Mars, the Action Planet, normally spends four to six weeks traveling through each sign in the Zodiac. But when Mars goes retrograde -- and that’s only about nine percent of the time -- it spends more than six months in one sign! Talk about focus!

Let’s consider what happens when the most assertive, forward-moving planet in the solar system slows down, stops, and seems to start moving backward in its orbit.

This doesn’t seem to make Mars happy. To top it off, Mars is as close as possible to the Earth at this time, so when retrograde, it shines very brightly, all night long. This adds up to a very strong influence.

Of all the planets, Mars Retrograde indicates the need to ‘do it again.’ Actions and work that you’ve already done come back for revision, and current projects run into snags. You’ve got a long to-do list but can’t seem to get anything accomplished.

Your to-do list may seem like some sort of exasperating sticky-note that you can’t get rid of. It’s frustrating and annoying. Sometimes projects you’ve been working hard on will even come to an unexpected end.

Mars Retrograde can indicate anger and temper issues, and these feelings may be turned inward instead of being openly expressed. This can lead to all sorts of unfortunate effects, including temporary depression. Initiative can be thwarted during this time.

Not everyone will be affected equally. The sign in which Mars makes its retrograde matters a lot, both on a general level and also in determining who will be more personally affected by its retrograde motion.

Learn more about the other retrograde planets: Mercury retrograde, Venus retrograde, Mars retrograde, Jupiter retrograde, Saturn retrograde, Uranus retrograde, Neptune retrograde, Pluto retrograde

It's no wonder that Mars shows up red in the heavens -- red is the color of passion, and that's just what Mars rules. Your sex drive, your propensity for irritation, your urge to compete and succeed -- all fall within this powerful planet's realm.

It affects your attitude toward everything from team sports to dating, from how you argue with a friend to how you go after a promotion at work. It's also about your willpower -- whether you can motivate yourself to do what needs to be done or whether you need an extra push from the outside.

Your long-term ambitions are a big part of Mars's influence in your life, but it also affects you on a day-to-day basis. How do you put your energy to use? Some people like to conserve energy (translation: they can be a bit lazy!), while others are motivated to the nth degree, always up and running to the next thing, whether that's at home, at work or out with friends. Some people always act in accordance with the wishes of their family, while others operate from more personal interests.

Leadership is also within Mars's realm. Do you like to take charge or do you prefer following someone else's lead? Even if you're uncomfortable with a leadership position, this planet will push you to put your best face forward as you take on life's many challenges.

Mars rules the passionate signs of Aries and Scorpio. Read about Aries and Scorpio to learn more about these signs and how Mars influences them.

The planets are: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Mars is the first 'exterior' planet -- that is, the first planet beyond Earth in the solar system -- and it takes about two years to orbit the Sun. Mars is a rocky planet, and has a very thin atmosphere.

Because it is relatively close to Earth, it appears to be going retrograde only about nine percent of the time. Normally Mars spends four to six weeks in a Zodiac sign, but when it retrogrades, it spends over six months in one sign, truly emphasizing that sign’s particular brand of action.

During a retrograde period, it is useful to keep in mind that things take much longer than planned. Some work has to be redone or readjusted in order to move forward. Tempers also seem to flare, so it’s best to try to contain aggression.

Mars's appearance is distinctly reddish, which is befitting of Mars as the God of War. Mars varies greatly in brightness according to its distance from Earth. The easiest time to see it is when it is opposite the Sun, which is in the middle of its retrograde motion. Mars then rises at sundown and is at its brightest all night long. At other times it still appears red, but not nearly as bright.

Mars returns to its natal position in a chart about every two years. When it does, it is a very good time to initiate action on longer-term projects. In general, activities that require a burst of energy or physical strength are best conducted during the Mars return.