What Do We Do With Mars?
Mars takes the spotlight for the next few months, starting with the Full Moon in Aries. With Mars polarizing to Venus for control, we're likely to see themes of war vs peace, defiance vs cooperation, and how to use our Mars powers for the Greater Good.
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own. ~ Adam Lindsay Gordon
FULL MOON in ARIES
Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:
Oct. 9, 2022, 4:54 PM EDT
Oct. 9, 2022, 9:54 PM BST
Oct. 10, 2022, 7:54 AM AEST
Where do we go after Venus?
At the New Moon in Libra on September 25th, there was a theme of aligning ourselves with Venus through higher love, cooperation, peace and fairness. Now at the Full Moon in Aries, the question arises: in trying to embrace Venus, what do we do with Mars?
Mars is associated with experiences that often obstruct what Venus is trying to create. Mars is about anger, aggression, independence and impulsiveness, all of which tend to interfere with peace, love, cooperation and balance.
Of course, any planetary energy can be used with either noble intentions or selfish ones. Venus' version of the latter is in prioritizing glamour over substance, manipulation over persuasion, and passivity over true serenity. Venus is currently still strong in her own sign of Libra but also stressed due to her opposition to Chiron. As a result, there is plenty of potential for both the positive and negative in how we experience and express her energy.
With Mars, we're usually more aware of his "negative" side through aggression, self-centeredness, arrogance and erratic impulsiveness. But Mars' energy can also be used for higher purposes. Assertiveness that's based on honesty and forthrightness. Confidence that's based on strength of spirit. Courage to stand up to challenges. And fighting to defend what (we believe) is right.
On one side of the Full Moon axis is Venus conjunct the Sun in Libra, which becomes exact on Oct. 22 in the final degree of Libra. This conjunction marks 2 turning points in the Venus-Sun cycle. It is the fruition point for the Venus-Sun conjunction that began on Oct. 26, 2018 at 03:06 Scorpio. In addition, it is the first Venus-Sun conjunction in Libra since 1879. These conjunctions in Libra will continue until 2130.
Venus is a woman on a mission! She has an agenda, both to bring out the potential in the 8-year cycle that began 4 years ago, and to initiate a 118-year cycle when many Venus-Sun conjunctions will now occur in Libra. Venus seems determined to draw our attention to her calling of love, beauty, cooperation, generosity and value. As a result, her voice is more distinct than usual right now.
But there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites; hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind.
~ C.G. Jung, The Essential Jung: Selected Writings
On the other side of the chart, the Moon in Aries is looking for a way to use Aries and Mars themes to feel safe, protected and emotionally resilient. When the Moon part of us feels capable, confident and caring, we are more able to connect and bond with others in healthy ways.
When we feel threatened, uncertain or insecure, we are more likely to be withdrawn or overly attached to others which can include dysfunctional relationships. We may also become overly guarded, combative or defensive. So, the Moon in Aries brings us to the constructive and counterproductive ways of using Mars energy to help us feel safe.
Aries uses enthusiasm, action and courage to take control of that which makes you feel vulnerable or disrupts your happiness. And the sense of empowerment and victory that comes from standing up to threats can feel invigorating and exciting. It can make you feel invincible. It's heady stuff!
So, the Moon in Aries, especially being conjunct Chiron, may lead us to feel unsettled (vulnerable, threatened, unsafe, disturbed) and look for ways to conquer what we believe is the source of the distress. Aries is only too happy to serve up a range of emotions and impulses that might help us do that – anger, argument, bravery, resolve, instinct.
On the up side, Aries' love of excitement, newness and adventure can be a wonderful distraction from feeling afraid or stuck. On the other hand, Mars energy can be too much of a good thing when it escalates out of control, to which we tend to respond in either of two directions – outwardly to rage, hostility, recklessness, excessive bravado, aggression and volatility, or inwardly to depression, fearful paralysis, cynicism, passive aggressiveness, or resentment.
Right now Mars is in Gemini, the sign of the Twins and associated with duality, often flipping back and forth between two (or more) responses. Since Mars rules the Aries Full Moon, you may bounce around between different actions and reactions within the multiplicity of Mars/Aries energy. Gemini is also about communication, so this can affect how you interact with others.
For example, you might be quick to anger or irritation, then later you resolve to push through the obstacles, then later you may feel intimidated by external pressure, then later feel overwhelmed, depressed or incapable. You may also feel the urge to put your emotions into words, which could result in some very powerful writing, for instance, or in forceful argument and debate. It may help to remember that a little goes a long way with this kind of energy.
