Though we may no longer regard the planets as gods, they still operate as invisible energies in our outer and inner lives. Today, Mars can be seen in the muscular prowess of the athlete; the hero emboldened with courage and conviction; the ambitious, hard-driving CEO; or lovers stirred with passion for one another. Mars, in other words, represents the life energy -- what some call chi or eros - running through all our lives.
Astrology is the art of working with the lessons of time. And the two-month period when Mars is moving retrograde -- as it is now from July 29th through September 28 -- is a cosmically-appointed cycle to work on all Mars-related issues. Are we blindly aggressive, for instance, flying into a rage at the slightest provocation? Or, do we repress our anger, stifling our feelings of conviction? Have we become overly fearful, lacking in that energy needed to address the battles in our everyday lives? Have we lost the courage it takes to manifest our dreams and ideals? Now is the time to reflect on these issues.
One way to reconnect with the Mars principle is to contemplate its expression as a mythic archetype. The following visualizations can help awaken such Mars -- related qualities as physical strength, victory, courage, and passion for life. By working with Mars in a conscious way, we can avoid the negative manifestations of the god of passion as misdirected anger or depression.
Get Physical With Mars
Mars is a male god traditionally associated with masculine pursuits such as war and conquest. The natural ruler of Aries in the Zodiac, Mars is the sign of iniative, risk-taking, and adventure. A true pioneer, Mars takes us to the edges of all that is known and secure. He endows physical strength, athletic ability, and in-your-face boldness. His color is red; his element fire; his quality courage; his animal the ram. He is fierce, warrior energy - something that we must all call upon at one point or another in the course of our lives.
Because Mars represents raw power and crude energy, however, his is not an energy to call upon while in a meeting, or even while meditating. Rather, Mars is a visceral god who is best experienced when exercising: running, fast walking, hiking, or in the midst of hard aerobic work-out. Then, the fear that has gripped your body, the anxiety that permeates your being, is melted away in the heat of Mars' burning energy. Those athletic highs are peak "Mars moments" when a person is imbued with raw, forceful energy and warrior-like strength - necessary qualities that support the flowering of courage in your life.
Another "courage ritual" is to dance or sing along to popular music. There is nothing like the hard beat of rock and roll to stir one's spirit alive. So, if you feel stuck or blocked, put on a favorite piece of music and dance your frustrations away.
Meditation on Nike Athena, Goddess of Victory
Victory is the crowning outcome of all our courageous efforts. Whether we have used our courage to overcome personal limitations in order to become accomplished in an art or skill, or whether we have called upon our courage to survive difficult circumstances, victory is that one, triumphal moment when we can celebrate the successful outcome of all our strivings.
Recognizing that courage was an energy that could be drawn forth from even the most reluctant hero by the promise of victory, the Greeks created a special goddess, Nike. The constant companion of Athena, Nike was at her side as she led armies into battle. Beautifully imaged in the 5th century B.C. marble statue of the Victory of Samothrace, Nike is a study in motion: though headless, enormous, feathered, graceful wings extend behind her; the whole of her body is a fluid stream of upward motion, as if she were running forward to leap into the sky. One can only imagine her head tilted backward, face turned heavenward in the joy that comes from the sweet taste of victory.
Draw Courage From the Stars
Courage not only comes from actions we take in spite of our fears, but arises from a mysterious source that lies outside and beyond the narrow framework of our ordinary lives. We can draw power from this wellspring by gazing at the night sky, drawing energy from the illuminated face of the universe that gazes back at us like the face of a majestic being.
If you are feeling afraid, go outside and sit beneath the stars. Contemplate the distant reaches of outer space that surrounds our tiny sapphire globe of a planet. Take strength from the energy that rains down like light from the stars. Draw courage into your heart from the vast soul of the cosmos. Be emboldened by the knowledge that life is much larger, grander, and more noble than you could ever imagine. If heroes and heroines are bigger than life, it is because they are aware of the grand scale of the drama of existence. Staring into the night sky, receive into yourself the courage that comes from being in touch with the wild, beautiful, miracle of life. See the story of your life writ large in the stars above.