Museum of the History of Science here in Oxford. For a bit of fun, I asked them each to fill out a short questionnaire. They were to choose three words to describe themselves from a list of different character traits.
Naturally, these were all traits that are traditionally associated with specific Sun signs with the usual overlaps. So for example, they could choose artistic, generous, kind, intelligent, sensitive...
The top two adjectives they chose to describe themselves: competitive and aggressive. And weirdly, nearly all of them chose these as their top two words.
Why did they all think they were Aries – or at least Aries-style? As a generation, these kids were born with Pluto in Sagittarius, Uranus in Aquarius and Neptune in Capricorn. You could argue that with that Neptune they would be likely to make ambition a fashion, but I don't think the answer lies just in the generational astrology.
They seemed pretty docile and well-behaved to me; in fact, if anything, rather conformist, which would fit with the combination of Uranus in group-oriented Aquarius, and Neptune in straight-laced Capricorn. I could only assume that somewhere along the line, these kids had learned (or been taught) that being like an Aries was the thing. Not in so many words, obviously.
Then I watched The Apprentice recently, and there were some more kids saying how aggressive and competitive they were... again like it's a good thing.
In astrology, these are the qualities of Mars and Aries. Qualities that are useful in a warrior, an athlete or a salesperson – but worrying in some other contexts, for example, your bank manager. Would you prefer the person looking after your money to be competitive or strategic? Instinctive or calculating?
One thing astrology teaches us is that we need all kinds of people with all kinds of qualities to run a society successfully. When one set of characteristics becomes too dominant, or as sociologists might put it overly valorised, things stop functioning so well. Instead of keeping that martial energy where it should be – in the sports arena or the army or the sales department – we've allowed it to dominate other parts of our lives – the financial sector, reality TV.
Back in the noughties, Suzanne Collins was channel surfing between images of the invasion of Iraq and reality TV games. The two came together in her very fertile imagination and she wrote The Hunger Games, which is among other things, a critique of the purely Martial approach to life. The story she tells is set in the future, but it has a moral for our times. Collins Mars is, naturally, in the storyteller's sign Gemini, allegedly in detriment, but in her case used with cutting intelligence.