It’s here—the 2016 retrograde zone, when Mars, Mercury and Pluto join Saturn and Jupiter in a massive retrospective that persists in varying formations over the course of the next nearly three months, a retrospective that’s certain to interfere with even the best laid plans of gods and mortals. Delays and detours as well as snags and snafus dot the landscape of daily life, wreaking havoc on regular routines and creating chaos in schedules of every kind. It’s going to take a Herculean effort to muster the patience to make it through the constant repetition required to weather such a storm. It’s not that you aren’t being clear; it’s that others’ ears are clogged with cotton balls, or each of us seems to be attuned to disharmonic frequencies that make talking to each other—even normal conversations—akin to speaking in tongues.
These coming weeks require a strong internal center that holds you steady and true to your course—frustration and exasperation could pull you into situations you think are shortcuts but are actually a complex maze of distractions. Really…it’s a mess. But here’s the good news: It’s also an opportunity to play Blame It on the Stars, that fabulous, guilt-free game that requires no personal responsibility! So have at it: Late for work? It’s Mercury Retrograde’s fault. Can’t start the car? Mars Retrograde always does this. And so forth and so on. It’s simply a “get out of jail free” card for every conceivable thing that could and (according to Murphy’s Law) will go wrong.
Mars Retrograde begins on April 17 and ends on June 29. (For a visual, visit: mars.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/nightsky/retrograde/).
The ten days before and after its actual “turnaround” tend to feel as slow as molasses and this is why for the past several days many have felt as if something was retrograde. No one likes Mars Retrograde—not even Mars. Mars symbolizes muscle and movement as well as might and fight; it’s the archetype of the warrior, and warriors aren’t particularly interested in moving backwards across the battlefield unless in retreat.
Mars also signifies ambition and success, and its retrograde phase is not a good time to initiate new projects or set off on expeditions to explore new territory. It’s not that the project won’t happen (although some astrologers will disagree). The problem with initiating anything new under Mars Retrograde is all the obstructions to progress. Mars Retrograde is also not a good time to buy machinery, and this applies to tractors, cars, printers, refrigerators and other necessary household or business needs. And if you must purchase equipment of any kind, make sure you are covered for repairs, placements and accidents.
Mars is retrograde in Sagittarius, the Sign where we search for truth and seek to expand our horizons, internal as well as external. Global communication, travel and politics fall within the Sagittarian domain. Also included are philosophy, religion and all spiritual pursuits, in addition to classical traditions of all kind. Sagittarius, like its Ruling Planet, Jupiter, is a wide-band Sign that embraces the best of being human, as it simultaneously houses the shadows of its search for truth and meaning: Existential angst, and the futility that accompanies believing in nothing, is a Sagittarian theme; as is fundamentalism, when it is a reaction to finding too many truths. And instead of recognizing the beauty of diversity, fundamentalists cling to a one-way-and-one-way-only approach in an attempt to solve the dilemma of just how many belief systems offer the answer.
As Mars retrogrades through Sagittarius, examine how you take a stand for what you believe in. It makes no difference whether it’s religion, politics, finances, or love. No matter what the subject, during this retrograde, warriors of every denomination or political bent will be wont to throw their might around and flex their muscles. As you make your way through this Martian maze of belief systems, do your best to be a peaceful warrior—there’s simply no sense in adding to the already bellicose air pollution that’s poisoning the psychic climate. Commit your superpowers to the good, and whenever possible over the next many weeks, transform this Mars Retrograde into vital acts of compassion. Just don’t confuse compassion with permission—take your stand for what’s right, but refuse to condone or participate in violence of any kind—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
Saturn is also retrograde in Sagittarius, a cycle that began March 25 and ends on August 13. For the next several weeks, as both Mars and Saturn review their journey through the Sign of spiritual search, their combined presence deepens our existential journey. Embrace this process with the willingness to explore all your ideas about the way life should be, as well as your disappointment with how it is. This is a perfect concentration to examine your ideals and how to apply those standards with renewed vigor.
And there’s more.
Pluto Retrograde also begins on April 17. Mars Retrograde begins in the early morning and Pluto “turns around” in the late evening. And yes…this is as intense as it sounds. A dual retrograde on the same day is likely to snarl traffic—and I mean the cars may actual start to growl. But bristling postures aside, Pluto’s retrograde will endure for the next five months (it ends on September 26) and because Pluto is all about what lies beneath the surface of any interaction, we will be exploring our shadows, individual and collective, at an even more intense level. Keep in mind, Pluto symbolizes power in all its many manifestations, from finances to politics to personal opinion to media and any other instruments of mass influence. Also keep in mind, Pluto represents the deep psychological currents that inform belief and behavior. One of the key points of its retrograde is an examination of intention. Focus on exploring the roots of your motivation by determining what is or isn’t authentic for you. Notice especially what you are clinging to most, because this is where you will feel Pluto’s intensity most.
But that’s not all.
