Transcendental Mars
by Rob Couteau


A New Look at Planetary Symbolism In Astrocartography & In Transcendental Astrology

The Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography.

All text Copyright � 1999-2000 R. Couteau

[Painting of Mars by Velazquez]

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires. The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

-- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Core meaning: MARS

In the further evolution of Yang through the "symbolic" solar system, Mars propels the Solar force of individual, uniquely expressed ego-consciousness into the larger playing field of interpersonal interaction with others. This is not experienced as a soul-union of personal (Moon) or romantic (Venus) feelings but rather, as the experience of self-identity maintaining its separateness yet joining in interactive interplay with other "selves." The experience, for example, of two people energetically engaged in a sportive game of "catch" or in a fierce competitive match is an expression of two individual selves working together energetically or working against each other competitively. Each person interacts yet separately develops their respective abilities through their own unique experience. Thus, Mars rules experiences which further discrimination through acts of separation. Another example: the intense, interactive experience of friendship which may typically be experienced between men in Western culture has recently been stereotyped as "male bonding"; a rather dry, clinical term which inadequately describes the Mars principle at work in friendships which express this intense Yang force which is interactive and yet which maintains a separateness or independence of spirit and identity. Again, it is through the interactive extension of the self that individual identity is further tested and energetically acted-out amongst others.

Another proper or "consciously applied" use of the Transcendental Mars function is the maintenance of distinctive self-borders, especially when one's identity is threatened physically or psychologically by another being. Besides the obvious examples of protecting oneself from physical intrusions, the assertiveness of Mars should be utilized to forcefully separate oneself from the web of psychological projections that other people may attempt to impose upon us. When we are viewed by others not for who we are, but as a symbol of some unintegrated aspect of their own personalities, we may become unwittingly involved in their attempts to either redeem or destroy their unconscious identity through an attempt to either "redeem" or "destroy" our own selves. The scapegoat, for example, suffers the fate of bearing the projection of another person's unintegrated "dark side," "moral inferiority," etc., and as a result often suffers an unjust fate because of his or her inability to forcefully demand the separation -- and thus effect a discrimination -- between what is "I" and what is "thou." In any case, drawing a clear line around one's territory -- psychic or physical territory -- and effectively guarding and protecting it from "intruders" may disallow such projections or intrusions from taking hold in the first place. Indeed, the word projection is notoriously close to projectile, an implement of war that, like all weapons and sharply pointed objects, traditionally belongs under the Martian rulership. To protect oneself effectively then, one's martial shields, martial strategy and martial fortifications must be at the ever-ready in order to properly conduct oneself through the battlefield* of life.

This Martian maintenance of discrete, separate identity is anticipated by the light of the Sun, which "show[s] up objects in all their pitiless discreteness and separateness" under "the harsh, glaring light of day";1 as well as anticipating Saturn, traditional ruler of separation wrought through fixed boundaries and set limitations. While the light of the Sun illuminates consciousness with the ability to discern identity, and the urge of Mars leads to a discrimination between the subject and object of desire, Saturn provides a fixed structure within which this plethora of separate identities may coexist and productively function. Through Pluto, the core elements residing at the very heart of identity are made discernable through an ability to separate and discriminate between various symbolic representations of the unknown (e.g., symbolic representations of the essential building blocks of physical and spiritual realities, such as equations of subatomic particles or images of the archetypal components of the psychic world: the invisible, unknown realm that lies at the substratum of all being.)

We should keep in mind, however, that the quality of "separateness" that astrologers typically cite to describe Mars actually describes only one aspect of Martian interaction. While never experienced as a "merging," like Moon or Venus, the Martian energy may in fact extend itself into a sincerely felt warmth and energizing of real friendship. In the ancient world, particularly during the aeon of Aries (approximately 2,000 B.C. - 1 A.D.) which preceded our current "Age of Pisces," Mars was the planetary archetype which dominated the era, and it was particularly expressed through the bonds of friendship and loyalty experienced between warriors. "The bonds of loyalty" express more adequately the sacred dimension of this Martian experience, especially when compared to the rather profane, social-worker phraseology of "male bonding." Unfortunately, unconscious identification or ego-inflation with the Mars principle can often result in the "unrealizing" or usurpation of its planetary complement, Venus. When Venus is dominated by Mars, then an unconscious "romanticizing" of aggression is the result. This violent form of Martian excess also dominated the pre-Christian Aries aeon and even continued to find expression in the aeon of Pisces -- regardless of Christ's new message of "love thy enemy" -- and even continues into our present, pre-Aquarian age.

