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Gird Your Loins: Mars Retrograde Is Coming

Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos: Getty Images

Still celebrating the recentish end of Mercury retrograde? Not so fast, my friend. All planets go retrograde at some point or another (excluding the sun and moon, which are technically considered luminaries in astrology as opposed to planets, but I digress!), and Mars is up next. So what fresh hell will this rocky, tawny planet bring?

First, some background on Mars.

In astrology, Mars is associated with action, determination, libido, and aggression. In fact, each day of the week correlates with a particular planet, and, because Mars goes with Tuesday, legend has it that many historic wars were begun on this fateful day. In your birth chart (which is, of course, a snapshot of the sky at your exact date, time, and location of birth), Mars’s placement shows how and where your motivation, vitality, and willpower will manifest.

As the last planet on the near side of the asteroid belt, Mars has a wider orbit than Earth — almost twice the distance — with a Martian year lasting approximately two Earth years. And when it comes to retrogrades, Mars goes backward only once every two years, the rarest retrograde of all planets tracked in astrology. (For reference, Mercury retrogrades every three months, Venus every 18 months, and the outer planets — Jupiter and beyond — annually). The duration of Mars’s retrograde varies, but it can last anywhere from eight to ten weeks, almost three times the length of Mercury’s retrograde.

Okay, now what is Mars retrograde?

In case you missed the memo, retrogrades aren’t literal. The planets don’t actually move backward; retrogrades are an optical illusion. Sort of like when you’re speeding past a train and — for a brief moment — it appears the neighboring car is moving in reverse. Like that but on a much, much larger scale.

Astrologically speaking, a retrograde period signals a shift in a planet’s behavior, a warped distortion of that planet’s inherent expression. During Mercury retrograde, for instance, the planet of communication catalyzes misunderstandings, while we can expect our perception of romance and values to be compromised during Venus retrograde. Similarly, in Mars retrograde, we should expect a shift in our drive, determination, and motivation.

So when is it happening?

Mars entered Gemini (the sign associated with information, communication, curiosity, and duality) on Saturday, August 20. If you’ve been feeling simultaneously inspired and exhausted, perhaps biting off a bit more than you can chew and burning the candle at both ends, that could very well be the influence of Mars in Gemini.

Mars usually stays in a zodiac sign for approximately six to seven weeks, but the present timeline is a bit more extended (no) thanks to Mars retrograde. On October 30, Mars will stop, pivot, and reverse, retracing each step it has established since August. Mars will finally conclude its retrograde on January 12, 2023, and once direct, it will officially depart Gemini on March 25.

And what should I expect from Mars retrograde?

Mars retrograde can be a tricky time. During this transit, we may find projects stalled, motivation skewed, and our passions and libido somewhat compromised. Plus, with Mars in clever Gemini, we may find that our processing power isn’t as sharp as we would hope: Rumors, gossip, and even lies may be mistaken for truth, leading to some regrettable choices. In many ways, this upcoming Mars retrograde will function like Mercury retrograde on steroids: The misunderstandings themselves won’t be the problem; the issue is in how we respond to those compromised circumstances.

How should I prepare for Mars retrograde?

When Mars retrogrades through Gemini, the name of the game is fact-checking. Before jumping to conclusions, be wary of any information you’re receiving. Make sure you take time to really think about and reflect on what you learn, including dynamics that may not be as obvious. Motives and strategy may seem hazy over the next few weeks, so give yourself plenty of time to analyze, process, and ask for second opinions.

Keep in mind, however, that whenever a planet goes retrograde, we have an opportunity to approach a situation from a totally different vantage point. Mars in Gemini is inherently curious, so if you find yourself getting a bit burned out or bored by your status quo, this is an excellent time to explore a new hobby or interest. While next steps can be hazy during Mars retrograde, diving into your passions is the perfect expression of this energy. Although the road may be a bit bumpier than usual, remember the planets always have your best interests in mind. Yeah, really. Good luck out there!

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Gird Your Loins: Mars Retrograde Is Coming