There is a fire raging, and we have two choices: we can turn our backs, or we can try to fight it—Jodi Picoult
We may feel as if we have stumbled through a portal into a forgotten realm as we communicate with our thumbs-ups, as we crinkle our eyes over our masks. Perhaps a strange tiredness has settled into the crevices of our ordinary lives. Yet, as we adjust and adapt, as we draw deeply on our faith and tend to the lamp of hope, we may sense the heat in the flame.
As COVID-19 continues to sweep around the globe, we all walk through a tunnel of uncertainty. This health crisis that has affected us all in some way, has revealed the brutality and injustice in our systems, the disintegration of checks and balances, popularist demagogues that deliver simplicity in sound bites and visuals. What we believed was solid and sure is threaded with words that summon danger as Barack Obama presciently warns, “that’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”
We stand at an historical crossroad. The road well-travelled stretches towards profit-driven business models; the rapacious destruction of natural ecosystems; the numbing, dumbing down generated by the echo chambers of digital platforms; the banal flash fiction from our leaders.
During lock-down, many of us dreamed of a better, kinder world. As we gazed at the glut of stuff squeezed into our homes and felt this urge to pare down, to give away, to live more sustainably, our priorities became clearer, our hopes for when this is over carried us to a future where we lived more simply, more consciously, where we appreciated our loved ones.
Yet now, we may feel a strange kind of emptiness, a crisis of meaning, a flatness as we witness the same posturing by our politicians, more worship at the altar of profit, the same precarity of work and opportunity. The roads are gridlocked again. The silence, the sweet air has gone.
Now there is a fire raging. Mars, the mythical warrior glowers red in the night sky as he stations Retrograde from September 9th (28°Aries) to November 13th (15°Aries) moving through the shadowlands from July 24th 2020 to January 2nd, 2021.
A regressive Mars reminds us that we are battle weary. That we have been wearing our armour for far too long.
The dark face of Mars is the radicalised berserker who unleashes fear and carnage, stokes up trouble on digital platforms. And as we scroll down our screens, skim through the news, Google snippets of “information”, we may inadvertently enter the fray of battle.
A Retrograde Mars turns white-hot energy inwards. Mars is our inner toddler that acts out when thwarted. We may sense rising levels of frustration, a need to push back at what is wrong in our lives, in our societies. It’s Mars that gets us out of bed in the morning; gives us our resolve to carry on. It’s Mars that takes a stand for justice, that fights the flames in California and ignites the flames of wrath in overcrowded refugee camps on Lesbos.
Mars, the fearsome night warrior is in his own sign of Aries. He bristles for a fight as he makes a tense square to the authoritarian men in suits—Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn over the coming months. This volatile energy will be in effect until the end of December 2020.
When Mars moves Retrograde, he draws his power from within, rather than submitting to the will of authority. Mars is also our daring greatly, our heroic ability to rise up again when we’re downhearted, when we’re bruised. We may have to go back, re-do, reset something we have planned. We may be forced to retreat. To take some R&R.
Mars changes his relationship with the Sun when he turns Retrograde, so this is an inner battle for many of us, a time to face our night terrors, confront our shadow, sheath our sword, make amends. We can turn our backs, try to fight, we can take that first step into the unknown because that fire has left us uneasy to go on as we are.
“Every decision you make—every decision—is not a decision about what to do. It’s a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do,” writes Neale Donald Walsch.
In her new book, Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution, author Jennie Lee guides us along a road less travelled. A road of courageous introspection where we may ask ourselves, “what am I supposed to learn from this?” She says, “that puts us into a place of humility because often we want to cast the blame outwardly towards another person or just the greater world situation, and we feel victimized by it.”
Mars retrograded into Aries in 1909, 1941, and 1988 as conflicts arose and were quelled, as luck and rhetoric enabled demagogues to cling to power within the context of turbulence, unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. Now as Machiavellian manoeuvring on the 200-year-old bedrock of US democracy opens fault-lines that fracture across an entangled world.
Use this Mars Retrograde cycle wisely to ask those provocative questions, to take refuge in slow time, to engage with life in a new way and to do what we came here to do.
Writes Elif Shafak in her new book, “How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division, “after the pandemic, we won’t go back to the way things were before. And we shouldn’t.” It is up to each one of us not to return to the coping mechanisms, the distractions, the addictive behaviour that ravages our spirit. We stand at a new frontier. May we bring with us only those things we need to travel lightly on this earth.