In 2014 Mars will be retrograde from March 2 until May 20 a period of 80 days. This is one of the longer Mars retrograde cycles, (the longest is 82 days and that happened last time Mars was R in Virgo two years ago).
The Mars synodic cycle is the longest of all planetary synods. Intervals between successive conjunction of Sun-Mars happen every 780 days. Mars retrograde therefore is arguably the most challenging of all retrograde cycles.
The cycle of Mars mirrors exactly the map of the hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell. (Read a full account of the stages of the journey and how they correlate with Sun-Mars aspects in my book The Sacred Dance of Venus and Mars.)
This particular Mars retrograde transit is occurring in Libra, a sign where Mars is decidedly uncomfortable, adding to the challenge of this period.
While Mars is backtracking from 27 Libra to 9 Libra, he will complete the fourth angle of a cardinal grand cross on April 22, just after Easter. Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto and Mars are like four legs of a square table with the Earth in the middle. This is the 5th exact hit of the current cycle of Uranus-Pluto squares, a time where we are being challenged to strike a balance between material survival and creative freedom.
Adding to the tension of this period we have a total lunar eclipse exactly one week before (April 15) and a solar eclipse one week after (April 29).
On May 11 Venus and Mars will oppose one another in one another’s sign of rulership and are therefore in mutual reception. (see separate post on Venus-Mars cycle).
This looks set to be a powerfully challenging time of competing priorities with the potential for major political, environmental and geo-seismic events of global significance.
The situation in Japan looks especially tense. In the 1952 chart for Japan (Campion Book of World Horoscopes) we also see a cardinal grand cross in the middle of cardinal signs. This 1952 grand cross involved Saturn (and Neptune), Chiron, Uranus and Mercury.
The solar eclipse on April 29 2014 aligns with the Sun in this 1952 chart.