Today I bring you an article on Mars written when he made a close approach to Earth in 2003 . I had just spent some time watching him from a Berlin rooftop.It was a memorable evening. There is still plenty more to say about Mars that I could not include in Th 26 Keys, so expect that here sometime. The date on this article was August 22nd and the time I finished writing was 23:56. Enjoy!
The Red Planet
An examination of Martian consciousness
(For the love of variety and the uniqueness that comes from difference)
“God is speaking through all forces of nature…
They all represent glimpses of the divine power.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
We are about to disturb the domain of the war gods, before we have respectfully appeased them. Like children who play with blades or flame, we are unaware of our peril or of the consequences of our actions. Now is the time when we must all reclaim our individual power or have that power grow further and further beyond us and out of our direct control; now the moment of truth rapidly approaches for humankind. A great challenge is set before us, as great a challenge if not greater than that of our legendary heroes, Odysseus, Hercules, Samson or Skywalker: if we fail, we destroy ourselves, and all that we have built upon the Earth, and much more. If we succeed, we become that which we have always been seeking – an empowered humanity, at one with “The Force” – empowered by having overcome our petty squabbling.
As I write these words, Earth and Mars are on course for a close encounter that is certain to hold significant consequences for humanity. Mars will be visible in our skies throughout August and September 2003 in a most spectacular way, for it will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and it will be 25.11 arc seconds wide on August 27th. Viewed with a magnification power of 75, Mars will look as large as the Full Moon to the naked eye. This is a sight that no human eye in recorded history has ever seen, for Mars is closer now than it has been in at least 5000 years and very likely much longer than that, since Jupiter’s gravity may have influenced it in the past to keep it at bay from this close a distance for 65,000 years. We simply dont know.
Looking for Mars at night in the east, the Red Planet will be easy to spot – a yellowing, orange-red eye that rises with the nightfall and reaches its zenith just in the hour following midnight, at the end of this month. Astrologically it will be in the sign of Pisces, of Reactive Water, conjoined with Uranus and in opposition with Venus. The fact that it will rise and is visible at night rather than at day is a great blessing for cosmic observers in more ways than one, as I shall explain later.
Mars lies as the next planet out from the Sun from Earth and has two moons, Deimos and Phobos. Its surface composition is mainly iron and aluminium which in astrology are the long established metals of Mars and these metals give it a red–orange colour. It takes Mars approximately 687 days to revolve around the Sun and 780 days to move through the 12 signs of the zodiac.
In this article I will be exploring the astrological significance of Mars, its bipolar expression through the Fluids and its quadrapolar expression through the Elements, its relationship with the vital energy, the desire nature, the animal passions and the other planets of the solar system, its unregenerate or destructive properties, its satellites and hermetic analogies. It is my aim to give you a more essential vision of this planet than has been given in the many excellent writings and astrological articles that have already been presented. To that end, I intend to outline the great challenge that is set before us and what we must each individually do to successfully meet that challenge. Mars has, for reasons which shall become clear, been the object of many projections from the shadow of humanity or the underworld, and these projections must be cleared if we are to perceive the fiery heart of this powerful Red Planet.
Now, with Earth and Mars rushing to meet one another, is a good time to begin.
Life on Mars: The Will to Be
Humanity has been fascinated by the prospect of life upon Mars for an extremely long time. It has called to us, as if challenging our view of our place in the Universe, teasing us with our own bold arrogance. Early telescope observers, for example, saw striations and lines scarring the Martian surface and theorised they were water canals, and that they were built by inhabitants who might still be there. The collective imagination latched onto this in the same manner it latched onto Venus, only instead of imagining lush jungle lands and beautiful Nordic looking peoples, humanities idea of life on Mars was much more threatening, and gave rise to a number of classic science fiction stories not the least of which was H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”. In fact, as many of you likely know already, when this story was broadcast on the radio on Halloween in 1938 it caused a mass panic on the streets because people thought it was really happening – the collective angst about Mars was so great. Pretty soon, however, the importance of the ‘canals’ was dismissed by astronomers and they were explained as weather erosion or some other mundane force. The idea of life on Mars was then generally ridiculed for decades.
That is, until they actually did discover the presence of water on Mars and the possible presence of microbes in the soil, and revised their lifeless and dull perception of the Red Planet. Once again, Mars has challenged our collective egotism. It will do so again.
This fascination – we might say tantalising probablity – with life on Mars is actually an astrological expression of the Mars principle itself – the principle of the will to live. Our fears of invaders from Mars are negative projections of our perception that we must struggle to survive and our near obsession with finding life on Mars is itself an expression of the dynamic connection Mars has with the vital principle of life itself, for Mars is quite simply the power to mobilize potential and stored energy. Mars is centrifugal, pushing energy outwards from within the organism, it is an outward and upward rush and flow of force that acts, moves, and energises. Its astrological symbol (which is also the symbol for the masculine) a circle with an arrow projecting from it, describes this motion.It is projecting infinite energy towards differentiation.
Nature demonstrates this principle everywhere, for example, in the plant kingdom during the process of germination when the seed (Venus) sprouts shoots and begins to push forcefully through the soil. In the human physical body this principle is seen in the contraction of muscles to produce motion, and the rising of blood to the surface (blushing, anger, cuts), as well as when the desire nature is active during sexual arousal.
Without the will to live, we would not act. Without the need to exert ourselves, we would remain a barren seed of potential energy only and would never grow to be a golden oak forest, abundantly filled with the spirits of nature. We need to be challenged in order to truly live, and a real challenge requires a degree of pressure, a suitable force to overcome, to motivate the energy and cause the blood to rise. To lose sight of this is to perceive a lack of justice in life. Our tests and challenges are an integral part of our life and should never be wished away, unless we would be satisfied with remaining in the soil, cold and inert, never knowing the true strength and power that sleeps within us. They facet us into unique and varied beings.
