Mars Astrology: The Ultimate Planet Guide

The heat is on! Mars is the second smallest planet in our solar system that governs passion and sex drive. With its blood red color and raging dust storms, it is little wonder that Mars is also the planet associated with anger and combat. 

What Mars means in astrology

Named after the Roman god of war and agriculture, our virility and fertility is influenced by Mars’ placement in our natal chart. Although Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system, his nature is #fierce. One might say he even has a bit of an astrological Napoleon complex! Ironically, Mars boasts the tallest mountain (the Olympus Mons) in the entire solar system. We could make all kinds of jokes about this, but we’ll spare you.

“Life on Mars” may soon be more than just a classic David Bowie jam, since satellite photos have revealed that some of Mars’ ice formations have melted into liquid water, which could evolve into organism-supporting conditions over time. Mars hovers in a single zodiac sign for an average of seven weeks. Every other year, however, the red planet goes retrograde and can linger in a single sign (or pivot between two) for nearly nine months!

Instinctual Mars is the ruler of aggro Aries—the first sign of the zodiac. (Fun fact: Mars is actually the Roman version of the Greek god Ares.) He spawns a primal energy and a desire to dominate. What’s your fighting style? Are you combative, passive, manipulative…? The zodiac sign your Mars falls in your chart will show how you do battle.

Mars’ influence in your chart can liberate your lusty nature and help you enjoy a fulfilling sex life.

What does a Mars sign mean in astrology?

Whenever you feel threatened, that’s when your survival instincts (fight, flight, feed and f**k) are tweaked by the placement of Mars in your chart. When the going gets tough, Mars kicks in! People born with Mars in sensitive Cancer may use emotional tactics to dominate, forming alliances with people in power (or keeping enemies closer than friends). They may also respond to stress by cleaning out the refrigerator! Someone with Mars in steady Taurus, however, could be a bit of a street fighter, quick to throw a punch when they see red. Retail therapy can be also be a vice for these folks. If you have Mars in Taurus, lock up the plastic when the going gets tough!

Mars—and his cosmic cohort, sensual Venus—are the lovebirds of the solar system. While Venus is the seductress, Mars is the raw, animal force of pure lust. No surprise here: Mars has a secondary rulership over seductive, sex-driven Scorpio. What happens when the prefrontal cortex goes silent and the reptilian brain takes over? Time becomes meaningless; we act on urge rather than thought.

What are the qualities of Mars?

Regardless of gender, all humans embody some form of male, or yang, energy. The position of Mars in your chart can reveal how you express this—and how you don’t! If you are a lover of men, Mars reveals the type of guy you’ll be attracted to in the romantic sense.

Mars may be impulsive and kind of a train wreck when left unchecked. But he is also a great motivator. If you’re low on drive or struggling to start a mission, lean in to his energy for a power boost. Mars in communicative Gemini people might benefit from finding a “project twin,” for example; someone who can act as a sounding board or a literal partner on the venture. While those born with Mars in lavish Libra may require a beautiful or decadent environment in order to get the ball rolling. Nothing wrong with a work-from-patisserie day, here and there!

Your Mars sign dictates how comfortable you feel when taking initiative with others. If you have a passive Mars sign, like dreamy Pisces, don’t stress. Practice makes perfect in this arena—plus, you may find that charm works better than the direct hit.

What is your Mars Sign? 

Use our cosmic calculator to discover what zodiac sign and house Mars was in when you were born. To accurately determine the house, you will need to know your birth time.

What if the zodiac sign and house are different?

This is common! Read both the sign and house description below. Do these interpretations pull you in two different directions? That’s not unusual. We human beings have range. Astrology is an interpretive dance, a tool which provides a fascinating layer of self-discovery. Do some “astro mixology.” Reflect on how you can work with both energies to enhance your life.

Find your Mars Sign

Calculate Yours!

What does Mars in a birth chart mean?

