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Astro-Tarot Series

Arcanum 16: Mars and The Lightning

Elbert Benjamine

Mars: the god of war

In picturing what might be expected from Saturn the ancients portrayed only his most malign influence, but when in designing the tarot they came to the symbolical and pictographic explanation of Mars, in addition to his malefic power which they emphasized, they also indicated less conspicuously his beneficial attributes. Yet to read the works of the astrologers preceding the twentieth century is to become impressed with their belief that all the good in the world derives from Jupiter and Venus and all the misfortunes of man are to be traced to the influence of those two malefics, Saturn and Mars.

Mars, the god of Martial EnergyNevertheless one could almost issue a challenge for them to produce the chart of any person who had accomplished noteworthy work which had given him wide recognition, in which both Saturn and Mars were not prominent. To accomplish almost anything unusually worthwhile one must have more energy than is at the command of the average run of men and this alone Mars can give. Also to accomplish some high purpose that energy must be directed persistently, systematically and diligently which can be done only by those with a prominent birthchart Saturn.

Lightning striking plane

However, the ancient Masters were quite correct in explaining the more commonly recognized influence of the planet Mars in tarot Major Arcanum 16 as The Lightning. Research has revealed that in 100% of accidents at the time they happen there is a progressed aspect in the birthchart to the planet Mars. Accidents also occur when there is a progressed aspect either to Uranus or Saturn, but with far less frequency than when there is an aspect to Mars.

Arcanum 16: The LightningThus outstanding in the tarot explanation of the Mars energies there is pictured a pyramid decapitated by a thunderbolt. And as a result a crowned and an uncrowned man are precipitated from a platform, falling down with the rest of the debris.

Now a pyramid is the most stable of solids, is the symbol of the earth and also represents the climax of earthly security. As composed of four trines, which are its sides, corresponding to the houses of a birthchart, it symbolizes the horoscope of physical life. And thus lightning demolishing the top of the pyramid indicates the violent end which the energies of Mars so often bring.

That the common man and the ruler alike are destroyed indicates not merely that Nature is no respecter of persons and that her cataclysms kill the high as well as the low, but also that those rivalries which today are so common among men and nations take their toll of life among all classes.

Destruction/Construction: Helping the Victims

Destructive Mars: Earthquake
Constuctive Mars: Helping Victims

Yet the energies of Mars need not be expressed in war, in fire, in accident or in other forms of destruction, for Mars is also the builder. And thus those who designed Arcanum 16 were careful also to indicate, for within the pyramid and safe from harm are depicted several chambers in which are those who apparently are devoting their energies to constructive pursuits. All creative expression depends upon the energies of Mars. We may suppose, therefore, that some of these thus represented as using Mars constructively are artists, some are surgeons and healers and some are engineers. All of these require the thought-cells mapped in their birthcharts by Mars to be unusually active.

Were we to conclude that rapine and strife, arson and murder, were the only expression of the Mars thought-elements stored in the astral body of man, not only would we misinterpret most birthcharts but we would miss the real significance of the vibrations received from the little red planet, such as the interior of the pyramid explains. For observation of birthcharts in connection with people’s lives shows conclusively that in any field of useful endeavor in which there is high competition or in which there is creative effort only those attain the top who have the Aggressive thought- cells unusually active in their lives, as mapped by a prominent birthchart Mars.

To be more specific, because of the fabulous salaries reputed to be paid there are few occupations in which the competition is so keen as in acting for the screen. One might think that the first essential of a movie actor would be dramatic talent, such as ruled by Neptune, or that originality, mapped by the planet Uranus in the birthchart, would rank first. And movie stars do nearly always have these two planets prominent in their birthcharts. But Brotherhood of Light Research, based on a careful analysis of the birthcharts of 100 of the most prominent movie stars, revealed that a prominent Mars was a more constant factor than any other in their birthcharts.

Mars, no doubt, lends a certain vivacity to the actor’s performance. But its even greater significance seems to be that to get into pictures requires more aggressiveness and initiative than most people possess. And to stand the strain of the high pressure methods used when a production is under way makes a demand upon courage and fortitude such as are possessed only by those in whose astral bodies the Aggressive thought-cells are unusually powerful.

Or take vocal musicians: here again Mars leads all the planets in being most often prominent in their birthcharts. To follow this profession successfully not only must there be a good voice and persistence to develop it, but there must be initiative to forge to the front in spite of difficulties and rebuffs that would completely dishearten one of less militant disposition. To read the biography of almost any nationally known singer or unusually successful screen star is to be amazed at the pluck with which, in spite of terrific adversity, he fought on and up and finally reached the top. And what is true in these professions is true in some degree wherever strenuous competition exists. It requires Aggressive Urges, such as are mapped by a prominent birthchart Mars, to meet the impacts and still carry on.

