Mars is the 2nd nearest neighbour to the Earth after Venus in order of the planets from the sun outward and is known as “the red planet”. Smaller than the Earth and all other planets except Mercury and Pluto, Mars has two moons, Deimos and Phobos and is the most explored planet after Earth. There are several satellites orbiting Mars now and a few land rovers roaming its surface to determine its potential for future colonization, and for evidence of past or current life forms.
The planet is named after Mars the ancient Roman god of war and shares a similar mythology with his ancient Greek counterpart Ares and other “war gods” of mythology. The astrological glyph for Mars is also commonly used as the symbol for males while the symbol for Venus is used to depict females.
Mars was highly revered by the ancient Romans as he was not only the god of war but also the protector of Rome and a proud symbol of their warrior nation. Second only to Jupiter, Mars was so popular the month of March was named after him and his deity was celebrated in spring and fall. Mars, Jupiter and Quirinus (Romulus) served as the triumvirate deities of Rome and symbolized their prosperity.
The many myths associated with Mars were directly lifted from Ares the Greek god of war but there is some original mythology for Mars. The Romans thought he was the father of Romulus and Remus founders of Rome, and also that he was more disciplined than Ares who was a bit of a hothead. Mars had better leadership qualities as a warrior they thought than Ares. Interestingly, the Greek god’s name is pronounced the same as the zodiac sign Aries while Mars is that sign’s planetary ruler.
Mars is a son of Jupiter and Juno but the origin of the name Mars is a bit of a mystery as historians can’t decide for sure if it was derived from Old Latin Mavors, Mamors or Maris the various names of an Etruscan child god. Mars was much sought after for his male virility by the other goddesses and mortals according to mythology but he is most remembered as a lover of Venus (Aphrodite to Greeks). His consort was Nerio (or Neriene) which means “valour” or “manly virtue” and Mars is said to be the father of Romulus, Remus and Cupid (with Venus although some myths state Mercury fathered Cupid).
Mars was usually portrayed wielding a spear and was often portrayed with one as a young man and also a bearded middle-aged man, with or without armour or clothing. This spear of Mars is depicted in its planetary glyph and also as a symbol for males in general.
Known by many names e.g. Mars Pater (the father), Mars Ulto (the Avenger), Mars was added to the names of many Celtic and other regional gods from conquered territories giving him a more popular cult status. He was usually seen as passionate, aggressive, and masculine but like his father sometimes he resorted to rape when he was out of control. Mars is considered to be related more to physical sexuality than love and romance which involves the feelings ruled by Venus.
Mars was a primary symbol of masculinity and virility, raw animal power and active energy in addition to his symbol as a war god. His spear could be wrapped in laurel as a symbol of peace and the ancient Romans in this way viewed war or the settling of conflict as an important step to peace. Therefore, Mars may be considered a god of war and peace. Mars is not always violent and aggressive but it is pure raw masculinity and it is a physical and activating force. Masculinity is sexual in nature as a reproductive element; male seed is required to fertilize a female egg to create life.
Mars had many affairs and children, most notably with Venus with whom he fathered children representing a range of emotional and psychological states of mind. His son Timor was a god of fear, Metus of terror, and Concordia, Timor’s twin sister is associated with harmony, peace, and kinship.
Mars is the root of the word martial (meaning war-like) used in such terms as martial law or martial arts. Mars is a very large brand in the worldwide food, confectionery, and pet care industries with many subsidiaries.
Ask anyone what Mars is and they will likely say the red planet but many will also answer the mythical god of war attesting to his endurance as a symbol of masculinity and aggression or battles.
Action & Reaction
In the soul’s evolution first we have awareness of self (the Sun), followed by our emotional responses (the Moon), our ideas and thoughts (Mercury), our feelings (Venus) and finally with Mars we become aware of our physical bodies as matter and energy. We take up space in the universe and we have mass, called a body.
Mars represents the physical body itself (all physical form really) as it is matter and energy and it is also a living machine. Our bodies contain matter and energy and we move; all of our general physical actions and reactions are governed by Mars. With our activities we perform many activities, some essential to life and well-being. We move because of the activity of muscles and oxygen in our bloodstream, and we use our bodies in sport, for everyday activities and for work and hobbies. Each of our bodies is miraculous in its efficiency as a machine and for allowing us to directly interact with life. Mars is a very important planet in astrology.
