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Mars' Close encounter

In Opposition on August 29th 2003

  by Estelle Daniels

Note: This article contains astrological predictions that are not sweet, pretty, happy or even necessarily politically correct. If you are upset or offended by predictions that maintain that bad things may happen, please don't read this article.

This article and the predictions contained therein are the opinions of the author. This does not make them astrologically invalid, but it does mean there may be evidence of bias and personal subjectivity. The author has made her best effort to be as accurate as possible. She does not take responsibility for any actions taken as a result of reading these predictions. She hopes she may be wrong, but she also understands she may be correct in some measure with these predictions. In a perfect world, we could predict everything, and do our best to minimize the bad stuff and maximize the good stuff. As it is, we just do the best we can, and muddle through.

Auntie Estelle is a practicing astrologer (some day she may even get it right) and she gets asked questions about many interesting astrological and astronomical phenomena. One phenomenon is the close approach of Mars to Earth, closest around August 29, 2003. What does it mean? Why is it important to me? And what will happen to the world because of it?

All of these are valid questions, but they illustrate a basic underlying misunderstanding of astrology. Anything happening in the heavens must have some effect on the Earth and individuals. People, no matter how big it may seem (and media hype often fuels these perceptions—don't get me on that topic), it usually has little or no immediate effect on you or your life or the world or the Earth in general. Cosmically speaking, these things have been happening for millennia, and those who look at the cycles with a longer time span (like geologic which lasts about 4.5 billion years, give or take a few hundred million), see them as the cosmic blips that they are.

OK, Mars hasn't been this close to the Earth for 59,000 years (or so). In a life-span of 4.5 billion years, this has happened almost 100,000 times, if you postulate similar orbits and periodicity of this particular event. So does that make it really special? You tell me.

Is there any special astrological significance to this closeness? Not really. The ancient astrologers did formulate and calculate the retrograde periods of Mars and the other planets (Sun and Moon aren't technically planets—they are the lights and never retrograde). They also understood that not all retrogrades were the same. Especially with Mars, the ancients (and possibly up through the Renaissance) recognized something like 7 or 8 different pattern-types of Mars retrograde, each having a different interpretation. What is a pattern-type? When Mars (or any planet) moves retrograde, it "traces" a pattern against the heavens. That exact pattern, with Mars, comes in 7 or 8 distinct shapes. Each shape has a particular meaning. So you take the meaning of the Mars retrograde shape, add to that the sign and degrees the retrograde occurs in, and figure in any other interesting factors—like other planets the planet aspects while retrograde (except the Sun). Every planetary retrograde has an opposition (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as well as Chiron and the Asteroids) or a conjunction (Mercury and Venus) to the Sun at the midpoint of the retrograde. And the Moon, moving so quickly, doesn't really count either except in a larger pattern.

So what would the ancients think of this Mars retrograde? We don't know, because that pattern-type lore has been lost. We know it existed, but not what it was. I read about it once in an old book, and haven't encountered the information since. Maybe someone will translate stuff in Project Hindsight and we will have it again. It's part of what made Dee and Lilly such great astrologers. Nostradamus also.

However, when washing machine repairmen attribute the larger-than-normal number of broken appliances to this Mars close approach, it borders on the silly. That isn't how it happens. Mercury retrograde probably has lots more effect on that than Mars ever will. Of course you can play astrological semantics—by which you can justify most anything with most any astrological placement—You can say Mars retrograde in Pisces (a water sign) would screw up any appliances that use water. Or Mars in Pisces makes people more aggressively out-of-touch with reality and more apt to attribute things to whatever they want because their rational mind is out-to-lunch with a vengeance. You choose which you prefer, both interpretations are a bit off-the-wall but astrologically justifiable. We astrologers sometimes play strange mind-games.

The ancients certainly would have noticed Mars was unusually large, bright and red during this retrograde. That might have caused them to think the events of this retrograde would be more momentous than usual. They would also have noted that Jupiter was opposite Mars for most of the time he was retrograde, and that *is* a big deal. Any violence, or any other Mars activity (like ego, sex, artistic passion, self-assertiveness etc.), would be magnified (Jupiter). And probably not favorably magnified because Jupiter is in Virgo, and Jupiter is not happy in Virgo. Mars is in Pisces, which is a sign Mars is not particularly happy or unhappy in. (Both based on rulership/dignity, exaltation, detriment or fall). But Mars is in Jupiter's sign (Pisces is co-ruled by Jupiter—fully ruled by Jupiter before Neptune was invented/discovered.) so Mars has to go by Jupiter's rules while he lives in Jupiter's house. (Think of Jupiter as the landlord of the place where Mars is living in a rental arrangement. Some landlords are better than others. But they all have rules.)

