Venus conjunct Mars: Why are we competing?

By Amanda Painter

Late last week, I was reading an interesting blog post about feelings of jealousy and insecurity in polyamorous relationships (though it applies to monogamous relationships, too). The primary factor the author focused on was how our culture is set up to foster competition among female/feminine people — especially when someone identifying with that category prefers male/masculine people — due to the traditional, patriarchal objectification and commodification of women.

Couple at Jewell Falls, Portland, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Couple at Jewell Falls, Portland, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

That is, the dynamic wherein someone feels they must play the role of cute and feminine perfectly, or else risk being cut loose by the masculine partner and replaced by someone who ‘does feminine better’.

From what I can tell, the author’s use of “masculine” serves to denote both ‘men’ and anyone living as male. That is, the author was not using “masculine” to refer to alpha-male football-player types at the exclusion of sensitive, non-dominant men.

I bring all of this up because what caught my attention in light of the current astrology was less the blog post itself, and more a pair of comments by a reader. The reader had shared the essay with a geeky, male friend who apparently took issue with the use of “masculine,” and kept asking why the author did not just date geeks instead. It took the reader a while to realize that he had mistaken “masculine” to mean football-player types.

The reader took the time to explain queer terminology, and also, “that his hijacking of the problem to make it all about him is a sexist, misogynist microaggression.” The blog’s author confirmed that there was no statement in the essay about not dating geeks; the reader then mentioned she was a little mad her friend had gotten stuck on something the author never even said.

I’ve described this all because, to my mind, it perfectly illustrates the big question looming over today’s astrology: Haven’t we figured out yet that competing to see who is ‘the most wounded’ misses the bigger picture?

Back at the very beginning of the year, Eric looked ahead to the three Venus-Mars conjunctions of 2015. (The first was first in Aries, in February; the second in Leo, in August; the third right now, in Virgo). He described these three meetings as the development of a relationship — potentially sexy and passionate — but also had this to say:

The underlying theme here is competition between the sexes, and an emotional state of competition in general. This competition might be sexual, over money, over who has the flashiest toys, who is the most glamorous, and so on. In order for there to be balance in society (and in the universe), we need balance between the sexes, not a rat race or quest for superiority

This series of events seems designed to demonstrate the futility of competition. Mars might dominate the discussion at first (due to two conjunctions in fire signs, which don’t quite favor Venus), and one result might be a kind of feminist stridency. I would remind anyone interested that this does not lead to a state of balance. Rather, it can push things further out of balance.

This is not to say that the oppression of women by men does not matter; far from it. Its historical roots feed a tree that still reaches insidious branches into our daily lives. And this is not to say that women have no right to their pain and rage for the very real harm done to them; they do. But it’s becoming more and more clear that the systems we’re all operating under harm men, too — if in different ways.

The idea is not to stop recognizing the pain of women at the hands of men and our male-dominated culture. We are still redressing those wrongs, and the wrongs are still happening. It’s more like: let’s recognize that while the current paradigm grants men one kind of power — and that the power is often actively used to oppress women — that power also has shadow repercussions that hurt men.

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As far as I can tell, some of that wounding comes in the form of the severing and rejection of the inner feminine. Men compete at being ‘masculine’ just as women compete at being ‘feminine’. Not all men, and not all women; but seemingly the majority in Western culture — and that shapes the playing field for everyone, to some extent.

So, the astrology: as mentioned, Venus and Mars conjoin today for their third and last time of 2015. This is exact at 8:10 pm EST Monday (1:10 UTC Tuesday) in late Virgo.

At the time of the conjunction, Venus and Mars will be approaching a square to the Galactic Center in Sagittarius (the big picture, our cosmic homing signal, the über-message). Venus and Mars will also be square Psyche in Gemini (the psychological wound that feels as if it can never be healed), and square Pholus in Sagittarius (small cause, big effect).

Virgo brings in the question of pickiness and criticism, including self-criticism. Yet this sign also carries strong themes of teaching, healing and service in its highest expression.

This is one of the things that heartened me about the reader’s comment on that essay I read: she did in fact take the time to teach her geeky male friend — not only about queer terminology, but about how his taking of a knee-jerk, wounded, defensive stance hijacked the issue being discussed. I sincerely hope that, once emotions settled, he was able to teach her about the ways the current paradigm also causes him legitimate pain. His pain does not erase certain forms of male privilege he still enjoys, despite not being a football-player type. But as long as we cannot see beyond our own hurt to recognize the pain of the other (regardless of our gender), we’re going to be stuck here.

Small moves count for a lot in this situation, not least of all because we likely can only do this healing as individuals, within ourselves and one-to-one. As mentioned, Pholus is in the picture. Subtle re-directions of energy have access to a lot of propulsion.

Also exact today, at 4:57 pm EST (21:57 UTC), Jupiter in Virgo opposes Chiron in Pisces. Jupiter-Chiron on the Virgo-Pisces axis emphasizes this idea of the healing/teaching option amidst all the swirling, collective, wounded emotion and the blown-up effects of self-criticism we turn outward on each other. We have to get a little creative to step out of the echo chamber, starting with the one within ourselves.

