As Mars Retrogrades in Aries the Astrology of 2020 Intensifies

September 8, 2020

Mars will station retrograde on September 9, 2020 at 28°09’ Aries and will station direct on November 13, 2020 at 15°14’ Aries.

More time elapses between Mars retrogrades than for any other planet. The last Mars retrograde was in the summer of 2018, and so it’s more than two years between retrograde stations. And because of Mars’ eccentric orbit, the red planet shows decided preference to retrograde less often in some signs than others. Because Mars’ perihelion (meaning closest approach to the sun) is currently in Pisces, it travels through the signs near Pisces faster (due to being closer to its gravitational anchor, the sun). This faster motion means the signs near Pisces have the least frequent occurrence of Mars retrogrades. It’s been 32 years (1988) since the last Mars retrograde that was mostly in Aries, and it will be 47 years before it happens again in 2067.

Mars is classified as a “superior” planet, meaning that it is generally farther from the sun than Earth. And yet in the middle of the retrograde, it comes closer to the sun than Earth—penetrating the heart-space of our system. Because Mars’ distance to Earth is closer than 1 astronomical unit (distance from Earth to the sun), we may experience the problem of being overly subjective or “too close” to issues and signification ruled over by the red planet, such as impulsive actions, motivation, competition, aggression, assertiveness, and defending or breaking through boundaries and limits. Also, during retrograde motion, Mars strays farther from the ecliptic plane than any other planet except Venus. This means that we may feel out of touch or out of step with “normal” somehow. These factors combine to make Mars retrogrades intense. Mars has a lot to do with our survival instincts, and in Freudian terms, it would definitely be associated with the hedonistic urges of the Id (versus the moralistic side of the psyche known as the Superego). So Mars can definitely bring up issues pitting individual needs and desires versus social expectations.

Of all the looping wandering journeys Mars takes during its various retrogrades, its journey through Aries is relatively straight-forward and symmetric. In most other loops, Mars crosses the ecliptic well before and after actual retrograde motion and makes a wide foray away from the ecliptic during the actual retrograde. But since Aries is near the location of Mars’ north node in Taurus, Mars will cross the ecliptic plane in an upward fashion on December 1, just a little while after the direct station.

Like a hiker ascending a steep mountain via “switch-backs,” Mars does a zigzag from below to above the ecliptic in this part of the zodiac—actually getting closer to the ecliptic during the entire retrograde. This is definitely a rarer kind of Mars retrograde, with a chance to zoom into something much more closely than usual. It may be that through unconventional means (retrograde), we can actually get closer to the truth (the ecliptic is the orbital path of the earth). Also, because of the “Z” shape of this particular loop—most of the dramatic shifts in Mars’ motion occur during the retrograde period itself. This means that the pre and post retrograde periods may not be as volatile as they sometimes are in other loops.

Mars retrograde in Aries—astrological aspects

June 27, 2020: Mars enters Aries
August 16: Mars trine the sun (begins to slow down)
September 9: Mars stations retrograde at 28°09’ Aries
October 13: Mars opposite the sun (closest to Earth)
November 13: Mars stations direct at 15°14’ Aries
December 11: Mars trine the sun (begins to speed up)
January 6, 2021: Mars leaves Aries

Mars retrograde in Aries meaning

Mars makes a series of three squares to three different planets during its passage through Aries—Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto. The square is a tense aspect that is considered to be of the nature of Mars, that is, forceful and sometimes divisive. Given that Mars is already powerful as the domicile ruler of Aries, a square aspect basically doubles the forceful and aggressive nature of Mars. This formidable force is met by three planets in a superior position, however. Because Capricorn and Aquarius rise before Aries, by the time Aries makes it to the ascendant, Capricorn and Aquarius are already culminating. Because it has the high ground, the planet that rises first is seen to dominate the planet that comes after.

In the case of Jupiter, a benefic, having the high ground over Mars is a good thing. Jupiter will tend to make Mars more noble and compassionate. But when Jupiter is in its fall, this effect is limited. So the first two squares from Mars to Jupiter (on Aug 4 in direct motion & retrograde on Oct 19) may be about someone more judicious trying to pacify a hot-headed aggressive individual—to somewhat limited effect. However, by the time of the final square on January 23, 2021, Mars is in Taurus and Jupiter in Aquarius. Because Jupiter has far more dignity and a superior position in the final square, its more benevolent nature should ultimately win out. All in all, this looks like a series of challenges from an aggressive upstart who catalyzes necessary change but is saved from entirely upsetting the apple-cart in the long term.

In the case of Saturn in Capricorn or Aquarius, because it has equal dignity to Mars in Aries, Saturn owning the high ground and dominating Mars will tend to tamp down and deny or ultimately frustrate the Martian impulses. This means that in this square the status quo will ultimately tend to win out over the Martian impulse to break free of restrictions and cast off authority. But Mars will not go down without a very hard fight, so that these three squares (in direct motion on August 24, retrograde on September 29 and direct on January 13) may produce some very bitter struggles if Mars is not ultimately able to accept some limits. The wise warrior lives to fight another day, so the best strategy would be to choose your battles carefully and come out blazing but ultimately be willing to back down after some concessions from the other side.

