Mars Calling
Published by Planet Waves, Inc. | Weds., April 9, 2008 | Link to This | Subscribe to Series

Aries: The Dark Side of the Sun
A woman just risen from the sea. A seal is embracing her.
-- The first degree of Aries, from An Astrological Mandala by Dane Rudhyar

The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict that does not exist. For symbols stand for something else, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything.
-- A Course in Miracles, original edition, page 313
IF YOU WERE TO LOOK at the ideas associated with Aries in most astrology books, you would get an approximate description of the expectations society has of men. Googling the term "Aries traits," the first thing that comes up is: "adventurous and energetic, pioneering and courageous; enthusiastic and confident; dynamic and quick-witted. On the dark side: selfish and quick-tempered, impulsive and impatient; foolhardy and daredevil."

In short, he goes for it -- just like you would want him to.

Mars Calling
Photo by Dani Voirin.
Granted, this does not entirely describe Homer Simpson or your boss, but it speaks to a set of prejudices that we are taught about men and that men, moreover, are expected to live up to. Guys are the ones who are supposed to make new things happen. Guys are the ones who are supposed to ask women out on dates. And guys (such as politicians and corporate chiefs) typically get the blame when things go wrong.

Notably, as Aries author Susan Faludi pointed out in her landmark book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, all of society's ills are presumed to be the fault of men: corporate greed, the ongoing environmental catastrophe, wars, economic unfairness, the oppression of factory workers in Asia, and so on. The only problem is that this has nothing to do with the guys you know or share a meal with. Both men and women bear the brunt of gender-based prejudices.

To compound matters, most major world religions consider God or his top representatives to be men, and depict them as such: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Krishna and the Old Man in the Sky, to name a few. If you were to walk up to people on the street and ask them who is Selene, Quan Yin or Radharani, most would say something like "Selene who?" The notion that God, the supposed source of all creation, is about maleness in some form may be aggravating to feminists or conscious women, and it provides an interesting perspective on the male ego. But it's also a nearly unbearable burden to place on men, all of whom lack the power of a deity.

With Aries, we begin the discussion of astrology with an echo of this God complex. We live in a culture obsessed with war and violence. The sign Aries is named for the god of war (Ares, also called Mars, which is the planet representing maleness) -- the only sign directly named for a deity associated with it. Men are not only expected to go to war; they have been trained to do so from birth, and all male conditioning -- from team sports to the toys young boys are given to play with -- reinforces this eons-old state of affairs.

Here, the blame factor is particularly intense, as everyone generally accepts men and their issues as the cause of war and conflict. The cock is a suspected criminal. Alice Walker dedicated one of her books to "the blameless vulva." Astrology, however, calmly informs us that everyone possesses both Mars and Venus in their charts; astrology does not discriminate based on gender. We all possess yin and yang. There are plausible theories that we are all bisexual, but most of us don't usually express it except to ourselves in the last 10 seconds before orgasm.

How we express these inner polarities, and whether we are comfortable with them, is another story. Notably, in traditional astrology Mars is considered a malefic planet: in other words, the bearer of bad tidings or developments. Venus is a considered benefic. Psychological astrology has come a long way in processing this fatalistic garbage, but at least we have a map of consciousness as it was given to us.

Whatever we may have to say about gender and gender roles, it remains true that Aries (with the help of Mars) is the sign of pioneering and initiating, a fact that will become abundantly clear as we check in with men who have the Sun and Moon in this sign. On a planet where people arrived and found nothing but crude resources -- rocks, trees, rivers and ore buried in the ground -- this pioneering spirit, the quality of initiative, is vital. Oh, I forgot that there were wild animals and enemy tribes, requiring the fashioning of clubs and sharp objects, and the need to put our strongest men in defense of the camp. For the most part, this remains true today even from our perch at the very height of civilization. There is no company, country or community that does not have someone in charge of guarding the perimeter and guarding the chief, and this is generally a man's role.

At least in our time of history, among people older than 14, the male requirement of initiation of action is crucial in sex: the source of all human creation. In sexual relations and many other aspects of life, men are the presumed initiators, and aggressors or abusers. It is not possible for a woman to be convicted of rape, and rare that they ever face prosecution for statutory rape (such as with an underage male). Most forms of female abuse of men are beyond the reach of prosecution.

However we may feel about this fact, Aries and Mars are known and indeed depended upon for the qualities of initiative and desire. Yet desire itself is controversial, or allegedly so. On one side of philosophy, it is the root of all suffering. On another, it is both a requirement (consumption) and a restricted territory (sex or desire, so often followed by guilt). One is, in effect, trespassing when he or she feels "too much" erotic desire (usually presumed to be a male trait, and almost always concealed, denied or considered inappropriate in women).

Yet for all its drive forward, desire is brimming with shadow material. How else would we describe how often it is directed toward the purposes of greed or to kill, or acknowledged with the expectation that this is what will happen?

In perpetuating these controversies in many aspects of life, society at the current stage of history generally projects its long shadow onto men as it sees fit, and this is the shadow of Mars and in some respects the Sun. Whatever we may feel about drive and desire, Aries and its ruler Mars are the most essential astrological symbols for the impulse of initiation -- no matter what is being initiated: all that we call good, all that we call evil, and plenty that we have no opinion about.

Writes Alice A. Bailey in Esoteric Astrology, "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." She adds, "Aries awakens the will to reach the lowest and there control; to know the uttermost and thus to face all experiences."

