By Brandon Alter:
In Hebrew mysticism, the North Wind symbolizes the future and the mystery contained within it. When we head toward the North, mythically speaking, we head toward our destiny. But the road only reveals itself one step at a time. This sense of North is not unlike the North Node in Astrology. Wherever the North Node falls in your chart speaks to how your soul wants to evolve in your lifetime. Even the North star itself, which has oriented sailors for millennia, gives us a sense of where we are heading and how we might get there. But we can’t always be moving forward. Sometimes, after a particularly brutal encounter with the North Wind, we have to retreat and seek refuge in the South Wind.
My Hebrew ancestors knew the South Wind to be a place of cleansing and clarity. The South is where we go for discernment and power. When the journey North seems impossible, we turn around, taking some time to settle and center ourselves in the South. It is here we regroup, reenergize, and reconsider how we might return to the Northern road with greater success. Astrologically, we are in such a time. Before we can move ahead in our ambition, we must retrace our steps and gather up the magic only the South Wind can provide.
The Mars Retrograde that we currently find ourselves slogging through is a prolonged moment in the metaphorical South. Mars rules how we take action, essentially how we get shit done. A retrograde Mars slows us down in our process, no matter how driven or resourceful we are. It’s an energy of taking stock that comes from being presented with many obstacles. The obstacles are not antagonistic by nature, rather they are cosmic attempts to help us reorganize ourselves. We can’t always be moving forward, sometimes we have to take those two steps back before we can charge ahead. The purpose of such a dramatic halt in the pursuit of our goals is that it forces us to re-strategize.
Mars in Aries, his current stomping ground, is the god of war on the battlefield. It’s a dynamic placement, even when moving backward. But the retrograde may have us feeling like caged animals. The key here is to move slowly. Any new beginnings you have put into place since June 28th are up for review. And it’s your actions that need reexamining. Did you go about something in the wrong way? Were you hasty or too quick diving into some endeavor without fully taking stock of everything you needed? This retrograde can teach us patience if we let it. But that’s not an easy lesson to learn. When you pray for patience, you get a line at the bank, traffic, an hour stuck on hold—so whether you asked for it or not, your prayers for patience have been set into motion.
It’s not that you can’t continue projects already begun, but please take into account that anything you start during the Mars retrograde will take twice as long to complete—at least. So, take a deep breath, know that, and prepare for that. Especially with Mars in Aries, it could feel like some major stop-and-start energy. Don’t let it aggravate you to the point of blowing up at anyone, particularly yourself. It’s easy to get all pent up with this energy in an unhealthy way.
So when it seems like you can’t proceed in the outer realms of your life, explore where you can take action internally. Your inner growth, exploration, and healing doesn't have to stop at this time. In fact, it’s the inner progress that this retrograde empowers in all of us. Do your best to stay physically active: yoga, dancing, sex— whatever it takes so that the energy doesn’t get stalled. But also note that if you’re more tired, this is why. The way I see it, Mars retrograde is a season of naps; and who doesn’t love a good nap?
On a deeper level, the Mars retrograde invites us to consider the underlying motivation for our ambitions in the first place. Most of us have been indoctrinated into the Church of Achievement since we were young. We’ve internalized the idea that our worth is tied up in what we accomplish—but that’s bullshit. We need to separate our self-worth from our success. Our actions need to be sourced from a place of love not from a deep-seated desire to prove ourselves. There’s nothing to prove. You are worthy as you are. You are deserving as you are.
The Virgo New Moon that occurs Thursday morning around 4:00 in the morning (PST) is a good time to really activate some positive structures for a new routine in your life. Challenge yourself to think beyond how you’ve always done things and get a little more creative with how you choose to move forward. Allow a little more play into it all too. Work and structure don’t have to be painful, especially if they involve activities you enjoy and are helping to build the bigger dream for your life. And don’t forget the dream. It’s easy to get caught up in all the practicalities. This new moon says, “Don’t forget to engage your imagination when it comes to your day to day.”