Mars Retrograde – 10 Lessons to Help You Cope

10 lessons

So what is Mars Retrograde?

A planet goes into retrograde when it appears to slow in the night sky, stop, and then go backwards. It isn’t actually going backwards in the astronomical sense; it just looks like that because of the particular way Earth is placed in relation to whichever planet.  In this case, Mars.

Astrologically, the most basic explanation is that anything that Mars governs will slow down, stop and go backwards also. Anyone governed by a sign that Mars rules (i.e Scorpio) will feel the effects most, anyone with Scorpio or Sagittarius well represented in their birth chart and anyone who has their Mars in Scorpio (i.e, me) will also get the shorter end of the stick.

However, whenever any planet goes retrograde, you actually benefit from it if you stop fighting the energy. You need to tap into the energy and learn the lessons available to you. Are those the fun lessons where the teacher wheels in the TV and you watch a film?

Probably not.

So, Mars in particular?

Mars is a planet of fire, so governs fiery stuff, but in the specifics it governs:

  • -fighting
  • -anger
  • -drive (which is different than ambition)
  • -motivation
  • – energy in general
  • -sexual matters

So, during Retrograde these all get turned on their head. As the theatre proverb goes, if it can go wrong, it will. Which is why during Retrogrades people say you should avoid certain situations and essentially hide in a hole. Which is tempting, but not useful. Especially with the nearer planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars) since they govern things which take up probably 70% of our day to day lives.

You can’t avoid anger. Except, you probably are, which is why you are currently so irrationally pissed off at everything. You’ve got to constantly be on the go and working, else you’d fail at your goals. Except, you can’t do that, which is why you’re so sleepy and sluggish.

You can’t avoid life; just like you can’t not put on the play. You need to find ways of working with the energy, not against it. Mars Retrograde can be an exceptionally healing time if you do it right.

Read on for ten lessons Mars Retrograde can teach you.

Mars Retrograde lasts from 17th April 2016 until approximately 29th June 2016.


Ten Lessons Mars Retrograde Can Teach You (and Advice On How to Do Your Homework)

1.Don’t work for the sake of work.

Advice:  You can probably stop doing around 80% of your job. No, don’t click away. I’m serious. It’s called Pareto’s Principle, and basically 80% of any success comes from 20% of any work. Pareto noticed that with his peapods, 80% of peas came from 20% of the peapods. Find out what your 80% of crap is, and stop doing it.

Hint: if you’re self-employed, it’s probably something around social media. Drop the follow me/like me games unless you’re literally at like less than ten followers, stop following huge amounts of people to get them to follow you, stop deleting your Pins on Pinterest, etc etc.

Unless you are really seeing a benefit from something, STOP. You will feel real resistance from yourself when you do this. This is because we are conditioned to work; and to feel bad when we are not. However, work for work’s sake helps literally no one. Not even your employer, if you have one.

You don’t need to work harder, you need to work smarter. I’ve halved my hours of work and more than doubled the results in terms of sales, when I approached my working life in this way.

If you would like to learn more about this, read Tim Ferris’s: The 4-Hour Work Week.

2. Learn why you are working for the sake of it.

It’s easy for me to say that we are conditioned to work, but each of us probably has a slightly different reason why we’ve fallen into the trap. For me, it’s guilt and envy.

I feel guilty that I’m sat on the couch whilst other people have to work 12 hour shifts. Which is silly, because me doing more work won’t make their lives any easier.

I also feel envious, and this is one of these irrational impulses you’ll find about yourself during Mars Retrograde. I feel envious of career people doing career things, having enough clients and work to be working 18 hours a day, doing this, doing that, having work lunches at fancy café with fancy suits.

You have to ask yourself is that what you really want? Do I really want to be working 18 hours a day? No. No I don’t. I want a business that sustains me …and I do want to eat at fancy cafes.

But neither of those things means I have to work daft hours.

Get off the damn treadmill, and since you’re looking for something to fill that time, find out precisely why you were on it in the first place. This will help keep you off it.

3. That thing you’re avoiding? Either do it or don’t.

Do you know how long I’ve procrastinated on one simple email? FOUR MONTHS. And the thing is, it’s not just that one email that didn’t get done. It was a whole bunch of other stuff that needed my concentration, and since I couldn’t concentrate because of that damn email, they didn’t get done either. I ended up either spending way too much time on online games trying to ignore the approaching brainweasels,* or I did a lot of work for work’s sake to try and convince myself I had Done Work.

So what happened, then, when I sent this disastrous email?

Nothing. In fact, better than nothing. I got sympathy and understanding for having to cancel due to real life issues.

What a waste of time and energy.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s best to accept that you never will put up those shelves in the garage/use that gift card/write that play. Strike it from your To-Do list forever and stop feeling guilty about it.

