The Mars Return
by Linda Reid


Linda is a professional full time astrologer and consultant. She has been in practice since 1977, established a school of Astrology in Tasmania in 1988 with a correspondence division in 1990, which has now become the Canopus Academy of Astrology offering tuition by correspondence and on Internet. She holds a B.A. ; QA FAA; Certification in Hypnotherapy; Diploma in Counselling and Certificate in Horary Astrology from Deborah Houlding

Linda is a life long student of all things symbolic, and particularly espouses the teachings of Dr. C.G. Jung; has studied the works of Assagioli and Psychosynthesis, and is an adept in Transcendental Meditation. She has a deep attachment to mythology and the works of Joseph Campbell, has a profound understanding of dream symbols, collecting dreams from her own experience and those of her clients, for many years, and has researched and developed

techniques that enables deeper understanding of the dream process by using Astrology. "Crossing the Threshold - the Astrology of Dreaming" is a result of that research and offers a clear and concise method of using charts of dreams to grasp their context. She is presently working on a Step By Step text book .


Linda specialises in psychological astrology, using imagery and allegory to explore the birth chart and uses dream dialogue as a support in counselling where appropriate. She has expertise in vocational and group astrology/psychology and lectures internationally . Her 'musings' are published in several top quality journals and magazines.

Her philosophy is that the birth chart represents potential for life and also a practical tool for using the planetary energies to optimise those potentials. The birth chart is therefore a model for empowerment, not just in self understanding but in 'being' who we are meant to be. Through understanding ourselves we can rise above petty expectations and social and childhood conditioning and

allow ourelves to emerge fully. We can give ourselves permission to be who are meant to be! Down to earth astrology!

Author and Facilitator of the Canopus Academy of Astrology courses, she has adapting the courses to be fully interactive on Internet. For details, visitors can find out more on the Academy page. You can contact Linda at Panplanet.

The Mars return chart indicates where and how we are energised; where the ACTION is for the following two years; and so can be used in a predictive manner. But more importantly it also indicates where the psychological drive and ego urges we associate with Mars can be best applied.

In other words, what personal passion is motivating us and can be used in making decisions that satisfy our need for activity? Drive and initiative comes from within -- but if suppressed -- it becomes internalised, withheld from the conscious/ ego/ yang world in which we live. Then it can manifest outwardly as frustration, irritation, discontent, anger, lack of energy, fatigue or plain boredom. We all have a need to be active, to pursue goals, take initiatives in different areas of our lives, and Mars features as part of the decision making process as to how we are to activate and use the fuel that comes from the Mars part of us.

The Mars return chart is used as a TOOL to help in the process of making decisions - to determine whether decisions made on urges for action are likely to be valid ones and to establish the best possible use of the motivating force. Knowing where our energy might be best applied allows us to make informed decisions, act on them and adjust and modify our expectations through understanding the clues given in the chart.

Mars is inseminating ENERGY - it always, regardless of sign, is about initiative, performance, will power, and personal self-expression. Because it is yang or animus oriented, proactive and dynamic the chart indicates how and where we can use the impetus, that drives us into active participation in life. It will also indicate where we might make foolhardy decision and come unstuck because parallel with positive Mars is the urge to take risks, express aggression rather than assertion and act in an egotistical and careless way simply to discharge the build up of force. When Mars returns to its birth position, it is a bit like a refuelling stop - we get an infusion of high-octane energy and need to use it fruitfully to gain the best out of it. Nevertheless, we often do not use it fruitfully but squander it in ill-advised ventures that leave us exhausted and unrewarded.

The chart is also useful to determine whether we need to ' back off ' in certain respects. Where anger, frustration might lie, and might emerge and the chart will tell us how to handle it by recognising symptoms by the aspects Mars makes to other planets. Mars is often the trigger for other transits. When we look at the aspects Mars makes to the Outer Planets in the chart, it prompts us to look and see if those planets are involved in transits during the ensuing two years. Mars and its relationship with them at the return will signify the 'spark' that activates those transits.

