Mars Retrograde in the Natal Chart: When Yang Energy Goes Yin

Mars Retrograde in Natal ChartMars 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.

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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.

About Nadia Gilchrist

Nadia Gilchrist offers over 19 years of experience in astrology. Her writings and personal consultations focus on applying practical astrological analysis to the real world. Nadia blogs regularly at Ruby Slipper Astrology.


  1. Kim Philipp says:

    I have Mars retrograde in 29° Libra in the first house.
    I’d say this is one of the most, if not the most challenging Mars placement.
    Mars in Libra already has problems with assertion, and the retrograde does not help with this either.
    It’s also opposite my natal Mercury.
    It’s pretty much what you’d expect, procrastination and problems with assertion and expression.

  2. I have Mars retrograde in Aries. Seemingly, all of my planets and houses hit their most appropraite aspects and zodiac partners. Libra – Sun, Mercury (retrograde) Libra. Gemini – Moon, Venus – Leo. Jupiter (retrograde) Gemini. Even my 11th house – Aquarius. I seem to have intensity written all over me. And my Mars retrograde in Aries is the one that allows me to smash my barriers and oppositions out of the way with seemingly no effort, or resistance in what seemed before colossal opposition, at all. Also an Earth Dragon with Taurus in the Ascendant, and my Jupiter Retrograde is sat in there with my Moon (Gemini). I keep telling myself I don’t know what this means… but I do. And it still scares the shit out of me! But I love that. Mars retrograde in Aries when expressed properlly (I find from personal experience), is driven to miraculous feats of positive accomplishment for the self and others, and often the world at large. Learn to love your Retrogrades, for they are your greatest strengths once the fears and obstacles they represent are overcome. Thanks for allowing me this expression. I hope this helps. Always with love. Stay shiny peaceful warriors.

  3. Cataldo Leone says:

    I have Mars in 4th house (already kind of ‘weakened’ or ‘lessened’ by House) in Aquarius, and retrograde. Because my Ascendant is Scorpio, I find that my Mars placement is even more significant.
    In addition my Mars makes only one aspect and it’s a PRECISE square to my moon in 1st house.
    I don’t think I need to elaborate on how difficult this placement is. I have suffered and suffer daily in many ways: depression (internalized energy, anyone?), anxiety, lazy beyond belief, (rare) anger outbursts, prone to be the target of other people’s aggression (I’ve been victim of two attacks in the last 4 years, the first one almost deadly) and I could go on and on. Let’s not sugarcoat the astrological significance of a debilitated planet, like I see many people do.
    At the same time I’m sure my Mars placement has also some positive sides (very brainy and thoughtful, sensitive to human/social issue, good thinker, good at finding alternative ways of expression).
    On anther note, I’d like to point out that my Mars is conjunct the North Node. Does anyone feel like suggesting an interpretation for this specific conjunction?

  4. My retrograde Mars is in the first house under Virgo. I only recently learned this, and as I continue to research this placement I can see the significance it has over my masculinity.

  5. Hello Nadia!

    I would like to ask you a question – I am studying hard for a competitive exam which I have to take in 2016. However, the dates for applying to that examination fall entirely within the Mars retrograde period (this time in Sagittarius and my third house).

    I have heard that “When Mars is retrograde; whoever initiates, loses.” Do you think that my chances for clearing this exam are damaged from the beginning? After all, everyone in the country who writes this exam will have to apply within the same time-frame, right?

    Please let me know…

  6. Mr. Subrata Banerjee says:

    My Dob 19/7/1971 at 4:15 pm Place Burdwan Latitude 23.23. E Lognit 87.51 N. in caprican retro mars and rahu . job less last 1 year. plz suggest me the gems stone.

    Thanks and regards


  7. I have retrograde Mars conjunct ascendant (virgo) in the 12th house. It’s also opposite saturn & moon and square Venus, Jupiter & Pluto. I do often feel anger building up and I never show it, if it gets too much I just leave the room. I feel very insecure and helpless at times, and I’m very scared of going after anything I want, it seems impossible even. Even when I’ve acted out it’s always been quiet and without much confrontation – like when I moved out of my parents’ home because I couldn’t stand them anymore I never event told them – I just packed my things and left one morning. Thanks to my capricorn sun I do push myself to get out and work and not be useless, but it’s kind of pointless when I’m not trying anything I really want to just because I’m scared or better yet have no idea how to do it.

  8. I have retrograde mars in 4th house and in Cancer. My ascendant is also Aries, so it is the ruler of my chart. I believe the Mars retrograde in 4th represents acting on my instincts that relate to internal security. This comes across as confident I would think, however my mars has progressed to direct motion finally, and yet before in my teen years I seemed to go against my sense of internal security and instincts. I think this is a natural progression, and we become very internally strong for others in the same sense (mainly family) of which I also am very much so. Trust the instincts is all I would say to a retrograde mars in Cancer and/or 4th house.

