Mars & Venus do drag: The astrology of gender roles

When I first was getting into astrology, one of my biggest turn-offs was how gendered it seemed.

Cheesy lines like this teaser from Linda Goodman’s 1978 classic Love Signsmade me roll my eyes practically out of my head:

A Scorpio woman…will expect a Sagittarius man to pay for his sins.

Aside from the assumption that everyone reading the book was straight (so 1978!), it also suggested that women and men inhabited separate universes of experience, desire, and emotion. (And obviously there was no gender between or outside those roles.) Even now, there are plenty of heteronormative astrologers who read women’s charts differently from men’s, and vice versa.

Mars and Venus are crucial tools in the astrology gender binary toolkit, a la another famous self-help book of the late 20th century, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Even though every human (and dog and parrot and world event) has both Mars and Venus in their natal chart, a heteronormative approach to the chart says that a woman’s Mars represents the men in her life and a man’s Venus represents his wife and girlfriends.

What a dysfunctional, ridiculous way to do astrology!

Mars and Venus are two of the personal (fast-moving) planets, meaning that they represent really basic parts of your personality.

Mars is self-centered and active. It describes your energy levels and sex drive, how you stand up for yourself and others and how you go about getting what you want. Venus is relationship-oriented and receptive. It describes what you love, how you experience pleasure and beauty, how you join forces with a partner and how you balance your desires with another person’s wants.

It’s convenient for sexism to assign Martian superpowers to men and Venusian grace to women, but, man, is it dumb.

To say a woman experiences her Mars solely through men, is like saying she never makes the first move (in any part of her life) and that if she has goals, she depends on her boyfriend or dad to pursue them for her. Meanwhile, without Venus, men are rugged, loveless islands needing women if they are to ever pause and enjoy the moment. Genderqueers and other gender outsiders probably don’t even exist.

It’s not like old-school pop astrology was totally wrong about this stuff.

As kids, boys are often rewarded for winning contests, strutting their stuff, arguing and punching – expressions of their natal charts’ Mars. As adults, women (and anyone seen as one) can increase their status by dressing stylishly, being sociable and having ‘good’ relationships – expressions of their Venus. That’s why some of those old clichés about Sagittarius men and Scorpio women, say, can seem true: we’re trained to make them that way. Even in queer relationships, and relationships between straight people well-versed in their Judith Butler, one partner can play excited, selfish, top-y Mars and the other can be 100% reasonable Venus, smoothing things over and getting their way through graceful manipulation.

Likewise, both Mars and Venus describe facets of attraction. Mars is what turns us on and excites us. Venus is what and how we love.

Let’s say your Mars is in Gemini and your Venus is in Capricorn. You get turned on by talkers (Gemini) and may tend to have several lovers (or at least flirtations) at the same time, because Gemini likes at least two of everything. At the same time, you’re looking for a serious, long-term relationship (Capricorn) and will likely choose someone ambitious and respected (Capricorn) to do it with. Depending on how these planets sit within your chart, and your free will, you might lean toward your monogamous values (Venus in Capricorn) or seek to feed your short, playful sexual attention span (Mars in Gemini). Butch or femme, agender or nerdy bro, your gender doesn’t really matter when it comes to interpreting your chart.

The cool thing about Mars and Venus is that, in the context of a real natal chart, they rarely split into a clean binary.

If your Mars is in gentle, indirect Pisces, for instance, you’ll still fight, but only in a gentle, indirect way. At worst, this can mean anger comes out as real & awful sickness (Pisces) that may give you a real excuse to quit (Mars) a job you hate but feel guilty (Pisces) about leaving. (There are big, unanswerable questions here about free will and how much control we have over our astrology charts. Like, can a Pisces in Mars person stave off chronic fatigue by doing tai chi? My personal opinion: it’s complicated.)

Mars in Pisces can also do amazing things that contradict the sexist model. If your Mars is in Pisces, you might be a master of diffusing anger by playing music (Pisces). You might be capable of astounding feats of courage (Mars) by using breathing and energy work (Pisces) to overcome fear. Because you dislike aggressiveness, you might learn to get your way by subtly influencing the energy of your environment. Or, you might see physical prowess (Mars) as spiritual (Pisces) and kill for your god, or, more peacefully, lift weights until you feel like one.

The limited psychological research on same-sex relationships has turned up a fair amount of evidence that lesbian and gay male partnerships are generally happier than their straight counterparts’ (see this and this).

The researchers’ theories (that I’ve read) are basically that it’s easier to get along with someone of the same gender. My theory is that queers, gay people, etc. tend to more comfortable with expressing Venus and Mars traits, and so are less likely to push their partners into being the Spider-Chaser-Outer, the Breadwinner, the Mom, and the Make-Nicer. Or, at least, maybe, we’re more open and used to questioning these roles.

Don’t get me wrong. People are not supposed to be well-rounded. Some of us – regardless of gender identity or sex – are more Martian than Venusian, and that’s healthy and appropriate for us. Projection – working out our stuff through a partner – is a totally legit and useful way to relate. Having opposition aspects in your natal chart or planets in the 7th house means you figure yourself out through mirroring and bouncing between opposing viewpoints. Projection can be a problem, though, if you get stuck in one role. A relationship where each person has a rigid role that the other enforces can become stifling, lonely, and cause us to feel disconnected from ourselves.

