Mars Retrograde – Developing Themes to Consider

Mars is stationing retrograde on the 30th, so we currently have a slow-moving and about to turn backwards (from Earth’s perspective) Mars in Gemini. I have shared an overview a few months ago you can see here, but want to speak again on some developing themes of the Mars retrograde and share some perspectives on how to work with it.

Mars retrogrades can offer initiations to our inner-warrior – subjectively, that means we can be encountering challenging or confrontational situations that create a level of heat (Mars) that activates us and offers the opportunity for change.

I learned in my embodiment studies* that stagnant patterns that we hold in our bodies can begin to shift when we add heat to our systems – arousal (movement, heat, turn-on, etc) can make our system more malleable. I think of metal forging with Mars, and the way that the metal can be bent when it is heated up. This isn’t to say we have a breakthrough or experience alchemy every time our body heats up, as it is possible to just re-enact a familiar pattern from an activated space. But there is a *possibility* of change within the hot, malleable place. That is a higher gift, for example, of anger, when we learn how to work with it.

Generally, Mars retrogrades can show us that there are new ways to respond and to interact with moments of high-intensity, activation, or arousal.

Welcome back! Or in case this is your first time here, I’m Sabrina Monarch and I’m a soul-centered astrologer. I love providing perspectives on the opportunities of transits and putting into words what the zeitgeist feels like at this moment in time, to support you on your path & open a dialogue between us and the cosmos. If you would like to receive my writing to your inbox and be notified of upcoming educational opportunities, sign up for my mailing list here.

Information/Language/Conversation that triggers a threat response

Mars is in Gemini so one of the places that Martian (conflict/defense) impulses are being expressed through is the Gemini archetype, which relates to logic, communication, conversation, and the capacity to make connections.

Perhaps we know what it’s like to receive a text message or to get a ‘look’ from someone that creates an immediate response in our body where we feel defensive or up in arms.

I don’t have a prescriptive answer around this phenomenon such as “practice regulating yourself” or “let your anger out!” because these things are unique, nuanced, and situation-dependent. What I’m curious about is how the time of Mars being in Gemini will create evolution in how we more nimbly relate to our own threat-response or the threat-response dynamics that come up in relationship.

I recently listened to the audiobook “Your Brain on Love” by Stan Tatkin which I found particularly revelatory – I will probably be listening to it over again at least once if not more. It is about creating secure relationships and delves into the natural issues that can arise in intimacy/attachment due to our biology and how to work with this in way that are more effective or create relationship harmony.

When a stimuli – a piece of information, an interaction, etc. correlates to a threat response in the body, this to me feels like a Mars in Gemini phenomenon – information = arousal.

What I’ve been noticing for myself and in observation of what I notice around me is that there is an opportunity at this time to re-evaluate this phenomenon as it is appearing in our lives.

Gemini has a gift for bridge-building and synthesis, and the dynamic of evolving our relationship to threat response has me receiving an image of building a greater rapport and clarity in our own systems between our primal/survival brain and our higher-self, visionary, upper-chakra consciousness.

It’s not as though I’ve found a recipe, but I’ve learned over years that I can’t deny my animal or my human just because I’m being “my higher self”. If we suppress instincts or emotions to do that, it can be a form of self-harm or it can be a way of acclimating ourselves to untrue dynamics and taking ourselves out of the intimate, tactile, connection to life that comes through living in alignment with our animal/human truth. On the other hand, if we build our consciousness and thoughts from the “lizard brain” and threat response system, we may have a highly skewed picture of what is happening and may limit our options for navigating the situation and limit our options for breakthrough.

Putting this in the context of Eclipse Season

Emotions run higher and more dramatic during eclipses, and it is helpful to ride with a current of true unfolding during this time as opposed to forcing things. Mars stationing can imply that we are re-evaluating our impulses – but that doesn’t mean situations aren’t coming up that make us want to be impulsive! Often the contrary, During eclipses, it can be helpful to practice being less reactive and to give some time for pieces to settle instead of battling with the pieces. This doesn’t mean “doing nothing” – but being mindful about excess of reactivity or excess of doing/controlling/forcing.

A Contemplation on the “Say it!” moment of fighting

Consider a heated conversations between people who are in close relationship. These conversations are relatively held in a field of collaboration and willingness to work it out, but it’s definitely feeling like going through the fire. At any given point in the argument, someone is holding something back so the other prompts, “Say it.”

