The Venus/Mars Flip-Flop


With Venus now in Aries (as of Fri May 2), we've reached an interesting spot in her affairs with Mars.

Venus is traditionally considered to be out of her natural habitat when in Aries, a sign of her detriment (i.e., in a sign opposite to one she rules). Yet, Mars is just as ill-suited in his detriment in Libra, where he's been for five months already (not to mention retrograde since early March).

We've already spoken at length about Mars-in-Libra's tendencies toward indecision, indirectness, and/or overt playing-to-other-people in his efforts to assert his will. Mars, the supposedly projective/yang archetype of the pair, goes after what he wants when in Libra by deflecting his desires away from straight-on assertion… expressing them instead by subtly demonstrating their contrast with the alternatives, bouncing them off what someone else is doing (or might do), claiming to be merely 'responding' while still obliquely forwarding an agenda.

Venus, on the other hand, is seen as the receptive/yin one whose job is to foster union, compromise, and mutual benefit… though, when in Aries, she can't help but be somewhat more self-centered in her relationship-building moves. Venus in Aries is fast, frank, and unabashed about making it clear exactly how best to please her. She doesn't gracefully waltz the diplomacy dance, a modest pacing of each give and take by metered beat; she burns too hot, in uneven surges, to keep the rhythm.

So, we have Venus and Mars in each other's ruling signs, behaving like one another (or, put another way, like the opposite of themselves): In Libra, Mars, the self-asserter, is cool and considered, measured in his outward grabs. In Aries, Venus, the connector, is raw and rough-around-the-edges, attracting by fire. Mars in Libra grabs for what he wants by playing to others; Venus in Aries attracts others to her by playing however she wants.

Astrologically, this condition of two planets occupying each other's ruling signs is called mutual reception... and not only does their mutual reception inextricably bind together these two planets' expressions into one Venus-in-Aries-and-Mars-in-Libra feedback-loop, but it also helps mitigate the problematic qualities of their dual detriments. In other words, both Venus and Mars have the potential to function far better than they otherwise would in their current signs—as long as their contrasting energies are used to complement each other. Where one usually comes on balls-to-the-wall forceful, we might take a more careful or studied approach. Where one typically plays coy or casual, we might openly splay our come-and-get-me for all to see. Push and pull flip, interpenetrate, become one another.

To add further drama to this Venus/Mars role-reversal, these two are also forming an opposition to one another, exact early morning Sunday (May 11) but in effect throughout this week preceding. Even as their mutual reception forces Venus and Mars to work together, the opposition emphasizes how different their present attitudes really are. Oppositions demand both sides get their fair say… and if either refuses to respect the other, head-on collisions can be expected. An opposition is, after all, an aspect of direct conflict.

In the case of a Venus-Mars opposition, the likeliest conflicts will involve trying to weigh (1) what we want to go out and grab for our self-focused purposes against (2) what we must provide another person, so they will fulfill our relational needs. If we only grab for self-interests, we risk alienating those with whom we'd otherwise be in relationship—and end up, sadly, alone. But if we spend too much effort providing for their desires, we can easily lose clear sense of self, leading us to neglect our own needs… if we can identify them at all.

It's worth pointing out, though, Venus-Mars oppositions don't always bring conflict… though they will generate a tension, of one sort or another. We of course know Venus and Mars as the planetary pair most directly relevant to interpersonal relationships, and, in this context, 'tension' of the creative and/or sexual type is often a key ingredient in the chemistry we feel with somebody else. Opposites attract, anyone? Therefore, this week's Venus-Mars standoff is just as likely to spark an amplification of these more fruitful tensions as it is to cause a fight. With that in mind, it's a hot moment for flirtatiously fanning those flames. Riding that edge can feel dangerous and exciting, passion building with each rub.

We've been told that 'men are from Mars, and women are from Venus', a popular rehashing of the same eons-old stereotypes that impose an innate connection between certain behaviors and certain genders. Throughout astrology's history, Mars's outwardly assertive principles were associated with males, with Venus's attractive power deemed a female quality (and often denigrated accordingly)… even to the extent that Mars in a woman's birthchart was said to represent the men in her life, as opposed to her own outward self-assertiveness (since, presumably, she was supposed to allow the big strong man to take care of that for her). Anyone familiar with my work will know I find such reductive gender-essentialism to be utter bullshit. Everyone, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum, has both a Venus and a Mars in their birthchart, and I believe it's our task to learn how to consciously embody all the astrological traits which show up there, rather than projecting any of them onto outside individuals who better represent the social norms of their expression.

Under this Venus/Mars archetypal flip-flop, we're being granted an excellent chance to turn these stereotypes upside down, as our current potential for success is best capitalized on by letting our more 'feminine' qualities take unapologetic charge, boldly and bravely, while allowing the 'masculine' side to adjust or accede accordingly. The 'passive' becomes the strident. The 'active' becomes the harmonious. Take charge by encouraging someone else to take charge; follow them by showing them where to take you. Men are now also from Venus, and women from Mars, everyone with their own piece to give and to take.

Venus and Mars remain in the spotlight into next week and beyond, too: Venus will soon tangle with the other players in the now-separating grand cross, conjoining with Uranus (Thu May 15) as she squares both Pluto (Wed May 14) and Jupiter (Sun May 18). Mars, meanwhile, finishes his 2-month retrograde and starts heading direct again (Mon May 19).