In the case of Pluto in Capricorn, this probably means that the power of big money prevails. With the help of Jupiter, Mars could reveal the presence of corruption and other unjust practices, but ultimately, white-collar criminals rarely go to jail. The main caution around these three squares (direct on August 13, retrograde on October 9 and direct on December 23) is that Mars figures who are challenging the entrenched plutocrats should not resort to dirty or underhanded tactics themselves. Unless any accusations can be definitively backed up, it will just look like desperate mud-slinging.

Mars retrograde effects

Most intense for cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.
Cardinal signs are about leadership and direction, so tensions arising from these squares are likely to be around these issues. It’s important to frame any challenges around decisions and behavior and avoid trying to simply paint leaders as bad people, as this is unlikely to work. If you can successfully demonstrate the merits, or lack thereof, of any decisions or choices of direction then you may be able to make some headway—but ultimately this may only be one drawn-out battle in a long struggle.

Most challenging for Aries and Capricorn.
With the malefics squaring off in your signs things could definitely get messy, with a tendency on both sides to take thing personally and become uncompromising. This could lead to lasting problems for both of you, so it would be much better to be able to acknowledge when and where the other side has a legitimate position and be willing to give a little ground. There are definitely win-win scenarios here, and being able to find them staves off more lasting problems.

Horoscopes for Mars retrograde 2020


You may have to play the rebel or maverick in some way during this retrograde, dear Aries. The conflict or choice that this retrograde seems to highlight for you is between your career and personal life. Either there is an issue at work that is very personal to you, and you need to fight for it. Or the workplace is impinging on your freedom or privacy and you need to pushback in order to keep it. Ultimately, this is about values, and your ability to frame it that way leads to success.


You may really need to get away from it all, dear Taurus. The question is whether you want an active vacay experience—diving into the exotic experiences of a foreign culture or land. Or do you really just need some peace and quiet to relax and unplug? Ultimately, getting you out of your rut is what’s really needed, and either choice will accomplish that. But it’s really about what will energize you going forward.


Being a twin often means that it’s very hard to disentangle yourself from others, and this is very true during this particular retrograde. The real question is whether to seek and extend social contacts that will aid you in your career and finances or to deepen intimacy within existing close relationships. It may be hard to successfully do both. Taking turns will probably have to come into play, but being clear about your priorities will keep you or another from feeling isolated.


This retrograde will highlight the choices you make between your career and close relationships. You may have to prioritize and make certain choices in order to manage the short-term, but in the long run, it looks like deepening your personal commitments will win out. The question is how to manage this so that your bottom line doesn’t suffer.


All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, but all play and no work puts her in the poorhouse. It looks like streamlining your daily activities to squeeze the most productivity out of your time could free up energy for some juicy adventures or even a new partnership. But putting adventure first may result in a backlog of responsibilities that could tarnish your image.


There may be some sizzling romantic or financial energy moving through your life, and both of them require taking risks. The dynamic nature of the energies is such that once you get going you may find yourself quickly going further than you ever imagined you could. It looks like big business risks lead to big responsibility while big personal risks lead to big adventures. Do you have room for both?


You may be facing some big challenges in your relationships, and this looks to have something to do with your foundations, home, and family. If you’re thinking about moving in together with someone, it looks very complicated. It may be that giving or demanding space is more productive. At the very least, standing our ground on fundamental issues is important.


You may feel driven to engage in some sort of health regimen or efforts at clearing away the clutter in your daily routines. It looks like this is either in reaction to or has an effect on the way you get around town or the make-up of your neighborhood or social scene. This may be difficult or messy at first, but you end up on more solid ground because of it.


It looks like you’re in the mood for big romantic or financial risks, but your bottom line ultimately doesn’t support this as much as you’d like—whether that be in terms of your core values or actual cash flow. In the end, it’s about getting everything you already have to market rather than increasing amounts of anything.


It looks like you are either going to be challenged by someone in your family or have to go to bat for one of them somehow. Often, these things go together. In the end, you have enough personal power to get the job done, but it looks like there’s a lesson learned regarding values and risks.


Your spiritual and mental health may be challenged by social forces at this time, dear Aquarius. If you are not showing up in your community or communicating as effectively as you could, this will likely draw you out of your comfortable seclusion. If you’ve been overdoing it in terms of socializing or communication, you may need to learn the value of silence or voting with your feet. This lands you in a place feeling more like home in the end.


It looks like there is a clash around values in your future, dear Pisces. Whatever objects come to be haggled over, you can be sure it goes deeper. In the end, it looks like the strength of social ties with friends and associates gets you over the hurdle and leads to a deeper sense of spiritual connection and community.

Gary P. Caton is a transdisciplinary astrologer who maintains an active sacred relationship with the living Sky as his temple. Initiated an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Find Gary online at

Collage art by Atostrial