Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ares and Mars

Whenever I think of Mars and Ares I suddenly well up, my heart aches over this sense of profound loss that I can't locate the source of.  I have long wondered about the cause - I mean I am an Aries and ruled by Mars; I can be aggressive, competitive, combative, confrontational, etc though I always steer clear of physical violence and hold myself accountable.


In order to understand I think I must separate Ares and Mars.  Ares, the lover of Aphrodite and father of Eros, Anteros, Deimos, Phobos, Harmonia and  Adrestia was considered by the Greeks to be a violent, somewhat sadistic God of Destruction.  When we say ''the Greeks'' we have to be careful as a lot of our sources are Athenian and they gave all the virtuous martial attributes to their own Goddess. The Spartans obviously liked him and their raw recruits had to sacrifice puppies to him.  Mars on the other hand was an agricultural and sylvan God who was then converted into a war God as Rome built its Empire on the back of a militia of soldier/farmers.  These myths were then blended under the influence of Greek culture and as the Empire expanded.

Sometimes I see my fellow magicians taking Tuesdays as an excuse to work themselves into some kind of bane fest, smiting all and sundry but this is taking the low road when it comes to Martian working.  In some ways all of our ideas of the Gods are broken and we have to rebuild them but Ares/Mars seems particularly mis-characterised.  When your town is crumbling into the pits of hell it is Ares that will risk his life to come back and get you. When the other Gods run, Ares will hold the line. When I think of Martian working I think of loyalty, discipline, honour, and the defence of the defenceless not wrath, petty revenge and slaughter.

A long long time ago, I had a very strange encounter with a small grey man who was a follower of Robert Graves in the Bull's Head on the A47 who gave me beautifully hand written letters explaining the corruption/demise of the Etruscans as the result of the impact of some kind of cursed meteor in their lands.  This resonated with me.  I feel like thoughts of Mars bring up ancient memories, of a planet once beautiful but now laid waste.  The only way I can think of Mars as a truly violent character is as if he were himself a victim of war driven to madness, revenge and blood-feud by a sense of devastating, overwhelming loss of a planet reduced to absolute ruin - I feel nothing but pity and compassion in his grief.  In restoring and rectifying Mars I think of a God of Peace not of War - a God of family and of friendship, of passion and drive.  I think of the people who have encouraged me to push myself and I think of my own duty as a mentor as I push others to excel.

1 comment:

  1. True that. The ending of the Orphic hymn to Mars also suggests that:


    Encourage peace, to gentle works inclin'd,
    And give abundance, with benignant mind.

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