Furthermore, as revealed by an analysis of 150 birthcharts of people who had lived beyond 70 years of age, there is no birthchart relation which tends so powerfully toward length of life as an aspect from Mars to the Sun. The Sun maps those mental factors within the unconscious mind that cause the individual to strive for significance and thus cling to life which allows that significance to express. An aspect from Mars to the Sun, therefore, shows these Power thought-elements have combined with the Aggressive thought-elements. And nothing so increases the vitality as does this addition of the energies of Mars.

If the thinking, or experiences, which have built the Mars thought-elements into the unconscious mind were discordant, as indicated by Mars in the birthchart in discordant aspect to the Sun, it does not prevent contracting infectious diseases and it does not prevent serious accidents entering the life. But it does give a recuperative power, an ability to battle with disease and to triumph over the effects of a wound or accident, that those do not have who lack the powerful aggressive thought-elements within their makeups.

These Mars thought-elements were developed through experiences in a long evolutionary past. Plants learned how, by photosynthesis, to use the sunlight in extracting carbon from the carbon dioxide of the air. That is their chief food supply, although for structural purposes and to generate the electricity which is at the foundation of their life they also needed, as we do, various mineral salts. These they took from the soil.

But acquiring food from the soil and air is a rather slow and laborious process and also one, as the ground became densely populated, in which there developed keen competition. Those forms which were more aggressive gradually crowded out those which were more retiring. Thus many early types became extinct. More aggressive forms, those with Mars more prominent in their birthcharts, shoulder to one side those with the Aggressive Urges less powerful in their astral bodies.

Nor is the appropriation of the food supply, which in human life often is represented in terms of money, a new thing in the world. The robber barons of the Middle Ages did not invent the process. Some early single-celled life-form came in contact with another and less aggressive form and ingested it, using what the other through so much labor had acquired for its own selfish purpose. And this method proved so pleasurable and so highly successful – for it eliminated all the drudgery of gradually and painfully taking nutriment from the cruder source – that a powerful incentive was present to repeat the process. Thus was alimentiveness, which Mars also rules, aided by predatory action.

Mars is the planet of energy which leads to action. So long as an organism is sedentary and does not move from one spot, its opportunity for appropriating the food supply of others is confined to such creatures as chance its way. But if it can move to where these other creatures live its opportunity to acquire such possessions is tremendously enhanced. And in response to the desires of the Aggressive thought-cells within the unconscious minds of primitive simple organisms there was developed various methods of locomotion: swimming, crawling and in a later age when organisms became more complex, running and flying.

Such locomotion is dependent upon muscular action or its equivalent. That is, the muscular system which enables a highly developed predator to capture its prey and kill it and which enables grazing animals such as sheep and cattle to find food already manufactured by plants and appropriate it, is an expression of the thought-cells of the unconscious mind into which have been built Aggressive thought-elements. It is quite appropriate, therefore, that the muscular system should be ruled by the planet Mars. This means not only that those possessing vigorous muscles must have Mars prominent in their birthcharts, but that diseases affecting the muscles, such as rheumatism, are expressions of discordant types of Aggressive thinking.

Or to put it another way, only people with Mars and Saturn afflicted in their birthcharts have rheumatism. And an afflicted Mars signifies that the individual has discordant Aggressive type thoughts. The disease makes its presence first felt only when there is a progressed aspect to either Mars or Saturn within one degree of perfect. That is, those who suffer from rheumatism habitually think Mars and Saturn types of thoughts; and at the time the disease manifests, one closely associated with them could notice that one or the other of these types of thinking was more in evidence than commonly. It affects the muscles because they are expressions also of the Mars Aggressive Urges.

The predatory propensities developed by some creatures made it necessary for other life-forms to develop defensive methods successfully to cope with them. As life evolved, to be able to survive, it became necessary for those forms which were to persist not only to possess the ability to avoid antagonistic entities, but also to meet and defeat them. Such desires of the Aggressive thought-cells thus in time caused the cacti to grow spines and the rose bush to bear thorns. They gave to the bee and the wasp their stings and caused Triceratops, the ancient dinosaur, to grow armor plate above his shoulders and three long pointed horns from his head.

In his day not merely aggressive weapons were required for security, but protective armament as well. He was almost as large as a locomotive, but there were predatory reptiles even larger. In fact, it was the age when fighting machines grew larger and more formidable than any time since the world began, until man became mechanically minded. Think of a toothed monster 47 feet long, weighing as much as an elephant and standing 18 to 20 feet high! The great jaws were set with teeth from 3 to 6 inches long and the feet were armed with great sharp claws. Such was Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yet with all his power, all his ability to destroy any other monster of his time, how insignificant he seems in comparison with one of our modern engines of destruction.

But back in those times the Aggressive thought-cells found other problems to solve. The increasing aridity of the Triassic Period placed a premium upon the ability to travel far and swiftly in search of food and water. As vast areas turned to desert, regions where lush foliage had bordered flowing streams became barren of grass. Water holes were far apart and, as cattle must do in the desert region today, much country must be covered to get sufficient forage for a meal. As a consequence of the desire for action and high speed and in response to the Aggressive Urges, certain reptiles learned to fly and a large group of dinosaurs learned to run on two legs, just as today in arid regions modem lizards often tend to this mode of locomotion.

