A Few Notes on Mars Retrograde

by Maria Theresa Maggi on July 25, 2018

"The Red Planet," chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“The Red Planet,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

I’m not a person who is easy to anger. On the way to anger, I’m likely to get distracted or fascinated by focusing on how to solve the situation that’s leading me down the road to an outburst, or even more likely, I might have an outburst in private and then laugh at myself, and within that laughter, I find a solution. This also often happens in the presence of someone I’m explaining a dilemma to—a customer service rep over the phone, the bank teller, you name it. The laughing is usually a signal we’ve discovered common ground and a resolution is on its way.

But sometimes the tangle is so tangled that I know I am not explaining it clearly enough, and I know the tangle is still pointing into the direction of dissolution or conflict. Sometimes I get tired and tearful when the way through doesn’t present itself readily.

When it becomes clear that practices or policies that are unfair are making the tangle, that’s when I get angry. That usually takes the form of hyper focus on the steps of the unfairness, and finding a different situation where the unfair practices are not in evidence.

In the past week, I’ve been in a situation that started a few months ago, and involved all these reactions.

Mars gives us a singularity of focus. Think of the “will” of Spring time, which is ruled by the sign Aries, and its companion planet, Mars. There is no stopping the snow melting, the chick pecking out of the shell, the song of the male bird to attract the female—other than the desired result.

In us, it can also be a force of hyper focus that eludes whether that focus is misplaced and yet relentless. I think of a story my son’s dad told about himself as a child determined to get a wooden jigsaw puzzle piece into the spot he thought it should go in—with a hammer.

When Mars pushes us to move forward, express anger, win the race or the attention of a person we feel attracted to, we are usually, like teenagers, singularly possessed by that feeling. It’s a lot like watching Cotton take off after a sea gull on the beach. He can’t stop until he can stop—even when he’s trying to circle back to me he’s going SO fast that he has to pass me and loop back as he slows himself down to comply.

When Mars is retrograde that speed fueled by hyper focus gets turned on its ear. Our race to the finish line is thwarted. Our singularity of focus may crumble. The time it takes to accomplish anything particular may seem to stretch into infinity.

Similarly, the maturity of our choices about what to focus on may take a hit as well. We may not know where to place our focus, or get caught up into something that doesn’t deserve it.


A long time ago I went to a wonderful astrological event called Planet Camp. It was an amazing gathering of astrological practitioners from all over the country at a retreat center, camping or staying in cabins on site and creating grass roots workshops in the outdoors. One of those was experiential astrology. We literally quickly made a chart for the moment and the place and watched what was happening in our environment. I was so delighted with this, that it trained me to include in the readings I would come to give my clients in the future to do what I called “making some metaphorical popcorn” and remembering to “watch the show” around you and in your life as you enter into any important individual and/or collective transit.

Just last Saturday I was riding down to the Farmer’s Market in Newport with a lovely neighbor who invited me to come along. She has had good astrological readings over the years and so we were discussing what that was like for her and I raised the topic of Mars being retrograde. When we got to the market and were looking for a parking space, we had a perfect object lesson in those Mars retrograde dynamics. “Oh, here’s the parking lot,” she said, turning in, only to discover we were going the wrong way in a narrow setting. No cars were heading toward us at that very moment so she said, I’ll just swing around into this space.” As we were doing that seemingly successfully, we rounded into the space only to discover there was a woman crouching down next to the hub of the wheel on the car to our left, apparently trying to get cell phone reception and/or have a hidden conversation. So we stopped mid-turn, as she finished her conversation. My friend said, in her place at the driver’s seat something like “oh shoot—I guess we’ll have to wait for her right here”—meaning positioned half in the space and half stuck out in the narrow single lane going the wrong way. Meanwhile, I was noting that in the car in the space to our right, a man was sitting, waiting to pull out himself, but of course we were in the way. The woman finished her conversation, got up, and said, “I’m sorry about that,” and my friend said “oops, I guess she heard me,” noticing her window was open and so her voice had probably carried out of it. We all smiled at each other apologetically. We swung into the space finally, and then the guy to the right could pull out. Or maybe he was simply waiting to get out of his own car. I forget. Either one was necessary in order for me to be able to open the back seat door and let Cotton jump out. There was a little bit of “am I in here straight enough?” and maybe some waiting to adjust the angle while other cars drove by or were waiting for what they thought might be an opening spot.

But eventually we were all out of the car safely and on our way to the market.

“That, “ I said to my friend, “was an excellent experiential example of Mars retrofrade.” And we both laughed.

Some folks who follow the terrain of Mercury retrograde (which is also coming up to join Mars in retrograde motion on July 26, just in time for the lunar eclipse conjunct Mars retrograde) might say “isn’t this something that would happen when Mercury, not Mars is retrograde? What’s the difference?”

Both Mercury and Mars are personal planets and we feel their apparently retrograde motion in similar yet distinct ways. The emphasis on Mars in this interlude I just described is that it has to do with our desires, our desire to get a parking space, to swing into it going the “wrong” direction so we can “get” to the market “faster,” only to have that thwarted by the woman crouching down at the wheel well of the neighboring car. If Mars were going forward and in certain aspects, it might have been much more likely that she would have yelped in surprise or yelled at us, or cursed us for scaring her, or possibly threatening her safety, even though we didn’t know she was there. We might have been coming from the “right” direction as well. And she might even have been pacing in the empty space, unaware she was holding up parking. But with Mars retrograde, she was hiding herself and she was sheepish and apologetic about it when discovered.

