Venus and Mars:
Archetypal Symbols of the Pacifist and the Warrior
Salves: A Botanical Approach to Treatment, I describe cancer
as a disease of congestion in the experiential realm: big words
with far-reaching ramifications. To make my theory more vivid,
I would like to take a series of opposites and compare them.
Being an astrologer, it is is easier
for me to start with Venus and Mars, but some people may want to
use words like passive and aggressive or yielding and assertive.
However, Venus and Mars have wider symbolism than any two words
from our normal vocabulary.
In conventional textbooks, Venus
is described as a benefic and Mars as a malefic; and our opinions
tend to support these judgments. However, I will maintain that
Venus can be a malefic and that people can die of Venusian excessesand
Mars can be not merely a benefic but a great hero.
Venus craves ease and will go way
out of Her way to please in order to maintain the semblance of
peace. In seeking the easy way out, Venus may forfeit truth. I
have sometimes asked clients if they feel they have a greater capacity
to endure injustice than the person(s) they describe as selfish
or demanding. In some instances, people are so proud of their equanimity
that they do not see its downside. I have therefore used some fairly
strong terms to describe Venus: the geisha, the doormat, the wimpyou
get the picture.
There is nothing wrong with being
a geisha if one wants the lifestyle, but there is a great deal
wrong if peace is bought at the expense of spontaneity and passion
for life and justice.
Mars is the planet of action. His
behavior is straightforward and forthright. Mars has courage and
often valor as well. Venus is suspicious of Mars because Venus
cannot feel the energies that guide Mars. For instance, if safety
and security are important, Mars looks imprudent and risk taking;
but Mars has more intuition than Venus and can therefore act more
freely in relationship to His feelings. Also, being more independent,
Mars can take a chance that his feelings are not 100% mutual.
We can add to our list: Venus is
nearsighted and Mars is far-sighted. Venus is practical and Mars
is idealistic; Venus is receptive whereas Mars takes initiative.
So, what else? Venus feels that She is reacting to Mars so if Mars
does not feel good to Her, She feels She is victimized.
More Pairs of Opposites
We can take this further. Venus is
magnetic; Mars is radiatory. Venus is anabolic (building) and Mars
is catabolic (utilizing) so these two planets have an enormous
effect on metabolism. They also relate to copper (Venus) and iron
(Mars) levels in the blood as well as the capacity to regulate
blood sugar. Venus tends towards elevated blood sugar, excess reserves,
whereas Mars helps to transport and catalyze blood sugar. We might
say that Venus rules sugar and Mars rules insulin, but it is a
little more complicated than this.
In any event, once one understands
that temperament predisposes each of us to respond in certain ways
that are highly idiosyncratic, then we also realize that how our
body works is no accident. Peace lovers have slower metabolisms
and more energy in the "life preserving"
systems of the body whereas warriors have faster metabolisms and
more energy in the "living" or life using systems of
Not surprisingly, "life preserving" means
the procreative and regenerative systems of the body, i.e., those
parts of the body that are most sensitive to hormones of the reproductive
system, what Anthroposophical doctors, in relationship to cancer,
call "excess biological"
propensity. So, if I were to suggest, as I have, that cancer patients
tend to suffer from emotional congestion, then I would also have
to say that there is also sexual surfeit, the potential for more
expression than is actualized. Moreover, because sensuality and
emotional security are important, the absence of high quality intimacy
is a source of grief so tumors can also be seen as reservoirs of
This little discussion started with
reference to karma and the law of balance. So, if one were
to say that Venus is strong and Mars is weak, it means that it
is easier to appear Venusian than to act in a more Martial manner.
What then happens to Mars? Mars is restrained, not allowed to express
in His normal way. Instead of being direct, Mars is held back.
According to Ayurveda, a system of medicine that I have studied
for more than thirty years, Mars is hot and when suppressed is "stuffed" in
the liver. The liver, with its myriad of functions, is rendered
less effective by the repression and this is compounded by the
sluggish metabolism that results from suppression of fire. Since
one of the main liver functions
is blood purification,
the condition of the blood cannot be good with impaired liver function.
Lest this all sound too mystical
to be practical, I would wager that much liver heat is sub-clinical
using the types of tests prevalent in modern medicine. I do not
think an SGOT test will reveal the types of conditions I have just
described, but I think thermography will reveal an uneven distribution
of heat in the body. Moreover, if the problem persists and goes
unchecked, there will be symptoms related to the heat: irritation,
frustration, anger, and perhaps outbursts. I look at these very
sympathetically because I feel that these expressions are attempts
to move repressed fire, something a Mars type can usually do with
skill but a Venus type can only do quite awkwardly and often therefore
with mixed messages.
Those who have read my book know
that I lost my dearest friend to cancer. Susan was devastatingly
charming, blessed with a rare grace which I personally enjoyed
to great measure until realizing too late how the lack of movement
of her "negativity" cost her so dearly.
Remember, I'm an astrologer. As I
look back with all the wisdom of a soul who lost so much to Death,
I want to share my insights and probably some of my remaining agony.
Susan's destiny placed her in situations in which the brutality
of human emotions required a peace maker to intervene. I think
it would have helped her to know that she was called to these situations
to bring forward her fairness and love of harmony, not because
she deserved to suffer injustice or cruelty. Like many, she was
both harmonizer and warrior but the warrior was deep inside. It
came out when she wrote articles on toxins in tooth paste or when
she championed the cause of the underdog; she didn't use this force
to her personal advantage except on an odd occasion here and there.
In the last months of her life, I
began to understand this and to try to shift the situation. She
said that the insights were "brilliant"
but she didn't seem to have the will to assert herself. I think
she wanted to be remembered as the "approved Venus" rather
than the "dissident Mars." It does not, however, work
this way: the law of balance insists that we are true to ourselves
and that we dare to do the unthinkable!
Perhaps because of some bizarre sense
of guilt surrounding my inability to unlock the frozen emotions
of my best friend, I have sometimes overcompensated with others
whose Paths have connected to mine. I try to make it very safe
to be Mars-like: I take the risk so others can find a way to discharge
their pent up emotions. For those who rarely take this chance,
it is exhilarating but often confusing afterwards because the behavior
is so uncharacteristic.
In truth, however, I am not very
good in this kind of work. I totally believe that each person has
some emotions that he or she is more comfortable expressing and
some that nearly always seem to go amuck. In my case, I attract
people who have a lot of fear, probably because I have both faith
and courage so I can absorb some of the fear and share some of
my gifts to lessen the anxiety of others. I used to have an associate
who worked extremely well with anger, I think because she was realistic
and could validate the causes of anger. Anger is
a tricky emotion because it is galvanized by anything adversarial;
it can only therefore be subdued by agreement. It can also, of
course, be channeled into constructive arenas. In the end, anger
is, like all emotions, a reaction to experience. Specifically,
anger is a reaction to harm or injustice. Creatively, it can be
understood as the arousing of a force strong enough to shift the
situation. Anger is therefore a catalyst for change and is vitally
needed in a world full of wrong. However, unskillful projection
of anger merely provokes reactions that add to the discord so,
like anything else, the learning curve can be steep when first
determining to bring one's Venus and Mars into balance.
Fire's first instinct is to defend
and it is the energy of "arousal"
or passion that assists the effort needed to act. However,
water's primary emotion is griefand water is often confused
by anger. The emotions associated with each type (fire, earth,
air, water) and how feelings affect the workings of the physical
body are addressed in great depth.
Four 90-minute audio cassettes, $