Peace does not mean an absence of conflict, because opposition, polarity and conflict are natural and universal laws.
~ Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life
Venus is currently in both a supportive and stressful relationship with Mars energy. On the difficult side, Venus and her conjunct partner the Sun are tightly opposing the Moon and Chiron in Mars' sign of Aries. This sets up a tense contrast with Mars' energy – peace vs fighting, cooperation vs defiance, and diplomacy vs force – and with Chiron involved, we are more apt to see the downside of Mars energy which disrupts Venus' mission of love.
On the plus side, Venus is approaching a friendly trine to Mars (exact on Oct. 18) and is not quite in orb yet (10:23 orb). However, the Sun is just starting to trine Mars (currently 06:13 orb, exact on Oct. 17), and with Venus now being closely conjunct the Sun, we get the bare beginnings of the Venus-Mars trine through a dynamic called "collection of light."
The Venus-Mars trine is truly a blessing to have with Mars coming up to some time of turmoil over the coming months (more on that below). Mars and Venus form a natural polarity of energies – they rule signs opposite each other (Aries/Libra and Taurus/Scorpio), and can therefore pull us in very different directions.
To have them in an easy-going trine aspect now gives us a chance to work with the Mars energy is a more cooperative, supportive and softer way – not softer in the sense of weaker, but more sensitive to the effects that a harsher Mars energy could have. They remain within a 6° orb for about a week-and-a-half (Oct. 13-24), giving us a chance to set in motion a more discreet way to use Mars energy that isn't reckless or wantonly destructive.
Where these energies can work well together is in creative projects, whether that's art (visual art, music, dance, etc) or just doing something in a way that it makes better, more beautiful, more enjoyable, or more meaningful. In the upcoming months as Mars goes through some transformative retrograde therapy, consider taking on a project during that time that gives you a productive, constructive, passionate or therapeutic outlet for your more high-strung Mars energy. Aim for a cooperative balance between these energies.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
~ Reinhold Neibuhr, The Serenity Prayer
As mentioned, the Aries Moon is conjunct Chiron, which adds another layer of complication: what is Chiron doing with/to the Moon, and what does the Moon need from Chiron?
Chiron is associated with woundedness and struggles that tend to not have a clear answer but still require some kind of response. Spanning the orbits between structured Saturn and awakening Uranus, Chiron ushers us from sombre, arduous reality into an expanded perspective that reframes hardship in terms of higher meaning and spiritual growth (in the broadest sense).
On the plus side, Chiron teaches the ability to work with difficulties especially when the solution isn't simple and all wrapped up in a happily-ever-after bow. As I discuss in my article Chiron in Aries ~ The Way of the Wounded Warrior, Chiron's lesson is like the Serenity Prayer: change what you can, accept what you can't, and cultivate the ability to recognize one from the other.
Woundedness comes from the lasting impact of experiences that are difficult, painful or disempowering. Although we may be able to "treat" or "manage" the effects, the wounding experience leaves an imprint on us – it is ultimately part of what shapes us as a unique person and our view of life. Chiron's lesson is more than merely how to solve the problem, but also how we face it and what it teaches us about ourselves and the bigger picture of life.
In the case of Chiron in Aries, the wound and the lesson centre around Aries/Mars themes – aggression, force, anger, violence, action, and how to use them in a constructive way. These are volatile energies. It takes strength, discipline, patience and time to develop the ability to work with them without hurting ourselves or someone else.
Yet, questions of ethics and principles arise: Is it necessary sometimes to use violence? Isn't the risk of hurting ourselves sometimes worth it in order to defend, protect, teach, or affect change? How much is too much? What happens if these qualities haven't been wielded forcefully enough?
And what do you do if there's virtually nothing you can do? What if your options are so limited that no course of action will make the situation better, or might even make it worse? How do you respond? Do you push through anyway and hope for the best? Do you succumb to helplessness and humiliation, or try to find a place of acceptance?
And what do you do with the anger, frustration, and your shattered spirit that is left feeling impotent? Western culture teaches us that we can do anything if we put our mind to it, but sometimes what little can be done isn't enough to make a difference. How can we deal with that which cannot be changed?
These are the kinds of questions that Chiron and the Aries Moon put to us. There are no easy answers. Ignoring the dilemma isn't an option without creating more problems. A response is necessary. The lesson here isn't just about how to react, but what we can learn in the process. Mars plays a key role in where we go next.