Structural: The Sun Square the Equator

Doing astrology, it's good to get some technical grounding first. Our entire zodiac system is based on the sign Aries. The astrological year begins when the Sun "enters the sign Aries." Astrology is a symbolic system, and Aries is the sign of all things new and moreover of all cycles renewing themselves.

Mars Calling
Sun crosses the celestial equator. Courtesy of APOD.
Our astrology was developed in the Northern Hemisphere, where Aries commences the season when the Earth renews itself, the long winter ends and spring begins. This is the vernal equinox. Hence, the year begins when the Sun's rays make a 90-degree angle to the equator, and night and day are equal. This balance is the essence of Aries. Yet at this time of year, the days are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, the light is returning, and the Sun or Mars energy is presumed to be the dominant factor.

From this point in the cycle of the year, we measure the entire zodiac in increments of 30 degrees, with the Sun passing through each sign in about a month.

The sign Aries comes first and is the standard or metric by which all other things are assessed. For this reason, Aries has an association with the public. Though it is considered a self-centered sign, it's a portal out to the mass of humanity. If Aries is considered a self-centered sign, the portal outward is the Universal I: a concept of 'self' that embraces everything and everyone.

Events that occur on or near the early degrees of Aries tend to have wide-scale impact. In some systems of astrology, the Aries Point or the first degree of the sign Aries is considered a personal point. This is a little odd, because personal points are generally the things that are highly unique to each individual and move quickly through a chart. With the Aries point, we have something that is the same for everyone, but also unique to everyone. (Though its position in the zodiac stays the same, it falls in a different house from chart to chart, with different planets aspecting it.)

As we study the expressions of the Aries Sun and Moon in men, we need to bear in mind that there are two struggles beneath the surface: one for balance, and another for universality. As self-centered as Aries may seem, this is part of an effort designed to break through from the personal level to the collective level, which seems to involve the connection of Aries to the immediately preceding one, Pisces.

Nowhere do we see this struggle for integrating the other side of nature more than in the charts of men with the Sun in Aries. Most of the truisms you read about the Aries Sun appear to be more applicable to the Aries Moon, perhaps because the nature of the Moon so profoundly contrasts with the nature of Aries.

One last point on the structure of this sign: its ruler, Mars, has an orbit that is very close to that of the Sun. Therefore, Mars tends to follow the Earth and, as a result, has an interesting retrograde pattern. Out of its two year orbit, Mars is retrograde for about 88 days. However, it will spend well over six months in the vicinity of the retrograde; for many cycles it spends a quarter of its time in one sign. This is to say, it takes Mars two years to go around the Sun, and from the perspective of the Earth, for six months it's in approximately the same place.

So while we may consider Aries and its ruler Mars to be about desire and fast action, in truth there are extended times of preparation, stasis, inward seeking and reflection on the past. If an Aries native of any gender is experiencing a life that is out of balance or which seems to be failing to thrive, remember this fact about Mars.

Inside the Aries Sun

It takes great courage to be the first. To be first means having no precedents, no models to follow, no experiences, images, references to pave the way forward, which presumably makes it secure, safe or known. It takes bravery to jump ahead, to lead the way, to open the door for others to step in, out or through. There is a risk involved: the world is extremely attached to the ways of the past and distrustful of most anything new.

It takes energy to decide, "Yes, I will do it," without knowing, without even guessing, what can be expected or encountered on the way that is ahead: a way that cannot truly be called a path or a road because it is into entirely new territory.

Confucius, or maybe it was Lau-Tzu, is reputed to have said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." What he was observing is how difficult it is for people to take that first step in any process; to break inertia and set anything in motion. To do this, it seems one must not only resist one's own inner blocks, but also all the refusal of humanity to move forward. How many times have we said, "It's pretty easy going once I get started. But I have so much trouble doing that."

This pushing through resistance is often left up to people with strong Aries placements, who we all depend upon for this quality. (Other factors pick up this quality; for example, a strong ascendant or midheaven.) For the rest of us, our own initiative to begin will be shown in our charts where we have Mars and Aries placed. Sometimes this commencement is impulsive, ignoring the consequences or obstacles. Sometimes it is compulsive: people who begin things but who cannot finish them. Nearly every astrology book you read advises people with strong Aries to cultivate the quality known as completion. When conscious, the relationship to life's many obstacles was summed up no better than by Aries playwright Samuel Beckett, who wrote, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Indeed, those who try something new must have an unusual relationship to effort and, moreover to failure. Therefore, Aries energy is as strong as the life inside the seed that breaks its own shell to travel through the thick layer of earth and burst out to life. Aries power lies in the will to go, to push, to insist, to persist, to do it. Aries is a sign that crosses the shadows to meet the light.

There is something painful in this lonely journey. This is connected with something missed in life; it is the loneliness of the warrior missing home, wife, children (Hercules and Penélope). This is an archetypal feeling connected with the soul more than the personality. The soul longs for home, and, met with combat, continually faces the fact that it may never arrive.

Though we don't think of this as necessarily being an Aries trait, isolation can be a particular challenge for these men; this is often true where any calling involving leadership is concerned. The affable, positive exterior nature often belies another quality. There is something lonely about the direct confrontation with fear -- the inevitable result of living in a world where there seem to be so many people who refuse to do this. Most people are not only slaves to their fears; in a strange way, they insist on being so.

