Mars – the principle of anger and selfishness – is not an easy planet.
In classical and predictive astrology, the war-god planet is known as the lesser malefic (i.e. the villain, Saturn’s, mini-sidekick) for its association with conflict and difficult events. Outside of astrology-land, Martian behaviors, like grabbing the last piece of cake for yourself, are often considered antisocial (especially for women); kids who display strong Martian traits, like a constant need for activity or frequent use of the word NO, can end up with a long list of diagnoses and medications.
Mars isn’t bad, though.
Human beings and our relationships need Mars to be healthy. The Martian urges to disregard instructions and go your own way, to start fights, to go faster, do more and to win, can sustain a racial justice movement, help a gender-bending kid survive elementary school, and give a sweet dreamer the nerve to make works of art that touch fellow sweet dreamers around the world.
The trouble with Mars – and with Mars, there’s always a little trouble – is knowing when to stop. And when to start. Let’s say you’re a righteous activist battling in the streets, courtrooms, and on social media. Is it safe to put down your sword down at the dinner table? When your new crush says something that doesn’t sit right with you, do you crush them back?
Or, you’re that gender-bending kid who survived by not giving a fuck what anyone thought. Now you’re grown and want to thrive. You get that relationships require you to give a fuck (otherwise why bother?), but how can you tell when it’s safe to listen? When your sweetie says she’s kind of uncomfortable with non-monogamy, do you assume she just doesn’t get it? Do you start checking out right then? An overzealous Mars would say yes.
Here’s the thing: our relationships need Mars.
Queer culture gets this. For a lot of us homos, finding queer culture meant our first time being encouraged to embrace the Martian side of relationships: independence and saying no, following your lusty Mars turn-ons, prioritizing yourself (and/or the Fight). Anyone who’s dealt with co-dependency or disentangled themselves from a toxic relationship has probably written a thank you card to Mars. Mars shows up in small, almost unnoticeable ways too, like the correction to a lover who’s jamming on your clit like it’s a joy-button, or the decision not to hang out with your boo’s drunk, aggro co-workers, because, lesbehonest, they kinda suck.
Weirdly, it’s possible to overdo your Mars in big ways and neglect the essential, daily assertive gestures (like those above) that allow us to enjoy love and be fully present. To compromise, to let another person unguardedly in, requires trusting that your Mars – that beautiful instinct for self-preservation – will look out for you when you need it.
The problem with being a fighter is that a lot us learned to reach first for that bone-slicing sword. We had to. Our childhoods or families were battlefields. Or someone stole something from inside of us, and we couldn’t risk it happening again. In the natal chart, Mars wears the evidence of that early fight in aspects to one of the outer planets (especially Pluto and Saturn) or by its house position (the 1st shows a natural fighter; in the 8th and 12th, Mars goes to extremes). Likewise, a strong Aries emphasis, or an Arian south node (SN in the 1st, in Aries or in hard aspect to Mars).
In peacetime, though, swords are kind of overkill (excuse the pun!). To create and nurture relationships that are interdependent, give yourself lots and lots and lots of practice with Mars’ peacetime toolkit.
Here are some of the best:
Say, I want
And follow it with exactly what you actually do want: no editing, no censoring. You’re also not allowed to rationalize your desire with political analysis or reasons that you getting what you want will benefit others. Mars people who fight on behalf of causes can have serious trouble with this one, either not being able to define personal wants or ashamed of the selfishness it implies. A healthy perspective shift is redefining I want as a form of taking responsibility for yourself (which means your sweetie doesn’t have to).
I want is powerful exactly because it makes you accountable. If the other person gives you what you want, the ball is in your court; and if you’re not happy with the results, you’ll have reckon with yourself.
If you hate working out as much as I do, or if your body is as prone to injury, pain and ailment as mine, you may already be shaking your head. Mars represents anger but, importantly, it also signifies all forms of physical activity. Challenging physical exercise gives your Mars an outlet (fewer blow-ups) and has the added bonus of building Martian self-trust (yay less fear!). Pain or disability can make it harder to be consistent with a Mars routine, and you may not be able to do as much as you want – but be real with yourself about what’s a realistic limitation versus a fear-based excuse. Start small and do what you can.
Compete against yourself
Mars wants to win. When you have a strong Mars, you are your most worthy competitor. Distract your Mars from unhappy-making pursuits (like flirting hard with your BFF’s monogs sweetie), with fun and meaningful challenges. Take risks regularly, especially emotional ones. Go rock-climbing, write and star in a one-person musical, open up about something you’re ashamed of, ask questions instead of arguing when you feel defensive, launch a website for your dream business. Face a fear and make it contest. Dare yourself to try, and then try to win (according to standards you set yourself). For the prize, you receive clarity of self that makes it way easier to love another.
For more on Mars, check out the last Star-Crossed, “Mars & Venus do drag: The astrology of gender roles,” and visit me at seagoatastrology.com.
Images: Beth Maiden