In relationships we can set ground rules for engagement, i.e. people might find it important that they leave the room before doing or saying something nuclear, go clear their heads, and then return to the conflict.

On the other hand, the Mars in Gemini experience has me considering the image of two people in a boxing rink and the punches that are being thrown is information and dialogue oriented, like the information that is coming forward is hard.

One might find themselves in the positions, at different times, of one requesting de-escalation – “I’m sensitive right now – PLEASE can we go slower, or can you be less blunt or kinder with our words because I’m dying here,”

Or two, “Hit me, TELL me. I want to know.”

(Or anywhere in between, there in…)

The main conclusions or insights that I’ve come to within this contemplation is that –

Conflicts that are part of close attachment relationships can be artful – there is a way to collaborate even in conflict or choose the pace/be aware of the intensity. Conflict is a high-risk arena and it can be a teammate situation where we’re going through the fire together, and not trying to fight to the death or make it a war. To consider the skill or craft of the “friendly” argument (aka an argument meant to work out tension, but not to destroy the connection or destroy the other) would be a very mercurial thing to do with Mars in Gemini.

Facing uncomfortable perspectives or pieces of information (where we have discerned it is important, where we are willing) can be a type of strength training. We might be becoming more creative or adaptive in dealing with this kind of stress where we are choosing it.

While I’ve spoken here of conflict with people we’re choosing to work with (I love John Welwood’s definition of love as “sacred combat with a worthy opponent”), we may also recognize battles in our lives that feel extraneous and come across as a tax or an expenditure. Repair with someone close to us can feel way more necessary say than having it out with a stranger on the internet, or more subtly – feeding a compulsive, addictive pattern our life-force energy instead of making an evolutionary shift.

Mars retrograde can be a re-evaluation of where we do have battles to confront and step up to (ultimately, facing ourselves) and where we can retreat or de-escalate a battle that is fruitless. I believe this tension can be revealing to us about what we truly value and what we are willing to fight for.

& if the conflicts we are experiencing (if we are experiencing them) feel novel, it may be asking us to train new skills for the task. The arts of communication (Gemini) would be especially relevant or highlighted.

I would further invite a contemplation/investigation on types of conflict resolution that are not zero-sum games or attempts to dominate and win – especially when your end goal is actual connection. To do the zero-sum game is to erase some complexity (it is simpler to collapse the options to one winning one). We’re looking at Gemini, a double-bodied and infinitely multifaceted sign. If we learn how to do conflict such that something novel and mutual arises, we may experience some of the greater gifts this transit has to offer.

Thank you for tuning into the Mars retrograde with me! I will be teaching Evolutionary Astrology again this February in Dragon of the Moon: an Evolutionary Astrology Initiation, for those seeking to deepen their intimacy and literacy with astrology from a soul-centered perspective. Learn more and apply here.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!

with love,

Sabrina Monarch

*Got this insight from my friend and teacher, Karla Palomino

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Julie O'Reilly
    October 24, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    “But there is a *possibility* of change within the hot, malleable place. That is a higher gift, for example, of anger, when we learn how to work with it.”  I love this heating of metal analogy. Thank you! It is true that when metal is heating, if it is not hit at that time it is hot, and it is just allowed to cool off, nothing changes. So to extrapolate from the analogy further, I would say that it is of the utmost importance to do something that feels bad or hurts WHEN YOU ARE ACTUALLY MAD(HEATED), for growth, otherwise no change will occur. And what I mean by “feels bad or hurts” is something maybe that feels humbling like not snapping at the innocent(or not so innocent) bystander or instigator of the anger/heating[and instead self-regulate and act intentionally]. And if we also think of the biblical idea of being “put to the test,” being put to the test is actually a “heating” in the sense that a testum[Latin for “pot”], is heated, that is, pyro-fied(“fire” in Greek)/fired, and this testing takes it from being a “green” malleable hunk of clay to being a tried and true durable actual pot. We might say that the heating tests the pot and after the purification(pyro-ification), if it doesn’t break under the pressure but becomes strong and useful, it has passed this test. So, when a person is actually mad is a great time to swallow whatever it is they are feeling in whatever heroic way they can, and take whatever it is that hurts, or that feels like being hit, attacked, mauled or whatever, and die to oneself, allowing and choosing to let oneself bend or be hammered(smoothed out) in that moment in the name of growth, which would be to be released from endless cycles of futility(being conscious).. 

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