Standing or falling,
Life has brought its strange mix of events lately! Yesterday, very shortly after a retrograde Mars in fitness-oriented Virgo hit its exact opposition (180° angle) to the Sun in mellow Pisces (March 3, 12:10 pm PST), my husband and I were hoisting a heavy flowerpot to relocate it in the garden. His shoe pinned my shoe, nailing me in place as he continued his forward movement, and boom, down I went, straining my right knee. The afternoon before I was working in the front garden, and whirled around to see what bird flying overhead was making an unfamiliar call. In my quick, reactive motion, I lost balance and boom, down I went on my right wrist! In the 20 years we’ve lived here, I’ve never fallen outside! Today I cut myself with a knife and burned my finger on a red-hot pan—both classically signified by Mars, the planet of active, direct, self-expressive movement. Quess which hand got cut and burnt?
In the contained phase of its normally exuberant energy, retrograde Mars is traveling “backwards” in the 1st house of my natal chart—the area associated with the physical body, the general health, and overall well-being. The processes of health and healing are closely linked with the sign of Virgo. The right side of the body denotes the masculine or positive principle, wherein energy tends to be expressed in an external, radiant, assertive, confident, and conscious manner, and no planet is more archetypally masculine than pushing-ahead Mars! When an injury occurs to the right side of the body, a present action that needs to be taken is indicated. For me, the “retro” motion of Mars in the most powerful and angular house of the chart (the 1st ) has brought me a “physical” message in quadruplicate form: what compelling ways of acting (Mars) would be the most sacred and purifying (Virgo) for my highest sense of self (1st house) right now?
With three of my natal planets in patience-challenged Aries, one of which is a strong and dignified (in its own sign) Mars, I tend to get into the “mode of production” and too often honor the god of doing. But what if, especially during a retrograde period of Mars (the current one from January 24 to mid April), we are meant to stop whirling long enough to realize no moment or activity is any more valuable or superior than another. If each second and deed is as deserving of conscious doing as another, what would be the wisdom in rushing about elevating our blood pressure? Or feeling irritability or discontent with this task versus that task? Or revving our emotional engines when there is a delay or temporary restriction (a sprained knee), which results in frazzled nerves and fretting? Is this not a wastage of precious life energy?
There is no better or worse, no higher or lower chore, job, or achievement. There is simply this and that of life when lived with awareness and love. Or not. Amidst his pots and pans in the humble labor of the kitchen, Brother Lawrence worked in a sacred manner with his thoughts in present time reverently scrubbing dishes and cooking, simply tending to those in his monastic community as though he had just served the Lord himself. These were his recognized acres of diamonds—God realized in the eternal silence of his heart.
Like his sainted example, whether a moment is imbued with grace and delight depends on our recognition of the Divine Gift in the timeless now. Saint Catherine put it well, “all the way to heaven is heaven.” The basic, but venerated, Japanese tea ceremony is another example of how the sacred is enacted in every graceful gesture and measured movement, each precisely performed with conscious awareness.
From a spiritual perspective, each experience along the Path, whether that of standing or falling down, polishing a floor or performing heart surgery, is holy ground. From the material perspective, we so often get skewed into thinking what we do outwardly is the supreme value rather than who we are inwardly and how we live truly in our hearts—whether our thoughts, words, and acts bestow joy in and of themselves—or not. To live quietly, tolerantly, sincerely, purely, and thoughtfully is every bit as much a true and lasting legacy as more overt and dramatic forms. Thus, a helpful spiritual message for this continuing retrograde period of Mars in Virgo is: Be ye inwardly serene, inspired, transformed and made whole—then calmly chop wood and carry water like a master craftsperson!
A meaningful day is composed of wonder-filled moments.
Planets in Retrograde Motion
Many people are generally aware of the infamous periods of Mercury retrograde, a phenomenon that occurs three times a year. For those new to the notion of “retrograde,” at present, two planets—fearless Mars and wise-old Saturn—are both traveling in what is termed “retrograde motion.” Quick-footed Mercury will join the retrograde pack on March 12 until its “station” on April 3 and subsequent movement forward once again. This term comes from the Latin “to step backwards.” Symbolically and sometimes literally, we may have to tread the same stretch of road! Save for the Sun and Moon, the phenomenon of retrograde motion happens with all the other planets. As the Earth turns daily on its own axis and annually circles the Sun, from our earthly perspective, the planets appear to move backwards at periodic intervals in their cycles.
A wisdom-of-the-ages caveat suggests that when a planet is retrograde, we are advised to slow the pace of life, which today seems mindlessly frenetic for most people, in large part due to being over-committed and unable to say “no.” During this brief time of downshifting (Saturn remains retrograde until June 24), which requires a greater than normal degree of patience (not a natural quality of Mars!), we will likely encounter some kind of blockage or restraint, delays, frustrations and irritability, recurrences, returns to previous conditions, or reversals of events or circumstances.
It’s an astute choice to follow the insight of the Taoist Sages who advised, “take no unnecessary action.” Economize and conserve your resources on all levels! In this case, less is better. Attention to details and an ordered pace is intelligent discernment. It is, however, a judicious hiatus for introspective re-flection, re-view, re-assessment, re-vision, re-finement, and re-creation prior to embarking on any new projects or endeavors. If we choose, we have the opportunity to craft an entirely fresh, more workable template for our life that can embody this tenet: in all thoughts, words spoken, acts done, do these all in a sacred, gentle manner.
Finally, in a synchronistic aside, I saw two men at the grocery store yesterday both of whom had to walk with a cane in each hand, moving very slowly and with difficulty. I have never seen this before—two men each needing two canes to be able to walk. A gift from my out-of-the-blue falls (in duplicate!) was an overwhelming sense of gratitude that my falls were as minor as a sprained wrist and strained knee. My guardian angel was right there to soften my falls! Always, in any mishap or apparent misfortune, there is a benefic blessing as well.
Standing or falling,
• Getting My Bearings (a fuller discussion of Mars and Mercury
Text © by Zane Maser, 2012. Photos © by Chris Maser, 2012. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
If you are interested in an astrological consultation and/or a specific question answered by a horary chart, please visit SunnyCat© Astrology.