Running on Empty?

relaxing by the pool...pic by me
relaxing by the pool...pic by me

I have Mars in Scorpio, in the 8th house.

At 3 Scorpio, not only is Mars in the sign he rules (ie very strong), in the house naturally associated with Scorpio (this is good too) in traditional terms (for reasons to do with words like “triplicity”, “terms” and “face”) he is extra comfortable.

In fact the placement of my Mars would be almost perfect if it weren’t for one teeney, weeney little detail: he is retrograde.

Now, in horary astrology, a retrograde planet is about as weak as it is possible to be- even when it is strong. (Horary, as regular readers know, is the art of casting a chart for a single question. If a retrograde planet is a significator in the question, whatever it is that planet signifies is said to be very weak.)

When I first started learning astrology I was told that my retrograde Mercury meant that I would have issues with learning, and especially in junior school. If anything, the reality is the opposite- I pretty well topped most subjects at school most years- I was a nerd. I was also told that my retrograde Mars meant that I would have issues with sex.  In the interests of too much information, let me just say, wrong again.

Whilst other astrologers may not agree with what I am about to say, natally retrograde planets are not weak, the energy is just applied in a different way- it’s directed inwards rather than outwards. Whatever that planet represents becomes more personal- but at the expense of ease of expression.

Take Mercury as an example. Many amazing writers have Mercury retrograde in their chart- there is clearly no issue with their ability to communicate, they may just spend more time in their heads before the words get committed to paper.

Likewise having Venus retrograde natally doesn’t mean that you will never find love, it may, however, slow the process down. You may be less comfortable in expressing your feelings- especially around those who you do fancy. You may feel more insecure when in a relationship and you will deal with matters of the heart very seriously. You may, however, be especially creative as all of that energy is turned within.

So, what of Mars. Given the rather phallic forward thrusting motion of Mars, what happens when the action planet is retrograde in your chart? You may feel that you are slower to start, you may have a naturally lower energy than others. You may have problems with conflict and find other ways to deal with it, such as manipulation or avoidance. Your anger, rather than being directed and focused may be explosive and unpredictable. This is because you keep it inside for so long that when it does erupt, it is volcanic.

With Mars retrograde natally you may find that you are at your best and most effective when the adrenaline is running hot, deadlines are looming and you have time only to act, not think- in other words, you are at your best in a time of crisis.

Mars is currently super slow and will turn retrograde in a little less than a week (23 January to be precise-ish…depending on your time zone).  Retrograde at 23 Virgo, he will re-trace his steps all the way back to 3 Virgo before turning back direct in mid April.

What does this mean for you? As with all retrograde periods, the “re” words apply. Words like review, rest, relax, revise. Given that this is Mars, energy levels may be lower than usual and those of us who are used to running on full, may feel a little more like they are running on empty. Those of us with Mars retrograde natally, may not notice a lot of difference.

If you expect delays and factor them in to your planning, the frustration you feel when you encounter them may be mitigated somewhat. The biggest danger at this time is rashness, impulsiveness, carelessness and loss of temper (when things don’t go your way) over-riding your normal levels of care and responsibility.

Physically Mars retrogrades can bring out underlying sinus and tension issues resulting in headaches and other health issues. If you are affected, maybe it is the Universe telling you that you need to employ one of those re words. Teeth can also be an issue- especially if Saturn is involved, or sudden rashes if Uranus is aspected during this transit.

As with all retrogrades, the energy is at its’ highest during the station period, ie when Mars is stationed retrograde or direct. It is at these points, in particular, where other planets aspecting that same point can trigger actions that you may not be yet ready to take.

As an example, say Mars is transiting the 7th house for you (as he is for me).  You may be wanting to take it slow in relationship issues, take a step back and re-evaluate your partnerships. Say Mars aspects another planet during this transit, let’s make this interesting and say Mars conjuncts Pluto. The interesting part of this would occur if something else triggered activity- say that point received an aspect from the New Moon in Pisces, or the Full Moon in Virgo?

The lesson here- don’t just look at what part of life Mars is tracking back though and slowing down, but what else is happening to that part of life in relation to other transits.

Given that Mars is in Virgo, it goes without saying that you need to pay attention to details which you may otherwise overlook. A little criticality and precision will be rewarded…another re word.- and yes, retrograde planets can also bring rewards, if you listen to the messages being given to you.

A brief rundown of what you may expect.

Aries (or Aries Rising): 6th house stuff ie heath and wellness habits, nutrition, business as usual. Being a Mars ruled sign, your energy will be impacted…a lot- take extra care not to lose your head in the process.

Taurus (or Taurus Rising): 5th house stuff: kids, fun, play, creativity- the stuff we take risks on & give birth to.

Gemini (or Gemini Rising): 4th house stuff: home, family, real estate, where you live & who you live with

Cancer (or Cancer Rising): 3rd house stuff: what you say, how you say it & who you say it to, siblings, short or routine trips

Leo (or Leo Rising): 2nd house stuff: money, and stuff, the dollars that are coming in, what you do with them & how & what you value.

Virgo (or Virgo Rising): 1st house stuff: all about you, your identity, your attitude, your appearance, your vitality

Libra (or Libra Rising): 12th house stuff: things that are hidden, secret enemies, where you run to and what you run from

Scorpio (or Scorpio Rising): 11th house stuff: friends, groups, causes, networks. As Mars rules your sign take extra care and use tolerance when the inevitable happens. You can’t control everything.

Sagittarius (or Sagittarius Rising): 10th house stuff: waiting for that promotion? Expect delays. Career, work, professional life, public life.

Capricorn (or Capricorn Rising): 9th house stuff: study, travel, philosophy, beliefs

Aquarius (or Aquarius Rising): 8th house stuff: taxes, other peoples money, money of the partnership, debt

Pisces (or Pisces Rising): relationships, back stabbing bitches that are open about it (ie open enemies), partnerships, connections.


  1. Am an Aquarius with Cancer moon and I have Mars in Virgo in my 3rd house…and am looking at changing jobs…and expect offer next week…after the retro starts – and have no control over the timing. How does this retro period impact that?

  2. So I Aquarius with Cancer moon and have Mars in Virgo in the 3rd house…am looking at a possible job change with offer coming in Mars retro phase…what does this signify?

  3. Hi Bryan, if the offer is coming during the retro phase just make sure that you follow the usual warnings, ie go through the terms of the contract & offer very carefully. Presumably you are pretty sure that you already want the job, so just be super careful at the commitment phase that you understand the terms. With mars in Virgo natally, I don’t reckon there is that much you don’t know about fine details 🙂 so use that now. Good luck!

  4. oh, by the way, apologies- I didn’t get to moderate your comments until tonight- with the amount of spam i get, I actually have to sign in & moderate- hence the delay in the comments appearing on the site.

    1. No worries…I thought I did something wrong. Love your site…absolutely love it.

      And while I do not like details…I am all over them when I need to be…glad you are enjoying he concert.

      This position is going to happen…it is right…but the Mars retro was worrying me.

      Thanks again!!

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