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When someone attempts to connect honestly with their desire, the result can be a seizure of guilt or conflict. And when advertising is designed—using all the power of psychology, art, music, and sexuality—to inflame desire, that desire typically swells into the thorns and barbs of guilt.
That is an intentional formula for conflict—and that is one of the main contexts of our society, manifesting in countless, seemingly infinite ways.
And now, Mars has just turned to retrograde motion; that is, it's turning all of this into a question.
The question—or perhaps the quest—begins in Sagittarius, a sign closely associated with "isms"; that is, with belief systems. True, that's one of the less organic, culturally constructed manifestations of Sagittarius, which in its more natural forms is the sign of high adventure, aspiration, and exploration.
But, calcified by religion and society at large, Sagittarius is more about what one is supposed to believe rather than what one actually, in fact, believes to be true.
In its most honest form, Sagittarius is about a quest for that very experience of personal or universal truth, and Mars retrograde symbolizes precisely that. So we could say that the inner quest of Mars retrograde in Sagittarius is about an examination of every belief you hold, especially about yourself and your existence—a genuine inner quest for truth.
Mars treads the astrological wheel of the zodiac backwards for 72 days. Approximately six weeks into that process, Mars retrogrades into Scorpio. Among the many ways to describe this sign are death and transformation, surrender, regeneration, and evolution. What most of that points to is sex. From ancient astrology, Scorpio is the sign that represents the genitals; and in modern astrology, the genetic process. That involves sexual reproduction and programmed cell death (called senescence).
When we consider Scorpio as a biological function, we really do come back to sex and death. That alone is frightening; we often think about or want sex, and we often dread or obsess over death. Therefore, Scorpio also evokes all the feelings connected to these things. That is a complex world, and it's directly related to profound feelings, deep mysteries, and deep attachments.
After penetrating through the layers of constructed belief in search of some actual experience of faith, Mars is heading into what for most people is the murky, confused, and conflicted world of their response to their own biology.
In doing so, my sense is that Mars is penetrating through layers of conditioning in search of the truth; and when it arrives there, that truth involves the most basic levels of existence, which are to be found in Scorpio. By existence I mean our relationship to existence and to the possibility of nonexistence.
To go there directly is really a plunge. It's going to require patience, awareness, and the willingness to let go of prejudices, especially about one's own feelings.
If you allow that to happen, the question that's likely to come up is: What do you actually want from life? Recognizing the facts of existence (sex and death primary among them), what is your desire for your remaining time on Earth? If, for example, you recognize that you only get finite time in your body, what might you say that you want? Could you cut through some of the conflict and distraction?
If you allow your biology to speak to you, what would it say? In this Mars retrograde, biology trumps belief. Mars ends up in Scorpio. Then it returns to Sagittarius, where belief can be reconsidered in light of biological bottom lines.
You might consider desire outside the confines of what you believe is possible (that's just more toxic Sagittarius). You might apply your curiosity to the experiment of what is possible—and consider learning as the discovery of what is possible. If you listen to your body, your desire, and your senses, you just might be surprised at what that includes.
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In last month's column, I compared the long-in-development, forthcoming Uranus-Eris conjunction in Aries (first contact, June 9; last happened in 1928) to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-66. That was the astrological or perhaps archetypal spark at the center of that thing we now call the Sixties.
I wondered out loud whether astrologers at the time were aware of this event developing—however, I didn't get it right. Based on the available information, I grossly underestimated how much astrologers knew in that era. Here's how I found that out.