Becoming Mars ♂ The Cruelest Planet of them All

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Another installment of my astrological makeover series is up! I have officially turned myself into the planet Mars using makeup, hairstyling and wardrobe. This is the accompanying article to the video in which I document my entire makeover. You may view that video here:

Each of these makeovers are allegorical in nature. The symbolism I present in the video and images helps to instill a deeper understanding of the planets to students and practitioners of astrology. I reference the ancient texts, especially Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra as compiled in the Graha Sutras by Ernst Wilhelm in order to create these looks. In this text we find the following description of the Mars:

“Cruel with red eyes is Mars, moving to and fro, of torn form, Pitta nature, angry, with a lean medium-sized body, O’ Twice Born.”

The process of turning myself into Mars strangely reflected so much of what is included in the quote above. For instance, during the creation of the video I was literally moving “to and fro.” I was in the process of moving out my apartment and would spend the next several weeks traveling- without really having a place to stay.

Interestingly enough, even more martian energy came through during the production of this video. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with my mother. In Jaimini astrology Mars can be a karaka (or signifier) for one’s mother. Mars is also a karaka for land and real estate. My mother happens to be a real estate agent! I also spent the week leading up to me actually shooting the video babysitting my niece. She is a redheaded baby in her prime teething months! Mars can give a red color to the hair and Mars rules over the period of life where babies begin to teethe. It was simply amazing how many Mars events, people, places and things appeared in my life while working on this video and I have found that that happens for each of my makeover videos!

About the makeover specifically, I had so much fun! I actually ended up picking out way too many outfits, makeup looks and hairstyles than I could make all in one video. I have a kind of crazy Mars in my own horoscope so that could have been why ☺︎. Here are the decisions I ended up making:

1. Red and Charcoal. Mars is associated with specific colors by virtue of the names that he goes by. In the ancient texts Mars is said to be “red-eyed,” due to his names RAKTA, RHUDHIRA and LOHITAKA, because of this I chose to do a very red eye look, using a trio of red eyeshadows to create a deep red and burgundy eye look. Mars also goes by the name of ANGARAKA which means charcoal. To bring a charcoal color into the look I smoked out the red eye shadow using a deep black lipstick and ebony eyeshadow. I also wore a red turtleneck.

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2. Cruel-Eyed. Mars is said to be “cruel-eyed.” This description also comes from the names that he goes by which include KRURANETRAwhich means cruel-eyed and then KRURADRIK which means cruel-sighted. This is very representative of what Mars is as he is by far the cruelest of all of the planets. He represents some of the most difficult challenges that we will face in this lifetime!

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2. Of Torn Form. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole video. Mars is a pitta planet, therefore he has no need for the normal comforts that a soft, feminine planet might enjoy. What makes Mars the happiest is courageously fighting for his success. What Mars does best is put his energy into striving for achievement and fighting off competition. Even if he doesn’t win, Mars still enjoys the fight. Of course any good fight results in battle wounds and so Mars has a torn form which is a natural result of his actions. He is actually considered more active than the Sun!

To show Mars’ torn form, I applied a layer of lipstick to my face and then painted collodion silver on top of the layer of lipstick. This dried and created a very scar-like feature that I was incredibly happy with!

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4. Angry. Again in the above quote we see that Mars is angry. This should not be confused with “angsty.” Mars is driven by dharma and therefore Mars will be angry about the injustices of the world and will want to fight for what is right. I simply showed Mars’ anger by channeling my own anger and relaying that to the camera via facial expressions.

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5. Red Complexion. Each of the planets rule a certain type of complexion or ethnicity. Mars would rule over Native Americans for example, but in a fairer race would definitely impart redness onto the skin. I do not naturally have much of a red tint to my skin, so I added some ruddiness using red eyeshadow and a primary red color from my lipstick palette.

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6. Kshaitriya. Mars is of the warrior caste also known as “kshatriyas.” The ancient texts describe the kshatriyas as embodying the qualities of “valor, radiance, endurance, skillfulness, not fleeting from battle, generosity and leadership.” Kshatriyas are called to act in accordance with dharma and fight for some greater ideal.

This is a really important point that I had to meditate on while creating these looks. So much of me wanted to turn Mars into a 90s grunge chick. I am pretty sure this is due to there being a very strong Rahu (and therefore Ketu) influence on my Mars, but Mars being a kshatriya means that Mars wants to do what is right. Mars would actually be a much more “normal” looking person than, say, Rahu or Ketu. However, then you have many texts that say Ketu kujavat- Ketu is like Mars. So many of the qualities of Ketu are actually quite similar to Mars! However, to me their caste is a very defining feature. Rahu and Ketu are both outcastes whereas Mars is a warrior. This means that while Rahu and Ketu might be very subculture-y, Mars would not be. I did my best to pull apart these definitions visually, but of course it is quite hard as many of the elements that made up the look have been co-opted by the grunge movement- including combat boots! However, I think once I do my Rahu and Ketu makeovers you will be able to see the difference between all of these 3 planets clearly.

In order to exemplify the qualities of the warrior caste visually I chose a salute pose as the pose for the thumbnail of the Youtube video and I wore a military shirt that my friend gave to me to feature as part of the outfit.


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8. Places of Fire. The locations of the grahas are probably one of my favorite details to bring to life! Mars rules over places of fire which include brick factories, weapons plants, cremation grounds, places burnt by fire with charcoal remains, kitchens, barbecues, heaters, fire places and military training grounds.

I actually found three locations to shoot at for this video. First I found a really cool military training ground a bit of a drive away. Then, I found an amazing burnt down house in a small farm town near my home. On the way to the burnt down house I also saw huge stack of smoke rising from the sky. I followed it with my car and was taken to something called a “prescribed burn area,” where miles and miles of forest were being methodically burnt down by the local fire department to rejuvenate the Earth and to get rid of invasive species.