Thus, the position of Mars in astrology is analogous to our desire nature, for our will to live is intimately and uniquely bonded with our own individual desires, our assertiveness, boldness, courage, determination, persistent application of force, our sex drive and libido, our will to want things for ourselves. It is the polar opposite of Venus, which relates things by smoothing over their differences and balancing them through sympathy, seeking to share, for the action of Mars is to impose our way despite others, thus exposing differences in seeking to satiate individual desires. It is our hunger, lust, thrust and assertiveness, our power and strength, the way in which we will seek to expend our energy in the pursuit of things that motivate us, whether that is because they make us angry, enthusiastic or horny. It is the most active planet used in astrology because its energy is essentially frenetic, bold, and empowered by the full force of our will. For this reason, it is often more descriptive of our physical actions than any other planet in astrology.
But it is even more than this. It is the archetect of the spirit and the Michaelangelo of the soul.
Along with the Sun to which it is somewhat complimentary Mars is constructive and gives energy, heat and force to the body, as well as courage and stimulus to the spirit, but unlike the Sun, wherein the energy is distributed in radiating circumferential circles, Mars is a violent expulsion along the lines of the radii, pushing energy to the surface and out. Its action is inflammatory, spurting, hot, dry, and corresponds to pungent odours, acids, and burns. It is the archetype of masculine power and is therefore connected to the muscles and the raw strength of the body, to endurance, courage, drive and the will as it manifests outwardly in seeking things and asserting its wishes. Among its many qualities, taken from the ‘Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology’ (H.L. Cornell, M.D., 1933), are:
“abrupt…accelerating…aggressive…amorous…antagonistic…argumentative…boiling… brave…caustic…coalescent…combative…combustive…contagious…discordant…drastic… dynamic…enhancing…enlarging…eruptive…explosive…feverish…fierce…hasty…hot-tempered…impetuous…impulsive…jealous…kinetic…loosening…lacerating…lustful…life-giving…militant…penetrating…pungent…robust…ruddy…resolute…rapid…self-preservative…unruly…violent…vital…volcanic…warlike…wanton…wilful…zestful, etc”
From this it can be inferred that there are a disproportionate amount of destructive or negative qualities attributed to Mars (compare it to the list I give for Venus in “The Feathered Serpent”, for example) a matter which is largely discussed towards the end of the article, for Mars, along with Saturn, was regarded by ancient astrologers as a malefic planet, one of generally evil influence, responsible for much of the ill fortunes that (sometimes literally) plagued earlier peoples. The struggle to survive in the pre-technological and industrial years was many times greater in magnitude than it is today – all too easily we forget how our modern comforts shield us from the abrasive effects of the elements. Before electric lighting humanity was lost in the dark with only a candle to light the way. Surviving in those times was universally much more of a daily struggle for existence between life and death and this experience was reflected in their view of the planets, especially Mars. Today, with modern medicines, convenient mass production and transport for instance, we have less emphasis on these base matters of Mars but that does not mean those malefic influences of Mars no longer apply, only that we have attained a measure of control over them, a measure of control over the Mars function itself in fact, as is shown by the fact that we have come to understand the masculine drive to conquer and assert itself, at least in terms of psychology and biochemistry. Now, for example, we understand the influence of testosterone and can manipulate the Martian functions with drugs like Viagra; and we have come to understand more about the libido, and the human sex drive, all of which are reflections of our interactions with the Mars principle.
Consequently the influence of Mars in astrology has shifted, for the astrological significance of a planet evolves with our awareness of its meaning. This is an important point for understanding the challenge of Mars I will outline later and for any seeking to perceive the invisible mechanisms that are hidden behind astrology. It is not that the planets are causal factors acting directly upon our world, but that they are synchronous mirrors of our emerging awareness. Astrology is not practised throughout the universe by even the majority of extraterrestrial races because it is not relevant to their emergence of individual awareness.
Mars personifications are those people who not only boldly go where no one has gone before but also just can’t wait to get there. Human personifications of Mars not only include all kinds of heroes and heroines, soldiers, leaders, warriors, rebels and fighters, but also skilled physicians, doctors, surgeons and the like and any people who work with flame, heat, metals or sharp edges; for instance, dentists, mechanics, chemists, butchers and smiths. Mars is also found prominent in the nativities of great athletes.
The quabbalistic number of Mars in the Hebrew Treeis 5 and its colour is bright crimson red, its metal is iron (although it is also connected to modern steel) and its day is Tuesday. Drums, guns, the pentagram and all phallic symbols are analogous to Mars. A very powerful amulet of Mars can be made using any form of red coral. According to the Hindu texts (where it is called ‘Kuja’ and its divine name is ‘Sri Mangala’), Mars is also analogous to younger brothers and sisters, landed property, and the five senses, as well as the analogies I have given from occidental western astrology. For a more pungent encounter with Mars, try your own mix of the following incense:
- 2 parts Galangal
- 1 part Coriander
- 1 part Cloves
- half part Basil
- Pinch of Black Pepper
Keep it stored in a sealed clean jar in a cool dark place and remember that incense often blends and improves with age.
The Poles of Force & Power
For the purposes of this essay let us now divide the principle of Mars into two poles to gain a better understanding of its workings. Like all the planets, Mars has the potential to express itself through the Electric or Magnetic currents or Fluids, which in astrology are symbolised by the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ signs, the positive signs being Fire and Air, the negative Water and Earth. The inherent nature of Mars is unmistakably positive and Electric for its qualities are hot and dry, and so its expression is most often stronger in the positive signs since it is encouraged by their outward expression of energy. The negative signs, on the other hand, are more likely to internalise or even repress the Mars impulses, and thus tend to accumulate a level of energy which explodes volcanically when conditions are ripe. We can therefore (for discussion purposes only) differentiate expressions of Mars energy between the two poles of force, which tend to strike outwards, and power, which tend to accrue inwards.
Force expressions of Mars deplete energy rapidly and tend to be more active, frenetic, impatient and driven, whereas power expressions of Mars can actually block themselves by storing up Mars energy that should be freed and manifest not so much as an unstoppable force and more as an irresistible power or unmovable object. These two approaches, one cold and calculating the other fierce and forceful, are like the two faces of Mars, which, because it lacks a true atmosphere, heats to boiling point in the day but rapidly plunges into bitter cold as soon as night falls. Similarly our basic desire nature (and that of animals) is charged in this bipolar fashion, switching from the more cautious silent stalk mode to the sometimes vicious and frenzied kill mode. These are extreme examples but thy help to illustrate the difference being emphasised.
