Wondering: What is the significance of Mars in Astrology?
Why everything you thought you knew about Mars is wrong.
By the end you’ll not only understand what Mars represents in astrology, but how to interpret it in any chart.
You may have heard about the planet Mars in astrology. Depending on who you listen to, this is either the planet of war or vengeance, or the planet of self assertion and raw energy. Who’s right? Make sure you read until the end to discover exactly what Mars represents in astrology.
At the end, you’ll find a bonus interactive exercise. After, you’ll be able to accurately interpret your Mars sign in a natal chart like a pro.
- What is the Significance of Mars in Astrology?
- Mars in Hellenistic Astrology
- Gods of Mars and Mythology
- Mars in Traditional Astronomy
- Technical Details of Mars in Astrology
- Mars in Medical Astrology
- Mars in Electional Astrology
- Malefic Mars Remedies That Improve & Strengthen
- What Does my Mars Sign Mean in Astrology
What is the Significance of Mars in Astrology?
To understand the significance of Mars in astrology, we need to go back to the early days of Western Hellenistic astrology. Then we’ll move on to Medieval interpretations.
Finally, we’ll end with a more modern look at the red planet.
Mars is one of two malefic planets—the other being Saturn. Malefic in this sense means negative or harmful.
Thus it’s in the nature of Mars to harm and separate things, mostly through argumentation and fighting. This is the negative side of Mars. But it can also do much more.
Let’s take a dive into the past.
Mars in Hellenistic Astrology
Our first Hellenistic astrologer, Vettius Valens, uses words such as “force, wars, violence, loss, exile, affairs, marriages, robbery, quarrels, lawsuits, bloodshed, and leadership” when describing Mars.
Valens attributes difficult human mannerisms to Mars. He implies that human impatience, irritability, greed, anger, and selfishness stem from this planet.
Yet, he reconciles these negative Mars attributes with words such as leadership, hunting, military, ironworking or craftmanship. Things proving that there are also strong Mars benefits.
Consequently, I like to think of Mars as a raw force of energy—almost like fire itself.
It’s the nature of fire to break boundaries, dance, move, and expand, it always wants to push its limits.
The problems arise when Mars gets caught up in zealous or dithyrambic repetition. Often the red planet forgets to think about the consequences of its actions and acts in the heat of the moment.
Along these lines, our next Hellenistic astrologer Firmicus writes that when Mars gives its benefits, it’s like “inhumanity being subdued by a certain moderation, all the ornaments of arts and fabrications might originate from this conjunction.”1
Firmicus is saying that a tamed Mars, here harmonious with the Moon, gives humanity the tools it needs to make its dreams concrete. Mars gives us the necessary will and strength to carry out our aspirations.
Mars can create builders or farmers. It knows the value of hard labor. It sees the need for security and leadership. It can manifest the creativity of the other planets through pure will.
Manetho is observing that when the energy of Mars is put to good use, it can be very productive.
In other words, Mars is an unstoppable force of energy—until it meets an immovable object.
Mars in Medieval Astrology
During the Medieval era, renowned Jewish astrologer Ibn Ezra wrote of Mars: “In his share of human nature is speed, courage, victory, strength, fighting, dispute, pillage, anger, insults, lies, rudeness.”4
The Middle Ages saw a continuation of earlier Hellenistic thought and expanded upon it.
Above, Ibn Ezra is elaborating on earlier Hellenistic astrologers work. He notes that Mars is raw force, and it can use this energy for noble purposes or base ones. It should be noted, even with a well placed Mars, it is very important that the primal energy be used for something productive.
Another Medieval astrologer, Abu Mashar, wrote: “The nature of Mars is fiery, hot, dry, choleric, bitter taste…He signifies youth and strength and the sharpness of the mind, heat and fire…a king of power and cleverness…leaders..injustice, subjugation, war, courage, endurance, prisons, captivity, injustice.”5
Like Ibn Ezra, Abu Mashar conveys that Mars is the apex of strength, courage and leadership needed in demanding circumstances. For instance, a fireman or police officer relies on Mars for overcoming adversity and subduing danger. When misused, however, this could lead to injustice and subjugation.
As you may notice, the significance of Mars — for better or worse — is to dominate and exert. For example, an authority who exerts power over a subordinate for good cause.
On the other hand, this force could be a robber subjugating you to their will without your consent.
In either scenario, Mars is will and domination.
You’ve probably seen someone with a strong Mars. They’re focused on what they want, and like a bloodhound they stop at nothing until they reach their goal.