Like a celestial sentry, Mars readies us to fight for what we hold dear. Here’s where you feel passionate, fired up and may have a surplus of energy. Temper alert! You may find that your fuse is shorter when it comes to this area of life. Or you may run hot and cold. You’re willing to act instinctually instead of deliberately—and sometimes things get messy as a result. 

Lusty Mars is the forthright companion to seductive Venus and can bring out the “cosmic caveperson” in us all. Raw desire is directed by Mars, and that includes everything from our sex drive to our professional pursuits. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, so why not build upon that heat? Daring, energetic Mars provides exothermic momentum for our most trailblazing missions.

All about your Mars sign or natal Mars

Whatever zodiac sign and house Mars was orbiting through at your time of birth determines your “natal Mars” or “Mars sign.” More specifically, this will guide you in the following ways:

  • Motivation: How driven you are to achieve and what lights your fire
  • Lust: Your passionate instincts and erotic drive
  • Leadership: Where you’ll readily jump in and take charge
  • Fight: What gets you riled up and ready to throw down; how you do battle
  • Initiative: How readily you’ll start a project, relationship, etc.
  • Raw instincts: What makes you move into action without thinking twice

Mars is one of the inner planets, along with Venus and Mercury. Because of its closer proximity to the Sun, it moves through all twelve zodiac signs in 687 days, spending an average of 6-8 weeks in each zodiac sign.

Mars astrology facts

Planetary Stats: Mars

  • Changes Zodiac Signs: Every 6-8 weeks
  • Zodiac Sign It Rules: Aries (and secondary ruler of Scorpio)
  • Day of the Week: Tuesday

What does Mars govern?

  • Combat style
  • Motivation
  • Lust, Sex drive, Virility
  • Competitiveness
  • Sacred masculine energy

What zodiac sign is ruled by Mars?

Aries, with a minor rule over Scorpio.

What are the special positions of Mars?


Mars turns retrograde once every two years for a span of approximately two and a half months. It’s not that unusual to be born with this planet in reverse. You may have to work harder to muscle through its lessons, but once you nail this planet’s energy, your additional effort may actually lead to a rock-solid mastery of working with Mars in your life. 

Domicile: Aries 

The planet’s home base, an easy flow if placed here in the chart

Detriment: Libra 

Opposite sign of home base, may need to work harder to integrate the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart 

Exalted: Capricorn 

The planet’s most powerful position; indicates ease and added fortune with using the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart

Fall: Cancer 

Opposite sign to the exalted position, can indicate struggles with utilizing the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart

What does Mars represent in the houses?

The meaning of the placement of Mars in a birth chart, for each of the 12 houses

Mars in Aries or the 1st House 

If you were born with Mars in Aries or the 1st house, you’re a deeply driven go-getter and a fierce trailblazer. Since instinctual Mars is the natural ruler of Aries (and the 1st house is home base), you tend to feel right at ease in your power and swagger.

Astrologers say that Mars is “domicile” in the sign of Aries because this zodiac sign is its home base. In romance, others are attracted by your intensity, confidence and straightforward communication style—and you won’t back down from a debate. Some people may see you as combative, but they’ll be happy to have you as an ally or even an advocate. When you go to bat for people you generally hit a home run, which can make you an amazing agent or representative. 

Read more about Mars in Aries

Mars in Taurus or the 2nd House 

With Mars in earthy Taurus or the 2nd house, you are industrious, practical and tenacious. You’ll work tirelessly to obtain financial security—mostly because you like to be comfortable, but also because you love the finer things in life. Sensual by nature, lavish decor and gourmet dining are total turn-ons. You’ll spare no expense when you’ve saved up enough to treat yourself! Fortunately, you’ve got the work ethic (and patience) to keep the coffers full. Having the restless red planet in the sign of the slow and steady Bull can be a bit of a paradox: you can wind up feeling agitated when you are rushed AND when you’re delayed. 