As in all things, these two poles react off of one another and through their interactions create energy, heat and life that is dynamic, vital, vibrant and vital. Just as we each struggle against adversity and challenge and test our will and strength against each other in debate and global conflict, so too do our inner forces make war upon invaders, as our red blood corpuscles will testify vigorously. In this complex alchemical interplay of mobilized energies we tend to measure the strength of something both by how long it endures and how much direct impact it has. These are the bipolar expressions of Mars, and they are very different to the traditional view of the Mars polarity, which divides its effect into destructive and constructive principles. Mars does, of course, have such a dual nature, as all the planets do, but it is not the true bipolar nature of Mars, rather, it is the first of the projections that we must clear away to gain our clear view of the planets fierce heart. Its not about creating or destroying, its about empowering and generating force or momentum which can be directed towards creation or destruction at will.
Generally speaking if you have a more Magnetic or power charged Mars your efforts will tend to be more constructive when working with others with a similar Magnetic approach to reaching the goal and situations are more likely to be confrontational when engaging with someone with a more Electric, force aspected Mars. This is a subtle undercurrent that can most obviously be seen in the behaviour of men towards one another. There are exceptions, however, to this general rule, which we must examine the quadrapolar expression of Mars through the Elements to perceive, but it is fundamental to the bipolar nature of Mars because it illustrates how the two poles lead to a frisson of energy when they are pushed together. When we are amongst a crowd of people and the majority have Mars expressing through a pole inimical to our own, instead of moving and advancing in tandem with them we feel outnumbered, outgunned and even threatened. The force aspected Mars thrashes against what it sees as the slow and cumbersome approach of the power bloc and the power aspected Mars polarises its hull plating, raises its shields, and hopes to endure the onslaught, overcoming through resistance. This fundamental differentition leads ultimately to the differention of the Elements.
The Quadrapolar Mars
This force/power pole of Martian energy can be ‘turned’ or ‘split’ into a quadrapolar form through which the four Elements express themselves. These Elements are familiar to us of course as Fire, Air, Water and Earth, with the 5th Element, the Akasha, underlying, shaping, creating and sustaining all of them. The diversification of Mars into the Elements gives rise to the four temperaments and various qualities of the animal or desire nature, of which Mars is the directive.
The four images in the tarot which illustrate the Elemental archetypes of Mars are the 5 of wands, the 5 of cups, the 5 of swords, and the 5 of pentacles. Anyone familiar with the tarot will tell you that these are mostly viewed as oppressive conditions and are each tests of moral strength and character, whether that is emotional (unrequited love, delusion), physical (worry, impoverishment), mental (open dishonour, defeat) or primal (competition, battle). These 4 minor Arcana cards symbolise the 4 Elemental tests of Geburah and Mars through which the magical Will must pass to be crafted into a sword of Light in the Divine forge. Many war gods of ancient myth, such as Vulcan and Hephaestus of the divine forge, produced items of legendary power that became fearsome weapons in the hands of a righteous and noble hero. These weapons are symbols of the heroic Will which is undaunted by the quest because its heart is filled with Divine power. Incidentally, in the Hebrew Tree Mars is also connected to the major Arcana cards of The Chariot (Saturn/Binah), Strength (Jupiter/Chesed), Justice(Sun/Tiphareth) and the Hanged Man (Mercury/Hod), each of which symbolises among other things its interaction with other planets and sephira (given in brackets).
The four Elemental temperaments of sanguine (airy, buoyant, hopeful), choleric (fiery, passionate, hasty), melancholic (feeling, also called the nervous temperament) and phlegmatic (tactile sensing, also called the lymphatic temperament) are expressed through the desire body by the action of Mars (which as you will recall, pushes potential stored energy outwards in motion), and the desire body itself (i.e. the vehicle of the indvidual will) is coloured by the tone of Mars according to its astrological Element. Thus, the Fiery Mars is often symbolic of a choleric desire nature and the Watery Mars is often symbolic of a melancholic desire nature. These terms are highly medieval (they were used in the medicine of those times) and do not connect well with modern thinking, so I will explain this another way and in more detail below using language I hope most people will be able to connect with. What is important to bear in mind throughout this discussion, however, is that there are four basic archetypes of the desire body or individual nature of will which correspond with the four hermetic and astrological Elements, Fire, Air, (Forces) Water and Earth (Powers), and that furthermore each of these four archetypes of the desire nature can be expressed in any of the 3 modes of Active (Cardinal), Stable (Fixed) or Reactive (Mutable) expression. Active expressions of Mars are just that, tending to be oriented in a specific direction; Stable expressions of Mars are characteristic of large energy reserves of a highly resistant desire nature; Reactive expressions of Mars are more flexible and adaptable but often lack cohesive focus capable of pulling things together.
It will be worth noting in this respect that there are 8 animalistic mythic archetypes and 4 humanoid or non-animal symbols in the zodiac or the Earth Zone, respectively Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius. Astute readers will note that of those 4, 3 are Air signs which relate to the mental and intellectual planes, directly connecting these planes, signs and the Air Element to humanoid awareness. The other, Virgo, the virgin maiden of the corn, is there by virtue of the fact that it is ruled by Mercury, the principle transceiver of the mental functions. Thus, we may imply that, at least in astrology, the hermetic perspective is that there are humanoid desire natures mixed with pure animal desire natures within each of us and that our desire temperament depicts our individual expression of all of them accenting certain passions and neglecting others, a fact which is of great importance in magical development, especially of the will. Furthermore, the application of the mind and intellect is to temper and balance the passions of the animal nature, in other words, to magically equilibrate it, and as any magician knows the Air Element is that which equilibrates and balances the Tetragrammaton. It both cools and enflames the will within all living things.
We will now make a closer examination of the quadrapolar Mars through the Elements making note of its 3 modes of expression, starting with the densest and proceeding to the most intangible.