13 thoughts on “Venus conjunct Mars: Why are we competing?

  1. DivaCarla Sanders

    The most pernicious wounding of men is the acculturation and socialization of men that train them to oppress women and other men. This wound is codified in law, religion and tradition, and they’ve enlisted women as the propagators of their own oppression, as mothers, teachers, and the ones who judge and shame other women. Patriarchy has co-opted to its own ends both the womb and the penis. Every human exists on this spectrum of abuse and wounding; we each carve out our niche usually by a pecking order of sorts. Our cells and psyches are steeped in the trauma of being born under patriarchy. (How would things be different under matriarchy? Did one ever exist?)

    The trauma, the wounding, and the roles we all play in keeping it going, even if our desire is justice and healing, is as invisible as the ocean to a fish. We can’t see what we are doing. You call it an echo chamber, Amanda, and that’s a useful image. What can we do? What that reader did. Talk to each other, and let other’s experience illuminate our ocean, as we illuminate theirs. Be brave. Don’t be afraid to offend others, and in the bigger picture, we may have to risk more than our friend’s opinion of us.

    The current political and religious climate may again require the change agents put physical safety and liberty on the line. The balance Eric talks about requires this: men will not be free until women are free. Men have to stand with women, stand for their freedom from oppression, even if they have to first bear the heat of women’s rage. That men recoil from female rage is patriarchal training that says women have to be nice and an angry woman must be stopped.

    What if men stand with women, and instead of deflecting or taking the rage personally, the become infected with it. Not against the women beside them, but against injustice and its perpetrators. As I write this, I wonder what does it cost men to do this? What do men risk that I can’t understand as a woman? Do the risk being called women? Pussies? Fags? And rejected by other men?

    I’ll risk being called a bitch if you can risk being called a pussy and know that it is not true! These are the names they teach us to call each other in the playground to keep us in line for a lifetime.

    Amanda, regarding astrology, I am curious about a Venus -Mars conjunction being about conflict and competition rather than about union, balance, and intimacy, of complementing or polarized energies, like a dance. I’ve been waking before dawn everyday to photograph them, and today the are together! Pix posted later on FB.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Diva Carla: thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to dive into this topic they way that you have. The point that the patriarchal system wounds women *and* men is a point I was trying to make, without just pointing fingers at “the patriarchy.”

      There is something about that general stance that is not working for me (often) when I see it in discourse; it’s hard for me to articulate why, exactly. I think it often gets tossed around as something to blame in a broad (if correct) way, but I do not always see the corresponding healing steps in what speakers/writers say, which I think — in the end — must occur on an individual level, so that the cultural/contextual shift can happen fully.

      But, of course, we each can only take one step at a time, starting where we are. Yet I think we need both levels of change and healing (cultural and individual) to be happening simultaneously, so that one supports the other and vice versa.

      You write: “men will not be free until women are free. Men have to stand with women, stand for their freedom from oppression, even if they have to first bear the heat of women’s rage. That men recoil from female rage is patriarchal training that says women have to be nice and an angry woman must be stopped.”

      Exactly. Men’s pain is valid, needs to be heard and addressed, and healed as well. But to focus on it as a defense against the discomfort of women’s rage and struggle, or in a way that undercuts the legitimacy of women’s voicing of their pain and pushing for healing/justice/change is missing the point. And that works against all of us — just as it works against all of us when women cannot see men’s pain. But we’re working in collective stages, here, as far as I can tell.

      As far as the idea of Venus-Mars conjoined being about competition rather than about “union, balance, and intimacy, of complementing or polarized energies, like a dance,” It’s not so much a situation of “either/or” where one negates the other — I think that, like anything else in astrology, you can have planets and aspects express in a high-vibration form or in a shadow form.

      I took my cue from Eric’s description at the beginning of the year partly as a thought experiment to see if I could see where and how that “competition” idea played out — and I realized very quickly how it fit. But in general, I think the potential for “competition” comes partly because Mars and Venus represent two sides of the coin or polarity, and partly because interpreting a Venus-Mars conjunction depends partly on what sign they are in.

      In some signs, Mars (including the competitive, combative energy it carries, the “animal soul,” lust) will be more dominant; in others, Venus (with the receptive, harmonious energy it carries, the “spiritual soul,” love) will have a stronger hand in coloring the expression.

      The first two Venus-Mars conjunctions of this year were both in fire signs — Aries, then Leo — which gives Mars the advantage, since it is a fiery planet (Mars also rules Aries, while Venus is “in detriment” there).

      Neither planet is especially strong in Virgo; in fact, Venus is traditionally said to be “in fall” here: overcritical rather than generous in service. (I say that knowing that there are likely plenty of people out there with Venus in Virgo who transcend the “traditional” descriptions, thanks to other planets in the natal chart, aspects, etc.) Mars is an energetic worker in Virgo, but tends to be fussy and too focused on inconsequential details. (Again, you are not doomed to this description if you have Mars in Virgo — you are more than one planet.)

