Time lapse of night sky

April Stargazer 2016

In Astrology by Stella WoodsLeave a Comment

Mars retrograde through Sagittarius and Scorpio – hold your horses!


Mars is a dual-faced god with a civilised side and a primitive side. The Roman god Mars embodies the civilised side of Mars –the desire to be powerful coupled with the courage and ability to take risks and achieve goals. By contrast, the Greek god Ares (cf Aries) represents the more primitive side of Mars –a fierce warrior driven by passion, rage and lust, and the force behind accidents, injury and violence. This more primitive side of Mars tends to come to the fore during the Mars retrograde cycle, which occurs every 26 months.

Mars in the birth chart carries out orders from the sun, externalising the ego’s desire for accomplishment and helping us express our individuality. Mars themes include :  will, desire, libido, courage, passion, energy, spirit and anger. When the sun and Mars work together, we are able to achieve our goals in a bold and constructive fashion. Not so when Mars moves to oppose the sun during the Mars retrograde cycle…wilful Mars goes his own way instead of following orders! The symbolic purpose of the Mars retrograde cycle is to show us where our actions and goals (Mars) are out of alignment with our true nature and purpose (sun). Once we understand this, we can take steps to balance these opposing forces and live a life of integrity.

Key dates and meaning of the 2016 Mars retrograde cycle

In the final week of March, the sun and Mars formed a harmonious aspect in fire signs Aries and Sagittarius, with projects moving along smoothly.

At the beginning of this month, April, Mars will start to slow down and, on the 17th, will turn retrograde at 8°Sagittarius. He will then begin a 75-day backward journey through fire sign Sagittarius and water sign Scorpio. This most challenging part of the retrograde cycle lasts from mid-April to 22nd May when Mars at 1-2°Sagittarius opposes the sun at 1-2°Gemini. We could compare it to the build-up of energy in a pressure cooker or volcano. Those with birthdays between the 14th November and 3rd December or with planets or chart angles at 0-8°Sagittarius, Gemini, Virgo and Pisces or 23-29°Scorpio, Taurus, Leo and Aquarius will be most affected.

Here are some common manifestations:

  • Daily progress is suddenly filled with effort.
  • Projects are delayed or cancelled.
  • Bad luck or fate appears to intervene.
  • Feelings of illness, exhaustion, depression and weakness.
  • Cessation of interest, drive, energy and focus in what might previously have been an important project or relationship.
  • Suppressed feelings of anger and hostility rise to the surface.
  • Psychological depletion or complete liberation.
  • Irrational action and forced introspection.
  • Conflict with friends, colleagues or partners.

The second half of the retrograde cycle lasts from 22nd May to the end of June. Mars stations (appears to stop moving) at 23°Scorpio and begins to move forward again on 30th June. During this five-week period, any underlying grievances will become apparent. If you have a copy of your birth chart, look up the houses with 23°Scorpio to 8°Sagittarius to see which areas of your life will be affected.

Here are some common manifestations during this second half of the cycle.

  • A battle between conscious will and unconscious intent.
  • Festering energy explodes creating rage, passion, heat, libido and ambition.
  • If the sun-Mars opposition hits a planet or angle, it is even more powerful.
  • War is declared on oppressive situations.
  • Problems can no longer be ignored.
  • An understanding of what is needed to maintain integrity.

Once Mars has turned direct (30th June) it is time to deal with the fallout from the past couple of months. We instinctively know if a situation, circumstance or condition is unsustainable and we are likely to make radical changes. There is usually a total re-evaluation of the course of action necessary to reclaim personal power. Matters should return to normal by mid-August when Mars will be back to full speed.

Sagittarius is a sign of passion, adventure, truth and belief, while Scorpio plumbs the depth of the unconscious to fearlessly expose deceit, denial or lack of integrity. If something’s not right in your life, you won’t be able to put your head in the sand when Mars is travelling backwards through these passionate zodiac signs.

To prepare for the Mars retrograde transit, think about any area of your life where you’re doing things out of duty, habit or lack of will or energy to change. Ask yourself what action you can take to improve things. Or as Steve Jobs put it: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you’re about to do today?”

Mars retrograde example with key dates a young woman changes course

Janie has a keen sense of social justice and has always wanted to study law. She began studying for a law degree at the University of Sydney in early 2015, and it has been hard going, but she’s kept up with all the assignments and got good grades in her first-year exams. Janie has just begun her second year of study, but in mid-April(as Mars goes retrograde) she starts to feel tired and depressed. She visits her doctor, but the doctor can’t find anything wrong her, though her iron levels are a little low. By the beginning of May she’s fallen behind on her assignments and has started to miss lectures. Her tutors advise her to take a week off to recharge her batteries. So she decides to go and stay with her parents. During this week away (20th-27th May when Mars opposes the sun), Janie suddenly realises that she’s not enjoying the law course because it’s not what she expected. Yes, she can do the work, but she finds it boring and can’t relate to the other students. At first she feels angry about her decision to study law, but then she has the idea of dropping out of the course and doing some volunteer work. Her parents advise her to stick it out to the end of the semester and then make a decision. Janie returns to university in early June (the second half of the Mars retrograde cycle) and starts making enquiries about switching from law to sociology and women’s studies. She is advised that if she completes the semester which finishes on the 25th June (close to the end of Mars retrograde), she will be able to use some of her law credits towards a new degree. Janie works hard, completes the semester and, feeling excited and re-motivated, plans some volunteer work with refugees over the mid-year break before starting semester two in the sociology department at the end of July (as Mars returns to normal speed).

Mercury retrograde

Mercury will also be turning retrograde this month, on 29th April for a three-week backward journey through earth sign Taurus, which lasts until 22nd May. The Mercury retrograde transit occurs right in the middle of the Mars retrograde transit, providing even more impetus to look within for answers over the next two months. With Mercury retrograde in Taurus we will be re-examining all aspects of our physical lives and making any necessary changes. Are we happy with our health and the food we eat? What about our physical appearance, clothing and possessions?  Do we feel financially secure and does our outer life reflect our inner values?  As always with Mercury retrograde, pay particular attention when driving, signing contracts, negotiating agreements and in all types of personal and business communication. Mercury retrograde can cause havoc; so slow down, be patient and double-check everything.

April new moon and full moon

The April new moon falls on the 7th in fire sign Aries. With the sun and moon conjunct erratic Uranus, square Pluto and trine Saturn the mood is rebellious and feisty; so be open to new ideas and follow your instincts.

The April full moon falls on the 22nd in emotional water sign Scorpio. A T-square between Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn forces us to strike a balance between how things are and how we would like them to be. The energy of this full moon is tense and explosive–keep your cool and avoid making hasty decisions.

Moon calendar

Launch projects at the new moon, bring them to completion in the period from just before the full moon to the Third quarter phase and wind them down and reflect on developments in the week before the next new moon. Important events such as parties, conferences and weddings are best held close to the full moon or when the moon is in the same sign as your sun (or star) sign.





Moon phase




Third quarter










New moon 7th










First quarter













Full moon 22nd










Third quarter


Stella Woods is an astrology teacher and consultant based in St Kilda, Melbourne. 

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