Solid Physical Power
Mars in the Earth signs produces a store of great physical energy and is one of the primary signs of a high endurance and resistance of the body and blood. These people are as tough as an ox and as hardy as a mountain. These expressions of Mars are tactile, sensual and physically rooted in the bodies desire to touch, contact and hold through the five senses. This is the least likely type of desire nature to grow impatient or lack self discipline and restraint for the Mars principle is embedded in physical reality and experience and thus able to tough it out over the long haul. However, this same embedding of the vital power of Mars in the world of flesh and material nature also slows it down and often leads to a desire for excessive proof and secure evidence. This is how the expression of Mars through Earth begins to block the flow of its energy, through too much cautious restraint and not enough willingness to accept new and untested methods that may ultimately be more energy efficient. Since energy efficiency – resourceful action – is what this Mars is really motivated and empowered by, it is an important lesson for these people to learn.
Using patience, efficiency and resourcefulness to get what they want these people tend to measure their success in concrete physical achievements and their assertive nature is actually stimulated by hard work, rigorous self discipline, responsibility and duty.
For a man with this kind of Mars sexual vigour and the libido are often intimately connected to material and financial security, for when there is no material and physical security his survival feels threatened and his sex drive takes the strain. Such a man may use possessions, status, solid physical power, tactility, reliability and dependability and wealth to impress a mate and be attracted to earthy, practical sensual lovers. A woman with this Mars will often seek a lover who can provide its qualities for her. This last statement holds true for all expressions of Mars so it will not be repeated later, but it is worth reflecting deeper upon, for out of this phenomena comes much of the drama of human relationships.
Active Earth (Capricorn) Mars is on the surface highly conservative. The desires are often strong and tactile but concealed or self-controlled (especially if they run counter to tradition or orthodoxy), out of a feeling that our carefully laid plans and goals will be thwarted if our competitors know what they are. The desire nature is however very strong indeed with this placement of Mars, a fact not often realised, for the Capricorn nature is often so patient and conservative, so un-Mars like, but Mars is exalted in Capricorn, which means that its expression is elevated by the signs nature and this increases all his potency. Active Earth is ambitious and desires the security that comes with a degree of social status and so the desire nature of Mars may be accentuated along these lines when found here. The desire nature of these people is sometimes blocked by crusty scepticism or miserly pessimism and if Mars is afflicted there is risk of injury to the legs and shins and the skeletal system in general. To be properly understood, it must be clear that this is NOT a karmic consequence in the terms many people would think, it is only due to a displacement of Mars energy in the body, physical or astral. To illustrate what I mean by this, in the present case of Mars in Capricorn there is more likelihood of a child getting cuts on the knees perhaps because the blood is drawn there and saturates it, Capricorn being the ruler of the knees.
Once utilised by the will in a truly empowered way, this kind of desire body becomes a vehicle of immense persistence and authority strong enough to direct the desires of society itself and secure in the wisdom that its power is timeless and authoritative.
Stable Earth (Taurus) Mars gives a desire body that is resistant, enduring and toughened in the extreme, one that is more tactile and sensuous than the Virgo Mars and more practical and ‘down to earth’ than the Capricorn one (which lives in the mountains, after all). Here is the Mars power that likes to till the soil and work the field of life, to feel the blood and sweat on its fingers. This desire body is retentive, enjoys simple natural pleasures and seeks to accumulate physical objects and prosperity as expressions of power and success. The Taurus Mars is steady, slow, resourceful and tireless in the pursuit of its goals and the sex drive is deeply attuned to and appreciative of the physical body and the eroticism of the flesh. The passions are stable (steady) and thus there is great loyalty potential born of a need for physical security and practical support. Taurus rules the throat and neck and there are many great singers with powerful voices born with this Mars, people whose desire body can be readily amplified and transmitted to others through singing. However, the great persistence and endurance, the need to chew things over to excess, a voracious appetite and a fanatical materialism or practicality can fossilise the desire body until it becomes thick, stodgy and muddy and acts of stubborn resistance can lead these people to injury and harm.
Yet the great potential in the Taurus Mars is never lost, the tireless and exhaustless will to work, and to build and build, and once the will has been aligned with the true source of strength the physical world is experienced as a realm of endless and deep tactile satisfaction.
Reactive Earth (Virgo) is indicative of an exceptionally pure and virtuous (principled) desire nature which strives for perfection in all things but which thereby points out the flaws and imperfections of its own and others desires, turning critical of them. This passion nature is puritanical, driven to correctness and healthiness, assertive of facts, details and analysis and seeks to achieve its goals through efficient organisation, routine and acts of service. It is a modest, dutiful, helpful, discriminating and analytical will that is able to disable or circumvent falsehood and opposing forces by logical deduction and methodical evaluation. The sex drive is not as energised as the other Earth signs (this is after all the sign of the Virgin), but it too is coloured by these qualities, making it fresh, innocent, and attentive of the partner and selfless in its caring. If the desire nature can overcome its zealous puritanism, critical fussiness, and anxiety over being wrong or faulty, it can liberate itself so that the will is able to function through the desires to discriminate the minute details of how any given goal can be practically reached and to send out reactive (i.e. adaptable) methods and forces that purify and heal the world.
Fluid Emotional Power
The expression of Mars through the Water Element is similar to its expression through Earth in that it tends to collect into a mass, in this case a pool, and presents a form of unconquerable resistance to abrasion, storing the Element in the desire body, but that it where the similarity generally ends. Mars in Water signs floods the desire body with astral stimuli, sensitising the individual to the invisible currents of feeling and psychic phenomena, to the significance of desires rather than their substance. These people assert themselves emotionally and use their intuition, empathic psychic power and slippery sly sneakiness to get what they want, preferring to flow around or smoothly over adversity the way a river deals with a big rock on its journey to the ocean, or the way the ocean deals with the insolent stubbornness of the shoreline with wave upon wave of soft kisses followed by the occasional tsunami. A Magnetic will is a hypnotic will.
Mars mobilises our full emotional power when in these signs because it is embedded in our astral body, a fact which makes these people as vulnerable as it makes them powerful. In appealing to the deeper feelings in others they must open themselves to those feelings within them, and so to the ambient emotional power around them in the environment. Depending on the force of that emotion they can be swayed in its direction or even engulfed and drowned by it. In extreme cases the desire body becomes utterly uncontrollable and the individuals will is swept away… The Water charged desire body is also the most likely to use the will in the pursuit of desires through occult knowledge, even unconsciously. These people must therefore temper the will through experiences which are revealed as delusional for in order to develop their desire bodies subtle but intense psychic faculties they must sink down through their own unconscious desires and motivations, cleansing them until they are as clear as crystal.