Mercury Retrograde begins the morning of April 28 and ends early morning May 22. (I hear that groan—go on, groan again—it’s information deserving of a double “Oy.”). But when it comes to Mercury Retrograde, you have to apply the three-day rule, the rule that includes three days before and after the actual phase. “Normally” (that’s a laugh) I would say you have until April 25 to back up all your vital information. But given the drag of these multiple retrogrades, backup everything now. For the seasoned Mercury Retrograder: You know the drill. For the novice: Mercury Retrograde challenges all things related to communication, language and travel. It’s never a good time to initiate anything new. It’s always a good time to review and reflect on what’s already in motion. More about Mercury Retrograde next week.
So…this week we’re in for quite a ride (next week too, but I’m trying to stay in present time), which is why I’m suggesting you play Blame It on the Stars. You could not find a better aggregation of astrological events to point the blaming finger at. And it feels much better to blame it on the multiple retrogrades than blaming yourself or blaming others. (Okay…some like to blame others, but judging someone else too harshly could cause a karmic boomerang effect, and really…who wants that?) So as the world wobbles, do your best to help those who feel as if they are falling off the edge. And if you feel as if you are falling off, reach out to someone for help. We are fellow travelers, even if it doesn’t always feel as if we are connected.
Sun Bursts: If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that too.
Aries March 21-April 19
Mars Retrograde coupled with Saturn Retrograde is urging you to examine your understanding about how the past informs the present as the present informs the future. I’m not saying you have to grok the simultaneity of existence—although that’s always a help. But I am suggesting that you study how you can better walk your talk and make your inner and outer universes more congruent.
Taurus April 20-May 20
Mars Retrograde combined with Saturn Retrograde is stimulating a deep transformational process related to issues of value. Some of what surfaces is likely to be directly related to money, but the majority of encounters are related to how you establish a true sense of self worth. Gather the necessary pieces and take your time putting this puzzle together—you’re growing, even if you don’t see immediate results.
Gemini May 21-June 21
Mars Retrograde coupled with Saturn Retrograde has you on a less-than- sentimental relationship journey, and as part of that excursion, you’re determined to take a stand for yourself. As you revisit old and still lingering resentments you’ve glossed over for the sake of keeping the peace, so will your partners. Honesty is always the best policy and is the key to skillfully finding shared and healthier ground.
Cancer June 22-July 22
Mars Retrograde combined with Saturn Retrograde points to issues of health and self-care. Make the most of this concentration by reviewing how you handle diet and exercise as well as other areas related to preventative measures and physical maintenance. Whether it’s a physical, a new balanced approach to food, or a look at adding supplements, pay attention to what you need and you’ll make tangible progress.
Leo July 23-August 22
Mars Retrograde occurring with Saturn Retrograde puts the emphasis on creativity and self-expression. Rather than initiate new endeavors, spend this phase reviewing current projects and/or techniques with an eye toward how you can improve or refine your process. These retrogrades are not about taking big risks, so do your best to be moderate and circumspect—you’re gathering information that will enable you to grow.
Virgo August 23-September 22
Mars Retrograde mixed with Saturn Retrograde invites you to make home improvements, inside and out. But I wouldn’t start extensive physical renovations under this influence. Make plans and refine the scope of your efforts, but don’t break ground unless you have to. From an internal perspective, review your contemplation and meditation practice and feel free to implement those changes now.
Libra September 23-October 22
Mars Retrograde combines with Saturn Retrograde to create the perfect climate to review past conversations and exchanges with friends, family, and significant others. As you rehash old familiar territory, do your best to keep an open mind as well as an open heart. Even though these conversations may at first glance appear repetitive or argumentative, if you can maintain a fresh approach, you’ll be able to heal old wounds.
Scorpio October 23-November 21
Mars Retrograde amplifies the lessons of Saturn Retrograde: It’s a financial review that includes an accurate, honest assessment of your spending habits. This is a great time to repair your credit and pay off debt. Embrace this phase, even if it’s painful to acknowledge where you’ve been leaking money or holding on too tightly. Bring your money into balance and you’ll also strengthen your self-confidence.
Sagittarius November 22-December 21
Mars Retrograde and Saturn Retrograde in your Sign is a bummer—yes, that’s true. But you can make the most of this phase if you’re willing to reflect on how you can improve your persona. I’m not talking about a makeover or a diet or a haircut—although all and any of these choices could have beneficial results. I’m suggesting this is a good phase for refining how you initiate new projects and move into action with greater skill.
Capricorn December 22-January 19
Mars Retrograde and Saturn Retrograde combine to create a greater need for quiet contemplation and solitude, but don’t mistake this review for an invitation to brood over past mistakes, yours or others’. This powerful concentration isn’t always easy to handle, especially if you’re prone to holding on to past mistakes, but you can use it wisely by learning to let go through practicing compassion for yourself and others.
Aquarius January 20-February 18
Mars Retrograde coupled with Saturn Retrograde has the potential to make community interactions challenging. It’s not that you don’t want to participate in group activities. The difficultly is that you are attempting to reassess your role, particularly your motivation and intention for joining with others in pursuit of a common goal. Take your time with this process, and gather information that will help refine a sense of purpose.
Pisces February 19-March 20
Mars Retrograde combined with Saturn Retrograde is an invitation to review professional practices, specifically how you structure and implement your career goals. Focus on what isn’t working, but avoid a pessimistic or negative mindset. This retrograde phase isn’t about dwelling on what’s wrong; it’s about making necessary improvements that will enable you to move forward with greater confidence and vitality.