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This Year’s Mars Retrograde

Is Mars Retrograde?
Mars is currently direct (i.e. moving forwards)

Most recent Mars Retrograde period:
October 30, 2022 to January 12, 2023
From 25º to 8º Gemini.

Upcoming Mars Retrograde period:
December 6, 2024 to February 23, 2025

“A hero, properly, is one who gives his life to something greater than himself.”
-Joseph Campbell

If you know a little about the planetary archetypes in astrology, you may know that Mars is your Inner Hero. Mars is the keeper of your energy, drive, vitality, self-assertion and potency. Understanding the larger Mars cycle can help you go after what you want in life. So what happens during Mars Retrograde?

What is Mars Retrograde?

Mars Retrograde is when Mars is in the part of his cycle where he is traveling backwards from our point of view here on Earth.  When Mars goes retrograde, we are cast upon a symbolic Hero’s Journey.

A retrograde period of any planet is a slowing down and an inward reflection on that planet’s themes. It is a time of moving backward, perhaps of going back to pick up pieces lost in the past. It is a retrieval, a turning inward, a letting-go.

For example, when Mercury goes retrograde, we are slowed down in our technology and communications, and we rethink the ways we communicate. When Venus goes retrograde, we experience misunderstandings in our relationships, and look back and reflect on the relationships of our past.

While Mars is retrograde, we will face many opportunities to be a hero in a deeper, truer sense than we ever have before. A Hero’s Journey is a life-passage in which we retrieve our own heroism.  True heroism involves courage, strength, assertiveness, but also gentleness and appropriate restraint—and during this journey we are tested, in a number of ways, for those things.

How Long Does Mars Retrograde Last?

The retrograde period of Mars is just one part of his larger cycle, which lasts about two years.  That means Mars goes retrograde about once every two years. When Mars goes retrograde it usually does so for 8 to 10 weeks. That’s plenty of time to have a few interesting adventures to test our mettle.

Who Does Mars Retrograde Affect?

All of us, basically. However, if you have the Sun in Aries or Aries Rising, you’ll tend to feel Mars activity the most keenly. That’s because you already have a strongly martial nature. Same goes if you are a Scorpio Sun or Rising, as Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio.

Likewise, if you have natal Mars retrograde in your own chart, you deal with challenges regarding assertion, honesty, sexuality and self-determination. Therefore, it’s likely that an individual with natal Mars retrograde will also have a strong experience of the Mars Retrograde transit (and not necessarily a bad one!).

Last Time, Mars was Retrograde in Gemini

During late 2022 and early 2023, Mars was Retrograde in airy, cerebral Gemini. Gemini’s articulateness combined with Mars’ forcefulness could have added a sharp verbal tone and acerbic wit to your actions.

On the other hand, Gemini can be distractible and lead to thinking more about actions than actually taking them. Under the influence of Mars in Gemini, we may have found ourselves running around doing a lot of little things without ultimately accomplishing much.

Mars Retrograde 2022-2023:

The last Mars cycle began on October 7, 2021 with a Heroic Epiphany Day (where Mars conjuncted the Sun while direct) and ends on November 17, 2023 (another Heroic Epiphany Day where Mars again conjuncts the Sun while direct). This closes the old cycle and initiates a new one.

The retrograde period falls in the middle of the cycle.  Mars went retrograde on October 30, 2022 at 25º Gemini. It then traveled backwards until January 12, 2023 where it turned direct (forward) at 8º Gemini. The cycle looked like this:

Mars Retrograde in Gemini Cycle, 2022-2023

Mars Retrograde Cycle: Important Days

1. Heroic Epiphany Day: the Beginning and End of the Mars Cycle

So, to reiterate, the retrograde period of Mars is just one part of his larger two-year cycle. This cycle is marked by certain milestone days. For example, the day that Mars conjuncts the Sun is called “Heroic Epiphany Day” and marks the beginning and end of the cycle.

Heroic Epiphany Day is a peak on a wave of energy, drive, action and clarity. It’s a great time to make a strong beginning on a year-long project, or to assert yourself in a way you’ve hesitated to do before. The house in your chart where Mars is during Heroic Epiphany Day can provide a clue about where in your life you can more easily take heroic action.