Your Mars and Venus positions (by sign, house and aspect) contain loads of information on how sex and relationships most comfortably fit into your life.

The more you know about each – and the more critical thinking you do to strip away the cultural and gender stereotypes people put on them – the more you know and can act in accordance with your true self. A boiled-down, astrology-free, diy tip: pay attention to which roles you gravitate toward in relationships and what you expect the people you love to do in return. The point of astrology isn’t to change yourself, but to see, understand and strengthen who you really are.

All images by Mars in Capricorn/Venus in Leo artist, Migueltzinta Solis.

Uranus enters Taurus: Playing it safe risks everything

Boys on escalators, copyright Luke Dani BlueA phrase appears repeatedly throughout novelist Jeannette Winterson’s books: “What you risk reveals what you value.” She might have been preparing us for the shift of big-gun outer planet, Uranus, into Taurus, the sign of personal values, money and what we “own” (including our bodies and planet).

Everything we value as a culture–and everything you value personally–is subject to change now. The role and form of money is shifting (cash headed the way of compact discs) and micro-apartments and tiny dwellings might be about to displace traditional middle-class dreams of home ownership, reinventing the pleasurable Taurean relationship to stuff.

Other Taurus areas–nature, food, sensual touch, building homes, showing loyalty and staying put–are all due for a lasting shake-up. As always with Uranus, good and bad will come mixed together, and we won’t agree on which is which.

Uranus, the planet of sudden change, technology and individuality, takes about 84 years to circle the zodiac. Since the summer of 2010, Uranus has been in Aries (sign of self-determination and dominance), causing rapid and radical shifts in personal identity (e.g. how our online selves have all but taken over; gender options on Facebook) and rebellion against all forms of authority, for better and worse.

Aries is also the sign of war and the increased use of drones, cyber attacks and other forms of depersonalized, technological warfare shows the violent side of Uranus’ journey through the sign.

The Aries house or houses in your chart is where you’ve seen rapid-fire opportunities and challenges, and found yourself more impulsive and less predictable over the last 7-8 years. For those with Aries sun, moon or rising positions, there will have been an especially wacky year in there, when Uranus passed over that planet. (Same goes for the other cardinal signs: Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.)

On May 15th, Uranus moves into Taurus, shocking the very slow, steady and focused Taurus part of your chart into non-negotiable action. Thing is, Taurus hates being pushed around. So “Taurus part of your chart” is code for where you’re most stubborn–and where deep down you’d prefer things stayed how they are.

That stubbornness means that you will probably start off by digging your heels in. Something (associated with the house or houses where Taurus lives in your chart) you’ve taken for granted has gotten stale. An activity or relationship you used to enjoy turns tedious or stressful. You’ll likely want to ignore your sudden restlessness, frustration and boredom. Don’t (if you can help it). Uranus generates a lot of energy; trying to contain it is like storing lightning bolts under the bed–it’ll zap you when you least expect it. Also, Uranus just wants to free you up, to make your life more lively and keep you awake.

Befriend those lightning bolts by giving yourself plenty of new, interesting experiences in your Taurus house (or houses). That will give the wild energy somewhere to go, and open you to Uranian insights and your fun-loving inner rebel.

These next 7 years are also a important time to break free from other people’s values. For instance, maybe your friends center their lives around community–the give and take of peer-networks–and you’re realizing it’s not your thing. Or you’re racing to catch up professionally with your ex-college classmates and it’s sucking you dry. Let it go. Uranus is here to help you open up to alternatives: other priorities, new ways of feeling grounded or stable, pleasures that challenge and stimulate as well as soothe.

Taurus is slow to get going, but like a boulder rolling down hill, once in motion, it’s unstoppable. It may take a leap of faith to try that new thing, but the more you do it, the more competent and determined you’ll feel.

Tauruses, plus fixed sign suns (Leos, Scorps and Aquarii), gird yourselves for a total life makeover! Your goals and desires are going to change dramatically when Uranus hits the exact degree of your natal sun, although some of those changes may only be temporary. (Uranus is also responsible for the red-convertible-buying midlife crisis transit, around age 42–a set of radical changes whose appeal can fade once they become the new normal.)

The actual transit lasts a year, but even before it hits, you may feel a creeping restlessness. Do something creative and interesting with the Uranian tension–it will make you braver than usual–rather than trying to stomp it out of existence.

Sometimes the best Uranus change is a compromise, like taking on a more independent role at your safe job or letting your partnership breathe by taking a trip together with a group of friends.

Change is about to hit! Find out where it’s going to land and how to make sense of it in the bigger picture of your life in a 60-minute Depth reading

Image by Luke Dani Blue

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The Moon Is For Lovers: Your Lunar Intimacy Style

This is Part III of a 3-part series on the moon in relationships. Part I explored why the moon is the most important relationship planet. Part II boiled down what can go wrong (or right) when our moon signs move in together.

At its core, the Moon represents what our child-self needs to feel okay.

