by Tony Howard
Mars buddied up with Saturn in Capricorn at the end of March, and almost instantly I started hearing from friends whose charts are triggered by this aspect. One friend with transiting Mars-Saturn squaring her natal Pluto wrote, “I’m feeling confronted with this left, right and center.” You can hear Mars in the word “confronted” and the overwhelm feeling that can be associated with any transit to Pluto. So let’s work out how to respond to this energy in a constructive way.
Last year I was invited to speak about Mars to Frank Clifford’s London School of Astrology. As part of my lecture, I spoke about Mars-Saturn aspects in the natal chart. After looking at some Mars-Saturn charts in preparation, the word “tenacious” came to mind. So I Google-searched for quotes that used the word “tenacious” and amazingly, the first three results were all spoken by prominent people with Mars-Saturn aspects.
The first, television host Padma Lakshmi (pictured at right - photo credit: Ellen Wallop/Asia Society), has natal Mars in Leo square Saturn in Taurus. She has been quoted saying, “I'm not tough. I'm tenacious.” A global ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, she balances her ambitious work life with philanthropy.
Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor and television host of Court TV, has natal Mars conjunct Neptune in Scorpio sextile Saturn in Capricorn, along with the Moon in Cancer. She says, “To suggest that you can't be both a mother who is completely in love with her babies, and a professional who is tough and tenacious, is ridiculous.”
David Brock is a political commentator and author, and founder of the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Time magazine describes him as "one of the most influential operatives in the Democratic Party." He has natal Mars in Gemini trine Saturn and says, “I'm an incredibly hard worker, I'm incredibly tenacious, and I'm incredibly detail-oriented.” He also has Venus conjunct Pluto in Virgo square Mars.
So tenacity appears to be a Mars-Saturn asset – a quality you can seek to embody if this energy is getting you down. But what is tenacity exactly, and how can we embody the tenacious side of this aspect rather than the frustrated quality that is one of its pitfalls? Let’s break that down.
From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary definition of “tenacious”: “not easily pulled apart” and “persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” Now we’re onto something interesting.
If you’re tenacious, you might hit a brick wall of limitation but you don’t back down. You don’t give up at the first sign of a hitch in your plans. And you muster up the determination needed to get your way, achieve your goal, or bulldoze the competition.
Mars can be described as the principle of separation – it’s the energy that helps us when we need to set a boundary, draw a line, or cut ties. But it’s also the energy that helps us go after what we want.
When combined with Saturn, we might go after what we want in a Saturn way. Which means with more gravity, determination, or a willingness to wait for our efforts to bear fruit. See where this is going? Saturn allows us access to the patience and persistence needed to go after that “something desired” Merriam-Webster is talking about.
Going further, both of these planets are in Capricorn, emphasizing the energetic qualities of solid ground and stoic determination, among others. I think of Mars in Capricorn as a great builder of things, kind of like an energetic construction worker. When combined with Saturn, which has us thinking about time, we could see the foresight to plan ahead and work steadily towards results.
In this current configuration (March-April 2018) Mars is out of bounds. Right off that tells us that this conjunction is unusual plus it isn’t as strong as it could be. The reason is that Saturn can’t go out of bounds. The strongest conjunction is one in which the planets are both conjunct and parallel by declination. That’s a topic I’ll explore in a future webinar. But the takeaway here is that this Mars-Saturn conjunction isn’t “normal”. The conjunction or blending of these energies could be stronger than it looks at first glance. And being out of bounds, Mars has an unusual quality. You can think Mars as having “gone rogue” for the moment. It’s kind of like Saturn is the hall monitor at school and no matter how much she demands that the kids get out of the hallways and back into the classroom, they’re oblivious and keep running in other directions.
Still, Mars and Saturn share the same sign, so there’s a shared energetic quality or set of agendas that have a Capricornian vibe. Bring all of that together, and we might see some high Mars out of bounds expressions like innovating, feeling suddenly free from limits or restraints. And the grounded wisdom to solidify our plans, even if they seem a little “out there” to others.
On the darker side, we could come up with some rather zany or ungrounded ideas and find ourselves brought down to earth by an external “voice of reason” or authoritative figure who calls us out. It can difficult to have self-awareness about how our actions impact others in such a case, and in my research that seems to be one of the biggest pitfalls of an out of bounds planet.
There’s a fine line here to tread. But in general, my advice is that if you’re getting feedback from others that the actions you’re taking right now are “out there” – especially if they’re suggesting they could harm yourself or others – it might be worth listening.
During out of bounds times, we can do amazing things, unleashing unbounded creative projects, or with Mars, leaping forward ahead of the competition by innovating in the field. So listening to others voicing fears for us or challenging our ability or viability of our plans could only set up back or prevent us from giving our best gifts in the moment.
But with the shadow expression, we can also temporarily loose our marbles. And when we “come back down to Earth” when Mars goes back in bounds, the landing can be rough.
I think the key here is to focus in on the message of the criticism or blockage. Are you being told that your actions could do harm? If so, listen. Or are you being told that you “can’t do it” or that your idea is too “out there to work”? If so, listen to that too, but run it through your own filters. Are you connected to your passion and your intuition? Does this new plan or approach align with your long-term strategies? If so, you might be called to tune out the haters and forge ahead with tenacity.
These themes are strengthened or de-emphasized depending on whether this aspects your natal chart, and according to the nature of the aspect involved if so. If you need help figuring that out, we have a wonderful list of astrologers trained by Steven who would be happy to help you.
Want to learn more? Check out my webinar Challenging Mars, which includes the Mars-Saturn aspect, Mars-Neptune, and tips for making the most of your Mars.
The north node is where the answers lie. Like the north star, it guides us across life’s dark oceans, revealing the fresh path of energy, breakthrough, and evolution. An understanding of it is perhaps the single most precious catalyst astrology can provide anyone.
In this webinar, we will consider the north node’s message in terms of each of the signs and houses, along with the critical role of its planetary ruler and any aspects involved.
Tony Howard graduated Summa Cum Laude in history and film from the University of Colorado. His degree turned out to be the perfect precursor to his career in astrology, where his focus includes historical research and chart analysis. His writing has been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and in two Flare anthologies: Astrology, the Next Generation and The Book of Music Horoscopes.
Tony has been researching declination since 2011 and specializes in “out of bounds” planets. He also loves working with and studying aspects, which forms the core of his work with clients. He is the founder of Astrology University.