Mars is approaching another retrograde period, during which it will square Neptune in Pisces.
On October 29th Mars will station retrograde at 25 Gemini. It will sweep backward until it reaches 8 Gemini, eventually stationing direct on January 13th 2023. This means that we will have 11 weeks to reassess our ideas, perhaps radicalizing our thought processes and stripping them of the unnecessary embellishments. The dates here shown are perhaps not that important, because Mars will be transiting across its ‘shadow’ before and after the actual stations. My readers know that I am not too keen on pinpointing dates. This is mainly because I am used to working with large-scale cycles, and because I find it more interesting to look at the big picture, rather than narrowing down too heavily on single aspects of the complex practice of astrology.
Generally speaking, when Mars turns retrograde, a lot of ‘raw assertiveness’ seems to manifest all around. In Gemini it may recall ideological fanaticism of some sort, one of a short-sighted nature though. This sign mirrors the grandeur of Sagittarian thought, its visions and explorative approach. Mars’ long transit through Gemini can be a significant opportunity to rewrite the script of collective thinking, possibly unearthing unnatural customs which are currently affecting this over-digitalized world. Something will probably take the lid off once again, demanding freedom of speech and defending the people’s right to unrestricted expression. We should not be surprised if the social media, or media in general, come under fire once more. We might find ourselves fighting against concepts, intellectually-constructed enemies, raising a lot of smoke for the sake of making ourselves seen and heard.
There is a sacrificial note in this whole story, because Neptune has been transiting through Pisces since 2011 and it won’t move out of this sign before 2026. The long Mutable square between Mars in Gemini and Neptune in Pisces will carry a profound ‘martyrial’ signature. It is under Mars-Neptune configurations that we encounter the courage to look into the eyes of adversity. Though Neptune is regarded as a ‘dissolving’ archetypal influence, we should not forget its profound idealism. At times of important astrological events involving Neptune the masses are mobilized by something or someone. Generally, an ‘emotional, feeling-based’ ideal emerges, and it becomes the reason for any form of popular mobilization. We often witness episodes of ‘collective struggle’, as Mars’ fighting spirit here goes hand in hand with Neptunian surrender. In other words, we often observe a desperate search for redemption, and unfortunately bloodshed can be part of this grim picture. There is obviously a deep discordance between fantasy, illusion, warfare and action. It is like putting together fire and gas. The mischievous nature of the latter will fuel the flames, enraging the chemical process of combustion.
What can we learn from history? We can look at past retrograde transits of Mars which were accompanied by the presence of Neptune in one of the Mutable signs. Obviously, astrological configurations are never the same, because this also depends on what the other planets do. History can be seen as a cyclical trend which possesses a component of linear motion, as if the reality we live in moves along a spiral.
I have drawn up this interesting graph on Solar Fire. The thicker red markings indicate Mars going retrograde over the last two centuries. The blue lines show Neptune’s movement through the zodiac. One of the most remarkable periods is 1896/97, when Mars went retrograde in Gemini while Neptune was in the same sign. According to some historians, that was a period of ‘political realignment’ for the USA. It’s interesting to note that the economic depression denominated ‘Panic of 1893’ accompanied the onset of the last Neptune-Pluto conjunction in Gemini. It is considered to have ended by 1897, when Mars finally retrograded over that area of Gemini, spending a long time in alignment with both outer planets. That was obviously a very different picture, entirely Geminian; we are missing the Piscean piece here. Nevertheless, those times were accompanied by numerous strikes, as the Gilded Age came to an end, and the Progressist era began. Before we look into the Piscean aspect of this story, I would like to note that FDR’s election in 1932 came months before Mars’ station in Virgo, which occurred in conjunction with Jupiter and Neptune. Those months are widely recognized as another period of ‘political realignment’ for the USA; a needed reorganization after the distress caused by the Great Depression. Long transits of Mars and Neptune in Mutable signs seem to bring about a collective need for wide political reformation.
We might find it interesting to look at the single Mars-Neptune conjunction of June 2020, which occurred in late Pisces, while Neptune was opposing for the second time the position it holds within the 1776 American Independence chart. We obviously remember the unexpected upheaval which raged across the USA during those weeks. All sorts of social issues were brought to the surface, triggered by another violent act perpetrated by the police. Without going too deeply into the details of a story which pretty much everyone knows about, we might find it useful to look at the big picture. From an astrological point of view, we can identify the deeper lessons learned during those months. The sacrificial picture of Mars-Neptune can potentially mobilize enormous amounts of people, enraging the masses and often driving them towards desperate acts of a violent nature.
Three exact Mars-Neptune squares will occur during the next few months, and they will range between 22 and 25 degrees of Gemini. The 1776 Independence chart shows these two planets in square to each other in Gemini-Virgo. In another article called Gemini-Virgo and American History, I wrote about the activation of these degrees of Mutable signs, and what it can signify for the USA. Obviously, we don’t know what’s around the corner, but the possibility of further reformation or some form of popular discontent may dominate the American scenario. The upcoming configuration will be a square, so it may involve obstacles and a sense of generalized struggle. The current global scenario is filled with rage more than ever, as warfare continues to afflict Ukraine. Under such a complex picture, this Mars-Neptune martyrial, perhaps overzealous square may not help us find the light. Especially so if that square happens to be aligned with the Mars-Neptune square of the 1776 American chart. On a more positive note, we should not forget that Mars-Neptune contacts have a very creative side as well. The natal charts of some of the most famous artists have such planetary pair in prominence. Perhaps we should be focusing on directing our minds and souls towards the highest possible expression of this complex, Mutable square.
Nevertheless, we are looking at a nation which is undergoing a major astrological event: its Pluto return. Also, it is only a matter of years until Uranus returns to its 1776 position. However, between now and that moment of possible rebirth, there seems to be a vast, dark ocean of countless possibilities. We still tend to look at America as the center of the modernized world, therefore any major issues involving the country and its administration can have their usual effect on other nations as well.