(*Negative thoughts that can consume you. It’s like you have a brain full of angry weasels. Brainweasels. It’s a thing, okay?)

4. That stuff you’re doing for ‘exposure’?

Are you actually getting exposure? Is it the sort of exposure that’s bringing you paid work? Is it bringing you the sort of clients that you actually want to work with? No? Then stop doing it. If you must work for free to build a portfolio, do it on your own terms, on your own websites, accounts and publications. You control the content, spend more time doing projects you enjoy, spend less time running after someone else, and you could probably monetize your free content to some extent as well.You don’t have endless amounts of energy; so you have to say no to some things.

5. That stuff you’re doing for a ‘hobby’?

You should probably keep doing that actually. You have to spend your energy doing fun stuff sometimes. Make sure you actually enjoy it though, and leave yourself enough energy to enjoy it. If you have to say no to other stuff for You Time you can actually use, so be it. Staring at the screen at TV (or books!) you’re not really enjoying but you’re too tired to do anything else is not ‘You Time’. That’s a sign you’re doing too much and need a break. Or a nap. Probably both.

6.Go the frick to bed.

If this is difficult, go the frick to a doctor. Who knows, you might be like me and find a nice doctor who gives you a certain blood test just in case, and then you find out you’re actually so deficient in a major vitamin you have to take stronger tablet than dying people in hospitals take.

I feel much better now.

And also, rest is not just sleep. You have to have downtime too. Take things slower. If you die tomorrow, you won’t really give a toss whether or not you did the washing or beat your colleagues’ sales score.

Learn to not do things. It’s more difficult than you’d expect. Go for walks. Read stuff. Colour in. Whatever appeals to you, and makes you park your arse for a few minutes to an hour.

7.Learn why you are angry.

And it’s probably not the reason you think. Anger is never irrational – when you feel yourself exploding over something minor, really think about the reason. Are you just stressed? Or is there something in your past that you never dealt with? Is that silly comment you just blew up about really just the last straw on a bad day, or did it actually trigger or upset you in a specific way? Does the person remind you of someone else, or are you just learning to stand up for yourself?

If you’re struggling with anything, I always recommend keeping a journal. The specific format I recommend is detailed in The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, but it has benefits for anyone who is not a creator as well. The format is Morning Pages – three pages of long hand stream of consciousness first thing in the morning. If you don’t know why you’re upset or struggling, these Morning Pages will soon tell you. In excruciating, teenage poetry like detail. If you’re looking for a sign, you probably just aren’t listening to yourself.

8.Learn how to deal with your anger

Your anger isn’t irrational, but sometimes your actions are. Some people bottle up their anger and then lose their temper over something silly because they didn’t raise their voice at what really mattered. Other people can’t feel an emotion without expressing it. Just because someone is irritating, doesn’t mean you have to tell them. Just because you don’t like them, doesn’t mean they need to have that screamed at them. Just because you’re going through Hell doesn’t give you the right to jump down the throat of a waitress because she got your order wrong.

There are many options to work with your anger, including therapy. Personally I find art journaling helps me keep my temper and work through issues, but I know other people find solace in sports, especially martial arts.

9.Look at your relationship with sexual matters

Whatever your previous relationships, sexual orientation or amount of desire, we all probably hold hang ups, whether they more simple or something a lot darker.

Whilst I don’t recommend poking at your darker history without the aid of a therapist, the natural energy of Mars Retrograde will bring un-dealt with shenanigans forward, especially of the sexual nature.

Any journaling or other therapy type things you already do may be well focused on this area, although if you are deeply hurting I would always recommend you take the advice of a professional.

This is also a good time to address any sort of smaller hang ups around dating, and re-establish what you are looking for in a partner – including whether you are actually interested in having one or not!

A lot of our self-worth hinges, often wrongly, on our sexual nature and behaviour, so even if you’re pretty sure you’re good, checking in with yourself on some hot topics is always a good idea.

The ideas around sex and dating can often be fraught with misogyny, and there are many wrongful attitudes around same-sex and polyamorist relationships that can be very damaging when you internalize them.

At the time of writing, Pluto, the planet of looking inwards, is also in Retrograde, so any inner looking is especially well aspected now.

10. Are you chasing the right dream?

Another way that Pluto can help during Mars Retrograde. We spend so much of our time on the minutiae of life – according to this article, we spend 208 hours on average each year just doing cleaning. It is so easy to let life pass you by, and follow the same routines as five years ago.

Are you still the same person as you were then? Do you want the same things? Did you get the things you wanted – do you still want them?

Make sure you aren’t spending precious energy chasing something you don’t want.


In conclusion, Mars Retrograde can really help you learn to say ‘no’ to things that just aren’t worth it. What did you say ‘no’ to this week?

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