Around mid-late August, you may begin to feel a subtle (or not so subtle) slowdown, a drain on your energies. That’s because Mars is going to go retrograde starting in September.

What does it mean when a planet goes retrograde?

Mars rx composite photo from NASA
NASA – Astronomy Picture of the Day – retrograde Mars

From the earth, if we look up in the sky and watch the motion of the planets against the backdrop of the stars, we usually observe them moving in one direction. Occasionally, every astrological planet except the Sun and the Moon will appear to slow down in its orbit, stop, and then go backward, or retrograde, for a period of time.

Mars Retrograde happens every other year and lasts for approximately 70 to 80 days.

Planets in retrograde lose steam, clarity, and directionMars is the planet of war, fighting, new beginnings, action, and sexuality. When Mars is retrograde, there’s a persistent feeling of spinning your wheels, walking through quicksand, or paddling upstream.

Mars represents strength— and this is time to gather your strength and reinforce your position, rather than burn up your reserves.

Anything new that is postponed during Mars retrograde is probably for the better. Everyone will have less energy and patience to face the intense challenges ahead of us this year in the United States. Our political and social divisions. The COVID-19 pandemic that is killing around a thousand people a day.

Most of the conflicts and challenges that appear during Mars retrograde will be temporary— that’s why you need to cultivate patience and stay focused on the long-term outcome you really want.

The best use of this time is to wait, plan, and accept the compromises that will make it work in the long run. Delays and detours may turn out to be valuable, as you discover something of worth along the way. This is an excellent time to go back over recent developments in your life with the aim of updating your goals and methods. You can make significant adjustments now that will improve your chances in the future.

This is the time to germinate seeds, to work out the details and actions of something that will begin (be planted) after the retrograde period ends.

Mars retrograde basics

  • New projects and plans that people initiate now are likely to stall or not develop as expected.
  • Everyone’s drive, energy levels, and libido will tend to be lower than normal. Impatience and frustration will be higher.
  • Accidents, arguments, and injuries from impulsive actions and unrecognized anger will flare.
  • Health problems from internalized stress are much more likely.
  • Bad news for bullies: The aggressor loses the fight.

Think of it as a volcanic eruption. That’s what happens to each of us during this part of Mars’ cycle. Stuff that has been boiling underground, under great pressure, breaks through to the surface and spills out.

With Mars retrograde in its home sign Aries, things seem to be moving forward quickly, but not always effectively. You may see two steps back for every step forward. Anger flares up quickly and blows over just as fast.

That’s why some folks will fly off the handle and make very poor decisions now, responding with violence and anger instead of patience and dialogue. This is especially true when Mars makes stressful aspects– which it will be doing a lot this Summer and Fall.

Significant dates

    • Mars enters Aries: June 27, 2020
    • Mars enters its retrograde shadow: July 25 
    • Mars square Jupiter (1) ~August 1-4
    • Mars square Pluto (1) ~August 10-13
    • Mars square Saturn (1) ~August 20-24
    • Mars retrograde begins: September 9 at 28° Aries
    • Retrograde Mars square Saturn (2)  ~September 25-29
    • Retrograde Mars square Pluto (2)  ~October 5-9
    • Retrograde Mars square Jupiter (2) ~October 15-19
    • Mars retrograde ends: – November 13 at 15° Aries
    • Mars square Pluto (3) ~December 19-23
    • Mars leaves its retrograde shadow: January 2, 2021
    • Mars enters Taurus: January 6

Physical health

In the body, Mars rules body heat, the fight-or-flight response, the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood (which depends on iron– ruled by Mars), the immune response, adrenal function, and inflammation.

Internalized stress will be a major drag on health during these two months, making effective coping strategies important for all of us. This is a terrific time to work on replacing unhealthy coping patterns, such as smoking cigarettes, eating nutrient-poor food, and drinking alcohol with healthier habits like eating nutritious food (start with breakfast), meditating, and staying well-hydrated.

Mars represents your physical vitality and strength. You’ll have fewer “spoons,” especially if you have birth chart placements in Aries or Scorpio.

Accidents and injuries, especially due to fatigue or distraction, are more common. Be careful on the sports field, in the kitchen, on the road, and in the workshop, especially on the days listed above.

This year’s retrograde takes place in Aries, which suggests that the head, brain, eyes, and nose are the most vulnerable to the inflammatory nature of Mars. An anti-inflammatory diet can help a lot. The standard American diet is high in processed carbohydrates and/or food allergens (the most common are gluten, dairy, and soy), and low in anti-inflammatory healthy fats.

Whatever your symptoms, dehydration can exacerbate them. You may need more fluids during this super-heated Mars retrograde in the hot, dry fire sign Aries.

Emotional health

This retrograde intensifies and concentrates the Mars energy while directing it inward. Thus, we all tend to be harder on ourselves. Look back at the past for insights into yourself. But try not to beat yourself up, or take your frustration out on others. Don’t define yourself by the worst thing you have ever done (even if other people do). Love and compassion toward your own human-ness open the door for you to unburden yourself of old resentments toward others, too.

Ask for help– and reach out to others who may be struggling through this difficult period, too.

