The major story of this month is that Mars has gone direct, and it’s time for us to feel things. Mars, planet of sex and conflict, represents our vitality — our desires, our life force. The fires that keep us going in the face of a world that could otherwise seem ashen and bleak. When Mars was retrograde (from May 27th till June 29th), we experienced blocks and obstacles to the free expression of our desire and our anger. For some, these blocks led to an increase of energy, which could cause explosions. In an erotic sense, this could be quite hot. In an interpersonal sense, this could be catastrophic. For others, the life force got more dim and inward, which could cause depression and apathy. Some of us may be struggling to come back to life, after having shut down and gone numb from the tragedies of this June — especially the homophobic killings in Orlando. For all of us, this Mars retrograde period has offered a chance to rethink and rework how we express our anger and act on our desires. Both can be dangerous. Both represent our power to wound or to heal. Now that Mars has gone direct, it will be easier to act from this core of fiery power. We always need to be thoughtful when working with Mars, but refusing to engage with our instinctive, emotional nature can be just as dangerous as recklessly expressing it.
With Sun, Venus, and Mercury moving through Cancer in the first half of the month, this is also a time for grieving, healing, and bonding through care. Cancer is the sign of tenderness, emotional honesty, and the softening we need to keep the hard world from breaking us. Softening has a bad reputation in our patriarchal, success-oriented culture. Many of us have our armor on — we know how to fight. We’ve got our Mars working, and our shields up. Being soft can trigger all kinds of fears about being taken advantage of, being unable to cope. But we all need some kind of softness in our lives, a place of refuge where we can shed our skins and regenerate. Especially on the 4th, with the New Moon in Cancer, take some time to treat yourself like a small creature in need of care — like a lamb in danger of wandering away from the herd on a snowy night. Call your heart back. Gather yourself back into the warmth of your deepest loves. Find out what you need to feel safer, to know that we have your back, that we will do our best to keep you with us.
For those who want to know more about Mars in their own charts, and how to work with it, check out my new lecture Playing With Fire: Mars Through the Signs. And for a personalized chart reading, find me at flaxandgold [dot] com. As always, take only what resonates from these horoscopes! The astro-literate are advised to read their Venus and Moon signs first.
With your ruling planet Mars moving direct, your relationships are liable to be a lot more straightforward right now — what’s working and what isn’t working will be much easier to see, and you’ll be better able to understand your own needs. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling about your sexuality, and any recent losses that could have you on the defensive or emotionally checked out. Coming back to life can be painful, but the really good stuff is here, where you’ve got something at stake. Where you’re most being called to soften and heal right now is in your relationship to home and family. What can you change in your life (or yourself), that will make it easier to let your defenses down when you’re at home? Which family members (chosen or birth) can you trust to hold you through the hard times?
Tensions might arise in your partnerships this month (romantic or otherwise), but they’re serving a useful purpose: you’re learning more about what feels right and what you can’t put up with anymore. Trust your gut and let your anger show you what matters, and what you need to change. Just be careful not to problem-solve or process while in the first flush of a strong emotion. Especially in the first week of July, it’s best not to blurt out something that you’ll have to qualify, explain, or even take back later on. The good news is you’ve got a great opportunity to understand and express exactly what you want in a relationship. Being able to name it is the first step to making it happen, and you might be surprised by who shows up for you once you know what you really want. Let that Mars energy lead you deeper into your truest desires around partnership, and let yourself soften a little around how you communicate.
Imagine being loved without having to work for it. Imagine relationships where you’re not taken for granted. Imagine not needing to hustle. With Mars in your sixth house this month, you’re getting more in touch with your desire for a life that actually nourishes you; and may be experiencing flares of anger about spending too much time trying to live up to other people’s expectations. It’s okay to say no to anything that triggers that sense of irritation and fatigue. It’s okay to rest this month. While you’re at it, try healing your own sense that you’re not enough, exactly as you are. Soften into some serious self-love that laughs in the face of scarcity.
Remember that you don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations this month, or any month. With so many planets in your sign right now, you can feel like all eyes are on you. Forget about being on your best behavior and use this time to fall in love with yourself. Declare yourself your own primary partner. Turn off your phone and start writing your autobiography. Make collages of your dreams. Make them from lesbian erotica, if you’re having those kinds of dreams. Fight anyone who tells you that you’re not talented enough to make whatever art you want to make. Stand up for your own visions. If you feel more called to softening and healing than standing up and fighting right now, direct that softening to all those myths you’ve learned about who you’re supposed to be. Release yourself from any identity that pinches and hurts when you try to fit your whole self into it.
If there’s something that’s been bugging you about your home life, now’s the time to change it. These changes may not be obvious at first, as they draw on old memories and patterns that go back not only to your childhood home, but your parents’ childhood homes and beyond. Your vitality relies on getting right with your own space, and that requires you to realign yourself to your family history. Bring things out into the open that have been buried. Bust open all those closet doors. Don’t think you can escape your family of origin through the lovers you choose — odds are they’re going to be playing out some similar patterns with you. Doing this work may feel daunting, but it will actually undam so much life force that you could be using for your own favorite projects. Meanwhile, pay attention to any situation where you might feel trapped by friends or lovers into a dynamic you didn’t choose. Trust your gut, and let your intuition help you soften into a deeper sense of your own truth.
