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Crossing the Threshold by Linda Reid

Archetypal Mars by Linda Reid

" Psychologically, Mars is the assertive and self-determining factor that allows us to survive and express our humanness openly and fearlessly. It is a very clear energy - purposeful, not complicated by emotion and mindset. "

Mythological themes lay as symbols rooted in the collective history of humanity, representing motifs that influence the nature of the individual in what Jung called 'primordial images'. He later used the word 'archetypes' which means to express the historical and ancient character of these images. As time passes, different cultural input alters the primary image and cultural exchanges overlay it, yet, the core archetype remains pure.

In using myth to express these archetypes, we tap into a huge storehouse of cultural information that colours our understanding. Sometimes however, the information and imagery has been altered and sanitised, reworked and politically manipulated until the archetype no longer resembles the original energy. As the 'gods' of various cultures overlay it with personified images, the core is covered and recedes deeper into the collective unconscious, only occasionally rising through the over-layers in its purest form.

One such altered image is that of Mars - the classic 'bad guy' of astrology, and, through its attachment to 'ego' considered by many to be an undesirable part of the psychic process; one to be subdued, civilised and pacified. Not so, in my opinion. The core meaning of Mars is energy, pure and simple, without conscience, value judgement, attachment, thought, principles, emotions or concern for civility; just a clear and constant source of action and vitality. The creative Mars energy emanates from the symbolic Sun, source of perpetual vitality and the sacred self.

It takes considerable clarity of purpose to delve beyond mythic images and reach the primordial roots. To get back to the archetypal model we need to be familiar with more than one mythic influence, though to trace its meaning in human terms we often come up with conflicting metaphors. What we really see are the many facets of the over-layers of meaning. In this, we can understand both the positive face and the negative face of each planetary model. This is the raw material that we work with, since we carry these images deep within our own psyches; we cannot rationalise the primordial roots, only experience them. The core model is instinctive, natural, and along with all other archetypal forces - uncomplicated. It does not think, feel or act except under the direction of the 'self'.

So what are the images that myth has presented to give us a sense of the colour of Mars? The Romans adulated and revered the god of conquest, Mars, son of Jupiter. The Greeks expressed him in their myths as the hated warmongering Ares, son of Zeus, and as the egotistical Herakles, the Hero of divine parentage and mortal desires. We can see Mars as the principle of primeval propogation of nature in the images of Shiva, in Christian culture as Adam, in Egyptian as Osiris. In all myths, there is a common thread - that of the Divine parent creating a physical being. Mars then is the manifest expression of the 'Will of the Divine' on earth, in various forms.

It is through Mars that the 'Divine Self' expresses its will and capacity to survive on earth. It is the tool (pardon the pun) by which the Divine seeds humanity, so it is with little surprise that the various cults of Mars, in different forms, will always include a phallus.

Psychologically, Mars is the assertive and self-determining factor that allows us to survive and express our humanness openly and fearlessly. It is a very clear energy - purposeful, not complicated by emotion and mindset. At best, it allows us to be assertive without aggression, to be forthright without being offensive, and to relate to others by being able to express our (Solar) point of view without clouding the right of another to express theirs. It is willpower and self-determination, the desire to experience life and initiate activity.

Wholeness must take account of a bright consciousness as well as a nurtured inner life. There is no hope for, or sense of, completeness if we are not aware of and able to identify with the life around us. While we may all seek to improve ourselves by doing 'inner work', we absolutely must pay attention to the real world of humans living in a human world, where survival might means to assert ourselves. Earning a place in that world and creating new life is part of what Mars is about, so whole life experience must honour Mars as the force and drive to achievement in the world.

Mars describes our capacity to defend our personal sensibilities, but does not describe our sensibilities. They are the bailiwick of other archetypal forms. It can enable us to do so with the precision of a well trained soldier who does the bidding of the 'Divine King or Divine Queen' embedded in the Sun archetype. We might liken Mars' role to that of the trusty Knight (son) who unfailingly gives his loyalty to his Lord or Lady -the 'Son of the Divine' in human form, on earth to perform a quest and always at the bidding of the Divine. If the motives of the Divine Self are pure, then Mars acts out the will as pure spirit.

In being clear about Mars as controlled by and serving the Divine Self, without question, its energy does not need to manifest in the guise of renegade, terrorist or mercenary because we become aware of its usefulness. Mars suppressed and unrecognised, not allowed free expression, is undervalued, not 'favored' by the King or Queen-Self and so cannot do its job. It is essential that we recognise our capacity for militancy and give it proper honour.

