At Home with the Wanderer

A request recently came up on one of the astrological forums wanting to know what our favorite natal planetary placement is (that is, in our own birth charts). Since I don’t give much weight to the three modern planets these days, my decision was fairly straightforward, and not the one you might expect. First-house Jupiter in Sagittarius in an applying trine to 9th House Saturn in Leo would probably have to be considered the most fortunate, although in classical terms Jupiter might  qualify as 2nd House since it’s within three degrees of the cusp. However, Jupiter is retrograde and the applying trine occurs because it is moving back into the 1st House toward perfection with Saturn. There is a measure of  reserved self-assurance arising from that placement that is hard to deny.

But it’s 10th House Mars in Virgo that really grabs my attention. It is the most elevated planet, sitting within 5° of the Midheaven. Fussy Virgo would not be my first choice for making the most of ebullient Mars, but there’s more to the story. Virgo is one of the “scientific” signs – along with Scorpio and Aquarius – and Mars there would seem to revel in mechanical aptitude, perhaps in the area of engineering.  In truth, I spent a large part of my 31-year career in a highly detail-oriented technological capacity, both performing and supervising mechanical engineering activities. I’m not a formally-trained engineer, so it must have been a natural talent.

But there is still more to the story. Mars is peregrine, making no classical (that is, non-Keplerian) aspects to any of the other six traditional planets. Over the years I held several management positions that can only be described as wholly entrepreneurial. I was given great organizational freedom to set up, staff and run three new departments within the company, and totally revamp a fourth one. My unattached Mars was perfectly content in that role. Mars “leads the parade” of five antique planets – Sun, Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Mars (plus Uranus and Pluto) – in the southwestern quadrant of the sky; Mercury and Venus are not overtaking it since they’re retrograde and drifting back toward the 8th House Cancer Sun, and Saturn sits in the middle. A motivating semi-square exists between the tight Mercury/Venus conjunction and Saturn, while both (as well as the Sun) share an enabling sextile with the Mars-Saturn midpoint,  pulling their emphasis forward in the mix despite the retrogradation. It all seems to function like a well-oiled machine. When that midpoint (3° Virgo) is activated, it lights up the whole array. I’m not a fan of the Sabian Symbols of Marc Edmund Jones, but this one is interesting: “Two Guardian Angels: Invisible help and protection in times of crises;” in his book An Astrological Mandala, Dane Rudhyar suggests “Strength Within” as the core principle for this one. Having Mars and Saturn as the sentinels of this fortress makes me think of the old Jim Croce song: “Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”

A final wrinkle is added by the fact that Mars is in an exact quintile aspect to both Mercury and Venus. The quintile is considered a sign of artistic creativity, and I did in fact pursue a graphic design education (again, more Mars-in-Virgo  than Venus-in-Cancer stuff), but really came into my own in the career area of technical writing. It’s where I learned to write economically and avoid over-writing, since I can be too enamored of seeing my own words on paper. Ruthless editing  might be another hallmark of Mars in Virgo, and I learned it well since lack of clarity is anathema to the technical procedures and corporate legal correspondence I was charged with producing. In fact, one of my graduate-engineer subordinates told me that, in Engineering School, writing too creatively was frowned upon.

Overall, the 10th House has been a fascinating place to have peregrine Mars in a fastidious Earth sign. It’s certainly been more fun and more at home than my intercepted 2nd House Moon in Capricorn.

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