With Mars we respond to life with our actions, we move and we can cause other things to move with power. We understand that with every action there is a reaction. Mars is motion, or more correctly it is a symbol of mass in motion which creates force. It is material form (matter) but in activity it is energy. We learn when another body (Mars) is coming at us we should react and get out of the way! Or do we fight back?
Mars is masculine energy but it is also active and reactive. A first response to being attacked is to defend by reaction, and then to strike back. Our reactions and opponent’s reactions may lead to conflict, partnership, or nothing. It is with Mars that we learn for every action there is a reaction and this can be good or bad and just about any other polarity (up/down, offensive/defensive, male/female, etc.) can suffice as Mars is both action and energy (mass).
Conflict, disagreements, physical fights or combats are all governed by Mars. With some Mars aspects we may come under attack; with others we are the one being aggressive and sometimes it’s both and a true battle. Most conflicts are not settled until one of the parties is a victor but sometimes a truce is formed at least until the next battle or the war is won later.
Generally, Mars is immediate in activity but it is also strength and power that can be developed, blended, and relied upon over time when in harmonious aspect with other planets (including the sun, moon and asteroids/centaurs aka as planets to astrologers).
When Mars is in aspect to other planets it will indicate more specific activities and responses but also pursuant to the sign and house positions. E.g. Mars aspecting Jupiter is fortuitous for money (in 2nd house) or travel (3rd or 9th house); Mars aspecting Saturn may work with the earth or construction of some kind when in a work house (2nd, 6th or 10th); Mars aspecting Uranus may indicate activities with electronics and technology in a work house. Mars tends to activate signs, houses and other planets. All planets do this really but Mars is especially activating as a primary influence in a natal chart or by transit.
In astrology, Mars is a primary indicator of activity, matter and energy and some astrologers believe Pluto is a higher octave of Mars. In some ways, all of the trans-Martian planets may work as a higher octave for Mars for building certain systems or contraptions but all can also come together with Mars for breakdown and destruction too. When Mars and Pluto get together it is a very powerful connection perhaps because of the plutonium effect of Pluto’s influences (great power in nuclear forms) and can give Mars a tremendous boost.
Physical Form, Matter & Energy
Mars is the planet that deals mostly with the forces of the physical world. Electromagnetism is an energy that is not fully understood but it is an attractive force. Our entire planet is a material entity of earth, water and rock with an attractive force called gravity. We know from physics that the greater the mass the greater the energy and gravity’s potential. This is also true in the physical body as the bigger our muscles can be the more strength and power we will have. Mars is all about physical mass and the creation and transformation or alteration of energy (i.e. any energetic influence on mass and vice versa).
Physics established that mass is a conglomeration of physical matter that is also energy. Different bodies have different mass and energy. Our body is unique to us, it is our physical form and it is the source of our energy. It is a machine that warms and cools the body, it nurtures and excretes, and it is self-sustaining. We are the result of sexual reproduction between a tiny male seed and female egg that merged and created a separate new entity. Through reproduction matter can be created and it can be shaped or formed as well as have mass and energy. It can also be transformed.
Whenever you express yourself with action Mars is activated and you may behave in a manner or place relative to your natal Mars position in your horoscope. E.g. Mars in the 2nd house may find you actively working in finance or another industry that sustains us. Mars in Cancer or in aspect to the Moon may have you behave with a more maternal or nurturing instinct. Mars in square to Uranus may indicate someone who may react with violence or have an explosive temperament. Mars blends with other planets, signs and houses or there will be conflict. In a similar way that moon and Venus may “soften” some harder aspects in a horoscope, Mars can strengthen and “harden” weaker planets.
In general, Mars is a masculine form of energy but females may be active and aggressive too. Traditional male roles today are seen as toxic although many men are more balanced in their approach with all sexes today. In the past, being male or masculine was more desirable as that was decided by men. Now, we understand that masculinity is not sexually exclusive and humanity is learning that any combination of male, female or neither or both is a perfectly acceptable version of human being and deserving of respect. It’s unfortunate that masculinity is currently derided or seen as toxic due to the horrific behaviour of some people. Masculinity is many things and certainly it is a positive influence more than negative.
Whatever your activities and however you may self-identify you have a physical form called a body and that is governed by Mars. As activities are rooted in life experience and we use our bodies of matter and energy in ways that suit us, our actions and responses to people and events all shape our lives and our unique bodies. We are a product of our activities, or lack of activities; our bodies are ever-changing and snapshots of our physical health at any given time. Mars will show our general physical health trends.
