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 to work with. Remember that when you feel like demanding service or conditions to change immediately.

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 compromises. 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 energy levels will be lower. 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. Keep in mind that during Mars retrograde, the aggressor tends to lose the fight.

Here are the relevant dates:

Significant dates

    • 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

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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4 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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 at, 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 and sharing your link. Be well!

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