The Mars-Retrograde Complaint File


Okay, let's get one thing straight: I do not want to write this right now.

I would much rather gobble down leftover pizza, continue to plow through the backlog of crappy TV programs that has accumulated, and move the piles of untended-to work back and forth across the coffee table, in a feeble attempt to sort.

I apparently am not a fan of Mars retrograde… at least not this one, though I have some vague memory of a past occurrence during which I was bubbling over with physical initiative. Ah, those fond recollections of sixty, seventy, ninety minutes of uninterrupted treadmill time, so consumed with a fiery drive to burn that I literally couldn't sit still. (That Mars retrograde must've been in a fire sign? Surely it wasn't in Virgo, like the current version, where it's inspiring in me an up-close-and-personal picking-away at scabs which I don't honestly think had existed before I began picking away at them. Oh, well.)

I have made it to the gym sporadically during this Mars retrograde, which to my thinking is always a good thing since, no matter how much I may gripe about going (though it's less about the gym itself and more merely about having to move my lazy ass anywhere outside the house), I'm usually in a great mood after working out. Yet, most of my recent workouts have been underwhelming, like I never get past the introductory warming-up and 'into the zone' (as they say). I've adjusted to the hopefully-temporary reality of being content with having done any physical exercise at all, each extra five minutes I'm able to push through being its own hard-earned victory. I haven't exactly been 'losing myself in the moment' lately.

One important lesson about Mars retrograde: We cannot count on our usual physical rhythms, pace, or productivity levels to persist. In the sluggishness, we ought to be appreciative of every inch we move and every tiny bit of progress we make, rather than cursing the energetic downgrade. And should we instead experience surges or wily hyperactivity, we might as well take the fullest advantage while we can, since nothing lasts forever.

Yes, some folks will experience Mars's retrograde as an injection of oomph… like one astro-enthusiast I know, with three natal planets and rising-sign in Virgo, who describes her past few weeks with a devilish grin on her face, fully aware she's been a bit of a mischievous shit-stirrer among her friends… or the recent client with an even more pronounced abundance of Virgo in her birthchart, who's just now reaching a decisive tipping-point in distinguishing her own personal desires from the influence of familial expectation.

Another Mars-retrograde lesson: The specifics of its impact will vary widely, based upon how it interacts with an individual's unique astrological makeup. This statement, of course, rings true for all astrological phenomena… yet, from my observations, is even more relevant when it comes to the wild-card manifestations of Mars's apparent backwards travels.

This particular Mars-retrograde window (between 3 Virgo and 23 Virgo) provides little of worthy note in my birthchart, in case you hadn't guessed. Mars is stuck at the nadir (or base-point) of my chart, stirring, more than anything, a tremendous desire to friggin' clean up my messy home-office… the roots of my private dysfunction, where important items (or so I suspect) are mingling willy-nilly with broken sunglasses and watches that need fixing, checks to deposit and bills to pay, and a whole bunch of tax-relevant papers that must be dealt with by April 15 (tax deadline day in the US, for my overseas peeps). How convenient, I suppose, that Mars remains retrograde through that very week—by then, I surely will have done the clean-up work necessary to file my return and clear my desk off. I'm actually eager to get to this task right away, except for the fact that my days have so far been inescapably committed to other time-sensitive duties… an irritating reality that's stirred in me some grumpiness, which doesn't help matters on any front.

Mars-retrograde insight #3: Irritation flares up when we struggle to accept our enterprising steam is being necessarily diverted to somewhere other than where we'd prefer to discharge it. Reality is what it is, however. Immediate demands demand immediacy of us.

Yet, I have gotten quite a bit accomplished since Mars has been retrograde: an obligatory business trip, an obligatory family visit, an obligatory amount of data-crunching back-office work, an obligatory community-outreach opportunity. I have purposely thrown in the word 'obligatory' to describe these activities that have recently filled my time, both to emphasize their non-optional nature and the grumpiness I referenced earlier… though each and every one is an activity I participate in on a regular basis, and which I typically enjoy quite a bit.

While I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy them this time around (in fact, the family visit was especially lovely), I also wouldn't say I did… not in the same way I usually do. I got everything done, sure, but each step felt like I was going through the motions, fulfilling my contract as a responsible adult, showing up when and where I was supposed to, but also strangely absent. And my sense of distinct separateness from what my bodily self was accomplishing, it wasn't one of those cool metaphysical moments of some 'higher self' stepping back and observing, with an uncanny clarity of vision, what was happening. It lacked that numinous, meaningful feeling. It was more like, yes, I was still there in that body, waiting for it to complete what it needed to, almost as if I were persevering through some abusive agony, though it was neither abusive nor agonizing, just inconvenient. So much for striving to be fully present; I was lucky to be there at all.

The 'going through the motions' sensation was certainly not helped by the persistent ache in my back which first appeared… well, let me see, right around the time Mars first went retrograde. The backache was due not to any (known) injury, quite acute at times though never bad enough to take me out of commission, and obviously some sort of structural realignment since the pain has drifted from location to location over the course of these few weeks. This ache, in fact, was part of why I had to continue exercising—gently, that is—in order to stretch it out and loosen it up. Each time I tried to skip the gym, my back told me I had to go anyway… and it was always glad I did. Chalk up one more Mars-retrograde symptom: odd discomforts in the physical body.

We can also add the cold—stuffy nose, followed by runny nose, followed by loose chest congestion, followed by cough—which, on any single day, has only halfway-manifested (thank you, god/dess). All my co-workers have suffered their own manifestation, including one particularly nasty version that sidelined my business-partner for a whole day of our buying trip. The chap who I share my house with, he's got a case of the strep, and I've been hoping against all hope to avoid catching that.

And, oh yeah: Compulsiveness, too. But that's all I'm going to say about that.

Can we really blame all this on Mars retrograde? People get sick, achy, grumpy, compulsive and/or sidetracked all the friggin' time, don't they?

While it may not be completely fair on every count, I figure why not implicate the 'lesser malefic' in all these annoying-but-not-catastrophic glitches in the carnal matrix?!? Didn't I warn you by titling this article 'The Mars-Retrograde Complaint File'? What did you expect, geez? I've only been awake for a bit, after one more peculiarly lengthy slumber of ten hours, but I really just want to climb back into the bed and call it a day. At least I wrote you an astrologically-relevant article on the current happenings, though I didn't want to do it and the whole process was another torturous example of 'going through the motions'. It doesn't get more real than this.