The Lion-Hearted Warrior

Photo: Richard Wicksteed, cover of Linda Tucker's book 'The Mystery of the White Lions'.

Used with kind permission of the author.


Reconnecting with our Inner Radiance 

Mars will turn Retrograde in the sign of Leo on December 21st 2009, and Direct again on March 11th, 2010.

The entire cycle lasts from October 19th 2009 until May 17th 2010

 Before we look at the specifics about this transit, here are some general notes about Mars Retrograde which will help you understand the process more deeply and thus be able to participate in a beneficial way with the current energies.              


In fact, all the planets move around the Sun in a uniform direction. However, the Earth is not in the middle of the Solar System, so from our vantage point the planets appear to sometimes slow down, hover in the same place of the sky, and backtrack for a while before hovering again, and eventually moving on. Although Retrogradation is an optical illusion, it may be tangibly felt in our experience, as a tidal movement of energy which brings with it a process of review, reflection, re-thinking,  re-connecting with the past, and so on. In fact, many words beginning with ‘re’ can be seen to describe the Retrograde phase of a planet’s cycle. Psychologically, this is a time when access is more open than usual to the normally hidden realms of our unconscious mind. This contact can bring insight, challenge and healing, leading to refreshment and renewed energy as the planet turns Direct again.      

The Meaning of Mars              

Mars is our vital force, the energy with which we express ourselves, and take action. It is associated with heat, the colour red, with fire, passion and dynamism. Mars is the Warrior of the planetary pantheon, and brings the question of how we fight, what for, and in what manner. Are we easily provoked? Do we stay on course no matter what? Do we harbour grudges or explode and then forgive and forget? How do we respond to someone who exhibits more dynamism than we feel capable of? Can we admire them, genuinely, or do we contract with envy? Exploring how the Mars function works in our life can be a challenging exercise in itself, but energising and worthwhile.

For a rich and varied study of astrological Mars, see ‘The Mars Quartet’.

 Being the first planet outside the Earth’s orbit, as our outer neighbour, Mars represents an essential element in our engagement with life and the wider world. Mars represents courage, vitality, the yang force of self-expression, extraversion, intention, will and action.It is our 'go-get-it' energy! When the positive and life-affirming Mars qualities are stifled and our will is thwarted, anger and aggression may result, and these negative Mars traits come to the fore, which include combativeness, lack of respect for oneself and others, and an abrasive or offensive manner with others.  Mars has two Moons, called Deimos and Phobos, which mean ‘Fear’ and ‘Fright’, and indeed the arising of the yang power of Mars can be preceded by anxiety and fear. It is useful to understand this so that this dense energy can gradually dissolve in the light of awareness,  in order to access more deeply the vital energy underneath.              

The Mars Cycle              

The retrograde cycles of Mars occur just over two year apart, and mainly migrate through the signs of the zodiac in forward sequence, with occasional ‘jumps’ of as many as three signs. The retrograde period last about 3 months, and brings a number of typical themes into focus. Normally, Mars will move through one sign in about 6 weeks, but the retrograde cycle will mean that there is a small area of the zodiac, about 18-20 degrees only, which is traversed three times in succession, meaning a major emphasis. Anyone who has planets located in that area will experience this transit as very significant. All of us will experience this ‘triple emphasis’ in one particular area of our lives, which will be depicted by the house(s) in which the retrogradation occurs.      


The entire cycle of about 7 months can be divided into stages, as described below. This is counter from the dates which mark the entry and exit from the arc of the zodiac which Mars covers. The dates relevant to the current cycle are also noted. Although this is general information, if you attune to these energies and ‘track’ the cycle, you will feel it. If you know your own horoscope, you will be able to fine-tune your participation by understanding the house position and aspects to other planets.  

During the entire Retrograde period, an interesting process of ‘review’ may occur, which sometimes enables us to ‘coast’ on effort put in previously. We reap the harvest of past endeavours, especially those whose engaged our creativity. No need to push now, but rather clear the way. With Mars in Leo, giving yourself due appreciation for past creative efforts is important, especially if you feel you’ve not received from others the recognition you deserve. Enquiring into our motives can be fruitful – why do we do what we do? What are the emotional undercurrents which accompany our actions?     


Mars reaches the degree

where it will later turn Direct

(19.10.2009 – 00°05’ Leo)

A sense of things beginning to slow down somewhat, or a feeling of disengaging from a trajectory of activity. We can respond by pushing harder, trying again, and generally getting a feeling of not being on top of things. It might be wiser to simply allow this feeling, and slow down with it. This does not mean that nothing gets done, but that we are quieter within as we do it. Positively, a sense of preparation is felt, and if we can settle into the different pace, this is a productive time.

Photo: M. Reinhart


Picture: M. Reinhart


Mars turns Retrograde

(21.12.2009 – 19° 41’ Leo)

In the few days around the time when Mars turns Retrograde, tempers can run high, frustration can mount. Be mindful in situations where you might be exposed to others’ aggression, as in travel, bus queues, or where you yourself might get angry, like in dealing with bureaucracy over the phone, etc! Discretion is definitely the better part of valour at these times. The whole the Retrograde cycle favours action taken to clear out, sort out, resolve and deal with lingering issues. Take on that which you’ve been putting off, and ‘grasp the nettle’. Prepare future action through reviewing intentions, clarifying as you go, and paying appropriate attention to what you feel might be holding you back.