I experienced this reversal of emotional direction later on in the week when trying to resolve a seemingly insurmountable tangle about how to get prescription food and medicine renewed by my vet so I can buy it online instead of having to get a ride to go get it every month. I had been trying to address the needed updates for months off and on, and was kind of at my wit’s end, my voice getting a bit teary as I had tried to explain the situation yet again to what seemed like “warring” parties involved. I even thought that maybe I would have to find yet another “new” vet, though I didn’t want to do that, since my Silkens really like this one. But the arrangements just weren’t getting ironed out. When things get like that I sometimes just yell at my guardian angels and whoever else guides me to “HELP!!” I had even gone so far as to ask a neighbor about their vet and look them up on the internet.

And then I had my Mars retrograde epiphany. It started with a concession, which is not usual Martian territory. I decided to cancel the online order for the medication, and arrange to go buy it at the vet office when I would have a ride already in that direction to get the dogs’ nails trimmed. That, I told myself, would take the seeming battle of wills down a notch, and I would have time to sort it all out in the next month.

At that moment I knew that making this concession was the way to resolve the impasse instead of taking my righteous indignation to a new vet to see if she’d meet my logistical needs, deserving though they were, after months of trying to resolve the confusion that had gathered on several different related fronts. I knew I was tapping into the ”flow” of Mars retrograde. The grace, if you will, was in conceding, not ramming my agenda forward. And then all fell into place.

When I called the vet’s office yet again to say I’d be in to pick up this medication, I got the receptionist from heaven, who knew and understood my situation and asked specifically for me to find out the information from the online provider the vet’s office would need to fax a prescription in to them, while she obtained permission from my vet to do it that way. We were both successful, and now everything will be set up as I need in the coming months. And we get to keep the vet the boys are used to now.

So Mars retrograde may not be the time to push forward a desire into the brand new or unknown by instinct. It might be better to sit with that desire, that anger, and ask how to best address it. It isn’t the time our desires themselves flow in a straight line. They may be gentle, more curvy, more tentative, or seek multiple inlets to percolate, rather than outlets of expression or outbursts.

I like to think the utter craziness we’re seeing on a collective scale, which is indeed dangerous and scary, can also be worked with by finding the key thing to allow, to concede, to submit to, so more truthful and courageous and loving justice can begin to renew itself. It isn’t going to come instantly, or in a straight line. And it likely won’t arrive by tit for tat either. I’m not going to bury my head in the sand about these treacherous conditions. I’m not giving up, either, even though I may be stepping back and looking before I leap. I’m going to support every positive effort to promote healthy democracy, compassion and human connection I can. I’m going to give myself to those things, keep doing that. I honestly don’t know if that’s the answer to everything, but it seems like the answer to everything for me.

In the meantime Mars retrograde and Mercury retrograde with it for the next few weeks (along with the lunar eclipse and the planet Uranus in ssquare to it all), I’m guessing will continue to dreg up communications about sexual misconduct, and perhaps even the use of it to gaslight us with distraction from the betrayals of Helsinki, the upcoming election and more. It is, above all, a revolutionary time, and we may well be surprised over and over by what that coughs up.

In the mindful midst of all of it, I’m going to tune in deep to myself and keep writing my postcards to voters. Even the postcards I selected because they give me enough room to hand write on are devoid of my artist ego, my enjoyment of “I made this and I am sending it to you to love.” The humble practical choice that best suits my handwriting challenges is working its magic on a more quiet level. But the magic is there, despite the fact that my printer’s not working right and I haven’t solved that problem yet so I can’t (yet) print my own postcards even if I did design one.

It just isn’t about that. Instead, it’s about handwriting the message I composed with the help of the points from the organization I’m writing for, and reflecting on the part of the country I’m writing to, what it looks like on the lanes and the roads and streets I send to, the houses the apartments, and most of all the people who will take them out of their mailboxes and read my sincere thoughts about how to promote a healthier democracy, and that I really do think their votes matter. I have a quiet heart connection, not an ego connection, to all those people I write to who I will never meet in person, who only know that I think their vote counts and I care about it enough to write and tell them so. The cynical might say it’s cheezy, it doesn’t matter, it won’t make a difference, that we’re already screwed. But I know it’s worth a shot. And knowing that is a Mars retrograde gift at its finest.

Maria (moonwatcher)

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 marilyn July 29, 2018 at 6:07 am

Great explanation of the retrograde Mars, Maria. The focus on Mars behind desires and the parking lot example helped me a great deal. I am in a parking lot situation right now — in a different way– and trying to figure out how to get out of it! Thank you!


2 Maria Theresa Maggi July 29, 2018 at 8:21 am

Thank you Marilyn! I am so happy to know you found this helpful–it really makes my morning. Sending best thoughts for your own Mars retrograde extrication! xo


3 Gena July 31, 2018 at 4:50 am

I love your explanation of Mars being in retrograde, Maria, which complements my burgeoning acquaintance with astrology 😉

I also love your description of the dialogue and concessions that have been a part of your experience of feeling angry and frustrated; it’s a great reminder that even within strong emotional experience there is sometimes room for give-and-take.

Anger is a very threatening emotion for me—my tendency is to feel any other feeling first, because anger is so scary—but with time I’m coming to understand how important it is, too. There’s a lot to be said for giving oneself over to it, and it’s funny how resolutions and release can flow from there. The outcomes you describe with the Vet’s office bring that point home, for me. And I celebrate your continued postcard writing.



4 Maria Theresa Maggi July 31, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Thank you so much, Gena. Anger is a tough one for a lot of us. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post and that it adds to your burgeoning acquaintance with astrology. 🙂 And I actually teared up at your celebration of my continued postcard writing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and more. xoxo


Previous post:

Next post: