Retrograde Motion

Retrograde Motion

Hi Everyone,

I’ve decided to suspend the decan column during Mars’ retrograde (June 27- August 27). I’ve been behind on my writing consistently for much of the last season, and writing isn’t the only thing I’m behind on. Life stuff, work stuff, health stuff. Pretty much all the stuff.

Mars is a key planet in my chart. It’s where I get the fire I need to get done what needs doing. For the astro-nerds among you, it is conjunct my Sun and rules my 5th and 10th, and rules my Mercury. Creative energy, professional life, writing. Unsurprisingly, Mars retrogrades are usually rough for me, as they tend to hit all of big buttons. During them, I tend to fantasize about sneaking off to a secret cabin in the woods, temporarily removing myself from the struggle of meaningful participation in the world.

This year, this retrograde, instead of trying to power through it with red-hot resentment and gallons of caffeinated beverages, I’m actually going to let myself go retrograde with Mars. Mars’ retrograde movement could not more literally describe “sometimes you gotta take a step back before you can take a step forward.”

So I’m taking that step back. In part to catch up on stuff. Also, in part to think about what the best shape for my efforts is, moving forward. I love writing about the astrology before it happens, and I have a grander vision for what that looks like than I have so far executed. I’m also painfully aware that all of the other writing projects (books, articles, etc.) that I’ve planned aren’t getting done. I don’t want to choose between writing columns and writing books. I want to imagine a world in which I do both/and. But in order to make that world possible, I need to step back and catch up. I also need to look at what I’m doing with a little more distance. For a while now, I haven’t had the space to look forward further ahead than the next decan column, major planetary ingress, or set of dailies.

Don’t get me wrong— I love the grind. I’m a sucker for it. But for now I need to step back a little bit and reassess priorities and possibilities.

What does that look like?

Well, for one thing, the dailies will continue. My Patreon supporters (God bless ye) will continue to receive them, in actual full month-long batches ahead of time. They will also continue to be posted daily on the website, with less technical errors since we will have more time to post carefully. Not only that, but I’ve been meaning to make a series of upgrades to the dailies for most of this year, but have been too behind-on-my-grind to implement them. Those are going to happen. By “those” I primarily mean the integration of the days of the Moon (tithis for those of you who speak Vedic astrology), and lunar mansions.

I won’t be doing regular columns and horoscopes for the next bit, but I also don’t plan to leave my readers high and dry. The big celestial moves are still going to get dealt with. I’m not about to go silent about the spectacular total lunar eclipse conjunct Mars at the end of July, or any of the other big shit.

What I do need, however, is a little space to digest, and it is no surprise to me that I ended up writing this while the Sun was in the second decan of Cancer. In 36 Faces, I condensed the meaning of this decan into the image of a walled garden, because this face of Cancer speaks to the necessity of containing and limiting access to whatever you’re cultivating, be it an alchemical transmutation, a child, or a hothouse flower. For me, the subject of cultivation is my life and work, and right now, I need to seal the vessel for a bit so I can work out a few changes, and then get back to serving the soup up hot and fresh.

What I wrote last year about his decan certainly holds for me this year, and may be of use to you, as well. On the Sun’s time in the second decan of Cancer:

Here philosophers gather privately, inside a walled and secret garden. They have come from far and wide, each carrying with them a precious flask containing the primordial waters. In the center is a large alchemical furnace with a fire beneath it. The philosophers drink and talk merrily amongst themselves while poking at the flames and carefully adjusting various tubes feeding into and draining out of the alembic. Meanwhile, a wolf can be seen prowling the walled periphery, looking for a way in.
In the second face of Cancer lies the secret garden of the philosophers. Indeed, Jupiter’s degree of exaltation can be found here, as does the ecliptic degree of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.

It is only within the protective confines of the walled garden that the Work can be nurtured. Intimate and honest conversations require a protective vessel of trust, and great work can only take place in the context of shared understanding and mutual respect. The alchemical child must be protected if it is to grow strong. This walled garden is thus greenhouse, womb, and furnace simultaneously.

