The sign Aries rules the head and Aries people have a reputation for bashing their heads. The energy of Aries is the circus dog jumping through a hoop of fire: emergent, excitable, energetic and full of itself. After experiencing the great merge in the collective waters of Pisces, we emerge into individuality in Aries: ‘The first impulse is awakened in Aries, for Aries is the place where the initial idea to institute activity takes form. It is the birthplace of ideas, and a true idea is in reality a spiritual impulse taking form – subjective and objective.’1
Aries energy is the will to be and to do. It is creativity, action and the idea or spark of life that creates the impulse towards incarnation. Reflecting these qualities, the Aries native is often impulsive and headstrong, hence the bumps to the head. A head injury, a scar on the face or a broken nose are good indications that Aries, Mars or first-house energy is not being constructively channelled. Aries is, of course, ruled by Mars, which provides the qualities of strife, struggle and combativeness associated with the sign. Mars can operate with great belligerence and disregard for others. It can be frankly charmless, and is therefore not much loved by those who would consider themselves charming. Aries energy is also fiery and masculine. All in all, this is difficult energy for those who do not consciously identify with the ‘masculine’ (or yang) aspects of their beings. This is a problem, for it means that Aries and Mars are often suppressed and thwarted within the personalities we present to others and therefore we cut ourselves off from the vital energy they provide, cultivating falseness and a quality of repression in our identities and depriving ourselves of constructive outlets for our Mars energy. Mars without a constructive outlet manifests as anger, aggression and destructiveness. This can be turned in upon the self or out upon others. When turned in upon the self it becomes a potent source of depression, fatigue, headache, muscular pain and inflammation.
Aries requires us to find a positive outlet for our Mars energy. Mars must be marshalled. This is the energy of self-actualisation and assertion; through Mars we project our selves and focus our effort. The exhilaration and joy of the little dog jumping through the hoop of fire should not be overlooked. He is full of life and activity: ‘I’m here!’ These qualities of sheer presence are the gifts of Mars, which delights in adventure, exertion, liveliness and the full expression of strength. So while Mars has a bad press among those of us who see ourselves as refined and civilised (and we are many!), it is actually our source of passion, engagement with life and motivating power. Without Mars we are bodies without muscles and brains without ideas.
Howard Sasportas describes Mars as the ‘henchman of the Sun’,2 inferring that Mars is the energetic principle by which the Sun seeks to enact its purpose. Therefore, we can suggest that when Mars is problematic it is because an individual is not sufficiently engaged with the Sun energy in the chart (which, after all, organises and calibrates the energy of the being and of the lifetime as a whole). It may be that a person has not fully identified the requirements of their Sun, by sign and house placement. Liz Greene writes: ‘Whatever the natal relationship between these two planets [the Sun and Mars], they need ultimately to be friends, for Mars must offer the Sun its fighting power and the Sun must provide meaning for Mars’ battles.’3 Mars conditions manifesting in the body (fever, inflammation, fatigue, hyperactivity) or in mental states (aggression, anger, depression) can be examined by interrogating the relationship between the Sun and Mars and the factors within the chart as a whole that might be undermining it. The placement of Mars and Aries in the birth chart will show where and how one needs to galvanise the will and convert energy into activity that serves the purposes of the Sun. These placements will similarly show where problems might arise in the being and the body due to Mars not being provided with outlets.
The Sun’s entry into the cardinal sign of Aries marks the moment of the vernal equinox (around 20th March). The balance of day and night forces is the defining moment for Aries, and from this point on until the Midsummer Solstice (the Sun’s entry into the cardinal sign of Cancer) the dayforce waxes (in the northern hemisphere). The Sun is the representative in our corner of the universe of a higher order of being (the stellar level); our star is related to purpose and consciousness and confers these qualities upon us through the principle of identity. Likewise Aries, the time when day overcomes night, is related to the initiation of consciousness and awareness of being (the signs of the cardinal cross – Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn – are concerned with inaugurating or initiating phases of activity4). The vernal equinox is the time marked by the great budding and blooming of spring, and this creative activity reflects the energy and focus of Aries. Aries has the capacity to break through just as new plants break through the earth, powered by moisture and the growing heat of the Sun. For this reason Aries is a good fighter on the front line. Positively expressed, it focuses courage and willpower and, as Aries is straightforward and not of itself concerned about popularity, it can achieve a great deal. Negatively, this force can be expressed as heedlessness and unremitting self-assertion for the sake of it.
