The planet Mars, which has been retrograde since April 17th, will be stationary direct tomorrow afternoon at 4:38pm PDT and begin to creep forward again through the zodiac. Mars goes retrograde only every twenty-six months, or so--less frequently than any other planet—and remains in apparent backward motion for two and a half to three months at a time. The symbol for Mars, an arrow emerging from a circle (identical to the symbol for the male of the species), indicates the primal Martian urge to express one’s self assertively, and sometimes aggressively, in the world. When planets are in retrograde motion, their normal mode of functioning becomes much more internalized, and Mars does not particularly enjoy being introspective. As Mars turns direct, we may begin to notice a slightly increased energy level and a greater capacity for work, as well as a spike in our sex drive. For the next month Mars will be moving very slowly forward—only about six degrees by the end of July—but will pick up speed in August as it approaches its rendezvous with Saturn on August 24th. That could be a day to mark on your calendar, when the Great Malefic (Saturn) butts heads with the Lesser Malefic (Mars) at 4:27am PDT. You may want to spend the day before, a Tuesday, in preparation by singing the Hanuman Chalisa—eleven times should do the trick.
Mars is currently stationed at twenty-nine degrees Libra in Vishakha nakshatra, having moved backwards out of Scorpio about a week ago. In Vedic astrology, two planets are said to be conjunct when they both occupy the same sign, which means that Mars and Saturn are not currently conjunct, but will be again when Mars moves back into Scorpio in a couple of weeks. Vishakha is one of those rare nakshatras that has two presiding deities, Indra (the God of Storms and Rain) and Agni (the God of Fire). Under the influence of Vishakha, the Divine Will arouses dissatisfaction with one’s current state and stimulates the urge to explore one’s inner nature. If we ignore the promptings of the Divine Will, we take the path of Indra and drown these feelings in materialist pursuits. The harder, but more rewarding way is to immerse one’s self in the fire of Agni and pursue the path of purification and transformation. The specific energetic quality of Vishakha is called “Vyapana Shakti”—the power to manifest and achieve various things. Mars will remain in Vishakha nakshatra for the next four weeks. With Agni’s help, Mars—the fiery planet—can help us to manifest some serious Tapas—purifying fire—in the next few weeks, especially when Mars enters Scorpio, the sign it rules.
One of the symbols for Vishakha is an archway, symbolizing the transit from ordinary into sacred space. The highest expression of Vishakha is to inspire us to move towards the inherent goal of spiritual life, the shrine of one’s true nature. The real key to success here is to willingly embrace self-discipline. Tapas is never particularly easy and always arouses some kind of resistance—physical, mental, or emotional. Our resistance in the face of self-discipline actually creates the friction necessary to generate the Sacred Fire. Success can be achieved when we acknowledge our resistance and still embrace self-discipline.