We are living in a time of fires. Right now wildfires spread in waves across the West Coast of the US, while new fires are lit in protest of ongoing, incessant racist violence. Each summer is getting a little hotter, and as this summer ends it isn’t letting go of us so easily. Our back-to-school feelings are distorted by confusion about what school means now. Everywhere we look, the past is catching up with us. From large crises to small, from the existential pain of these times to the frustrations of navigating health care or accessing services, very few of us are free from feeling the intensity. There is so much in need of our attention so much to heal and repair, so much to grieve. With the Sun in Virgo, we’re ready to get to work. Give Virgo a task and it will be happy. Virgo offers boundless energy for mending, for repair work, for weeding and editing, for making medicine and caring for the daily tasks that ground us. In a time of overwhelm, Virgo brings a list of clear tasks and priorities. In a time of burning, Virgo brings calendula and fresh lavender.
But these fires have deep roots, and our goal shouldn’t be to extinguish all of them. In forest management, controlled burns are often the way to prevent further spread. And energetically, we need fire to connect to passion, to advocate for justice, to restore our sense of vitality. Too little fire and we become stuck in our grooves, unable to make meaningful change. Too much fire, though, and we burn out or burn bridges or get burnt. And although we are in Virgo season of thoughtful tending and mending, the major story astrologically this month is Mars in Aries, which turns retrograde on the 9th and won’t station direct until November 13th.
Mars is the planet that rules our fiery energy — it’s how we fight, how we access our sexual energy, and how we defend and protect what is close to our hearts. Working with Mars can be physical, emotional, political, and spiritual. When Mars is in Aries, the sign it rules, it has much fuel to burn and can blaze hot and bright. But when any planet turns retrograde, its energy becomes slower and more inward. Retrogrades are a time of reckoning and reassessment‚ and with Mars retrograde we are reassessing how we handle our anger, our passion, our momentum.
There is tremendous urgency pressing upon us from every direction right now. It’s not the time to give up, or to burn out. I encourage you to develop a serious practice of rest and restoration right now. I recommend learning how to use your fire more efficiently, like a swimmer learns to breathe in rhythm with their strokes. This is a time for getting smarter about how we show up, and when, and why. And above all, it’s a time to cultivate patience and slowness. In the words of Rainier Maria Rilke to a young poet:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.”
I wish you strength in the living of it.
And if you want more personalized insight and support, you can get in touch for an astrological reading. For a deeper dive into the astrology of this month, join me on Patreon. Only $2 a month gets you extra horoscope content every month, and for $10 or more you’ll be entered into regular drawings for free readings.
Take your time: Understanding when to act. This is an extra potent time for you. Your desires and your anger may both flare stronger than normal, but expressing them in your usual ways isn’t going to feel right. You’re learning to pause, rest, and assess. If you tend to be impulsive, find a trick to slow you down: count to ten, name the colors of three objects in the room, anything to disrupt the sense of urgency. So, the bad news is the next few months might feel a little sluggish and frustrating, but the good news is that you have a chance right now to understand and repair your relationships. Slowing down and reviewing your patterns of impulsiveness, defensiveness, or anxiety can help you sense what you really need. Do this work with self-compassion rather than shame, and you’ll be acing this transit. And remember: patience, patience, patience.
Take your time: Checking in with your inner world. What’s changing for you right now is more under the surface, which means you might not notice the changes as dramatically as other people. That said, it might be harder this month to access your intuition. Anxiety and obsession could block your ability to center and focus, so do what you can to notice and address the ways you might get stuck in fear. Mars retrograde is a time of turning our energy inward, and for you this inwardness is especially strong. On the plus side, this is a beautiful time to do therapeutic work and any artwork that involves tapping into your dreamworld. Just know that your energy may be slower and and you may need more time alone right now, and adjust for that accordingly.
Take your time: Building a transformed world. This is the work of generations, not something you’ll be able to finish by the end of this year, or next year, or the next. Whether you are feeling disconnected and deflated or inspired and invigorated, tend to the energy you’ll need to hold onto your vision. Don’t let fear or impatience distract you and send you spiraling. You’re going to need your people this month, but all of you are also going to need to make room for the real feelings that come up with a sustained effort to push back against oppression and suffering. Whether you’re doing any activism or not, these currents are affecting you and all your relationships. This means cultivating patience and generosity when people (including you) aren’t at their best. Who could be at their best right now?
Take your time: Stepping into your power. By next year, you will be much farther along the path of knowing what you have to offer the world, and how to make it happen. Right now, you may be aware of your skills but not always sure about how to use them. Relationally, this might mean taking a step back from offering solutions or mapping out where you hope your relationships will be in a year or several years. Mars retrograde is reminding you that you have tremendous personal power to use toward your goals, but that using it skillfully means remembering what you don’t know. It’s okay to be quiet and watchful right now. It’s okay not to have it all figured out yet.
