• Richelle Steyn

Mars Retrograde In Aries 2020 - Part 2 South Africa

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

"Trauma is not just a personal experience. It is always embedded in a wider chain of events and history. Examining our collective trauma is the way to tap into the evolutionary intelligence of humanity" Thomas Hubl

This is a labour of love - my first attempt at analysing the birth chart of my motherland. It has an added dimension of complexity, because I'm not only part of a minority of the country, but also the minority that benefitted most from the system of apartheid. My South African family lineage can be traced back 360 years but I suspect I have been here in this place for much much longer than that.

Part 2 explores the upcoming transit of Mars retrograde in Aries for South Africa. This article is a direct continuation of Part 1 which is needed for context of Part 2. Here is the link to Part 1.


The last time Mars went retrograde in Aries was in August 1988 and prior to that September 1941 and August 1909. In 1910 South Africa officially became a Union - the Anglo-Boer partnership, politically excluding majority black participation. The ANC was established in January 1912. In 1941 the Union of South Africa was fighting in World War 2, a decision that split the white voting population. In 1961, with the apartheid ideology already firmly entrenched, the Union became an independent Republic (the ANC was banned in 1960). In 1989 FW de Klerk became State President and started a process that would ultimately dismantle apartheid. In 1994, in the presence of the New South African flag and under a new (interim) constitution, all South African citizens went to the polls to vote. Voting opened at 7am on the 27th April. The next time Mars retrogrades in Aries will be in the year 2067.

The Mars retrograde cycle is an apparent phenomenon which occurs from the perspective of earth (a human thing). It is a dance with the Sun. The Sun symbolises our mission or purpose in life. Mars symbolically represents how we assert ourselves and take action to get what we want and to protect and defend ourselves. It is through taking action that we figure out who we are, build our identity and change our values. There is a possibility that the Mars retrograde in Aries cycles coincide with major South African identity changes.


Fig 1. 2020 Mars Retrograde in Aries Milestones

Fig 2. New South Africa (NSA) - Mars Retrograde in Aries - 10 September 2020

The natal Neptune Uranus conjunction in the South African chart is a focal point for the 2020 Mars retrograde cycle. It is square retrograding Mars (Eris) and in a conjunction with the epic transiting Saturn, Pluto, Jupiter stellium. The natal Neptune Uranus conjunction in Capricorn can symbolise progressive-enlightened, indigenous leadership, social structures and laws. Astrologer Elena Porciani sees the natal Neptune Uranus conjunction symbolising the new South African constitution. Transiting Mars square the Saturn Pluto conjunction here, can suggest that the South African leadership, laws and/or constitution is challenged, changed or tested around this time - or that State/Government or big business (corporations/banks etc.) behaviour or actions are against the South African constitution.

Retrograding Mars-Eris square to transiting Saturn Pluto in retrograde could speak to public/mass protest and conflict about State/Government or big business (corporations/banks etc) corruption and the consequences of unethical use of power by those in authority. This signature can also symbolise military type conflict, violence or a war scenario.

Significant is transiting Chiron (Aries) on South Africa's natal Mars (Aries). This communicates an extremely powerful will, creative genius, potency and virility that can go against mainstream expectations - similar to the Sprinboks winning against all odds the 2019 World Cup, a suprising unexpected victory. But like the English perception of their own invincibility on the day, not every battle can be won and the unexpected suprises can work both ways. Pick your battles and fight hard but know when to retreat in order to fight another day. Natal Mars opposite Hygiea can symbolise a gender related imbalance and transiting Chiron Mars opposite Hygiea possibly gender based violence.

Natal Pluto in Scorpio in the South African (NSA) chart can symbolise the need for radical inner (personal) and outer (society) change coming from a past of deep trauma, rejection, disempowerment, and weakness. A mentality of self-defeat can be present but also an incredible potential and power for value change, regeneration and reinvention. The Pluto Scorpio symbolism communicates an intense hunger to transform deep emotional suffering into empowered self-worth. For Pluto-Scorpio this is achieved through emotional shocks that force us to recognise our resources, gifts, skills and what we need to learn to empower ourselves. The natal Scorpio Moon in a conjunction with Pluto communicates deep trust issues - which is problematic because our collective well-being depends on collaboration (exchange) to provide the nurturing and care we need for our own growth and empowerment as a country. The retrograding Mars Eris signature together (in an inconjunct) with the natal Pluto signature can symbolise a hidden or covert re-traumatising of an already traumatised people but also collective (mass) action that leads to deep value change and empowerment.