Aries is a conqueror, but of what? He is, if he is living his chart, committed to conquering his inner limitations and obstacles and the insecurities that accompany them. Aries must concern himself with conquering fear, but it can be a real struggle because there is often so much of the stuff. In our repressed society, he would have to be committed to conquering a sense of stagnation that is branded into us from our first minutes on Earth. Aries has the drive to push life itself forward, but it must do so! This push energy is specifically an Aries quality, and naturally what this energy pushes against is resistance -- emphasizing the resistance! This effort builds character, and once you get into the groove, it can feel good enough to have an addictive quality.

Many Aries men have commented on this relationship to adversity, which goes far deeper than the ordinary obstacles we face in life. They can reach profound depths of futility. The creation of meaning often comes with the confrontation with meaninglessness.

All things may be defined somewhat brutally in terms of whether they help or hinder. Often, they cast life's dramas in extremely black and white; life and death tones. Indeed, in the face of seemingly constant adversity, Aries seems as obsessed with contrast. The French author Charles Baudelaire, author of Les Fleurs du mal ("The Flowers of Evil"), wrote, "As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings: the horror of life and the ecstasy of life."

In his preface to Les Fleurs du Mal, he writes:
If rape and poison, dagger and burning,
Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs
On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies,
It's because our souls, alas, are not bold enough!
Ah yes, way to embrace the shadow, Monsieur Baudelaire.

Hardly anyone summed up this sense of light and dark in one lifetime more brilliantly than the Belgian composer and performer Jacques Brel.

As he built to the peak of his fame in the 1960s, Brel was in Europe every bit as famous as the Beatles or Johnny Cash were in the United States, all of whom he could swallow whole with his intensity, passion and originality -- John Lennon included.

Brel's songs have made it to North America only in diluted form, minus the original lyrics and often reproduced poorly.

Here is a taste of the original Brel. In this video of the song "Amsterdam," you can feel the raw power, the stark originality and the blatantly honest perception of contrast that comes with this sign -- perception that comes through direct experience, both inner and outer. Here are the lyrics:
In the port of Amsterdam there are sailors who eat
On over-bleached tablecloths dripping wet fish
They bare their teeth that could chew up fortune
Decrease the Moon, gobble up the ship's shrouds

And they smell cod [also a pun on whore]
Right through the heart of the fries
Which their big hands invite to bring back even more, then
They rise up laughing with the noise of a tempest
Zip up their flies again and leave belching

In the port of Amsterdam there are sailors who dance
Rubbing their bellies against women's bellies
They turn and they dance like suns spit out
To the torn up sound of a rancid accordion
And they twist their necks to better hear each other laugh
Until all of a sudden the accordion dies
Then with serious gesture, with proud look
They bring their boat [pun on whore] back to full light

In the port of Amsterdam there are sailors who drink
And they drink again and drink again and drink some more
And they drink to the health of the whores
of Amsterdam, of Hamburg or elsewhere
And at last they drink to the ladies who give their pretty bodies,
who give their virtue
For a piece of gold when they're good and drunk.
Plant their nose in the sky, blow their nose in the stars
and piss as I cry over unfaithful women
In the port of Amsterdam, in the port of Amsterdam
Then the stage goes dark, and unfortunately the video cuts off. This was the traditional ending -- the stark contrast of passion and blackness, as the crowd in pitch darkness thunders the lyrics over and over: dans le port d'Amsterdam, dans le port d'Amsterdam...

It was high drama, for a concert. But the symbolism is apropos of the Aries Point: Here, Brel's personal experience of witnessing becomes a collective, global perception. This is also revealed in his lyrics as a sense of scale, in images of sailors dancing like suns spit out, or blowing their nose in the stars. He passionately explores the themes of light and dark, with authentic joy bursting through the disgusting, worn out scene. But somehow he manages to place it directly in the cosmic order.

Brel had a Pisces Moon, which brings us to a meaningful astrological point about Aries, the first sign -- which is its connection inevitable to Pisces, the last sign.

The End and the Beginning

The astrological wheel is the representation of the circle of life; the beginning and the end are intertwined together. This connection between Aries and Pisces joins the two with one another in a cycle that is emphasized by the themes of both signs. Brel once summed this up somewhat fatalistically: "In a man's life, there are two important dates: his birth and his death. Everything we do in between is not very important." We might ask, how can birth and death be meaningful if nothing else is?

Here, we are looking directly into the shadow; the abyss. Behind the Aries man's drive, there is, in the unlit back of his mind, in his DNA memory, the Pisces experience: that is, awareness of the open void of the cosmic connection, or for some, a sense of the nothingness from which we emerge and to which we return. This is why, by scratching the surface of the Aries energetic and physical presence, one will find existential depth. If Aries man seems to have all the answers, you can be sure he has many more questions, and is not so sure as he may sound. He is, however, sure that he is here to find out, or to try as he may.

If you catch an Aries off-guard he will be looking at the stars longing for something that cannot be named. Aries has deep soul, but that depth is more often concealed, or contained in a blind spot in the psyche.

Aries soul hangs between the experiences of life and death. Of all the signs, his is the one most strongly connected not only to life, but also to the memory of death, therefore the reason for choosing life over death: Aries knows that in the circle of life, death is also ever-ahead and unavoidable. Brel, a heavy smoker who died of lung cancer at the age of 49, performed like every concert was his last.