Mars in Modern Astrology
It should be getting clear that the Martian nature is to be self-reliant—a leader, not a follower. This meaning has been consistent throughout the astrological ages. Have you ever met someone with a strong Aries? Aries is a martian sign, and these natives are known for their self assertion and aversion to subjugation.
Along these lines, in the early 1900’s, Rosicrucian astrologer Max Heindel wrote that when Mars is “well-aspected he gives a strong constitution and physical endurance, a positive, independent and self-reliant nature, determined and proud…but when he is weak…he makes the person quick-tempered, obstinate and spiteful, inclined to drunkenness and criminal acts, cruel and hard, a bully and braggart.”
Heindel is saying that a beneficial Mars is strong, reliable, independent and proud. It’s when the negative side comes out that they become cruel and self-serving.
Mars is also associated with sex in a woman’s chart. It can show the nature of her lover, their harmony together, and how that person exerts themselves in a bedroom.
By any definition, Mars doesn’t like taking orders. It feels more comfortable in the driver’s seat. What kind of leader it is depends on its exact placement.
Gods of Mars and Mythology
As early as ancient Mesopotamia, Mars was the planet of war and death. One ancient omen even stated that when “Mars comes out from the constellation Scorpio, turns and re-enters Scorpio…do not neglect your guard; the king should not go outdoors on an evil day.”7
Mars was identified by Mesopotamians with the God Nergal—and earlier as Lugalmeslam. He was an evil deity, ruling hell and the heat that destroyed crops.
Nergal’s story began after insulting a Goddess’s emissary (Ereshkigal). This insult became his death sentence. Being led to hell for execution, at the last minute he slayed the emissary and took the Goddess for his wife. Thereafter they ruled the underworld together.
In Greek mythology, this martial God of war was known as Ares. Ares was different from the other Gods. He didn’t take action out of a sense of duty, but delighted in bloodlust and winning battles.
Win or lose, Ares was always ready to fight—especially over his lover Aphrodite.
In one story, Ares transformed himself into a bear to kill his romantic rival, Adonis.
Likewise, the Romans adopted the deity and named him Mars. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, and was protector of the Roman army.
Although not particularly popular amongst the other Gods, the deity Mars was revered by military and police who beckoned him to their side.
His symbols were the shield, the torch, the eagle and the owl, among others.
Mars in Traditional Astronomy
In ancient astronomy, the earth was the center of the Universe. Surrounding it were four concentric layers of elements: Earth, water, air, and fire.
Surrounding these elements were another ten spheres.
The first seven spheres belonged to the planets.
The last three consisted of the fixed stars, the 12 Zodiac signs, and finally the ‘great circle’’ that held it all together.
In the ancient Geocentric model, Mars occupied the 5th sphere, with the 1st being the Moon.
Mars is a superior planet, meaning that it’s orbit is longer than the planets closest to earth. However, Mars has a more elliptical orbit than other superiors like Jupiter and Saturn.
Due to its proximity to the Sun, Ptolemy writes that Mars:
“Chiefly causes dryness, and is also strongly heating, by means of his own fiery nature, which is indicated by his colour, and in consequence of his vicinity to the Sun; the sphere of which is immediately below him.”
Ptolemy is saying that Mars becomes hot, dry, and fiery red because of its location next to the Sun.
“As Above, So Below”
Technical Details of Mars in Astrology
This section is for advanced astrologers or those interested in learning the technical details. If that sounds like you, read on. If not, you can skip this section and still understand more about Mars than many other astrologers.
Mars has its domicile in Aries and Scorpio. Its orb of influence is 8 degrees.
It is exalted at 28 degrees in the feminine sign of Capricorn.8
In Capricorn, Mars can help balance the cold, exacting discipline of its ruler Saturn with stamina and heat. Mars has the energy to bring long term Capricornian plans to fruition.
The metal of Mars is iron.
Iron was the first metal used in war, as well as by blacksmiths and tradesmen.
Thus the heavy metal quickly became associated with warlike Mars.
The day of the week for Mars is Tuesday.
Etymologically, the word Tuesday stems from the Scandinavian God of War, Tyr or Tiwaz—which became the English Tuesday.
The month of March was also named after Mars. In ancient Rome the first month was called Martius, which became our March.
Aptly, March is the time of year when the Sun enters and is exalted in the Zodiac sign of Aries, where Mars rules.
According to the Hellenistic sect scheme there are are two teams of planets. Each contains one benefic, one malefic, and one luminary.
