Venus and Mars, the sexual team of the planetary pantheon, work like a couple that's been together for a long time. And - just like such a couple - that may be good or it may be difficult.
Venus and Mars represent the two poles of sexuality, female and male. Think of this polarity as being magnetic in nature, with Venus representing the principle of attraction and Mars the principle of repulsion.
The position of Venus in our birth chart describes our values. It represents that which we are attracted to, and also what is attracted to us. Mars describes the quality of energy that we send out into the world to get that which Venus wants, and to protect us against that which Venus does not like. In the first case, Mars represents our ambition and our creative drive. In the second case, Mars describes how we defend ourselves, and how we get angry.
The signs of Venus and Mars within our charts describe how each of us expresses this polarity. The houses these two planets fall in point to activities and experiences that provide a context for this expression. Most important is the relationship of Venus and Mars to each other, and then to other planets.
Ideally, Venus and Mars need to work as a team. Together these two planets represent the ability we have to draw the sorts of experiences into our lives that make us happy. This is not as easy to do as it sounds. Many people find they are attracted to that which makes them unhappy, or they are unable to pursue that which attracts them. It is in the arena of intimate relationships, the special territory of Venus and Mars, that this imbalance is most painful. But it is not just in the private vulnerability of sexual relationships that a Venus and Mars imbalance affects the individual. These two planets, along with the communication planet Mercury, are called the social planets. Central to our success as social beings is our ability to attract to ourselves the sorts of life experiences we value, and to protect ourselves against that which we do not value.
Those individuals with Venus and Mars in complementary relationship to one another, in signs that are sextile and trine, are more likely to be successful in getting this team to work together in a mutually beneficial way. Aspects from other planets to these two must always be considered, as they will affect expression. For example, someone may have Venus in Leo and Mars in Aries - potentially a very cooperative pairing. This individual might be highly creative and artistic with a real desire for self-expression. If, however, Mars is conjunct to Saturn it might be very hard for this individual to make good on their ambition. This person will likely be attracted to a partner who is fiery, exciting and dramatic. But they may find it difficult to pursue the object of their interest - and when they do hook up with someone, that individual may turn out to be highly controlling and dominant. They may be left with a sense of yearning for something it seems they can never attain. Before this individual can make good on the promise of their Venus/Mars expression, they must deal with the conjunction of Saturn to their Mars - and explore why it is that their self expression is limited and restricted.
Someone else may have Venus in Cancer and Mars in Capricorn - two signs that are opposite. This individual may long for a nurturing, sympathetic, emotionally involved relationship. But they themselves may appear to be cold and unemotional, even ruthless in their attempts to attain that which they want. Their emotional expression may be confusing to themselves as well as to others. A potential partner who is warm and loving may be shocked at their coldness, while a more emotionally restricted individual may be surprised when they find themselves accused of being cold and unloving.
Obviously these issues affect other areas of life. It may be impossible for the first individual to find a satisfying way to express their creative potential, while our second example may feel that compassion and kindness is absent from their life. It can be devastating to find that we cannot manifest that which we hold most valuable in life, and can lead to great unhappiness.
Ultimately this is the real challenge of the Venus/Mars relationship. As we study these two symbols within our charts we clarify the active relationship between our values and our ability to pursue experiences that correlate with those values. The expression of these two planets, perhaps more than any others, reflect our basic ability to be happy.