Richard Giles, astrologer and feng shui consultant, discusses the impending phenomenon of Mars retrograde. Mars, the ancient god of war, is at its closest point to the earth in recorded human history.
A Close Call From Planet Mars
July to October 2003
Over four months from July, we'll witness an astronomical treat that we residents of Planet Earth have never previously experienced. Mars, fourth rock from the Sun, approaches the orbit of Earth every two years and, according to astronomers, on 27th August will be at its closest to Earth in probably 73,000 years (see details at
On the 28th August, Mars will be at its 'opposition' to us which is the moment when the Sun, Earth and Mars are all in alignment. Mars stays in very close right through until October.
In the regular scheme of things, planets move around the Sun at different speeds. Those closer to the Sun move faster, and as a planet overtakes the next outer planet, we on Earth, for example, have the impression that we're accelerating and thus the other planet appears to be moving backwards. This is what astrologers call a 'retrograde' period. Mars will be in its retrograde phase from 29th July until 27th September.
Because all planets actually move in an elliptical (not circular) orbit, there are times when they are closer to the Sun (called a perihelion) and others when they are farthest away (aphelion). During 2003, both Mars and Saturn will reach perihelion points where they are both closest to the Sun. The last time the two were in perihelion in the same year was in 1915, in the midst of World War I. Mars reaches the perihelion point on 30 August at 6 degrees Pisces, and Saturn is at perihelion on 26 July at 4 degrees Cancer. We will see Mars in the sky brighter than any other object bar the Sun, Moon and Venus during August and September. Martian energy will then impact very strongly on our Earth. Mars will also be joining up closely with Uranus (which recently moved into Pisces) both in June and September/October 2003.
Retrograde planets seem to portend a period of what are like fated events relating to their ruling sign's influence. They present us with events over which we seem to have little or no control. Mars retrograde in Pisces is about boundaries, feelings, inspired goals and action and is also about lost directions.
What is Mars all about in traditional astrology? Mars rules our base chakra, our sexual focus and functions. It also governs our capacity to use creative energy to initiate action. When it works well, it's assertively applied with strength and confidence. Mars is about leadership, self-reliance, courage, passion and will. Negatively, Mars signifies power in conflict and represents force used destructively on the planet (after all, it's dubbed 'the planet of war'). In this mode, it's about survival issues and the fear of not having enough. It can bring on a need to control and exploit others or one's environment for personal gain. It can also induce an inability to trust oneself and the environment and a tendency to miss experiencing that connection between the two.
Mars is the ancient planet of male fertility, and in this sense is the primeval ruler of agriculture and the soil's fertility. For this reason, Mars protects Earth and has thus gained importance in the conservation movement. It is represented in the energy of organisations such as Greenpeace (Mars is prominent in its birth chart) and the US-based Earth First, both of which use direct action to achieve their conservation ends. Mars can thus be considered as the Sacred Warrior, using passion and energy to defend and save sacred Mother Earth.
A retrograde Mars gives rise to irrational thoughts and actions, self-assessment and even depression, sexual and relationship conflicts, major rethinks and the reorientation of current projects. Thought patterns are more introspective, and, with Mars in Pisces, people with Sun/Pisces or Pisces rising will be especially prone to such introspection. There is little choice but to reconsider all your personal views on life, for this Mars position presents an opportunity for you to gain insight into your subconscious motivations.
Male energy, ruled by Mars, will have no clear direction unless it's put into action to defend or attack. Alternatively, it will be struck by a paralysis of vital energy feeling drained and useless. Pisces tends to make it hard to find boundaries, so Mars energies may just drain away. Other effects may include passionate actions to defend the Earth through a new wave of groups that decide the planet's ecosphere must now be defended at any cost, lest we have the alternative of complete ecosystem breakdown. The choices will be stark to these groups.
Read part 2 of A Close Call from Planet Mars
Aries, the Ram
Taurus, the Bull
Gemini, the Twins
Cancer, the Crab
Leo, the Lion
Virgo, the Virgin
Libra, the Scales
Scorpio, the Scorpion
Sagittarius, the Archer
Capricorn, the Sea Goat
Aquarius, the Water Bearer
Pisces, the Fishes