The day team is considered masculine, the night team feminine.
Mars belongs to the night sect, along with cohorts the Moon and Venus.
According to the sect doctrine, when Mars is in a night chart (before dawn), it isn’t quite as malefic as usual, since it’s more ‘at home’ at night. This makes Mars more productive.
According to the Hellenistic astrologer Firmicus, someone with Mars in a night chart can put their talents to work as a soldier, or even a general. This same person, if they were born during the day, may be bold, but is likely to experience loss from their impulsiveness.9
Planetary Joys in Astrology
The sect doctrine is further outlined in the planetary joys scheme. In the joys each planet is at ‘home’ in a certain house. The joys place the day sect in the upper half of the chart, and the night in the lower half.
The day planets are considered more masculine, and night planets more feminine.
In the joys, Mars has its home in the 6th lower house, aptly named ‘bad fortune’.
Thus, according to planetary joys, it would appear that Mars is more feminine than masculine.
The placement of Mars in the 6th house joy is contrary to the conventional wisdom that makes Mars a ‘masculine’ planet.
Yet this explanation is the only one that gives an equal number of masculine and feminine planets.
In-fact, the famed medieval astrologer Ibn Ezra agrees and writes: “One of the malefics is masculine and of the day planets, and that is Saturn. The second is feminine and of the night planets, and that is Mars.”10
Renowned modern astrologer Rob Hand concurs in his footnotes, writing “It is implicit in the doctrine of sect in which Mars is a nocturnal planet, that Mars might also be feminine. It is also implicit in the fact that Mars prefers the moisture (a feminine quality) of Scorpio to the dryness of Aries. However, Ibn Ezra is one of the few who have come out and directly and classified Mars as feminine as well as nocturnal.”11
Mars certainly has many masculine qualities, but it’s more at home in the watery sign of feminine Scorpio, as well as exalted in feminine Capricorn.
Perhaps this doctrine is a throwback to a more matriarchal world.
The Thema Mundi (Geniture of the World) was an astrological story that placed the planets in their ‘home’ signs at the creation of the Universe. In the Thema Mundi, the rising sign is Cancer, and Mars is placed in Scorpio, a feminine sign.
Astrologer Chris Brennan writes: “In the Theme Mundi, each of the seven traditional planets is located in what became known as one of its domiciles or signs that it rules, and this seems to have been part of the original conceptual basis for the traditional rulership scheme.”12
Mars in Medical Astrology
According to Jane Ridder-Pattrick’s “Handbook of Medical Astrology”13 Mars represents:
- The immune system
- Inflammatory response
- Adrenal function
- The production of body heat via Digestion
- Muscular action
- Sexual arousal
- Haemoglobin and blood fibrinogen
- White blood cells
- Skin eruptions
- Sexual dysfunction l Immune disorders l Wounds
- Problems caused by or requiring surgery
Let’s see if we can find some commonalities in these Mars significations.
Remember, Mars rules Aries and Scorpio, so it will have associations that annex those signs. For example, a fever is indicative of Aries, which also represents the head. Or, Mars’s affects on the reproductive organs, which are represented by Scorpio.
You’ve may have also noticed that Mars rules anything related to excess heat. Such as redness, ‘burnout’, immunity response, inflammation, or even blood.
Because blood is red, Rosicrucian Max Heindel makes the case in Message of the Stars that Mars and iron are the animating vehicle of all living bodies.
Blood hemoglobin contains the iron ruled by Mars, and transports oxygen from the lungs to the body.
Blood gives warmth to all living things.
Thus Mars becomes associated with all life that gives off heat and animates.
Due to its heat, a malignant Mars in medical astrology is best tempered by something cooling.
So how can we use this information to help someone? An herbalist, for example, might recommend to a Mars patient herbs such as mint, lavender, lemongrass or chamomile.
These herbs help ‘cool’ the excess Martian heat. At the same time, the patient would be advised to avoid foods like garlic or hot peppers and take additional steps to temper their Mars.
20th century astrologer Raphael writes that Mars is the “chief influence in producing all feverish, inflammatory and acute complaints. Its nature is hot, expansive and exciting in action, and causes fevers of all descriptions, infectious and inflammatory plaints, all sharp and sudden sickness caused by an overabundance of animal heat, and all such complaints as shingles, fistula, burns, scalds, ruptures of blood-vessels and the like.”14
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Mars in Electional Astrology
Electional astrology is the art of timing events to get the best possible outcome for your plans. When the stars match your goals, you’re more likely to have a positive outcome and avoid pitfalls.
