Mars in Virgo Retrograde

Mars in Virgo Retrograde

The following is an excerpt from my 2012 Astrological Almanac.  This handy tome contains descriptions of every day, monthly summaries, horoscopes, an ephemeris, a yearly walk-through, and more. It’s available as a paperback or eBook, so if you like what you read, be sure to get one!

Mars’ retrograde through Virgo is one of the defining features of the first quarter of 2012.  The red planet puts it into reverse on January 23rd and will remain retrograde until April 13th.

In order to fully understand Mars’ retrograde through Virgo, we’ll first look at the general qualities of Mars’ retrogrades, followed by a look at the nature of the red planet in the Virgin’s sign and then conclude with those archetypes and events which are specific to Mars retrograde in Virgo.

Mars Retrograde Basics:  This Is My Rifle

Approximately every 2 years, Mars goes retrograde for a little under 3 months.  Just as Mercury retrograde periods entail confusion in regard to communication, travel and technology, Mars retrogrades also entail confusion and complications, but in regard to Mars’ significations.  Here we see changes in people’s understanding and use of personal power as well as their relationship to men and masculinity. Just as Mercury retrogrades push us to reorganize our thoughts and communications, Mars retrogrades ask us to reorganize our personal power.  Often fierce energies rise to the surface, demanding to be integrated.  Challenges emerge to which we do not yet have an effective response.   As a result, during Mars retrogrades it is easy to become uncertain about your personal power.

It is very important to strive for clarity and control in the way you marshal your aggressive energies during these periods, as misapplications of personal power during Mars retrograde are very common.  If feelings of inappropriate anger and/or impotence surface, it is important to work to understand them before acting on them.

The Mars retrograde process is analogous to taking apart a rifle in order to clean it.  Regular cleaning ensures that a rifle continues to work properly, but while it’s disassembled for cleaning and inspection, it doesn’t work so well.  If you try to fire it, it either won’t work or it’ll blow your hand off.  For those who don’t understand that it’s rifle cleaning time, this can come as an upsetting surprise.  So avoid putting your gun into active duty and instead focus on the process at hand.

It is important to note that a minority of the population was born while Mars was retrograde.  Those with a retrograde Mars in their natal charts tend to cope with the challenges of Mars retrogrades in a far more positive manner than the majority of the population.

Mars in Virgo:  The Warrior and His Tools

The essence of Mars in Virgo is the connection between technical knowledge and practical power.  The focus is not so much on the mighty arm of the warrior, but on the quality of the sword it swings.  Mars in Virgo’s strength is in his tools – how they were created, what they do and where to apply them.  Archetypally, Mars in Virgo highlights the connection between “the warrior” and “the smith”.

This focus on the practical application of martial fire and technical know-how is reflected most clearly in myths of gods of the forge such as the Greek Hephaestus, the Roman Vulcan, the West African Ogun and the Sabbatic Traditions’ Tubal Cain.

In the modern mythology of comic books,  “Iron Man” stands out as particularly appropriate, as he is  a superhero whose powers are defined almost exclusively by technical know-how and forge-craft.

On a literal level, Mars in Virgo is the member of the Geek Squad that comes to fix your computer, the clever but socially awkward engineer that designed your car, and the ruggedly handsome plumber who shows up to “fix those leaky pipes.”

Yet during Mars’ extended stay in Virgo this year, we’ll go deeper than the surface of these characters.  Indeed, the first quarter of 2012 will entail an exploration of the secret loves, hates and insecurities hiding within the solid outlines of the smith and handyman.

Mars Retrograde In Virgo:  Vulcan’s Secret Laboratory

While Mars is retrograde, we’ll explore the hidden recesses of the volcano that the Gods of the Smithy call home.  Beneath that volcano is a forge, a laboratory of creation and destruction. As Mars retrogrades through Virgo, we’ll return to this forge.  Each of us a Haephaestus, we’ll review all of the weapons, armor and tools we have created, the metaphorical and psychic form our personal power exists in.  Are these the tools we need, or are they simply answers to yesterday’s problems? What can be improved and what needs to be completely redesigned? The answers to these questions will determine what tools we will keep and improve and which ones we will cast back into the flames, to be melted down for scrap.

Yet these questions are not so easily answered, for our proximity to Mars’ hot core scorches the mind, burning up patience like tissue paper in a bonfire. This inflames the critical nature, the desire to destroy what is imperfect.  When this destructive gaze is cast outward, people become critical of other people and their creations.  When the gaze is directed inward, it results in ruthless self castigation.  It is therefore important to conscientiously avoid being overly critical or indulging in destructive perfectionism.

Dangers aside, Mars’ retrograde through Virgo is, in essence, about upgrading your personal power.   So sit in your smithy and meditate on what you’ll create.  You’d look mighty good in a new suit of armor.


In addition to archetypal core, we can expect a couple types of events to define Mars’ retrograde through Virgo.  Let’s consider things from a more literal level.

Cannot Connect To Internet

Mars’ retrograde will be through Virgo, a Mercury-ruled sign.  As a result, Mars’ retrograde will generate a number of effects which will be difficult to distinguish from those of a Mercury retrograde.  Problems with technology, communication and travel should be expected.


One of the key topics for this Mars retrograde will be jobs.  On a global level, Mars’ retrograde through Virgo will highlight employment and unemployment problems.  On an individual level, one of the ways that Mars retro’s symbolic occupation with “reforging tools” will manifest in people’s lives is re-training for a job,  training for a new job and going back to school to become more qualified.


Though it may seem like a stretch to include “currency” under the symbolic banner of “tools,” an economic historian would beg to differ.  Currency is an instrument, a tool, for gauging and exchanging value.   A historical survey of Mars’ retrogrades through Virgo correlates with a number of important currency-based events, especially in US history.  With the Euro in chronic distress;   it is hard to imagine that Mars’ retrograde through Virgo will not melt down the Continent’s imaginary coins.  I look to mid-March for the height of Euro-zone chaos.

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Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.


  1. Diane 11 years ago

    Austin…so beautifully put…feeling some tredpidation as my Mars had been biting at my heels lately, so will heed your advice regarding sitting and meditating in the forge on my new elaborate hard core coat of Armour!

  2. Chandira 11 years ago

    Mars moving through my 4th house, retrogrades just after I move house this week, and have time to sort things out there, redecorate, etc.. I hope there’s not too much fixing I have to do! It all passed inspection well enough. Hhmm.. 🙂

  3. Silver Quick 11 years ago

    I have Mars in Virgo sixth house ( conjunct Saturn and Jupiter ) so should I reasonably assume that this will be an important time for me and that these issues need to be paid attention to on a larger scale? It sounds intense.

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Mars in Virgo Retrograde

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