Shamanic Astrology imagines the ancients would have imagined that a Planet descended into the Underworld when it disappeared from the world's stage. Makes sense right? It especially does when you watch the sky. Early this year Mars was a bright evening star. Remember that close conjunction he made with Venus at the end of February on his favorite Aries playing field on February 22nd? It was a sight to see. After that kiss, Venus ascended higher and higher into the night because she was moving much faster than the Sun. Not Mars though... the Sun was chasing him down. The effect we saw was that Mars was descending lower and lower in the Sunset sky every night. This is because the Sun is setting later and later and closer and closer to Mars so he was closer to the horizon before the sky darkened enough for us to see his light. On April 17th, the Sun pulled within 15 degrees and Mars fell Under the Beams or descended into the Underworld" because He set before it became dark enough to see His red light. Gone! Gone for four months!!!
You think He digs that? The ancients did not. The teachings of the Hellenistic astrologers suggest a Planet is weakened when it falls under the beams. Shamanic Astrologers see it more as a necessary initiation, one that Mars enjoys for four months of his 26-month cycle. Okay, maybe He doesn't enjoy it per se, but it is an essential part of His evolution. Hasn't it been essential to yours? Of course it has. Now just what is the Divine intent of this particular initiation and where is within the process on this Tuesday of his?
To approach an answer to that question, we first must observe where he began that quest. Many astrologers say that Mars begins his 26-month (average) quest when he is Cazimi, "in the heart of it," AKA conjunct the Sun. This happened one month ago today on June 14th in the 24th degree of Gemini. This is an interesting perspective, one worth investigating. If you'd like to dig in, I suggest listening to this episode of Gary P Caton's Hermetic Astrology Podcast recorded with Adam Gainsburg at that time (https://www.facebook.com/hermetic.astro…/app_282096688512542).
Daniel Giamario (founder of the Shamanic Astrology paradigm) has a different view that I really dig. Shamanic Astrology sees the Mars cycle beginning not at conjunction to the Sun, but at Opposition. Why? Because, at conjunction Mars is the middle of the Underworld months. He cannot be seen. Astronomically, He is on the exact opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. His light is as removed from us as it can be. We see this more as seed moment, not of His birth, but of His rebirth. Shamanic Astrology sees His birth at opposition (the middle of his 4-month retrograde period) because at that time He is closest to the Earth, brightest, and most visible, rising as the Sun sets and dominating the night sky.
This also makes sense when you watch the sky... Mars was cruising through the Signs until he stationed retrograde in the last degrees of Libra on March 1st last year (2014). It's like Libra stood up and said, I'm not done with you yet, Red fella. Mars reached opposition to the Sun on April 8th last year at 19 degrees Libra and that's where Shamanic Astrology sees him beginning his 26-month quest. This is the Yang (Masculine) energy devoting himself to a study of Libra: partnership, relationship, diplomacy. Something our culture conditions us to believe is not his forte. In fact, the ancients say Libra is the Sign of Mars' Detriment. While Shamanic Astrology says all of the Signs are a valid expression for the Masculine energy that Mars represents, it is no doubt true that the God of War has a thing or two to learn about equality in partnership. In other words, this quest is a courageous one.
During this quest, He must release everything he thought he knew about relationship to find His way to partnership's truth. And we're all dealing with that now, especially right now with Mars in the Underworld, where Mars will be until the Sun passes far enough by (15 degrees) for Him to be reborn in the morning sky with his heliacal rise, which will come our way on August 5th. Add to that the fact that Mars is currently weathering his Underworld initiation in the Sign of Cancer where the ancients tell us Mars is in his Fall. Is Cancer a valid expression for the Masculine energy? Of course, it is. But our culture has conditioned us to believe the nurture-first Cancer archetype is for the ladies.
Of course that's nonsense, but the Masculine has work to do to reclaim his tenderness. The God of War, for example, might think of tenderizing meat by beating it when he hears that foreign word. Doesn't it make sense for Cancer to be a significant archetype of Underworld initiation for the Yang energy that set out over a year ago to study partnership? Pardon my language, by the Masculine is currently being forced to consider this key question... "how have I been a dick in the past?" "How have I betrayed the Goddess?" "How have I betrayed the truth of my heart?" These are courageous contemplations to consider.
At this time, Mars is fast approaching his opposition to Pluto, which will actualize tomorrow morning (7/15) on Mercury's Day (Wednesday). Pluto has the great gift of taking us into our darkness to shed fears so that we can find the light on the other side of the tunnel. What a blessing, then, that Mercury has joined Mars for this difficult day of his quest. What a double blessing, that Moon joins for a group hug in Her home of Cancer. The general statement is that it's okay for the Masculine energy to express his feelings. The opposition to Pluto suggests this guidance will come His way through an outer force. Take a look at the list of Signs the Planets spin in at this time. It's all Fire and Water with Pluto holding down the Capricorn Roots of the Earth. What do you think, would Mars prefer to be in the flames or the ocean?
The old systems teach us that Mars is Hot and Dry, that the Fire is his thing. But not today. This Underworld initiation is in the Cancer waters and it won't be real unless He is ready to feel. If you find yourself dealing with heart pain, Rejoice!!! You're right where you should be. Go into that darkness for there is a bright and beautiful light on the other side. Mars is not all about War. Don't believe the hype! Cancer is an absolutely valid expression for the Masculine energy. I better hope so, because that's right where the Red One spun when I popped into this world this time around.
Jung said, "Masculinity is to know your sword and know how to use it." This is part of what we Cancer and Libra Mars people are here to heal. What is the sword of the Libra man? A pen for a love letter? What is the sword for a Cancer man? A butter knife? Why the hell does Mars need to wield a sword anyway? Perhaps sorry that Jung spoke of was not a blade.
As a mythologist, I searched far and wide to find a proper Cancer God. I did not find him in the Greco Roman Myths. I had to extend my search further to the North. One of the principal DVDs of the Norse then revealed himself to me. His name is Freyr and He packs a proud sword indeed. He is a God of fertility. Isn't this what Cancer is truly about? He is a God of the Water. In fact, he had a George Jetson style Viking boat that would fold up into a tiny magical wallet.
One day, Freyr found his way to a beautiful giantess named Gerde. And in Libra Underworld fashion, it was all over for Him. He could not live another day without Gerde at His side. He ended up giving his magical sword, the sword that could kill giants of its own accord, to her father for the right to wed. The warrior Gods of the Norse fold ridiculed Freyr for this. "What will you do in the end days of Ragnarok. without a sword," they chided? And, indeed, it is prophesied that Freyr will lose his life to a Fire Giant that day. But as far as I'm concerned, it was a double win. For Freyr chose peace and he married the girl of his dreams.
So much of the Cosmic Conversation is currently focused on our calling to rewrite our relationship to relationship. May it be so. Let us leave behind the patterns of old so we can try a little tenderness.
Love and Planets,