Life on Mars

Mars retrograde kicks off with a Capricorn full Moon.

Sighing, crying, and reflecting are the verbs of the week. The sensitive Cancer Sun—plus serious moonlight from Wednesday’s anxiety-stirring full Moon—contribute to our deep exhales and tears. Though Cancer is a nostalgic sign, this week’s heavy reflection on the past is mainly due to Mars starting its 10-week retrograde. The Red Planet’s big switch fires up unresolved anger. On the 27th, Saturn will ground us in reality so we can make mature changes, but the pressure is palpable. Saturn, planet of structure and limits, is also involved in Wednesday’s Capricorn full Moon—and it’s no party Moon. While Capricorn is career-focused and Cancer rules the home, both signs are concerned with safety, security, and duty. And they’re both nervous. You might feel anxious near this full Moon. On Thursday, Mercury moves into Leo for the rest of the summer (it too will go retrograde in late July). In the sign of Leo, Mercury speaks with confidence and radiates creative self-expression, but doesn’t always listen well.

Mars isn’t just going retrograde all summer; it’s also hovering around the lunar south node—a point in space that determines where eclipses take place. We’re about to have three eclipses between July and August. This week’s full Moon rings the starting bell for eclipse season. Since the south node is a point of release, Mars’ prolonged presence there means it’s shedding season: Friendships, bosses, jobs will fade out. Though not all closures are pleasant, cutting away the sandbags makes your hot-air balloon rise higher. When the Cancer crab outgrows one shell, it scampers to the next.

On that note, I want to thank my long-time editor Mark Baumgarten, who’s moving on to new duties. Space Witch exists because he took a chance on a scrappy witch writer (me) and supported my planetary puns and music references. Thank you immensely, Mark.


Mars is red-hot confrontation, courage, and lust. It’s the fiery inner drive that compels us to pursue our desires and assert ourselves. Mars is not neutral. It takes sides, divides, and conquers. Glance at the Emperor tarot card to see Mars personified as an armored man sitting on a stone throne surrounded by flames. Fierce! Unlike quick-to-flip Mercury, Mars goes retrograde only about once every two years. As a personal planet, Mars greatly affects us during its entire retrograde. Mars slowed to a halt (“stationed”) on the 26th, and will now appear to move backward—in retrograde motion—until August 27. All summer Mars is going over unfinished Martial business, reheating old conflicts and bringing back people who provoke you. Social clashes are especially prevalent, because Mars is in Aquarius.

Some people experience a Mars retrograde physically, feeling alternating surges of alert energy and lethargy like a cosmic coffee crash. Mars also rules cars, blades, and devices with sharp parts. Therefore some folks postpone car purchases, elective surgeries, and piercings until Mars is direct. Irritation, rage, and short fuses are common now. But this is also a time to consider how you empower yourself and fuel your own dreams. Even if you’d prefer to make quick progress, retrograde Mars makes you loop back and clean up past messes before you make new ones. These delays are a gift, not a curse. Some astrologers say romantic relationships formed during a Mars retrograde will quickly fizzle out. I say do what you want.


Wednesday the 27th begins with a face-off between the Sun and Saturn. This yearly event has a “You can’t tell me what to do!” quality while also pressuring you to take more responsibility. By evening the Moon and Saturn touch, bringing heavy moods. Relationship discomfort makes us alter our expectations. A full Moon in Capricorn happens just before 10 p.m. On Thursday the 28th, trust issues and commitment concerns continue to pop up. Physical health and diet will need attention too. Mercury leaves Cancer and enters Leo, a sign it will remain in until Sept. 5! On Friday the 29th, the Moon is void until 9:37 p.m., so hold off on important choices and conversations. On Saturday the 30th, you’ll also want to postpone big conversations or negotiations, as Mercury is clashing Uranus. This aspect might even cause transportation trouble. Self-esteem is a big theme today too. On Sunday the 1st, Venus creates tension with Pluto and Saturn, encouraging us to stretch beyond what’s comfortable and work on relationships, even if we’re fearful. It’s a good day to clean your house too. On Monday the 2nd, the Moon enters soulful, psychic Pisces until the 4th. The day looks good, but watch for health concerns that make you ask, “How can I best help my body?” Tuesday the 3rd is beautiful. A lovely trine between the Sun and Moon adds ease, and a Moon-Jupiter trine expands our emotions in a positive way. Since Mercury is on the north node, we can expect consequential conversations and decisions.