Hay asserts that migraine can be averted by sexual release. This is interesting in the context of Mars, as Mars energy fuels sexuality and the desire nature. She associates headache with self-invalidation, self-criticism and fear; headache attacks may testify to Mars energy turned inwards upon the self as the inner enemy. When self-assertion is abdicated it is often because we are afraid of the power of our rage, or we fail to see it as an aspect of our personalities, and it is therefore rejected as irrational. Rage that has not identified its appropriate object, like energy that has not found its appropriate function, is often unleashed upon the self:
The rage of a blocked Mars can be directed against oneself as well as against the world outside. This is particularly the case with a gentler … temperament… . This may result in self-destructive behaviour, emotionally or physically (difficult Mars aspects are known for being accident-prone); or it may lead to a typical group of illnesses which seem to embody frustrated Martial energy. No other planet turns up so frequently as a trigger by progression or transit, or as a natal “hot spot”, when emotionally linked symptoms (such as migraine headaches and colitis) erupt.5
It is important to remember that Mars is a great triggering principle: by transit and by progression it triggers the effects of natal aspects, eclipses and long-term transits of natal planets by transiting outer planets. For example, the conjunction of transiting Mars and Pluto in Sagittarius releases Plutonian energy at a more conscious level and triggers Pluto transits to natal chart placements where these are in effect.
As we all know, anger can find some very canny ways of manifesting, and the sick person can assert themselves and project their presence (functions of Aries) in controlling, yet seemingly passive ways. The migraine syndrome springs to mind. No one suffering with a migraine headache would react well to being called manipulative and controlling, but we should remember that the physical problem (in this case, the migraine attack) is merely the manifestation of a problem occurring in consciousness. The sufferer is not wittingly cultivating a disabling condition. However, if someone really wishes to cure such a problem they need to look at it with honesty and cool objectivity; it is surely worth interrogating the patterns and triggers surrounding the problem – in such simple ways sometimes we can come to greater consciousness.
Fever, a typical manifestation of Mars activity in the body, is often today seen as a bad development in the course of infection; we often try to bring a fever down. However, fever is the response to infection of a constitutionally strong body: infection and toxins are driven out of the body. This is reminiscent of the esoteric significance of Aries: ‘Uranus [hierarchical ruler of Aries] leads the soul to the burning ground during the final stages of the Path, when the fire of Aries and fires engendered through the potency of Uranus produce the flaming heat of the final burning ground.’6 Aries can purify the being by burning off the dross, just as it can cleanse the body through the expression of a healthy fever:
For it is not only the fever that is healthy: grappling with our conflicts is even healthier. And yet people everywhere do their utmost to smother both fevers and conflicts at birth, even to the extent of being positively proud of their skills in suppressing them.7
Aries energy inaugurates activity, using the will-power and combative energy of Mars, in order to bring ideas (spiritual impulses) into manifestation. Aries can cut to the chase: it is the energy of the activist for spirit, the warrior and the pioneer. An ancient statement remarks that Aries ‘”awakens the will to reach the lowest and there control, to know the uttermost and thus to face all experience”’.8 Not only does the first impulse towards physical form express itself in Aries, Aries also governs the Path of Discipleship: the will to return to the Source. In this sense Aries initiates beginnings, but also the beginning of the end – Alpha and Omega.
Bailey, Alice, Esoteric Astrology (London: Lucis Trust, 1951).
Dethlefsen, Thorwald and Rüdiger Dahlke, The Healing Power of Illness (1983; Shaftesbury: Element, 1990).
Hay, Louise L., You Can Heal Your Life (Carson, CA: Hay House, Inc., 1984).
Hilarion, Body Signs (Queensville, Ontario: Marcus Books, 1982).
Greene, Liz, ‘The Warrior and the Womaniser: The Mythology and Psychology of Mars’, in Greene and Sasportas.
Greene, Liz, and Howard Sasportas, Seminars in Psychological Astrology, Volume 4: The Inner Planets (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1993).
Sasportas, Howard, ‘Henchman of the Sun: Mars in the Horoscope’, in Greene and Sasportas.
1 Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology (London: Lucis Trust, 1951), p. 92.
2 Howard Sasportas, ‘Henchman of the Sun: Mars in the Horoscope’, in Greene and Sasportas, Seminars in Psychological Astrology, Volume 4: The Inner Planets (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1993), pp. 223-259.
3 Liz Greene, ‘The Warrior and the Womaniser: The Mythology and Psychology of Mars’, in Greene and Sasportas, Seminars in Psychological Astrology, Volume 4: The Inner Planets (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1993), p. 194.
4 In Esoteric Astrology, the phases of activity ruled by the cardinal cross are as follows: Aries pertains to Creation, Cancer to Manifestation, Capricorn to Initiation and Libra to Legislation.
5 Ibid, p. 189.
6 Bailey, p. 100.
7 Dethlefsen and Dahlke, p. 100.
8 Quoted in Bailey, p. 92.