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.

›› Get your customized astrological compatibility report for insight into how the planets play out in your relationships.

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. Mars retro in Scorpio my 5th house. Gemini with Cancer rising. Reading your article definiately hits home as to the expressing anger and assertion. I know what I am feeling and try to express but it comes out wrong. I walk away and think about it and of course, I now know exactly what I should have said or done. Really frustrating and makes me look and feel stupid.

  2. mary beth says:

    fascinating and enlightening

  3. What about Mars in Libra that was in detriment at the time of their birth? It says they have a knack for seeking out the evildoers and liars, but are ineffective at handling the situation. They’re more likely to take it personally and be passive-aggressive than seeking out how to fix the situation. They have their own inner evil brewing based on what they see/feel and need a crusade to believe in and be apart of. I think this is why I have trust issues….

  4. This hits home. I have Mars R in Scorpio 6th H; in opposition to Mercury Aries near cusp & Venus Taurus; Sun, Ascendent, Jupiter Taurus; Moon Cap. At times I could rip someone to shreds verbally and they deserve it, but instead I stoically walk away, take the high road, and sometimes win by persistence over time. These friggin’ earth signs, it’s like having duct tape over my mouth! I didn’t sign on for this Joan of Arc routine. I’m tired!

  5. Hm. I had a direct Mars in Taurus but it went retrograde by progression a long time ago. It’s now almost back to where it started! I guess maybe I get the same energy only now it’s more strategic?

  6. My 9th house retrograde Gemini Mars is most effective when I’m able to express myself thoughtfully and without aggression, through words, prayer, healing (I’m an alternative healer who uses my hands) and occasionally, through advocating for causes I believe in. Aggression *never* works for me and one of my biggest challenges has always been in not *overreacting* to the thinly veiled aggression and/or hidden motives in others.

    Since even my most reasonable requests occasionally antagonize, I often wonder just how far to press certain issues. Learning when and how to surrender and to live with people’s negative reactions when I chose to challenge the status quo can be tough sometimes; in addition to several easy flowing aspects, Mars also squares natal Pluto in the 12th and is quincunx my Scorpio Neptune. More than most, I recognize the abuse of power in its various forms.

    I related to a lot of what you wrote, especially the part about the value in strategic planning. Sometimes an indirect approach is best, rather than trying to push my way straight through. Thanks.:)

  7. I wanted to add how much I appreciate your deeper understanding of how retrograde Mars truly operates. Wish I’d had someone validate much earlier what I’ve long suspected. Funny how as I’m reading this, the transiting South Node is conjunct my natal Mars, giving me this final permission to release old ways of communicating. Thanks again, Nadia. Well chosen words can be so very healing.

  8. Again, a very insightful article Nadia. I have to put it out there…How about a series of each planet and its retrograde meaning in a person’s chart? 😉

    I have no retrograde planets, but I have encountered people who do. Knowing this about Mars is helpful. It allows for an understanding into someone’s relating actions.

  9. I personally feel when mars is in retrograde in a friendly house like aries or the first house the indecision of mars is diluted. I have a mars in aries, a fully activated one and a retrograde at that, i had a hard time subduing my anger, albeit a righteous one. It is dynamic and ahead of its times. All i have to do is take a look at a person or a project and predict its outcome, which the peers come to realise after its demise.

    From a scattered fireball which was in total contrast to my scorpionic nature, i have harnessed it from an aries mars to a scorpio mars which is controlled not repressed, mature, and like a sword that has been annealed in fire and water alternatively.

    A transit of mars retrograde is what i find is that it affects the sector of your natal chart where it is present. in my case this year it was my 6th house, and 6th house ruling the mind and anxiety, i developed health anxiety.

    Secondly it will affect the transit house and the one opposite to the transit house. In 2010 it was retrograde leo 10th house and opposite the 4th house, i had severe issues concerning my workplace, my mother who was kidnapped and with a diabetic foot fracture and her imminent demise. By the time mars went forward, her funeral was over.

    The above is an extreme version i have given.

