When I’m born, rambunctious Mars and restrictive Saturn are clashing like titans in the sky. Mars is in fiery Leo; and Saturn is in inventive Aquarius. Opposite signs. Malefic planets. Every astrology will tell ya that Mars and Saturn do more harm than good. It’s not until around age 13 when I see how the opposition between the two malefics manifests in my life, my body.
I have scoliosis, a chiropractor tells me after inspecting the rib hump on my left back body.
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, the spine doctor/friend explains. And I’ve got it. He adds that the only way to fix this spinal deformity is through surgery.
I don’t get back surgery, mostly because I don’t want back surgery. I’m not gonna be that teenager, the one who spends months walking like RoboCop. Instead, I deal with my scoliosis.
But from that point on, I can’t unsee my spinal deformity. I look at fashion magazines and women walking down the street and women on TV and in movies, and see spines that are straight as a board. No curves, no jutting out, no sloping shoulders. My spine doesn’t look like this. It curves like the letter S. My left rib cage juts out because my gyre-like spine is forever rotating up and to the left. Behind this jutted-out rib cage is a hump that hurts. The muscles are knotted, clenched like a fist.
It might not be that noticeable to the untrained eye, but I notice these physical abnormalities daily. I don’t wear tight shirts or crop tops or two-piece bikins because I don’t want to draw attention to a part of my body that causes me so much pain. On top of all that, my back hurts every day.
It’s not until I spend the better part of my early twenties feverishly studying astrology that I begin to understand how the opposition between Mars and Saturn in my natal chart explains why my spine is, was, and will never be stick-straight.
Mars rules our physicality and physical body. He is the planet of desire, and functions as an internal catalyst for us to strive and express ourselves. Mars is sometimes called the Projector of Life. The House where Mars rests in the birth chart reveals the area of life where we feel called to project ourselves.
Saturn, on the other hand, rules the bones and the skeletal system, and is the planet of restriction. Often called the Karmic Teacher, Saturn’s House placement in the birth chart shows us the area of life where we are most limited, where we feel greatly inhibited.
Oppositions are hard aspects that lead to inner division and insecurity.
My Mars opposite Saturn has led to a skeletal ailment (Saturn) that causes much inner division and physical insecurity (Mars).
As mentioned, My Mars is in Leo in the 12th House. Leo is the penultimate sign of creative, dynamic, if not downright dramatic self-expression. Any planet placed in the fixed fire sign seeks to shine. With my Mars in Leo, I want to move freely and dramatically, because movement is a part of my self-expression, it’s one of the many ways I shine. The 12th House operates contrary to those aims. It is a house of the unseen, of all things hidden.
In Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology, Oken says this about Mars’ placement in the 12th House, “People with this position have to learn constantly to express themselves creatively, so that their energies do not backfire into self-destruction,” (328). It has been through the restrictions caused by my scoliosis– including, but not limited to my tendency towards hiding the ailment –which has again and again prompted me to learn new ways to express myself and my physicality.
Natally, my Saturn is in Aquarius in the 6th House. Known as an inventive air sign, Aquarius often seeks new and enlivening ideas of thinking and being. The 6th House is the House of routine and the general state of health; it deals directly with the everyday duties of the mundane world.
The sign and house placements of my 6th House Saturn-in-Aquarius restricts the self- expressive freedom of movement of my 12th House Mars-in-Leo. That is, only when the two malefics are working against the intended energy of their oppositional aspect.
In the past, I listened to rambunctious Mars, and did whatever physical activity I wanted– gymnastics, dance, kickboxing, crossfit, powerlifting –and would make my inner Leo feel big and strong. These actions often made the pain of my scoliosis worse, because I was neglecting the mundane. I wanted so badly for my scoliosis to disappear, that I didn’t focus on actually treating it the Saturn way.
More and more I’ve listened to stern Saturn. His 6th House position in Aquarius urges me and my12th House Leo Mars to think of inventive ways to help my spine and to cultivate a regular, realistic exercise routine that doesn’t aggravate my already hurting back muscles. It’s taken time and lots of days full of searing pain to finally incorporate more activities that focus on the health of my spine– yoga, pilates, swimming, etc. I also stand instead of sit; move my torso and stretch my spine throughout the day; sleep with pillows in odd places. All of this I do to alleviate the pain and tightness of my Mars-opposite-Saturn scoliosis.
Is Mars opposite Saturn the reason I have scoliosis? It’s hard to say. All I know is that by understanding the opposing energies of the two malefics, Mars and Saturn, and by understanding their sign and house placements in my birth chart, I’ve come to accept and work with my body, as opposed to working against it. I’ve also learned to let go of my anger about my body’s imperfections, and to surrender to the fact that– outside of risky spinal surgery — my back will never be straight, my rib cage will always jut out, my shoulders will always slope, no matter how much I wish it all didn’t.
As I head into my Saturn Return, I’ve low-key feared that I will have some back problems. I was afraid that Saturn-in-Aquarius would seek stern vengeance on my Leo Mars for not heeding his disciplinary guidance. Now, I realize how silly that is, because I have heeded Saturn’s guidance. I have blended the clashing energies of Mars-opposite-Saturn in my birth chart. I’ve disciplined my body while also allowing it to move. Hell, I’ve even overcome Saturn’s inhibitions to share my struggle with scoliosis.Beyond that, I’ve come to typify Oken’s description of a 6th House Saturn, “this position gives a strong constitution, which can endure all types of illnesses,” (330).