Mars is the evolutionary power that allows individuals to overcome their limits to act on external reality.
Myth and exegesis
The Roman Mars, Olympian god of war, son of Zeus and Hera, represented the physical, indomitable, and violent aspect of war and its brutality. It contrasts with the image offered by his sister Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom and military strategy (the same association that is partly expressed by the Semitic Astarte or the Greek Aphrodite). As seen in the various epics, there is a certain ambivalence of feelings towards him. However, Mars personified the physical value that leads to victory in war. The strength he was the bearer manifested itself in a dangerous, overwhelming, destructive, murderous way, so much so that Zeus, in the Iliad, reveals that he considers him the most hated son.
The tale that outlines the true nature of Ares is that of his illicit love for Aphrodite. Legend has it that Elios, the god of the Sun, one day surprised Ares and Aphrodite in an intimate attitude in the abode of Hephaestus, his legitimate consort. Hephaestus, the equivalent of the Roman god Vulcan protector of blacksmiths, learned of the story from Elios, made a fragile and almost invisible net to imprison them. At the next meeting of the couple in Hephaestus’ bed, the net traps them in their intimate embrace; Hephaestus summoned all the Olympic gods who mocked the embarrassed Ares, who returned to his home in Thrace.
The union of Ares and Aphrodite generated: Eros, the god of love and sex (the Cupid of the Romans); Anteros, the god of requited love (according to Plato, Anteros is the god who represents the mirror image of the lover’s feelings, love that is not consumed but remains as a friendly and disinterested feeling, powerful but chaste); Phobos, the personification of fear and panic; Deimos, the god of terror; and finally Harmony, the goddess of concord. In this wide generational variety, we see the necessity of this combination between the one-sided and creative force of Ares and the balancing spirit of Aphrodite, a fatal attraction that originates everything: the passion at the root of the union (profane love); the pure and fraternal feeling for the image of the beloved (sacred love); the terror generated by one’s weaknesses towards energy perceived as destructive (a negative aspect of Mars in Scorpio); and finally the harmony that follows the reconciliation of opposites, the unity of the Mars-Venus couple.
From an astronomical point of view, Martian symbolism is based on the fact that it is the first planet outside Earth’s orbit. That makes it the expression of the vital energy that flows from the individual contours to express itself as a move towards the outside, in activities aimed at modifying the balance and internal stasis to create a process of advancement and transformation of the human being. That occurs through the impulse to act in contrast with what undermines internal homeostasis and manifests itself in muscular and decision-making action to restore balance. But also, where the active expression is not allowed by physical or psychic impediments, in surrogate behaviours, or in negative psychic states that result in pure anger or manifestations of extreme violence not justified by the circumstances.
We can also analyse the Martian dynamics in relation to the Venusian counterpart, where Venus, as the first planet within the Earth’s orbit, presides over the productive and cohesive work of the individual core; at the same time, Mars has the task of expressing individuality in life’s acts, ideals, and values . Of great importance is the expression of sexuality linked to Martian symbolism. If Mars in Aries – male sign – represents the explosive generative act, the instinct that activates the reaction of the endocrine system to the stimuli of desire, in the female sign of Scorpio, the planet renews the sexual act making it a conscious evolutionary expression of the individual. In the dialectic of oppositions, Mars and Venus then transition from Aries’s focused and unidirectional action to the next phase of reorganisation of Libra’s social and relational balances. Not for nothing in the Roman pantheon Venus Astarte was the protector of military victories and renewal after the war. In the female signs of Taurus and Scorpio, the activation of the creative process resulting from the intercourse occurs only when a hierogamy occurs, a union of opposites that is a prelude to the generation of new life.
Examined from the lens of Freudian psychology, Mars appears mainly linked to the expression of libido, understood as individual vital energy that confronts the environment. In this sense, it relates to the so-called sadistic-oral relationship established in the child with the first teething and the need to satisfy immediate nutritional needs. To follow, in adulthood, there are all the connotations related to the channelling of sadomasochistic impulses, hostility, phallic meanings, etc. Also, in this case, we must consider that the libido, which for Freud is the innate instinct contained in the unconscious structure of the psyche, is delegated to oral and sexual satisfaction. For transpersonal astrology, it is the result of a process at the source of which we find the energetic impulse to transformation, to the breaking of the inner balance. In his work “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, it is interesting to note that Freud outlines what he calls “the death impulse” (Todestrieb). It is the drift towards the desire for an inorganic state that opposes the vital continuity ensured by eros. This impulse in the Greek myth is symbolised by the god Thanatos, son of Night and Darkness, devoid of grace and mercy, hated by gods and men, and in the astrological framework by the symbolism of Mars in Scorpio. Later, in “Ego and Id”, Freud argues on the possibility that, at least in part, this impulse is directed outward as a destructive instinct.
If we summarise the Martian attributions, it appears evident that the energy expressed takes on a double value within the human experience. As a manifestation of a centrifugal motion, Mars arises as an evolutionary power, capable of giving life to new expressions of being by involving levels of experience previously unaffected by the individual will. It appears as the lower octave of Uranus exalted in the sign of Scorpio, a herald capable of acting on objective reality through individual actions; Jupiter will then carry out the social adjustment activities of personal effort. On the other hand, the impetus of Mars leads to the death of one’s past weaknesses, to liberation on the path of integration between oneself and the world. Or, unable to give up what has been, the being rages against himself and others in an aggressive excess ranging from iconoclastic fury to a destructive or self-destructive state.