December 2013 – July 2014
The following is an excerpt from my 2014 Astrological Almanac. The 2015 edition of the Astrological Almanac is now available. This handy tome contains descriptions of every day, monthly summaries, an ephemeris, a yearly walk-through, and more.
Mars is due to spend a truly unreasonable amount of time in Libra in 2014. The red planet enters Libra in December, 2013 and will not leave until July 2014. Mars usually stays in a sign for a mere month and a half, but due to his retrogradation, he’ll jostle the scales for nearly eight and a half months.
Mars is not considered to be well placed in Libra. In fact, he is traditionally considered to be in his “detriment” there. The planet has less dignity in Libra than in any other sign of the zodiac. In Taurus, the other detriment of Mars, the planet is considered to at least have triplicity or trigonal rulership, and the same can be said of Cancer.
“Detriment” is one of the negative dignities in astrology, meaning that the planet in such a condition is greatly impeded from expression. The conditions of the sign are contrary to the will of the planet, and from this contradiction a stagnation emerges.
Libra is the proper domicile of Venus, whose power is to join and reconcile. If one gazes at the Scales long enough, visions of diplomatic cocktails parties, first dates and courtrooms emerge. In Libra, relationships are assessed and brought to a state of greater balance.
The planet Mars was named for the ravenous god of war, and rightly so. His field of power is populated with wolves and soldiers, great generals and fierce fires. The game of attack and defense, hunter and prey take place here. One attempts to defend against, destroy or devour the Other. It is a far cry from the movement toward reconciliation and harmony that Libra represents.
Thus as Mars travels Libra, we confront a situation wherein the forge-hot God of War strides uncomfortably into a polite Libran soiree. He looks here and there for actionable objectives, missions upon which to focus his potent energies and foes to engage and decimate. Yet his rough demeanor offends the other party goers, and before long he is isolated, relegated to brooding by the hors de ovre table.
Mars’ journey through Libra will see the red planet learn to make do in this awkward situation. After some time Mars will learns the rules of the game and apply himself to the task of bringing sword and shield to bear on the art of diplomacy and peace making. He is delighted to learn that there are in fact thrusts and parries, battle formations and counter-strategies. In fact, at their essence these games share a common root, for as Sun Tzu said, “All warfare is based on deception,” and much the same can be said of seduction.
Sturdy Mars begins to categorize the other attendees, dividing them into allies, neutrals and enemies. He realizes now that the rules of this war are to never admit that one is at war, or that any of the party goers harbor any hostile intentions whatsoever. The deception which plays a role in military affairs is the very heart of these games. He learns to take others territory through charm, to defend himself by the pose of innocence. “There are rules of engagement in this war,” he smiles, “and I have become their master.”
Yet between these realizations and victories, there will be upsets. We, like Mars, may grow tired of the hate hidden beneath pleasant smiles and the malice disguised in passive aggressive remarks. At times, we may long for the truthful brutality of war, the honest trajectory of spears seeking heart’s blood.
Practiced imperfectly, diplomacy yields only a mounting list of small injustices- cold wars iced over with chill politics. There may come some moments when we, like Mars, declare war on passive aggression, abandoning all pretense.
In our personal lives, as well as our collective one, peace sometimes requires the threat of real conflict. Lessons on the inter-relations between the conjoined arts of love and war line the corridor of sky Mars travels for much of 2014.
Mars retrograde cycle can be meaningfully sub-divided until three sections. The first begins when Mars enters the degrees he will retrograde through, December 25th, 2013. The second is the period of actual retrograde motion, March 1st, until the direct station, May 19th. The third is the span of time which it takes Mars to get back to the degree of his initial retrograde station, which takes us all the way to July 21st.
The first of these begins when Mars enters the degrees which he will later retrograde through. These degrees and the events that they contain are complicated, and this period is thus called the “shadow,” for the future presses uncertainly on what occurs here.
Mars enters Libra on December 7th, and then strides into the shadow on December 25th. During the shadow period we begin a slow detachment from our understanding of power. Intimations of new games emerge, as well as a growing sense that we are unready to play them. People often experience increasingly erratic spikes and dips in their energy levels. The reasons for action become uncertain, and levels of activity begin to waver drunkenly. People, especially those who express themselves in a masculine manner, experience strange insecurities. Their own patterns seem not good enough, and their confidence wanes. This continues throughout the shadow, becoming more and more intense as Mars’ approaches his actual retrograde station on March 1st.
The second phase begins with Mars’ retrograde station on March 1st. Mars’ retrograde phase sees the frameworks for harnessing and directing personal power dissolve, cold steel melted back down into molten iron.
Martial energies retreat from the surface, seeking the invisible heart of power, the principle behind action. The gods of war throw down their weapons in disgust, and seek monastic retreats. We are left without arms or armor.
During this time, many people, especially particularly active people, may find themselves adrift, unable to settle on or achieve the goals that often come so easily. Though it may be difficult, the best strategy during this time is often not to push action, but to drift and observe, learning the landscape of the new arena as it slowly takes shape.
The battlefield forming here is a cocktail party, full of friends, allies, enemies and diplomats from cold-warring countries.
Mars direct station on May 19th signals the beginning of the third and final phase of this cycle. Insights coagulate into actionable objectives. Energies rise back to the surface, ready to mobilize the various game-pieces once again. Still, the strategies are untried, the moves still unfamiliar.
Alliances which have survived the bardo of the red planet’s retrogradation emerge strengthened, as do the new patterns of cooperation forged by Mars’ backward motion. Mars exits the boundaries of his retrograde cycle on July 21st, and leaves Libra behind on July 25th.
