When Mars became Warrior of Compassion

Mars is the only evening sky planet this month, visited by the crescent Moon this weekend, but then returning to its solo journey through the stars for the rest of the month.

The month of March takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war who was likened to the Greek god Ares. Ares lends his name to the first sign of the zodiac, which begins in late March, at Equinox.

It’s interesting the the ancient god of war is associated with the Equinox, when a balance is struck between light and dark, but this is a clue that the ancients were preparing for what I’ll call “later developments.” Ares was the beloved of Aphrodite, and even though he had a hard reputation among mortals and immortals alike, she loved and protected him.

Ares and Aphrodite

Throughout the ancient world Mars had this association with war and battle, but also with this protection. In the mystery schools, he was associated with the capacity in human beings to protect and sustain an inner warmth. Warmth is something that spreads itself out into its environment, but Mars allows us to keep it within, so that it isn’t dissipated. When Mars is in balance, it keeps us in a state of vital health and well being.

Then in the 1500s, when Nicolaus Copernicus published his concept of planetary motion, the reputation of Mars began to shift in the mystery schools: rather than being associated with the forces of war and hate, Mars gained an association with the Buddha, and his teaching of love and compassion.

So here’s a way to contemplate this new association with Mars, especially as the planet takes its solo journey through the evening sky. This is from George Gordon, Lord Byron:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is rapture in the lonely shore,

There is society where none intrude,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar;

I love not Man the less, but Nature more. 

Click here for the Best of Mars video from ESA.

And here for my Mars segment on “The Storyteller’s Night Sky.”