Roles: your energy; your temper and aggression style; your sexual nature; your strength
Speed Through a Sign: about 45 days
Speed Through The Zodiac: about 2 years
Dignity: Aries (First House)
Exaltation: Capricorn (Tenth House)
Detriment: Libra (Seventh House)
Fall: Cancer (Fourth House)
Usually, people think of Mars as the flip side of Venus. Venus is feminine; Mars is masculine. Venus is love; Mars is war. This holds true in astrology, too. Think back to everything you read in the Venus article, flip most Venus’s traits around, and you have Mars. Whereas Venus is the charmer, Mars is the aggressor. It’s how you act when you’re angry instead of pleasant. It’s how you assert yourself in when you’re threatened or involved in a conflict. It shows how competitive you are, as well as what you’re competitive about. It’s your drive and what you put your energy into. It also shows what kind of people you’re sexually attracted to (as opposed to Venus and romantic attraction). It shows your bravery, your physical prowess, and what gets you going.
Mars is one of the three malefic planets. By that, I’m not saying Mars is a terrible planet; it just doesn’t tend to get along with other planets with which it makes aspects.1 Often, the house where it’s located brings contention into that area of life. For instance, if you have Mars in the Eleventh House, you may quarrel often with casual friends. Mars is the closest planet to us that can be located at any distance from the Sun in the chart. So no matter where one’s Sun is, Mars has a chance of being in any sign. Let’s say you’re a Virgo Sun with Mars in Aries. You’re at your brightest when it comes to logical and analytical thought, organization, productivity, and being of service to others. Details, cleanliness, good health and routine are some of the things that make you confident. You take pride in taking care of yourself and others, as well as making sense of things. But when it comes to aggression… your sense goes flying through the window. When angered, you explode all at once and move past it a short time later. You have an extremely competitive spirit and a lot of energy to burn. You’re not very hesitant when it comes to fights, and you likely have a high sex drive. You’re not just plain ol’ Virgo.
Mars is dignified in Aries and exalted in Capricorn. What these two signs have in common is that they like to get to the top. They’re competitive, are capable leaders, and are not easily deterred by setbacks. The main difference is that Capricorn is more patient and content with long-term goals and delayed rewards, while Aries just likes to get things done immediately. In Capricorn, Mars is calmed down but retains its drive; in Aries, it does whatever it wants… whether it’s winning a game or punching someone’s lights out. But for Mars to really get tampered down, it’ll have to be in Libra or Cancer—its signs of detriment and fall, respectively. Why? Because these signs are more about sympathy than fierceness. They hate aggression and tension and try to avoid them as much as possible. Mars doesn’t care about hurting feelings. It gets what it wants, when it wants it, now. It doesn’t have time to waste. But Libra and Cancer put others before themselves. They can’t see it in their hearts to disregard others for their own gain, even if it means their goals are fulfilled. Mars does best in houses having to do with oneself and one’s own prestige (First and Tenth Houses), whereas it’s put in a stalemate in houses concerning close relationships and the family (Seventh and Fourth Houses).
When you express your Mars in positive ways, you can assert yourself without being rude. You hit your goals, become stronger, and have the motivation to live your life. You take action and get things done. On the flip side, if you act your Mars out negatively, you can be off-putting to others, coming off as mean and aggressive. You hurt others, which in turn will drive them away. You miss your goals because you go the wrong way of your Mars sign (i.e. rushing and missing with an Aries Mars, or overworking yourself with a Capricorn Mars). You may even hurt yourself.
Mars retrograde occurs every other year and lasts about two and a half months at a time. When it happens, it’s harder to get things started. New endeavors backfire, so it’s best not to begin anything during such a time. When you “initiate… a new project, a great love, an argument, a lawsuit, or an international war,” the other side wins.2 Similar to Venus retrograde, Mars retrograde isn’t an ideal time to marry, since heated arguments are more likely to start after the retrograde stops. There’s a lot of hidden anger during this time, so fighting, competition, and any other aggressive activities are more violent than usual. With most things started during Mars retrograde, they either “fizzle out”2 quickly or get put under the rug, only to rise from the dead and wreak havoc on you again.
If you were born during Mars retrograde, Mars’ qualities are turned inward. There’s a tendency to be passive-aggressive and hold in anger rather than let it out. Energy, drive, sexuality, and strength aren’t immediately apparent to others, though they are very powerful. People may underestimate you because you can seem weak, timid, or pacifistic. It’s harder for you to outwardly express a competitive or assertive nature, but inside, you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Next Article: “Jupiter: Press Your Luck”
1Relationships between planets based on angles they form.
2“Everything That You Ever Wanted to Know About Mars Retrograde” Lynn Koiner (http://www.lynnkoiner.com/astrology-articles/everything-that-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-mars-retrograde)