Transiting Uranus has been in the vicinity of our natal Mercury Sun for about a year. This powerful transit disrupts rhythms and could symbolise profound shifts in the mission, purpose, worth, direction and productivity of the country. When Mars starts it's retrograde, transisting Uranus in an exact opposition with natal Jupiter can communicate a new perspective or awareness (realisation) of the limitations of our prevailing cultural reality, seeing it for what it really is and what it means for us as a country. There's a possibility of radical disenchantment and even dissociation (social alienation). In the long run, transiting Uranus symbolises radical change for purposes of upgrading everyone's (collective) standards of living. This may sound counter-intuitive because it looks and feels like the exact opposite. However the key to this archetypal influence is that the disruption shifts our values underlying our collective self-worth, resources and standards of living.

Neptune retrograde reflects tremendous evolutionary pressures to resolve imbalances (Fernandez, 2004). Transiting Neptune square the transiting Lunar Nodal axis (a permanent feature of the 6 month Mars retrograde cycle), can symbolise 'naivety, a disregard for boundaries and obligations, lack of self-doubt and serious loss of control' (Fernandez, 2004). This can already be seen in the way the State military/police approached and enforced the initial Covid19 level 5 lockdown efforts in April, but could also describe a "running amok" type of social/civil protest or worse, a police/military law enforcement scenario similar to what happened at Marikana in 2012.

From an evolutionary perspective, Neptune in an opposition with the transiting Sun wants to dissolve our separate ego-centric orientation and nurture a sense of purpose that brings us together to focus on "the common cause of humanity". The Community Action Networks (CANs) and other community funded feeding schemes that organically popped up shortly after Covid19 lockdown, illustrates as an example this Neptunian-Sun orientation and evolutionary intention.


Current themes and events of astrological alignments and cycles are better understood by looking at the narratives and events of the previous cycles - as each new cycle is a development and evolution of past cycles.

Fig 3. 1988 Mars Retrograde in Aries Milestones

Fig 4. Republic of South Africa (RSA) - Mars Retrograde in Aries - August 1988

South Africa is currently in a State of Disaster with a national lockdown level 3 travel ban due to Covid 19. Interestingly, a similar pattern back in 1988. South Africa was internationally isolated because of apartheid and in its second year of a State of Emergency (declared in June 1986) because of the civil protest action against apartheid.

Wikipedia (2020) tells us that the consequences of civil unrest, international condemnation and political and cultural isolation led to dramatic changes in the beginning of 1989. South African Prime Minister P.W. Botha resigned on 2 February 1989 for his failure to bring order to the country. He also suffered a mild stroke in January 1989. In September 1989, FW de Klerk became State President of South Africa and started the dismantling of apartheid - beginning with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. This happened on the 11 February 1990. 2020 marked a 30 year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release.

There was a lot happening globally in 1991 around the time of Nelson Mandela's release, including the fall of the Berlin wall (another symbol of apartheid) - interestingly constructed the same year South Africa became a Republic in 1961. There were many astrological factors and cycles at play at that time. The Mars retrograde in Aries in the 2nd half of 1988 could be seen as the catalyst, a trigger, "assertively pushing into action what is already in the wings" (Tarnass, 2020).

In 1988, the Mars retrograde occured on the Republic of South Africa's natal Eris (discord) in a conjunction with transiting Eris - a double Eris (discord, strife, chaos) signature - trine natal Mars (Leo) which was in an intensely destructive power struggle (square) with Pluto. Eris-Mars-Pluto again major players in 2020.

Interesting too, the retrograding Mars Eris in an inconjunct with Pluto in Scorpio - a similar powerful archetypal pattern repeated in 2020. As mentioned earlier, Pluto in Scorpio communicates the need for radical inner (personal) and outer (society) change.