This is the existential reason for Aries embracing life so fully, so passionately, with such intensity: because being the first also entails knowing things that the others do not know or remember, and one of these things is direct knowledge or at least indirect awareness of the end, and whatever mystery is beyond the end.

The Sense of Entitlement

The dual awareness of life and of mortality, of creation and of the necessity of killing and death (as soldier, hunter, competitor and in a personal context), can grant an Aries man extraordinary consent to exist in the world. As with any Arian trait, there is on the inside a titanic struggle prior to that trait being acted out or realized. If Aries is the sign of I Am, it comes at an extremely high price, and it is speculative at best.

Some have pointed out that one of the most annoying things about men in general is their sense of entitlement: to success, to resources, to attention, or to the vagina. This sense of having the right to exist is distinctly rooted in Aries. While the right to be is the core of the Aries Man, it is not necessarily so easy: it is more like an ongoing perilous quest. The seed of his manhood exists within this gesture of questing. At its best, conquering is a duty, a 'taking charge' of existence, and an acceptance of responsibility with life, with the world, and with humanity. We owe a debt to all the people who do the things we don't want to do, or that we are not capable of -- in many ways, they sustain our lives.

Mankind's task is to bring life into being, and to preserve is life, personally and as a species; it is a man's task to protect the right to be, and to do. Sooner or later, men in particular learn that if they do not exert effort, if they do not dare to try, if they do not conquer something, nothing happens; but moreover, they will be broken by inaction. There are very few men for whom "things just come." Most men learn if they don't get up some confidence or at least strap it on, their lives go nowhere -- and this is what is behind the Aries sense of entitlement. It's as natural as, "If you have to breathe to stay alive, you may as well breathe deeply."

People may resent or be critical of men for this sense of entitlement, but without someone having it, little would happen in the world. We might resent industrialists for the damage they do to the environment, but without them we would be living in grass huts. Industrialists always persist, in particular, directly utilizing an almost unquestionable sense of entitlement mixed with determination (without which, it would be useless). For this reason, they get away with quite a lot.

What does having the right to be mean? Often, it means being confronted with a time when this right is not available. This is the first obstacle Aries encounters: life has limits, restrictions, boundaries; we must come to the recognition that life is ruled by others. This reality brings forward two concepts in the Aries world: one is power, and the other freedom. Life for an Aries is not about responsibility as normally presented in the parental sense of the idea. Let's leave that one to earth sign guys!

Fighting and Raging

When Aries feels that he cannot express his creative power of being freely, he will typically explode in anger. This explosion is connected with a sense of unfairness and frustration.

The question is, "whose power is looming over me?" Once that entity is identified, the next natural step is to summon the fire of the cosmos and set about conquering that, whatever it is. As van Gogh put it, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint', then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Or, if she doesn't love you, cut your ear off and send it to her. But don't do nothing.

People in relationships with Aries men need to remember this. They need to know that those around them support them in the quest to fulfill their own destiny. If you are in this role, you may not feel appreciated, but you can keep silent faith that you are. Someday you will be thanked. You may want to put this on the table: gratitude needs to be expressed consciously and agreements negotiated overtly.

Aries man, though typically considered centered on himself, is often pushed by the desire to fight for a cause. He may not follow it; self-interest may prevail. But then so may altruism. Ruled by the God of War, Mars, one can understand that the firstborn energy was one of a warrior. It takes guts to brave death and create life, and often this has a spiritual source. There are no atheists in foxholes. Alice A. Bailey includes the trait of "entering into battle for the lord" as being primary to the experience of Aries, something that many seem to take on an evangelistic level. We will see this vividly with men possessing the Aries Moon, who make men with the Aries Sun seem like tame sheep.

Aries makes peace early with the fact that to live is to fight. Experience, including intimacy, is often expressed through conflict. This sense of high drama, extreme contrast and the fight-to-the-death spirit can be extremely off-putting to those who want to exist on more peaceful terms. Yet this is simply how Aries externalizes a conflict that every person committed to being alive faces, which is the right to maximize his existence. Those who claim that the world is heading for a peaceful place may need to be reminded of the warrior spirit that it will take to challenge the powers of destruction and to preserve the peace.

Working at its best, the Aries quest for existence will extend to the right of others to exist: not the "live and let live" of Aquarius, but the impassioned defense, advocacy or going into battle for others, often without having to be asked.

Aries may constantly fight the feeling of not being able to "be all he can be," paraphrasing the Army's cheesy old ad, but this can have many positive manifestations. For one thing, it keeps him hungry for success or achievement. While it may be exhausting to coexist with relentless goal oriented energy, we all need someone around us who pushes limits. We need that one person who is dauntless and who is willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause, in the words of the Man of LaMancha, a quintessential Aries character: the "mad knight" Don Quixote who was always willing to dream the impossible dream. Note: without the imagination of Pisces running right in the background, there would be nothing to dream at all. If Aries is powerful, it is drawing all of its nutrients from the ocean of Pisces.

In classical astrology, there is a connection. Mars is the ruler of all of the water signs (this is called the triplicity ruler); and it is specifically the ruler of Aries.

The creative impulse of Aries fights restrictions that are imposed, ignoring all the valid reasons that convince him to stop. At its worst, the fight becomes a struggle to defend one's ego games: to keep power, to refuse to change, to refuse to give up territory, to refuse to think. The tempers and childish reactions of these men (and women, for that matter) are legion. We will see this with the Moon in even more stark terms.

