Mars began a new cycle a year ago when he joined the Sun in Leo. I wrote about this as relating to the renewal of personal desire, which you can read here. We are currently in the middle of this cycle, and Mars has been retrograde since June 26th at 10° Aquarius, with 3 weeks more till he turns direct on August 28th at 29° Capricorn.
Mars symbolizes our instinct to move forward and the intelligence of action, so during a Mars retrograde those activities can feel turned upside down, suspended.
This apparent slowing down, which we can feel internally (and physically) as well as meet externally, is natural because retrogrades are potent periods of review and repair. The slowing down gives us an opening to reflect on our life and modes of being.
For quite a long time Parsifal, one of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table, wanders around the woods where he first found the Grail Castle. Having not asked the right questions the first time he entered the Castle, he spends years seeking the Castle for a second chance. We find that in order for him to be graced with another opportunity, a lot of his young Mars energy has to mature. That maturing process in his case includes learning how to be in periods of aimlessness and even loss. This is how I interpret those times Parsifal gets off his horse (quite a big deal for a knight on quest), allowing it to graze in a field while he sits under a tree and does nothing. Parsifal’s wandering around the same woods for years is about going over ground covered before to reconsider and learn something based on experience, as well as through trial and error.
Locating where Mars is transiting by house in your chart shows what area has been calling for a review. Currently in Capricorn, Mars is concerned with integrity. How are your actions aligned with your sense of purpose? Where have you been caught up in doing for doing’s sake? What behaviors are no longer effective and in need of honest review and repair?
Mars is seeking a kind of realignment so that we can trust our decisions and forward momentum are based on a well-defined sense of what is right. In a philosophical sense Mars is related to what we would call right action. Knowing at any given time what is right action necessitates a sense of the ground on which we stand. That is the magic of any retrograde, it is the psyche’s call for a going over the ground so to know it all the more deeply.