In terms of sexual and emotional drive these expressions of Mars are the most passionate, sensitive and moody of all. The masculine libido is turned on by fantasy and imagination, by deep and powerful emotions, whether those emotions are pure lust or the most sublime unconditional love, and he will enact the chase by displaying his deep feelings and comforting presence, by asserting that he cares.
Active Water (Cancer) has the opposite problem to the Capricorn Mars, where the planet was exalted, for in this sign Mars is said to be in his fall. Either the Active Water Element engulfs and extinguishes the fiery nature of Mars, or his power is so great that he dries it all up. It is hard for Mars to take action through Water because the very nature of it is sensitive to him. Cancer is sensitive, past oriented, nostalgic, yearning for comfort and the home, all of which fundamentally straightjacket the Mars impulse to get up, get out, and engage the competition head on to manifest its dreams and desires. Cancer is inherently defensive and protective, shielding its nature in a shell; it is not combative, and in fact only really becomes assertive when the things it is devoted to protecting are threatened, or it loses its cool after being pushed way too far. There is therefore a dilemma here that can paralyze the desire nature into inaction, often through worry and anxiety of being hurt by an insensitive world.
That said, there is deep desire in this Mars, a desire to protect, nurture, preserve and often to raise a family, a motivation to create a home, and the desire body has an instinct for these things. Such an instinct may be rooted in the astral memories of the past, stemming either from experiences we had with asserting ourselves in childhood, a simple fascination with historical leaders, or in our karmic attachments to family members, for example. The salient point is that the desire nature is protective often motivated by unconscious emotions and by thwarted desires that were left unresolved in the past and thus we may be acting on desires that no longer hold any true satisfaction for us, feelings we cling to simply because they are in our comfort zone. Once these Watery distortions are cleared the will is able to act without anxiety and in this unencumbered state has the potential to use all the psychic faculties of Active Water that were obscured in the haze of memory pollution.
Stable Water (Scorpio) has an ancient bond with Mars, for until the modern discovery of Pluto,Mars was the ruler of this sign as well as of Aries. For this reason, Mars and Pluto are considered planetary ‘cousins’ in astrology. As I mentioned earlier, the astrological meaning of the planets evolves with our awareness. The appearance of Pluto in our awareness changed the status of Mars and intensified it. A good example of this transmutation filtering through in our society can be seen in the changes our depictions of our heroes have gone through – they are simply that much more darkly compelling, tragically flawed or more like anti heroes, even serial killers than they were in the bygone years of romantic action adventure (Darth Vader and the Dark Side of the Force, anyone?). This dark aspect is actually a turn on for many people who have Mars in Scorpio, for theirs is an intense, penetrating, powerfully driven desire nature,which seeks to overpower and swallow the opposition with its passions and is excited by taboo adventures. Sexually this is the most heavily charged Mars with an intense erotic imagination and compulsive powerful emotions. This desire body has the deepest and most overpowering emotional nature, it asserts itself hypnotically and seductively, magnetically attracting its desires to it through the intense and penetrating charge it builds in the astral plane.
The Scorpio Mars keeps its desires hidden and secret, for the desire body knows; it knows that knowledge is power and that if its emotional motivation is revealed it can be used to manipulate it. The deeply psychic and instinctive nature of the desires cannot be resisted, which leaves the desire body motivated by an urge to take control, total control, and thus there is often a cool demeanour covering a simmering cauldron of boiling feelings. What is called for is a transformation of the desire body, for the will needs to be empowered by being set free of the heavy and dark emotions, thus it needs to cast off its suspiciousness, jealousy and vengeance for emotional wounds so that the raw emotional power can be channelled by the will into a laser-like beam of profound insight. Lust, revenge and power and victory over ones enemies or obstacles do not strengthen the will, they weaken it by depleting it of its supply of energy. The Scorpio Mars is its own worst enemy, and flirts with self destruction until it figures this out. Then this Mars becomes truly unstoppable.
Reactive Water (Pisces) is descriptive of a desire nature that asserts itself and becomes aware of differences more empathically, compassionately and sensitively than any other and more often in pursuit of a vision that is idealistically removed from mundane reality, for the imagination and fantasy worlds of Reactive Water have a deep and subtle influence on Mars. The initiative of such a desire nature is fluid and mutable, which means that it gets confused about what it should be feeling and doing with itself and drifts away into escapist daydreams. When pursuing desires, there are often emotional fantasies intertwined with the motivatio and the sex drive and physical energy are swayed by dreams and moods as easily as a light veil is lifted by a breeze. These people do not go directly to their goal in a straight line, they use more subtle methods, curling and wriggling against the current like a fish. Their goal is often the fulfilment of an inspiration or a dream, but their emotional vulnerability disturbs their ability to be self assertive.
Pisces Mars, of all the desire natures, is vulnerable. Too often, the steps necessary to reach the dream or the conditions of the physical world that are in the way are too much for these creatures and they seek to escape into a more desirable world, whether that world is drug induced or delusional. Too often the desire nature is enthralled and enchanted by the wondrous vistas of the astral plane and never knows the satisfaction of birthing the dream to the world, the will becoming shrouded in mist, shadows and fog. These people must clear the desire body of unconscious and illusory emotional motivation and fantasy and learn to focus their will through the transcendent power of divine will; that is, they must achieve an individual union with their visionary ideal, their deity, often by aligning their will with a higher one that is univeral and then physically acting upon that will. In doing so they become liberated of their emotional vulnerability and mobilise the full force of the will towards compassionate and forgiving ends, with imagination and a transcendent magical connection to the astral. The dream can move into the world with ease.
Buoyant Mental Force
The expression of Mars through the Air Element I term for this ssay ‘buoyant mental force’ for it is a light, airy, gaseous effort of Martian force that situates and focuses itself upon the mental, social and intellectual realms, a force which is buoyant because it tends to be nebulous, mercurial, formless and boundless like the direction of the wind and because it concerns itself with equilibrating things. The desire nature is concerned with the currency of the mind, ideas and thought and the energy or current of their exchange in society and communication. It is indicative of a type of desire body that uses persuasion to get what it wants and is stimulated and draws energy from social activism, mental and intellectual challenges, relationships and perspectives and the emergence of new (especially rebellious) ideas.