Take your time: Reconnecting to what you believe in. These have been times to test our faith. Whatever you’ve relied on in the past to help you feel like you’re headed in a good direction, it’s probably no longer working the way it used to. We are all a little (or a lot) disoriented and distracted, grieving and raging, exhausted and introverted. For you, this means it will take some time to come back to that sense of enthusiastic appreciation for the future and what it might bring. Your heart needs some time to heal. Your perspective will shift when it does. Don’t force it, but also remember that change is coming, change is possible, and that the intense pressures of this present moment will lift in time.
Take your time: Surrendering to transformation. This month is digging up a lot that has been buried, and you don’t really have the choice to ignore it anymore. Something in you is ready to be healed, and that process means facing big changes. Take all the time you can to adjust to what’s shifting. Have faith in the healing it offers, even if it’s hard to see right now. Start picturing yourself several months from now—how will you feel when you’ve aligned yourself with these changes? What waits on the other side of fear and uncertainty? And most importantly, who do you need close to you right now as you face this transition?
Take your time: Saying yes. There’s no rush to know for certain yet. Avoid any big commitments you can right now. Practice saying maybe. Practice saying “Let me think about it” or “Let’s try it and see how it feels.” A part of you is so ready to just know for sure, to have a clear sense of what you’re committing to—time, place, person, job, home, future. But this isn’t a time for clarity just yet. Anything you rush into now (or have rushed into recently) is up for reassessment, so why give yourself more work? Your goal right now is to gather data—how does it actually feel when you try it? What does that tell you about your real needs? What other options do you have if the first one isn’t working? Let yourself experiment, but remember there’s no rush.
Take your time: Loving your body. It’s a project you’ll need to return to again and again, when you find yourself falling out of love with yourself. Remember when it’s a struggle that you have a lot of cultural messaging to wade through, a lot to unlearn. Find the communities that reflect you and cherish how you’re showing up in your skin. Take the time to listen to what your muscles and nerves and organs are telling you. Acknowledge that there is no real separation between the beauty that is you and the body you’re walking around in. Love yourself from your very cells and microbes up to your full height and beyond. It’s not self-indulgent, it’s a matter of survival. We protect what we love. We strive to understand what we love. We delight in what we love. Slowly but surely, it’s time for you to show up for this work.
Take your time: Rediscovering romance. Let’s be real: unless you thrill to the adrenalin high of protesting or the self-sacrifice of nursing the ill, there hasn’t been a lot to wax romantic about in recent months. Some of you might be finding love among the chaos, but many of you probably have your love life on hold (or in a holding pattern). As you get used to a transformed social map, you’re probably noticing how much you miss a sweaty queer dance party or making out with someone new. There is a spark of life and joy and healing that comes to you through your erotic connections, whether those are sexual or merely free-floating physical pleasures. It’s harder to tap into this energy right now, but not impossible. And if anyone can find a way, it’s you. Just remember to be responsible: your own health may not be at risk, but your neighbor’s or mail carrier’s or grandparents’ might be. You don’t get a free pass to ignore safety precautions, but you are encouraged to get creative about how to (safely) feel that spark.
Take your time: Restoring your sense of safety. You often feel safest when you’re in control, and let’s face it, the world is bonkers out-of-control right now. There’s so much you can’t control, honey. I know you’d do it better if you could. But this is the mess we’re in. So, what do you do to calm down your nervous system and get some good sleep at night? Who knows about the anxiety you’re constantly carrying? What stops you from reaching out and asking for some support? Your assignment this month, if you choose to accept it, is to recognize what you’re doing to try to feel in control and assess how well it’s actually serving you. Anything that’s causing stress to you or your relationships needs to gently transform. One tool that will help you in this task is to create some kind of refuge, ideally in your home or car or anywhere you feel mostly protected. Let yourself be a mammal in a cave. Let yourself regroup. Turn off your cellphone for awhile.
Take your time: Being in touch with people. Resist the urge to instinctively signal boost or blast a message that you haven’t thought through. What is it you’re really aiming for? Who are you trying to collaborate with? This Mars retrograde rewards a slower pace in how you’re communicating with the wider world, especially through social media. Releasing a sense of urgency may feel like a loss of control, but even as there are real crises all around us, you have the time to think through how you choose to respond, and to articulate your position thoughtfully. Whenever possible, shift your focus to the big picture—to the whole damn world, and to generations into the future. Then take a breath, and take a break.
Take your time: Rebuilding your strength. How do you recover if you’re feeling depleted? If the resources you need are scarce? Hibernation is a real and viable option. You may be noticing how exhausted you are on the regular right now. If you’re tired, let yourself sleep. If you don’t know where you’re headed, it’s okay to stand still. Under capitalism, it can feel scary or sometimes be impossible to rest when we need to. So if you must keep pushing past your energy limits, remember that now isn’t the time to expect anything extra from yourself. The more you can let yourself be nourished by real food and real sleep, the sooner you’ll restore your inner sense of resilience.