• Richelle Steyn

Mars Retrograde In Aries 2020 - Part 1

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Mars in Aries is big fire - power, heat and metabolism. It's an ignition of consciousness and sense of being (aliveness), driving us to defy fate and take charge of our destiny. It is a powerfully raw (transparent, primal), instinctual (impulsive, unpredicatable, volatile) and expressive (yang, assertive) energy. It's about taking action, doing it yourself, challenging, fighting, defending, protecting and leaving. Mars in Aries brings a surge of fire "take charge" energy and passion. The Amazonian warrior goddesses and Ares the Greek god of war are caricatures of some of the more typical Mars-Aries-1st House archetypal characteritics.

For those of us who already have a lot of the fire element in our birth charts, we will need to firmly regulate our intake of coffee, alcohol and other stimulants - and watch our emotional triggers. There's a tendency with this type of energy to "combust" - or worse, go too far, come on too strong and create unnecessary crises. "Combusting" looks like the downer after a sugar or caffeine high and feels like the frustration of defeat, swimming against the rip-tide of life. Pace yourself, choose your battles! Ensure excess energy, frustration and anger are effectively channelled out of our body with exercise, yoga, breath-work, meditation and time in nature.

Unlike other planets that retrograde every year, Mars (and Venus) only retrograde once every two years. Mars transits through every sign including Aries every 2 years but only retrogrades in Aries every 30+ years. The last time Mars went retrograde in Aries was in August 1988 and prior to that, September 1941 and August 1909.

Mars moved into Aries, the sign it rules (same archetypal themes i.e. double fire signature) on the 28 June 2020 SAST. It will stay (in Aries) for 6 months instead of the usual 6 weeks because of its retrograde, which starts at the end (28th degree) of Aries. When Mars retrogrades, it is close to earth and in an opposition with the Sun, much like a Full Moon effect (Full Mars).

Fig 1. 2020 Mars Retrograde in Aries Milestones - South African Standard Time (SAST)

The nature and dosage of our personal experience of the Mars in Aries retrograde transit will depend on how it activates our birth chart. If you have any planets or luminaries between 15-28 degrees (the Mars retrograde shadow period) in the Cardinal signs (Aries, Libra, Cancer, Capricorn), these planets and luminaries will be powerfully activated by the Full Mars retrograde transit. Book an Astrology Consultation if you want to get deeper insight into how this may impact you.


Fig 2. Mars Ingress into Aries - End June 2020


When Mars entered Aries on the 28th June 2020, it was in an emotionally charged opposition with the Moon and an almost exact square to the Lunar Nodal axis at the critical 29 degrees of Gemini-Sagittarius. Mars (action, protect, defend) is a rights-activist, freedom-fighter, hero and martyr. This integrated symbolism reflects intense focus, communication and conflict around identity and rights (civil, political, human) relating to culture (meaning- significance, value, purpose), belief, religion, ethnicity and race. Who (what) do I emotionally identify with and why? How do I speak my truth and stand up for my (and others) rights? What action do I take when my rights (or those of others) are disrespected, transgressed or violated. How do I adapt to the current external demands without losing (or abandoning) my self? What is the truth and what are lies?

The transiting Pluto Jupiter conjunction square to Eris at the start of the retrograde cycle suggests a theme of cultural, religious, ethnic and racial (Jupiter) limitation and power dynamics (Pluto) causing dis-ease (Eris) like prejudice, racism and xenophobia. The Pluto-Jupiter conjunction ultimately wants us to deconstruct and rebuild our cultural, social and personal "containers" (ideology & structures) to be more aligned with universal law in order to expand our collective consciousness on Earth.

Saturn Aquarius symbolises the ethical or right use of progressive technology and science to move us forward (sextile Mars Aries) into the future. As we've learnt from atomic energy and AK47s, technological advancements like artifical intelligence, robotics and bio-engineering have a potential to bring more destruction than progress. This signature could also therefore communicate taking assertive action (protest) against science and technology moving us (humanity) in the wrong direction.

This was a tense, edgy seeding for the Mars in Aries cycle, ripe with cultural, legal and ideological tensions with a potential for conflict and violence. In Evolutionary Astrology the archetypal dynamics described above are not arbitrary or gratutious but rather serve a higher evolutionary intention. The challenge is to figure out what this is and to align in order to be supported by the current universal tides.



What am I doing? Where am I going in my life? How do I get back on track? Mars in retrograde brings intense re-evaluation, reflection and review. This is a "kick-ass" energy that gives us the will and courage to honestly look at our life and make the necessary difficult decisions to reinvent, relocate, leave and start a whole new chapter in life.

The transiting Saturn Pluto conjunction talks to our dismantling of structures of authority (both personally and socially) that no longer serve us, as well dealing with the consequences of our unethical and corrupt actions of the past. When Mars starts it's retrograde, it is in a challenging square with Saturn Pluto and in a conjunction with Eris. Mars and Eris together in a conjunction indicate adversity. See what house this conjunction falls into in your birth chart to get an idea of how it will play out in your life.


We can sleuth for clues and patterns of the upcoming 2020 retrograde cycle both personally and collectively by looking at the last Mars in Aries retrograde cycle in 1988. What was happening in your life personally and collectively during this time?

Fig 3. 1988 Mars Retrograde in Aries Milestones

Fig 4. RS & Mars Retrograde in Aries - August 1988

A couple of themes stand out for me at this time (although the exact dates elude me). The major theme was an ego-shattering betrayal by my first big love (transiting Pluto on my natal Moon inconjunct transiting Mars Eris on my natal Eris-Sun-Juno stellium). Another theme was work intensity, challenges, changes and upgrades. One thing I am sure of is by July 1989 I had left South Africa, an ex now pleading forgiveness and my return - and was living and working in New York City, an experience that fundamentally re-defined me and started to shape who I am today.