In 1988, transiting Neptune in Capricorn in a t-square with Mars Eris and Mercury Chiron, dissolving the authority structures of apartheid RSA bringing disorientation and chaos, resulting in disillusionment, emotional trauma, deep existential crises and loss of faith in life. Transiting Chiron in a conjunction with natal Mercury (repeated archetypal theme in 2020) can symbolise the wound of being treated like a foreigner in our own country or the wound of being disconnected (or dissociated) from the trauma happening in the local environment around us.

Fig 5. 1988 Itinerary of Civil Unrest (Wikipedia)


There are two "trigger" points (or potential hotspots) 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 (i.e. the "Full Mars" point).

Fig 6. New South Africa (NSA) - Sun Mars Opposition - Retrograde Peak October 2020

Astrologer Maurice Fernandez describes the Sun-Mars opposition as "a crossroads, where anything can happen" (Fernandez, 2020). The Sun Mars opposition symbolises a struggle for survival and purpose - when our "identity crises" (see Part 1) will be at it's peak. Retrograding Mars in opposition to the Sun is an intensely rebellious, belligerent aspect and in a challenging square with the transiting Pluto-Saturn-Jupiter stellium (on natal Neptune-Uranus), suggests dramatic emotionally charged relationship conflict and crises, together with mass protests/riots about unfairness and injustice with angry, violent clashes with the military/police and others in authority. This type of scenario if it unfolds, will be a true "test of ethics" for the State/Government and constitution.

Transiting Mercury now joining natal Jupiter in a T-square with transiting Hygiea, dominates the chart and has distinctly unhealthy, "racial" overtones. With Mercury stationary about to go retrograde, how we function on a daily basis (work and health) is up for review. Mercury retrogrades and returns, passing over this same point on the 20th November.

Transiting Ceres (harvest, food supply) in a t-square with natal Pluto and natal Ceres Venus on the natal Lunar Nodes, suggesting limitation (Pluto) around food/harvest/abundance. The Ceres-Pluto-signature can also suggest an abduction or a hostage type scenario - which is in some way how the tourism and hospitality (food) industry are feeling. The back-story: - in Greek mythology, Mercury (messenger) was instructed by Zeus (Jupiter) to travel into the underworld to negotiate the return of Persephone (Ceres' daughter) abducted by Hades (Pluto, the god of the underworld) - to appease Ceres (goddess of the harvest) to release the world from her grip of famine, punishment by Ceres for her daughter Persephone's abduction.

Reports from China indicate the possibility of the first Covid case (recorded in Wuhan) on November 17th 2019 during last year's Mercury retrograde in Scorpio - adding a possibility for new revelations or developments on Covid19.


The Sun Mars opposition (discussed above) is the culmination of a cycle that started with the Sun Mars conjunction which occured in early September 2019. Looking back at the start of the cycle and what happened in South Africa, can give us clues to the themes culminating at this opposition ("Full Mars").

Wikipedia (2019) tells us that 'The 2019 Johannesburg riots occurred in the South African city of Johannesburg from 1–5 September 2019, leading to the deaths of at least seven people. The riots were xenophobic in nature targeting foreign nationals from the rest of Africa... The riots coincided with a nation-wide truck driver strike protesting against the employment of non-South African truckers. It also coincided with the publication of a statement by Human Rights Watch that over 200 people (mostly foreign truck drivers) had been killed in South Africa since March 2018. During the riot a number of freight trucks were torched and foreign truck drivers assaulted in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.'

Fig 7. New South Africa (NSA) - Sun Mars Conjunction - Start of Cycle September 2019

Natal Saturn in Pisces (in a mutual reception with natal Neptune Capricorn) is key. This archetypal signature ultimately communicates a need for alignment to something higher than oneself - a universal or spiritual authority (justice). When in alignment, there's a feeling of having the wind at our back (nature support) but when misaligned a sense of being a victim of life (fate is against me). A leading cause of misalignment is taking the law into our own hands - mob justice.

