Aspects of Mars
by Sue Tompkins
Survival, resourcefulness and courage. Endurance and fight. Assertion. Daring. Competition. Action.
Mars is traditionally described as the lesser malefic. Personally I am not fond of these benefic and malefic terms. All energies are fundamentally beneficial and necessary, though all can work negatively if we don't handle them properly.
We certainly need Mars, for the planet's central concern seems to be with the fight to survive on all levels. For some people, the best way of surviving is keeping quiet or avoiding an issue, whilst for others, it's rolling the sleeves up and jumping headlong into the fray. Correct use of the Mars principle can make for courage and endurance. Courage does not necessarily, of course, mean aggression or fighting. Courage means facing those things we are frightened of. For some it might be brave not to fight but instead to admit that one is vulnerable and frightened.
The Mars principle also enables us to 'rough it', to stand firm when the going gets tough. We need Mars to cope with pressure and to avoid buckling under the stresses and strains of everyday living. Aspects to our Mars, along with the sign and house placement, will suggest what tools we have to defend ourselves with and how able we feel to use those tools and maintain our position in given situations. Difficult Mars aspects may suggest that we find it difficult to defend ourselves, for whatever reason. Mars coupled with Saturn for example, automatically suggests that fear gets in the way of self-defense. On the other hand, Mars contacts may describe a tendency to be too eager to defend ourselves, perceiving threats from outside where none were intended. Again, the planets contacting Mars will indicate what it is all about.
Mars is concerned with assertion. To assert oneself is to declare one's interests, to affirm, to be positive, to maintain one's position, one's individuality, in the face of pressure or resistance not to do so. This does not mean riding roughshod over people. This is a common misuse of Mars energy and explains why the planet has such a poor reputation. Since being assertive means being pliable and having a healthy respect for the needs of others, good practice in assertiveness skills requires the use of the Venus principle as well as that of Mars. But if we concentrate on just the Mars end of the spectrum, it is easy to find reasons why we may find it difficult to be assertive. These can be linked to planets that might be paired in the horoscope with Mars. Perhaps we find it difficult to be assertive because we want to be popular (Venus) and think that we cannot be both. Perhaps we hack confidence or are fearful (Saturn). Perhaps we feel impotent (Saturn). Maybe taking the easy way out seems much more attractive (Venus). And so on.
The Mars principle not only helps us fight off unwanted pressure from the outside world but can also enable us to cope with internal psychological conflict. It is Mars that keeps us out of mental hospital as well as Mars that often puts us in there, when the pressure is too great. The planet must also have some bearing on the body's ability to fight off disease and ill health. Apart from anything else, Mars will describe our desire and will to survive. Fighting for life implies being attached to living and so perhaps Mars, together with Venus, can be used as a barometer of our ability to enjoy life.
Mars is also a planet we can associate with all forms of competition. Sport is a good vehicle for expressing the competitive spirit, for in sporting or exercise situations we can compete with ourselves as well as with others. Research suggests that people who engage in regular exercise tend to feel better about themselves and often have an improved self-image. There is also often greater self-sufficiency and less of a tendency to blame other people for one's misfortunes. Exercise keeps us healthy.
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Aspects to our Mars will indicate what we feel about the whole area of competition in all its various guises. Perhaps we vibrate more to Venus than to Mars, in which case competition is not likely to be an issue though survival may be. Or we may be very competitive and handle this by getting into legitimate competing situations -- or conversely we may find the whole issue so fraught that we avoid competition altogether because not being best is too painful to contemplate.
The Martian impulse is a selfish one, inasmuch as it is concerned with going out and getting what we want. Aspects to our Mars may indicate what we learnt about being selfish when we were young. Some people are taught very strictly in childhood that it is wrong to be selfish (perhaps Mars with Saturn and then find it difficult in hater life to allow themselves to want something or be able to ask for it. Others are raised in a very competitive environment (perhaps Sun-Mars or Ascendant-Mars) and are taught, or pick up cues, that the only way to survive is to push oneself forward. In later life they may find it difficult to trust in the process of sitting back and allowing, believing that one must push all the time. The permutations are endless but they can mostly be traced to the Mars aspects in the birth-chart. The same applies to anger; our Mars aspects will describe, along with the Mars sign, the way in which we express our anger and passion about things and the ease or difficulty we may have in doing so.
Accidents will usually have been caused, at least in part, by the action of Mars. Accidents are usually the result of misplaced energy and are also perhaps, often the result of unexpressed anger -- frustration that can find no outlet. Mars is also traditionally associated with fever and, indeed, has dominion over 'heat' generally, as well as all areas about which we may get 'hot'. 'Hot under the collar' as in anger; 'hot' as in sexually aroused.
Mars is an indicator of our drive to dare to do something. As soon as we dare to do something we are vulnerable, because we might lose or fail. Our Mars will show where, how and in what way we may dare to show our strength. Pure Mars energy is very vulnerable, for it impels us to go out and get something -- impels us to dare. And when we have dared, our cards are on the table; what we want is clearly expressed and can be denied to us.
Mars is also a significator, along with Venus, of our sexuality, but whereas Venus relates to the harmony of sexual union and to sensual pleasure, Mars relates to that part of sexual life which involves forcing the issue: the chase, conquest, penetration. Again, this incurs vulnerability: one only has to consider the male sexual organ to understand how vulnerable the Mars principle is.
Aspects to our Mars, along with its zodiacal sign, will have bearing on what we may find sexually exciting ourselves, as well as what others may find exciting about us. Aspects to our Mars will have much to say about our sexual fears and fantasies and how best we might deal with these.
Mars will also quicken the expression of whatever planet it touches in the birth-chart. That planet will be speeded up and the individual will be impatient to express it. There will also be a strong impulse to express whatever it signifies. In this area, if in no others, the person may come on strong. The Mars principle converts very easily into action and the individual will often seek to act physically on whatever the contacting planet represents. Mars contributes, along with the Sun, to the notion of the will, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as 'that facility or function which is directed to conscious or intentional action'.
Because the Mars principle is so honestly go-getting, when it is prominent it often contributes great spirit and gusto to the personality, though unrestrained it can also suggest much forcefulness. Prominent Mars aspects will increase the fiery quality of a chart and can help to offset some of the problems that a lack of this element may indicate.
This article is excerpted from Aspects in Astrology: A Guide to Understanding Planetary Relationships in the Horoscope ?1989, 2001, 2002, by Sue Tompkins. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Destiny Books, a division of Inner Traditions Intl. http://www.innertraditions.com
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About the Author
SUE TOMPKINS has been a practicing consultant and teacher of astrology since 1981. She was Director of Schools for the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London for fifteen years and now operates her own school, the London School of Astrology. In addition to her independent courses and workshop offerings, she is a practicing homeopath in central London