So Mars is moving backwards, which is a big deal because it happens most infrequently in the zodiac, and in Jupiter's house (Pisces), and also opposite (in opposition to) Jupiter. So you think they are playing nicely together during this particular time? Do you think they are happy with this arrangement? Do you think they are working harmoniously together? Not on a bet. There is disagreement and strife inherent in this Mars retrograde period, and because of Jupiter's adverse influence (ooooh! She's not saying it's all nice and sweet—she is making a negative statement about planetary aspects and placements—yup. That's the type of astrologer I am. S**t happens, and the planets reflect that—the good and the bad, and to ignore the bad possibilities, is ignoring half of the planets' messages—my personal astrological philosophy.)

Now add to this, two lunations, a new and full moon, which tie strongly into this pattern, and you get some interesting things.

The new moon of August 27th, two days before Mars' closest placement, adds the energies of a new moon, beginnings and hidden matters, to this whole pattern. Jupiter moves into Virgo hours before this new moon, and Venus is near the Sun, and Uranus is also retrograde in Pisces, conjunct Mars and opposite Jupiter in Virgo. You have a new Moon with Sun, Moon, Venus and Jupiter very close together (in a six-degree span) opposite Mars and Uranus (in a 5 degree span). That's six of the 10 planets in one pattern. That's a lot of energy concentrated in that Virgo-Pisces Axis. And these include Uranus (the planet of sudden, electric and unexpected), Mars (energy, passion, violence, war), and Jupiter (a lot and everything magnified). Venus is in Virgo, and very unhappy by sign placement, so the possibilities for peace and reconciliation are diminished. Sun and Moon in Virgo are neither helped nor hindered by sign. Mercury is in late Virgo—out of range for inclusion in this little pattern, though very happy in Virgo—he's just not communicating with (aspecting) the other planets. Saturn is in Cancer, and massively unhappy there, but he is widely trine Mars and sextile Venus, so his steady calming influence may help, but he isn't doing it with good will. Neptune is in Aquarius, not aspecting anyone but in mutual reception with Uranus (with modern rulerships—Auntie Estelle cheats and uses both modern and ancient rulerships, and they all work, too), so you can sort-of tie Neptune, planet of illusion, delusion, oil and faith, to this big pattern. Pluto is in Sagittarius, not happy or unhappy (though that may not work with the three outer or modern planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) anyhow.). He is widely sextile Neptune, but that has been in effect on and off since the 1940's so it's not something unusual or remarkable at present. Otherwise Pluto is staying out of it, and that's a good thing, believe me.

This new moon is, to use one of my private astrological terms, sucky. It is not a happy pattern, and the one mitigating influence (Saturn trine Mars and sextile Venus) may mitigate the worst, but probably will not eliminate unfortunate happenings. What it all means??????? Certainly it isn't a peacemaking lunation, so look for the war in Iraq to continue, more violence, and probably not good for the economy either, Venus and Moon being economic indicators are not happy or pleasantly aspected. More than that, time will tell.

The full moon of September 10th, 2003 isn't really rosy either. Remember Pluto was mostly out of it in the New Moon chart? Well, he's all over this one. This little chart features Sun, Venus and retrograde Mercury are together in Virgo (8 degree span), opposite the Moon in Pisces, and all of those are square Pluto in Sagittarius. Ouch! That hurts! A T-square in the mutables with the empty arm 15-23 Gemini. That's five of the 10 in one pattern. A lot. Mars/Uranus and Jupiter are almost exactly opposite, not in the T-square—but that energy is still present. Three more. Saturn still in Cancer is widely sextile Sun and trine Moon, so the calming rational influence is still there (albeit still unhappily and grudgingly), but distantly. Neptune is still in mutual reception with Uranus, so you can add some of his energies to the volatile mix. Mars and Uranus are volatile planets, and Pluto is also volatile, but more massively, overwhelmingly, explosively so.

What does this lunation presage? Well, it doesn't look peaceful or comfortable. Mercury is happy by sign (extremely happy) but is moving backwards, so his energies are experienced a bit differently from normal. It's like he is in his own happy space, and not paying attention to others except when he bumps into them, and then is a bit foggy and unclear about where he is or what he is about. Maybe fortunate, pleasant and happy miscommunication describes him in this pattern. He says the wrong thing, but it turns out for the best. That's one way to look at it. And with the Mars/Uranus/(Neptune) opposite Jupiter it is not peaceful or comfortable. I don't like presaging disaster, but look at some of the massive electrical blackouts, earth movements, and political problems and you will get the idea of what this pattern of energies might bring. The economy isn't looking really good, either. The recovery is still a way off, despite the media spin. Maybe another dip or speed bump is in order. Remember, October is traditionally the worst month for the markets in the U.S.

What can you do? Live your life, and be prepared for the unexpected. Have water, flashlights, blankets and extra food available. Maybe a little spare cash stashed here and there. Otherwise don't get weird or paranoid. Sometimes these rotten patterns occur and nothing we can really point to happens. And sometimes things do happen. The time/influence for these are roughly a month after the actual lunation. Happy stargazing. Remember, you asked.

In conclusion, Mars being close to Earth, by itself has no special astrological influence. Mars being retrograde, opposite Jupiter and tied into two powerful lunations, does have some astrological influence. Got it? Thanks for reading.

© 2003 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.