In fact, in Medieval and Renaissance magic, images(or talismans) to the planet Mars were made at certain astrological elections to destroy enemies, and give their user power over others. Some were even made to destroy military opponents.
For example, Heinrich Cornellius Agrippa wrote in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy: “An Image of this kind rendreth a man powerfull (sic) in good and evill, so that he shall be feared of all; and whosoever carryeth it they give him the power of enchantment, so that he shall terrifie men by his looks when he is angry, and stupifie them; they made another Image of Mars for the obtaining of boldness, courage, and good fortune in wars, and contentions.”
Thus in magic and electional astrology, the operator looks at Mars for topics concerning conflict, war, police, legal disputes, and anything that requires strength or leadership over an opponent.
For instance, you might want to choose a Mars election to start a lawsuit. You would want to pick Mars as the lord of your ascendant, or at least make him well aspected by the Moon. Then you’d look to the house of your opponent (7th) and place him there. You would also want a benefic either inside, or aspecting the house of law (9th).
If you took these steps and checked a few other placements, you’d be well on your way to winning your dispute.
Mars is also a planet of relationships—representing male lovers in a woman’s chart. So, if you’re looking for a new relationship, always check Mars’s position, particularly in relation to Venus. Then, make sure the rest of the chart is well-off, and you’re on your way to the love of your dreams.
You can learn use these astrological tactics in your own life. Remember to watch the location of Mars and you’ll avoid problems later.
Perhaps you want to appear more courageous or sexy…in a James Bond type of way. Look into a Mars election!
The Medieval magical text Picatrix states that in any matter of battle or war, Mars is better on the ascendant.
The Picatrix goes on to suggest different placements depending on the specific goals desired.
I’ve found that giving yourself a strong Mars as the ruler of the ascendant in elections will work wonders in overcoming an opponent.
In-fact, I recently did an election for a matter in which we were being antagonized by some bad neighbors who were quintessential methheads and delinquents. Life became utterly terrible because of these people. We got little sleep and life was constantly stressful. After months of nothing working, I choose a specific election to begin an action against them.
It worked marvelously. Within months they moved away and into new living quarters.
If you need help timing an event, or require a magical working, I offer full consultations to help you reach your goals.
Malefic Mars Remedies That Improve & Strengthen
Now that you understand the ins and outs of Mars, let’s work to strengthen your weak Mars in astrology. This way, we can focus on the positive side of Mars—making you more confident and appealing.
At the same time, we’ll dampen any malefic Mars symptoms while showing you how to activate mars for positivity.
Perform this meditation on a Tuesday, preferably at the hour of Venus. Do it at least 3 times. If you can’t time it exactly, do it anyway—It will still work.
First, sit down and light a red candle. Breathe in slowly. With each inhale count up a number.
Start at 1, counting as you inhale. When you exhale, visualize the flame grow brighter, stronger, more solid.
Inhale again, this time count the number 2. Then, exhale, and the light will grow ever brighter.
Continue, getting closer to the number 10. Visualize the light grow increasingly brilliant with each breath.
As you reach the number 10, the light will solidify, entering your body everywhere it can.
First, the light enters through your mouth as you breathe in. Then, your torso, all the way down to your arms and legs. With each breath the light grows brighter. Your body feels powerful, strong, and ready to exert itself.
Feeling calm, with your eyes closed, picture yourself when you were younger.
Imagine a time when you felt awkward, scared, picked on, and angry. Make this memory as vivid, bright, loud, and grating as possible. If you can’t remember a time like this, imagine someone else going through it.
Next, take this scene and shrink it down into a small box in the lower right hand corner of your vision. As it shrinks, it goes dimmer, quieter, and no longer has much feeling. It exists in an inert state.
Now at baseline, bring to the foreground a memory of you at your best.
In this memory you feel confident, proud, and secure. In this scene, people listen to you and respect you.
Visualize this scene growing brighter and louder. Feel yourself getting goosebumps from the excitement and strength.
As you notice yourself feeling good, again shrink down this good scene as we did the last one. Only now place it in the left-hand corner of your vision.
With both scenes now a small postage stamp size in your internal vision, re-enlarge the first scene of yourself feeling bad—But keep the postage sized stamp scene of you feeling confident in the left corner.
As soon as this scene begins to make you feel bad, I want you to loudly proclaim the mantra “no fear”—while shrinking this bad scene down once again.
