you are being asked to re-align to your truest desires and discover new strategies for creating what you want in your life.  It’s time to be re-inspired and reconnected to your passions and loves in life.  However, movement towards these new dreams and passions may be slow until Mars goes direct.  But don’t get discouraged, keep re-envisioning, and create plans that can be put into action when the time is right.
Continued: Part 2


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