Retrograde Motion - What Does it Mean?
A planet moving backwards is an optical illusion we refer to as retrograde motion. All the planets in the solar system, including Earth, rotate around the Sun in different elliptical orbits - and at different speeds. Sometimes, from our viewpoint, a planet will appear to be moving backwards in relation to other planets, against the backdrop of the night sky and the stars.
The optical illusion is similar to the one you get when you are on a fast train that is overtaking a slower one. Both trains are moving forwards, but it will seem through the window, as if that slow train is reversing.
For thousands of years, astrologers have attributed huge cultural and spiritual significance to planets which appear to move backwards in the sky. Retrograde motion is seen both literally and figuratively as a reversal; but it is an over-simplification to assume that this should be interpreted negatively. Periods of retrograde motion are much more accurately viewed as times of review and correction when things haven't been going to plan. Indeed, far from being negative, retrograde motion can signify positivity and hope.
Mars Retrograde - What can we expect?
EVERY planet spends some time in retrograde motion. For Mars, it happens for just over two months, roughly every two years. At the time of writing (September 2020) the planet of action will be retrograde for nine weeks until November 12.
When a car is in reverse does it mean it is travelling in the wrong direction? Absolutely not, although it may be tricker to drive. But it might mean that it had been travelling the wrong way, and that it is now in the process of correcting course.
A change of direction shouldn't represent failure or a waste of time. Sometimes the only way to know the right way forward is by travelling the wrong path for a time. And just because a journey doesn't immediately get us where we meant to go, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy the ride!
Jump First, Look Later
Mars is full of daring and desire; it represents our drive to do things. It's the jump-first-and-look-later planet, pushing us forward and creating the pressure needed to make progress. This can lead to frustration, but there are plenty of times when our lives are enhanced by the win-at-all-costs energy it delivers.
Drinking a medium glass of wine can be good for you, but downing a magnum is problematic! Similarly, with pressure. A little challenge can be just enough motivation to help us stretch for a goal. But too much pressure can be stultifying. We need Mars in our lives, challenging us to do better. But we also need to manage its influence to avoid burn-out.
That's why Mars in retrograde is so important. It is a vital time for review and recalibration of the pressure gauge. That doesn't mean things will be easy. Navigating backwards can be tricky, but it's not impossible. We're simply being encouraged to take our time figuring things out and considering new ways of acting.
Mars moving forwards is the planet of action and dynamism. But when it is retrograde its personality switches to play out more internally; from Hollywood action-hero to reflective philosopher may seem like a radical adjustment! But both types have something in common: determination and focus. They simply apply it in different ways.
The Voice Inside
Mars retrograde offers a reflective period to help us see personal development as equally important, if not more, than any external validation gained from the satisfaction of desire. That doesn't mean we should be giving up goals. And neither does it foretell any pressure becoming so great that it rules us out of getting what we want.
But it does ask us to listen to the voice inside that drives us on and question what deeper desires it yearns for. We'll get answers that push us into addressing our mis-steps; answers that point us where we need to concentrate our energies to achieve fulfilment.
Often seen as the angry red planet, Mars is equally a source of pleasure, even when the gratification it brings is fleeting. So the time it spends in retrograde needn't be difficult or alarming. Indeed, it's only when we slow down that we realise what we've been missing by charging forwards with our heads down.
By embracing the retrograde scenic route we also give ourselves a chance to enjoy the fruits of past labours. If we just keep pushing forward without any introspection, we would soon run out of steam. Our bodies need fuel and our brains need sleep; but our psyche needs an opportunity to relax and recharge. Mars retrograde shows us the importance of setting the right pace. Pausing for reflection is not a failure; it's a pathway to success and happiness.
Flames of Passion...
In intimate romantic settings, the influence of Mars can often be the spark that arouses the flames of passion. So, is Mars retrograde a passion-killer? Hardly. It can be the time when you take intimacy and connections to a new, more fulfilling level, when anticipation, patience, gradual intensity and smouldering potential can be discussed and developed. Flames that will burn longest, rather than brightest, are what will warm the heart most.
There is no avoiding the fact that some people will find Mars retrograde frustrating. The secret is to see it as a moment of individual growth. Recognise that drive, assertion and aggression have their place but it will be more useful to develop other tools in our kitbag. It's not a time to bottle up feelings or fall into resentful apathy. Rather it's a time to mature and learn that satisfaction delayed can be much sweeter than instant gratification.
....and a Cosmic Gift
It is crucial to view Mars retrograde positively, and not to think of it as being side-tracked. It's a golden opportunity to rethink, correct course or fix an engine that has been misfiring. The cosmos cares for us, and this is its gift. We are simply, and gently, being urged to pause and understand how to channel our energy more effectively. Lessons learnt during this period will sustain us for the rest of our lives.