The qualities of "power," "energy" and "action" described in the I Ching correspond to various expressions of Martian energy. Astrologers often ascribe these qualities to both Sun and Mars, sometimes in a manner that does not serve to distinguish between the Solar and Martian forms of expression. While the Sun principle signifies power, energy and action particularly in the context of triggering the nascent, individual self and in its functioning as a central point of identity (as the "ego"), Mars has more to do with power, energy and action as it is applied with or against others on an interactive basis. The interpersonal expression of power over others (e.g., a military regiment dynamically working together to achieve victory over another regiment); or the expressive force of one's personal energy acting in accordance with others to complete a task or achieve a goal (e.g., a construction crew) are examples of this expression. How any of these experiences serve to intrapsychically alter one's inner spirit is also ruled by Mars (e.g., how interpersonal power feels). Unlike the further development of Yang through Saturn (collective social expression) or Pluto (transpersonal expression), Mars acts largely on an interpersonal basis: through smaller interactive groups or on a one-to-one basis. Power expressed through the "collective self" (through institutional means or through the rigid expression of socially condoned laws or mores) or through the "transpersonal self" (the great dictator altering the historic path of the masses through his personified incarnation of the forces within the collective unconscious) describe, respectively, the collective self-identity of Saturn and the transpersonal Self-identity of Pluto. With Mars, interactive self-identity is meant to describe the one-to-one clash or one-to-one working together of self with other selves, and how this action serves to further define one's self-identity; an experience qualitatively different from the self-refinement effected through the larger forms of social collective (Saturn) or transpersonal (Pluto) Yang expression. In a similar manner, Mars corresponds to the alteration or manipulation of the immediate physical environment by the individual, who interacts upon his or her surroundings through actualizing the individual will; which is fueled by Martian potency, action, determination and assertiveness. When action is the result of the inner experience of assertiveness, energy, courage, strength, sexuality, hunger or passion, then we may speak of the potency and determination of Mars seeking to fulfill itself by obtaining the goal of its immediate desire.

Improper manifestation of the energy: MARS

Properly manifested, Mars is usually channeled through work (on the mundane level), and is experienced intrapsychically as desire. The experience of physical energy and vitality streaming through the body and mind also belongs to the rulership of Mars. When poorly aspected in the natal chart, and particularly when Mars is untriggered, a difficulty may arise in finding the proper energy with which to enact the inherent potential, talent or uniqueness of one's individual self-identity (Sun). The vitality, strength and passion of Mars offers the means of enacting that potential and of properly directing one's self-identity into the immediate physical and psychological environment.

Besides its concrete significance as male potency, the arrow-shaped glyph representing Mars symbolizes this furtherance of identity through the outward-reaching direction of desire. When the desire which should properly motivate the self remains unconscious or is improperly expressed, identity may remain "stuck" in its nascent phase. The Martian need to fulfill interpersonal desires may then be usurped by another planetary energy; for instance, the need to fulfill the collective-self, expressed through impersonalized social roles (Saturn). With the usurpation of Martian energies by Pluto, the desire to fulfill the transpersonal Self may arise, especially in the form of developing a fascination with archetypal energies of transformation or with the notion of the Divine Self, which in certain religious systems promises a complete regeneration of the identity (Pluto). With the crypto-religious* manifestation of Pluto, for example, we have the experience of the masses being led into a quasi-religious belief in the transformative powers of the "great dictator." The importance of consciously realizing the need to fulfill one's desires is therefore all the more crucial once we realize that its subliminal form of expression may simply add fuel to the destructive fire of human unconsciousness (as in the examples above). When properly functioning, however, the social persona (the collective self-identity of Saturn) often serves as a means of channeling the personal experience of work (Mars) into a socially productive form. In this sense, Mars, in extending the individual self-identity of the Sun into the interactive self-identity through the experience of working with others, foreshadows the collective achievements wrought through the sum total of such individual efforts: the Saturnian, or collective-self.

* A term coined by Mircea Eliade, the modern scholar of comparative religions, to describe the hidden religious instinct at work within much seemingly secular activity.

On an interpersonal level, the most common form of improper utilization of the Martian Yang energy is the aggressively assertive self, which extends itself into the environment in such harsh and humanly "unrelated" manners that it incurs severe damage upon the self-image, -fabric or -core of others. In maintaining separateness of self-identity, Mars may in extreme form sever rather than merely separate. Collections in museums around the world of the chopping, slicing, bludgeoning, ramming, cutting, impaling, and repulsing implements of war attest to this humanly "unrelated" aspect of Mars: as the god of war.* This form of "Yang madness" is the result of ego-inflation by, or -identification with, Martian power, drive and dominance over others. The positive expression of self-identity, through productive, interactive experiences with the force of other self-identities, is now replaced by the dominating abuse of one self against another. Again, this aspect of Mars describes the experience of dominance and abuse on the interpersonal level, rather than dominance through impersonal institutions (Saturn) or dominance over the masses (Pluto). Through Mars, the Yang energy is channeled so that it has a direct effect upon the immediate environment, and so that the emotional result of such actions may be instantly felt within the improperly-balanced psyche of the native. Thus, Mars rules the "immediate gratification" of desire, unlike the long-range, "collective" planning of Saturn's linear time-management or the transpersonal, transgenerational time-frame of Pluto.

