This year’s Vernal Equinox (falling on March 20, 2011) heralds the return of spring and the beginning of the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. Aries is ruled by the planet Mars. And according to AstroMythology tenets, this means that those with their Sun in Aries possess traits similar to those possessed by their ruler, Mars, the Roman God of War. Mars was known as Ares in ancient Greece and information about the nature of Mars/Ares (and therefore the nature of all those born from March 20th to April 20th) can be found in the body of classical mythology. Homer’s tale of the Trojan War, The Iliad, is an excellent source for evidence of characteristic Ares/Aries behavior. 

In The Iliad, Ares (whose name comes from an archaic Greek word for “throng of battle”) is known as the “god of war and bloodlust”. He is said to be “the bane of men” and “the bloodstained stormer of cities” – descriptions that indicate his affinity for strife. This affinity has a defensive and offensive expression, perfectly illustrated by the detail of Ares switching sides during the Trojan War; fighting first to defend the city of Troy, and then switching sides to fight alongside the Greeks against the Trojans.

Like their Olympian namesake, Aries people tend to be scrappy and to engage in life’s struggles with purpose. They are comfortable in both the offensive and defensive stance, as are all real warriors. Ariens are energetic and impulsive, welcoming a certain level of conflict as they pursue their goals. The symbol for the astrological constellation Aries is: the Ram, which is fitting for the headstrong and direct nature of Aries individuals.

Though somewhat inconsistent with Ares’ ferocious reputation; when he was wounded during the Trojan War, Ares hurried to his father, Zeus, to complain. He blamed others for his injuries (which were incurred during the battle he started!) and protested the injustice done to him. Like Ares, those born under his rule can become acutely distressed when they are wounded. They often seek emotional support and turn to authority figures for resolution and justice. Ares embodies all aspects of the human response to conflict; courage, fear, and the adrenaline surge linked to the fight or flight response.

With all the innocence and confidence of youth (i.e. 1st sign of the Zodiac), Aries people of any age are adamant about determining their own life-path. Their focus is self-assertion and they are willing to fight to bring their dreams to life. Without something to strive for, Aries people can become disheartened and depressed. They seem to need the demand of something to overcome, or a mission to complete, in order to be happy.

Though Ares was one of the twelve major Olympian gods, his worship was not widespread. His temple was visited mainly before battle, where the sacrifice of a dog was made to propitiate the god (the faithful dog is the animal totem associated with Ares). How appropriate that the US Marines were called “devil dogs” (teufel-hunden) by their enemies (WWI), and chose the bulldog as their mascot and Semper Fidelis, meaning “ever faithful”, as their motto! It is no surprise that there is an air of military camaraderie among Aries men and their friends. This “men’s club” echoes the fact that during festivals honoring Mars, women were barred from his temple.

Although Aries, like the other fire signs (Leo and Sagittarius), is a masculine sign, Aries women have a great deal of personal force and drive, and as opponents, they are the equals of their male brethren. In times of peace, Aries energy is expressed in animated and constructive competition. Ariens can be exceptionally kind and protective. They are loyal to friends and helpful to their neighbors, and they consistently champion the underdog. Semper Fi!