Red alert: There is an involution going on in the Skies this Fall: a turning towards the Self. Mars retrograde is on a homecoming mission through Aries for the rest of the year. But is it mission impossible? 

A Comprehensive Guide to Mars Retrograde
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The combat in today’s astrological weather is led by the warrior planet Mars. Mars has the home-court advantage in Aries, but what strategies will he employ when playing against a bully? Accidents, wounds, and places where we are emotionally hurt are inciting events that provoke anger, pain, and fear under the Mars retrograde influence.

It feels like you’re treading water while the finish line keeps moving farther out. There’s a feeling of resistance, irritability, and not operating at your best as things kick-off. Six planets are retrograde in the Skies September 9-12 marking delays, returns, and setting a tone of push-pull. We have one foot on the gas, the other on the brake. Egos are more easily bruised, internal systems are more inflamed, and tempers are shorter than usual. 

The high road: slow down, step back, zoom out, and take full responsibility for any pain you are experiencing to transcend disturbing issues.

Many feel that their war cries aren’t heard by the (illusion of the) others. There is an internal struggle bubbling up and it’s getting louder. People are feeling angry, irritated, and discontent at several levels. But the fight that felt so right at first, is not worth having when nobody wins. 

We will witness unusual reactions to anger: withdrawal, isolation, ghosting, changing teams, and emotional distancing. Those addicted to fighting may short-circuit, peacemakers may hit a breaking point, and people who normally have it together tend to lose their cool under the pressure cooker of a retrograde Mars. 

Our plans are thwarted, there is a tendency to feel unheard, unseen, and even… unwanted. So how do we optimize these rogue seas? Let me help…

The Purpose: Mars sets fire to any part of the Self (Aries) that needs purification.

The Training: Pause, take nothing personally, take full responsibility. Identify shadow-patterns of the Self to be transcended. When triggered, ask yourself what you’re really afraid of. 

The Service Opportunity: Help people feel seen, heard, and wanted. 

The Mission: Returning home to the highest version of yourself.

Practical Advice: Allow plenty of room for error and delays. What can you simplify? Where can you slow down? Where can you take responsibility? Can you incorporate more patience into your communications with others?

The Mantra: Personal responsibility is my transcendence and liberation. 

The Anchor: The Mars Retrograde Survival Guide can be an anchor for your thoughts and emotions. 

Pro tip: Spiritual warriors, hotheads, and selfish motives are the archetypes we are working through from September 9th through January 2, 2021. 

Mars retrogrades every two years.
During the 2020 retrograde, Mars will be making a second pass over an already treacherous journey squaring Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter. Symptoms include accidents, gunshots, misfires, broken bones, power-struggles, and being overly optimistic. Look back to the Falls of 1988, and 1973 for the last time Mars was retrograde in Aries. 

  • June 27: Mars enters Aries
    • July 25: Mars enters its retrograde shadow
    • August 2: Mars squares Jupiter (1st pass)
    • August 12: Mars squares Pluto (1st pass)
    • August 22: Mars squares Saturn (1st pass)
  • September 9: Mars retrograde at 29° Aries
    • September 27: Retrograde Mars squares Saturn (2nd pass)
    • October 7: Retrograde Mars squares Pluto (2nd pass)
    • October 17: Retrograde Mars squares Jupiter (2nd pass)
    • November 13: Mars retrograde ends at 15° Aries
    • December 21: Mars squares Pluto (3rd pass)
  • January 2, 2021: Mars exits the retroshade
  • January 6, 2021: Mars exits Aries: enters Taurus

Be warned: Patience is not a virtue many can hold especially as the red planet travels a combative course against Jupiter (law), Pluto (power), and Saturn (authority). What music is Mars playing on this road trip? A few lyrics come to mind: 

“I fought the law, and the law won.” – The Clash

“I fight authority, authority always wins.” – John Mellencamp

Send lawyers, guns, and money.” – Warren Zevon


Go easy on yourself and others.