Read more about Mars in Taurus

Mars in Gemini or the 3rd House 

If you were born with Mars in Gemini or the 3rd house, the way to your heart (and bed!) is through the mind. Since you’re aroused by stimulating and intellectual conversation, brainy raconteurs will have you at “hello.” (Or a few witty exchanges thereafter.) With warrior Mars in this expressive sign, you may actually get aroused by a heated debate.

The person who dares to challenge you can be the one who turns you on, and fiercely so, even if your values seem diametrically opposed! But to keep the fires burning for the long haul, there must also be plenty of common ground since you DO have Mars in the sign of the Twins. Ultimately, you need someone flexible who can keep up with your ever-shifting persona, as Gemini and 3rd house placements are social and cerebral. 

Read more about Mars in Gemini

Mars in Cancer or the 4th House 

Home is where the HEAT is for those born with Mars in private, domestic  Cancer or the 4th house. You’re at your sultriest behind closed doors, especially in your own, well-appointed home. You rule in the kitchen, the bedroom and everywhere in between—whether you’re whipping up a gourmet feast or whipping off layers of clothing, and then “power cuddling” after marathon lovemaking. No apologies for wanting to be held tightly—you literally NEED that. It’s kind of like being in a sensual Crab shell. Plus, that feeling of safety can be a huge turn on for you, and it doesn’t hurt that affectionate TLC releases the feel-good, bonding hormone oxytocin.

Once you trust someone with your tender emotions, you can’t get close enough! Nesting and building a family (if not with kids, with pets) is the goal. You may fall for a partner who woos you with home-cooked meals and nostalgic tales of their childhood and relatives. 

Read more about Mars in Cancer

Mars in Leo or the 5th House 

All the world’s a stage for those born with Mars in expressive Leo or the 5th house of fun. Flamboyant and magnanimous, you rarely hit the “off” button. And why should you when life is so full of beauty, drama, and entertaining adventures? Pleasure and playtime are what this hedonistic Mars placement lives for. A born performer, your effusive energy can steal any show—and you can always be counted on to pump up the passion and fun in a social situation.

If you’re not the thespian type, you may show your regal Mars mojo by taking the lead at work. This placement makes you “presidential” by nature and you often wind up in charge by default. Just make sure you share the stage—and the power!—from time to time, or people may see you as dominating. And check yourself when you get too thirsty for praise, too. You’re at your best when you’re working for a noble purpose instead of the shiny gold star. (Not that you can’t have both.) 

Read more about Mars in Leo

Mars in Virgo or the 6th House 

Details, details, details! The so-called “little things” are actually EVERYTHING to those born with Mars in fastidious Virgo or the 6th house. You’re a keen and critical thinker on a permanent “make better” mission. Everything can and should be improved as far as you’re concerned! But you’re not trying to be fussy or difficult. Mars in Virgo makes you service-oriented by nature. Your advice is generally coming from a helpful place, and 6th house planets want to be of good use. Even if people resist hearing it at first, they inevitably admit that you’re right. Just try not to hammer them with the “I told you so’s” when they do, or hold them to unrealistic expectations! 

Read more about Mars in Virgo

Mars in Libra or the 7th House 

Talk about a paradox! Mars is the planet of combat, while Libra and the 7th house are all about harmony. Being born with the red planet in this placement can make you a “peaceful warrior” like (Libra Sun sign) Gandhi who changed the world through the art of passive resistance. But it can also be challenging to synthesize those two forces: Astrologers say that Mars is “in detriment” in Libra because this zodiac sign is actually opposite on the horoscope wheel from Aries, the sign that Mars rules.

A natural diplomat, you have a gift for creating (and keeping!) the balance in relationships, and planets in the 7th are always concerned for others. You know how to set the tone for love and respect in a powerful way, leading by example or even drafting a mission statement or guidelines for any groups that you’re a part of.

