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Cyril Fagan 

The True Nature of Venus and Mars, March 1968

In this article, Fagan discusses the true meanings of the planets Venus and Mars. In modern day astrology, Venus is said to be the planet of romance and sex. But as Fagan makes clear, the planet Venus originally signified friendship and sociability, while Mars was the planet of passion and sex.

Who does not remember the nursery rhyme which goes, “What are little girls made of?” This not only describes the public image of little girls in days past, but also the conception then held of the planet Venus. This planet always has been regarded as the significator and promoter of friendship (not the 11th house).  {When Venus is strong} she instills the gregarious instinct into her children so that one finds them flocking together whenever the opportunity arises at social gatherings of all types, parties, in fact at any place where there is a get-together. Perhaps this herd instinct was originally a primitive form of self-protection from the terrors of the unknown. These Venusians delight in going the rounds of friend’s homes and they usually keep an open house as far as their own home is concerned where all are welcomed.  They find it most difficult to curtail their phone conversations to essential matters and will chatter by the hour. Both the male and female delight in dressing up when making the social rounds and in fact will find any excuse to doll up. Despite the constant visitors and chattering, their homes are well kept and their culinary is on the dainty side.

While it is true that such social gatherings are hotbeds of unkind, if not actually uncharitable gossip and spitefulness, this is due to the presence of influences other than those of Venus.  The true son or daughter of Venus (i.e. someone with Venus angular or closely configured with the lights, ed.) usually is the soul of understanding and compassion and extends kindness to one and all.  That is why one will unburden one’s soul to, and confide in, a Venusian without the slightest hesitation, certain that the confidence will be respected.  And after all, is this not one of the great amenities of friendship?  Our friends, at least, will understand even though the world at large may not.  And friends will not condemn!  Venus’ purse is always open to the needy.  Some of the world’s greatest philanthropists have Venus angular at birth. They are venerated and in old age styled venerable; words that have their root in the Latin word vener, stem of venus, “to love” (from the Latin verb veneror, to worship, venerate or adore, ed.).  The goddess Venus personified the Christian idea of heaven or paradise where serenity, peace and beauty reigned supreme.

But despite the teachings of modern astrology Venus had nothing to do with sex.  The host of angels in paradise are said to be sexless!  Venus typifies that kind of love expressed by the Teacher who said, “…all men shall know you are my disciples if you have love for one another…” One’s true friends can be recognized in the charts of those whose Sun and Venus mutually interchange with one’s own Sun and Venus.  According to tradition, taverns and drinking houses come under the tutelage of Venus.  This probably is true, for those who are lonely, bored or worried usually visit these places for the conviviality of the company and the freedom offered from the cares of the moment.  Even if it is only for half an hour or so, the local bar can offer a haven of rest from the pressures of life where in imbibing the waters of Lethe one can renew oneself.  Some may clamor that this surely is only an escape from life—but so is sleep! 

Those who have Venus angular at birth or configured with the Moon are characteristically attractive, well mannered, considerate, elegant in movement and of most agreeable speech. They charm by their very presence.  Should Venus be configured with Jupiter in the foreground they become social favorites and are invited everywhere. But should Venus be in configuration with Saturn or Pluto, the native being serious-minded and not given to frivolities or vain useless conversation, feels ill at ease and out-of-it at parties and the like, and thus tends to eschew them. But, alas, this means they miss many opportunities of perhaps meeting many interesting people and of enhancing their own popularity. 

Let us now consider the other section of the rhyme that goes, “What are little girls made of?”  Kiddies parrot this off without ever bothering to understand what is meant.  Only the precocious among them will understand the metaphors and giggle.  Always the female has been signified by the symbol for the planet Venus while the male is signified by the symbol for Mars.  In botany and zoology these symbols are used widely to distinguish the gender, though sometimes the symbol for the Moon and the Sun respectively also are used for the same purpose.  Now some pious esotericists of the Alan Leo school will have us believe that the Venus symbol represents the circle (spirit) triumphant over the cross (matter); while the symbol for Mars is triumphant over the circle, just as the astrological symbol for Jupiter is the semi-circle (souls) triumphant over the cross and that Saturn is the cross over the crescent.  This merely is another example of delightful schematism and simply is not true.  In ancient Egyptian texts, Mars was represented by the determinative (representative symbol, ed.) of a flowering reed, but later by its modern symbol of a phallus or rather a stylized ithyphallus (a larger than life size model of a phallus carried in procession in ancient festivals of Bacchus, the god of wine, ed.) just as Venus was depicted by a hieroglyphic representing the female organ and the metal copper.