Competition, Aggression & Power
Its human nature that sometimes our actions get other people upset and conflicts can arise. Battles and wars are waged and the two sides attack each other to overpower the opponent and be the victor. Fortunately, as humanity has become more civilized we recognize that competition and aggression is normal human behaviour and can be channelled into more healthy and fun activities like sports. Friendly games of strength, power, endurance and athleticism create community as our inherent mob mentality is transformed into fan mentality. However as we know, “fan” is a shortened form of the word fanatic.
The idea of power and competition is that someone has to be on top and the rest below. We learn while growing up that life and people will hold us to measurement. We are shown and taught that being on the bottom will get you kicked in the butt or at least neglected. The weak and vulnerable are not worthy and it’s better to scrabble to the top for wealth and glory. It’s no wonder this kind of thinking has created prejudice and a whole host of other human problems that are learned behaviour. Regardless, we learn that it’s better to try and compete and at least move up and not be left on the bottom. This is competition and Mars is aggressively competitive.
Aggression is considered a masculine trait but it is not exclusive to them. Mars is aggressive when afflicted in the horoscope but even a well-aspected Mars will face aggression—their own or another’s—it’s human nature. Aggression often occurs because someone feels disempowered and they seek to regain their power by force if necessary. But power and aggression may also be used positively.
Sports reporters are very descriptive in their praise or appraisal of the athletes they cover. When watching some top athletes play their game many are so good they are deserving of the medals, trophies and kudos. Athletes are described as agile, powerful, aggressive, competitive and mighty in recognition of the skills and determination it takes to push the human body to pro athlete status. Mars is mighty, muscular, athletic and fiercely desirous of power in some people and yes, that sounds dangerous which can be another side to Mars.
Mars is basely male at its roots and we are well aware of the general view of an “unevolved” or devolved male whose behaviour is aggressive, toxic, hungry, and caveman-ish. Mars is reactionary and when someone or something powerful is coming at Mars a reaction is inevitable. Violent and criminal behaviour is associated with Mars although not exclusively to this planet. It is often the conflict created by Mars in a challenging aspect to another that may create varying levels of aggressive response and often that will depend on the planets involved. For common Mars transits reactions visit our Transiting Planets page.
The highest expression of Mars is possibly as the male seed that recreates life. But since Mars is also present in the chart of female-identifying people and males who do not become fathers the activating and energizing force of Mars is its most common influence for all.
The lowest expression of Mars is aggression and violence. Mars is not bound by emotions or feelings and quite the opposite it is emotionless and neutral but is very active in reaction. The planets and signs that connect with Mars is often what pushes Mars to behave in one way or another. Planets in conflict will indicate aggression while planets in harmonious signs and aspects can work very well and create skills and abilities that furthers the native’s ambitions or the world in general. A negatively influenced Mars can affect the native and our society in a negative way due to actions and activities relating to Mars. (E.g. when relative to crime, aggression and violence, or illness, accidents and injury.)
If trying to learn what motivates a person or why someone may act or behave as they do, look to Mars. It has been said a person can be known by what they do. That is especially true in a horoscope when looking at Mars. It can reveal very much, help a person grow, or indicate periods punctuated by conflict or disagreement. We express the best parts of ourselves when acting on our more positive impulses of personal growth and contributing to a greater good. When acting without emotion or with sheer aggression not only can conflicts occur, but also injury, breakdowns and at its worst, Mars can be very destructive.
Mars as a Male Symbol
Mars is representative of all males in general. Mars can represent your male spouse while Venus represents a female spouse. Mars may also symbolize male friends and particularly by transit, a specific male who may represent the current activities of Mars in a transit cycle.
It should be noted that the symbol of males and the astrological glyph for Mars resembles an erect penis somewhat. That is not accidental as it symbolizes male anatomy and the state of incited action, energy and arousal that is symbolic of power and male aggression of all kinds. As a sexual symbol Mars may relate considerably to a person’s activities in sex regardless of their gender.
The Red Planet, Iron & Steel
It has always astounded me that the ancient astrologers gave the red planet rulership over iron and later steel. Mars gets its red colour due to the presence of so much iron oxide dust covering the planet. It literally is rusty. How did they know that iron was one of the major elements that make up Mars?
Mars was also assigned rulership over our blood and later red blood cells specifically once they were discovered. What is fascinating is that a protein n blood called hemoglobin contains red-coloured heme which contains an iron item for binding to oxygen. This is crucial to life as hemes carry oxygen through your bloodstream from the lungs to all needed body parts. Blood flow away from the heart is carried through arteries which Mars also rules.
