Mars Retrograde 2020: The Transit That Keeps on Giving – Margaret Cahill

I’ve been anticipating this Mars retrograde with an unseemly level of excitement.

I prefer that word to the other candidates lurking in the depths, like ‘dread’, ‘trepidation’ and of course ‘apprehension’, but lurking they are. I initially thought the main reason for this strangely deep connection was that Mars turned retrograde on my natal Mars at 28 Aries, in the 7th house. My natal Mars also happens to be conjunct the South Node, so I idly wondered what gifts from the past this transit would bring. I’m joking of course as the South Node is rarely associated with gifts, and Mars adds nothing helpful to that particular party. Then I realised that in its retrograde journey Mars would take in a conjunction with Eris then square aspects with Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter (in that order), all of which have been, or are, opposing my Sun at 26 Cancer, so making a Grand Cross in my chart.

No wonder this feels personal.

Amidst the horrors we’re facing at the moment (politics-free zone alert) it’s easy to feel swamped and believe that we are powerless. There’s a huge amount of negativity around, but what I’m coming to see as I meditate on this period is that the journey Mars is making back towards the Lord of the Underworld, via the Lord of Karma, is one of discovering our courage and personal power – and the very idea of that challenge generates fear. We don’t like being confronted, and in these situations Mars is used to lashing out and bullying the opposition into submission. But now he can’t. There is frustration at his diminished power from being retrograde and at having to move so slowly.

True growth only comes out of facing adversity, and often we don’t initially have the courage required. But we can find it as we progress. I see this as a kind of Hero’s Journey, where we are forced to excavate the layers of illusion we have so carefully built up, and face apparently insurmountable challenges in order to discover our true selves. Are we up to it? As long as we continue to wake up each morning, we have to be. There are no shortcuts or VIP passes available for this particular ride.

So what does this period mean on a personal level? Where is Mars retrograde transiting in your chart? Is there an unravelling of confidence? Are your beliefs being called to account? Are you being summoned to defend previous actions? We are currently living in a polarised society where there are no shades of grey and as we witness the destruction of the very fabric of our lives it can be hard to find solid ground. But as our layers are gradually peeled away we discover the fear that has held us back. Mars in Aries doesn’t generally think about things too deeply, so the square with Pluto is ironic in the extreme. Mars in retrograde being forced into a confrontation with Pluto? That’s not for the faint-hearted, but firstly, we don’t have any choice about it, and secondly, if we have the courage to go with it we can learn a lot and emerge from the encounter with a new vision of our personal future.

Our belief in ourselves (not usually a problem for Mars in Aries) is now being called to order by the contact with Saturn (29 September) and Pluto (9 October and 23 December) as we are forced to examine exactly what is important in our lives. In the Hero’s Journey our quest is to plumb the depths, but with Mars currently in retro slo-mo, the irony of our meeting with the Lord of Karma before we get up close with the Lord of the Underworld doesn’t escape me. Are we being given the tools and structure with which to move forward into this brave, new world?

I feel that, painful as they sometimes appear to be, interactions with Saturn are ultimately constructive. Soft aspects are obviously easier than hard ones, but where Jupiter can fuel unattainable pipe-dreams which turn out to be just that once the transit has passed, Saturn gives us the tough homework then rewards us with an outcome which shows us just how much we have learnt. The cosmic equivalent of an ‘I was brave at the dentist’ sticker. I see this whole retrograde as a learning curve –we have to curb our impatience, stop champing at the bit, and look what is actually happening in our lives, which is something of a novelty for Mars. But these are meetings with seriously heavyweight planets and we need to give them due time and attention. These planets will pull forth from us strengths and positive attributes that we may never have realised were there.

Pluto might be Lord of the Underworld, but he is also symbolic of the phoenix rising from the ashes. The period between 9 October and 14 November is when Mars is at his slowest, just before he goes direct. The days become even shorter and it is the perfect time for a symbolic retreat into the darkness. Live slowly, minute by minute, and contemplate whatever arises as a result. There has to be total destruction before there is regrowth, so the second meeting with Pluto on 23 December has a completely different flavour – Mars is conjunct the feisty warrior goddess Eris and the Moon. The shackles are off, and fired up with new energy from being direct and exalted, Mars is ready to gallop ahead with new plans and new hope in his heart that seemed impossible just a few months before.

 You’ve got this.

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