Its design is two-fold, comprised of the sensitive process within and the protective, enclosing structure without. This lunation is thus a call to inspect the integrity of your walls, your shell. Walls are either effective or they aren’t. Half measures do not work. One gap destroys their purpose. Elements and entities contrary to our process may enter through these, interfering with and possibly corrupting our work. Aphids in a greenhouse. These gaps are also leaks. Even a tiny hole in your gas tank will soon empty it.

The ability to seal is fundamental. There are few processes of creation or transformation which do not require it. Alchemical traditions around the world place a high value on sealing. It is so important, in fact, that the phase “Hermetically sealed” has become common parlance.

Yet seals and walls must be permeable under the right circumstances. A gas tank that cannot be refilled is of no use, and a greenhouse which does not permit the entry of light will produce no flowers. A child with no mouth cannot nurse.” The art on display in this decan thus involves the awareness to discriminate between food and poison, coupled with the ability to open up to what nurtures and seal out what corrupts.


[icegram messages="9737"]
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. Aleks 4 years ago

    Please take all the time you need. As one of your Patreons I’m happy to support you even during fallow or slow or no-content periods.

  2. cathryn hunter 4 years ago

    Thank you for this beautifully written and heartfelt response.
    I am new to your work, have purchased a session and two lectures. I was beginning to feel like your site was only a moneymaking machine, and was considering cancelling my session.
    I remember in 2000 when Robert Hand was in US, I called for a session and he picked up the phone. A different time when one felt more connected, rather than a space in a queque.
    You are highly recommended by two astrologers in Portland, and your work has inspired me.
    Your note is courageous (Mars), and a teaching in itself.
    May you navigate well !

  3. kajsa 4 years ago

    This Virgo Rising is happy to hear you’re taking time to nourish yourself. Make the most of it and be well, Austin.

  4. Darlin 4 years ago

    Love your Dailies they are so spot on, however, I respect and admire your decision to take care of yourself in which ever manner it’s best for you! Your health and well being must be your highest priority. Sending you hugs.

  5. Kelly 4 years ago

    Austin, thanks for sharing. May Mars come to you in peace and as a friend during his retrograde. May your garden be protected without and fecund within.

  6. David 4 years ago

    Glad to hear your taking the time to take care of yourself.

  7. Alyssa 4 years ago

    Glad to hear you’re prioritizing time to dial back. We’ll be here when you return!

  8. Kat 4 years ago

    You’ve been a constant companion. Thanks for your effort and devotion to the craft. Appreciate you. All good wishes!!

  9. Love the walled garden image (it’s the decan where my Ascendant is), and am optimistic that going with the flow this Mars retrograde will be helpful to you in new ways. Keeping up with dailies is no joke, and while I love your decan posts, I also have your 36 Decans book to peruse next – you guys are doing so many projects that it’s actually good to hear you’re taking a break to rejuvenate! Great meeting you briefly at UAC and figured I’d stop being a silent lurker for once.

  10. Sheila Reynolds 4 years ago

    Even when you say you’re taking a step backwards you’re inspiring! Thanks for sharing and hope it works out as you would like ?

  11. Rob 4 years ago

    Be well good sir.

  12. Alina 4 years ago

    A wise and brave choice to take time for yourself. I am sure of it that smth great will come from this time off! Hope to hear more about how you are doing on Chris’s podcast.


  13. James Edwin Thomas 4 years ago

    Absolutely take care of yourself and deep thanks for all you have done and continue to do for us!

  14. Elizabeth 4 years ago

    Oh yes, i would hibernate if i could ,Aries Rising , and cancer Sun /Saturn , Mercury R conj IC .Yes ,i have The antichrist of The charts? , my mercuryR IC Falls in this 2 decan ,Thank You .

  15. Paula 4 years ago

    Oh yes, i would hibernate if i could ,Aries Rising , and cancer Sun /Saturn , Mercury R conj IC .Yes ,i have The antichrist of The charts? , my mercuryR IC Falls in this 2 decan ,Thank You .

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.


Retrograde Motion

Thanks for sharing! Would you like to connect with Austin on Facebook or Twitter?
Send this to a friend