When thinking of instruments made from iron and steel that we use cutlery, knives and weapons come to mind. Random cutting into the human body accidentally or during an attack will spill blood and eventually cause loss of life if not stopped. Controlled mastery of instruments during surgery or manufacturing can be life sustaining as the human body is repaired or sustained through the production of matter into consumable goods. All these areas are ruled by Mars.
Tools, Weapons & Instruments
The ancient astrologers had simple ways of interpreting early astrology and traditionally Mars is known as the Minor Malefic. The Major Malefic is Saturn and the term malefic is used because Mars and Saturn are often perceived as negative influences in astrology. These planets may lean toward conflict and struggles but they also have some wonderfully positive influences. However, whenever these planets are in square or another challenging aspect to another planet trouble often will ensue.
It is true in a horoscope with a poorly aspected Mars there will be conflict and trouble. Any disagreement, attack and defence is rules by Mars as are the implements used by Mars in conflict or defence. Therefore, all weapons such as guns, knives, spears, bows and arrows, and anything else used in hand-to-hand combat are ruled by Mars.
In aspect with other planets your involvements with tools or weapons are modified to be more or less aggressive or neutral. E.g. Mars in Libra in a positive aspect to Venus is unlikely to have any involvement with weapons but the native may use tools in an art form such as interior design. Mars in Libra in a negative aspect to Saturn may have someone lean more towards needing or wanting weapons, or perhaps tools used in heavy construction. These are just general examples to illustrate the point that like all planets Mars can be positive, negative or neutral but it generally is an instigator of conflict and problems to be resolved.
When Mars is activated in a horoscope we are challenged to react and usually the adrenal glands kick in producing a flight or fight response. The problem with some heavy aspects to Mars is that the native is always in this mode causing illness or creating a more aggressive and pugnacious or overbearing personality. But not all conflict or stress is life-threatening or even that serious in the scheme of things. Conflict may produce pain but as we know, pain is a symptom that something is wrong and needs fixing.
Often, with Mars conflicts it is relationships that need to be reconfigured and more balanced to an equal or the appropriate level of power based on the relationship. This can be seen in a natal horoscope with natal Mars aspects but also by transiting Mars when it connects with other horoscope components. During the cycle of the Mars aspect a compromise or solution must be the result preferably without violence.
Any plan to make a positive change during a Mars cycle is better than doing nothing even if it is to do nothing. Hard to do with reactionary Mars but some people are able to resist and not react which is probably a wiser thing to do in most cases. Mars may be an activator of “good luck” or positive events and often by firing up natal positive aspects but also through its own positive connections. E.g. Transiting Mars trining a Saturn Uranus trine may form a very positive aspect called a Grand Trine empowering the existing Saturn Uranus connection to be used positively or powered up as well.
As another example, If Mars by transit is trining an existing Saturn Uranus square the Mars may appear to help the planets collectively come up with a unique workable solution that may take less effort and planning than the square on its own. Mars’ ability to be an energetic influence in a horoscope can be positive, negative and neutral and maybe all 3 at once depending on all the aspects.
This permeability and mutability in influence by Mars and its ability to act on matter, energy and events gives it a wonderful workability in creating tools and machinery. As it rules iron and steel and active energies Mars is usually involved with machinery, tools, devices and systems. The variety of tools and uses humans have for tools is almost infinite it seems and Mars rules all of these in general. Other planets may also rule more specialized tools, energies and equipment or machinery.
As a planet of conflict and combat Mars rules all weapons of war and conflict the most common being knives and guns. Mars is not as concerned with the need or intention of conflict and combat, it is just pure offence or defence but again can just be a force or energy that is neutral but a force just the same.
Mars therefore rules all general machinery, appliances, manufacturing equipment and self-contained machinery like robots and vehicles. It should be noted that all machinery and inventions created by humans are in one way or another primarily an extension of the beautiful and diverse machine we call the human body. An automobile is just a different body of machinery that will convey us from one place to another faster than we could walk there. And so on.
As a Minor Malefic Mars is proof that a little trouble and conflict, pain or irritation can be part of the process of growth. Mars is often involved when bones or structures are broken or break down and that includes relationships. Some relationship conflicts are opportunities to reset agreements and boundaries so that both parties can continue on happier. In other words, the conflict and pain is a symptom of an underlying problem that needs addressing.