Let us take a glance at Greek and Roman civilizations before he advent of Judaeo-Christianity drove sex underground.  Then complete nudity was the vogue among the young and the aesthetically attractive, especially in baths, gymnasiums and on the sports field.  There was seldom a garden or orchard that was not adorned with a herm.  These were monuments consisting of a four-sided shaft of stone or marble tapering inwards from top to bottom and surmounted with the bust of a god; the anterior side bearing a conspicuous ithyphallus. The bust usually was of Aries (Mars) but sometimes it was that of Hermes (Mercury), Zeus (Jupiter) or of Priapus.  Greek and Roman maidens were wont to dance around these idols, gracing them with garlands while they supplicated the god to send them a nice boyfriend and also to render them fertile.  Much the same custom exists nowadays in Christian countries though the object of devotion has changed somewhat.

Mars: The God of Love

Mythology has it that should the mischievous Eros succeed in piercing one with his barbed arrows, then that one was filled with burning erotic desire. Generally held to be the son of Aphrodite (Venus) and Ares (Mars), although other sires have been claimed for him, he unquestionably is the alter ego of Ares. This implies, mirabile dictu, that the brutal god of war is also the god of erotic love.  What an astrological contradiction!  Yet there is overwhelming astrological evidence to demonstrate that this is so.


In Greek and Roman mythology concupiscence in extreme was epitomized in the Satyrs, Sileni, Pan and Priapi, who made up the cortege of Dionysius (Bacchus), the god of the grape.  With their hairy bodies, low foreheads, pointed ears, horns, tails and cloven hooves, these demi-gods were personified goats.  Being pastoral they held high revelry, giving vent to every form of lechery when the Moon became full in the constellation Capricorn, which in the classical era occurred at mid-summer; and as every student of astrology knows, Capricorn is the exaltation of Mars.  The nymphs they seduced were said to be their own sisters!  Today, men and women who suffer from excessive sexual desire are known as satyromaniacs and nymphomaniacs.

Way back in the early 1920s when this writer did considerable lecturing and teaching, it was noticed repeatedly that in cases of passionate love between the sexes, Mars in the birth chart of one of the partners, usually the active one, held strong configurations to one or other of the luminaries or to Venus or Mars in the geniture of the other partner; similar interchanges of Venus, on the other hand were conspicuous by their absence. As they were made, such observations were reported in the astrological press of those early days; just as they have been cited in Solunars during the last fifteen years.  Yet there was nothing in the literature of astrology current in the 1920s to warrant them.  In the textbooks of these times love, sex, and marriage were exclusively Venus eventualities.


Since those days many thousands of horoscopes have been computed and studied and the same general pattern has so often been found that the matter cannot be treated as mere coincidence.  It further was noticed that in the case of both sexes when the Sun or angles were directed to configurations of the radical or progressed Mars, the native became sexually lively with an urge to give way to excesses.  Under such directions women allowed themselves to be seduced and men sowed some wild oats.

Text Book Interpretations

Let us see what the standard textbooks have to say about solar directions to Mars. We will take A. J. Pearce’s Zadkiel—Text Book on Astrology as it generally was taken to be authoritative and is more or less typical of all other textbooks. It states the Sun in conjunction, parallel, square or opposition to Mars brings danger of acute fevers, wounds, accidents, hemorrhages, bites from dogs, burns, scalds, etc.  according to the position of Mars.  The native should carefully avoid quarrels and disputes, pay particular attention to health and beware of fire.  If Mars were in Sagittarius—beware of gunshot wounds.


The Sun in sextile or trine to Mars brought distinctions in surgery, travelling, military preferment according to one’s position and rank.  Much the same vein is used to describe the Midheaven and the Ascendant.  But the real significance of Mars is almost totally overlooked.  Why?  Regarding transits of Mars to the natal Sun the author had this to say :“…Mars in conjunction to the Sun denotes affliction, quarrels and possibly accident accompanied by loss of blood.  The native should act with great caution and prudence in all things.  The sextile or trine of Mars to the Sun gives a prosperous year; to a monarch, victory over his enemies…”

There is not a single word in all of this about sex passion. Yet, this writer has noticed repeatedly that more adulteries and the like, take place when the transiting Mars, slow in motion, configures the natal or progressed Sun, albeit the same transit  frequently brings with it a sniffle or two, if not a downright attack of influenza or other type of virus.  When the sex drive is thwarted it tends to become a torrential destructive force leading to quarrels and even bloodshed.  Most, if not all standard textbooks put, as stated, love and marriages under the tutelage of Venus.  The glitter, gaiety, color and sartorial exhibitionism for which weddings are noted, as well as the giving of gifts, is undoubtedly under Venus.  But the central act of marriage with all that it entails surely comes under Mars!  If this so, and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that it undoubtedly is, then why was this vital fact omitted from the astrological teachings that have come down to us from antiquity?  Why this castration?