Symbolically, Mars' job is to defend, and at times attack, the fearsome dragons that litter our life paths - to take issue with the real 'bad guys' but to do so in a well trained, elegant and manifestly honorable way. Achievement of creative goals needs to be appropriate to the Will of the Divine Self. Mars expressed as rage or anger is inappropriate. Regardless of the primitive, brutal force embedded in its meaning. Mars as the killer is not clear archetypal imagery because anger implies emotion and Mars is not about emotion but pure action and energy. Emotion blurs the edges. The core energy of Mars is embedded in the 'seed' of life. Therefore, it has sexual overtones. In medical astrology, Mars represents the penis, connecting again to the image of the phallus and the 'tool' by which the solar seed is delivered. The testicles are associated with the Sun.

The most prominent of conditions put on Mars is the sanitised version of Venusian principles of 'niceness' and acceptability to others. You don't get far with Mars without Venus entering the picture. The principles of masculinity or seeding and assertive drive can only exist in a dualistic world in contrast with its archetypal partner, Venus. However, in overly moderating Mars we set ourselves up for problems. Venus gains the upper hand and Mars becomes unhealthy, lethargic, contained and suffocated. Those who do not allow Mars to be expressed but are constantly 'nice', seemly and decorous, suppress their natural instincts. Eventually the repressed and enraged energy of Mars bursts forth in bouts of anger, violence and aggression. Venus refines the primitive Mars and enables us to live in a 'civilised' world but each in themselves needs to be expressed more clearly and we should be consciously aware of both energies. This is the paradox. When one archetype dominates the other, the result is inappropriate. The balance must be maintained for psychic health.

Rage is the dysfunctional expression of a suppressed Mars. We can be annoyed, pissed off, defend our honour, our position, our opinion, our property, and express our desires in a healthy way without resorting to anger. We should be allowed to do so, because the effects on health of not doing so can be devastating.

Just the same, we do become angry. In doing so and recognising that we are operating the shadow side of Mars, we honour that shadow and it become less able to control our actions. Annoyance or irritation stimulates Mars into action and has then served its purpose. If such annoyance is expressed clearly with Venus in mind, in other words, that the other person has a point of view too, it is honorable Mars. If it brings with it years of suppressed rage, then it is inappropriate and murky. Often the smallest trigger will bring with it years of accumulated force.

How do we keep Mars from being suppressed? By seeing it as an appropriate tool for self-expression. If we have a sense of our own divinity, then we will not use Mars as a means to abuse the divine gift we carry. The Divine has its counterpart in the Shadow. God has the Devil. God cannot exist as creative good without the contrast of the Devil for destruction and evil, for how can we identify goodness without the presence of evil for contrast? And so God and the Devil are bound up in the other. Mars, in negative form, is capable of expressing the Devil just as much as it can positively express the Divine. Mars does not evaluate, it simply acts on behalf of either master!

Mars is the primal survival force within, which deals entirely with 'I', 'Me', 'Myself'. Those words are the words of the Divine Self, seeking mortal incarnation in the world. If we bear that in mind we can use Mars clearly and use the perpetual energy as it is meant to be used - creatively. The position of Mars in the chart illustrates how Mars is best expressed. Mars ought to be expressed directly, spontaneously, immediately at the start of things, whatever the situation, in the way indicated by its sign and in the experience expressed by its house. Clarity of source is essential to expressing Mars in an assertive, non-aggressive way.

Anger often arises because one has waited too long to clarify something - both within oneself and within one's relationships - just what it is one wants and how much space one needs to achieve it. Anger and bloodlust is alien to the clarity that can be expressed. Remember Mars is 'the initiation', so when you yourself become angry, you need to look to the initiating source of the anger, not its present manifestation. This way you can be clear why you are angry and then turn the anger to better purpose. Mars is never the source of anger but is the means by which it is expressed. Therefore, the source and the means need to be clearly defined so that Mars can be expressed fruitfully.

Expressing our Mars is not as an observer; it is as a participant in our own creative process. It is a tool by which we enable ourselves to be healthy at all levels. Identifying its value as creatively beneficial to the Self enables us to use its energy appropriately.

Mars in the chart should be examined for its aspects with other planets. The element connected to its sign placement will give an idea of the ways in which the creative seeds brought by Mars can be sown. In Earth, energy is applied to the physical and needs to be expressed that way. In Fire, it is applied through instinctive action and intuitve knowledge. In Air, those seeds are for planting in the mind, to activate the intellect, and in water it touches the emotions with passion, creating action through compassion. Where you find the sign Aries is often the best house for creative expression of its energy.

© Linda Reid; 2008

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