2. Maximum Frustration Day: The Most Difficult Part of the Cycle

In the middle of its retrograde period, Mars opposes the Sun. This is the day of maximum frustration, blockage, irritation and rage during the cycle. Mars’ drive and energy meets with the ultimate obstacle. At this point, all Mars wants is to batter that wall until he rams right through it.

Mars may be long on action, but he is short on brains and tact. In other words, on Maximum Frustration Day, we are especially prone to behaving badly in frustration or anger. However, you can balance this tendency by being aware that the transit is going on and practicing mindfulness, diplomacy, and non-reactivity.

In 2022, Maximum Frustration Day was December 7 and it happened at 16º Gemini. That meant that if you have any planet or point in your chart at 16º of any Mutable sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces), you felt this strongly—and that planet or point will tell you where in your life you felt it.

This degree connected with the planets in your own chart that represented the sides of you that faced the most difficult obstacles of this two-month period. For example, if Mars aspected your Saturn (archetype of career and authority) on Maximum Frustration Day, your career and reputation were on the line and you had to contain the frustration you felt about them. By contrast, if Mars aspected your Venus (whose main theme is relationships) you may have blown up at your partner—and risked losing their affection.

Mars Retrograde in Leo and Cancer, December 2024

Mars stations direct in 6° Leo on December 6, 2024. When he does, he begins an almost 3-month long period of reflection and introversion. In Leo, Mars is proud, flashy, extroverted, performative, and playful. However, during Mars’ Retrograde in Leo, we may question the source of our vital energy, and experience some problems or conflicts regarding our egotism and our tendency to want to be the center of attention. We may need to discover more balanced ways of existing in the spotlight.

When Mars backs into Cancer, we can discover a more sensitive side of ourselves, and are asked to incorporate that emotional awareness and care for others into our drive to achieve, conquer and win.

Does This Mean You?

If you were born in the following date-spans (of any year), Mars will transit your Sun during his 2024 retrograde: 

January 6 to 25
April 6 to 25
July 8 to 28

October 9 to 28

So, if your birthday falls in any of those periods, you felt this retrograde strongly! Therefore, you may want to think back on this time and consider the events that happened to you and how you felt and reacted. This will give you insight for the next Mars Retrograde.

How To Deal With Mars Retrograde:

When Mars is retrograde, we are less coordinated and more accident prone. In addition, we are prone to expressing pent-up aggression in all the wrong ways. In order to avoid the worst potentials of Mars’ retrograde, we advise you to take the following precautions during the retrograde period:

  • Drive carefully. Don’t speed.
  • Don’t over-exercise to make up for lost workouts.
  • Stay away from combative people, angry people or drunk people.
  • Avoid being one of the above.

When has this happened before?

Mars went retrograde in Gemini from October 2022 to January 2023. Read about it here:
Mars Retrograde in Gemini: The Nerdy Warrior

Mars went retrograde from June 26 to August 27, 2018. During that time Mars was retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn, and here’s what we said about it:
The Uncanny Hero: Fox Mulder’s Quest to Prove Extra-Terrestrial Life

Before that, Mars went retrograde from April 17 to June 30, 2016. During that time Mars was retrograde in Sagittarius in Scorpio, and here’s what we said about it:
Mars Rx 2016 in Sagittarius and Scorpio–Star Wars, the Hero’s Loss of Innocence and the Encounter with Evil

Before that, Mars went retrograde from March 1, 2014 through May 19, 2014. During that time Mars was retrograde in Libra, and here’s what we said about it:
Mars Retrograde in Libra: The Deadly Diplomat

We made our original series of blogposts on Mars Retrograde when Mars went retrograde from December 29, 2009 through March 10, 2010. During that time we blogged about stories of famous heroes and how they might lend meaning to the Mars retrograde period.  Here is that post-thread:
Mars Retrograde—The Hero’s Journey

Finding out about Mars in YOUR chart:

Use the clear, easy instructions in this blogpost on how to cast your own chart online and find out where Mars is in your chart.

Go Deeper

If you want to go straight for the gold and explore Mars is in a reading with a dedicated professional from Pandora Astrology, you can find out more about that on our services page.

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