When in the first millennium A.D. Judaeo-Christianity became the dominant religion of the western world, sex was declared unclean, obscene and the work of the devil who was represented as a super-goat!  Banned from polite conversation, sex, as stated, went underground.  Thousands of herms were destroyed and athletes were told to clothe their “shame,” and the name of the procreative organ was changed to the Latin pudendum, meaning that which one ought to be ashamed of (from the Latin verb pudeo, to feel shame, ed.).  Although informed that man was made in the image of god, yet in the eyes of the church fathers the completely naked form was considered obscene.   It only was in recent years that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected this tenet by finding that the nude human form in a non-sexual context is not obscene. Incidentally Judaeo-Christianity appears to be the only one of the great religions of the world to deem sex as sinful etc.

As ecclisiastics were virtually the only people in the early days of church history who were literate, naturally they were the ones who housed libraries and the like. In those days a clerk was one in Holy Orders, hence the words cleric and clergy.  In the western world the art of printing was unknown until it developed in Germany in the middle of the 15th century.  So printed books were not then available to the general public.  But such that were available were in the vulgate (from the Latin verb vulgo, to make general or common, to spread among the multitude.  Most authorities are in agreement that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The vulgate is the Latin rendering of the original New Testament Greek, ed.). Few were in the vernacular.  So literature on astrology and allied subjects for the most part remained in the custody of the church.  Most of the great astrological writers of the medieval period and earlier were prelates, monks or other dignitaries of the church such as Gauricus, Junctinus, Campanus, Regiomantanus (Johannes Muller, ed.) and Placidus (Placido di Titi, ed.); the list is too lengthy to include here.  These astrological writers had to be most careful to avoid anything but the barest references to sex lest their work were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.


Claudius Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos was rendered into English by John Whalley in 1701, with a second revised edition in 1786 and another by J. M. Ashmand in 1822.   In these editions many passages on the subject of sex were left in the original Greek untranslated, while most of chapter III, 14 on, “…The Morbid Perversion of the active Part of the Soul…” was omitted altogether.  Thus students not versed in the classics had no opportunity of knowing what the Tetrabiblos taught on this vital subject until F.F. Robbins of Michigan University published in 1940 his unabridged English translation (Harvard University Press).

Because of such prudery, students of astrology have been denied the true astrological facts about sex in all its nuances.  Naturally, their interpretations of natal and other charts have gone completely astray.  One has only to read the advice doled out monthly by astrological marriage counselors and the like to realize this is so.  Some of this advice could not be more misleading and is liable to create a lot of unintended mischief.


While all ancient and medieval textbooks comment on the evil nature of Mars, none declares specifically that it is the significator of sexual desire.  In his Christian Astrology Lilly goes so far as to say that the Mars nature is without modesty, is obscene and ravenous.  And among the numerous diseases mentioned are those connected to the genitals of men.  One ancient writer had the temerity to include fornication as one of the Mars vices.  Varaha Mihira, the Hindu sage, is more explicit.  In his Brihat Jataka he informs us that the yoga (mutual configuration) of Mars and Jupiter will cause the native to be of strong sexual passion and will also possess the qualities of a mathematician.  Throughout this work Varaha repeatedly associates strong sexual passions with multiple planetary yogas involving Mars and Jupiter.  Though oddly enough he does not appear to have associated retarded sexual passions with mutual configurations of Mars and Saturn.  Yet such seems to be the case.  Some who have this configuration at birth have been know to resort to acts of violence to stimulate their amorous pursuits.

