No matter what the sign or house placement of Mars in the birth chart it is a yang planet representing action, work, anger, sex, energy and how we get what we want. It is the get up and go in our lives and without it we’d be dead. Martian energy, normally outgoing, when retrograde is turned inward urging us to reorient in a new direction. Time to get in touch with our inner warrior. We must confront ourselves rather than others and that is not something Mars normally feels comfortable doing. Mars by nature is not very introspective. But every 2 years we must burn the fire within and purify our Martian energy and take stock of our actions. By surging inwards for the 6 week retrograde we can test our motives for proper action so that on the direct station we can reanimate ourselves with renewed vim and vigor. Our energy healthily revitalized. It would be great if we could all do that but so much of the time Mars retrograde becomes anger turned inwards against ourselves. Mars can be a bully and when retrograde we are much harder on ourselves because it is very difficult to let off steam appropriately. It’s very easy to push too hard and inflame unhealthy patterns causing flare ups to old health issues. Misdirected and misguided anger has an odd way of physically manifesting in the body as boils, welts, sores, fevers, accidents and a myriad of other problems. Individual consciousness and awareness dictates how well this energy can be incorporated. The purpose of Mars retrograde is to evaluate what motivates us and determine if we’re on the correct path. It’s time to adjust actions and aggressive instincts to ensure that we can accomplish our goals. Old resentments have a way of resurfacing and it is an ideal time to develop new strategies and approaches for dealing with issues that can be implemented when Mars goes direct.
When Mars turned retrograde on October 1, 2005 I decided to get back in touch with my acupuncturist to help with some health issues. Several things prompted this. I had stopped seeing him for almost a year because of a money shortage but as Mars was approaching its retrograde in Taurus I rethought my issues surrounding money and decided my health was much more important. After all, this doctor always helped me tremendously. I had been overworking myself, burning the candle at both ends, and felt a bad cold coming on. Lastly, some welts and boils had appeared on my butt! I didn’t like the appearance and I wanted to have this taken care of. Mars natally rules my 6th and 7th house and it was turning retrograde in my 7th. The interpretation is easy; going back to an old relationship involving a doctor in order to take care of my health. Aries on the cusp of the 6th house symbolizes healing the body through acupuncture. I reassessed my values as they pertained to my physical body. Was I going to let money block the more important value of my health? Mars retrograde got me in touch with truly what was of value to me on an inner level and helped me not worry so much about my material “stuff”.
As Astrologers we counsel our clients that relationships begun on Mars retrograde are fine so long as you don’t have sex. And if you do have sex there will be something about the relationship that won’t work out easily. More than likely a hot sexual encounter or affair begun on a Mars retrograde will fizzle out when it turns direct or if it does continue there will be some restriction or limitation placed on it. You may remain friends and feel emotionally close yet physically distant. Whatever the manifestation, it would not be a sexual relationship of ease. Things usually work out better on the retrograde if someone you know re-enters your life. So of course I had to test this theory out. I met two different men on the retrograde. The first I had been introduced to a year ago and at that time he barely gave me the time of day. All of a sudden on the Mars retrograde I met him at a local bar and he starts speaking to me as if he’s discovered a new friend. He didn’t even remember who I was from a year ago. My appearance had changed rather dramatically within the year and I wasn’t about to remind him of our previous meeting. Of course he would come back into my life on the retrograde as he is an archetype of a hot, sexy man. In the second instance, I met a guy for the first time and we had a very fateful first encounter and things have been progressing in a very interesting way. First time sexual encounters generally don’t bode as well on the retrograde as do encounters of people from the past. It will be interesting to note how these relationships adjust when Mars turns direct.
In a third, far more intimate relationship of mine, resentments and feelings from the past came rushing to the surface. I was forced to deal with my emotions on an inner level and instead of getting angry, had to evaluate how I was going to confront issues. So before talking to this person directly I spent a month confronting myself with what I wanted in this relationship and how I could achieve that. Mars became more reflective. I broached some issues but not all of them. I am waiting to confront other more complicated matters when Mars turns direct. But the retrograde has been invaluable in helping me re-assess my values, desires and how to achieve them.
