Most students of astrology are a little scared of retrograde planets. They’re super hard to read and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about the retrograde cycle. What do retrograde planets actually do in the birth chart? What does Mars retrograde really mean?
You’ve probably been told that when a planet is retrograde, the energy is turned inward. While this is true, it will work differently for each planet and depend on the sign that the planet is in.
Mars is one of the tricker planets to read when it’s retrograde. How can a planet all about drive, aggression, and anger show “inwardly” instead of outwardly? Keep reading to find out!
What Is Retrograde?
A planet is considered “retrograde” when it appears to move backward in the sky. This only happens from our perspective here on earth, since planets don’t actually move backward in their orbits.
Retrogrades are basically just illusions due to all of the planets moving at different speeds, but they’re very important in astrology. Retrogrades usually mean that the energy is turned inward, and this is true for Mars, but there are many more specifics involved.
Mars goes retrograde every 26 months for 58-81 days, so it’s one of the more “rare” retrogrades. This means that the effects of Mars retrograde may be stronger on a personal level, but that this transit could also have an intense worldwide impact.
Mars in Retrograde: Natal
In the natal chart, Mars in retrograde has much greater significance than it does while transiting a natal chart. If you have Mars retrograde, you’ll see a little Rx symbol next to Mars in your chart.
Mars is all about action and outward, masculine energy, but Mars retrograde is turned inward. There might be a lot of inward rage that is expressed in small bursts instead of the more typical anger that is shown at appropriate times.
There might also be a mix of passive, vengeful energy that comes out sideways. For example, someone with Mars retrograde natal might struggle to tell others when they are angry, then act out passive-aggressively in order to relieve this tension.
However, those with Mars in retrograde can also be much more tolerant, laid-back, and receptive. In certain situations, they might act as peacemakers and have a distinct “Libra” energy.
1. Connections to Past Lives and Childhood
When any planet is retrograde, it means that the energy of the planet will be influenced by serious karmic connections to the past. This can include past lives, childhood, or both.
With the Mars retrograde placement, you might find that you have trouble asserting yourself due to a prior lifetime (or multiple lifetimes) where aggression was misused in some form. This could mean that you were unnecessarily aggressive towards others and/or that you experienced this aggression towards yourself from others.
Because of this misplaced aggression, you learned that taking personal initiative is “bad” and that it’s always better to be passive.
There are many ways this could play out. You may have seen others being aggressive and felt scared, so you learned to be passive yourself. You may have been the aggressor but you were later shunned by society or placed in jail due to your destructive nature.
Somehow, through some bad experience, you discovered that aggression and even self-assertion are dangerous and harmful.
With this placement, you probably had a forceful parent who greatly impacted your childhood. Most commonly, I see those with Mars in retrograde as having parents (usually the father or the more dominant parent) or caregivers who were abusive or who were extremely strict and unaffectionate. In both cases, they were probably intolerant of outbursts, anger, and any form of self-assertion.
Due to the way you were raised with Mars retrograde in the natal chart, you learned not to express healthy anger. Instead, you figured out that it’s better to bottle this anger up inside so that no one can see it. You may even feel ashamed or guilty when you experience anger, regardless of whether or not you express it.
With Mars retrograde in the natal chart, you might struggle to stand up for yourself due to fear. You could have “implosive anger,” which means that your anger builds up until you have an internal breakdown. You may also build resentments, as you avoid speaking up for yourself, until you burst.
Many people with Mars retrograde try to deny these qualities. That’s because retrograde energy is especially difficult and painful to face. However, there is usually no mistaking these qualities as they turn their anger inwards.
2. Mars Retrograde Natal & Personal Drive
With Mars retrograde natal, your father (or whoever you considered to be your father/dominant parental figure) might have had a difficult time moderating his own “drive.”
This could mean that he was up and down with his emotions and had inconsistent “drive,” or that he didn’t understand how to effectively use his Martian energy to make forward progress in some way.
Your father’s issues with drive will be most evident in the house where his own Mars sits. This can show up in work, in friendships, within the family, in religion, etc.
For example, one client of mine grew up in a home where his father was always doing favors for other people. His father was an extremely angry man at home (so the boy could never show his own healthy anger due to the risk of making his father mad) but out in the world, he gave away his work for free to acquaintances and people he barely knew. The family was very poor, so this drive was clearly misplaced, since he could not always afford food for his family but continued to do free work for others. He did not have a clear sense of motivation to work, make money, and provide in a typical way. It’s possible that he tried but just couldn’t express these Martian qualities.
With Mars retrograde natal, you may have learned confusing lessons about drive as a child. This doesn’t mean that you personally don’t have a drive (some people with Mars in retrograde are extremely driven!) but it does mean that those confusing messages exist in your subconscious mind.
Your drive will be affected in some areas, but not in all. You might have a lot of trouble standing up for yourself, especially in the house where your Mars sits, whether this is in relationships, at home, at work, etc.
With Mars retrograde, you will desire things or accomplishments just as much as others but you usually have a roundabout way of trying to get what you want.
Your methods don’t always make sense to others looking in, but it all stems from your fear of being punished should you try to assert yourself. Subconsciously, you don’t believe that you deserve to have what you want or are afraid of showing that you want it, so you act in a counter-intuitive manner.
With Mars retrograde in the natal chart, you might feel like your timing is always off. You could easily come on too strong, then come off as flightly – it might be hard for others to pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling.
