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What Your Mars Placement Means For You

How to understand Mars — and what it says about your ambition and sex life — in your birth chart.

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Welcome to NYLON’s planetary explainer series, in which astrologer David Odyssey helps you get to know your chart and its key players, one planet at a time.

So you’ve gotten to know your moon and Venus, those divine femmes who light your way inward. But when it comes to momentum, conflict, and cataclysm, there’s only one red star to make sh*t happen. In your chart, Mars represents your body and its urges, and those explosive drives which propel you towards your destiny. As Aang and Zuko learn on Avatar: The Last Airbender, fire can be an element of destruction and creation, and until both sides are reckoned with, you’ll likely combust from within. To get to know your inner warrior, consult our guide below.


Generally speaking, your sun represents your identity, projected out into the world: that radiant, heroic self you’re destined to be. And yet, in many hero’s journeys, the protagonist is a dud; a cipher who reacts to the schemes of the antagonist du jour. Mars, then, can proudly claim the villain edit, for it’s the big bads who come to town with a plan, and set the story in motion. Ruling Aries, the sign of dawning individuality, Mars signifies the ego, the voice which says “mine!” and discerns you from the crowd. Naturally, the overindulgence of ego has delivered us our worst megalomaniacs, dictators, and influencers. But the healthy cultivation of your purpose should, ideally, lead you to be of the highest possible service. In his Complete Astrology, Alan Oken describes Mars as a “vehicle of new outpourings of energy into the material world, which if wisely used can bring advancement and growth to humanity.”

No wonder then, that Mars also rules Scorpio, the sign of death and metamorphosis. If Aries is Mount Horeb, where Moses hears the call of the Burning Bush, then Scorpio is Mount Doom, where Frodo must destroy the Ring of Power. Our Martian drives must be realized, only to be sacrificed and purged for the creation of something new. Incidentally, Scorpio’s preferred means of ego death is sex, the melding of bodies, and Mars in your chart will indicate the direction of your carnal fire. Think of Venus as Delilah: snatched, perfumed, and strategizing how to cash in on her beauty. Mars, then, is Sampson, the bounding brute who must have her at all costs. The Orphic Hymn to Mars calls forth the god as “magnanimous, uncoquer’d, boistrous…fierce and untam’d, whose mighty pow’r can make, the strongest walls from their foundations shake.” If that raging power is within you, it’ll need a release.

Perhaps on the most literal level, Mars represents your body as an active and creative engine. Look to Mars’ relationship with other planets for indications of physical afflictions or somatic release points, and to its house and sign arrangement to understand where you feel embodied. Your first house Mars in Pisces may make you an empathic vessel, requiring nightly baths to clear away the psychic shmutz of human contact. Meanwhile, if you’re born with Mars in Sagittarius in the fifth house, you’ll do well with a different lover in your bed every night.


Because Mars can represent so many different aspects of self — ego, drive, sex, body — it’s worth considering multiple meanings for where it lands in your chart. Though Mars is traditionally known as a malefic planet, you shouldn’t fear it as some harbinger of destruction, but try to understand it as a site of power and catharsis. Of course, the fundamental rules still apply: Mars thrives in fire signs, and drowns in water signs; it soars in houses related to action and accomplishment, and may languish in the more meditative realms. For instance, those born with Mars in Cancer, or in the fourth house of home and roots, may have felt subsumed in their family, unable to assert themselves. But that smothering of identity in childhood could spark the drive to make one’s dreams come true, without compromise.

If your Mars is in Scorpio in your tenth house of career, you’ll have to stop playing twee and admit that you’re the boss, and that not everybody is going to like you. If it’s in Gemini in your second house of earning, you’ll have to embrace the gig economy. Try not to judge where and how you’re called to launch into the world.


Look to Mars’ connection with other planets to lay the stage for conflicts, collisions, and creative release; arenas where the ego’s natural development was supported or stunted; and critical points of healthy vitality or somatic distress. Here’s how connections play out for Mars: through conjunctions (immediate and intense alignment); trines (60 degree, collaborative angle); squares (90 degree challenge from a “backseat driver”); and oppositions (180 degree confrontation, or faceoff). Remember that harsher aspects, like squares and oppositions, often lead to growth, change, and metamorphosis; rarely is there such a thing as a “cursed” placement. As Oken warns in his Complete Astrology, “a ‘fine’ aspect does not necessarily make a fine person.”



When these two active elements unite, the sun’s rays project and glorify Mars’s drives, making for a no-nonsense, natural-born leader. Squares and oppositions, meanwhile, initiate a dialogue between our identity and our calling: in her ideal world, Buffy would be a vapid mall blonde, but these vampires aren’t going to slay themselves. The mission is what matters. Great warriors may be born in the solar and Martian union, but they’ll have to accept when the fight is over, and who is on their side. Otherwise, they’ll be left alone in the ring.


