Mars is the first of the 'superior' planets, lying outside the orbit of the earth, with an orbit of approximately two years. As the red planet, it has always been associated with passion and anger, with its two satellites Phobos and Daimos, meaning fear and terror. Astrologically, if Venus tells us what we value and what we desire, Mars describes how we go about getting it. Venus and Mars need to work together. Mars is the principle of assertion and outward directed action, describing our personal drive and how we assert ourselves. We all need a good enough defence system, don't we, in order to protect ourselves if necessary and to act when action is needed. Without this, we can be easily manipulated, undermined and taken advantage of. Although we all have very different ways of reaching our goals, Mars is fundamentally competitive, concerned with the will to live and to survive.
The alchemical Mars slays the primordial dragon in order to release the tincture which leads to the alchemical gold. The image is from De lapide philosophico (1625) by the German philosopher Lambsprinck.
Mars is a very physical planet, ruling adrenalin, the iron in the blood, the muscles, the genitals and the body's excretory system. So it describes the particular qualities of our physical, emotional and mental strength, which need to be harnessed to our will to survive. You will see from the table of planetary correspondences that Mars rules furnaces, barracks, weapons, knives, slaughterhouses, blood, inflammation, muscles, the sexual drive, fevers, soldiers, bloodshed, sportsmen, firemen, iron, surgeons, dentists, the martial arts, stinging and thorn-bearing plants (nettles), radishes, hot food and spices. In the birth chart, Mars describes how we stand up for, assert and defend ourselves. It is where we 'see red', how we express our personal drive, our anger and our passion, our sexuality.
As the ruler of the active fire sign of Aries, Mars is instinctive and spontaneous, hot-headed and aggressive. Mars can be extremely rash and brutal, and once the 'blood is up' Mars can succumb to the 'blood lust' which leads to rape, pillage and general carnage. Mars can be found 'spoiling for a fight' on the football terraces, in pub fights fuelled by alcohol, in gang rapes, violent murders and in 'road rage'. It can be very frightening to witness this kind of brutal rage, where the people involved have lost their humanity and there is no reasoning with them until the adrenalin eventually subsides. This would be an example of Mars functioning on its own without any sign of Venus. On the other hand, with the support of Venus, this very same energy can be harnessed to compete, achieve and win, and we often admire and are inspired by heroic stories about people surviving, winning and achieving against impossible odds.
As ruler of the passive water sign of Scorpio, Mars is more subtle and controlled. This Mars is also a fighter, but highly trained and disciplined in the controlled use of energy and aggression, an efficient killing machine whose strength and courage are dedicated not to personal survival but to the survival of the whole, or to a greater cause.
Audience: This reminds me of the film Gladiator. The hero was actually a very gentle man, a natural and courageous leader who inspired the loyalty of his troops and who dedicated himself and his life to the defence of the ideal of the Roman republic.
Clare: Yes, this is an excellent example. In this sense, the hero was a 'sacred warrior' dedicating his life and his skills to the survival of something greater than himself. His Venus is involved because he is fighting for what he values. The Scorpio expression of Mars uses the knife in a very skilled and disciplined way. This could be a surgeon or a dentist, for example, anyone who uses knives and other sharp instruments with great precision in the service of healing others. The controlled use of physical energy and aggression is also essential for sportsmen and athletes.
So, you can see that Mars can be immensely effective or immensely destructive. Perhaps the most important thing to say about Mars is that it is essential that its energy is expressed outwards if we are to feel confident and capable in the world. If the energy of Mars is blocked, it doesn't simply go away but turns back on the individual, back onto ourselves, which means that we will attract and invite violence into our lives from the outside world. Masochism is an example of turning the Mars energy against ourselves. This blocked energy can also have serious physical effects, resulting in various illnesses or in depressions which are caused by the suppression of anger. We must find an outer channel for this energy.
Audience: Do you have a connection between Mars and Venus if there is no aspect between them?
Clare: Well, even if they are not in aspect, provided each has what it wants, with Venus being properly fulfilled and Mars being properly used up, they can still support each other. All we have to do is find out what they want and make sure they have enough of it, because so much of our personal sense of fulfilment and joy and potency depends on these two planets, which affirm and strengthen and support our individual development. As psychological astrologers, I think one of our most important tasks is to explore the seven traditional planets in depth, discover how they are functioning in an individual's life, and work to redeem and release their archetypal and individual potential. Obviously, 'the process of psychological differentiation is no light work' , but these planets, functioning well, enable us to build a healthy sense of personal identity and an ego structure strong enough to protect us from being overwhelmed by the powerful collective forces represented by the outer planets and by Chiron.
As you can see, David has a Mars-Mercury contact. This means that he will, or should develop the ability to, assert himself and defend himself (Mars) with words (Mercury). He is likely to have a sharp (Mars) mind (Mercury) and speak (Mercury) to the point (Mars). Sibling (Mercury) rivalry (Mars) is likely to have been his training ground. He may even find himself in a profession such as the law, where he fights (Mars) with words (Mercury). It is possible that he has ongoing arguments (Mars) with his neighbours (Mercury) and that he drives a sports (Mars) car (Mercury). Can you get a sense of David coming alive as a real person with these descriptions?
Sally, on the other hand, has a Mars-Venus contact. She is likely to get her own way (Mars) by being charming or seductive (Venus). She could be very attracted to (Venus) qualities of strength, determination and power (Mars) in herself and in others. She is likely to love (Venus) competition (Mars) and be skilled in the art (Venus) of war (Mars).
Audience: I have a Mars-Moon contact. How does that work?
Clare: Well, this would indicate your need (Moon) for autonomy and independence (Mars). It could describe your mother (Moon) as a strong or competitive (Mars) woman, against whom you will define your own independence (Mars). This can be a tremendously protective combination, the female animal who will fight to the death (Mars) to protect her young (Moon), and from whom predators will normally, and quite rightly, steer clear. There is a female warrior quality to this combination; the tribe of the Amazons would be a good example, but with the fluctuating energy levels of the Moon, this emotional (Moon) aggression (Mars) is likely to be tidal (Moon), with periods of exhaustion following periods of aggression and assertion. This could also describe someone with a tendency to stomach (Moon) ulcers (Mars).
Audience: Funny you should say this, because I have been fighting my mother since I was born!
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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