In considering this problem the student must beware of falling into the error of thingish thought.  Also he must be able to distinguish between a significator and a promittor. Thus in the case of a conjunction of the Sun and Mars, before pronouncing judgment he must determine which of the two bodies is the significator and which the promittor.  For should the Sun be the significator, the mighty force of this conjunction will be channeled into the quest for fame, power, dominion and the building up of one’s empire; sex takes a very subordinate position in the life.  This would be a case of transmuting Mars energies in the pursuit of personal ambition.  On the other hand should Mars be the significator and the Sun the promittor then the native will live only for the enjoyment of the flesh in the fullest sense of the word.  An astrologer’s ability to determine correctly which is which in this case is an indication of the skill he possesses.  Generally speaking, in the case of platic conjunctions and oppositions (those that are within orbs but not exact), the body that is nearest to an angle is the significator, more especially should it be in its dignity and receives a lunar configuration.

Aspects to Mars

When Mars is in close propinquity to an angle and unaspected, it usually describes one who is strong, masculine, muscular, rough, somewhat uncouth, not given to cleanliness or taste in clothing, forceful, outspoken, prone to abusive if not actually obscene language and of course rapacious and motivated by strong sexual desire.  When thwarted he is apt to lose his temper.  Should it be the significator and in conjunction, square or opposition to the Sun, these effects are greatly intensified, the native living solely for the enjoyment of the flesh.  In the case of the feminine sex, they frequently are married many times or advocate free love.


Michaelangelo (di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, ed.), who was born with the Sun and Mars in mutual conjunction in Pisces in opposition to Pluto in Virgo, transmuted his strong erotic passion into creating the most superb nudes of all time.  Pietro Aretino, the most outrageous and lascivious writer of the 16th century also was born with the Sun and Mars in mutual conjunction, but in Aries in opposition to Pluto.  In a moment of pique because the great artist would not give him a set of drawings he coveted, he addressed a most abusive letter to him with innuendos as to his moral character, also accusing him of representing in the Last Judgment “…things from which one would avert one’s eyes even in a brothel…”  Ten years later, Pope Paul IV ordered Michalangelo’s pupil, Daniel de Volterra, to drape the offending figures!

The writer personally knows a psychologist of the Freudian School who is a magnificently built man of elegant tongue. He was wont to lecture on his favorite subject: sex.  At these meetings, which were always thronged, he never minced his words and was outspoken in the extreme. even in a mixed gathering.  Married more than once, he had fathered quite a large family.  His “affairs” were also spoken of quite openly.  At his birth the Sun and Mars were in mutual conjunction in Aries in opposition to Jupiter.


Brigham Young was born on June 1, 1801 in Vermont when Mars and Jupiter were in 6 Cancer 13’ and 9 Cancer 39’ respectively at Greenwich Mean noon, the Sun being in 18 Taurus 28’.  On the date of Casanova’s birth, at local noon, April 2, 1725, in Venice, the Moon stood at 15 Scorpio 06’, Jupiter was in 15 Aquarius 12’ and Mars in 23 Aquarius 00’.  Rudolph Valentino, the great screen lover of yesteryear, was born at 3:00 am on May 6, 1895 Castellaneto, Italy.  At his birth Jupiter and Mars were in conjunction in 10 Gemini 52’ and 15 Gemini 06’ respectively and were angular in the 4th house in square to a setting Moon in 14 Virgo 01’.  Generally speaking, however, those who have Mars configured with the Sun in the foreground live sex; those who have the moon so configured prefer to cogitate, write or talk about it.  Henry Miller, the well-known author of The Tropic of Capricorn, The Tropic of Cancer, Sexus, Plexus and Nexus (and many more), was born with a mutual conjunction of the Moon and Mars in Libra.

Those with Mars configured with Venus or Uranus are sexually lively and are easily excited should these planets be in the foreground.  Sexual hysteria is often evident should Mars and Neptune be in mutual aspect.  Those with Mars configured with Saturn and perhaps Pluto tend to be undersexed. All transits to the natal or progressed Mars tend to sexually excite the native in a positive manner according to their natures, more especially should the transiting body be retrograde or slow in motion.  On the other hand transits of Mars to the natal or progressed luminaries, to Venus or to its own place, tend to excite the native negatively.


When Mars in one birth (or progressed) chart falls in conjunction, opposition or square to the Sun or Moon in the birth chart of one of the opposite sex, the former will fall, “lock, stock and barrel” as the saying goes, for the latter.  To a lesser extent this also happens when the configuration is to the Venus, Jupiter or Mars.  When three people meet with Mars in the same constellation, and one of the trio is a female, then the law of the jungle prevails.  This holds true in reverse ratio.                                                                          

We would like to thank Derek Kinsolving for scanning the original articles from his collection of  American Astrology magazines.



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