Retrograde: How Do We Get There From Here
Kevin B. Burk, author of The Relationship Handbook: How to
Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.
Over the course of our lives, we often ask ourselves
what it is that we want. Our desires, our goals and our intentions
are what fuel us. In order to accomplish our goals, it’s important
for us to be clear about what it is that we want. But occasionally,
we must look even deeper than this.
Sometimes it’s not enough to know what it is that
we want. Sometimes, we also have to ask ourselves why we
want the things that we want.
In astrology, the planet that rules the things
that we want is Mars. Every two years or so, Mars appears to change
direction and move backwards, or retrograde. And while we’re under
the influence of a retrograde Mars, it’s important to look more
deeply at the things that we want. Mars retrograde is an opportunity
for us to perform a course correction on our lives. It’s a chance
for us to make sure that we’re pursuing the goals that really
matter to us.
Mars will turn retrograde on October 1, 2005 and
will remain retrograde until December 6, 2005, so now is an excellent
time to investigate the nature of our desires.
In astrology, Mars is the planet that represents
our warrior energy. Mars is our drive and our power. Mars wants
us to expend energy in a focused and direct manner. Mars wants
us to take action and do something. However, Mars does not have
any perspective or objectivity. It’s best to think of Mars like
the engine of our car. Mars just wants to express itself; it doesn’t
care who’s doing the driving, or where it’s going.
There’s one more quality of Mars that we need to
consider—one that is buried in the depths of classical astrology.
Planets are either Diurnal (day), or Nocturnal (night). Diurnal
planets are always true to their own nature: they are completely
honest and forthright. The Sun is, of course, the most Diurnal
planet in astrology. Nocturnal planets, on the other hand, are
more mysterious: their appearance changes and they do not easily
reveal their true nature. The Moon is the most nocturnal planet.
Mars is the second most Nocturnal planet.
That Mars is Nocturnal in nature means that Mars
is not always what it seems to be. Mars is not always honest.
In fact, Mars is very much the used car salesman of the Zodiac.
Mars wants us to expend energy. Mars wants us to
get up off the couch and do something. The way Mars accomplishes
this is by getting us to want something. Mars was known
as “the light that commands.” Mars shows us a bright, shiny object,
and we are compelled to go out and pursue that goal.
Of course, since Mars is Nocturnal in nature, when
we actually achieve that goal and get the thing that we wanted,
we often find that it’s not nearly as perfect as we were led to
believe. But that’s okay, because Mars is ready with another
want, and before we know it, we’re off in pursuit of another goal.
This is exactly as it should be. Our higher selves
know that the path of our lives takes many unexpected turns. We
rarely get to see the big picture. Often, we take what appear
to be detours in our lives because it’s simply not possible to
get to where we’re going from where we currently are.
Our higher selves understand that while the ultimate
path of our lives will take us from point “A” to point “Z”, that
it’s essential that we visit all of the intervening letters as
well. As long as our higher self is driving the car, Mars will
get us where we need to go in perfect order and timing.
The challenge is that we’re not alone in the car.
Our higher selves may be doing the driving initially, but our
egos are riding in the back seat. And our egos are ill equipped
to see the big picture.
What happens then, is that Mars entices us to set
a goal, and we drive off in pursuit of that goal. Our egos believe
that if we reach our goal, if we get the thing that Mars has made
us want, that we’ll be happy and fulfilled. Of course, when we
get there, the experience is always noticeably lacking in perfection.
We’re not as happy as we thought we’d be. But before we can wallow
in our disappointment for too long, Mars makes us want something
else, and we’re off again, pursuing our next goal.
The ego will only put up with this for so long,
however, before it starts to complain. We make it from point “A”
to point “B” and point “B” isn’t as perfect as we believed it
would be. Our higher self knows that “perfection” isn’t the objective,
and now that we’re at point “B”, it’s time to move to point “C.”
But our egos step in and insist that we’re not done with point
Our egos believe that if we just worked a bit harder,
point “B” could actually make us as happy as we hoped it would.
Our higher selves step aside and let the ego do the driving. And
Mars is only too happy to oblige, because Mars doesn’t care who’s
doing the driving. It’s all the same to Mars if we’re heading
on to point “C” or if we decide to spend more time exploring the
suburbs of point “B”. All Mars cares about is that we’re taking
Every once in a while it’s important to ask ourselves
who’s driving our lives? Are our higher selves doing the navigating,
or have our egos taken control? We determine who’s doing the driving
by asking ourselves “What do I want?” and “Why do I want it?”
