Mars Retrograde in Aries: A Spontaneous Awakening?

This article was first posted on the website of the Cosmic Intelligence Agency in July 2020. Due to some technical problems with their site – the original post is currently not online  – since I still had the text, I am reposting it here.

Mars in Aries

It takes Mars two years to orbit the Sun. During this time it spends around six weeks in each zodiac sign and has a retrograde phase which lasts approximately 28 weeks. When Mars is retrograde, it will often re-enter the previous sign but it can also spend the entire retrograde period in the same sign, the astrologer Dane Rudhyar coined the term ‘long stay’ for these particular transits. The red planet is particularly highlighted this year because he is making a long stay in his sign of rulership Aries. The last long stay in Aries was way back in 1941 and in this article, I want to speculate on what that this close encounter with the red planet might mean for us from an individual perspective, in a later post I will focus on the possible mundane influence of this transit.

Mars entered Aries on June 28th and will be particularly dominant at the time of his stations. Just imagine Mars putting all his weight down in a specific zodiacal degree and hanging out there for about a week! Mars station’s retrograde on September 9th in 28°4’ Aries and station’s direct on 14 November in 15°14’ Aries. If you have planets in or around these degrees in the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn consider yourself in the hot seat, you will definitely feel the power. In general, during Mars retrograde periods we might feel like we are fighting or struggling with ourselves, or engaged in some inner conflict as we try to find new ways to express our personal power and authority. A well-functioning Mars is assertive, not afraid to act up, willing to be demonstrative, but when retrograde in Aries (and in triple square to Pluto) in order to sow the seeds of new activity, we might need to break through a psychic or physical barrier. Mars in Aries is a trail-blazer and is ever looking for new ways forward. Just as spring shoots break through frozen ground, the goal of Aries is to end conditions of stasis or inertia.

What is holding us back?

During this long stay period (June 28th 2020 to 6th January 2021) we need to identify obstacles, burn off the dross and refine our character. This is highly combustible energy and what has outgrown its use must go. Mars is also about sexuality and specifically the desire nature. When retrograde, Mars is closest to Earth and so is able to impress its energy more powerfully upon us. The proximity of Mars to Earth is an indication that we need come into contact with our base chakra, awaken the serpent and allow the kundalini energy to rise. We need to understand the vital energy of Mars and of the sexual/spiritual value of using Mars energy in the right way. Since the start of the year, humanity has going through a period of transition. Saturn in Capricorn is the alchemical crucible, Pluto is the transmutation, Mars in Aries is the fire starter, he who carries the flame and ignites. Mars retrograde in Aries represents a period of intense inner energy work – or given the nature of Mars in Aries – a sudden event that could bring about a spontaneous awakening or shift in consciousness. What I find totally mind-blowing about this current retrograde period is that at time of the Mars station on September 10th – for just a few days all of the outer planets will be retrograde. The previous occasion that the planets Mars through Pluto were all retrograde was for three days in 1986. I personally see this as highly symbolic encounter on an inner plane between the energies symbolized by Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. There is no rule book on how we should each experience this – but the horoscope for the Mars station is rather beautiful – wouldn’t you agree? Random time on day of station, location Amsterdam. (click on the image if you would like better quality horoscope)


The role of Neptune

Neptune in Pisces remains a planet of particular interest too, since throughout the year he makes a number of soothing sextiles to Jupiter. Jupiter is currently ‘caught up’ in a rather tense and uncomfortable conjunction of planets in Capricorn. The combination of Mars in Aries/ Neptune in Pisces in particular, suggests to me, a vision quest – both on a collective and an individual level. The imagination is related to mankind’s highest creative powers. If we are unable to imagine something, to see it in our mind’s eye, then we will never, ever, be able to give birth to it in the real world. We might imagine Neptune retrograde as allowing us entry to something otherwise hidden, spiritual or esoteric. In the light of the planets in Capricorn, Neptune also allows us to suspend judgement and to ‘let things go’. However, I must be realistic here. Mars square Jupiter/Saturn and Pluto – with a smidgeon of Jupiter sextile Neptune could manifest as drink or drug abuse, the classical easy way out of dealing with issues surrounding anger or repressed sexuality. We could also think of pathos, navel gazing etc. etc. … the list in endless.

A note of warning…

We know that the surface of the planet Mars is poisonous to life – in fact it is toxic. Mars can just as easily break ties as create new ones. Mars is the red flag that signals danger and it rules among other things, anger, fight or flight, sexuality, desire, strength, dare-devils, warfare. When in Aries in particular, Mars can ‘act in haste and repent in leisure’. Given the hard aspects that Mars makes to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto throughout the course of the summer and beyond, we should be mindful of ‘do or die’ actions and take time to look before we leap.

The Squares…

From early August, Mars will begin to make a number of squares to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn and in so doing he reconnects these planets, hooks them up. In a way, this reminds me of horary astrology’s ‘translation of light’ which refers to a situation whereby a faster moving planet brings slower planets together that are no longer joined by aspect. A quick line up then.


Mars square Jupiter

4th August and 19th October (the final square will be in 2021 when Mars has entered Taurus and Jupiter is in Aquarius)

Meaning: Acting up and/or burning up. Guard your personal borders. Risk of action leading to an over-reaction. In August, we are likely to see posturing of an aggressive nature, a diplomatic crisis. Jupiter exalts Mars and with the Sun in Leo at this time, some degree of self-aggrandizement, saber rattling or a political din. Likewise in October, when the Sun in Libra squares Saturn. We should not over exaggerate our own importance. Risk of hasty action particularly in October when Jupiter is direct.

Mars square Pluto

13th August, 9th October (with Mars rx) and on 23 December

The psychic temperature rises. Anger can erupt as Mars offers an outlet for pent up frustration. Although this does feel explosive given Pluto’s association with past-lives at this time we are perhaps able to burn up some old karma or otherwise exorcise a few demons.

Mars square Saturn

24th August, 29th September (with Saturn stationary direct)

Saturn blocks Mars and offers him no way to turn. There could be a feeling of being ‘up against it’ with your ‘back against the wall’. This square can also manifest as enormous self-discipline under very trying conditions. Mars is both the military and the assassin. The transit of September 29th is extremely difficult since Saturn is stationing. Given the aspects Mars will face through September, we should be mindful of biting off more than we can chew. Mars in Aries is a notoriously good starter but a lousy finisher. Saturn is exacting and Mars will be compelled to finish the job. So be mindful of what you agree to take on. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved.

10th September Mars retrograde (13th September Jupiter direct)

14th November Mars direct

21st December – Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aquarius – mutation conjunction

6 January 2021 Mars ingress Taurus (only then will Mars face off with Jupiter and Saturn for the final squares)

Final thoughts…
Mars in Aries is a spiritual warrior and Capricorn is the sign where Mars is exalted. In all things we should be fearless this year and attend to the inner work that needs to be done. In the second part I will look at the mundane astrology of the long-stay of Mars in Aries.


©Liz Hathway Astrologer (Amsterdam, July 7th, 2020)