Mars in the natal chart represents anger, initiative, and desire. Its condition describes how men and women express their masculine energy, and the type of man a woman is attracted to. When natal Mars is retrograde (reversed) the game changes. Its energy is expressed differently from the cultural norm.
If you have Mars retrograde in your chart, it appeared to be moving backwards at the time of your birth. Its energy is internalized. Think about what Mars stands for: moving forward, being aggressive, starting something. This is true no matter what sign it’s in. If there is an internal focus, you’re going to express its energy very differently. You’re rebelling, but it’s an internal rebellion. A common misconception is that Mars retrograde is weak. This is simply not true; its energy is redirected.
How to Tell if You Have Mars Retrograde
Enter your birth information here.
Look for Mars in your chart. In this screenshot, it’s the planet glyph in red that looks like ♂
Follow the path of the numbers and the zodiac sign towards the center of the wheel. If you see what looks like an “R” with a line through part of it, then your Mars is retrograde. If you don’t have an “R” then your Mars is “direct.”
Women with Mars Retrograde: Issues of Attraction
If you’re a woman with Mars retrograde, you’ve probably had issues with the types of men you’re attracted to. They don’t match the “socially acceptable” version of the kind of man you “should” be with. Perhaps you’re drawn to men who become dependent, and you end up wearing the pants in the relationship. Or you might be drawn to the rebel, the iconoclast, the crazy artist, the guy who makes waves. In some way, these men reflect your internal rebellion.
If the men you become involved with drain your energy, you need to pay attention to Mars retrograde’s message. Forget about the fact that the guys you like are different; that’s not the issue. It’s how they’re different that needs to be explored. Focus on your personal desires. What do you want? The qualities of the men represent part of the equation, but so does the tension between their differences and what’s considered “normal.”
Actress Barbara Hershey (who has Mars retrograde in Fifth House Virgo) had a 12 year relationship with Naveen Andrews, an actor 21 years her junior. Their relationship caused some controversy because of the age difference. Barbara’s Ascendent is in Aries (ruled by Mars), so we can speculate that she was attempting to define (Virgo) her identity (Aries rising) through this relationship. The Fifth House represents ego, creativity, and performance.
Men with Mars Retrograde: Struggling with Masculinity
If you’re a man with Mars retrograde, you’ll likely experience a struggle with the way you express your masculinity. You probably learned early on that you weren’t like the other boys. For example, maybe you weren’t comfortable with competitive sports. As you got older and became aware of your sexuality, expressing your desires was a problem. When should you make the first move? When should you hold back? Mars retrograde is never sure, and sometimes you may have been too aggressive, or not aggressive enough. But this certainly doesn’t mean that your male energy is weakened.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, a famous Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, has Mars retrograde (also in Virgo, although the house position is not known). He used Mars’ internalized energy to produce precise, disciplined (Virgo) athleticism in his own unique way. He expressed his masculine energy through an art form that’s usually associated with women, but most people would agree that his dancing is incredibly powerful.
Mars Retrograde and Suppression
For both sexes, Mars retrograde can mean difficulties expressing anger and assertion. You may suppress everything until it comes out as a passive-aggressive jab, or a (seemingly) unprovoked explosion. For the partner of a Mars retrograde person, this can be mystifying because they have no idea where the hostility is coming from. The key is understanding that direct expression will never be easy. Because you’re banging a different drum than everyone else, it’s not just a matter of learning to be direct. You’ll have to identify the strengths (defined by Mars’ sign) of your Mars retrograde, and work with them. Strategy works better for you than charging forward.
For example, Mars retrograde in Gemini can be expressed through strategic, indirect communication. Taking time to write down your thoughts or anger can reveal some surprising (and unusually effective) insights. Mars retrograde in Cancer gives you more access than most to empathy and protective nurturing. Use your heightened feelings (and passion) to respond to your partner instead of reacting. Mars retrograde in Taurus can make you fiercely determined, especially when it comes to supporting your partner. You may be obsessively focused on gaining (or losing) resources. Leave the future planning and foresight to your partner; you can move mountains if you focus on the here and now.
The house position and planetary aspects Mars makes will give you more information to work with. Also, at some point your natal Mars retrograde will probably turn direct, by progression. Progressed planets show the development of natal potential, and this can help immensely when it comes to expressing your Mars. You’ll still have to deal with the retrograde energy, but you’ll experience a “click” (when it goes direct), and the energy becomes easier to work with.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be the understanding that natal Mars retrograde equals intensified energy. It’s not compromised; it’s refocused. Admittedly, there are challenges that arise when Yang energy goes Yin, but it’s all part of the process of discovering what this internal rebellion stirs up.
Do you have Mars retrograde in your natal chart? Tell us about what this stirs up for you in comments below.