Knowing when to fight is just as important as knowing how.
~ Terry Goodkind, Faith of the Fallen
That distant pulsating noise you hear is Mars marching closer to his upcoming retrograde cycle. He entered the shadow on September 3 and remains there until March 15, 2023. In between, he swings around to go retrograde on October 30 and swings back to direct again on January 12, 2023.
Mars retrograde can greatly intensify his energy. During Mars retrograde cycles, it feels like we hear more than usual about violence, conflicts, aggression, and generally extreme, off-the-wall behaviour. With so many conflicts currently burning around the world, it's hard not to be a bit worried about how this Mars retrograde cycle could affect them.
On the other hand, the retrograde period itself sometimes sends Mars' combative energy underground, where it smoulders in eerie quiet until it re-emerges after the direct-station carrying a new perspective. I've seen this happen more on a smaller or individual scale than a widespread global one. It's as if the energy goes into hibernation where people can process how best to respond before it is expressed outwardly.
During this Mars retrograde cycle, there is another level of complexity – before he actually goes retrograde, Mars goes Out of Bounds by declination on October 22 and stays out until May 5, 2023. In other words, the entire time Mars is retrograde, he is also Out of Bounds (OOB). This phenomenon doesn't happen very often, although it's actually less rare than it sounds. The last time was in 2007-2008, when Mars was OOB from Oct. 2007 to April 2008, and retrograde from Nov. 2007 to Jan. 2008.
Out of Bounds means the planet aligns itself farther than the Sun's maximum declination (23:26 degrees north or south of the equator). Beyond the Sun's range there be dragons! (Not necessarily nasty ones but not usually cute cuddly ones either.) The planet is "off its leash" and can behave in a way that isn't restrained by the Sun's definition of acceptable, "normal" or typical. So, the planet can become a bit of a "loose cannon."
For Mars OOB, this can push his more volatile energy to extremes. Tempers are shorter, reactions hotter, and patience thinner than usual. On the other hand, Mars OOB can inspire us to fight for a cause we believe in, defend the vulnerable more outspokenly, and engage life more passionately than usual. In other words, it can be a good time to find better ways to channel the less constructive side of Mars in a direction that invests your energy in something you feel strongly about. But the trick is to ride that wild horse rather than it riding you.
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
~ Sting, Fragile
When Mercury is OOB, it tends to behave as if it's retrograde – the unpredictable, playful prankster. When Mars is OOB, it can build volatile, intense energy to a louder volume. When a planet comes back In-Bounds (In-B), it can be a bumpy landing as its unconventional energy mixes with "normal" life again. The issues and themes that were being bounced around during the OOB period often become manifest and integrated... for better or worse.
A bleak example of Mars Out of Bounds and then coming In-Bounds is the war in Ukraine. Russia officially invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. At that time Mars was In-B, but he had been OOB during the previous weeks (Jan. 12 to Feb. 10) when Russia was loudly rattling its sabres.
We can only hope that the upcoming OOB Mars won't play out the same way, which is a concern with Putin threatening the use of nuclear weapons as Ukraine pushes back Russian troops. A cornered animal can become desperate and aggressive, and if Putin feels pushed against the wall, I fear the possibility of him becoming dangerously reckless when Mars goes both OOB and retrograde. I hope I'm wrong.
That's an example of Mars at its worst, where all sense of reason, objectivity and forbearance are lost, and where winning at any cost is the only thing that counts. Mars is in Gemini, the sign of thought, rationality, communication and duality, so the more agitated Mars becomes, the more it is likely to affect those Gemini themes. "Them's fightin' words!" At worst, it could possibly lead to greater danger in Ukraine—and in all conflict situations—where a war of words is not enough and communication turns to using bigger and badder weapons.
Sadly, the chart of the Full Moon in Mars' sign indicates that we might see his nastier side. Mars is tightly contraparallel to Pluto by declination, which would be conspicuous enough with the two rulers of intense Scorpio pulling against each other.
However, adding to this drama is that Pluto is stationary-direct, having turned just 22 hours ago, and this greatly amplifies Pluto's influence in the Mars-Pluto contraparallel. On the down side, smouldering hostilities might reach a flashpoint that ignites into a bigger crisis. Pluto's obsessive nature could make it difficult to back down from a confrontation or threat.
On the other hand, with so much Venus/Libra energy in the air, it's possible that Mars in talkative Gemini could agree to peace talks that hammer out an agreement or at least a ceasefire. As mentioned above, Mars energy might opt to "go underground" where hot heads could calm down and allow cooler heads to prevail. In that case, Pluto's contribution would be more along the lines of transformation.