In the human body, inflammation appears to achieve this as it is a bodily process that is intended to draw attention to the area that is inflamed. It is a pain that is a symptom of an underlying problem, a strain, injury, rupture or infection. Mars performs this role in the horoscope by “inflaming” an area that the native needs to take care of and resolve. Usually after fixing the situation the inflammation will disappear and the person is in a better place generally. Often the Universe appears to use conflict as a way to get us to move in other directions or repair relationships as seen in Mars aspects.
Mars is a symbol for men or males in general and may represent particular males that are move in and out of our lives. It usually will indicate one’s male spouse or husband. In every person’s chart it is a symbol of their own body.
An activated Mars may lead one into bodybuilding, sports or military activities. It seeks positions of power but it can be part of a team as Mars works well alone or with others. It is the aspects to other signs and planets that will indicate how well Mars will work with others.
Often the same Mars aspects just indicate someone working with machinery although a prominent Mars in work and career areas may indicate work in male-dominated fields whatever gender one chooses. People with strong Mars influences are attracted to males, men, and all the things the “traditional” male likes and is active with for work or avocations.
Mars is also very strong in aggressive or angry people or anyone who may try to control, dominate or overpower another. Although intention is very important in matters such as karma, Mars doesn’t always have an intent. Mars aspects are often “accidental” yet may seem destined to have occurred. Mars aspects may deal with events and people from the past, present or future although normally Mars deals only with what is active or in the present now. Mars cycles like Mercury and Uranus can be unpredictable.
What is most predictable with Mars is action, reaction, energy and activity. How that is used depends very much on what Mars is doing by sign, location and aspect in the natal horoscope or with transits.
Mars is a symbol of what we do and in particular what we most love to do or will be found doing, in spite of what some people say they do. A tree is known by it’s fruit; a person is known by their actions.
Physiologically Mars rules the minor arteries and arterial system with the Sun, the blood, long muscles and the entire physical body. Mars is associated with the head through Aries and retains a connection to male reproductive organs but through its former rulership of Scorpio it is involved with reproduction in general and the organs associated with this in males and females.
Mars probably rules the hormone testosterone but I’ll leave that to the medical astrologers to correct me or not. It is certainly a more male form of active energy and rarely neutral.
Afflictions to Mars by certain other planets and conditions can indicate illness such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, CVD (cardiovascular disease) due to diabetes or poor diet, headaches, head injuries, broken bones, strains, and injuries caused by accidents. It is normally more associated with an acute illness but some aspects to Mars indicate chronic illness.
Mars is very action oriented. He is a symbol of male power and aggression but also defence and actions for a greater good. He may be a protector and defender or an assailant and criminal. Mars rules all earthly and perhaps galactic matter in general as basic resources of physical form. Energy is also essential to modifying form. Mars is a symbol of shape and form in general.
Mars is often involved in manufacturing and industry, construction and building trades, and also nearly any art, craft or medical and scientific practice. Mars energy is needed in all those trades to effect change on matter. To nine for it, work with it, recreate it, transform it and even to help create life itself. Mars appears to be the modeling clay of the zodiac as the diversity of ways which Mars can be moulded and manipulated are probably infinite. Mars represents a tremendously powerful and creative force.
Mars can also be the brick wall we crash into when we are going in the wrong direction. Often in life a crash makes us have to stop and take stock of our life. What were we doing that we crashed? Was it truly an accident or did the crash occur to force us to move in a new direction. Maybe it is to remain in this direction but to change speed or stop, dismantle and reconstruct.
Mars is truly the Swiss Army Knife of the zodiac and is so well used in helping us create and recreate the life we want to live in.
Mars rules the 1st house of self which makes sense as it rules our body. Some astrologers still see Mars as co-ruler of the 8th house a traditional rulership before the discovery of Pluto in 1930. The 8th house deals with sex problems and conflicts or activities that come to a dead-end. These houses deal with very personal matters relating to the body but also the actions we put out into the universe through being our self and when we hit a brick wall (dead-end) and have to renegotiate joint agreements. Mars rules the sign Aries the Ram and is a traditional co-ruler of Scorpio the Scorpion.
Mars tells the world who we are by our behaviour. How we actively express ourselves and what we keep ourselves busy with says very much about who we are. Our conflicts with others are governed by Mars in general but also all of the activities we can do that could be work or play.
Mars is the tough guy of the zodiac and not to be trifled with but he is an eager partner in helping humankind in industry, sports, movement in general, manufacturing and any work we do to put food on our table or that helps the common good. He symbolizes physical reproduction, martial arts, the military and contests, and anything that has a beginning (action) or reaction (result) or utilizes an energy.