The proper expression of the Martian Yang energy results in an immediate means of extending the self-identity so that, later on, long-range goals may reach their achievement and completion (Saturn). In addition, personal desires are actualized in the immediate present so that the transpersonal regeneration of the self, effected through the "shattering encounter" with the Divine or higher Self (Pluto), may later be properly achieved. In other words, unlived desires will dangerously cloud the ego's perception of the collective and transpersonal nature of the Self. In Indian religious tradition, certain Hindu temples illustrate this basic tenet of religious experience through the creation of erotic stone sculptures which festoon the outer facades of religious temples and places of worship. If the worshipper has experienced the transcendence of earthly desires, then he may safely enter the temple without the experience of base arousal and clearly perceive the transpersonal nature of the divinity. Otherwise, the inability to transcend the powerful urge of material desire will leave the worshipper transfixed at the facade of the temple, bound to the mundane, material expression of spirit portrayed as physical desire.**

Viewed from another perspective, the experience of Mars is the hidden or "cryptic" expression of the higher Self as experienced through the base forms of earthly desire. By living out Martian expressions of physical and psychic desirousness, we cleanse, through the fire of fulfilled desire, our need to continually expend and thus become trapped in mundane desire. Through the repeated experience of living out our desires, we eventually arrive at a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of desire and of the generation of Yang energy in its upper and lower octaves of expression. The sacrifice of personal desire for the collective purpose (Saturn) or for the evolution of the transpersonal Self (the evolving nature of God or of the gods acted-out upon the stage of human consciousness [Pluto]) are other steps or stages in the evolution of human and transhuman "desire-forms."

* "Swords, knives, and sharp cutting edges of all kinds belong to the [alchemical] symbolism of separatio ... One of its major symbols is the cutting edge that can dissect and differentiate on the one hand and can kill on the other." Edward F. Edinger, "Psychotherapy and Alchemy," Quadrant, Vol. 14, No. 2, p. 49.

** "I asked an Indian about the obscenities on the walls of the Black Pagoda at Konarak. He replied, 'But see how interested the people are.' I objected that they were probably already far too much interested in sex. But the Indian answered: 'That is how it should be, otherwise they keep out of life and then how can they live their karma right through?'" C.G. Jung, "The Process of Individuation. Notes on Lectures given at the Eidgen�ssische Technische Hochschule, Z�rich, October 1938-June 1939." Unpublished mimeograph, Lecture II, Nov. 4, 1938, p.13.

Transcendental potential: MARS

Relocation to the Transcendental Mars line has the immediate effect of awakening the desires that define and propel the self into the world-at-large. Under this location, the identity formed in consciousness and expressed through the focal point of the ego (Sun) is extended through the quickening of Martian energy, which encourages dynamic interaction with others in the immediate milieu and effects alterations in the physical structure of the environment which reflect or appease the desires stirred by the Martian force. The triggering effect of the Transcendental Mars location activates intrapsychic, emotional and spiritual needs, often stirring desire to the point that action is the first result of such self-"extension." This may be felt as courage, fortitude, resolve, determination, aggression, personal power, vitality, potency, libidinousness, strength, motivation or the ability to actualize the will. Mars provides the directed motive-force which in the Sun may remain only an idea, spirit, notion or nascent thought-form.

While the Sun may trigger other planetary energies through certain natal transits or may simultaneously "illuminate" planetary meanings and symbolism, Mars "fuels" the various planetary forms of Yin and Yang energy. In its Transcendental location, this "fuel," which may be lacking in the native's life, may now come to the forefront and may even serve to catalyze the other planetary energies in the natal chart. Under the Transcendental Mars location, the means of extending the Sun energy from "defining the self-identity" to acquiring the goals of the desirous self are now possible. By triggering the interactive behavior symptomatic of Transcendental Mars energy, the approach to a broader social role may now come into sight, as dynamic interpersonal contacts lead to inroads into larger institutional structures (Jupiter / Saturn) or as interactive accomplishments prove one's merit and ability to handle larger collective social roles (Saturn). Martian sexual vitality and potency may even serve to complement the sphere of love and intimate relationship (Venus) in the overall life-pattern.