Wikipedia tells us that Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is an expression of perceived conflict between an ingroup and an outgroup and may manifest in suspicion by the one of the other's activities, a desire to eliminate their presence, and fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity. Xenophobia and racism often overlap, but they also differ because the latter is based on physical characteristics (like skin colour) while the former is "based on the perception that the other is foreign to the community or nation or originated outside it". White supremacy is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore should be dominant over them.

The Saturn Jupiter signature can communicate a theme of prejudice and racial persecution and the Saturn Uranus signature, extreme self-righteousness, racism, white supremacy and xenophobia. The Uranus Sun conjunction can symbolise delusions of grandeur and delusions of racial superiority like white supremacy.


It seems very likely that a flare up of the ongoing work-employment related conflict and hostilities in the trucking, transportation and even postal/delivery service sectors (Mercury related) are likely to dominate. With transiting Uranus exactly sextile natal Saturn and transiting Saturn on natal Uranus there is a high possibility of racism and xenophobia.


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.

Fig 8. New South Africa (NSA) - Mars Stationary Direct - 14 November 2020

Mars entered the retrograde shadow on Saturday 25th July, a day after a peaceful protest by hundreds of people in the tourism and hospitality (food) industry was dispersed by police using water cannons and stun grenades. Mars now back at the same point, moving direct but still in the retrograde shadow.

I mentioned earlier the natal Neptune Uranus signature in the NSA chart symbolising the new South African constitution - but it can also symbolise an evolutionary imperative of dissolving (Neptune) the ideology of elitism (Uranus) in South Africa. Transiting Pluto-Jupiter-Saturn on this signature breaking down the existing structures and ideology in order for something new to be created. As with all attempts to break down existing structures that no longer serve the collective, there is always a kickback from those (elite) who are being served by the status quo.


We can look back at the previous Mars retrograde in Aries cycle to see what happened when Mars went direct at the end of October 1988.

On 15 November 1988, Barend Strydom, an ex-policeman, walked onto Strijdom Square in Pretoria, and started intentionally shooting every black person in sight. 8 people were killed and 16 injured before he was stopped. A week earlier, he killed a black woman in an informal settlement to "test his resolve". Incredibly, he was assessed fit to stand trial. Associated Press reported after sentencing (1989) that the case was ".. one of the most dramatic in South Africa, with relatives of the black victims and white extremists supportive of Strydom crowding into Pretoria Supreme Court .. to hear detailed testimony about Strydom's racist beliefs. "Strydom had testified that he had fired the first shots in a ″war of freedom″ on behalf of whites threatened by the country’s black majority. ″I’d do it again,″ he told the court." His father, also a former policeman, testified that he believed blacks were animals, not humans. Both father and son belonged to the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group that wanted to establish a whites-only state.

Despite being handed down 8 death sentences, he was released in 1992 as one of 150 political prisoners by FW de Klerk. Today, he lives quietly in Hartbeespoort outside Pretoria, where he works as an artisan. He has raised a family with his wife who he married when he was briefly a prisoner.

Fig 9. Republic of South Africa (RSA) - Strijdom Square Massacre - Mars Direct 1988

Saturn Uranus aspects can symbolise extreme self-righteousness, racism and white supremacy and Uranus Sun aspects symbolise delusions of racial superiority like white supremacy. Both these signatures are prominent in the charts together with many other race-related themes.

The negative press (international infamy) can be symbolised by natal Sun square transiting Lunar Nodal axis on the angles. Barend Strydom's local notoriety, loaded with race related messages/communication symbolised by transiting Jupiter in Gemini square the natal Lunar Nodal Axis.

Transiting Mars square Saturn Uranus ad transiting Pluto Mercury on natal Neptune square natal Mars symbolising the massacre/violence. Interesting too, to see transiting Mercury in Scorpio on that day.


Barend Strydom first murdered on the 8 November 1988 when Mars had entered Aries and was on the critical 00 degree. The massacre happened a week later on 15 November 1988 more than two weeks after Mars stationed direct. This tells us something about the Mars direct "trigger" window. In 1988. Mars moved direct from Pisces whereas in 2020 Mars doesn't move out of Aries, which may mean if there are any Mars direct incidents, we could have them comparatively earlier than in 1988. The window also depends on Mars' retrograde trajectory in relation to the ecliptic which is different this retrograde (Cayton, 2019).