In a similar but opposite manner to that of Mars in the Earth Element, Mars in Air being embedded in the mental body and the realm of ideas speeds it up and shifts its energy focus to the nervous system of the physical body, but this leaves it with fragile and immaterial roots and so there must be some attention and focused will applied when it comes to making an idea about what could be done take root in reality. The Air Element tends to dissipate and continuously expend the Mars energy, just as the Fire Element does. It is indicative of a restless, nervy, detached desire nature.
This emotionally detached desire nature (detached so that precious objectivity is not compromised) leads these people to make analytical risk assessments, plans of action, network agreements and pre-planned speeches in pursuit of the object of their desires. Men pursue their potential lovers with a friendly, charming, silver tongued intellect, and woo the object of their flirtation with fine socialising and conversation. They are attracted to thoughtful, chatty, friendly lovers, but there is always a certain distance held. At times this distance is extremely enjoyable as there is a certain friendliness and sociability to the assertive way we act, but when passions are running high logic does not provide much comfort or use as a framework for actions, and so when the desire nature is aggravated or angered these people can be exceptionally sharp tongued, coldly acidic and caustic. However, the natural dispassionate nature of the Air signs tempers the fury and heat of Mars and once it is cooled to the point of chilled balance it is not only greatly informed but also wise.
Active Air (Libra) is the detriment of Mars, for it is the sign opposite the ruling sign, Aries. Mars was once also in detriment in Taurus, signifying that increased struggle for physical survival I mentioned earlier, before the shift of a portion of Mars energy to the newly emerged Pluto awareness; thus, individual human life became easier, but the ultimate threat to it became transcendent and grew in magnitude to ecompass collective levels in Pluto. Mars is in its detriment in Libra for a very simple reason – Libra is dual in nature, and this duality splits the application of assertion and initiative in two separate but equal and opposed directions. The desire nature is harmonising but indecisive, vague, non-committal and forever co-operative, tending to settle for peace in siding with the majority even when it desires something else for itself. There is great tact, diplomacy, fairness and consideration of others in the desire nature which must be balanced itself or else it becomes inactive when it should be making decisions because it is too busy weighing up options.
The will seeks to harmonize polarities in order to reach a state of peace or tranquillity between them, and to this end it is often the case that Mars in Libra desires a perfect connection and partnership with another human above all other things. The desire nature is influenced by the opinions of the partner and by the experience it has in relating to others, and often there are significant aesthetic impulses behind the mental forces. The desire nature is seeking, as I said, to harmonize and balance its urges so that it can apply the will in a manner which carries justice and impartiality, but it is unable to do this with all its own desires – only the desires of others from which it remains detached and somewhat aloof – so eventually it encounters a personally significant dilemma that it cannot be bi-partisan in and must fall on one side of the fence or another– the detrimental nature of the Mars forces topples us from our lofty and privileged position of detached observation and fair mindedness. When this happens we are tested so that our will can eventually learn that so long as we act from the highest motivation the consequences of our actionswill be weighed in this light – in other words, motivation is more important than consequence on the cosmic scales. The enlightened and empowered will is then able to enforce peace and equality wherever it is applied, without contradiction or duality.
Stable Air (Aquarius) is a mass of contradictions, and this carries through to the desire nature when Mars is found here. This is a freedom seeking, individualistic, independent will expressing itself through a desire nature that is rebellious, experimental, revolutionary, innovative and eccentric – it identifies differences through an innate genius keyed to resonance. We find our own wilful nature to be unpredictable and our passions are often illogical, unorthodox, erratic and nervous, based unpredictably on the ever shifting resonance we esperience now, and now, and now. We seek to be free, and assert ourselves more aggressively whenever we are restrained or restricted, so this Mars is often at loggerheads with authority or clashing simply because it will not back down over ideological conflict. For like all Stable/Fixed Elements the great resourcefulness of Mars here can lead to stubbornness, in this case a stubborn force of mind that has been gained at the sacrifice of the thrill of new ideas. It would be better to retain the flexibility and willingness to embrace contradiction, for that is a great source of strength for these people.
In fact, for these people the drive to individualise and distinguish the mind through wilful and assertive acts that weaken restrictive and freedom limiting conditions is the fuel that feeds the passions and the desire body, and provided they can avoid the trap of becoming over scientific or just incomprehensible in the expression of their desires and curb the effect that rebelliousness passions have on their achievements, this Mars becomes exceptionally effective for the will is dynamic and free as well as inspirational, reformative and illuminating. New possibilities and new ideas turn these people on and they also have a tactical and mechanical knowledge of how different ideas connect and interact, which makes them excellent engineers and programmers of all kinds, for example. Yet there is an even higher calling of the desire nature for these people for Aquarius is both humanitarian and futuristic, and both of these ideals fire Mars into action when it is in this sign. Thus, this desire nature is born motivated not only to do something unique and new and experimental but to do so as an assertion of human rights, and so they are driven to work towards a utopian human society in the process. Those who are conscious of this and work to assert it through their individual will and desire are able to introduce radical changes through their magic.
Mars in Reactive Air (Gemini) disperses the mental energy through the desire body, leading to a rapid turnover of assertive stimuli from the mind. This has the effect of making the passions more volatile, spontaneous, superficial and inquisitive and thus the will is directed in a scattered and bipolar fashion, and the physical actions are swift, motivated and excited by speech and any rapid assimilation of ideas. Spontaneity and versatility are the twin strengths that arise from this expression, whilst gossiping, diversion, and pointless speculation are the ways in which it wastes its efforts. There is often a thirst in the desire nature for intellectual knowledge, study, and information, and thus there is often an assertion of cleverness in the pursuit of goals. The same quest for knowledge and information leads many of them to develop numerous friendships. Yet there is also a thirst in the desire nature for freshness and if no new ideas stimulate them to action these people become bored and look elsewhere for something to interest them. More so than any other desire nature, this one is stimulated by and reacts to thoughts.
