Symbolism of Venus, Mars, and Gender Roles

Would you even believe that through science, medicine, and even music that there have been two very obvious astrological and alchemical symbols, which have been used for hundreds of years, to symbolize both the male sex and the female sex?

Well, believe it or not, because it’s true!

Although many of us have established an understanding that gender and sex are not the same thing, this has not always been the case in society. The planet Mars is often taken as a symbol of masculine features, but not necessarily only for men, while the planet Venus is often interpreted as a symbol for more feminine characteristics and not limited to only women. It is believed, however, that in ancient Greece and Rome, where the names were given to the two planets based on mythological stories, these names were carried over to other practices over time through their symbolic use.

A few hundred years ago, specifically in the Western world, gender wasn’t something proudly displayed unless it was safe and traditional. As far as the people of the time were concerned, there was no difference between gender and sex. To the majority of them, a male and a man were the same thing, while a female and woman were the same thing. Gender roles, however, describe to us someone who could have been born the female sex, for example, but lives their life through the gender role of a man. Because gender roles wasn’t something often taken seriously or challenged, this meant that we perceived Mars symbolically as a male who was a man and Venus symbolically as a female who was a woman.

If this is confusing to you, to put it more simply, the male sex is someone who is born with a penis and the female sex is someone who is born with a vagina, while gender doesn’t care what is between anyone’s legs. In fact, gender is absolutely fine with someone, like a woman that has a penis. This would mean simply that their sex is male, but their gender is a woman or someone who possesses mainly feminine qualities. Gender and sex are not synonyms, contrary to some cultural and religious limitations.

Below are two symbols that are used in astrology to represent Mars and Venus. In modern medicine and science, these are also symbolic representations of sex. The symbol on the left is male (Mars) and the symbol on the right is female (Venus).

So, why did we allude the symbols of these two planets to congruently become the symbols for the sexes? To understand that question, we would have to know a bit more about the two planets, Mars and Venus and the qualities they are said to symbolically embody.

Mars: Known for aggression, a competitive and assertive nature, and the drive to act based on primal instincts and a strong will to survive, the red planet, Mars, rules the zodiac sign we know as Aries. Aries, known in mythology as Ares, is the god of war. Brutal, courageous, energetic, and strong, Mars is determined to unabashedly go after what it wants and rarely stops to consider much else until it’s done. There can also be a tendency to focus too heavily on sexual activity and desire rather than sensuality or intimacy. Impulsive, headstrong, and uncontrollable characteristics can quickly set temperamental Mars up in flames, but there can be problems to occur with a need to introspect because Mars is unlikely to take responsibility for the chaos they’ve caused.

Venus: Sensuality, pleasure, and beauty is the choice of scenery Venus generally bestows. She has an eye for aesthetics, the arts, and a perhaps idealistic desire for romance and these can likewise be said for the signs Venus rules, which are Taurus and Libra. To love and to be loved, marriage, and fertility are the songs of her luxurious heart. Materialistic, indulgent, and unable to feel harmony without comfort are some of the shadow sides of Venus. While Sometimes depicted holding a mirror up to herself to admire her own features, the goddess Venus can be perceived as somewhat vain. She has a deep desire to be wanted and lusted after by the opposite sex and will be wounded without the attention. She may react greedily by making sure they come to realize their comforts only existed because she had given it to them and therefore, she can take them away.

In alchemy, the symbol for Mars and male is also the symbol for iron. Iron is incredibly strong. In fact, you can’t make steel without iron. Iron is vital for the growth and function of the human body, but most interestingly, females are more likely to be iron deficient than males.

In alchemy, the symbol for Venus and female is also the symbol for copper. Copper is a natural antibacterial and is highly durable, meaning it can be sustained through copious amounts of great stress. It is exceptionally conductive and used in most types of electrical needs. Because it is soft and malleable, there is at least some copper contained in all gold production.

From Within the Labyrinth,


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