The fire planet may provide a powerful release for the moon’s pent-up emotions, a means of physically channeling eons of inherited pain and emotion: anyone who has taken a Krav Maga class after a breakup appreciates the hand-off between open heart to closed fist. More challenging aspects between these two indicate imbalances between our feminine and masculine sides. You’ll have to ensure that the moon’s needs for care and compassion aren’t overcompensated by Martian desires to get wasted and throw a table. Meanwhile, if the moon occludes Mars, you may have to escape a suffocating family to discover your own power.


As the doer of the Gods, Mercury acts as the bridge between the conceptual and the tangible, making all those things we dream up real. When well-aspected, Mercury can act as the Aaron to Mars’ Moses, streamlining and communicating one’s plans, goals, and ambitions to others. But when squaring and opposing Mars, Mercury reveals the ways our people-pleasing may conflict with our inner fighter. The dialogue between these two planets has everything to do with how you express your confidence. Are you a trigger-happy motormouth, who needs to learn lessons in tact before inadvertently offending everyone around you? Or are you a smiling sidekick, seething with resentment because you can’t speak up for yourself? If there’s one gift Mercury can deliver to Mars, it’s finesse.


Showdown! There hasn’t been a match this hot since Shiva and Shakti got it on. When Venus and Mars come together in the same sign and house, they represent a focused, explosive merging of our desires and emotions. Here we understand how we incarnate: where in life we are most alive, where our passions can burn, consume, and destroy. In squares and oppositions, these two reveal the complexities of our inner feminine and masculine natures: how, in some places, we seek adoration and support; while in others, we want to attack and conquer. You may be a dandy and a dominator, a healer, and a warrior, all at once. See how they all fit, rather than shaming one over the other.


As with Venus and Jupiter, these two can go all night. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, light, and wisdom, named after the booming, sex-crazed thunder god, Zeus. Mars and Jupiter can launch a thousand ships together, or rage like they’re at a Skrillex show in 2011. Count on active, athletic, ambitious types, who may require some temperance before they snort cocaine and go BASE jumping. Conjunctions, squares, and oppositions will reveal how you may go too big, too fast, as a means of escaping yourself. By all means, tear it up tonight; just make sure you don’t black out and fall out of a cab.


Does every boss or boyfriend trigger memories of dear old papa? Does it seem like every figure of authority is solely dedicated to obstructing your greatness? When the ego warrior crosses the father archetype, one will feel constantly thwarted by some imagined or projected gatekeeper. This conflict could make for a sneering, perpetual adolescent. However, if well-served, it could lead to a true rebel ready to dismantle the old systems of dominance. Of course, only by embracing Saturn’s rules and restrictions can Mars attain true mastery. Stop hiding from your power. We need you to claim it if you’re going to do anything constructive.


Watch out for this one. Uranus delivers bolts of illumination and genius, which a galloping Mars can swiftly execute into action. But Uranus rarely works smoothly, and when it interfaces with the body, it can lead to somatic flare-ups and shutdowns. Mars and Uranus, in any combination, are eruptive; those with prominent pairings will do well to find creative and physical releases for excess steam.


Mars can act as a vessel of dreams when paired with the planet of higher consciousness; when well-honed, this union can make for a psychic gate or sex symbol, a body with the power to channel the cinematic imagination. Neptune rules insobriety as well, and under the influence of certain substances in harsh aspects to Mars, a dark side can be revealed. What comes out when you’ve had just one too many drinks, and where was it hiding in the light of day? Master what moves through your body, or you’ll end up destroying it along the way.


The co-rulers of Scorpio don’t shy away from a reckoning. Pluto owns what Oken describes as “the atomic stockpile,” our subterranean, subconscious vaults of power, fury, and desire. Contact with Mars is like setting a match to dynamite. Count on a life of dramatic, spectacular metamorphoses and awakenings! If one embraces power and surrenders to transformation, they’ll be fueled by an infinitely sustainable karmic engine. Repression and control will only trap the radioactive energy, and blast you apart from within.


When it comes to tangible, physical action, Mars is an excellent co-pilot to summon. The warrior god loves a new challenge, whether it’s to make your first move on the dancefloor or tell your employer that you deserve a raise. Mars holds court on Tuesdays (Martes in Spanish), a great time to set the week’s goals in motion. Of course, as this is the planet of the body, you may find Mars’ day to be ideal for deadlifts, swimming in the ocean, a challenging hike, or anything that makes you feel vital and active.

Call on Mars when stepping into conflict, and let yourself feel the rush of heading into battle, rather than avoiding it. Let Mars drop you into your body when having sex, making physical touch divine. And, when courage is required, call on the battle planet’s many avatars, including the New Mutants’s Dani Moonstar, Terminator’s Sarah Connor, and Prey’s Naru. Not everything can be solved with meditation and a smile. Sometimes, it’s blood that needs pumping.

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