marsMars the Warrior — action, passion, desire and power — turns Retrograde today (4:53pm PST), until April 13. Slowing momentum and turning attention inward, Mars Retro invites you to reassess desires and goals, restore vitality, and revisit and resolve old issues.

Mars turns Retrograde just a day after the Chinese New Year — the Aquarius New Moon — initiating the year of the Water Dragon. I don’t know much about Chinese astrology, but was very intrigued when I read that the Dragon is associated with Mars-ruled Aries: “a positive expression of yang, the male principal, balanced by the female yin, represented by the phoenix…. Aries is Dragon’s Western counterpart.” (The Year of the Dragon)

The Dragon is the “doer” of the Chinese zodiac, and this is a year to take committed action on what was catalyzed by last year’s Rabbit. Mars Retrograde suggests that it’s best to move slowly, and ensure that you’re headed in the right direction before jumping in. The Water element of this year’s Dragon echoes the Retro effect:

water dragonWater has a calming effect on the Dragon’s fearless temperament. Water allows the Dragon to re-direct its enthusiasm, and makes him more perceptive of others. These Dragons are better equipped to take a step back to re-evaluate a situation because they understand the art of patience and do not desire the spotlight.” (House of Havisham)

Mars is Retrograde in Virgo — the details — asking you to get very specific and precise about your desires, inspiration and enthusiasm. Mars Retro asks: What exactly feeds your vitality and what drains you? What small adjustment can you make to allow for more nourishing self-care and more courageous self-expression? How do you assert yourself, and is that working?

Mars rules anger — an emotion that is not well understood and that few of us know how to express consciously. While Mars is Retrograde, we’re being asked to look at our relationship with anger, how we’ve used or abused or suppressed it in the past, and how we can more effectively work with the energy. Although there’s a tendency to judge anger as “bad,” from the Chinese Medicine perspective, there’s no such thing as a negative emotion. Drawing on this tradition, my friend and teacher Gilly Adkins writes:

Anger gets us moving and is expansive. It is a call to action. It is the force that helps us overcome the inertia of stillness or stuckness or unfairness…. Anger is necessary to help us move forward and overcome obstacles that are in our way, it is natural and has a practical role to play.” (from a handout in her amazing Intimate Communication teleclass)

virgoVirgo is the sign of perfection, and Mars’ extended stay in this sign (November 11 – July 3) energizes the urge to clean up your habits, improve your health, hone your skills, and get organized. Work and service are key topics for reevaluation. Are you using your skills and talents in the most effective and useful way? Is there a shift you can make to be of greater service? Does your job inspire you or suck your vital life juice?

If you have a copy of your birth chart and want to get more specific about what Mars Retro means for YOU, find the house or houses that contain 3 to 23 degrees Virgo. The areas of life represented by this house(s) reveal where you are being called to purify and purge, clean up the past, restore order, rethink your desires, reinspire your enthusiasm, and apply your powers of analysis and discernment.

– Emily Trinkaus

Note to Portland-area ladies: Join Dawn Thomson and me on Sunday, February 5 to explore these Mars Retro themes at our women’s yoga, writing and astrology retreat. Find the details here.