When we forget to parent our inner-child though, it can run amuck.

Last month, I wrote about some of the gnarly behaviors that cause strife in relationships for each moon sign. Below is a deep dive into your Moon’s natural inclinations and how to consciously use those inclinations to support all your close relationships.

Moon in Aries

Intimacy style: Direct, loving, creative, high-energy, fast.
Down time: What’s that?
Communicate your need for: Independence. Be specific about what this means to YOU (otherwise you risk heartbreaking misinterpretations).
What you can always give more of: Regular check-ins and open-ended questions. (Couples therapy is a great tool.)

Moon in Taurus

Intimacy style: Loyal, sensual, self-contained, steady.
Down time: Get grounded and put something tasty in your mouth.
Communicate your need for: Emotional boundaries. Some people like to share more than others. Be clear about what you like to keep for yourself alone and how the other person can tell where you want to be approached and don’t.
What you can always give more of: Active response to ‘bids’ and positive touch. (You show connection best through your body.)

Moon in Gemini

Intimacy style: Talkative, stimulating, social, busy, fun.
Down time: Catch up on social media, chat, read and write.
Communicate your need for: Other people. You need to mix it up on the regular. If your person knows what to expect around this, they’re less likely to feel flaked on.
What you can always give more of: Being mentally present. Mindfulness – observing the other person through your senses – takes some practice but will help you stay in the moment.

Moon in Cancer

Intimacy style: Super-bonded, cuddly, nurturing, moody, empathetic.
Down time: Movies on the couch with plenty of snacks and interruptions to talk.
Communicate your need for: What you actually need. Discerning (honestly) what you can best get from yourself versus what you want from someone else will help make intimacy sustainable.
What you can always give more of: Asking what they need and want (vs. reacting intuitively).

Moon in Leo

Intimacy style: Loyal, romantic, creative, loving, game-playing, dramatic.
Down time: Making art, playing and amazing dates.
Communicate your need for: Loyalty. Define loyalty in clear terms and be reasonable.
What you can always give more of: Space to make independent decisions.

Moon in Virgo

Intimacy style: Analytical, helpful, concerned, kind, playful.
Down time: Fixing or organizing something, writing, talking about life problems, doing puzzles.
Communicate your need for: Appreciation. Your person may not realize how much work you’re putting in or how much a thank you means.
What you can always give more of: Loving emotional validation (without telling them how to ‘fix’ it).

Moon in Libra

Intimacy style: Chatty, kind, agreeable, flexible, supportive, social, argumentative.
Down time: Leisure, conversation & chill fun with a co-pilot.
Communicate your need for: Good emotional communication. (Be the instigator of new, mutual skills in this department.)
What you can always give more of: A kind “no.” Boundaries remind us where we’re separate from each other and supports happy relationships.

Moon in Scorpio

Intimacy style: Extreme, private, deeply bonded, empathetic, sexual, wary.
Down time: Immerse yourself in an obsession, a vice or your feelings.
Communicate your need for: Intensity. You either need to go deep with someone else or be left alone to do it by yourself.
What you can always give more of: Space for the other person’s private life. No matter how much you guard yourself, you can’t prevent pain or betrayal, and it won’t hurt less to see it coming. Treating people with trust, however, makes them want to share more of themselves.

Moon in Sagittarius

Intimacy style: Exuberant, adventurous, inspired, philosophical, loving.
Down time: Dancing on all the tables! Drinking and eating all the things! Reading all the books!
Communicate your need for: Room to roam. Be realistic with yourself and your person about what this looks like.
What you can always give more of: Good listening, with lots of open-ended questions.

Moon in Capricorn

Intimacy style: Realistic, deep, sensitive, committed, growth-oriented, genuine.
Down time: Working on a project or on self-improvement.
Communicate your need for: Emotional validation. (You’re not a rock, you just act like one.)
What you can always give more of: Active words and actions of support, compassion, love, appreciation and acceptance. Even if it feels awkward to say this stuff, the other person will know you care.

Moon in Aquarius

Intimacy style: Detached, interested, independent, chill, idealistic, agreeable.
Down time: Hang out with your favorite weirdos, research, grassroots organizing.
Communicate your need for: Independent friendships. It’s important to your emotional well-being to have space to socialize apart from a partner or bestie. That will only feel like a burn if you act weird about it instead of letting the other person know.
What you can always give more of to your person: Your participation (in fights, child-rearing, house decisions, relationship decisions, icky projects, etc). Pushing your comfort zone goes a long way to creating true relationship equality.

Moon in Pisces

Intimacy style: Devoted, mysterious, sensitive, compassionate, drifty, changeable.
Down time: A sweet retreat from the noisy world.
Communicate your need for: Gentleness. Your people may not understand how easily you’re hurt or how sensitive you are to their unspoken feelings.
What you can always give more of: Nonjudgmental awareness of the situation. Tracking your actual (vs. imagined) behavior will help you understand how much power you actually have, making you less likely to credit others when things feel good or blame them when they feel bad.

Find out how your lunar habits tie-in with the rest of your personality (and how to help them flow together better) in a one-on-one Power reading.

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