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Symbol of Mars

 
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ariespoint



Joined: 03 Apr 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Chicago

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Symbol of Mars Reply with quote

Hello all,

In some reading I've done over the last few weeks I've come across the assertion that the original symbol of Mars did not have an arrow at the top, but a cross - thus making it look like an inverted Venus.

Does anyone know where this idea comes from or if it has any validity.

Thanks!

Ariespoint
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Richard Vetter



Joined: 03 May 2008
Posts: 54
Location: Offenburg, Germany

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 8:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Symbol of Mars Reply with quote

ariespoint wrote:
In some reading I've done over the last few weeks I've come across the assertion that the original symbol of Mars did not have an arrow at the top, but a cross - thus making it look like an inverted Venus.


I dimly remember when I was studying astrology at Dethlefsen's institute in Munich (long time ago) he told us exactly that; in his esoteric explanation the circle meaning "spirit", the (diagonal) cross "matter" - so the whole aptly symbolizing something like an "impulse" (the spirit moving/ stimulating matter; whereas the symbol of Venus meaning "the spirit (vertically) dominates matter")...

Richard
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ariespoint



Joined: 03 Apr 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Chicago

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Richard,

Yes, that's exactly the explanation I've seen. While it makes sense in terms of how the graphic symbolism of the planetary glyphs works (circle, cross, etc) I had never come across it before.

Ariespoint
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Deb
Administrator


Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Wed May 07, 2008 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you look at the chart on this link, then you can see one of the early representations of Mars.

http://skyscript.co.uk/greekhoroscope.html

It doesn’t seem too different from the one we are used to. John Searle, in his Ephemeris of 1609, gives an interesting early-17th century account of what the symbols are designed to portray. For Mars he suggests that the symbol is designed to look like a ‘warlike engine’ (p.100).
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Coder



Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 143

Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what would be the significance of the Mars glyph changing (being changed) from an inverted Venus glyph to its present one?

One narrative suggests the new symbol is intentionally phallic. The subtext I infer is that this is to conceal by revealing. That is to say, promoting one attribute - or better, one physical manifestation - allows other attributes to retire (be retired).

You will note the "new" addition to the circle which produces our familar Mars glyph is also present on the Scorpio glyph. It is sometimes made analogous to the scorpion's sting. But this is a bad joke, and to see why you need to compare the glyphs of Scorpio and Virgo.

My view is that contemporary glyphs for these symbols obfuscate the real meanings of the symbols. One consequence is that the relation of Male and Female is presented as more antagonistic than it really is. The complementarity is denied - apparently denigrated.

A small slip of a pen? A stylistic innovation? I doubt it.
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mattG



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Greenwich UK

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Mars glyph Reply with quote

I seem to remember the mars glyph looking like an inverted venus in the Firmicus Maternus book but I do not know why. There used to be a chart in the Project Hindsight site showing the development and changes of the planetary signs. It suggests that they were simply stylised shapes based on the initial letter of the signs. I would therefore before a little sceptical about esoteric explanations of the shapes - eg Dr Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Matt

It sounds unlikely that the glyph you saw in the Firmicus Maternus book was an original symbol, because we have so few known examples of the use of symbols from that period. Of course, without more information it is hard to check, but all of the classical symbols for Mars that I know of were definitely more characteristic of arrows than crosses. (Hence I don’t understand why Coder still refers to the arrow as a ‘new’ addition).

There is a table in Alexander Jones’ Astronomical Papyri from Oxyrhynchus that shows examples of early symbols compared against those used in medieval astrology - Fig. 17 on p.63. Most of this book, including this page and graphic, can be seen in the limited preview provided by Google books, at http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SM7h7T76fiQC - and what follows mainly refers to it.

Quote:
There used to be a chart in the Project Hindsight site showing the development and changes of the planetary signs. It suggests that they were simply stylised shapes based on the initial letter of the signs.


I haven’t seen that article but that suggestion seems very credible. I came to a similar conclusion when evaluating the early symbols for the ascendant and midheaven, etc, in the article I referenced above. I also had a discussion recently with Dorian Greenbaum and she pointed out how the apparently messy symbol for Saturn looks like an abbreviation of kr - Kronos? - in Greek (the stem of the p has a cross), whilst the symbol for Jupiter is easily recognisable as the European style of denoting Z – for Zeus?

Unfortunately the earliest symbol for Mars is damaged but - if you squint your eyes - the example from the late 5th century chart does look a little like an abbreviation for Ares (?) It would be hard to see this in the 6th century example though, which looks much more like a straightforward arrow. On the other hand, we can see how the 6th century symbol bears a resemblance to the 5th century symbol, and could be a lazy-handed version of it.

Now I personally believe that collective consciousness plays a part in the development of symbols, but I also accept your warning about holding a little scepticism over some of the esoteric explanations. It is rather deflating to think that the real basis of some of our symbols might be nothing more than some astrologer having scruffy handwriting and making a scribbled mess of the abbreviations ! Even though I realise that the symbol for Mars probably had no original association with war-machines, I do quite like the fact that some astrologers saw war machines in its imagery Smile
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