Psychologically Mars is assertiveness and the capacity for self-determination that instinctively prompts survival. It allows us to express our desire natures - desires come in many forms not just sexual. Desire is longing, aspiring, yearning and hoping. We may desire to reach the top in a profession or desire to serve humanity. Mars gives us the energy to achieve those goals and fulfil those ambitions. Mars always acts as the catalyst for other archetypal energies. Without it, life is meaningless, moribund and static. It urges us to strive for outward experience and conscious rewarding activity. It also describes the way in which we apply effort and it is by the effort that we put in, using Mars that we can achieve those conscious and unconscious goals. It is our own psychic TOOL. It allows us to be assertive without aggression, be forthright without being offensive and relate to others by being able to express our point of view without clouding the right of another to express theirs.

The search for 'soulfulness' tends to adopt the philosophy of passive acceptance. This is reinforced by religious dogma, which implies that no spiritual reward is gained without sacrifice and painful acceptance of 'lessons' most of which are hard ones. I do not entirely agree with those philosophies. I firmly believe that we need balance over and above everything. Too much 'soul' and we are not in balance. Too much ego and we are not in balance. We can be in touch with our more peaceful energies - the Yin in our nature but there is a world of potential out there and each and every one of us should strive to live in that world and achieve something from it. That can be material gain as much as spiritual gain. We simply need to look to our motivations to keep things even. Healthy competitiveness is a normal urge in the human psyche.

Avoiding using the 'burning desire' to achieve will frustrate Mars and make it manifest in negative ways. If we are using the drive in the right way, in the right context, then we simply will not have time to get frustrated because we will be achieving of desires. When we are frustrated in life we become angry with ourselves because some part of our desire, some part of our drive, some part of our consciousness and life experience is unfulfilled. In other words, we get a build up of heat and energy and have no useful way to express it. Mars does not make value judgements - it simply is. Mars is just as happy working for good as evil! It does not discriminate - it acts. By making informed choices, taking right directions, we are less likely to feel frustration and this is where the Mars return chart is so useful. It allows us to make informed choices. I believe the natal chart gives us a framework in which to experience life but embedded in that are all the planets that give us control over our own ships.

Planets are drives on one level but are tools on the other - we just have to know how to use them. I believe in a practical approach to astrology and tools come in a wide variety - shovels and picks for planting , scalpels for healing, swords for achieving justice. If we are able to recognise and embrace the negative side of Mars then we should have no problem embracing its positive side! We admit that we have the capacity to make wrong choices and often castigate ourselves for doing so. We need to be able to reward and applaud ourselves too. We can use the Mars principles of clarity to clean up the results of wrong choices and avoid making them again by understanding that ego energy will not go away just because we think it is 'not nice' to assert ourselves. If you look at the glyph of the sun with its nucleus in the centre and then look at Mars as it takes that nucleus out into the world, you can see a graphic illustration of ego purpose; masculine principle; seeding life; taking the energy out - not in.

Thus, Mars empowers us to openly express identity - our Sun selves. The primary creative urge of the Sun to express identity or self in the word can only occur with the collusion of Mars. Until Mars is properly activated, the Solar self is only in the potential. Mars is a primeval urge to get into the mainstream of life and make something of it. To experience and *thrive* in a bright conscious life, to journey on, fighting demons, overcoming defeat to reach goals that at different times in life will vary. Mars never looks back only forward. The Mars return chart is a way to define how we can separate out the active, initiating and forthright energy, so that we can control, direct and use Mars in our lives. When you first start working with the Mars return chart, it is worth looking at a series using your own chart. Connecting the activities and experiences of the past with the position on Mars by house and aspects show how the energy for initiation manifested and how you experienced it. Your own personal history is a great way to examine the decisions you made, rightly or wrongly and the consequent actions you took.


The sidereal Mars cycle means that Mars returns to its natal position every 23 months. Every now and then, you might get a short return. This is because there has been no retrograde phase during the time from one return to the next. Sometimes the time is extended because the return might have occurred close to a retrograde phase and will complete that phase before moving direct. However, as a rule of thumb 23 months is the time for a return.

At some point in the return period, Mars will turn retrograde. This occurs when it is heading for opposition with the Sun, and can be trine, quincunx in opposition but never square or conjunct. Symbolically ego challenges occur and the retrograde nature of Mars at this time tends more towards the unconscious, instinctive expression. We need to look at the conscious or unconscious decisions we made around the time of the return to understand what we might deal with during a Retrograde Mars. It is important when you are working with Mars's return to always check this out.