This month, you get your voice back. Growly, lilting, harsh or inviting, your words will flow however you need them to. For those of you who fetishize stories, voices, and the verbal give and take of sex, this will be a beautiful time to deepen into the erotics of communication. Most importantly, though, you’ll finally be able to speak up about something that’s been affecting your daily life that you need to change. Make some time for processing with your nearest and dearest, but set a time limit on those conversations. In partnerships in particular, your thinking may still be a little clouded by idealism or fears. The wounds you get to heal this month involve your larger community. How have you handled your grief around the precarity of queer lives? Who hasn’t been able to hold you in the ways you’d wished they could? How can you soften into forgiveness for yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and for anyone else you’re ready to forgive?
It feels like there’s a lot at stake right now, I know. It can be easy to get bogged down in the story of who you’re supposed to be (adult, capable, even-tempered) and how much you have to do. You may see your relationships right now as a means to an end: the people who can help you get all this work done, or the people who are in your way. There can be a real us vs. them dynamic in this, whether it’s “us” as queer folks, or survivors, or immigrants. Recognize where you feel the need to circle the wagons, and why. And watch out for letting this sense of urgency overwhelm your needs for intimacy — ending up in a circle where “us” is only you, and everyone else is a potential problem. If there are places where you can soften, slow down, and let yourself feel something (odds are it will be some sadness, at first), find them. If you feel you don’t have time for any of that noise, remember the story of adulthood you’re telling yourself isn’t nearly the whole picture. Look a little deeper, and good luck!
No one doubts your ability to defend and protect yourself. But how do you know when to drop the hypervigilance? Cortisol, the stress hormone that helps us physically prepare for self-defense, is valuable in small doses but can cause all kinds of problems when it’s chronically high. Are you super well-defended in all your relationships? Do you feel alarmed when you let someone in or show that you’re vulnerable? With Mars still hanging out in your sign for the next month before moving on to Sagittarius in August, you’re learning what level of self-defense is really appropriate for you right now. If you’re starting fights or freezing out your sweetheart, now’s the time to figure out how to stand your ground without pushing the ones you love away. You may also feel called to soften and heal around your faith in the world, and in the larger connections between your inner and outer worlds.
Intimacy is notorious for activating our worst instincts — that fight or flight mechanism that winds us up for running away or baring our teeth. As we let the ones we love deeper into knowing us and seeing all our messy issues and broken pieces, we’re risking all kinds of rejection and loss of love. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s always been easier for you to move on when relationships start to feel like a trap, but this past year is teaching you a lot about your capacity to stick it out for the long haul–whether that’s in a romantic relationship, an important friendship, or in your own commitment to your life path and ideals. This month, pay extra attention to your intuitive hits–especially about feeling trapped or drained in your relationships. When in doubt, pull back from any dynamic that seems to be asking for more than you have to give–but if you’re trying to end anything, do so intentionally. You’ll have a great opportunity this month to heal some sexual wounds, with or without a partner. Let yourself soften into being in your body exactly as it is right now, and trust that your sexuality is a perfect expression of your unique self–that you are irreplaceable.
Sometimes the biggest heartbreaks aren’t about one person, but about a whole community. Your ex-girlfriend you can forgive and forget, but the world you shared with her was so full of potential and richness that you can hardly separate out one sense of loss from another. There’s major healing available for you this month in your own desires for community, for a circle of both beloveds and intriguing strangers, for the dance party or street rally or open mic where you feel stronger just by being in the presence of so many amazing freaks. Your anger about the limits of community is also important information right now. Where you may need to soften (yes, dear, even you need to soften) is in your approach to partnership. Are you asking your one-and-only to be everything? Are you looking for someone who can take the place of an entire community? Where can you release some of that pressure right now?
This month, you won’t be able to hide your desires. Have you been settling for an okay situation, believing you’ll never get what you really want? Have you been pretending you don’t need love — substituting instead some kind of status, fame, or sense of accomplishment and expecting those to fill you up? The good news is your cup can get filled this month; the harder news is you have to learn how to ask for it. Stop hiding from the fiercest desires of your heart. Risk asking for what you actually want and need. And while you’re at it, let yourself soften and heal the parts of you that feel obligated to always be of service.
For the next few years, you’ll be especially sensitized to seeing the best in people, wanting to offer yourself in service to a higher cause, and risking disillusionment and loss when the people you idealize disappoint you. Slow-moving Neptune, planet of longing and compassion and romanticized acts of codependence, is camped out in your sign for some time to come, and as your sign ruler it has an extra claim on your attention. How do you work with the best of this influence, without falling prey to its insidious effects? Keep working with Mars! Remember that you have a self to defend, that you get to be selfish, that your needs are neither optional nor negotiable. Don’t lose yourself in your desire for a better world, or for connections that nourish you. Keep directing some of that energy back to your own center, to keep your own fires burning. Where you may want to soften and heal this month is in your ability to shine brightly in romance, and in all the ways you express yourself. Believe you’re worth paying attention to.