You probably express your anger in sharp bursts that seem to come out of nowhere, then you feel guilty and bad for showing your anger at all. You hold your feelings and desires in until you quite literally explode. Most of the time, you probably have a pretty peaceful nature until you can no longer bottle up your feelings. After the explosion, the cycle begins again.
You can also come off as passive-aggressive because you don’t know how to (and are afraid to) properly express your anger in a direct manner. This will be especially apparent in the house and sign where your Mars falls.
Those with Mars retrograde will sometimes fall into a martyr-type relationship, especially when Mars is in the 7th house or has a strong aspect to relationship planets (Venus, the Moon, Saturn, Juno, etc.). They can’t stand up for themselves in relationships so it’s easy to walk all over them, but that rage is always building internally.
3. How to Learn From Mars in Retrograde
Sheer force will not work for you with Mars in retrograde. Typically Martian energy will feel blocked (and actually is blocked due to your karma) so you will need to use your inner guidance instead of sheer will.
The first lesson here is to learn to listen to your intuition. In a past life, you ignored your intuition and acted aggressively, which led to your current fear of aggression. This scared you, but you now have an opportunity to move past this fear by developing your own inner voice instead of repeating the cycle.
Your inner voice will always tell you when and how to stand up for yourself. When you let others step on you, AND when you boil over and rage out at others, you are ignoring your inner voice. This will never lead to true peace.
Secondly, you will want to learn how to express your emotions in a healthy way. There are a variety of books, courses, and therapists that can help with this. A good place to start is looking into implosive anger.
It’s important that you learn the difference between aggression and assertion with Mars retrograde in the natal chart. Assertion is beneficial and should be practiced on a daily basis. Over time, you will find that asserting yourself more actually leads to less aggressive outburts.
It takes quite a bit of practice to be able to 1) read your inner voice correctly and 2) express what you’re feeling in a healthy, non-explosive way, but this is the lesson for those who have Mars retrograde. If handled properly, Mars retrograde in a birth chart can help you learn to be tolerant, expressive, kind, and persistent.
Mars in Retrograde: Transit
When Mars in retrograde is transiting, we all feel the effects of the energy.
This is a time when rage may come up within yourself that you didn’t know existed. Any residual anger that’s festering in your subconscious will suddenly feel much more conscious. Mars in retrograde transit will force you to work on your anger management and resolve issues that have been buried deep in your mind.
You might also feel a lack of forward movement and have trouble completing projects or getting things done, but that is because this is a time of reflection. It’s a period that will help us deal with our unresolved anger, which must be accomplished before we can move forward.
Pay attention to those sudden flashes of anger that come up out of nowhere during the Mars retrograde transit. This is often a sign that we’re moving in the wrong direction and need to reexamine something about our path. Mars retrograde in transit may bring you backward, but you must take this step back in order to take two steps forward and really heal any deep-seated trauma or anger within your body.
When Mars in retrograde is transiting, sexual energy might also be repressed, but that’s because this is a time to work on our own emotions as individuals.
Mars Retrograde Synastry:
In the synastry chart, Mars shows how each partner asserts themselves (in regular life or romantically) and how they act. It also shows how they fight or deal with conflict. While Venus shows the things that an individual appreciates, the things that make them feel loved, Mars shows the active role that the individual takes in the relationship. It’s about what someone does versus how they feel.
With Mars retrograde in the synastry chart, the individual may struggle to assert themselves, especially in any areas that Mars touches. For example, if person A has Mars in retrograde square person B’s moon, then person A will have difficulty dealing with their partner’s emotions and meeting them head-on. They may either pacify their partner when they get over-emotional or shut down.
Mars retrograde in synastry can also indicate that the retrograde partner struggles to assert themselves in the relationship, specifically in the house that Mars retrograde lies in. For example, if person A’s Mars retrograde sits in person B’s 3rd house, then the Mars retrograde individual (person A) will have trouble with communication, specifically in this relationship.
Mars Retrograde In 2022:
Mars retrograde in 2022 occurs in the sign of Gemini from October 30 – December 31, 2022.
Mars retrograde can definitely indicate some erratic behavior from various groups, especially in crowds. There may be short bursts of violence followed by periods of inaction. Mars retrograde is always a time of turbulence, especially in a physical sense, since Mars rules violence in the mundane chart.
To put this in perspective, the last time Mars was in retrograde was just 10 days after the 2020 election, a time of extreme turbulence and unrest. Mars was retrograde in Aries, which means that there was more physical violence and individual opinions causing this conflict.
This time, Mars retrograde for 2022 is in Gemini, so we’re more likely to experience unrest in the areas of communication. There may be uprisings relating to communication sources (technology) or the media/news.
The earth seems to be especially prone to extreme weather when Mars is in retrograde. Coupled with the North Node and Uranus in Taurus, I would definitely be wary of weather issues, especially earthquakes and storms.
Mars retrograde in 2022 may also impact transportation since it sits in the sign of Gemini. Expect delays for the subway, ferry, etc.
On a more technological level, Mars could impact the way that we communicate. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is phone service difficulties or major outages in social media.
In the United States’ chart, Mars retrograde for 2022 sits in the 7th house. I don’t take this as a good sign. It points to conflict with other nations (represented by the 7th house) and difficulty with foreign affairs. At best, it probably means skirmishes with other nations; at worst, it indicates war.
In 2022, Mars retrograde won’t be a good time to act, at least on a personal level. Stay home (literally – this isn’t the time to travel or move in crowded areas) and make plans for what you’ll do when Mars goes direct. In fact, this is a great planning time if you take advantage of these few months.