How is your Mars retrograde going? Leave a comment below to share your story.

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16 Responses

  1. Hi Molly!

    This retrograde is seriously kicking my butt! Lately I’ve been getting in petty fights; and projects/trips have been cancelled or quit on, because of impatience and lack of motivation. I have no Aries placements but am a Libra Sun, Taurus Moon and Aquarius Rising with a Sagittarius Mars! For some reason this retrograde has been very heavy and hard to deal with; I need all the advice I can get! What meditation or crystals would help? What do you think will help this retrograde go smoother?

    1. Hi Kathryn – I hear you! It’s kicking our butts here too. My fave meditation is called anapana and is simply focusing your attention on your breath for several minutes. (easier said than done!) Always a good idea when you are feeling frustrated that things aren’t moving the way you think they should. I don’t know much about crystals but working with them sounds like a good way to settle your energy too. My personal philosophy – don’t try to make it anything other than it is. Accept delays and cancellations. They are probably for the best. Accept that this is an extremely stressful time for all, and it drives us all a little crazy. Go with the flow… and that means slowing your roll right now.

  2. Hi Molly! Thanks for this post. I need to launch a new project out in the world in early September. I know I don’t want Mars retrograde baked in to its DNA, as you noted in your first point. If I launch before Sept. 9, will I avoid those stalls? (Even if it’s Sept. 8?) Appreciate your insight!

    1. Hi Allie! Mars will be motionless (stationary) on September 8. So I don’t think it will make that much difference. Sometimes you can “juice up” a launch with other factors like choosing a good Moon sign, but I’m afraid the slowing-down nature of Mars rx is pretty much baked in at this point.

  3. Hi Molly.
    Thank you for this wonderful insight. I have Mars rx (17 degrees) Aries in my natal chart – Gemini Sun, Cancer Rising & Leo Moon. Will this retrograde be more impactful for me? Also, during the retrograde, is certain period I should be extra careful with accidents?
    Thank you and kind regards ❤

    1. Hi Stephanie – sounds like the conditions coming up are set to match the conditions when you were born. Sometimes that can be a benefit, allowing you to roll with it more easily than someone without Mars retrograde. It’s hard to say without your full chart what the specific “caution light” times would be for you.

  4. Hi Molly, First time here and really enjoyed your insightful article, thank you! I was looking to buy a new laptop and wondered if it was safe to do so even though we are now in the Mars retrograde pre-shadow period? Is it just the actual retrograde itself that would be problematic in buying a laptop? Or is it the whole pre and post time too and do I have to wait until January when Mars clears its post-shadow period to buy a new laptop? Not sure if it helps but I’m Libra Sun, Aries Asc, Pisces Moon. My Mars and Venus are in Scorpio in the 7th house.

      1. Thanks for your reply Molly! So does retrograde apply to the pre and post shadow period too, not just the retrograde itself? Also, I may have to take a transatlantic flight due to family reasons within the next month. (Not something I would really want to do during this pandemic but… as with the laptop situation things seem to all happen at once). Anyway, is it OK to travel?

      2. Leeza – I’m not going to say an activity is okay or not okay. You have to do what you have to do. All I can say is there will be less energy and patience to go around, mechanical failures, and of course the hidden dangers of the pandemic, and any of those may complicate your travel plans. The real retrograde doesn’t begin until September, but with Mars slowing down we may feel it coming on early, particularly this time with Mars making some gnarly aspects.

  5. Definitely feeling this, Molly, euughhhghh…as we entered the shadow period the other day, I literally thought what you have written here-” there’s a persistent feeling of spinning your wheels, walking through quicksand, or paddling upstream.” Yup! This transit will square my natal Mars in Cap, I believe, so slowing down is the thing right now, I guess! I have been getting back into yoga and chanting after a too-long hiatus, so I am reaping benefits as I sing along with my sad retrograde song, ha ha! Thanks for your helpful guideposts and voice of reason. : )

  6. Hey Molly, with my Sun in Aries and Neptune in Scorpio, from what you are saying, I will hopefully get thru this rx fairly unscathed but I will follow your advise and not get too cocky with living large. It’s interesting that the election will happen during this time!

    1. Yes that is interesting. I think it will make for a fiery, ugly election season. I love Aries in a birth chart, but in the “sky weather” I think it will play out as a lot of “fire and fury.” Political fighting, in-fighting, and mudslinging. I’m praying for no pointless military action.

  7. Judging by the above information, it seems that the retrograde period is a negative phase, which is aimed at the destruction of our lives. However, I believe that this is not entirely true. I am fond of astrology and often read my horoscope, and I know that we can use this period to our advantage if know how to act in a particular situation. When celestial bodies move in the opposite direction, we need to move with them. Think about some past situations that you would like to change, choose a suitable planet in retrograde light, and correct what you think is broken.

    1. Hey Emma, If you show me where I said Mars rx is “aimed at the destruction of our lives,” please point it out so I can fix it. What I believe I said is that this particular Mars rx will present challenges. And I described those challenges. Other than that we pretty much agree. Thanks for visiting. Be well!

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