At best, we have blazing originality and the drive to bring things from thought to action in a world that is, in many respects, more devoted to stagnation than to any other state of energy.

Life With an Aries Man

Engaging deeply with an Aries man, one must prepare for an experience of "the brighter the light, the darker the shadows." This experience of contrasts can manifest emotionally, in the cycles of living and the peaks and valleys of success and failure. It can manifest sexually; Mars has a long retrograde, and the sexual nature may turn inward for extended phases of time. He may not know what he wants. He may be perplexed by his own reluctance, in times when he is not, as usual, driven by desire.

To be his lover, you must connect to both the dark side and the light side of his nature. This means connecting with both the conqueror and also with the side that embraces the tragic nature of life, even if this is a little over-dramatized. Aries is one of those signs that thrives on a sense of the new and extraordinary, and it makes a lot of sense to put this into a healthy context, which means a creative context. However, the dark side will probably be more difficult to access. Men are trained not only not to cry, but also not to have an inner life. You cannot avoid having an inner life, but you can surely learn to ignore it.

While we may feel that there are more evolved ways to relate to one another than fighting, life with someone who has a strong Aries signature may indeed (at times) be a fight. That is, it will be a fight for as long as it takes him to make a conscious decision to mature. But don't take that too far: you would be a lot smarter to go with the immature side, and to allow your Aries companion to help you challenge the calcified 'adult consciousness' that is currently crystallizing our culture to death like a rock-candy horror film.

Remember that a fight is what will make most Aries people feel alive, and if they have no fight in them, it may be entirely internalized and slugged out in an inner struggle. That is not healthy for them; it is worse than a Gemini who smokes. It is absolutely vital for Aries to express that conflict rather than internalize it, though it would of course be eminently helpful if they did not act it out on you. Beware of passive acts of hostility in environments where active self-assertion is not welcome. Give your Aries companion space to exert his will -- and hope that he follows your cue.

Remember that the Sun serves to express the adult self. Saturn expresses the parental self (the need to control self and others) and the Moon expresses the child self (physical and emotional needs). Therefore, it would be unwise to treat the Aries Sun man as a child in any way: he longs to be treated like a man, which means being given the freedom of impetuosity, impulse, and instigation -- in short, I, I, I.

But let us not forget the most important I of all, imagination. Imagination is not about passive dreaming -- it is about daring to project one's thoughts into the void.

Take part in these "I factors." Be alert but submissive. Let the captain be the captain. Be prepared to do things that make no sense, and which may fail. Perhaps set some money aside in case one of these projects drains the bank account, but be prepared to take action, and be prepared to have the plan not work out. Then be prepared to go for the next one. There is always a next thing, otherwise the next thing is presumed to be death.

A little direct attention can go a long way, which may mean participating as a comrade fighting side by side more than it does playing into their ego. Stay off that level; always let it be about the greater mission. It would go a long way to make some of their goals your goals, without taking them away or taking over. In fact, this would seem to be an inevitable offering of loyalty, but beware -- you may not be thanked directly; your contribution may be subsumed into the larger whole.

If you are using astrology and you want to reach the person on the level of his inner emotional needs, his deeper vulnerability, look for the story told by the Moon. This will be the more vulnerable side of his nature, the one that is calling for some grandmotherly compassion. To relate to anyone, you need to relate on the basis of the Sun and the Moon, speaking to the inner adult and inner child at once. Check the Moon placement in the next 11 chapters of this book for clarification about how to do that.

Hidden behind his armor we have one of the most romantic souls of the zodiac: romance connected not with pretense but rather with the search of the sublime and truthful.

Love is the place where Aries can feel, truly deeply feel, the more subtle and tender energy of creation. If Aries, instead of wanting and desiring, allowed himself to be led where he could surrender and forget that he is in charge, he would connect with his inner poetry, his inner beauty, his inner pleasure of being: a sense of being that does not need to go through anger and rebellion, but one that 'gives up' the arms (as weapons) to open his arms. Aries men should remember that they are true worshipers of The Goddess, and that honoring the lover they are is making their desire be the servant of love.

The opposite sign of the zodiac is Libra. Libra is about justice, balance, aesthetics, but is correctly renowned for being indecisive. Aries may overcompensate, in that he is likely to project that Libra viewpoint onto anyone he encounters. Therefore, be strong, come on strong, and point every discussion in the direction of a shared arrangement: of compromise in the most positive sense of the concept.

Aries is the first sign of the wheel: the first of the twelve archetypes and experiences of the human soul. It brings forward the raw energy of birth: the initiation to life. Aries energy is as strong as the seed that breaks its own veil to travel through the thick layer of earth and burst out to life. Aries' power lies in the will to go, to push, to insist: to do it.  Aries is a sign that crosses the shadows to meet the light.

This can be alienating because so many people are so enamored by the status quo, threatened by change and devoted to avoiding anything that might up-end their stuck games or shock them out of their dead scripts. Due to how people react to them and many other factors, the story of men with the Aries Sun is as much about darkness as it is about light.

Going beyond dualism, perhaps Alice Bailey summed up the properties of this sign the best when she wrote that its mission is to:

Express the will to be and do

Unfold the power to manifest.

Enter into battle for the Lord

Arrive at unity through effort.

Aries not only creates; it prepares the conditions wherein creation is possible. Its job is to open the door; 11 other phases follow; we cannot blame Aries for its reputation of not being so good at closure, but still, this is a goal that is inevitable set out: the conscious awareness of the full cycle of existence, and the profound work of integrating light and dark within one's own psyche.