The areas of our lives that we need to investigate
are the ones that are demanding the greatest focus and energy
from us right now. The period of time from August 12, 2005 to
October 1, 2005 sets the stage—Mars will activate these areas
of our lives (and our charts) two more times over the next four
months. As Mars approaches its retrograde station on October 1,
become aware of your short-term and long-term goals. Use this
time to answer the question “What do I want?”
From October 1 through December 9, when Mars is
retrograde, it’s time to look beneath the things that we want
and explore why it is that we want them in the first place. The
objective is to uncover the original goal; to remember the choice
and the desire that fueled this part of our journey.
If the ego is at all involved, we may find
that we have to dig very deeply to uncover our original path.
For example, we may be working sixty hours a week to finish a
key project at work because we believe that that project will
help us to get promoted. Our immediate desire is the promotion.
When we investigate that goal, we realize that
we want to get promoted because a promotion will mean more money.
The underlying motivation then, is to have more money.
When we explore this desire, we may realize that
we want more money because we want to go on vacation. And when
we explore this desire, we may discover that we want to
go on vacation so that we can relax and not spend so many hours
In other words, we may discover that we’re working
ridiculously long hours because we want to have more time to enjoy
ourselves. The original objective was to be able to work less
not more. We were willing to invest some extra time and energy
into working more for a short time so that we would have the resources
to reach our original goal. But the ego took over, and our goal
became getting a promotion to a position where, yes, we would
make more money, but we would also have more responsibility and
far less time to actually enjoy it.
If we go back even further, looking at the choices
we made that led us to our current job, we may even discover that
what we really want is a new career. We may discover, in
fact, that we’ve been devoting the majority of our time and energy
to moving ahead in a job that we only intended to keep for a very
This questioning process isn’t limited to our careers
(although our careers do tend to be the areas of our lives most
vulnerable to ego interference). We can investigate and explore
every goal and objective in our lives. Often, we have little choice
in the matter: while Mars is retrograde, our goals and projects
have a way of slowing down and forcing us to take a closer look
From December 9, 2005 through February 4, 2006,
Mars makes its third and final pass of this retrograde cycle.
If, during our investigation, we discovered that we are, indeed,
following our higher guidance, we can expect to see great progress
towards our goals during this period. On the other hand, if we
discovered that we missed our metaphorical exit, we can use this
period to make any necessary course corrections.
Sometimes we become aware that we’re pursuing things
that we no longer want, but we aren’t clear about what it is that
we do want. In these cases, this process is about letting
go of our attachments and our ego-based wants.
For example, we may discover that we’re devoting
all of our time and energy towards advancement in a job or career
that we no longer enjoy. However, as long as we’re still attached
to our job, we’re not able to see any other path or entertain
any other options. Before we can choose another path, we first
must stop pursuing our current one. We don’t have to quit our
current job, mind you. All we have to do is to choose to
no longer pour our energy and focus into it. We simply release
our attachments, and let ourselves come to rest.
The present moment awareness exercise on page 48
of The Relationship Handbook can be very helpful in this
When we’ve come to rest and are no longer entirely
focused on following our ego’s directions, we can take stock of
our current position and consider where we would like to go next.
Knowing the truth that we can do anything we choose to do, it’s
time to ask our higher selves what it is that we truly want.
Once we identify what we want, then we can go about
mapping how to get there from here. And the more awareness we
take with us on the journey, the harder it will be for our egos
take control of the wheel. We can set out on our journey knowing
that we don’t need to know what’s ahead. We can accept that the
long-term goals we set for ourselves now may simply be illusions
designed to get us to the place where we can see what it is that
we really want. We can appreciate that our lives rarely
follow straight lines, and that just because one goal didn’t bring
us the happiness we expected, doesn’t mean that we wasted the
trip. We can remind ourselves that every part of our journey is
perfect, and that we are being guided by our higher selves.
Of course, should our egos lead us off our path,
we’ll have another Mars retrograde in two years to help us to
reconnect with our higher selves again.
Kevin B. Burk is the author of
Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every
Relationship in Your Life.
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