  9. Dear all, i’m an example of very bad Mars position.My Mars is on 3re degree in 8th house, and 8house is in Pieces , and my Mars is making very bad aspects- opposition Sun(2 house in kobra), square neptun(5 house) and wider square with Satur and Uran( they are also in 5 house) .Lovely 🙂

  10. What does my natal chart say about me? 14 Degrees Aquarius Sun 17 Degrees Sagittarius Ascendant 15 Degrees Sagittarius Moon 27 Degrees Capricorn Mercury 17 Aquarius Venus 26 Cancer Mars Retrograde 26 Degrees Gemini Jupiter Retrograde 28 Leo Saturn Retrograde 16 Degrees Scorpio Uranus 17 Sagittarius Neptune 16 Libra Pluto Retrograde

  11. Wow Ben we must have been born really close together because I have almost all the same planets- born Sep 19th, 1988

  12. olivia says:

    Does Mars retrograde not do the Venus retrograde thing of expressing the qualities of the opposite sign?

  13. I was born on Sept 19 1988 Vanessa. Most the same planets but I’m a Virgo.

  14. I also have some of the same placements as you Ben. Oct 17 88

  15. EXACTLY LIKE ME!! Let’s attempt suicide together.

  16. I was born on 7th Sept 1971 with Mars Retrograde in my 12th house so a double whammy of inturned misdirected energy! I don’t like noise, anger, conflict or confrontation and I often find my motivation levels quite sporadic- I start things but don’t always finish them. I also had chronic fatigue syndrome 16 years ago and still have lower average levels of energy. Have had to learn to live with this placing and adjust my life accordingly.
    The upside is that I don’t mind spending time to myself to recharge and am quite a spiritual person due to this placing plus having neptune in sag conjunct jupiter in scorpio.

  17. I have Mars in my 12H which is tantamount to an Rx I feel- it’s opp Jupiter (6H) and square Uranus (3H) – when younger repressed energy was the result with very rare outbursts ( mild ) but no ability for any direction but as I’ve reached middle age a strong spiritual side has evolved with compassionate service being forefront. Finally !!!

  18. Carrina says:

    Me and my twin, October 19, 88. Mars; Aries retrograde.

  19. Subhadra says:

    Thank you Nadia for this interesting article! I have Mars retrograde in Cancer in 10th house, which also is my MC/zenith point. I’m struggling with expressing my emotional needs and directing my energy due to my shifting self-confidence. Since it also has to do with my professional life, it’s hard for me to have to courage fullfill my dreams and purpose in life. I’m afraid I’ll be drawn to the wrong type of men. You article gave me hope though, that it’s it possible that the Mars can turn direct with time. I’m still young. My mother also has Mars in Cancer retrograde and married my dad who is exactly that kind of rebel you were describing. Now she does have a new partner who really is not that rebellious type, and they met after her 40ies, so I see there is hope. 🙂

  20. I have Mars in Aries in the 7th house in my natal chart retrograde and it has gone direct now but will the Retrograde energy of the natal Mars Retrograde still effect me and how much?

  21. Very informative! I have Mars in Leo retrograde in 12th house, now I understand why I’m the way I am

  22. I originally arrived at this article to check on what a Rx Leo Mars (house unknown) would act like for a man but then I ended up learning more about myself. I’ve always known my Mars was the trouble child planet in my chart because it holds nearly all negative aspects to it but this article helped me figure out why exactly I get into trouble sometimes. Being in Virgo doesn’t help it and neither does being in the 4th house. The Rx attraction detail for females explained a lot and now I understand the Rx Leo Mars’ past actions and why he did them.

  23. Eisenhalle says:

    I, too have a Libra mars RX and it’s opposite my Aries Moon and Saturn. I even have my Capricorn and cancer intercepted in the chart. I hate myself for always feeling that I couldn’t do anything.. And that I would always fail. So I end up running away from my responsibilities, always feeling tired without even trying.

  24. Having Mars retrograde in Libra and in 12th house opposite Sun. I hear Mars is at its weakest in the 12th house and also in Libra.
    I find it so difficult taking any initiative, I contemplate actions instead of acting, feeling mostly lazy and without energy, also have severe anemia based on lack of iron(Iron is the element associated with planet Mars). Fear of conflict, passive aggressiveness as well, lack of self confidence, anxiety and depression. It’s like living with the brakes constantly on. I’m sure there’s also a good part in all of these aspects but the shadow part is overwhelming at this point in my life.
    So I got the astrological explanation for my problems but sometimes I’m inclined to use it as an excuse for my failures. That’s sooooo unwanted.
    My question is: how do you unblock the Martian energy? There must be a way! I feel that’s the key to unblocking all of my potential.
    A friend once recommended meditation with the sound of the planet Mars. Any thoughts?

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