      So there is a question there as to how/whether Venus and Mars in a conjunction might overcome this uncomfortable placement to achieve the “complementary dance” image. It’s not impossible — it was simply very clear to me how something about the reader’s comments in the blog post I wrote about fit the image I was seeing in the astrology, plus it fit the overarching idea Eric had suggested months ago.

      So… how’s that?


      1. Cowboyiam

        Amanda I love your articulation and distribution of the broad message we are receiving. That statement, as I reread it, sounds nonsensical – and yet it is the most honest response I have. It is as if we are coming to the limits of language and moving toward a felt feeling relational reality. Us the last of the Mohicans!

        1. Cowboyiam

          I have been, and am, a person who flourishes in relationship. I don’t do well alone. My history has many, many, moments of unspoken felt reality. Just to sit or stand with another, in a moment of felt connection where words would only distract, is the pinnacle of connection for me. I experience myself through another where words are unneeded, unhelpful, and unnecessary.

        2. Amanda Painter Post author

          You know, Cowboy, what you wrote actually made sense to me somehow. 🙂 Thank you for chiming in, and for your willingness to embrace what the universe seems to be asking of us.

    2. Cowboyiam

      DivaCarla Sanders, That rant was beautiful. You express some deep wounds in a way that heals. Just grasping the real issue is so healthy. I applaud your insight written here.

      We are truly in a time of breaking free at all cost. Trying to live up to the standards of social acceptability is becoming impossible for some of us, and that is proving to be a hard pill to take. I sense it is better to bite the bullet than to continue looking for a better time. Likely the longer it takes us individually the harsher the drama.

      Having a supportive community is some relief for me. I don’t know what to do next but when I allow my deepest desires air space the reaction is often harsh. It is difficult to be an alien in a familiar place. But if I don’t call attention to this façade who will.

      It feels to me as if I am to emulate – the dreamers of the past who are now held in high esteem – them I must follow. Time will even the score. God grant me the uncommon courage necessary.

  2. Mary

    Amanda … I hardly know what to say here, except Amazing and Thank You. Diva Carla … shoot, blow me away with your awesome self. I bow to you both as I re-read and allow the piece to embed.

    With Mercury @ 1 Scorpio, we may be able to ditch all the judgment, dive into the emotions and feel our way to healing eachother.

    Thank you, Amanda.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Mary — I love your take on Mercury in Scorpio! That is one bit of today’s astrology that I did not manage to squeeze into today’s post, though I dearly wanted to (and thought about adding it as a PS).

      And: you are welcome. Glad to have you chiming in.

  3. Cowboyiam

    Amanda, as I think about this subject the concept of masks is heavily weighed. Masks are how we deal with the basic lie we are brought into. Seeing the mask is part of the game. We have been trained to peel the mask off of the other and pretend we have no mask. But of course that is just a mask we wear. Seeing our own mask only happens when it is no longer functional, in other words, people are too aware of our mask and so we feel naked. We are trained to then dawn a new – more authentic mask. Being naked is the most terrifying place to find our self in public. But every mask is a lie and has consequences. Being naked is the only way to be an honest expression of who we are. Getting naked is the challenge we face now. When we are all naked we will live in harmony.
    In Genesis when Adam and Eve have sinned and God reinters Eden, they are said to cover their nakedness, but what it really means is that they have a secret from God and they suddenly realize they cant be honest anymore. I have always believed if they would have simply admitted their transgression God would have laughed with joy for their innocence. Mankind will oneday be an honest flawed creature again and our creations will be spantagulous!

  4. Patricia Proctor

    Cowboyiam, I read a book a few years ago, written by an older woman who was uneducated, but who claimed to be taken in spirit into heaven in her late 50s. She had been in a ventilator tent, semi-comatose, when she was a baby, through the age of 4. She said that during that time, she was not really there, but in heaven with God and the angels. She had forgotten about it until she returned to heaven. From her description it sounded very much like stepping through to the next dimension, by just a thought. Long story short, she said exactly the same thing you just said about Adam and Eve, and that was what God had told her. So, last year, my sister in law passed away after living with MS for many years. The last several years she was on a feeding tube. She floated in and out, and always talked to us and was glad to have company, but she seemed to be otherworldly too.. After she passed away, the priest told us that she hadn’t really been with us for many years, that she was already in heaven, and I immediately thought of the child in the tent. I have often wondered what else the priest really wanted to say, but it was probably along the lines of just be honest and joyful creatives and allow yourselves to be spantagulous! Don’t know if that fits any of what’s being discussed, but I think perhaps yes. Not all who are priests are patriarchal, just as not all that is gold, glitters – for instance someone on a feeding tube or in a coma. Another great column Amanda, and thank you Diva Carla!

    1. Cowboyiam

      Thanks for the comment Patricia. It is a conundrum that suffering has a deeper purpose too. We try so hard to avoid it but it seems to be part of the deal. I don’t want to suffer but I do want to know. If it takes intense suffering to free me then I accept that it will.

  5. Pisces Sun

    Wow, I am touched by all that I read here and agree, thank you each for taking the time to express it. As we continue to come to terms with identifying with who we truly are and what we truly want society to be, I am honored to read excerpts such as those posted here today, to help shape my beliefs. Thank you.

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