The Retro-Zone: Part 2 

For the week of January 25-31, 2012.

Nothing moves quickly this week, so put aside expectations of immediate results and instead spend some time adjusting your personal pace to a slower, more deliberate and sometimes hesitant beat. Mars, the planet that symbolizes motion, is seemingly moving behind, instead of ahead, and it's the first of several planets to place us in the 2012 Retro-Zone. When astrologers say a planet is "retrograde," they mean that it appears to be moving backwards in the sky relative to Earth's orbital position around the Sun. And although we know retrograde motion is an illusion, the effects often feel all too real. Any planetary retrograde phase is about review, reflection, and reconsideration, and because Mars symbolizes action, many of us will be revisiting a wide variety of previous choices. Unfortunately, neither retrospection nor introspection is a Martian strong suit, so don't be surprised if you're resistant to examining past decisions. The biggest problem is likely to be frustration, yours and others', as daily life turns into an obstacle course of second-guessing and changing plans. Be sure to set your personal compass on "patience" — we're all going to need plenty of it to handle the Martian fallout.

Mars Retrograde began on January 23 and continues through April 14. (It actually goes direct close to midnight on April 13.) Approximately every two-plus-years, Mars goes retrograde for approximately two or three months. Mars symbolizes muscle in all its forms: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. For some, that translates into athletics and competition; for others, it's about heart; for even more, the presence of Mars is experienced as ambition and the need to succeed. From a spiritual perspective, Mars signifies self-actualization, and is best understood as the arms and legs of the ego. Mars is the principal that allows us to differentiate from others and to individuate. It takes Mars 687 Earth days to orbit around the Sun. Add in the time of its retrograde phase, and every two or so years each of us experiences a Mars Return, when it returns to the position it occupied at our moment of birth. The first Mars Return occurs when we're two years old; it's the astrological explanation for the terrible twos, when we start saying "no." And what we mean by that "no" is "I am not you."

During the next few months of Mars Retrograde, we're likely to hear a lot of "no," particularly in the political arena, as more and more people regress to the terrible twos, and tantrums replace statements of policy. But Mars Retrograde is just as likely to inspire mature resistance, and its power is best demonstrated by the ability to take a stand. Given the many injustices in the world that require a strong united "no," the next few months of Mars Retrograde could inspire an abundance of protests and demonstrations.

As the coming weeks unfold, merging your personal stride with the retrograde rhythm will take skill. And there's no need to hurry; we're only in the first week of a many-month/many-planet retrograde expedition, a celestial trek that's likely to require almost constant tweaking to find the right attitude, inside and out.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES Be aware that whatever you initiate during the retrograde is likely to require more care and attention than you're used to providing. Be willing to integrate patience at a deeper level, and you'll emerge successful.

TAURUS In addition to strong creative urges, you're also likely to experience deep romantic longings. Be prepared for old flames to rekindle contact, or a new infatuation to catch fire.

GEMINI The retrograde also focuses on family issues, so be prepared for plenty of dynamic fluctuations as spouses, children, parents, siblings, and all variety of family members vie for your attention. As you handle their needs, try not to neglect your own.

CANCER You're likely to find yourself saying more than you want to but unable to stop yourself from blurting what you feel. While some of what's said is unnecessary, it's still an opportunity to refine your communication skills.

LEO Continue to pay close attention to your finances, and be determined to distinguish necessary expenses from extravagance. Take your time, and do not assume this sorting process is simple.

VIRGO The secret of your success resides in your ability to step into a leadership position, then to do whatever adjustments are necessary to perfect your role. Be willing to grow and you'll handle this phase with ease.

LIBRA You're likely to feel more than a little confined during Mars Retrograde, so be sure to be physical. Finding wholesome outlets to express pent-up energy will help you to maintain your mental health.

SCORPIO Groups play a large role during this retrograde, especially gatherings of people with similar sensibilities. Notice what's being reflected back to you about yourself.

SAGITTARIUS There's actually no need to be confrontational — there's only the need to seize the moment and step into your power. Be polite, but don't hold back.

CAPRICORN Mars retrograde also stirs a desire to expand your personal philosophy and spiritual beliefs. Use this time to explore various traditions and to consider alternate and opposite points of view.

AQUARIUS This week the emphasis is on cooperation, particularly in relationships that involve strong egos. Rely on your egalitarian perspective and you'll find the right tone for shared endeavors.

PISCES The emphasis continues to be on relationship issues, with particular focus on reviewing previous patterns in order to discern what works and what doesn't. Be honest with yourself, but also be kind.

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