The Aries Moon

The Sun represents the conscious quest to express oneself; the Moon represents reflected need. Often, it operates on a less conscious level than the Sun. It would seem that with Aries, these two properties are reversed. The Sun appears to be the more introverted of the two, and the Moon the more extroverted -- the one living a quest to conquer the outer world, rather than the inner one.

One version of the story of the Aries Moon can be found in the life of John Francis Queeny, the founder of Monsanto. Currently among the world's largest purveyors of biotech technologies, Monsanto had its humble beginnings in the early 20th century as a manufacturer of artificial sweeteners for Coca-Cola.

I took a random guess that he had an Aries Moon (he does). His story is told in the book Faith, Hope and $5,000. Apart from the fact that he worked at another job and saved his pennies to raise some of the initial capital he used to start Monsanto, one anecdote in particular tells you all you need to know.

Queeny's first factory was destroyed by a fire. So he set out to look for a new space. He found one, sharing a factory building with the Diamond Match Company.

It takes a special kind of dauntless quality (essential for any industrialist) and also the Aries Moon kind of devil-be-damned attitude to shack up with a match factory when your own place had just turned to ashes. Soon after, however, Queeny went onto buy the Swann Chemical Co. of Anniston Alabama, and unfortunately using that dauntless vision, he took the company in the direction of PCBs and dioxin. It proved to be visionary: by the 1970s, PCBs were involved in nearly every product on the market, just like petroleum is today. Of all companies in the world, Monsanto is a company that proceeds with one of the most Arian senses of entitlement; doing as much or more damage than anyone has to human health and the environment.

But Monsanto’s Queeny is nearly paralleled by the Aries Moon of William Henry Gates, and that of his would-be competitor, Steve Jobs, who we shall come to in a few moments.

Unlike the Sun, the Moon represents need that always translates to the physical level. The Moon represents the core of the personality (not the person) -- the child self, a kind of relic of the kid who was, but written with indelible printing on the psyche. With Aries Moon, the qualities of this sign are brought out in even more stark relief than they are with the Sun. The emotional and intuitive nature of these natives reflects the need for attention, for power and most of all, to be number one. It seems that the Moon possesses a competitive nature that the Sun in this sign cannot parallel.

There is a drive for fame and recognition that usually exceeds the patience to bring that into fruition. The Aries Moon will nearly always compare himself to the greatest people in the field in which they are competing, with grandiose images of fame and accomplishment. Often enough they can bring this to some fruition, and when they hit a crisis they are the naturally born heroes of the zodiac.

Men with this placement who gain the ability to command others, or who learn to charm them with their considerable charisma, drive, arrogance and sex appeal, are the ones who can actually make some progress in their lives. As they mature, they may learn that the lone wolf qualities of this Moon completely contradict its drive for success, since very few people compete or succeed alone. Success depends on cooperation and orchestration.

While the Moon is not the only indicator of the mother or the mother complex, it seems that it speaks of the existence of a mother who could not give the child the one thing that he needed the most, which is direct attention. The mother may have been too self-centered to give this kind of attention to the child, thus leaving him with a profound need, as an adult, to get this attention. The problem is, they may not be open to it on an emotional level, because the Moon is the part of us that receives. This receiving quality is highly stressed out in the case of the Aries Moon.

Animate this complex in an adult life, and you may end up with prodigious talent (Marlon Brando, Jerry Garcia, David Gilmore, Louis Armstrong) a master politician (Al Capone), an extraordinary tyrant (Heinrich Himmler) or the most memorable perpetrators of many decades (Jim Jones, Jeffrey Dahmer). You can end up with the most visible crusaders for social causes (Ralph Nader in his day, and investigative journalist Bill Moyers). If you are a woman, you may become one of the most daring pioneers of sexuality (Betty Dodson, who has an 8th house Aries Moon and whose primary message was to teach women that they don't need men for sexual pleasure). You may end up being different for the sake of being different (Howard Stern), or you end up being different because you have no choice but to tell the truth (Bill Hicks).

The job of the Moon in any chart is to reflect emotional common ground -- a quality known as empathy. In its worst manifestation, the Moon in Aries can lack any compassion at all, for others or for itself -- and in a sense, that is its gift and its downfall. No empathy is unusual; there is always some, though it may, or may not be expressed. When you are competing, it's extremely useful to at least set aside empathy for your competitor. The downfall is that empathy is one of the most endearing, redeeming traits of humanity. The self-focus of this Moon can be extremely off-putting, unless you get with the cause; and in that case, if the native of this Moon accepts you as part of the cause.

In men, the Aries Moon creates a situation where a man competes like he is a woman in the world of men, impatiently and with killer instincts. We know the drive and determination of women who make it to the top, sacrificing most or all of their femininity along the way. Hillary Clinton is believed by some astrologers to have an Aries Moon.

This does not necessarily make them bad people -- but perhaps difficult. Part of the difficulty is that, when relating to a man, it is essential to connect to their feminine side as well as their masculine -- and most of the feminine resources are occupied in a fiery, dynamic, outgoing and often bossy side of the nature. Other chart elements would need to offer strong grounding in earth or water signs to restore these attributes.

When it is working well, the Aries Moon can create social crusaders like none other. Bill Moyers, one of the best known public affairs journalists of our day, is an excellent example. He came back first from bypass surgery then from retirement because he simply could not stand by while the injustices of the world continued in his lifetime.