If it is something you can change, do so.



              Mars Retrograde opposite the Sun

(29.1.2009; 19.43hr GMT – 9° 47’ Leo/Aquarius)

This the central point of the cycle. Any habitual mis-use of our energy becomes apparent, and adjustments into more positive ways become possible.  During this time, it is auspicious  to spend time setting your intentions, long or short-term, for future actions. Here the light of the Sun mirrors clearly for us what needs to happen, and what actions will support that. Formulate direction, in ways big or small. Commit to following through, but no need to push now, as momentum is still low.

Photo: White Lion Trust


Photo: White Lion Trust 'Mastieng, Great Star Hunter'

Mars turns Direct

(11.3.2010 – 0° 17’ Leo)

The sense of preparation intensifies, and this can be a very fruitful period of laying the ground for the future, with action in the present. Best not to push, as things will flow if you allow them to, even though this doesn’t preclude hard work to achieve your intentions. Set goals and strategise how to proceed. Reflect, clarify and act. Again, be mindful in situations where tempers might over-heat. Momentum will start picking up again from this point, so be ready to ‘ride the lion’.... but this is just the tender beginning.




Mars passes the degree where

it previously turned Retrograde

(17.5.2009 – 19° 41’ Leo)

By the time Mars passes the degree where it previously turned Retrograde, the process will be completed, and you may be in a whole new stage as regards the area of life which has been the focus of this transit.


Photo: White Lion Trust

The entire cycle of about 7 months brings the opportunity to review the consequences of past decisions and actions, and adjust where necessary in order to move ahead. We face our mistakes, regrets and doubts, and discern what needs to happen in order to move on. We allow awareness of resentment, grudges and unresolved conflict to prompt the inner work of forgiveness, insight and release. We understand more deeply where we are 'stuck', what wastes or drains our energy, and so we become more able to focus and streamline, thus giving energy to the intentions and goals which we have considered under the transit. We relinquish fruitless striving, and work to gain new balance.


Leo - Reconnecting with our Inner Radiance


This current cycle covers the first 20 degrees of  the sign of Leo, the Lion, which is ruled by the Sun. The themes which will be under review concern our sense of personal authenticity, authority, creativity and self-empowerment, activities through which we express who we truly are, and what brings a feeling of joy into our hearts. There is a natural generosity and magnanimity in this sign, and this Retrograde period beings us the chance to see what is obstructing our joy, heartfulness and sense of self-respect. Leo is a regal sign, where we seek to give of our best, and be recognised for so doing. It’s ‘shadow’ side includes selfishness, pride and a narcissistic expectation that others will be what we want or need them to be. 

The Lion-Hearted Warrior 

The key task of the Warrior traversing the signs of Leo, then, is to recognise and honour the Light Within, allowing it also to illuminate the dark shadows within us, where we may feel obstructed, unrecognised, envious, lacking in fulfilment, inauthentic, lonely…. We note our degree of heartfulness or otherwise as these darker feelings and mental states comes into view, and we experiment with including it all without judgement or reaction. Eventually, our individual self-preoccupation can relax in the warm presence of the Greater Light, as we orient our choices and actions towards what the Universe is asking of us. We feel our own regality, as the King or Queen of our own life, whose duty is to serve Life through our appointed tasks, whether we judge them to be humble or grand.


Those born between 1938 and 1950 will have the planet Pluto within the degree area of this movement of Mars, and will have the opportunity to review any power struggles which might surface into view. Particularly if those situation have a long history, you may find that now is the time when a welcome sense of clarification can develop. You may not get through this period without ruffling some feathers, but if you proceed quietly, according to what you know deep within you, all will be well. This is not the time to waste energy second-guessing someone who might be touchy or reactive. Move along ‘close to the ground’, stay focused, and don’t be deliberately provocative. Stay tuned, however, as there may be those who will seek to provoke you – however, this combination will offer you the strength not to be manipulated by others.


Those born between 1955 – 1960 will have the planet Uranus in Leo, within the degree area of this movement of Mars. This is a very dynamic situation, which may bring a speeding up or intensifying of some situations in your life. If there is a need for you to cut ties and move on in any area of your life, this combination will support you in so doing, and indeed, might precipitate conditions which result in sudden change. Honesty, openness and frankness may be finally possible in situations where there has been unsureness, or prevarication. If you are feeling too hemmed in, too restricted, this transit may well raise impatience and a sense of frustration. Where possible, however, be aware of these feelings without letting them take over, as hasty actions may bring complications later. Enjoy your creative activities, allow your sense of fun, and appreciate the best in yourself and those who care about.

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These lions are an endangered species.

The indigenous people of Timbavati - the 'Heartland of South Africa' - believe that these Lions are the custodians of the Soul of Humanity, and that their protection is crucial also to our own survival.