The Retrograde period is like a motor race. Imagine Mars as a racing driver and at the start he wants to win against all odds. This is Mars at its most competitive, happily active, aggressive, ego driven. He starts the race and gets a taste of potential reward - the chance to become a winner! But then he reaches a point at which he may over-extend his confidence or act in a way that is foolish or dangerous. He pushes his luck to the point where he loses control. If, at the start of the race, he was oblivious to danger then all he has set out to achieve is at risk of coming unstuck. If he was so hell bent on winning, addicted to the adrenaline rush, then he takes a corner off line, hits the blocks and barriers, spins out on control and the whole race is lost. He ends up sitting on his bottom while someone else wins - however, he gets an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-assess what it was that started his perilous skid! The Retrograde period is a time for readjustment, to rethink the goals, to review and regather resources, examine the needs dimensions and refine the purpose and make sure that any adjustments are creative and fruitful. Whatever decisions are made, whatever action is initiated during the Mars return is at risk during the Rx phase. This is the time of greatest peril and treachery as the shadow side of Mars can emerge. It can also be a really good time to get a handle on the ego's urge; to become more purposeful; define purpose and become more dynamic. If we have not even started in the race, the irritant qualities of Mars Retrograde might force us to do so and bring those urges or matters that require action to our attention. Even with good decisions, when Mars is Rx we get a period when we might need to review and make adjustments.


The first thing to look at is obviously Mars. The house it occupies is the area infused with energy. It will of course, be in the same sign as at birth. Angular houses will always be important in terms of personal growth and activity in the world. Angular houses are those where Mars gives us potential drive and opportunities to begin something new. Mars Angular always urges us to plant new seeds. Succedent houses imply consolidation and effort is needed to achieve. Succedence implies stamina resilience and it may mean a continuation of things begun at the previous return. Effort applied in the succedent areas of life is rewarding in the longer term. Succeedent houses suggest that Mars may be well spent in maintaining something already started and applying effort to its growth. Cadent houses will be looser, more variable. There may be an indication of need to abandon old projects when Mars returns Cadent. This is an opportune time to discard what is not working and prepare for new things. Cadent houses warn of the need to refine and even demolish facets of our life that might not have been fruitful. Mars Cadent is about ending and preparing for new beginnings.

The house and sign position of the Sun in the Mars return chart will indicate the personal reason or purpose behind the stimulus for activity and the possibility of Mars being at odds with what is good for us, or enhancing some facet of whole self that is seeking expression. The Sun will not always be in the same sign as it is in the Natal Chart and so we might take on a different form of self-expression. If there is an aspect between the Sun and Mars then the ego self can have an excellent sense of the "I" behind decisions made or actions taken. If the aspect is a soft aspect then there is more ease in self expression. A hard aspect implies that we might need to take care not to ride roughshod over others in the process or that achieving our aims might require a lot of hard work. As Mars reaches the opening trine it is interesting to note that a retrograde period will follow early in the return period. A closing trine indicates that the planet has recently turned direct and is gathering impetus.

Jupiter will give a sense of the goal and the growth opportunities that can be achieved. The moral and ethical energy, if it is in tune with Mars will serve to amplify ambition within a framework of 'rightness' . If it is in harmonious aspect to Mars, it will work to encourage the potential force of Martian vitality and of course, when anything is amplified it needs to be considered carefully in case we blow out beyond our capabilities! This will be indicated by the type of aspect. The Sun, Mars and Jupiter work together in the conscious world of achievement. Mars Jupiter and the Sun all are rulers of fire signs and so have some input into our energy levels, both physically and intuitively. Mars is the tool by which we achieve goals. Sun is the way in which we identify with them and Jupiter is that part of us that unconsciously serves a higher purpose. When there are aspects between Mars, Sun and Jupiter they are likely to be the most productive of good - if used properly. There is a risk of inflation though and expectations greater than abilities. A year where these planets are in accord can be one of the best times of your life! Ideally a grand trine between the three yang planets will give us huge potential for achievement - with Sun as driver, Jupiter as goal and Mars as tool.