Natal Mars Direct by Progression
Let’s talk about my favorite subject and a very Martian woman: Joan Crawford! If you read my article from a couple of months ago Crawford was born with Mars retrograde in Libra in the 11th house and the handle of a bucket chart. That’s a scary Mars. But we’re talking about Joan Crawford after all, a pretty scary woman. A very masculine woman, a very Mars in Libra Retrograde kind of woman because so much of her life was about desperately wanting to be “liked” and going to any measure humanly possible to be seen as someone worthy of being liked. She was consumed with putting on appearances of elegance, refinement, beauty, glamour and proper behavior. One could accuse her, and many have, of putting on “airs” (Libra is an air sign). By progression her Mars in Libra went direct in September 1949. With Mars ruling her ascendant, Sun, Venus and 6th house we can expect major changes in her life. Something hidden should be coming out. The Mars in Libra became more like Mars in Aries and she had a harder time keeping the lid on her mask and persona. Some said her “true” colors are finally surfacing. That hard edge that was always percolating and simmering underneath was finally unleashed and we saw the woman in a more direct way. The nastiness became more overt. Something very interesting happened to Joan Crawford’s screen persona at this time. Before 1950 her movie roles always had a hard edge but the characters, with a few exceptions, were always sympathetic, likable and, if morally a little vague, the screenwriters always led you to an understanding of her behavior. This all changed with two films released in 1950: “The Damned Don’t Cry” and “Harriet Craig”. Both films were in production at the end of 1949 and early 1950 exactly at the time her progressed natal Mars turned direct. These films heralded the Joan Crawford that everyone remembers to this day: cold, hard, mean, unsympathetic, heartless, masculine, cruel and camp. In “The Damned Don’t Cry” she plays a woman from the wrong side of the tracks that claws her way to the top of the success ladder. She has no morals whatsoever and is ruthless in her drive and ambition to get ahead at any cost. In “Harriet Craig” she plays a cold heartless woman who cares more about her house and possessions than her husband or anyone else in her life. Her bold, calculating lies inevitably are her downfall. The woman is as cold and icy as a freezer and seemingly has no heart. The rest of her film career until her death used variations on the theme of this type of woman. From 1925 until 1950 Crawford played driven and ambitious characters but always with a soft, sympathetic edge with occasional glimpses of the monster she would later become. From 1950 to 1975 she played driven, ruthless monsters; Amazon women, frightening in their intensity with only occasional glimpses of the softer, more sympathetic woman that she had been in the past. And physically she became so much more masculine in this period as well. She also became more outwardly combative with younger actresses. Her fights were legendary with Janice Rule, Gloria Grahame, Mercedes McCambridge and Marilyn Monroe. The lid was off her Mars and she didn’t care as much anymore about being “nice”. It was a major turning point in her life and career, accurately reflected by this profound chart progression.
Even more bizarre is what was happening in Christina Crawford’s chart at the same time. Let’s talk about karma shall we? Christina also has a bucket chart with Mars as the handle. Natally her 4th house Mars in Aquarius is stationary getting ready to turn retrograde by progression but this doesn’t happen until the spring of 1950 when she is 11 years old. Remember that Crawford’s progressed Mars changed direction in the fall of 1949. Within a matter of months they each had major life altering changes in the direction their lives would take. (Let’s throw in a little synastry while we’re at it: Christina’s Mars conjuncts Joan’s Moon/Saturn conjunction). Can anyone doubt the deep connection that these two women shared and had to play out? In February of 1950 Christina was enrolled in Chadwick, a private boarding school. Crawford wanted Christina out of the house because she was becoming too rebellious. Shortly thereafter Christina had a sexual awakening with a boy of 16. Needless to say Crawford became irate and the confrontations that would fuel the rest of their lives, culminating in the publication of “Mommie Dearest”, were initiated and intensified at that psychologically hot time. So while Crawford’s aggressiveness became more overt, Christina had to get more in touch with her inner warrior to fight the battles with the outer demon represented by her mother. The inner drive and reserve in Christina would be vast. One last ironic twist, Crawford’s natal Mars resides in the 11th house of adopted children and Christina’s resides in the 4th house of the mother. Enough said. I am intensely curious to see what happens in Christina’s life when Mars turns direct by progression in July of 2012. That will be a date to watch in this ongoing saga and you know I will be there to report on it for the Ingress!