During the cycle ahead Mars, the planet of passion, aggression and battle, will turn retrograde in orderly, detailed Virgo. Saturn, the planet of limitations, authority and discipline, will also go retrograde. While those two go into review mode, creative, deceptive and intoxicating Neptune will return home to Pisces for a 13-year stay. To launch our journey, the Sun arrives in original, detached and progressive Aquarius at 8:10 A.M. PST on January 20th. This time out, the celestial emphasis is on conflict resolution, and the eccentric perspective and brilliant ingenuity of this fixed air sign can help us weave the seemingly disparate planetary threads of Mars, Saturn and Neptune into cosmic coherence.
Synchronistically enough, Mars turns retrograde on the new moon of January 23rd. That new moon initiates the Chinese Year of the Dragon. The mightiest sign of the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon, like Mars, is associated with ambition, strength and dominance. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these forms of power in and of themselves, the challenge lies in finding healthy ways to express their key ingredient, aggression. According to psychological astrologers Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, for aggression to be healthy, it must meet the following criteria:
“Healthy aggression (1) serves as protection against predatory attack, (2) is a positive impulse to comprehend and master the external world, a force deep inside us which provides the impetus to learn new skills, (3) is the basis for achieving independence and breaking away from those who would dominate or overprotect us and (4) endows us with the will to unfold more of who we are and grow into what we are meant to become.”
While road rage, domestic violence and murder are obvious examples of unhealthy expressions of aggression, the greater danger may lie in repressed aggression. Metaphysical teachers theorize that, in the larger context, projections of collective aggression into the mass conscious result in everything from threats of nuclear warfare, to suicide bombings, to full scale war. In personal terms, Mars will be retrograde until April 13th in Virgo, the sign of service. In the context of serving our evolutionary needs, this transit can help us uncover the true sources of our internal struggles, and outward behaviors. With that understanding, Martian aggression is transformed from the lead weighing us down and holding us back into the Alchemist’s gold that fuels our development.
February 7th marks the full moon of this Aquarius cycle and is also the day of another important retrograde. Like Mars, Saturn is known as a malefic planet. In modern astrology these can be thought of as forces that help us see, and heal, our shadows. When Saturn turns retrograde at 29 degrees of Libra, it will be only a half degree away from Scorpio. The later degrees of each sign are considered the most potent. So it’s interesting to note that rather than progressing on to the next astrological sign, the planet of lessons, restraint and responsibilities will have to travel back through Libra’s most intense territory. On June 25th when its retrograde is complete, Saturn will be all the way back to 22 degrees of Libra. Retrograde in the sign of partnerships, balance and deliberation, Saturn will encourage us to weigh the effects our actions have on others.
The theme seems like an agreeable one to integrating Aquarius, a sign also concerned with fellowship and cooperation. Where the Sun and Mercury (transiting Aquarius from January 27th through February 13th) may beg to differ from Saturn, and Mars in perfectionistic Virgo, is on the subject of “the rules.” Saturn and Mars will want to enforce them, while Mercury and Sun in freedom-seeking Aquarius will want to break them. Fanning the revolutionary flames with provocative angles to Saturn and Pluto in conservative Capricorn will be Uranus and Venus in instigating Aries. Amid these conflicting energies, understanding the origins of our aggressive impulses, courtesy of the Mars retrograde, will go a long way towards causing healthy rebellion and conscious change.
It blurs, dissolves and dilutes, and it will infiltrate the cosmic conversation on February 3rd when it returns to holistic Pisces. Generational Neptune’s influence is anything but obvious and its impact is indelible. One tiny sip from its enchanting chalice can be the gateway to addiction, delusion and loss or the nectar of visionary creativity. When Mars completes its retrograde on April 13th, it will have traveled all the way back to 3 degrees of Virgo where it will be only one degree away from a direct opposition to Neptune. As that opposition builds, illusion, glamour and escape lure us to one side of this tricky axis, while practicality, logic and organization hold down the other. Is this a message to accept our imperfections so that we are less judgmental of others? Even the Laws of Physics make allowances for bends and inconsistencies in the four known dimensions. Or, have we been shrewdly enrolled in the precarious and unprincipled agendas of others? Radical and inexhaustibly inventive, Aquarius can rationalize the most outlandish schemes, sometimes tragically to the point of total alienation. Seductive and nearly imperceptible, Neptune can make fast matchstick girls out of those who fail to recognize its influence. Listening intently to our intrinsic truths, even when they speak to us in the uncomfortable language of anger, conflict and contradiction, is one way to decipher. At the oracle of the temple of Delphi the great axiom “Know Thyself” is written. For 2012’s celestial mavericks, its wisdom is their ancient bridge to the future.