On the day of the shoot we drove to the burnt down house only to find out that it had been moved! Luckily, we had already shot at the military training ground, but we needed more pictures. I then remembered the prescribed burn area. When we got there the fire had been put out and all that remained was a desolate wasteland of charcoal and ash. It was literally the absolute perfect environment for Mars.


We also shot at the edge of a field in the middle of the night. This is showing Mars’ rulership over land and real estate more than showing any relationship to his environment.


9. Bitter. Mars rules over bitter flavors which mostly include bitter medicinal plants like dandelion and chocolate. I drank hot chocolate during my makeover. Of course, sweet hot chocolate is not exactly bitter, but I have really overdone it on dandelion tea lately so I figured I would switch it up ☺︎.

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Mars also rules over bitter edible plants and Neem. So I used Neem to spot treat some redness before applying my moisturizer and primer.

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10. Red Sandalwood. Mars is associated with red sandalwood by virtue of the piece of ancient text that we have that states that all images of Mars should be carved in red sandalwood. I used a red sandalwood and turmeric mask before beginning my makeover.

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11. Red Linens. Mars rules over red linens or garments. Many times in the ancient texts the authors will describe a quality of the Sun and then state that Mars will be “likewise.” So both Mars and the Sun rule over red clothing. I didn’t want to bore you with more red, but I had to stick to the texts. Therefore I chose a red and charcoal ensemble and stuck with deep cherry and burgundy reds for Mars, which were much closer to the color of blood than the vibrant red I chose for Sun’s outfit. Mars actually doesn’t rule over blood- Moon does, however some astrologers will associate Mars with blood including saying that Mars rules over the iron in blood as well as the red coloring of the blood itself. I think in my video I stated an association with Mars and blood, but please note that in Vedic Astrology Moon would rule over the blood.

Mars also rules over clothing that have been “burnt by fire or acid, but not made useless by the fire or acid that have burnt them.” For this look I thought it was appropriate to wear acid wash jeans. Acid wash jeans are made from denim that have been damaged by bleach but not so much that they aren’t still wearable. I kind of found it fascinating that the acid wash jeans I wore had a triangle on them as Mars is related to the number 3!

Mars also rules over strength so I chose to show off Mars’ athletic qualities by sporting a red athletic tank top as opposed to a tank top in a more feminine style. Mars is a masculine graha after all!



12. Red Beauty. In the Graha Sutras by Ernst Wilhelm, Ernst Wilhelm offers some recommendations on which decisions he believes the planets would make as far as hair and beauty are concerned. He states that Mars would dye her hair red and wear red lipstick. So for this look I donned a red wig and wore a deep red shade to differentiate the look a bit from the previous Sun look.

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13. Starry Graha. Mars is a starry graha. This means that Mars is a quality of oneself but is also a planet that the self uses to perform activities in the world. Mars is literally an arm and leg of the self.

The self uses Mars to overcome obstacles and difficulties using logic. To show this quality I put on star earrings in the color red.

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14. Sharp Objects. Mars rules over sharp objects including knives. Mars actually makes all things sharper and more intense. For this makeover I chose to use a machete as my prop and wore a nose piercing, which is a very fashionable sharp object!


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15. Red Garlands. Mars is said to be wearing red garlands. We find this reference in the following quote, “Wearing red garlands and clothes, a spear, trident and mace and blessing, four armed is Mars riding a ram.”

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16. Eagle & Head. These are two elements that were moreso my own decision and creative interpretation. Mars rules over Aries and Scorpio and in Western astrology the sign of Scorpio is related to the eagle and the sign of Aries is related to the head. In the video I wore my favorite eagle pin that I have had with me for years and I posed heavily with the mannequin head.

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17. Moving to and Fro. Mars is said to be moving to and fro. This shows the active quality and pitta nature of Mars. To show that in the photos I tried to take many photos where I was being active and movement was being shown by my body language as well as by wind moving through my hair.

This relates to Mars primary organ of action which is the feet, he does not rule over the feet, but he has the power of action which comes from the feet. I made sure that I took some close up photos of my combat boots and attempted to take some photos of me running at high speed, but those didn’t turn out so well!

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18. Upward Looking. Each planet faces a certain direction. Mars looks upward towards challenges that he desires to tackle and looks to increase his strength and abilities as well as train in order to overcome them.

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Final Image of Mars. We have come to the end of our Mars journey and this is one of the images I feel best represents Mars in all of his Martian energy. Here you have Mars in an active pose in one of his environments, a desolate wasteland of charcoal, recently burnt by fire. Mars is looking upwards towards his next challenge (a Rahu makeover video?) and is pointing in the direction of his goals with his weapon, a sharp machete. Here we can clearly see most of the important features of Mars, the red linen, the powerful feet, the torn face and long red hair. Mars is ready for the next battle, doesn’t fear competition and will ruthlessly fight for the win regardless of whether or not he actually wins or loses. It isn’t winning that matters to Mars, it is the battle itself that does and luckily he is the prime overseer and he will ultimately do whatever it takes to win! Don’t mess with Mars, it isn’t worth it!  ♂


✧ To learn more about the planets, please check out the fantastic book, Graha Sutras by my teacher Ernst Wilhelm. You may also check out the other astrological makeovers in this series, by visiting my Youtube Channel Listen to the Stars.

If you are interested in booking an astrology, tarot, Cards of Truth reading or coaching session with Nicole, you may do so at her website: ♡

Alex Johnson is a wonderful photographer who took all of the photos of me outside of my studio. You may check out his website here.

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