It’s been proven that people learn foreign languages most effectively by the “immersion” method of being surrounded by the language in its natural context. Sure, you’ll still ask questions to clarify certain points and you might spend a little spare time brushing up on the basics, but the main way you become fluent in a new language is to fully experience that language as it’s naturally used.
In my view, astrology is essentially a language… and I’ve learned much more about astrology from reading and listening to expert astrologers explain charts or astrological concepts – even when they were speaking “over my head” – than I have from part-by-part lessons. That’s why I write so many chart analyses and concept-driven posts and why, even in my “basic” posts, I try to connect the subject to a broader astrological discussion. This post is titled “Mars in 1st House” and (of course) I’ll write about Mars in the 1st house, but hopefully with enough context included to form the astrological equivalent of a realistic “conversation.”
I’ve recently posted about the charts of two very different people with Mars in the 1st house and also looked over the chart of a close friend with Mars in the 1st house. All three examples clearly demonstrate how Mars may function in this position, yet each of these people also has Mars in a specific sign and nakshatra – (along with other planets in different positions, of course) – resulting in strikingly unique life choices and personality traits. For my Astrology and Enlightenment series, I profiled the great sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, who has Mars in the 1st house in Gemini and the nakshatra of Punavarsu; in my political astrology posts, I’ve discussed Donald Trump, who has Mars in the 1st house in Leo and the nakshatra of Magha; and my friend, whom I’ll call Henry, has Mars in the 1st house in Virgo and the nakshatra of Hasta.
If you’re wondering what Nisargadatta Maharaj and Donald Trump have in common, both are (or were in Nisargadatta’s case) near-tireless, quick to anger, and have/had unusually strong, memorable personalities. However, if I stopped there and explained “Mars in the 1st house” as representing these characteristics, you would probably think, “Yeah, right… so this placement can represent either a bombastic billionaire businessman or a great sage who was so humble he lived in a small flat near Bombay’s red light district almost his entire life. Thanks for narrowing it down for me.”
So, let’s look deeper. Trump’s Mars is in the fire sign of Leo, while Maharaj’s Mars is in the air sign of Gemini. (Each sign is associated with either fire, air, earth or water.) It’s not an accident that terms such as “fiery” and “hot-blooded” refer to people who behave passionately and impulsively or that we call people who draw attention to themselves by putting on a big show “flamboyant.” Air signs are connected to their own cultural terminology. We refer to people as “high-minded” if we think they have something important to say or “long-winded” when we think they’re just talking for no good reason. The basic functioning of Leo is expressive and fiery, while the basic functioning of Gemini is talkative and airy. However, we should also note that Mars itself is a fiery planet, so it would make sense to view Trump’s Mars as “fire-meeting-fire” but Nisargadatta’s Mars as “fire-meeting-air.”
Trump tends to speak succinctly and impulsively. While his lack of restraint is off-putting to some, his bold demeanor and willingness to say what’s on his mind comes across as refreshing and genuine to others. Trump’s Mars is in the nakshatra of Magha, which is symbolized by a throne and specifically refers to the actual process of first becoming king. This connects to his interest in in obtaining real estate, becoming rich and famous and, now, running for President. It’s not an accident that Trump is in a Mars antardasha (sub-period) right now and will be through Election Day – he’s focused on the exact symbolism of his antardasha planet’s nakshatra. Other significant factors in Trump’s life are a near stationary Jupiter in the 2nd House of fixed assets and the conjunction of his Ascendant lord Sun and Rahu in the 10th house of career and status.
Nisargadatta spoke to and answered questions from seekers every evening for decades in his Bombay flat. And if they annoyed him, sometimes he yelled at them or kicked them out… after all, he had Mars in the 1st house. However, the same seekers would come back the next day and the process would continue, with Nisargadatta’s good intentions never in question. Nisargadatta’s interest was in communicating a spiritual message and ending suffering, but he still did so in a distinctly Martian manner. His Mars is in the nakshatra of Punavarsu, which translates to “good again” and refers to the harvest after the storm of the previous nakshatra, Ardra. There were plenty of “storms” in Nisargadatta’s flat but his goal was always to provide those who came to him with the ultimate harvest of enlightenment. Another significant factor in Nisargadatta’s life is the conjunction of his Ascendant lord Mercury, Venus and Sun in his 11th house of friends, networks and fulfillment of desires.
Now, let’s look at my friend, Henry, who is neither aggressive nor especially talkative. He’s even-tempered and naturally friendly, but always careful not to offend or dominate a conversation. While he has Mars in the 1st house, it is in the earth sign of Virgo and the nakshatra of Hasta. Think of sayings such as “down to earth,” “grounded” or “salt of the earth” – they all mean somebody is humble, reasonable and/or a hard worker. Earth signs traditionally related to farmers or other people who actually worked with the earth, but in modern times they represent any type of work with one’s hands and a priority placed on security and stability. Hasta is specifically known for being amiable and humble and Virgo tends to be analytical and detail-oriented.
Henry has unusually strong security and stability in his life for somebody his age. By many people’s standards he would be considered rich… but this only happened after he worked roughly 70-hour weeks for a few years after college to earn a series of promotions. If you’re friendly, humble and willing to work 70 hours a week, your prospects for advancement are… how should I put this? I’m going with “fucking awesome.” Like Trump and Nisargadatta, Henry has the near-tireless energy of Mars in the 1st house, but in his case, his focus was on doing his job as well as possible (instead of conquering the New York City real estate market or communicating spiritual teachings).
Henry’s job requires technical expertise, is very detail-oriented and is done with his hands. He works for other people in a position that pays well but doesn’t get much attention, which is fine with him. His sincere interest in other people and their lives also results in him networking effectively in the best possible way i.e. thinking of it as having fun meeting lots of interesting people instead of as “networking.” While Mars in an earth sign could be considered “fire-meeting-earth,” Henry is too polite and mild-mannered to involve other people as an outlet for his “fire” – instead, he fulfills the fiery nature of Mars in the 1st house physically, whether through long hours at the office or, when he has the time, strenuous physical workouts. Years ago, he was probably the top athlete in our high school.
I’m aware that I didn’t discuss an example of Mars in the 1st house in a water sign, but that would be (and might be) an entirely new post. Placing the active, direct characteristics of Mars within the fluidity and depth of water is more unpredictable and varied than the other elements. Mars rules one water sign, Scorpio, and is generally strong in the Jupiter-ruled water sign of Pisces, but considered debilitated in another water sign, Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon. Mars in water signs is an interesting discussion, but one that’s too lengthy and complex to squeeze into the rest of this post.