There are two "trigger" points in the Mars retrograde cycle. The first is the culmination or peak that happens when Mars is closest to the earth, in an opposition with the Sun (the "Full Mars" point).


Fig 5. Sun Mars Opposition (Full Mars)- Retrograde Peak October 2020

The transiting Sun Mars opposition at 21 degrees forms an almost exact t-square with transiting Pluto. The Sun Mars opposition symbolises a struggle for survival and purpose - when our "identity crises" will be at it's peak. Astrologer Maurice Fernandez describes it as "a crossroads, where anything can happen" (Fernandez, 2020). Retrograding Mars in opposition to the Sun is an intensely rebellious, belligerent aspect - and in a challenging square with transiting Pluto (together with Saturn Jupiter) can symbolise volcanic tensions and explosive conflict with authority figures. The value of this conflict is to expose what is not working for us - suppressed conditioning (personal and social) and limiting assumptions that need to be radically re-defined in order for us to reclaim our personal sovereignty.

The Uranus, Mercury opposition forming a T-square with transiting Hygiea ("health" issue) could symbolise the culmination of a health (productivity, efficiency) or work crises or the opposite, a healing point - a sudden resolution to a difficult situation. Key here is gaining perspective on our values and priorities especially around our finances and resources.


The Sun Mars opposition mentioned above, is the culmination of a cycle that started with the Sun Mars conjunction in early September 2019. Looking back at what happened in your life at this time (the start of the cycle in September 2019), can give us clues to the themes culminating at the opposition (Full Mars) in October 2020.

The Virgo stellium circled in the chart below suggests a powerfully driven energy that could lead to break through but conversely also a build-up of tension and frustration aound work/health, identity and purpose - possibly financially related - that could lead to conflict even violence (break down).

Fig 6. Sun Mars Conjunction - Start of Cycle September 2019


The second trigger point in the Mars retrograde cycle, is when Mars goes direct after the retrograde. The intense build up of frustration during the retrograde period is suddenly released - "outbursts can happen and wars can start" (Fernandez, 2020). This is when we are most likely to act on decisions taken during the retrograde period - confront, leave, separate, resign, quit. Neptune square the nodal can communicate a loss of control (or natural disaster) as well as a spiritual revelation. The ultimate purpose though of this alignment from an evolutionary astrology perspective, is to dissolve and transcend our illusions, hopes and wishful thinking to realise a greater truth. This requires surrender and letting go of what we think is true and accepting what is revealed and therefore evidently more true.

Fig 7. Mars Stationary Direct - 14 November 2020


2020 has been epic so far. With the Mars in Aries retrograde cycle underway "buckle up", we're not done yet. There are many rare, complex, major astrological factors and cycles at play at this time. As astrologers we try to interpret their multivalent symbolism but in the tradition of astrology I practice, it is difficult to exactly predict what form these symbolic interpretations may take. Richard Tarnass says it best when he says that the Mars retrograde in Aries cycle in the 2nd half of 2020 could be seen as the catalyst, a trigger, "assertively pushing into action what is already in the wings" (Tarnass, 2020).

Fig 8. Mars Hotspots in Aries 2020

This is the first part of a two part series. Here is the link to Mars Retrograde in Aries 2020 - Part 2 South Africa.

If you're interested in attending a series of monthly online Zoom sessions (dialogues) where we'll share and learn from the actual reality unfolding during the 2020 Mars Retrograde cycle, then register in advance here. The first session starts on August 6th at 08:00 PM Johannesburg time and will reoccur every first Thursday of the month thereafter. Check the starting time for your time-zone if you don't live in South Africa. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the Zoom session at the starting time.

Book an Evolutionary Astrology Consultation if you want deeper insight into how the Mars Retrograde will impact you personally in the second half of 2020.

Get deeper insight into your Psyche and Soul using the tools of Evolutionary Astrology and the Lunar Nodal axis in your birth chart. Visit my website for details of my 13 week, 12 Steps to Mastery online interactive experience.

Learn more about Evolutionary Astrology and the Lunar Nodal axis by watching my YouTube video (please subscribe to my YouTube channel) here and here. If you appreciate the content please like and subscribe.


Fernandez, Maurice. “2020 Cycles – Part III / June Eclipses and Mars Retrograde”, Evolutionary Astrology with Maurice Fernandez, https://www.mauricefernandez.com/videos/, 2020, https://youtu.be/trCu9K2k4SQ

Fernandez, Maurice. “The Powerful Astrological Cycles of 2020.” Evolutionary Astrology with Maurice Fernandez, Maurice Fernandez, Dec 2015, www.mauricefernandez.com/the-saturn-pluto-conjunction-and-the-transits-for-the-year-2020/.

Fernandez, Maurice. Neptune The 12th House and Pisces. Victoria: Trafford, 2004.

Green, Jeff. Pluto The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul Volume 1. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

Tarnass, Richard. “"What's Happening in the Stars Right Now: An Online Event with Richard Tarnas -- April 23rd, 2020.” YouTube, ArchetypalView, April 2020, https://youtu.be/8RTpTo1ZMEc.

Richelle Steyn certified as an Evolutionary Astrologer through The Comprehensive Diploma Course (Maurice Fernandez). She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

(C) Copyright 2020 Richelle Steyn. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the author unless credit and reference are provided.


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