Our self-concept is being challenged and many will experience a dark night of the ego as retrograde Mars erodes the lower frequencies of Aries we all carry. 

Word to the Wise: Knowing what triggers you into ‘bad behavior’ is key to your ability to wellness during this period. Observe any flare-ups instead of indulging in a nasty reaction. Adopting the practice of not taking things personally is a spiritual salve. 

How to guard against the Shadow Side of Selfishness:
An honest inventory of the shadow side of self will lead you to the highest version of yourself on this journey home. 

  • Self-righteousness: It’s time for the know-it-all archetype to leave the building.
  • Self-pity: It’s time for the victim archetype to leave the building
  • Self-delusion: It’s time for the part of you who ignores the truth to turn and face reality.
  • Self-seeking: It’s time to shift into a service-oriented life.
  • Self-will: It’s time to shift your devotion from yourself to something bigger.
  • Self-interest: Consider: What’s in it for “we” instead of what’s in it for me.

Reminder: Mars is igniting a singular mission to return home to your own heart. He motivates you to rise up, stand up, and get honest about your core values and standards of integrity. 

The winds of change blow us off our preferred course, but fortunately, we are on a Spiritual ship.

Can we turn things over to a higher power and rely on that North star as our compass instead of our own logic? Are we willing to travel at a different pace? Slowing down and tuning in is not the advice we want to hear when our plans seem to backfire and our nervous tension has built up. Finding the balance between what we want/deserve/need, and what’s best for everyone involved is tricky business. 

The Good News

One of the major transits of 2020 is Jupiter sextile Neptune and conjunct Pluto. Looking back to themes from February and July when these transits were first introduced,  you’ll find clues for what significant, karmic rites of passage you’re traveling through this year. 

The Spiritual Doors Open
Forgiveness, courtesy, and compassion come back into play during the end of the retrograde. You don’t have to send that same old nasty text. You don’t have to have that same old argument. There is a cosmic invitation to consciously break through old patterns and create a new life. This is when addicts get sober, when failed marriages reunite, and when loneliness fades into the warmth of connection. Flow, ease, favorable deals, and big magic are available when you reach for them as times change.

So how does all of this affect you personally? 

No matter where he lands in your chart, Mars has something to reveal to you during this retrograde cycle.  Let’s take a walk through the houses to find out in the Wise Skies Mars Retrograde Survival Guide

Mars Retrograde Journal prompts:
My Core Values are: 

  • (fill in the blank)

What does Self-Care look like to me?

  • Saying no means…
  • Healthy boundaries are when…
  • (fill in the blank)

I’m on my Best Behaviour when… 

  • I’m well-rested
  • I have proper nutrition
  • My spiritual cup is full 
  • My physical body has had a workout
  • I’ve taken a crystal bath 
  • I’ve listened to uplifting music 
  • (fill in the blank)

Tools of the trade: Check out our digital astrology calendar, podcast, and previous article on Mars: Saturn.

I would adore hearing from each of you in the comments. Please tell me which house Mars is hitting your chart and any plans you have for the transition.

Tiffany Harelik, MA, RYT is an author, medium, and astrologer. She has a Master’s degree in Health Psychology and a background in yogic philosophy. She pulls from her Russian lineage as a tarot teacher and story-teller. Tiffany has been publishing mind-body-spirit books, cookbooks, and advice columns since 2000. She owns Wise Skies Advice and Spellbound Publishers. Tiffany has studied under internationally recognized mediums including Janet Nohavec, Tony Stockwell, and Elodie Joelle. She is certified through the IEL Institute, Resonance Repatterning Institute, and Yoga Alliance. She loves gardening, crocheting, cooking vegetarian food, and has a lifelong goal of studying at the Arthur Findlay College. Her private practice is based in Austin, Texas. Find her projects at and schedule a session with her here:

Tiffany Harelik