At the same time, again bring the good scene to the forefront and re-enlarge it. Picture it growing in size, completely covering the bad scene until it disappears.
Make this good scene brighter and louder, until you feel completely ecstatic.
When finished, return to baseline with the two scenes in each corner. Re-enlarge the bad scene again. When you start to feel off, loudly proclaim the mantra “No Fear” as you shrink it down and simultaneously re-enlarge the good, confident scene.
Repeat this enlargement at least 5 times.
Now, when you start to feel insecure, angry or weak, loudly proclaim the mantra for the Mars planet, “No Fear”, and see how you feel.
If you perform this exercise diligently, your Mars will work with you instead of against you.
What Does my Mars Sign Mean in Astrology
If you followed the above exercise, you now have a better grasp than most on what Mars means in an astrology chart. Now, let’s dive even deeper to get you interpreting Mars like a pro.
We know the meaning of Mars is all about exertion, energy, and confidence. But it’s also about fighting, anger, blood, battles and standing up for yourself. Let’s take those martian meanings and apply them to a zodiac sign.
Let’s say Mars is in the fixed sign of Leo. Leo is persistent and stubborn like all fixed signs. It’s also noble, loyal and generous. Leo is pride and loves attention. Picture a confident person with a big chest laughing, leading, and speaking publicly with friends, that’s Leo. They may be slow to adapt new ideas, but once a goal is set, they pursue it with fiery zeal.
Now apply the beneficial Mars characteristics to Leo. Mars in Leo would have boundless stores of energy to complete long term projects. If they keep their impulsiveness in check, they’ll have a lot of supporters, as they tend to fight for the underdog.
If afflicted, however, they could just as easily become tyrannical and boastful. In this case Mars in Leo could be indignantly stubborn, or even snappish when they don’t get their way.
But, at their best, they’re team organizers and leaders, brimming with self-confidence. They’re the ones you call on when you need a difficult job completed.
Lastly, we can apply these characteristics to the house Mars is in. If positive Mars is in the 3rd house, this person would be a leader of brothers and sisters, since the 3rd house is all about siblings, study, and short travels.
If afflicted, this same 3rd house Mars may have many battles with relatives.
3rd house Mars in Leo might also like to study about weapons, strategy, martial arts, or foreign wars.
If afflicted, this same person could have problems away from home or at school, and may succumb to theft or being bullied.
Now that you understand the role of Mars in astrology, you’re ahead of the game. If you followed along, you should have a better grasp on what Mars symbolizes than most others.
If you need help interpreting your chart, or need a custom ritual or meditation to alleviate the harmful effects of the planets, book a consultation today. Let me use my years of experience to put you back in control of life.
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- Maternus, Firmicus; Thomas Taylor Translation. Ocellus Lucanus / Firmicus: Of The Thema Mundi. London: Forgotten Books, 2018, 548
- Manetho, Lopilato Translation. The Apotelesmatika Of Manetho. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2006, 182.
- Ibid, 190.
- Abraham Ibn Ezra and Epstein, Hand. The Beginning of Wisdom. Park Ridge: Arhat, 1998, 96-97. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Beginning_of_Wisdom/fIZgPwAACAAJ
- Abu Mashar & Al Quabisi, Dykes Translation. Introductions to Traditional Astrology. Minnesota: Cazimi Press, 2010, 244-245.
- Raphael. Guide to Astrology: Containing a Complete System Of Genethliacal Astrology. London: W. Foulsham & Co., 1905,55.
- Baigent, Michael. Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia. Rochester: Bear & Company, 2015, 57. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Astrology_in_Ancient_Mesopotamia/GUv0oAEACAAJ?hl=en
- Pingree, Dorotheus. Carmen Astrologicum. Abington: Astrology Classics, 2005, 2.
- Maternus, Firmicus. Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice, Brahm Translation. Park Ridge: Noyes Press, 1975, 548.
- Abraham Ibn Ezra and Epstein, Hand. The Beginning of Wisdom. Park Ridge: Arhat, 1998, 10-11 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Beginning_of_Wisdom/fIZgPwAACAAJ
- Ibid, 10-11
- Brennan, Chris. Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. Denver: Amor Fati Publications, 2017, 229.
- Ridder-Patrick, Jane. A Handbook of Medical Astrology. United Kingdom: CrabApple Press, 2006, 53 https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Handbook_of_Medical_Astrology/mCvvAAAACAAJ
- Raphael. Medical Astrology: The Effects of the Planets and signs Upon the Human Body. London: W. Foulsham & Co., 1910, 42.