Mars, the Red Planet, and current holder of humanities ambitions. In traditional western astrology, Mars is the planet of action, war, anger, conflicts, arguments, courage, bravery, ambition, energy etc. Mars is masculine and yang in nature. It is the first planet outside of Earth’s orbit, meaning it is the first planet outside of our body, ready to take on and react to the outside world.
Hot, dry, excitatory, yang, acute, stimulating, inflammatory...these are all keywords for describing the pathological actions of Mars. Mars is considered the lesser malefic, with Saturn being the greater malefic, meaning these two are the trouble makers of Astrology.
Mars rules adrenaline and the adrenal glands, testosterone and the male reproductive organs, including the prostate and testes. It rules our sense of smell, metabolism, red blood cells and our entire muscular system. Mars plays a large role in our immune system as the defender of our body. Mars is also behind the catabolic processes of our body, breaking things down and pushing things out (detoxing) through the mechanisms of fever, rash, vomiting and diarrhea. Mars rules iron. This includes the metal iron and any tool made from it (e.g. swords and scalpels), and the iron in our blood. Mars the physical planet is made up of a large amount of iron oxide which is what gives it its red colour. We know this today because we have the scientific capacity to take samples from the Martian surface to study. What is interesting to note is that it was the ancients who gave Mars the rulership of iron, long before we were able to take samples from its surface.
Mars is the planet most associated with human illness, disease and injuries, but it isn’t all bad. Without Mars we wouldn’t have energy, drive or ambition. Mars gives us courage and stimulates our mind. It also keeps our body warm and active, and provides the heat and energy for our metabolic processes.
Mars rules the signs of Aries and Scorpio. Aries is Mars’ masculine sign, and Scorpio is Mars’ femanine sign. Aries is up and out, Scorpio is down and in. Mars is exalted in Capricorn, has its fall in Cancer, and its detriment in Taurus and Libra. Mars does better in a night chart and feminine signs because these help to cool and calm Mars’ excessive nature. If you have a day chart, meaning you were born during the day with the sun above the horizon, and you have Mars in a masculine sign, (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius), you are going to have a very hot, excessive Mars, especially if Mars is also above the horizon and in a fire sign. It is when Mars is in excess in our charts that we begin to see its pathological actions. Mars in excess causes heat patterns, both emotional and physical. These could manifest as inflammation or injury in the body parts associated with the sign that Mars is in. For example, if you have Mars in Aries, this could indicate a predisposition for headaches, migraines, fever, dry eyes and nose bleeds, or if you have Mars in Pisces this could indicate a predisposition for foot injuries, lymphatic infection, metabolic disorders and substance abuse. Excess Mars can also lead to psychological patterns of rage, anger, frustration and hyperactivity (especially when conjunct Mercury) which are all emotions associated with heat and outward motion.
It is not only excess Mars that can cause problems, but insufficient Mars as well. This would occur if we had a poorly aspected Mars in its sign of detriment or fall, and overly cooled down by being in a night chart and feminine sign. If we have a weakened and deficient Mars we can be prone to fatigue, a poor sense of smell, depression, anemia, and overall weakness. Having a deficient Mars also means a deficient immune system and metabolism. This would lead to toxins building up in the body causing things like edema, constipation, skin rashes, acne and boils.
Trouble can also occur when transiting Mars makes an important aspect to one of your natal planets. A transiting planet is where the planet is currently in the sky. The natal planets are the ones in your chart, the energetic blueprint you were born with. If you have a happy healthy natal Mars, these aspects probably won’t affect you, but if you have an excess and over abundance of Mars, these aspects could knock you down. Mars is associated mainly with acute conditions like infections, headaches, migraines and injuries due to accidents. It takes Mars approximately two years to make an entire trip around the Sun, which means it takes that same amount of time for Mars to make a trip around the entire circumference of our natal chart. During this two year transit, Mars will aspect each and every planet several times. Some of these aspects may be felt, many of them won’t. The square is Mars’ strongest aspect. If transiting Mars is making a strong square to one or your natal planets, especially if it is your natal Mars, take care for a few days. This would not be the time to go skydiving or, in these days of pandemic, to a house party.
A predominance of Mars energy in a natal chart gives a body that is of medium height, muscular and athletic. Quite often there is a square or angular head, sharp cheekbones and a widow's peak hairline. Mars type people usually have an abundance of strength, energy and endurance that can manifest either positively or negatively depending on whether Mars is positively or negatively aspected. Positive manifestation of this energy would include courage, ambition, passion and a pioneering attitude. Negative manifestation would include anger, aggression, impatience, and cruelty.
