Ok here’s the thing. We’re already off on the wrong foot because this is not actually about mercury retrograde. It’s just that I presume you may have heard of mercury retrograde since it seems to be echoing through the mainstream as a scapegoat for technology mishaps, missed turns, disrupted plans, etc. But mercury is not the only planet that goes retrograde. All of that planets do this apparent backwards motion through the sky. (Note: they are not actually moving backwards, that is just how it appears from our vantage point on earth.) Today we are going to talk about Mars retrograde, which starts on October 30th and runs all the way through January 12th (yikes 😳).
*A note before we begin: Be careful not to get stuck in the most limiting question you could ask yourself about astrology or any system for that matter: do I believe in this. That’s not really relevant here, and limits our ability to feel and imagine. Instead, let’s operate from a mode of curiosity and treat what follows as an axiom: a proposition that’s assumed without proof so that you can experiment with accepting it as true, in order to notice how it feels or what results if you integrate it into some part of your life.
Let’s start with a couple questions you may have:
Why are we talking about this?
Because I, Coach Laura, your newsletter psychopomp / underworld guide, use the motion of the planets as a sort of energetic weather map and have no idea how to function without understanding the energy we’re working with.
How does this affect me?
Contrary to popular belief, you are not a walled off, solitary entity as your skin might have you appear. Everything is energy. Ask any scientist. Ask the ocean. The moon controls the tides of the ocean which comprises about 70% of our planet. If one planetary body has such a large-scale affect on our planet, do we really think we’re exempt from these cosmic forces?
I’m a Virgo, does that matter?
No. Your sun sign is only 1 small piece of your birth chart. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the horoscopes you’ll find online or in magazines. More importantly, we’re not talking about your birth chart (which is a snapshot of the sky at the moment you were born) in this conversation. We’re talking about what’s happening right now: the cosmic weather.
Ok the moon controls the tides and no one cares that I’m a Virgo. What does this have to do with Mars?
Glad you asked. The symbolism of Mars runs deep. At a basic level, Mars is aggression, conflict, action, desire, passion, energy, and war. As it retrogrades through the sign of Gemini, here are some of the themes that may come up over the next couple months: war of words, battles for the truth, communication or information that may feel slippery or hard to get ahold of, not realizing or being aware of deception or lies, misinformation, jumping to conclusions rather than having nuanced conversation, the need to parse out something challenging, learning to communicate the tough stuff.
The way that I use astrology in my life is to simply be aware of the energy that I’m working with. Astrology is not deterministic; rather, it is a tool that can be used to cultivate connection through increased awareness of our interconnectedness.
Mars is obviously not the only planet in the sky so this is not the only thing that will be going on over the next couple months, but it does pull a lot of focus. Being aware of the aforementioned themes allows me to not get thrown off balance if I notice some of the more challenging ones coming up around me or within me. I can breath through the tough stuff more easily, and I can set guardrails for myself so that even when I do engage in hard conversations, I can maintain a larger perspective.
It is helpful to accept the proposition that this is all happening for our highest good. Some of the energy and symbolism of the planets can be interpreted as negative, but it doesn’t have to be. It is here to be worked with, not against.
Since retrogrades are a time of slowing down and review, there is an inherent discomfort when the planet of action and going fast is in a position of slowing down and moving backwards. You may notice the feeling of wanting to push past uncomfortable situations that require taking time to sort through. The Mars part of each of us may feel agitated, but the review can be incredibly helpful if we’re able to sit with the discomfort. This may be a potent time to review our relationship to desire. What are the ways in which our personal desires might be tangled up in what culture tells us that we should want or what is not ok to want? If we are clear on what we desire, how are we using socially constructed timelines to tell ourselves unhelpful stories about our progress? “I should have done x/y/z by now.” “I should already know how to do x/y/z.” “I shouldn’t still be dealing with the same problem, I should be over it by now.”
Among his many notable contributions, Nobel Prize winning physicist, Niels Bohr, introduced us to his concept of deep truths. In ordinary reality, the opposite of a truth is a falsehood. But you can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth. In the world of quantum mechanics, one of the interesting and beguiling questions is whether or not light is a particle or a wave. It turns out that the answer depends on which question you ask about light: what is its position or what is its momentum. Both questions cannot be answered at the same time, but both elicit true indications when answered separately, in different circumstances. This is known as the principle of complementarity. If we extrapolate this concept out of the realm of quanta, we can say that in order to do justice to the full spectrum of reality, the world must be viewed in different, often incompatible ways, at different times.
Yet another Nobel Prize winning physicist, Frank Wilczek, elaborates. He notes that on one hand, humans are a compilation of particles and light. And on the other hand, we are thinking, feeling beings. These are each different ways of organizing our experience of the world. Each one tells us important things and can be useful in certain applications. But they’re very difficult to apply simultaneously because they’re from different worlds.
Gemini is about the way we tell stories. From my vantage point, it seems as though our world could benefit from a review of storytelling. There are, of course, the ways in which we position ourselves and others in a story – whether we are the victims and others are the perpetrators – and how that implies and perpetuates our limits. And there’s also a profound need to expand the amount of perspectives and truths that can cohabitate on this planet. What if our stories didn’t have to be in conflict with each other? What if the very nature of story itself exceeds the limited structures of fact and logic and contains something akin to a deep truth, which is capable of holding all the myriad complexities of being human?
Questions like these are the gifts of working with astrology. There are no predictions or predispositions, just a widening capacity to hold larger, more generative questions.