When it is not working, you can have a real disaster on your hands. An excellent example is Ralph Nader. A participant on a discussion group I take part in summed up Aries Moon hubris quite well when he wrote:

Nader was a hero of mine up until 2000. He was an icon of social responsibility and activism. But even the most naive political student knew that the 2000 margin was going to be razor thin. By October of that year, he had clearly made his point. The stakes were too high that year...It irritates me to think that someone as supposedly enlightened as Nader failed to predict what the rest could see clearly: that the next four or eight years would be disastrous should someone as stupid as Bush and evil as Cheney be given the reins of control. This turned out to be horribly true. Nader's over-inflated ego prevented him from doing the morally and ethically correct thing to do: Drop out and push his support to the lesser of two evils. We can only imagine how many lives would have been spared.

Wherever the ego meets the world with such intensity, there is risk of frustration, or even extreme frustration. In a relationship, that frustration, combined with the competitive nature of these natives, can be difficult to relate to. And while they will, in the end, always get the attention they need, their self-esteem may not be any better for it.

The antidote is cultivating empathy and sufficient patience to be present for others, particularly others who are in the position to meet their needs -- the people with whom they may be the most impatient. These are the qualities of a mature person, and maturity is something that often comes at a high price or considerable effort for the Aries Moon. However, with this Moon, when one is made to feel important by the people around him, suddenly he can be a lot more receptive.

One trait of this Moon is the drive to simplify things. It is noteworthy that the man who almost single-handedly brought astrology out of the dark ages in the 19th century -- Alan Leo -- had an Aries Moon. Though he obviously comprehended astrology effectively, he felt that in order for other people to understand it, it had to be much simpler. He is the one ultimately responsible for the creation of the "12 letter alphabet" mentality, wherein the 12 signs, 12 houses and the associated planets are presumed to have approximately the same meaning.

Leo was also the first of the modern era to be prosecuted for the practice of astrology. He was acquitted in one case and convicted and fined in another, which very nearly broke his spirit. Still, though few people know it today, Alan Leo is the father of modern astrology.

We also have the father of Pop Art, if you can really call him that: Andy Warhol. He once said, "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he, for some reason, thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

The mellower people born under this Moon sign may sometimes be reluctant about their leadership, as exemplified by Jerry Garcia, the founder of the Grateful Dead. But they don't deny the trait is there.

"Here's something that used to happen all the time," he said in an interview. "The band would check into a hotel. We'd get our room-key and then we'd go to the elevator. Well, a lot of times we didn't have a clue where the elevator was. So, what used to happen was that everybody would follow me, thinking that I would know. I'd be walking around thinking why the fuck is everybody following me? [Laughter] So, if nobody else does it, I'll start something -- it's a knack."

Well stated as usual, Jerry.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

SPEAKING OF STARTING something, two men with an Aries Moon have shaped modern culture perhaps more than any others. Considering that a former chairman of IBM is reputed to have said, many decades ago, that he saw a need for only five computers (in the world), the achievement of putting a computer on every desk and in nearly ever briefcase is a formidable one.

Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft. Steve Jobs is the co-founder of Apple Computer. Not only do both men have Aries Moons, they are within one degree of one another -- and both are exactly conjunct to/with the new planet Eris.

Gates is known in computer circles for his famous letter of Feb. 3, 1976, which in approximately 500 words established the software industry. Called, "An Open Letter to Hobbyists," (and posted to one website in a file called "gateswhine"), Gates brilliantly expressed his sense of entitlement for compensation for his work. I will treat you to most of the letter; these are words as historic as the Declaration of Independence.
The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

Is this fair? One thing you don't do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3 man-years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.
This is not the usual way one goes about marketing a product. You don't accuse your potential customers of being thieves. Typically, you kiss their ass. This seems never to have occurred to Mr. Gates -- he just laid out his position in plain talk. It verges on a guilt trip; mainly, he is pissed off at the apparent lack of ethics by "hobbyists." But hey, Gates was not making two bucks an hour for long.

What he specializes in is the sense of entitlement. He is able to generalize it. Later, he wrote: "If something's expensive to develop, and somebody's not going to get paid, it won't get developed. So you decide: Do you want software to be written, or not?’"

I wonder if, when he was writing BASIC, Gates could conceive of his software being installed on every aircraft carrier and battleship (not to mention every desk) in the world.

Mary Gates is reputed to have given her son the seed money he used to start Microsoft -- that necessary little push. And once her son was one of the richest men in the world, she changed her tune. Wikipedia writes, "A longtime United Way board member, Mary Gates, by all accounts, persistently encouraged her son to do more with his wealth than simply accumulate it. After years of single-minded, voracious focus on the Microsoft bottom line, Bill Gates appears to finally be heeding his mom's advice. Charity does, it seems, begin at home."

It is one of those astonishing astrological coincidences that Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, has the same basic Moon as Gates: within one degree of the same place in Aries and, as we shall come to in a moment, conjunct Eris.

Jobs' pioneering spirit seems to far exceed that of Gates -- he set out not only to make good computers, but innovative ones as well. The idea for a "windows" type operating system was originated, on the market, with Macintosh and copied by Microsoft.

