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Slow Global Warming

METAPHYSICAL MARS

by Gary Brand - written January 10, 2008,
published in the February 2008 edition of Echo* newspaper

This montage compares Mars' two Moons, Deimos
and Phobos with the asteroid Gaspra This montage compares Mars' two tiny Moons, Deimos (lower left) and Phobos (lower right), with the asteroid Gaspra (top), which is about 10 miles (17 km) in length.  The images of Phobos and Deimos were taken by the Viking Orbiter spacecraft in 1977 and the photo of Gaspra was taken by the Galileo spacecraft on October 29, 1991.  Because Phobos orbits Mars more rapidly than the planet rotates, this moon rises in the western horizon, speeds across the sky, and sets on Mars' eastern horizon!  Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

This is a 1491 woodcut of the personification of Mars
riding a chariot drawn by two horses and grasping a sword. This is a 1491 woodcut of the personification of Mars riding a chariot drawn by two horses.  He is depicted as grasping a sword in his right hand, his scepter of power and symbol of his ability to pierce and slash.  Scorpio, the principle sign ruled by Mars, is depicted by a scorpion in the back wheel of the chariot.  Aries, the secondary sign ruled by Mars, is depicted by a ram (although it looks more like a mouse or a dog) in the front wheel of the chariot.  The incorrect order of these two signs in the wheels is testimony to the loss of understanding of planetary sect during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.  From the 1491 edition of Bonatti (G.B. (c. 1282/1491)).
his article is one of a series of articles on the metaphysical and esoteric meanings of the planets that focuses on the metaphysics of Mars in our birth chart.  Is the metaphysics of Mars an oxymoron?  Yes, but not entirely.  In Greek and Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war and strife but metaphysically this planet symbolizes our potency, our ability to motivate ourselves to grow as spiritual beings, and our courage to fight for a higher purpose – something beyond our own self-satisfaction.  Mars is our desires – the most profound spiritual drive to return to paradisiacal unity with God – and the most primal of physical desires:  sex.  What about Mars as lover?  In the Greek myth, Ares (the Greek name for Mars) was the adulterous lover of Aphrodite (the Greek name for Venus) and, according to Hesiod, she bore a daughter named Harmonia by him.  The metaphysics of this myth is that it takes an assertive, penetrative force (Mars) to (pro)create just as it also takes a loving receptivity (Venus) and isn’t it interesting that, out of the union of aggression and passion (Mars) with love and attraction (Venus), came harmony (Harmonia).  The hedonistic, selfish, passionate nature of Mars is one of the key factors in creating our desire to and the karma (through our actions in this lifetime) that compels us to repeatedly reincarnate into physical bodies.

The glyph or symbol of Mars is a circle with an arrow pointing upward.  One characterization of this glyph is that the circle represents the soldier’s shield and the arrow is a pictograph of his weapon – either a sword or spear.  Mars is said to “rule” the metal iron and this was the chief or crucial constituent of shields and weapons in ancient cultures.  Despite the strength of iron, it readily oxidizes and the red color of rust was a chief reason for the association of Mars with this metal.  Mars rules (has dominion over) the signs of Aries and Scorpio and of these two signs he rejoices in Scorpio (which is said to be the principle domicile of Mars) rather than Aries.  According to Ptolemy (C.P., p. 15 (c. 150 A.D./1976)), this is because Mars is a nocturnal planet so it has a greater affinity with the nocturnal sign of Scorpio than with the diurnal sign of Aries.

According to the Greek myth, Mars had two squires (some say sons) named Deimos (personification of fear or terror) and Phobos (personification of fright or panic) and these are now the names of the planet’s two moons.  Our word “phobia” is derived from Phobos and “martial” literally means of or belonging to Mars.  When the warrior energy symbolized by Mars in our birth chart is expressed as fury or rage, it can indeed instill fear and panic in others.  Although Mars was rarely victorious in battle, he never shied from conflict either.  What does this symbol of courage in our birth charts mean in our lives today?  People with a mean, brutish personality are driven by the lower expression of this archetype but those who fight for a cause that uplifts or inspires others is the higher warrior expression of Mars.  Also, the establishment and defense of our personal boundaries with other people and with governmental and corporate authorities are the purview of Mars.  The concept of the “spiritual warrior” is antithetic to the mythological nature of Mars, for this god was onerous and contentious to most others in the Greek and Roman pantheons.  However, the relationship of Mars to the other planets and its placement by house and sign in a human birth chart can signify a person who is a spiritual warrior – defending the weak and opposing injustice.

Mars’ smallest or shortest planetary period is 15 years and this span of time that Ptolemy called the “fifth age, that of manhood” belongs to Mars (Id., p. 139).  It is during the 15 years from age 42-56 (those of Mars) that most of us act most strongly to fulfill our lifetime desires (Mars), produce the most through our labors (Mars), and – as Ptolemy said – Mars “induces… vexation, care [in the sense of have to care for], and trouble” during these years of our lives (Id.).  These are the “warrior years” in our life, when we fight for and spend much energy in pursuit of what we desire (Mars).  There are seven synods (Sun-Mars cycles as viewed from Earth) in Mars’ 15 year shortest planetary period and astronomical events of the same nature reoccur in 15 year intervals to form seven wave series so seven is the secret number associated with this planet (seven is also one-quarter of a Saturn orbital period).  Events of similar nature that occur in our lives 15 years apart are related to the position and significance of Mars in our chart.  Other Mars recurrence cycles (years after which the same astronomical event will occur within a few calendar days or the planet will return to the same degree of the zodiac) are 79, 205 and 284 years, the latter being the “greatest” planetary period for Mars.  The greatest planetary periods of the seven planets of antiquity were used in determining when to erect a kingdom, city, or town so that it would last for centuries (E.S., p. 110 (1784-1791)).  Cities were not established when Mars or Saturn (the two "malefic" planets, which also have the shortest “greatest” planetary periods) were the dominant influence.

Mars takes his joy in the sixth house because, as Medieval astrologer Bonatti put it, “… it is the house of deception, infirmities, and servants; and he [Mars] signifies servants, deceivers, liars..." (G.B.II, p. 100 (c. 1282/1994)).  This is why the sixth house signifies our acute illnesses and chronic health problems and the people who work for us (employees).

Mars symbolizes action so a metaphysical application of Mars is to mindfully assess each of our actions (preferably in advance) in terms of spiritual or karmic consequence or atonement.
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Reference Citations.

See related articles Metaphysical Scorpio and Metaphysical Aries.

*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida
850-656-5758


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