  10. @Dean
    You might also want to look at where your Mercury is since it’s so prominent in your chart (ruler of Gemini). A strong Mercury could help you express yourself. When Mars is retrograde, indirect expression through other planets can be helpful.

  11. @mary beth

  12. @no-perspiration
    Is you Mars in Libra direct or retrograde?

  13. @C-Lee
    You’re the second commenter here w/Mars Rx in Scorpio. Interesting. Scorpio is highly internalized anyway. As you mentioned, persistance is your friend. The only thing I would watch out for is that you don’t let any of that internalized anger fester. In your 6th House of health/work, it can impact your health. Release through some kind of physical activity/work would help.
    But it sounds like you’ve figured out a way to deal with it.

  14. @les
    Pretty much. When a planet goes Rx by progression the issues represented by the house/sign need to be looked at again. If something significant happened when you were a child (connected to the house that your Mars is in) you might want to look at that incident.

  15. @LB
    You’re welcome, LB. 🙂

  16. @Novlady
    And thanks for your article suggestions. There is an article on Venus Rx coming up.

  17. Thanks Nadia I will take a look.

  18. @rgopi
    Thanks for sharing.
    Nice imagery with the alternating fire (Aries) and water (Scorpio).
    I’m sorry to read about your Mother. Transiting Mars Rx can re-ignite certain karmic situations. I’m wondering if Pluto (transiting or natal) was involved as well.

  19. Nadia – Yeah I would say My Mercury is in a fairly strong position:

    Planetary positions
    planet sign degree motion
    Sun Gemini 10°53’49 in house 12 direct
    Moon Virgo 17°14’00 in house 4 direct
    Mercury Gemini 1°43’44 in house 12 direct
    Venus Gemini 4°30’31 in house 12 direct
    Mars Scorpio 1°40’09 in house 5 retrograde
    Jupiter Taurus 7°46’23 in house 11 direct
    Saturn Libra 8°15’41 in house 4 stationary (D)
    Uranus Cancer 12°10’33 in house 1 direct
    Neptune Libra 19°08’49 in house 5 retrograde
    Pluto Leo 19°19’16 in house 3 direct
    True Node Aquarius 24°33’24 in house 9 retrograde

  20. Nadia,

    I believe it’s direct. The planets I have that are retrograde are mercury, saturn (exhaled), and pluto. BUT, in my progressed chart as of today, it’s Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto all in retrograde. Is that why I don’t feel normal right now? It says, for right now, that it is trine to the sun (aqua) and square venus (cap). What does that mean?

  21. Thank you always for your insights and comments, Nadia. Yes, I swim laps regularly and get out of the pool when I am either spent or they close the pool. On the upside, it’s a ruling principle that the people in my life are ethical and kind. My close relationships reflect this and are very strong. It’s the clever, often self-serving, machinations of others that elude me.

  22. could you do one for venus retrograde?

  23. @Dean
    My goodness. 🙂
    “Strong Mercury” is almost an understatement in your case.

  24. @no-perspiration
    It sounds like your Mars has turned retrograde by progression. So you’re going back over certain lessons associated with your Mars (depending on the house it’s in).
    As for why you don’t feel normal…sorry, but i can’t comment on that unless I analyze your entire chart. There’s just too many other variables to consider.

  25. @C-lee
    You’re welcome. 🙂

  26. @ame
    That article is coming up…

  27. Amazing as always, Nadia. My 9th house retrograde Mars in Taurus is the kite of my grand water trine (Moon in the 7th Pisces, Saturn in Cancer (yuck!) in the 11th, and Mercury in Scorpio in the 3rd). I wholeheartedly agree with your description of Mars in Taurus. I am verrrry slow to anger and when I do finally blow, it’s my sharp tongue (damn Scorpionic Mercury in the 3rd) that gets me into trouble. As I have gotten older, I leave the room when I get too agitated in a personal argument to avoid causing harm.

    As far as the men I have chosen to have a relationship with, I usually am the more steadfast and ethical partner which has led to dissapointment (Neptune flavored 7th house?) in some cases.