This presents the Reactive Air desire nature’s great strength, and its great weakness. In asserting itself with a will that vacillates from one thought to another and another, the passions are weakened, diluted, and the ability to mobilise all the energy in one direction depleted; but at the same time there is an open mindedness and receptivity to new ideas that can only strengthen the will. The tests of Mars and Geburah then are designed to strengthen the constructive influence and weaken the negative, a bipolar action that perfectly suits its expression in this sign. If the entire will can be utilised without succumbing to mental distractions, the desire body carries the wish forwards and spontaneously expresses it. Thus, the desire nature of these people is on a path of making mental connections, so that it is strengthened by those connections rather than distracted and dissipated by them. At the divine forge, the will is tempered into a sparkling and dazzling sword that is adept in the wisdom of perceiving and communicating clear objective analogies and injects change.
Radiant Primal Force
Of all the Elements, Fire is the closest to Mars’ true nature, for in his burning heart he is a creature of action and not words and his fierce and direct nature is ill suited to the consideration of consequences or caution: delay, no way! His spirit is ruled by none save the true will of the Self and he is bold, courageous, undaunted and utterly primal, being connected to the passions that humanity has collectively struggled to equilibrate since the dawn of this era. In his heart he is the embodiment of those passions and the giver of the raw strength necessary to tame them. Nowhere is his expression more unfettered than in the radiant primal force of the Fire signs. Here he is not a wargod but a Creator, a being of Light.
Each of these signs is connected to the intuitive functions which are distinguished from the Water Elements psychic functions in that the intuitive is attuned to the collective mythic realm of archetypes, that is, their intuitive nature arises from a primal connection to the Universe rather than through astral empathy, mental awareness or an understanding born of experience. It is quintessential and dynamic. This often gives them a sense of self importance, but the desire nature is always strengthened by this connection and asserts itself and seeks to attain its goals using the initiative and power that continues to radiate from it. The Fire attuned desire body is always direct for it outwardly radiates the force of its will continually, leading the physical body into a natural continuous dynamic action; it thrives on energetic movement and an enthusiastic confidence in its own creative power to assert itself. If the unconscious connection to the mythic realm can be integrated into the desire body more consciously it provides a source of unlimited energy and force that is without parallel. The will is then attuned to the omnipotent force of the Divine will, which cannot be defeated because it cannot be opposed. It is the will that recognises all difference as Divinely inspired.
Active Fire (Aries) is where Mars is at home. Here is the true hero he has been searching for on his weary voyage around the zodiac, Aries the hero, pure and simple. Here is the desire nature that is bold, brave, fearless, combative, honest, competitive, direct and strong, driven by a will that is undaunted, indomitable, fierce, direct and impetuous. This is his child, his beloved son. Aries is so loved by Mars because his spirit is Martian even in his attitude to his planetary father, as this joke from astrologer Linda Goodman shows:
Astrologer: “Mars is the ruler of Aries”
Aries: “Nothing is the ruler of Aries.”
Astrologer: “Mars is the ruler of the 1st house.”
Aries: “That’s better.”
– from the book ‘Love Signs’.
The will of these people prefers to confront barriers and obstacles in the way of their desires directly in the face with a full blast of single pointed but often reckless force, intending to blow it away. The temper is high, anger is felt with a raging rush of blood to the head and the sex drive is impulsive and confidant. The passions are of a more powerful nature because they are more primal and are thus felt more completely, for when a beast lowers its horns to charge it does not consider pulling any punches, the degree of its ferocity is determined only by the strength of its passions at the time. Thus, the Active Fire Mars must temper its aggression to use just the right amount of force in just the right way or its method of battling through will eventually exhaust it of all power. Similarly, the love for new adventures itself must be overcome as if it were the greatest of dragons, for the heroic desire nature is instinctive and gets drawn out of completing things through boredom and restlessness, sometimes even seeking to stir up some antagonism for no other reason than to get the blood boiling again. These tendencies, once equilibrated (either through conscious intent or the inevitable failure, conquest and defeat of the ego), clear the will of distractions and lead it to perceive the intuitive connection this Mars has to the mythic realm, a connection to essentials.
Stable Fire (Leo) is the emanation of Mars through the radiant beauty of the individual self, the beauty of its specialness. The desire body of such a native is proud (of its uniqueness), noble, warm, generous, regal and dignified, the will is steady and dominating and confidant and they are motivated to seek recognition and attract attention to themselves. Thus there is often arrogance and ‘egobesity’, and an overdramatic display of the desires. Flattery and romantic attention turn them on, for they have a deep need for sexual and physical attention, and seek acknowledgment of their distinctive prowess. This is the nature of the Stable mode of the Fire signs, for it seeks to amass and store the Element in this way, building its self esteem and sense of recognition.
Yet this recognition is not to be found in the satisfaction of the egos desires for attention, fame, or royal comforts, nor in any source in the external world, for the very word recognition implies a remembering, a return to cognition of something that was lost to it. Thus, the desire nature must reclaim all the power it has misplaced within itself, the awareness of its own grandeur and majesty, so that it can put aside the need to dominate others with its will and instead radiate the self confident assertion of its own Divine beauty through it. There is much of the will of the ‘Divine child’ in this position of Mars, for the Leo vibration is child-like in its expression of the need for attention and playfulness, but when the pussy cats pride is hurt, the feral nature asserts itself first with a warning roar and then with a ferocious and often savagely wounding assault. So long as its pride is not under threat the desire nature is generally very generous and forgiving of the faults of others – after all, they enforce its superiority, its divine right to rule. Mars in Leo’s intuitive connection to the universe brings it great faith and confidence in its own will and awareness that there is really no limit to how bright it can shine, no limit to its creative force, potential achievement or recognition; and that is true but it is true for all of us, not just these people. Once the individual beauty of all things is accepted and the will is free of hubris these people truly are our natural leaders, for they are bright, popular, charismatic and generous, born to rise to and shine light upon the world.