Food seeking and the effort to escape or capture enemies, as competition thus increased due to changing environment, undoubtedly caused some of the smaller dinosaurs to take to the trees. A dinosaur running swiftly over the ground on its hind legs would be helped immensely in its speed by using its arms as does a human runner, especially if these became broadened to resist the air on the backward swing. This release of the desires of all Mars thought-cells for greater and greater speed seems responsible for changing fore limbs into wings.

This much is certain from the records of the rocks: some species did go into the trees. And it is probable they learned to perch there out of the way of predatory creatures below. They had, judging from their descendants, three long fingers provided with large claws which were used in climbing, even as a modem bird, the Hoactzin of British Guiana, still retains such claws on its wings for this purpose. The pursuit of their prey would lead them to jump rapidly from one limb to another and if possible from one tree to another.

The desire thus to move rapidly through the trees without descending to the ground, which was full of peril, if the Aggressive desires were intense enough would act upon the astral form of the offspring, modifying it in the attempt to find a method of accomplishing the sought for results. Or, if we wish to consider something not so dissimilar within our own experience, we can review the development of aviation and observe how it was aided by World War I.

That millions of dollars were spent on ships which would not fly is incidental. Each side, to harass the enemy and protect their own people from air attack, had before it the necessity of building airplanes which could travel faster, out-maneuver and carry more potent methods of destruction than their adversaries could manufacture. And as a result of the urgency of this military necessity, aviation advanced more from 1914 to 1918 than it would have advanced in peace time during a period of fifty years.

And again, as was the case in the creatures which learning to fly developed into birds, we perceive that the energies mapped by Mars may become a source of destruction or equally potent in construction. The military planes of speed and the engines built to empower them gave technical knowledge and equipment which have made possible present-day aviation.

Because those who have a prominent birthchart Mars, as close association demonstrates, take a more aggressive attitude and more habitually think aggressive thoughts than do others, and because they likewise attract the Mars type of events into their lives, it is easy to believe there is a direct relation between the type of thinking done by those who have the Aggressive thought-elements so powerfully entrenched in their astral bodies and the Aggressive type of events which they attract.

But it requires no unusual effort on the part of one who customarily thinks and acts in the Mars manner, to direct both his thoughts and his actions not in the direction of destruction, but toward building something. This is what the doctor commonly does in his practice. And doctors who are successful always have Mars quite prominent in their charts of birth.

Whenever anger, lust or irritation begins to be felt, if the individual will train himself to do so and have something on which he can express the surplus energy constructively, he can not only make better use of his external behavior, but he can recondition the thought-cells within himself in such a way that in time they will cease to attract accidents and antagonisms and instead will attract events of a more fortunate nature. Yet it should not be overlooked that the energies thus aroused are creative and must express in creative work of some kind.

And when anger or irritation in an unguarded moment does get the mastery, which it more easily will do when there is a progressed aspect to Mars within one degree of perfect, as the Aggressive thought-cells then get more energy with which to work, it should be realized that the body has been mobilized to meet a definite kind of emergency. The emotion, which is an overflow of the Aggressive energy of the thought-cells in a disturbance of the electric currents flowing over the nerves, releases adrenaline into the blood stream. This is followed by a whole train of bodily reactions, including drawing blood from the digestive tract, pouring additional fuel into the blood stream and increasing the circulation, which gives the feeling of heat, giving the blood ability to more readily clot, etc., just as under the influence of Saturn fear.

But in addition, if the person has Mars quite powerful in his chart and thus picks up, radio fashion, sufficient of the Mars energies, the emotion is of the type which also releases cortisol (cortisone) from the cortex of the adrenal glands. To the extent, when the body is mobilized for fight or flight through adrenaline in the blood, there is also present cortisol in the circulation, are the actions courageous and combative rather than those which use the mobilized energies to take the individual in flight from the region of the danger. Except for the addition of this typically Mars chemical, the person who fights is mobilized for emergency action in the same way as the person who runs away.

Yet when the body is thus mobilized to meet an emergency it is not sound policy to sit and simmer. There is fuel in the blood stream that should be used; and if it is used, as well as the mental energy stimulated – for blood then reaches the brain in excess volume – the individual will suffer much less from the chemical imbalance produced by the emotion. Instead of remaining inactive he should as quickly as possible find some constructive work to do. Hard physical labor in which the thoughts must be applied to the work is a good way to expend such energy, or concentrated application to some mental problem that needs solution. That is, an attack on some physical object or mental problem which when defeated will prove beneficial is substituted for the attack on a human enemy. And when the obstacle is defeated, whatever it is, to get the energies in future to express constructively it is well to cultivate a glow of triumph.

(This concludes part 17 of 23)

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