Aspects between Mars, the Sun and Jupiter will tie the houses together and illustrate the 'purpose and possibilities' behind Mars activity. Look to see if both Mars and the Sun or Mars and Jupiter aspect a point or planet in the chart *in common* - in other words a planet that they each aspect, regardless of what the aspects are. In any chart a mutually aspected planet is an important feature because it will indicate the planet or archetype that could influence, even dominate the principles of Mars, Sun and Jupiter. If for example these planets aspect Uranus, or Pluto or Neptune, then those outer planets will tie in to the activities and may unconsciously direct proceedings!

The Archetypal Partners

The Moon, Venus and Saturn are important because they are the reflective face of the consciously active planets - the archetypal partners of Sun Mars and Jupiter. They will unconsciously move, regulate, refine, encourage and inspire, or could bring down, limit, demand and usurp! Check the chart for aspects made by Mars with the Moon, Venus and Saturn.

The Moon indicates emotional urging, the 'needs' dimension but because the Moon also represents the reactive rather than proactive side of nature, a contact between Moon and Mars can be very significant in expressing the intuitive nature of the person. Those aspects will enable him to use 'gut' feelings about his desires and purpose. If the Moon is in a difficult aspect with Mars there is a risk of becoming emotionally bound up in the project - a chance that domestic life may suffer or that the creative purpose gets suppressed in favour of the material. The Moon will indicate the infantile levels of experience and if Mars acts out impulse at an infantile level then, particularly at the retrograde period, we will soon discover that unless we can view our objectives with solar maturity, we become childish and surly instead of bright and loaded with foresight. Check the Moon's phase angle with the Sun - a waxing Moon is ideal for developing projects - assuming of course that you synthesise this with all the other factors. A good aspect with Jupiter will serve to promote growth and attainment . At a predictive level, difficult Moon aspects indicate that women or domestic situations can thwart personal goals and similarly harmonious aspects indicate support from those quarters!

Venus is the archetypal partner to Mars - if they are in harmony then Venus helps to refine the activity - bring balance and offer periods of reflection and relaxation. It is important to see if there is an aspect between them, even a square helps because without Venus and the dynamic of evaluation and value judgement there is the risk that ego becomes out of control. Venus motivates Mars from an unconcious position and makes one aware of the impact actions have on others. It is the reflective face of Mars and as such will ensure that we do pause now and then to review and ask ourselves - how are my actions affecting those I love. Venus will add value to whatever we set out to achieve.

Saturn is the archetypal partner of Jupiter. Saturn will regulate and refine the urge to grow, limit, restrict and slow progress or structure and shape it. Whenever we are on a journey to improvement, Saturn will always be there, deep in the unconscious as the voice of conscience and of realism. Saturn is the great teacher of common sense. It embodies decency and propriety when well aspected. If badly aspected it can manifest in situations and people that bring us to our knees, thwart or block us. Being aware that we might have something to learn from these experiences will make it easier to direct the Mars energy towards successfully achieving our goals. If Saturn has easy aspects to Mars it gives us stamina - in a difficult aspect it can present blocks that eventually turn out to be stepping stones, but can also mean our timing is off. Saturn in aspect to Jupiter will regulate and aid in avoiding over-inflation. Saturn Sun aspects give either authority and maturity or makes us fearful - the fear of success is equally powerful as the fear of failure!

Mercury in the return chart will never be far from the Sun - so we need to look at the aspects it makes with Mars and Jupiter to ensure that action is based on ideas and thought through. Generally Mercury is rather benign in the Mars return chart, but should not be overlooked in terms of the project. It will indicate contractual agreements we may need to make, its condition will tell us a lot about money and any loans or agreements we need to make to achieve our goals. If the goal in the world involves disemmination of information, advertising, deals with others, travel, it is through Mercury that we will get clues to the way to go about setting these matters in place.

Outer Planets

Uranus creates chaos, Neptune confusion, Pluto devastation. At the same time Uranus adds the principles of innovation and brilliance, Neptune the dimension of imagination and idealism and Pluto the opportunity for rebirth and renewal. The aspects made to these planets hould be examined in a broad sense and synthesised with the current transits to the natal chart. If one is currently experiencing Pluto opposition Sun then the re-manifestation of the "I" - the rebirth of the Self - can be better achieved by utilising the Mars return chart during the period of the Pluto transit to make informed and useful decisions, clarify what we want and remove fear.

copyright © by Linda Reid 1997, revised 1999


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