It is possible to balance Mars through the use of plants. If you have an excess of Mars, you would want to look to cooling, calming and moistening plants. If you have a deficient Mars you would want to look to warming and stimulating plants. Venus and Moon ruled plants are perfect for excess Mars conditions. Both planets are calming, cool and moist, as are many of the plants they rule. For example, Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) ruled by the Moon is moistening and cooling to dry, hot conditions of the mucosa like UTIs or a hot, acidic stomach. The Rose (Rosa sp.), ruled by Venus is cooling and calming, great for heat conditions like headache and rage. If your Mars is deficient, many Mars or Sun ruled plants would be perfect. For example, Cayenne (Capsicum annuum), ruled by Mars, is hot and dry and great for stimulating blood flow in a cool, stagnant circulatory system. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) ruled by the Sun, is warming and stimulating and great for warming a sluggish digestive system.
No discussion of Mars plants would be complete without mentioning Nettles (Urtica dioica). This is a Mars ruled plant that is perfect for almost all Mars conditions, whether they are of an excess or deficient nature. The sting of Nettles, caused by the formic acid in its sharp hairs, is a potent circulatory stimulant, often used as a counter irritant for muscle and joint pain. The role of a counter irritant is to bring extra blood, and with it heat to an area of the body helping to open up and oxygenate tension and stagnation. In other words, when used externally Nettles brings Mars energy to a specific location. When taken internally Nettles is cooling to Mars conditions like inflammation and the body's histamine response. Nettles are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially iron, helping to build the blood and tone the adrenals.
Nettle root is a specific medicine for benign prostatic hyperplasia, aka enlarged prostate, and Nettle seeds are a kidney medicine. One interesting aspect of Nettle is that the various parts have affinities for different parts of the body, and those parts of the plant are ready to harvest during the Zodiacal season that rules those body parts: Nettle leaves come up in Mars ruled Aries, when spring begins and our bodies begin to detoxify from the heavy foods of winter. Nettle seeds are ready to harvest in Libra season and Libra rules the kidneys. Nettle root is harvested in Scorpio season and Mars rules Scorpio and Scorpio rules the prostate.
Another Mars ruled plant that is specific for a deficient, weakened Mars is Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus). The root and bark of Devil’s Club are harvested (in Scorpio season) and used as a warming, stimulating expectorant for the lungs, and to help modulate blood sugar levels (there have been many studies done on its potential ability to treat Type II diabetes). It is also considered an adaptogen and adrenal tonic, helping to support the body in times of stress. Devil’s Club is especially potent when used for a Mars deficiency in the energetic and spiritual body. Devil's Club is a protection plant that helps build boundaries. Often people deficient in Mars cannot say no and their energetic boundaries are weak, allowing other people's energies to override their own. Devil’s Club helps establish those boundaries where saying no is healthy and encouraged. Devil’s Club also helps to protect our soft inner self while we do the work to build and strengthen after trauma. It also teaches us to trust ourselves again, and to be strong and courageous in ourselves and our lives. Devil’s Club brings out the part of Mars that is the courageous protector.
Now some homework….go pull up your chart. Find Mars. Is it below the horizon line, or above? Is it in a masculine or feminine sign? Is it in rulership, exaltation, fall or detriment? What is it aspecting? Is it making squares to anything? Is your chart a day chart (Sun above the horizon) or a night chart (Sun below the horizon). Getting to know our Mars helps us get to know how our energy flows out of us. Is it slow and steady like a Mars in Taurus, or fast and sharp like a Mars in Aries? This area of your chart will also be where you are most likely to see injury or acute illness so maybe it needs a little extra nourishment and support. Also take a look at the transits. Where is Mars right now? Is it making aspects to anything in your natal chart? How do you think these aspects are manifesting in your day to day life?
It is important to remember that even if Mars is in a horrible position in your natal chart and transiting Mars is squaring your natal Mars, this doesn’t mean anything will happen. Astrology is not a fortune telling system. It is a tool. It is a language. It shows us what energies are out there and when we know that we can decide what we want to do with them.
**This is the first entry in a series I am beginning. Make sure to follow me on IG or FB and keep an eye out on my website for the rest of the planets!