    @Dean, I’ve done that same thing hundreds of times. Crazymaking, isn’t it.

    I do think Mars retros have a certain inner strength despite all hassles this aspect can make for us.

  28. Nadia, one last question, if I might presume on your time. You mention indirect expression through other planets being helpful with a Mars retrograde. Is there any particular placement that suggests creative strengths through writing?

  29. @fireopal09 “Crazymaking” (love the word) for sure. I often wonder why I can’t stop myself afterwards. I have seen myself do this over and over again; there is a split second where the switch flips, the adrenalin kicks in and BANG…out It comes…. I marvel at people who can, seemingly, understand their emotion, tame it instantly, and then have a calm retort that seems to be measured and concise. That all happens for me too but after the explosion.

  30. @fireopal09
    Thank you.
    I agree that Mars Rx gives you inner strength that arises from its unique perspective.

  31. @C-Lee
    Mars Rx in the 3rd house or in Virgo/Gemini. Mars Rx in any aspect to Mercury.

  32. curious757 says:

    This is an excellent article, it opened my eyes about retrograde and how powerful it can be.
    It also made me curious to look up Baryshnikov, Misha’s profile/history and relationships and their astrological charts. His relationship with Jessica Lange, and his now long term one. About how his mother committed suicide – that was so sad. Love reading up historical stuff/relationships. Also, Hershey’s profile and her involvement with her two serious relationships in her life: the first one disappointed her due to his infidelity. And how her longer relationship with Naveen most probably made her feel alive. She seems so vulnerable and soft, yet her inner strength is quite powerful.
    thanks for sharing another insightful article.

  33. Black Hand Ninja says:

    Excellent article.

    I have Mars in Aries Retrograde in the 1st house – so it certainly affects my being very strongly, and dealing with the energy has proved to be difficult, especially with 2 squares (Neptune in Capricorn 10th house & Venus in Cancer 5th house) and a quincunx (Pluto in 8th).

    Masculinity has represented something of a problem, as I have a physique that has great potential, but I have struggled to get the energy to really get the best of it, and I have also experienced problems asserting my self and my power. I am focusing on getting through though, and I now have a better understanding of the retrograde.

  34. @curious757
    I love reading about historical/famous relationships as well…great examples of larger than life astrology in action.

  35. @Black Hand Ninja
    With the squares to Neptune/Venus, you’d have even more of an understanding of the Yin potential. But squares also create tension so there’s definitely some driving energy there.

  36. mars retro in leo in the 12th conjunct asc opp mercury conjunct saturn in the 7th and in t-square with neptune in scorpio in the 4th . venus in 6th in capricorn and pluto and uranus in virgo 2nd house opposing sun in 8th. 2 significant men have been virgos (aquarius on 7th).sun/ 8th moon jupiter/9th. mc is aries mars inconjunct sun..chiron nad neptune currently conjunct sun. all in pisces
    i am very at peace when alone – i think that is the virgo – pisces emphasis by house and sign in my chart. i am a people pleaser and i find the older i get the more drained i feel by being full-on in society. i find it hard to be nicely assertive and have a tendency to be a moan-a-groan with my nearest and dearest.8th house sun oppsition pluto/uranus = constant power plays. i take refuge by taking to the beach, park ,mountains and mu cancerian north node finds me indulging my recently aquired puppies. if i had the courage to be myself it would make a huge difference. think there’s a bit more than mars retri in there lol !

  37. My retrograde mars is in Cancer, in my 10th house.

    I’ve had a history of being attracted to gender-bending men, in terms of traditionally masculine and feminine ways of expression, my natal sun square moon makes it worse because I don’t know how to balence the two in the first place. I hate feeling feminine, so I look for that in potential partners. All those guys other women call effeminate are the sexiest thing on the planet to me 8| They do in fact represent my inner frustration with my sideways energy (projection’s just so wonderful, isn’t it? -_-). I just feel easily threatened by traditionally masculine men. (That may be a strong word, but I can’t find another one)

    I try to channel the Cancer energy in a productive way, so I’m on the right track, at least.

