Meeting Martial Mars: Maximum Mars, Maximum Brutality

Meeting Martial Mars: Maximum Mars, Maximum Brutality

[from the archives]

this post was originally published via Patreon Nov 1, 2021 at 3:26pm. it's been republished here in its original form.

Mars at Their* Mars-iest

My favorite Mars word is ‘spicy’.

I don’t believe that the malefics are all bad. The decisive, dynamically initiatory, powerful, and physical energy of Mars is constructive and oh so necessary for surviving. Mars is how we defend ourselves. Mars is how we pursue our survival (as well as our desires). As for Saturn – longevity. Most of us like that.

But just like spiciness in a dish, too much heat (i.e., Mars) can really cause some fucking mayhem.

Mars is in their own domicile, triplicity, term, and decan while in the first seven degrees of Scorpio, their nocturnal domain. As of 7:20am October 30th, our boisterous and unconquered friend is back home. This year, Mars does us the additional, um… favor(?) of activating the ongoing square between Saturn and Uranus.

Right in time for spooky season.

Maximum Dignity

There aren’t a whole lot of other instances where a planet is even close to being as dignified as Mars is in this part of the sky.

Mars is in his own domicile, triplicity, term, and decan from October 30th to November 9th. There's actually no other instance where a planet has all of those forms of dignity simultaneously.

The ones that come close?

  • Mercury in Virgo.

In their domicile and exaltation, as well as term in the first seven degrees of Virgo. While they do have dignity by face, it’s in the final decan of the sign which doesn’t overlap with their term. They also don’t belong to the earth triplicity.

What happens when Mercury is in Virgo but out of sync with Venus, the Moon, and Mars

  • There's Saturn in either Libra or Aquarius, too.

In the first six degrees of Libra Saturn is exalted, in their triplicity, and term. However, their decan doesn’t overlap with their term, and they’re not in their domicile.

When in Aquarius Saturn is domiciled but doesn’t have a decan at all. Though the final five degrees of the sign see Saturn in domicile, triplicity, and term.

In other words, there is no other planet that expresses themselves with more strength than Mars does while in their own term of Scorpio.

To use a sports analogy – one of the best if we’re not going to use war and battle talk - Mars controls the field of play as ruler of Scorpio. Being in their own triplicity gives them home team advantage too. Being in their own term is like winning the coin toss, while being in their own decan is like showing up for a championship game knowing you’re in peak form.

So Mars here is kinda like Janja Garnbret going into the Tokyo Olympics. Or Stephen Curry that one season the Golden State Warriors dominated basketball.

Scorpio I – Facing the Fucking Ferocious

What do we see in accounts of the first decan of Scorpio, the face of an empowered and nocturnal Mars?

In the Picatrix, or the Ghayat Al-Hakim (or the goal of the wise), describes a dude with a lance in one hand, and a decapitated head in the other. In Book II, Chapter 11 of the Warnock & Greers translation, we see it described as a “face of settlement, sadness, ill will, and hatred.”

Agrippa gives a description in Chpt. 37 of Book 2 of the Three Books of Occult Philosophy of an image of a woman being assaulted by two men and connects this decan with “operations [for] comeliness, beauty […] strife, treacheries, deceits, detractions, and perditions.”

Here I think it’s useful to consider the Orphic hymn to Ares. In both the Thomas Taylor translation, and the Dunn (the two that I have easily accessible at the moment) we see the theme of imploring Mars to turn their penchant for violence and destruction toward generative ends.

In the Taylor translation we implore Mars to “give to Ceres the weapons of the field”. I particularly love Dunn’s rendering “and craving peace that gives happiness and nurtures children, turn strength of arms to the work of Deo.” Deo here is a reference to Demeter.

It’s the very ability to enact destruction, when channeled constructively toward just and prudent desires (like protecting children, or growing food for feasts) that is embodied by Mars here.

I don’t have a copy of 36 Faces – yet. But, I refer often to a set of notes I took while attending Austin Coppock’s very excellent NORWAC 2020 post-conference workshop Exploring the Decans. He calls this decan “The Jaw Bone.”