Mars’ eight month odyssey through Libra will test your diplomatic skills sorely. The issues likely to arise are unlikely to be solved by a straight forward approach. In fact, a direct angle may make things worsen things, making you seem like the aggressor when the truth is something quite different. You’ll be introduced to a type of strength you’re not likely thoroughly versed in: soft power.
Although Mars’ time in Libra will affect relationships, generally, it is more than likely to show prominently in your erotic partnerships. Prepare for some intense adjustments in existing dynamics and maintain a healthy skepticism of new prospects during the period when Mars is actually retrograde, from March until mid-May.
Mars’ retrograde journey through Libra is likely to highlight your relationships with co-workers. Passive aggressive dynamics may develop around the workplace, and if you’re in a management position, you may find you have a hard time motivating people to get things done. Conflict management skills are key here.
On a personal level, Mars’ time in Libra is likely to draw your attention to the little duties you’ve been too tired or lazy to attend to. Remember to pay those bills and exercise those limbs. Potential health problems which you’ve been ignoring may pipe up during this period- give your body the attention it needs.
Mars’ time in Libra highlights how you’re mobilizing your creative energy. Is it being wasted on vain love affairs? Squandered amidst fruitless quests for pleasure? Mars’ extended time in Libra is all about mobilizing these energies toward the creative and pleasing outcomes you desire. Instead of beating yourself up for not being more disciplined, learn to lead yourself with pleasure. Hang a carrot in front of your face.
Mars’ time in Libra may also indicate difficulties with children. The above-mentioned lessons in motivation may also be appropriate strategies for parents.
Mars’ time in Libra sees the red planet wind through your living situation, as well as your family history. Passive aggressive dynamics are likely to develop during this period. Domestic peace and familial truces are likely to be tested, the fault lines in relationships revealed.
Both of these situations will likely call upon what diplomatic skills you have. It won’t be as simple as setting aside your own feelings to work for group harmony, though. Your feelings are part of that group, and if you conceal their truth, you’ll just end up full of resentment.
During its extended stay in Libra, Mars marches through your regularly scheduled programming, creating a number of nuisances during your daily life. You may have to march amidst small circles of passive aggression. All of this goes double for the internet. Practice the virtue of restraint, and don’t give the haters anything to latch on to.
You may find that during Mars’ retrograde you just don’t have the energy to deal with daily bullshit. You may be afflicted by general lack of motivation. The secret is finding a way to stay balanced while navigating the indignity of daily slings and arrows.
Mars’ time in Libra sees the red planet burn its way through your material accumulations. Mars’ march may well coincide with a long slow burn through savings if you’re not careful. Loose purse strings in combination with a few inconvenient surprises can make quite an impact. Libra is the sign of the scales, and thus the principle of balance. Although often discussed as a philosophical principle, one’s balance is also what remains after expenses are subtracted from income. Maintaining this balance is as necessary as emotional balance, and often serves to reinforce it.
The red planet will be your companion for more than half of 2014. You’ll find your courtier’s smile and bladed fan are the perfect weapon and shield for the social games people are likely to play during Mars’ time in Libra. Yet you may find yourself growing bored with the subterfuge and networks of passive aggressive people. You’ll tire of taking people’s shit and pretending, and may end up telling some people to fuck off good and proper. A little less time worrying about what other people think will be liberating. This independence will probably wear well on you, but don’t take it too far.
Mars’ time in Libra is set to push for a quiet confrontation with those weaknesses which stem from a lack of balance in your life. Equilibrium invalidates the intensity and intimacy you likely crave. This is the soft spot Mars is due to highlight over those eight long months. Your battle will likely be a silent one, waged against your own cravings and desires.
The red planet’s time in Libra rouses and arms your devils with a variety of desires. You may feel drawn toward relationships with people and substances you know won’t end well.
Mars’ time in Libra suggests a number of trying social situations. The red planet has plans to work his way through your network of peers, friends and contacts, stirring up quiet aggressions and testing your diplomatic abilities. If a friend goes AWOL during Mars’ retrograde, respond with all of the patience you can muster.
Mars’ time in Libra highlights your professional aspirations. It may not be what you know, but rather who you know, and how well you deal with them, that determines the outcome of professional matters during the red planet’s time in the sign of the scales. During Mars’ period of retrograde motion, take care to watch out for passive aggressive behavior from co-workers, and keep an eye on the same for yourself. You may find yourself expressing your frustrations in small ways, undermining yourself and those around you.
Mars’ red beams focus on your long term plans during the crimson planet’s extended sojourn through Libra. Unexpected troubles may arise in the midst of your big plans, accompanied by challenges to the way you see the world. You may feel tempted to fight these obstacles, but those small battles may serve to further impede your progress. If every small detour deters you, though, it is unlikely you will arrive. What is key is that you find the way to proceed in a balanced manner towards your ultimate destination. Keep your eye on the prize, no matter how the necessary methods change or whether the landscape shifts.
Mars’ time in Libra focuses on the sensitive network of exchanges between you and the other people in your life. The fairness of these transactions will inevitably come into question. You may feel like a victim or be accused of being unfair yourself. It’s important, though, that you push past whatever superficial reading the scales offer in search of a more substantial truth. Consider your relationships and the time, money and energy that passes between you and connected entities. If you have debts, pay them. If others owe you, it may be more difficult. What you recoup may instead be a refinement of when and who to trust.