  38. Hi dear Nadia

    Thanks so much for your article. Very enlightening!!!!

    I have Mars R in Sag in the 8th H (ruler of my chart ) opposite mercury in the 2nd H and square Pluto in the 5th H (5 deg aspects).
    I’ve always been in relationships with guys that are not my “socially acceptable” match, usually older than me. Am i trying to define my identity through intimacy like Barbara Hershey?

    How does Mars in Sag (Scorpio is in the cusp of the 8th H) go yin? How can I best work with this Mars energy, by progression is about to conjunct the descendant. Any thoughts?

    Thanksss so much.

  39. Thanks very much for this very insightful in put. It is a great read and helps readers peer into themselves.

  40. nadia, what about mars retro in scorpio?

  41. it is in the first house and opposes my sun.

  42. I’m a lady with Mars Retrograde in Aries in the second house. What does this say about me?

  43. retro mars cancer 2nd house as singleton. i express anger only home and my mom is not happy 😀 yesterday after 19 years it became direct so i hope for that click to date girls normally and act normally too pheew

  44. ok, I’ve read your article a while ago but I am inclined to post a comment now since my progressed retro mars has stationed the past couple of years and is about to go direct on Dec 29, 2013 right on top (minutes away) from my Sagittarius Midheaven.

    my chart has 5 retrograde planets! my natal mercury went direct on May 26 1986. I am a Gemini sun (May 24, 1969) and have been a very quiet person all my life, until Mercury went direct and I became a little more outgoing (outgoing for me is not the same as other folks, I am still a very quiet guy most of the time).

    what can or should I expect with progressed mars going direct right on my midheaven?

  45. Billy Sweet. says:

    Cancer sun/Cancer rising. Mars retrograde Capricorn in 7th house. I’ve always prefered for girls to make the first move even when I really want to. July 3rd, 86 is my birthday. I don’t know what else to say. Relationships do not come easy for me.

  46. Hello Nadia,
    I have Mars Leo 22°10’34 in house 10 retrograde and it is not the only retrograde, I have 3 more, so thank you for your insight on retrograde planets

  47. true. my special mars in cancer retrograde (got direct 2012) as a singleton bucket chart as a handle in 2nd house, before direct progressed motion i felt like inward person very much but later i literally exploded and start sell my things, buy things and sell them also started to get money for first time, job(i was 20). i was so forward with that selling stuff to people that i got robbed my ipod i wanted to sell, so i got little paranoid afterwards and now i kinda lost taste (probably not because of that robbing) for this things i don’t know why maybe im too lazy (i live with my mom) but i know if i put my self in something i go 200% its like nothing before it but someone described this mars that i have also up and downs motivation level so i don’t know how to be 100% motivated for something to make living from it and then go 200% forward in it. emotionality and indecisiveness is strong too.

  48. BlackCat says:

    Thanks for the article. I have Mars Rx in Gemini (7th house). I really need help with how to express my anger. I always seem to fall short and then obsess over what I should have done no matter how many times I say I will deal with it differently. Writing in my journal barely helps because I need to find an effective way to retaliate to confrontation at the time it occurs. Are Mars Rx folk doomed to suppression and misdirected energy all their lives?

  49. How would you interpret Mars retrograde in Scorpio Conjunct Saturn retrograde in Scorpio? in the third house and squaring a Leo moon in the twelfth house… I don’t have this placement myself but someone I know does. Seems like a tough aspect but I would like to read insights from someone who’s more experienced in astrology 🙂 thank you!

  50. Look retrograde planet at least for me and if its personal planet and it gets direct in progression after being retrograde. I feel like the introverted side just got more quicker and fiery or something. So therefore all of the things I hold inside got out but in such a non productive way just only as a desperate expression. I am far from doing martial art I always wanted to do when I was kid. I am more of a daredevil vapor. Meh

    Mars as singleton in 2nd house in Cancer retrograde.

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