While retrograde, Mars makes 3 noteworthy aspects – square to Neptune and trine to Saturn. Mars square Neptune (exact on Oct. 12, Nov. 19, and March 14, 2023) might be difficult to work with, inciting aggression, force or violence in the name of idealism or (what is believed to be) divine right. On the other hand, those involved might simply become battle-weary with the will to fight burning out for a while. If so, this might be a blessing if it leads to peace talks as the best way forward.
Mars trine Saturn can be quite a stabilizing influence, where Saturn's discipline and even pacing could keep Mars from bouncing off the walls. This transit seeks a cooperative balance between slow and fast, cautious and impulsive, mature and carefree.
The Mars-Saturn trine is enhanced by trine aspects to the Sun, and by association Venus, forming a Grand Trine in Air signs. This can potentially strengthen our ability to work with these energies consciously, deliberately and intentionally. Here the Full Moon axis forms a Grand Trine Kite with the Moon-Chiron conjunction – a bit wide in its separating orbs but every little bit helps when we're looking for support for Mars right now.
It suggests that when we're in need of healing and coping with Aries themes (anger, fear, defiance, courage and putting intention into action), the energy boomerangs back to the Sun-Venus in Libra. Even when Mars takes the spotlight, the road still leads back to Venus and her agenda of waging peace in times of war and mayhem.
Sabian Symbol for Aries 17: Two prim spinsters, OR Two dignified spinsters sitting in silence.
This Sabian Symbol of two spinsters shows an archaic view of an unmarried woman, condemned by cultural norms to live out her life alone, minus the joys of marriage and children, if she wasn't able to snag a husband in her early years. The image seems quaintly out of date in today's world of women's empowerment and liberation.
Dane Rudhyar (An Astrological Mandala) interprets the symbol as "The ability to transform a natural lack of potency into poise and inner serenity." Marc Edmund Jones (The Sabian Symbols in Astrology) saw it as "utter fidelity to oneself" or "exaltation of shallow interests."
Right now, the focus is on Mars drive for empowerment and the challenge to find constructive expressions of potentially damaging energy. Chiron's involvement could feel like Rudhyar's "lack of potency," while Jones suggests that "fidelity to oneself" is a healthier way to heal and transform that energy into something more powerful.
The fact that there are two women curiously echoes dualistic Gemini where Mars happens to be right now. Its meaning could be as simple as "you're not as alone as you think you are – find others who are in similar circumstances." Or it might run deeper by showing inner versus outer expressions of Mars or suggesting a dialogue with yourself about what is and isn't working in how you work with Mars.
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
~ Dorothy Thompson
This Full Moon is a bit more complex than most because of the chain of implications and associations. Aries is ruled by Mars > Mars is about to go retrograde > and about to go Out of Bounds > and is contraparallel to Pluto > which itself is stationary.
Archetypally, Aries is about taking the vast multiverse in Pisces and boiling it down to a single, simple seed. Don't get tangled up in complication, just decide what you want to do and do it. Don't beat around the bush, just be direct and to the point.
Yet, this Full Moon in Aries, including the upcoming transits related to it, is complicated. Chiron standing guard next to the Moon challenges us to understand the difference between clarity and oversimplification, and between genuine complexity and a mess.
If there's one takeaway from this Full Moon, it's to look at Mars in your life. How do you handle anger, frustration, impatience and outrage? What are your coping skills that help you get through times of being triggered, upset or anxious?
Mars may be an energy that arises spontaneously from impulses and instinct, but the best way to work with its energy is with the help of Saturn – not to suppress, punish or guilt-trip your Mars feelings, but to guide them, support them in a healthy way, and to build a safe space in which to work with those feelings in a way that isn't simply destructive.
This Full Moon, create a list of ways you can express Mars energy in a constructive way. Get your journal out and explore how you're doing with difficult experiences – it's a safe space since no one but you has to know what you write in it. Find physical but safe ways to vent and work off high energy – dance, run, walk, swim, work out, build something, clean out your closets, scream into a pillow, join a martial arts class.
This is going to be a long-term journey through Mars territory, so dust off your favorite psychological hazmat suit and keep it handy for when you need to face difficult situations.
The next update will be for the New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Scorpio on 25 October, 2022. Until then, stay safe. Stay sane. Stay awesome. The world needs you! ❤️
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
~ Mary Anne Radmacher