Read more about Mars in Libra

Mars in Scorpio or the 8th House 

There’s no such thing as “too intense” for those born with Mars in Scorpio or the 8th house. You love to dial up the passion to level: extreme. That’s what makes every situation memorable as far as you’re concerned. You’d rather laugh until your stomach hurts than merely chuckle, or deep dive into a friend’s relationship drama to mine the golden wisdom than proffer a surface platitude.

Since most mortals can’t hang with your range, you may go through life feeling as if very few people understand you. Your soul squad—and romantic soulmate—will mirror your emotional complexity and embrace the full-spectrum feelings that you bring to the mix. And most of all, they won’t be scared off when you have one of your meltdown moments, crying, obsessing and shaking your fist to the sky. Being THAT vulnerable is hard for you, but you need to feel safe going there with friends and romantic partners. 

Read more about Mars in Scorpio

Mars in Sagittarius or the 9th House 

If you were born with Mars in Sagittarius or the 9th house, you’re passionate about exploring the world. You’re also a wisdom seeker who loves learning about high-minded spiritual and philosophical ideologies from many cultures. Globetrotting Sagittarius rules travel, and you’re happiest while on the road, whether you’re meandering along a cobblestone street in Rome or trekking the Incan Trail! You’re outdoorsy by nature, too. With athletic Mars in this outside-the-box place, al fresco fitness is your jam. Think: hiking, mountain climbing, bike riding and even camping. 

Read more about Mars in Sagittarius

Mars in Capricorn or the 10th House 

Utterly unstoppable—that’s you! Being born with driven Mars in ambitious Capricorn or the 10th house can be a double blessing of sorts, especially when it comes to your career. Success is in your cosmic DNA. When you set your sights on a worthy goal, you will work tirelessly to achieve it—tanks filled with rocket fuel. Mars is said to be “exalted” in this sign, its luckiest placement in the zodiac. Like a double-dose of high-achiever vibes, the cosmic energy of Mars boosts Capricorn’s inherent qualities: persistence, leadership, industriousness and wealth-accruing skills. Capricorn is symbolized by the mythical Sea Goat, and having Mars here gifts you with a special brand of magic. 

Read more about Mars in Capricorn

Mars in Aquarius or the 11th House 

Hello, social justice warrior! With fierce Mars in the 11th house or Aquarius, the sign of the future-forward Water Bearer, you’re passionate about progress and making the world a better place for ALL people. A bullhorn and picket sign (along with an archive of online petitions and soul-stirring memes) may be your preferred accessories. Oh, and probably a flower crown, sparkly angel wings and other rainbow-striped accouterments. The “weird” is wonderful for those born with Mars in this multidimensional placement, and you enjoy shaking up the status quo with rebellious fashion choices and unpredictable moves. 

Read more about Mars in Aquarius

Mars in Pisces or the 12th House 

Mars in compassionate Pisces or the 12th house blesses you with an innate gift of empathy. There are a lot of “feels” swimming around in your emotion ocean! You are naturally tuned in to other people’s needs and can be a bit of a psychic sponge. With anxious Mars in this emotional water sign, you find it hard to relax in the company of unsettled people, and 12th house placements are sensitively attuned.

At times, however, your desire to relieve the suffering of others could become so intense that it feels like a burden—and you may take on their problems as your own. Learning to detach, set boundaries and to “shield your field” will be essential to your serenity. You can do this by clearing yourself regularly with talk therapy, energy healing (like Reiki), even salt baths. Be sure to create ample solitary time for meditative activities like journaling, gardening, swimming (a Pisces pleasure) and listening to soothing music. In love, you are the quintessential romantic, looking for a one-way ticket to Cloud 9.

Read more about Mars in Pisces


The Astrology Advantage

Pre-Order THE ASTROLOGY ADVANTAGE and be entered to win a chart reading. Plus: get access to exclusive bonus experiences with The AstroTwins!
Enter to win

The AstroTwins

Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as The AstroTwins, are the founders of and the authors of multiple bestselling astrology books. Their horoscopes reach millions here and through their resident astrologer column at ELLE Magazine.