I told myself when I started writing about synastry here that I wouldn’t do what’s been done in other places, and top of the list was descriptions of Mars and Venus. However, I’m finding a couple of interesting things in my synastry consultations. One is that there is a confusion about how both Venus and Mars operate, how and why they function as they do. Particularly, there is confusion about how they function differently in each sex. Yes, we all have Venus and we all have Mars, and on one level, they operate the same way. But there are subtle differences that influence each sex in a unique way.
It seems to me that the differences between Venus and Mars have become very blurred and we now look at Venus/Mars as one big sexual mish mosh. I think part of this is due to the fact that our sexual stereotypes have been eroding (for the better) and both partners are allowed to take both passive and active roles. But it gets confusing, because, while both Venus and Mars are about desire, their roles are very different. Venus is about what we desire, and Mars is about both how we desire and how we fulfill our desire. Yes, it works if the man’s Venus is conjunct the woman’s Mars, but the dynamic is different. The shoe is on the other foot. When this aspect occurs in a synastry, I’ve often heard a husband say, “I like the way my wife does things.” This runs the gamut from what she does in bed to fixing the kids’ lunches. Venus always carries a certain aesthetic, no matter how earthy it is. When someone’s Mars touches our Venus, we appreciate their actions.
So today, we are going to revisit Mars and I’m going to touch on a few things about Mars that don’t often get discussed.
For one, Mars is notoriously hypersensitive, no matter what sign it falls in or what aspects it makes. Mars feels everything. Alas, this doesn’t help relationships much, because Mars is not sensitive about others– in fact, it can be extremely insensitive to others– but Mars is always intensely sensitive to ITSELF. It’s the Aries factor. Aries can be rude/overbearing/arrogant to others, but when it comes to itself, it’s as hypersensitive as the most acute Pisces. (In fact, when you get Aries/Pisces in combo, you often come across the world’s most hypersensitive bulldozer.) In defense of Aries, this is most likely because, like a newborn babe, it has no defenses. It’s just out there on its own, in the line of fire, and though it’s brave, it knows it’s vulnerable. This is also at the root of Aries’ legendary love of innocent and vulnerable things–children, kittens, the oppressed, the needy.
Mars shows us what we are stimulated by. The things that turn us on. The houses indicate the area of life where we can most get in touch with our basic energy. The signs show us the flavours, both of our own expression and what we find exciting. When we tap into our Mars, we tap into our own life force. Mars on an angle is particularly forceful (even if it’s retrograde–a retrograde Mars is often more steamy than Mars direct.) Mars conjunct the Ascendant is potent, and expressing the evolving Self is the order of the day. Mars conjunct the Descendant is turned on by partnership, and there may be a keen desire to discover and express the shadow side. Mars conjunct the IC is the explorer of inner landscapes, and turned on by issues of home and family. Mars on the MC is the natural hunter, often finding expression in career and social issues, and unless there is a heavy water house influence (4, 8, 12) it will want to be seen to achieve.
Of course, these may also be our greatest areas of conflict, and the Scorpio expression of Mars is the testing side. This comes out especially strong when Pluto is attached to Mars (also when Pluto is attached to Aries planets, but that’s another article). Mars is where we look for a fight. It’s how we challenge ourselves and others. It pushes our knowledge of how and why we conquer. Mars aggression is not aggression for its own sake, but is deeply rooted in the necessity to assess and test strength and power. It’s why our sexual encounters can devolve into war games. Wherever Mars is involved, we must remain conscious of our use of our own power. Mars is how we penetrate in all kinds of ways, and we have to be certain that the intrusion is welcome.
We can’t have true inspiration without Mars. When we are truly inspired, we are set in motion. When Mars’s spiritual side is activated, it becomes a vehicle for higher powers, and allows us to use those higher powers in daily activities. We often forget that Mars was a god, and has a role in the divine comedy of life. Sexually, Mars runs the range from basic physical satisfaction to sacred union–and it’s typical of active Mars that his spiritual level can’t really be assessed from the natal chart alone (although it seems that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto aspects play a part).
In a man’s chart, Mars will describe how he gets what he wants. If in Aries, he will go about it directly (even if it’s involved with Neptune–he may be less direct, but direct he will be, eventually). If in Pisces, he may meditate or pray and hope it manifests, or be utterly confused about how to get anything, or charm his way in. Mars will, to some extent, describe his sexual style. But does it describe what he desires or how he likes to be touched? No, that realm belongs to Venus. If his Mars is in Aries and his Venus is in Taurus, he will go after what and who he wants in a direct way, but once he gets into bed he may be surprisingly earthy and sensual, with a liking for being the submissive partner. Once we get what we want through Mars, the way we enjoy it may be utterly Venusian. This depends on how strong the relative planets are, and how in touch we are with both our masculine and feminine sides. People with Venus and Mars in so-called incompatible elements (fire or air to water or earth) have a more complex expression of their sexuality than those with these planets in compatible elements. In this new world, Venus and Mars have to be considered in combination, sexually. Mars is about our sexual agression, how we offer and display, where Venus is about how we wish to receive love, no matter the sex. It used to be thought that Venus is how women display their sexuality, and Mars how men display theirs, but I don’t believe that applies any more. The whole thing is much more complicated. A woman with Venus in Cancer will woo by nurturing, and a man with Venus in Cancer will want to be nurtured. (Venus-Venus aspects between the sexes have much more potency than we give them credit for.) Mars/Mars in the same or compatible signs will tell us that our style of loving is compatible–but Venus will tell us whether that is appreciated or not. It’s perfectly plausible that we have one way of expressing our love/sexuality, but respond to something else entirely when another person expresses love to us. In short, Venus is how both sexes express love and Mars how we express our sexuality, but these days it’s hard to delineate the differences. The man above with the Taurus Venus will value sharing meals with the person he loves, and will strive to give her security. If his partner has Venus in Aquarius or Gemini, she may be turned on by the impulsive excitement of his Aries Mars, but may not be able to feel his Venusian expressions of togetherness and commitment.
It used to be that males identified with their Mars to a greater extent, and I believe this is still true of younger men (the below 36 set–the third Jupiter return is always a good dividing line). However, more and more men are coming to me with very complex questions about their Venus and Moon sides, and post age 36, older men seem to be responding to the call for wholeness that our sexual maturity requires. However, Mars will always be Mars, and a stimulation or a challenge will always first arouse Mars energy in a male. In contrast, a woman’s first response, when challenged, is often to turn to the Moon, her area of greatest resource and safety. Sometimes she resorts to Venus, to charm and appease. But this, too, is changing, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over future generations. The masculine planets (Sun/Mars) operate fairly unconsciously, in both sexes, whereas the feminine planets, Moon and Venus, are often conscious of how they work. We know about our emotions and desires, our likes and our needs. We are much less aware of our actions, and in particular how our actions affect others. As we become more solar, this too may change, and we will have more of a healthy balance of action and awareness.
Next time, Venus…