A few notes I have written down from lecture about this decan:

  • “Desire. Its satisfaction. And the price we pay after it’s fulfilled.”
  • “Who hunts? The hungry.”
  • “Mars here is absolutely ferocious.”

Despite writing over 7,200 words, I wasn’t diligent about quoting vs. recording the connections I was making. So, please pardon any misquotes, credit Austin, and know that if it’s not as eloquent as what he actually said the error was in my transcription and paraphrasing.

Scorpio on Mars’ Terms: 0-6° of Scorpio in the Scoville Scale

I said at the opening that spicy is my favorite Mars word. It’s also one of my favorite “flavors”. It’s not even a flavor technically. It’s the experience of fucking pain. One that makes us sweat, our blood vessels dilate, and our brains release a cascade of feel good neurotransmitters.

A lot of the spicy things we eat only exist the way we do because we cultivated the plants to express that trait even more. Or to have larger fruiting bodies so we could have more of them to eat.

If you’ve ever been in a really hot climate where the traditional cuisine runs spicy, you’ve likely found that embracing the fire in your face directly results in RELIEF from the heavy muggy steamy heat of the ambient environs.

The first few degrees of Scorpio are just such territory for Mars.

Scorpio, the Sign

Now, I’ve used lots of metaphors of heat, and spiciness, and aggression to describe Mars. But the sign of Scorpio itself? That fixed water? Like a grudge held by a Scorpio-heavy native, that’s cold as ice. So cold it’ll burn you.

I actually think of Scorpio as a glacier.

So slow they appeared to be utterly unmoved. Until one day, we realize where there was once a mile high sheet of enchanting blue ice, there’s now a lake. A river. A valley. A field of boulders.

If Mars is the embodiment of fire and heat, and Scorpio is the domain of unmoving water (ice), perhaps then that means that Mars in Scorpio is like Iceland? Land of volcanoes and ice. A place where the two extremes of nature are on clear display. One could also think of the glacial volcanoes that dotted the horizons of my early childhood – Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens…

On Dignity

If you’re not familiar with the concept of essential dignity in astrology there are a lot of great resources out there. Here are a couple of folks whose work I wholeheartedly support and/or endorse.

And the Tarot, Too

Those of you who’ve been following my work for some time likely know I’m passionate (obsessed? Idk, choose your favorite Scorpio word) about 36 Secrets: A Decanic Exploration of the Minor Arcana in Tarot, T. Susan Chang’s brilliant book.

If you’ve read it or listened to her podcast with Mel Meleen, Fortune’s Wheelhouse, you’re definitely familiar with the idea of the tarot tryptic. The first decan of Scorpio has The Tower, the 5 of Cups, and Death all lined up in a neat row.

Questions for Mars in Scorpio

  • What do destruction and calamity have to teach us about action, protection, and self-defense?
  • Which feelings of yours are the slowest to change?
  • What is the difference between celebrating someone’s life and mourning their death?
  • How do you break yourself out of an emotional rut?
  • How do you know when something has come to its end?

That last question is one that I still struggle with. So I'm going to re-new my practice by bringing this piece to an end. I’m stopping here, lest I allow perfect to become the enemy of good.

As always, I hope that these words find and serve you well. I’d love to hear about how you experience Mars, Scorpio, and Mars in Scorpio! Feel free to share your thoughts in the patron-only discord or in the comments below.

Have a question for Bear? Want to connect with other astrologers and astrology enthusiasts?

As always, I hope these words find and serve you well.

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Bear Ryver is a professional astrologer helping his clients hone strategies for grounded growth and embodied empowerment by bringing them back to the BASICS. Winner of OPA’s Most Promising Astrologer in 2018, Bear has lectured at conferences like NORWAC and ISAR. He holds certifications in Hellenistic, Electional, and Horary astrology, and specializes in Intersectional Astrology. He was a teacher for the Portland School of Astrology, and has volunteered as a mentor for AFAN. When he’s not talking stars, or pulling cards, you can find him climbing rocks and playing guitar.