It’s almost Aries season, which means my dad’s birthday is coming up.
Aries has the reputation of being impulsive, hotheaded, and needlessly aggressive. But that wasn’t necessarily my experience growing up with an Aries dad. Once the astrology bug bit me, figuring out why my Aries dad wasn’t a caricature of everything I had heard Aries was about became my peculiar thunderdome.
Henry Coley, an English astrologer from the 17th century, writes of those born with the Sun in Aries: “…a noble spirited Soul, very courageous and valiant, delights in all War-like Actions, gains victory, and honour thereby, appears a terrour to his Enemies, and thereby makes himself famous in his Generation, sometimes even beyond his Capacity of Birth” (Coley, Clavis Astrologiae Elimata, 54).
Nowadays, Christopher Renstrom writes of those born with the Sun in Aries, “You are independent, uncompromising, and heroic—traits that are too often in short supply but always in demand. Not only do you rely on yourself, but you assume others will rely on you as well. You even welcome it. The last thing you would ever do is let someone down” (Ruling Planets, 117).
Where do these heavy-duty descriptions come from? Let’s pick apart Aries so we can get a handle on why it’s got the valiant warrior archetype baked in.
In the traditional perspective, signs get the bulk of their meaning from the planets that “rule” them. In this case, Mars is the ruler of Aries; everything that falls in these 30° of the Zodiac has to play Mars’ game. It’s as though planets there have been sucked into a battlefield and must figure out what they’re doing there before they get caught up in the crossfire. The middle of an infantry charge is no time for hesitation or equivocation; only direct, immediate action in accordance with a singular goal will do.
The planet Mars, bearing the name of the god of war, absolutely loves it. With his burning heat he can charge into the thick of the battle and level everyone that stands in his way. The fact that Aries is a cardinal fire sign bakes initiative and forward drive into the meaning of the sign as well. Mars is at his hottest and most intense here, though not quite as precise or tactical as he is in his other sign of Scorpio.
Truly, the rule for Aries is “the best defense is a good offense,” and so planets in Aries are forced into the fray, ready or not.
Know who a great example of the archetypical Aries is? The actress Lucy Lawless is a triple Aries, with the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant all there (if her remembered birth time of 6:25AM is correct). Lawless is, of course, most remembered for playing the titular role of Xena: Warrior Princess. I don’t believe I need to say anything else about that.
(Oh, by the way, the Astro-Databank author describes Lawless’ Xena as “beautiful and gloriously husky” and you need to know that.)
The fiery nature of Aries also makes it a sign that operates in the imperative: planets in Aries speak in commands. Demetra George writes of fire signs, “the brilliant illumination of fire compels the events signified by planets in these signs to be seen, and can be correlated to the imperative mood which is the issuance of commands” (Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice, 163). Anything placed here demands to be seen—and which planet loves most to be seen by others? The Sun, of course.
The Sun in Aries performs in a way that makes it feel not only that its work is appreciated, but also vital. It’s almost as though the Sun knows that its entrance into Aries is what begins the new astrological year.
In other words, Aries has something to prove.
People born with their Sun in Aries are people who understand their purpose in life to be associated with Mars’ pursuits. If not actually charging into battle, someone with their Sun in Aries is telling a story with their lives of the fight to prove oneself. They’ve got something to prove, just as the Sun insists on himself when entering Aries to kick off spring in the northern hemisphere.
The Sun delights in Aries’ single-pointed focus: “ready, FIGHT!”
Moreover, Aries Suns have a peculiar part of their life in which they shine more brightly than any other. This is true of everyone born under the Sun, but it’s especially true for the Sun in Aries; because the Sun is exalted there, the Sun feels special pressure to live up to his brand. This might come across as aggression or a complete lack of inhibitions in the way a person engages with that part of their life.
(To know which part of life this happens in, just look to the house the Sun in Aries falls in!)
That’s the reason why Aries suns get the stereotypes of hotheaded and impulsive heaped upon them. The world, by and large, would much rather exalt caution and equivocation.
Mars, however, as Aries’ ruler, is more than happy to highlight the Sun’s laser focus and get-it-done attitude. Not only that, but—mythologically speaking, of course—since Mars derives his burning heat from being the next planet up from the Sun, he’s quite happy to have his radiant friend over to drink a few beers and light stuff on fire.
It’s worth noting that these reasons amount to why Venus and Saturn have a hard time here. Venus is a peacemaker who wants everyone to have a say, while Saturn delights in studied deliberation and frigid cold, the very things that Mars has forbidden within Aries.
So why is my dad so chill?
Part of the challenge here is sun sign astrology itself. The basic approach to sun sign astrology that most folks are familiar with doesn’t consider the way the rising sign and its ruler, as well as the Moon, all combine to program a person’s way-of-being in the world.
My dad has Gemini rising with Jupiter conjoined the ascendant degree, his ascendant ruler is Mercury in Pisces, and his Moon is in Cancer. He’s much more Jupiterian than he is Martial, for sure.
But remember what I said about every Aries sun having an area of their life in which they’re trying especially hard to prove themselves? For my dad, it’s his 11th house.
My dad has never met a stranger. Every time we went to a gathering, party, or event as a family knew we’d be there for at least an hour after the event itself wrapped up while we were waiting on dad to finish visiting with people he just met that day but seemed to have known for years.
The other part of this story, however, is that my dad’s line of work is public-speaking heavy (he’s a pastor). He shared with me that, for the longest time, he had quite a bit of anxiety about the whole public speaking thing, even after he had gone through the discernment and ordination process in his tradition. To be fair, most people have anxiety about public speaking. It was his Thunderdome.
So as much as he has a lot of comfort and ease in one-on-one or small group interactions within the community, it’s taken quite a bit of work to get that Aries Sun to shine when it comes to public speaking, even though it seems from the chart that he should be a natural (we can draw this story out in further detail from the Sun’s opposition to Neptune in 5, or the square from the Moon in Cancer).
Learning to make your Sun shine at its brightest is life-long work, and if you’re an Aries Sun, you’ve got a leg up on the rest of us. As a reminder, here’s what you’re up against, depending on which house your Sun is in in your chart:
- First house (Aries rising): Proving yourself through developing your self-concept, health, vitality, and personal agency
- Second house (Pisces rising): Proving yourself through bolstering your finances and your relationship with abundance
- Third house (Aquarius rising): Proving yourself through the stories you tell and your ability to communicate
- Fourth house (Capricorn rising): Proving yourself among your family and the legacy you’ve inherited
- Fifth house (Sagittarius rising): Proving yourself through your creative works and ability to live with gusto
- Sixth house (Scorpio rising): Proving yourself through discipline, labor, and responsibility to those who depend on you
- Seventh house (Libra rising): Proving yourself through one-on-one engagement with others romantically, professionally, or inimically
- Eighth house (Virgo rising): Proving yourself through how you offer support to other people and grapple with matters of fear, debt, and death
- Ninth house (Leo rising): Proving yourself through wisdom, faith, philosophy, and the adventures you undertake
- Tenth house (Cancer rising): Proving yourself through your professional accomplishments
- Eleventh house (Gemini rising): Proving yourself through your friends, groups, and audiences
- Twelfth house (Taurus rising): Proving yourself by dismantling your limiting beliefs and grappling with sorrows
Are you an Aries Sun? Looking for insight for the fight with what you’re trying to prove? You’re in the right place.
Featured image by Mohammed Nohassi via Unsplash