Reactive Fire (Sagittarius) is attuned to the mythic realms possibilities, it senses the uniqueness of possibilities and this leads the desire nature on a quest for something that will lead it far and wide over many horizons. This is a desire nature that is radically idealistic and honest, which wants to roam free like a wild horse, ignoring borders and boundaries, relentlessly seeking an ideal that has been shaped by beliefs, inspirations and an intuitive bond with truth and morality. The will is like an arrow, far ranging, swift, sleek, sharp and sure to meet its target in the eye. The will is also adventurous, positive, and faithful and often physically drives the individual to explore overseas countries and foreign concepts. Reactive Fire is philosophical and generally optimistic, asserting itself and its beliefs positively and honestly, and when this is added to their formidable ability to target the will upon a distant object it creates a lucky combination of forces that often meet with success.
Yet it is often when it comes to the measuring of success that this sign is wanting. The will is fundamentally concerned with aspirations hurled over far flung horizons of possibility, and the desire nature is possessed of a spirit of wanderlust that can lead to many places, both physical and metaphysical, in search of something that is either so ill defined or of such legendary and mythic status that it seems like hopeless idealism. The will must be tempered by fusing the animal and human awareness together into the form of the centaur, that is, sharpening the instincts by combining reason with passion. Reason alone is too confining and passion without reason is often bestial and wanton, so a binding of the two must take place in the forge of Mars. The desire body and the will must past through the flames so that a spear that shines with the brightness of both reason and passion is brought forth.
These archetypal expressions of Mars and the qualities of the desire body and the will are further differentiated among individuals by the aspects of other planets to Mars and the positioning of planet in the chart, about which many volumes could be written. In general, the excessive action of Mars is restrained or held in check by Saturn and his nature is soothed by Venus. Therefore, it is advised that in chronic conditions of physical health and mobility, burns, cuts, abrasions, and fevers, the remedies that are analogous to those two planets are optimal. Additionally, a skilled homeopathic application of Mars itself can effect a curative solution.
For the Mars temperament or those with an emphasis on Fire there are 2 Bach Flower remedies that are extremely helpful, Impatiens and Vervain, whilst for the individual seeking to empower the will and strengthen and increase Mars, the desire nature or the Fire Element, Cayenne and Mountain Pride have been recommended to me in the course of this writing, but these are not Bach Flower remedies.
Deimos & Phobos
Mars has two satellite moons, called Deimos and Phobos. As I have stated elsewhere moons are reflectors of a planets principle, they act to give form and definition to the process of transmuting and amplifying the effect of the planetary energy. They are not utilised in astrology (except for Earths moon of course), but they are revealing for they describe more of the planets dynamic.
Deimos is panic. Panic is a reaction triggered by Mars as a survival mechanism whenever there is an unexpected or overwhelming threat, to break the possibility of immobility and frozen terror, the paralyzing inaction which can spell doom in the animal kingdom. It is often bought on as a shock reaction which has such an effect as to mobilise the being with a surge of adrenaline so that it may cope with the situation that has triggered it. It becomes destructive when it gets out of control, and is directed by a mindless and ruthless desire to survive.
Its companion is Phobos, the Greek word for fear, which is the other pole of the survival instinct which in the animal kingdom is triggered to warn them of danger to their life, through instinct and natural sensing, thus serving as an early warning system for the creature. Together, fear and panic represent the poles of the survival instinct, and are thus complementary. The Hebrew word ‘Pachad’ which also means fear, is another name for Geburah.
The Challenge and the Final Battle
The close approach of Mars has not gone unexploited by humanity – indeed, there are several robots and droids speeding through space as I write, hoping to descend to Mars and begin probing into the soil looking for signs of life. The first of these, the first British exploration of another planet, is the Beagle 2 which will arrive sometime around Christmas Day this year. Others will follow.
As these events unfold, Mars will take notice, and as we seek to uncover its secrets we must be prepared to be challenged. It is not that we are daring to explore it that matters; it is our attitude in doing so, an attitude that has to be changed if we are to avoid destroying ourselves. If you doubt me in this, I would like to point out to you that there are already bombastic plans to build a nuclear reactor on the surface of Mars by the year 2030.
The real problem with our handling of Mars and the challenge that he presents us with is one of our attitude to power. War, bloodshed, violence and vengeance are dark distortions of the Mars principle which we have projected onto it. The true source of power is not motivated by a desire to exert power over others but to add to the power of all, a power with others wherein differences are celebrated rather than threatening. Our will is hell-bent on the petty desires of the little conquering ego when it is not understood this way and it can only bring us misery and failure in the end for the egos desires and power are illusory. Only the true will prevails, which is the will to be different and unique. If we continue to express our Martian urges over other peoples we will eventually succumb to the sharp edged blade of rage and self destruction. We must alter our very notion of competition, for where in the past our notion of conflict holds that for every winner there must be a loser, now we must revise the rules because the truth is for every outcome where the good of all is not upheld there is only a losing situation for everyone instead of a win-win one which always emerges when we act in everyone’s best interests. We must battle against the survivalist urges, feeling them but not acting on them destructively. This is the climactic battle for it relinquishes our individual desire for ego power and instead returns to us the omnipotent strength and all-power of the Divine Will, a world in which we desire mutual empowerment.
Each of must individually work through this process and take action that reflects it if we are to pull ourselves through the flames of the next century. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but then with Mars they always do – we must never be discouraged from trying. It may seem that our warlike and destructive nature is unstoppable in these troubled times, that the displacement of the feminine principle by the masculine is too severe, that our fascination with guns and terror is utterly out of control, but a balance is already struck within us, and there are signs that we are all collectively beginning to move on. A new and overdue inclusion of the feminine principle is well underway, and films like ‘Bowling for Columbine’ are also reflecting shifting Martian attitudes in our societies. There is encouragement too, from Mars itself, for the Red Planets approach to Earth through Pisces is a very forgiving and compassionate expression of Mars, prone to deceptions and illusions, but far from aggressive. His rising in the day gives off more heat and thereby increases his malevolence and warlike temper, but he will not be visible to us in the day for this intimate visit, only for the night. These signs are encouraging. Ultimately, however, the most encouraging prospect offered by Mars is that all our human trials are finite, transient, and mortal, whereas we are infinite and immortal; they are changeable, we are unchangeable, for we are the children of Divine Providence, whose will is unopposed and who has given all power unto us, the All that Is. We can unleash infinite power to shatter our finite trials.
I wish you all a clear and cloudless view of the Red Planet.