Jobs, however, was such a tyrant that he was ousted from Apple, the company he started. During his 15-year absence, he pioneered a new computer, called NeXT. Nobody but a geek has ever heard of NeXT, except almost everyone has used one. After his exile from Apple, Jobs returned just when the company needed revitalizing, converting NeXT technology into Mac OSX and the Intel-based system.

According to Wikipeaida, the NeXT workstation depicted here became the first server on the world's first Web server. If Gates was a visionary on the level of scale, Jobs was and remains a visionary on the level of quality and innovation.

How did he get to be this way? Jobs gave the commencement address at Stanford on June 12, 2005, when he said:
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my [adoptive] parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
Here we see the titanic role that the mother can play, even if she is not personally able to give of her own emotional or physical resources. Still, there is a gap on that level, and the world must be informed that this gap needs to be filled. If those with the Aries Moon are not going to spend their lives as a hungry ghost, they need to open up and let that nourishment in; relent from the push energy; trust that things will work out, even if they do not personally hold the universe together with both hands.

Afterthoughts: The Shadow of the Sun

Both war and desire have their shadow side. But so, too, does any act of creation. Let's take these three as closing thoughts on this first cycle of the zodiac: Creation, war and desire -- in this order.

Students of the tarot are often cautioned that The Sun, trump XVIIII, is a positive card, but that too much Sun can burn. We need to remember this with Aries, but there is something else.

We all know that creation and creativity have a shadow side. In conscious creativity, that shadow side is integrated into the work; true art is not all blazing light: it integrates light and shadow in a way that gives contrast and provides a sense not of "the new" (which is advertising) but rather of renewal. The sense of renewal comes from taking an integrated approach to life.

Imagine if every ad for a new Mercedes included a caveat: Do you really need this car? Maybe your old one from last year is fine.

When creativity is applied unconsciously, we end up with the plastics industry: an industry that cannot deal with the effects of what it creates, and nor can the rest of us. Is there one household in the United States that is not overwhelmed with plastic? It is an industry that could never, ever process the effects of what it creates. Or we end up with the chlorine industry, where (as with plastics, which are related) the drive for profits completely overtakes the necessity of world citizenship.

Aries represents the initiation of the creative process, and as we can see from the lives of men with the Aries Sun, that process involves a necessary descent into darkness that has not yet, to our knowledge, been admitted by astrology. Humans are not factories. Whether we like to go there or not, we will, at some point, be taken down the path of inner darkness, to find our freedom there as well.

What we bring to that darkness is not the light of initiative, but rather the light of awareness and self-acceptance. Indeed, if there is SELF, there must be self-acceptance.

Our society is based on war. Eisenhower warned, in a famous speech given late in his administration, that the United States was now run by the military industrial complex: our entire economy, he told us nearly 50 years ago, was being taken over by the military. Warfare is a trait assigned by astrology to Mars and Aries.

It was around this time that we stopped welcoming our soldiers home as heroes and as men who had made a contribution to society, and, to whom it was worth giving recompense. Today, we don't even give proper medical benefits for those who were sent into battle and came out injured.

To see something of our state of mind here, let's consider a few facts about our recent war veterans. This information is not being distributed in underground campus newspapers. It does not need to be. CNN recently reported that the rate of soldier suicides increased by 20% between 2006 and 2007, and that there were 2,100 instances of self-injury in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 in 2006.

Everyone comes back from Iraq mentally damaged. With 15 month tours of duty, no sense of pride in what they are doing and being surrounded by death and loss, it is impossible not to. It is telling of our country's treatment of its warriors that a quarter of all our homeless in the United States are war veterans.

Late last year, The Nation reported: "Specialist Jon Town's case is used as an example of Iraq War veterans who are denied medical services after serving. Town was deemed fit to serve, but upon returning with headaches and hearing loss, he was diagnosed with a pre-existing psychological condition and denied medical care."

Or consider this, according to a report of Agence Global: "Andrew Pogany, an investigator for the soldiers' rights group Veterans for America, has been looking into personality disorder discharges for two years. The discharge, officially known as Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13, is simply a loophole, he says, to dismiss wounded soldiers without providing them benefits. Pogany says Town's case is a textbook example of how Chapter 5-13 is being applied."
We all know these stories. They are the result of a society that is enamored by war, but is so deep in denial that it refuses to deal with the results on any level. Here, we can identify a very specific problem associated with Aries.

Last, we have the issue of desire. We could say a lot about how a culture of desire is unfulfilling, but there is one quality that to me illustrates the psychic split between desire and fulfillment. Everyone who has had sex with more than a couple of men has experienced roll-over syndrome -- what is properly called libido drop. After male orgasm, the mind, desire, one's feelings and consciousness itself can fall off a cliff. One mother of a teenage daughter told me how the daughter described her boyfriend as turning into a zombie. Others describe this as "I love you till I cum." In another aspect of eroticism, it manifests as men being repulsed by their own semen but expecting others to take it into their bodies -- usually women.

All of these are the shadow of Aries. If an Aries man or anyone influenced by this sign -- and we are, any time we strive to conquer, create or fulfill a desire -- is going to feel sane, it is the dark side of the Sun that we need to integrate into ourselves as a conscious act as well; as a decision made with all the power of Mars.

Desire is great and fulfillment is better. But if these things don't make us happy, there is a reason. The reason is not abstract or intellectual, and when we finally discover what it is and unlock the door, let it out of its dark space and begin a conversation with it, we will be ready to move onto the sensual, emotionally rich world of Taurus.
Mars Calling