I was Going to Write a Post about Mars Retrograde… but I Couldn’t get Motivated.

It is true. I’ve been working on this for a week but found so many distractions! That is when I knew I needed to write about Mars Retrograde and its relationship to the three other retrograde planets.

When planets slow down, station retrograde, and give us the illusion of backwards motion, they offer us the opportunity to understand their symbolism in deeply personal ways.Right now, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Pluto are retrograde. Mercury will join the group at the end of this month, on April 28.

You might already feel circumstances and events in your life slowing down, too. Have you been waiting to hear back about a job offer? Did your latest crush go MIA just when you were starting to feel possibilities of a love connection? Did your current partner have a freak-out moment about moving forward into a deeper commitment? Do you find yourself wanting to cozy up at home and binge-watch your favorite shows? You can thank our retrogrades for this short break.

Any astrological phenomenon coincides with a bigger soul growth theme. You might find yourself wondering about this particular period. Why would the Universe usher you into a time when you feel as if you can get nothing accomplished?

Well, let me take you on a little journey intoRetrogradeville, the magical land of self-reflection and personal/ancestral history. You have already started your hero’s journey into this territory. Now, I will help you navigate the path. Let’s move into a little creative visualization.

Life is like a train sometimes. We chug along, moving as fast as possible to our destinations. We can change tracks, reroute our journeys, and stop here and there for a change of scenery. Imagine yourself on that train. It is cozy, comfortable. You have a sense of purpose and a direction moving forward, although you may not be entirely clear of what you’ll find when you arrive. Now, imagine that your train stops suddenly on the track. As you look out the window for the interruption, you notice another train slowing down next to you. When it slows down and eventually stops, four people climb on board. Let’s call them Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Pluto. You silently pray they’ll go to another seat and let you have your space. But… like your “Godfathers," they are making you offers you can't refuse. They fill in the seats next to you and edge closer, crowding your personal space.

Jupiter, the largest of them, with a huge grin, exaggerated gestures and an oversized midsection, begins talking. “We have been sent to help you prepare to move beyondRetrogradevilleand into your future. We want to keep you on track. We each have a challenge you will have to complete. And a reward to offer upon completion."

Jupiter Retrograde Jan 7 - May 9Planet of faith, luck, expansion, and adventure.

Jupiter’s challenge is a test of faith. Think about your greatest desire, the one that only a miracle can bring. Is it a baby? The funds needed to start a charitable foundation? A deep, committed relationship? What is that deep craving in your heart? Jupiter’s influence in your personal chart enables you to believe it is all possible. It inspires your optimism and allows you to dwell in the impossibly possible. If you ever believed in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas, you understand how Jupiter works.

However, Jupiter also magnifies doubt during challenging transits by presenting you with too many options or doors slamming closed just after they have opened. "Why, Jupiter?" you might ask. Doubt and faith operate on a continuum. You can only face enough hardship before things start to turn around, and when they do, you can begin to believe in goodness again. You feel gratitude and happiness. This turnaround of events inspires faith.

During this Jupiter retrograde in the sign of Virgo, some doubts may have arisen in the everyday climb toward that ultimate desire. Faith comes from reaching beyond ourselves in service of others. It comes from understanding the beauty of simplicity, of putting boundaries on your time, resources, and energy. Of discerning which next steps to take.

Jupiter stations direct on May 9, and you might receive your reward. Sudden insight about whom to call for help, a bountiful gift from an unexpected source, or a new opportunity. Jupiter gives because it wants you to believe in miracles and sacred assistance.

Saturn Retrograde March 25 - August 13Planet of structure, discipline, responsibility, and commitment.

Saturn challenges you by asking you to take responsibility for your life choices. On some level, we choose every experience. We learn and grow through hardships and trauma, and we are constantly in a process of co-creation. Sometimes, the most difficult moments in your life transform you in such a way that you access profound clarity about your purpose. A job loss might spiral you into a deep self-reflection, upon which you realize your true calling. A loss of a loved one might give you the desire to volunteer as a grief counselor to help others, finding purpose in giving back. I hear these kinds of stories every day. Saturn can symbolize struggles in your life, but it also shows what good might grow.

Saturn is in Sagittarius, and it especially asks you to take risks, follow your heart, have faith in yourself, and choose a more expansive path. If you have made choices according to what you perceived you should do based on others’ ideas, these circumstances in your life may be falling apart. Without blaming others, you have the chance now to revisit those decisions, take charge of your future, stand up, and say, “I want (insert objective here)!” Tell Saturn why you want what you want, and insist upon his help.

Saturn’s reward for this challenge comes in the form of help from others. A trusted friend offers good advice. You find the courage to reach out to a mentor who helps you make new connections. You find people to help you structure your finances, career, relationship, or other aspects of your life.

Mars Retrograde April 17 - June 29Warrior planet of action, energy, passion, drive, and willpower.

Mars in retrograde challenges you to fight the good fight. In fact, you cannot move forward until you do. Defend your truth and stand up to oppressive situations. Activate your inner warrior and demand justice. This might manifest for you politically and personally since we are in a highly contested election season. Choose your battles wisely. You will be called to speak your truth.

The reward Mars gives is a victory. However, it might not come in the form you expect. (Thanks, Mars…) Your win is more of a soul-growth win. In fact, in stepping up to fight the good fight, you might liberate yourself from a dysfunctional situation. I am talking break-up or loss. You could find yourself tumbling head-first into the unknown. Yay! How exciting. If you believe that everything happens for a greater good, you might welcome the conflictual conversations with grace and ease (even Libras). Your victory also might mean the coming together of opposite forces, mediation, and peace, as well. Relationships can grow as a result.

Pluto Retrograde April 18 - September 26Planet of power, things unseen, death, and rebirth.

Pluto's presence infiltrates your dreams and penetrates your psyche. It arrived last but gives you a test that pulls you deep inside, into the darkness of your past and the subconscious mind. You might have sudden insights or awarenesses about your past that inform present situations. Are you stuck in unhealthy relationship patterns? It is time to get to the root of those psychological issues.

Take a deep look at your life and assess what isn’t working for you. At the base of each of these situations lurks a hidden belief. If you have great business success only but no money to show for it, you might have a belief that “money is the root of all evil.” These hidden beliefs have more power than we might realize. It is time to find and uproot those beliefs so you can live a rich, rewarding life.

Pluto also empowers us to step up into leadership, personally and communally. If you receive such a call this retrograde period, thank Pluto for the chance to step into the spotlight.

Now that you have your four challenges and promises of rewards, you suddenly realize that other trains near you are moving forwards, giving you the feeling that you’re moving backwards. However, you are actually moving forward, and these four planetary guardians are here to help you.

Throughout this period, draw on the energies of these planets to maximize your soul growth…or at least help relieve some of the frustration of the retrograde journey.