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Mars retrograde: Surveying the rubble.

How is the Mars retrograde treating everyone? The last Mars retrograde in late 2005 kicked my butt, even if it took a month or so to gather steam; so although I’m toddling along pretty happily at the moment, I’m pretty sure I’m not out of the woods yet. Jonny’s getting some pretty nasty smacks already, what with the retrograde conjunct his natal Uranus and square Saturn. But so far, my role is mostly to stand on the sidelines making comforting noises.

But of course, dealing with retrogrades is not just a matter of playing defense, passively sitting by and waiting for it all to pass. Retrograde periods are great times to reflect on our relationship with the planet in question and what it represents, to look within for answers, to retrace our steps and restore whatever we knocked over on our first sprint across the landscape.

Mars is moving through my eighth house, the house of psychological housekeeping, and  that’s a part of my life that’s been needing attention for awhile. I’ve kept myself very, very busy for the past couple of years, mostly out of sheer necessity, but often to the detriment of my overall well-being. So last month I took drastic measures to reduce my workload. I had some loose ends to finish up, but finally I now find myself with time to sort through the rubble and figure out which direction to go in next. It’s a little disconcerting, after pushing so hard for so long, to find myself with the occasional free morning, a deliciously empty couple of hours in an afternoon, entire swaths of weekend to clean my house and hang out watching old Cary Grant movies. I’m grateful for that; I’m sleeping better and smiling more. But it’s interesting to observe the thoughts and feelings that are bubbling to the surface, now that my mind has a little time to focus on other than work. It ain’t all peaches and herb.

If there’s a universal message for Mars in retrograde, maybe it’s something like: Rethink your work. Do you like what you do for a living, the tasks that occupy your day? Do you enjoy a healthy balance of work and leisure in your life? These are questions of the privileged, aren’t they; people all over the world would love the luxury of contemplating questions like these. “What do you mean, enjoy my work?” asks the destitute third-world farmer who spends every waking moment trying to provide for his family. “What do you mean, leisure?” demands the family straining to rebuild their Mississippi home, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina two years ago.

What does Mars retrograde mean for people who are straining every nerve, every resource, every drop of strength just to get by? People who don’t have the luxury of distracting themselves with wacky screwball comedies of the 1940s? I suppose it’s a time of tapping into even deeper resources of strength and courage, two vital and necessary qualities of Mars. To summon the sheer grit and determination to get through another seemingly impossible day.

As we approach Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., here’ s hoping Mars retrograde helps us all uncover the strength and courage to slay whatever dragons lay in our paths; that we all find the grace to remember just how good most of us have it; and that we find ways in the year ahead to lend a little of our Mars strength to those who need it most.

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