Mars makes a retrograde station on the New Moon, the first day of March.2 A few days later, Jupiter goes direct. This puts both of these planets on track to set off the cardinal cross.
This is by far the biggest transit of 2014. In fact, coming as it does at the fifth exactitude of the Uranus-Pluto square, we can think of it as one of the peaks-within-the-peak of the cardinal cross period (2008-2023).
See What’s Coming
This is the great boon of transit astrology, isn’t it: it allows us, too, to arrange ourselves. Seeing what’s coming allows us to get the right approach together.
By this I don’t mean we can prepare for what’s going to happen; outer-planet transits like these are outside of our control. But we can prepare our attitude. We can notice the patterns forming overhead, try to understand them and adopt a suitable stance.
Tracking transits doesn’t predict what we’re going to learn; it predicts what the Universe will be trying to teach. We follow our transits so us to optimally absorb the lessons.
Would you say your ambitions are well balanced with the other parts of your life? During the weeks of Mars retrograde (until May 19th), we’re all being asked to take a good, hard look at how well our ego serves our greater purpose.
For a start, this means identifying our wants and desires (Mars), and considering how they align with the rest of our psyche: our needs (Moon), pleasures (Venus), ideals (Jupiter) and so on.
All Mars transits force us to look at the ego’s workings. Especially when in square or opposition, this planet throws in our faces thorny issues about our personal goals. Mars brings up primal feelings of self-preservation. No wonder people spook at Mars transits: these are impulses about which most of us feel ambivalent most of the time.4
But it’s shortsighted to demonize Mars, especially when it’s tensely configured with other planets (on March 2nd, it exactly squares Venus). Don’t start this retrograde with a prejudice against your “ego;” that will make an already-tricky transit even trickier.
Mars in the Cross
As Mars moves backwards and the cross gains strength, its emphasis shifts from personal to collective. Especially for people with natal planets in the cross’s path (middle degrees of the cardinal signs), the question becomes: Does what I want jive with what humanity wants? How do my own struggles fit into the collective themes of this era? How does my skill set match the urgency in the air? If you think you already know the answer to these questions, you’re probably wrong. The unusual length of this retrograde is a hint from the cosmos: we’re meant to probe, test and revise what we think we know about ourselves.
The self-scrutiny required to negotiate this transit well is not supposed to be easy. It’s hard enough just to observe our ego in relation to the rest of our psyche. But to consider it in relation to the rest of the world is really a tall order; one that requires an acutely refined self-observation. This degree of objectivity does not come naturally to most of us.
Yet this is what Universal Intelligence is daring us to do.5
Self-observation stimulates our inherent intelligence; our minds get stretched even just musing about these things. But if that proves too elusive, don’t worry: the outer world will step in, to bring our attention to the matter at hand.
The odds are good that something will happen this month that forces us to renegotiate the relationship between our ego and the rest of our life. The transits around the Equinox will inspire some of us to ask ourselves where we, as individuals, fit into these dislocated times.
This isn’t about “taking things personally,” not in the usual sense of the phrase. That would be a really bad idea. This is about figuring out where our singular selves fit into what’s going on in the wider group.
For some, this might mean determining how far to push our own way of doing things at work. Or daring to diverge from other people’s reactions to the news.
It might be time to tweak our goals so they fit the realities of our newly configured family, or the economy, or climate change.
The truth is that the social order is breaking down, in various ways, all around us. If you follow astrology you know this is as it should be. Every one of us senses, on some level of consciousness, that this is what has to happen, if the Earth is not to self-destruct.
The question upon us now is: How do my personal desires fit into this scenario?
1 The making of decisions, in the Pythagorean system from which astrological aspects derive, corresponds to the number four. Squares, oppositions and others of the four (tetrad) series are associated with breakdown, crisis, and blockage that forces us to stop and figure out which way to go. The grand cross, formed when planets make four 90˚ and two 180˚angles, raises these stakes to a maximum of tension. This is the root meaning behind critical (Greek krisis, from krinein: to decide) and crucial (a pivot point. Latin crux [cross]).
2 Everybody is feeling this, but if you have a planet(s) in late cardinal signs, you’ll practically hear it >pop<. Of all the quickly-moving transits, Mars is the most palpable.
3 January’s Skywatch includes a rundown of the square’s moving parts.
4 Modern society itself is ambivalent about the ego. To say someone has a “big ego” is a putdown; but so is saying they have a “weak ego.” Patriarchal culture lionizes those men (and to some extent women, though the ambivalence here is even more complex) who embody the Mars archetype; such as athletic, military and business celebrities who take to an extreme that out-for-number-one chutzpah. Yet at the same time, we warn our children against being “selfish,” and we consider egotism to be a socio-pathology.
5 See Bill Herbst’s article in The Mountain Astrologer, Dec-Jan 2014.