Arts & Culture » Aquarium Age

The Retro-Zone: Part 1

For the week of January 18-24, 2012.

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We're entering the Retro-Zone this week (and if this column came with sound effects, you'd hear the theme from The Twilight Zone or the sci-fi ringtone on the iPhone as you read along). On January 23, Mars begins a review that is the first in a series of planetary retrogrades that will last for nearly eight months. (I heard that "ouch.") As each of the inner planets — Mars, Mercury, and Venus — makes a retrospective journey, it won't even be a stretch to think of the coming months as an excursion into alternate dimensions of "sound, sight, and mind," as The Twilight Zone puts it. And because Mars, Mercury, and Venus drive the mechanics of regular routines, when their backward motion overlaps (as it does this year), daily life resembles a "land of shadow and substance," where the edges of "things and ideas" meet in the vast terrain of the imagination.

Frustration is the most obvious danger in the Retro-Zone, and even though we are only on the threshold, for the next several days, as Mars starts to slow down in preparation for its "turn-around," moods are apt to reflect the change of pace. Pay attention: For most of the next eight months, nothing is going to move forward smoothly, a condition that will easily fuel meltdowns at all levels of emotional and psychic intensity. Mars signifies self-assertion, and because anger and rage can be found on the negative side of the assertive spectrum, plenty of people are going to be steaming about a plethora of delays and detours. Patience is the obvious antidote, but finding patience and holding on to it will take extra effort.

Another likely dimension of Mars Retrograde is an exasperating focus on minutiae. Mars goes retrograde in Virgo, the Sign commonly known for its obsession with detail. And certainly during this retrograde we will all be looking at every little feature of every little thing (until we can't stand to look any longer). Please remember to be kind as you sweat the small stuff; most of us make mistakes, and what transforms those errors into lessons is the ability to groan and then to grow.

But don't discount Virgo as merely the Sign of the Fussbudgets. Virgo's deepest current is the recognition of an abiding interconnectedness. Pisces, Virgo's opposite and complementary Sign, always gets the kudos for its mystical urges, but Virgo is no less mystically inclined. Virgo is the Sign where we recognize the sacred in its particulars; it's the birthplace of ecology, where the interrelatedness of all forms of life is recognized and honored through service to all living beings. As part of its retrospective, Mars invites each of us to look at how we are connected. For some, that inquiry could translate into the need to establish new, stronger bonds. For others, old ties that no longer serve are likely to be severed.

At the core of Virgo lies the idea of an organic connection that unites all living beings, and as Mars lingers in Virgo for the next five and a half months, many hearts might be moved toward greater awareness of that connection. And that awareness could express itself as compassionate action.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES Mars, your Ruling Planet, invites you to fall in love with the details — all of them, even the ones you don't like. Tackle tasks you've previously resisted, and the retrograde will move you into a new level of discipline.

TAURUS The focus is on creativity as a positive outlet for the Mars Retrograde intensity. Allow yourself to expand and explore new creative venues, and you'll maintain your mental health.

GEMINI Mars makes you moody, and some of your mood swings could motivate impulsive decisions. Remember: It isn't necessary to act on every idea. Sometimes it's best to let an idea rest until the urgency subsides.

CANCER Mars Retrograde makes spontaneous movement a bit self-conscious, so don't be surprised if you're feeling constrained. Turn your awareness into objective assessment and you'll use this review to your benefit.

LEO Bring attention to your finances, particularly any money issues that are holding you hostage. Financial freedom isn't about having loads of cash; it's about a realistic perspective.

VIRGO Mars Retrograde in your Sign has the power to transform your persona, especially if you are willing to go over every aspect of how you want to present yourself to the world. Remember: Confidence is magnetic.

LIBRA Use this time to review, reflect, and reconsider recent choices. Honor the inclination to wait and see, and you won't make any moves you might later regret.

SCORPIO Mars Retrograde could feed a need to argue about everything, especially ideas related to freedom, personal and collective. Enjoy the debates, but don't allow them to disturb or disrupt your equilibrium.

SAGITTARIUS Go over the details of all the plans and projects already in motion to see what needs improvement and attention. There's no reason to fear this process and every reason to embrace it.

CAPRICORN Mars stirs a longing for adventure, but traveling under this retrograde to distant locales could make you quite homesick. The only solution is to become an armchair traveler — the best of both worlds.

AQUARIUS Mars heightens your desire to succeed. Honor your ambition, but also remember to empower your followers by treating them with deference and respect.

PISCES Mars has you reviewing all sorts of relationships and relationship issues. Welcome this retrospective with the willingness to be candid with yourself and others about how you feel.

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