Together with incidents of racism and xenophobia, we could see a flare up of black fundamentalism and neo-nazi type white-supremacy.


Fig 10. New South Africa (NSA) - Saturn Jupiter conjunction at 00 Aquarius - 21 December 2020

Before Mars leaves its retrograde shadow early in the new year (2nd January 2021), Saturn and Jupiter meet at the critical 00 degree of Aquarius. The presence of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius together with transiting Uranus on our natal Mercury Sun may see a spike in more racially loaded themes in 2021.

Similar to the radical changes that occured in the year(s) after the 1988 Mars retrograde, it is possible that major changes in the identity of South Africa in terms of Government structure, State run services, social laws, the judiciary, parliament, the constitution, political parties and political leadership may take place.

The Mars retrograde in Aries in 2020 could be seen as the catalyst, a trigger, "assertively pushing into action what is already in the wings" (Tarnass, 2020). What is "waiting in the wings" in South Africa is economic, legal and political consequences of widespread Government/State corruption and State Capture, possible split in the ANC between Zuma and Ramaphosa supporters, entrance of new political players like Herman Mashaba's party, ex-president Zuma's corruption trial and the social fallout around that - but most importantly the social and economic consequences of the Covid19 lockdown like widespread unemployment, lack/loss of income, widespread hunger and malnutrition (already an issue) and the health and medical impact of Covid19.

The next Mars retrograde is in Gemini on the 31st October 2022.

Summary of keywords used for the astrological signatures:

  • Mars (Aries, 1st) and Eris are catalysts or triggers generating adversity. Action, protest, conflict, violence, murder, death.

  • Culture, ethnicity, religion, race related -> Gemini-Sagittatius (3-9) axes. Rulers Jupiter (predominantly) and Mercury.

  • Civil -> Saturn (State / Social Laws) + Rights -> Mars (Identity, equity, justice, fairness)

  • Civil unrest / violence / murder / -> predominantly angular aspects between Pluto, Mars, Saturn and Eris.

  • Trauma, existential crises (in addition to above) -> Neptune (Pisces, 12th), Chiron, Nodes

  • Mass, Public -> Neptune, Pisces, 12th.

  • Jupiter Mars -> cultural, idealogical, legal issues/ conflict. Boundaries transgressed.

  • Saturn (social authority. discipline. State) + Mars (power, strength) -> military or police type force/power.

  • Uranus -> supremacy, elite, upgrade.

  • Pluto -> trust issues, phobias, betrayal, death, enmeshment.

  • War -> Saturn + Pluto angular

  • Saturn (Capricorn, 10th)+ Jupiter (Sag, 9th)-> prejudice and racial persecution

  • Saturn (Capricorn, 10th) + Uranus (Aquarius, 11th) -> extreme self-righteousness, racism, white supremacy and xenophobia

  • Uranus (Aquarius, 11th) + Sun (Leo, 5th) -> delusions of grandeur and delusions of racial superiority like white supremacy

Fig 11. Mars Hotspots in Aries 2020

Part 2 explores the upcoming transit of Mars retrograde in Aries for South Africa. This article is a direct continuation of Part 1. Here is the link to Part 1.

If you're interesting 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. SOURCES

Cayton, Gary (2019). "As Mars retrogrades in Aries, the astrology of 2020 intensifies", Insight Astrology, https://www.astrology.com/us/editorial/editorial-article-amp.aspx?slug=mars-retrograde-aries-2020&fbclid=IwAR0h1f4_D2tjAFcqJh6KtBkrq7vZqnJXjsTQdIM-9X2dyBGka02jPNoHx4I, October 2019.

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.

Wikipedia. Johannesburg Riots. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Johannesburg_riots#:~:text=The%202019%20Johannesburg%20riots%20occurred,from%20the%20rest%20of%20Africa.

Wikipedia. South Africa 1988. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_in_South_Africa

Wikipedia. Xenophobia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophobia

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. Website YouTube Channel

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