In Touch With Mars


The capacity to know what we want and do what we have to do to get it is dependent on being able to express Mars in a conscious way.

In medieval astrology, Mars was considered a malefic principle and this connotation still clings to the planet in more "spiritual" approaches.  However, this tough little planet gives us our initial definition in life.  It is the most basic instrument of separation from the womb and the collective as the moment we take a stand over what we are or want or value, we define ourselves as irrevocably separate from others.  Anger, aggression, and assertion of self are the primary implements of separation from the mother and formation of individual ego ground in the early stages of life.  Not to express one's Mars invites the issue of impotence on all levels. 

In the mythic image of Ares (Mars) we are dealing with a raw archetypal force - a basic instinct of survival.  The Martial nature may be insensitive and crude, but it is essentially open and honest and straight.   As long as one can trust the enemy's honor, one can fight fairly and even lose gracefully to fight again another time.  But it is the knife in the back which defeats Mars, and there is no sharper hidden knife than emotional manipulation.  

One of the most difficult childhood issues for the expression of Mars is the family background where the fighting is covert.  This implies a family problem with Mars where overt aggression is shunned, and all efforts at getting what one wants are forced into unconscious operation.  Manipulative illnesses are bound up with a badly afflicted Mars in the horoscope and all the anger and aggression and will are compressed into a form of covert control of others through bodily symptoms.  This pattern is usually learned from the family, and it may go back for many generations.

The mythical hero who best epitomizes the Martial nature is Hercules who was popular with the Romans as well as with the Greeks.  The pattern of Hercules' twelve labors is interesting.  Each labor is a kind of mini-myth in itself, and each one is also a facet of Mars' training ground.  It is as if the cycle of the twelve labors describes the many faces of battle to which we will be subjected during a lifetime and what we have to learn to respond with a strong Martial function.

 In particular, the cleaning of the Augean Stables is a striking labor which Hercules must undertake. The place is so full of cow dung that it is quite impossible to clean the stables within a certain time limit.  Since he obviously cannot use his club, Mars has to serve as a cleaning agent, sweeping away with surgical precision what is useless and outworn in life.  In other words . . ."getting rid of all the old shit".  It symbolizes all our inherited psychic dross - the waste that has accumulated over many generations, the habitual patterns which drag us down into inertia and smother us with their stench and weight.  It is related to our capacity to make decisions which rid us of an outgrown and smelly past!  In essence, it is channeling emotional energy in a new direction - a release of feelings which can wash away all the dross in one enormous flood.  Therapeutic work, particularly  the cathartic kind, often involves this process. 

The battle with the Lernean Hydra might be seen as an image of human hatred, inability to forgive, and emotional poison.  It may be a Plutonian creature, with roots that reach back through Mother or the dark complexes of the family past.   We need Mars to cope with this evil in ourselves as well as in the world outside. 

The Greek god Ares becomes Mars in Roman myth.  Ares does not have a Father. Not having the father-principle in him suggests that Ares does not spring from logos - the spiritual or intellectual dimension of the masculine realm.  He is male, but he is pure instinct.   He was created by the goddess Hera in a state of great rage because her husband Zeus produced the goddess Athena out of his head without a Mother.  So - Ares is the product of the goddess' furious revenge, or - a product of her penis envy.

The rage of a blocked Mars can be directed against oneself as well as against the world outside. This may result in self-destructive behavior (emotionally or physically) or it may lead to a typical group of illnesses which seem to embody frustrated Martial energy.  Mars seems to be a major key to physical as well as psychological health.  There seems to be s a connection between a person's inability to deal with difficult emotions and their susceptibility to disease.  There is no emotional state so destructive to the body as repressed rage and feelings of impotence.  Suspect is an individual who is accustomed to saying "yes" all the time and never getting angry.

Depression is usually not experienced as overt misery; it is more usually a state of apathy and deadness, where nothing is worth bothering with, not even anger, because it is assumed that nothing will change anyhow no matter what one does or says.  Many people dissociate from this kind of deep depression and consciously gear themselves up to keep the surface of life functioning, finding escape routes such as compulsive work, large doses of television, sex, alcohol or tranquillizers when the repressed blackness threatens to break through into conscious awareness.  But break it does - often as illness or tiredness or inability to sleep properly. Mars inverts and turns against the individual, so that one destroys all one's potentials.  It is a kind of death wish, although thoughts of death are not often conscious.

Parents are not responsible for our essential character, and a difficult Mars in the birth chart does not originate from them.  We are born with specific planetary energies.  But the way in which Mars is handled in childhood by our parents and teachers can make a great difference in terms of how we approach this side of ourselves in adulthood.  A collision of the child's Mars with the parents resulting in an argument or even beating is healthier than the castration which results from being taught that anger and aggression are in themselves bad, dirty, or immoral.  The guilt which arises from such a message is corrosive.  Also, since Mars is most amenable to seduction, it is often the seductive rather than the aggressive parent who performs the early castration:  "If you go on like this you will hurt me so much . . . and I have already been so badly hurt by your father/mother.  I thought you were on my side - a better, loving person."  Perhaps many people can relate to this example.

Mars needs our inner loyalty and support so that we can effectively defend our values in the face of opposition and can go after what we want in life.  Many things, including a violent parent, may turn us against our own martial needs.  But the price we pay for drowning Mars is victimization and impotence.  the god Ares may be a little rough-looking, but he is worth cultivating all the same.

If you are experiencing difficulty in asserting yourself or realizing your goals, it is recommended that you obtain more information as to the position and aspects of Mars as shown in your birth chart.

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