Mythologically, Mars is deeply woven into the fabric of the ages, coming down from the most ancient of times. In Babylon, Mars was called Nergal and was the god of war. He was also the scorching noonday sun, the god of plague, epidemics and disasters. Nergal, seeking power, stormed the Underworld, deposed or forced a compromise with the Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigol, ruling along side her as the Greek Hades and Persephone later did. Nergal was associated with both the Sun (at its hottest point, noonday) and with darkness (the underworld) which made it similar to Mars who was connected to both the Sun and Pluto.
In Hindu mythology, Mars is associated with Kartikeya, who came into being out of a need to fulfill a prophecy. The gods were being terrorized by a demon, who, according to the prophecy, could only be slain by the seven-day old son of the great ascetic, Shiva. The gods created a beautiful illusion in the form of a woman so beautiful that even Shiva was forced to ejaculate at the sight of her. His fiery sperm fell into the ocean where it was nurtured by the Pleides, wives of the seven Rishis (the stars of the big dipper). They made a womb of earth and water for the unborn child and in seven days, Kartikeya, the god of war, burst forth to slay the demon.
In Greek mythology, where we primarily get our Mars mythology, he was called Ares, more often spelled Aries. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera and it is said that both parents detested him. His sister, Athene, called him "a thing of rage, made of evil, a two-faced liar." He seemed to delight in combat and violence for the pleasure of it. In battle, Ares was not the cool, commanding strategist his sister Athene was. Ares easily lost his temper and would rush into battle hotheadedly. He was driven by his passions and he paid for that unbridled personality by reaping the displeasure and disregard of the gods and men alike. He was considered murderous, a bloodstained mankiller, stormer of cities, and a coward who ran away when wounded. Indeed, when he was wounded in battle by Diomedes, he fled angrily back to Olympus, complaining to his father, Zeus, who rejected him again.
Because the Greeks did not hold Ares in high regard, there were no sacred places built to honor him. His "holy" places were the battlefields upon which there was only pain and death and destruction. He was commonly associated with Thrace, a region north of Greece that was inhabited by barbaric tribes.
Ares was not totally alone, however. He had the love of Aphrodite, who loved his passionate love making and the friendship of Hades who recruited the war dead for the underworld.
On the battlefield he was accompanied by his sister, Eris (which means Discord), and Strife (Eris's son). The goddess of war, Enyo (Bellonain in Latin) walked beside him and her attendants were Terror, Trembling and Panic. Ares was also only given a small place in mythology. He was imprisoned by the twin sons of Iphimedia and Poseidon in an attempt to destroy the gods. Hermes was eventually sent to break him out of prison. In the Trojan War, Mars sided with Aphrodite against his mother and sister, Hera and Athene.
With Harmony, a nymph, Ares fathered the Amazons a race of warrior women who took after their father's unbridled ways and not their peace-loving mother's. This is small mention considering the attention given to Venus, Mars's archetypal counterpart.
Ares's Roman incarnation was Mars, the god of war, for which the month of March was named, as March was the month when troops were mobilized. The Romans ranked Mars second only to Jupiter and revered him as the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome, for which he was considered the patriarch.
Mars means "bright and burning one". Indeed the planets bright red color suggests a bright, burning planet. Mars is considered independent and quick, and when activated, nothing stops him. In a natal chart the Mars placement is regarded in the same way which makes it a dangerous planet. Depending on the aspects and house placement it can determine whether you succeed in life or fail miserably.
In its primal state Mars has no direction. For purposeful direction the Sun must give Mars direction. When Saturn gives direction, the power of Mars can accomplish anything, even the impossible. In astrology Mars governs your energy, boldness, the will to win, the ability to turn ideas into action, your sex drive, your forcefulness and aggressiveness. Mars excites and stirs the imagination. It signifies ambition, courage, desire and strength. It's position in your chart indicates what stirs your passions and whether you can successfully get your own way. A strong placement indicates an aggressive personality with a lot of energy. Afflicted, Mars can bring strife, conflict, tension, anger, accidents, injury and destruction.
Mars represents the power and purpose we need to slay the inner dragons. The power of psychological fears and phobias fester within the inner darkness until finally it explodes (Mars rules explosions) to the surface. The destructive force of Mars is evident as it surfaces in the consciousness bringing with it all the negative forces of the inner demons which can cause quarrels, strife, and warfare.
When the power of Mars first emerges from the Plutonian unconsciousness, it is as an intense sexual force. In Mars we see the connection between sex and aggression, between desire and action. In the body, Mars governs the sex organs. In nature it rules heat, fire, earthquakes, violence, war and explosions.
The Mars archetype of the male corresponds to the Venus archetype of the female. Mars represents quick action from the gut, not the head. A weak Mars is evident in the charts of writers, artists and musicians. A prominent Mars produces individuals who can excel at sports, science, medicine, military and business careers. Until recently, these fields were almost strictly ranked with men. With the advent of Pallas Athene, Mars's sister, one of the prominent asteroids of recent interest, this is one of the areas her appearance has helped to change. Her phenomenal part on behalf of women will be explored in the future.
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