Ironically, the conscious acquisition of Martian energy is a fundamental necessity for preparing the self for the complementary Yin experience of personal (Moon), intimate (Venus), collective (Jupiter) or transpersonal (Neptune) union with the soul. The Martian qualities of maintaining separation and affirming personal strength will enable one to withstand the reception, merging, expansion and seeming dissolution of soul energies channeled through Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune. Similarly, since the "revolution and liberation of self / soul" effected through Uranus and the "maintenance and mediation of human cognition and communication" effected through Mercury both take a heavy toll on the physical and supra-material nervous system of the human form, the effectively functioning Mars energy-flow insures the continual strength, force and endurance necessary for the healthy regulation and functioning of the various forms of planetary energy.

Relocation to the Transcendental Mars line may trigger experiences that test or challenge one's courage, ability, fortitude or power, leading to experiences that require an intensely focused concentration of stamina, will-power, and determination. The essential thing to remember is that being in the geographic proximity of the Transcendental Mars location will also effectively enhance one's inner sense of strength, ability, courage and belief in coping. This location more than any other will trigger the experience of "living in the moment," as psychic energy directly expresses itself through the drive to obtain the goal of one's desire. Perhaps as a result of this, energy that was previously unfocused or scattered may now become focused into "direct action." Relocation here, even if only temporary, should result in the native's forceful management and energetic interaction with his or her immediate surroundings.

Personalities with Primary MARS
Transcendental Mars:

Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross; known as the "angel of the battlefield" because of her "energetic work" in "braving enemy fire" to deliver food and supplies during the American Civil War; whose Primary Mars line sets directly over the southern Confederate states, where some of the "bloodiest battles" of the "war" transpired; who wrote: "I wrung the blood from the bottom of my clothing before I could sleep"); Lord Byron (born almost precisely under the line of his Primary Mars, in London; whose Primary Mars and Secondary Pluto, describing the "burning of desire" [Mars] and the "desire to transcend the identity of the desirous ego" [Pluto] aptly define the Byronic quest, both in literature and in Byron's personal life); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ("surgeon" and prolific, "hard-working" writer; born in Edinburgh, Scotland, near his Primary Mars); Adolf Eichmann ([with Pluto] Nazi born in Solingen, directly under the line of his Primary Mars; the chief coordinator of the deportation of Jews to the extermination centers, whose Primary Mars / Pluto Transcendental pairing were personified in "autocratically willful, aggressive and violent acts leading to widespread social upheaval"; "enforced collective transformation"; and "energizing the forces of mass-destruction"; and whose negative utilization of these Transcendental Energies typified some of the darkest characteristics inherent in this intense planetary pairing); Henry Ford (founder of the Ford Motor Company, born near the line of his Primary Mars in Greenfield, Michigan; noted for his assembly-line method of "production": "a most effective way of channelling energy in the work place"; and his "aggressive" modern business methodology); George Harrison ([with Jupiter] whose equally-underaspected Primary Mars and Jupiter lines slice through the center of India in a narrowly focused Transcendental Midpoint-Field, reflecting Harrison's "ardent, determined pursuit / of higher forms of consciousness, especially those found within the codified philosophical and religious doctrines" of India (Mars / Jupiter); Katherine Mansfield (whose Primary Mars describes the "adventurousness" and "passionate approach to life" which clearly marked her biography); George Washington ("military general" born in close proximity to his Primary Mars and whose "military engagements" also occurred near the line of this Primary Transcendental planet; elected first president of the United States as a result of his successful "command" of revolutionary "military forces"; temporarily appointed as "commander-in-chief" of the U.S. "Army" in 1798, when "war" with France seemed imminent); Edward H. White II (who "took the first step" in space in the American space program and was the world's first "self-propelled" astronaut; whose Primary Mars line was located near the new Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, which became the space program's nerve-center for the first time during his Gemini 4 flight).

Events: Atom bomb: First controlled nuclear chain reaction; Civil War: Secession of South Carolina (with Pluto); Vietnam: The Tet Offensive.

Keynote phrases for Mars: MARS

The classic "masculine" or Yang energy expressed through energetic interpersonal interaction. The spirit (animus) principle in its aggressively individualized manifestation. The animus in his human manifestation as male lover; companion; virile force of potency and ability; or the intrapsychic experience of these forms of Yang energy. The divine power of desire acted-out within the humanly incarnate form. A "relational function" in which the self-identity interacts with others but simultaneously maintains a sense of "separateness." Spirit incarnate, especially in the form of desire. Biological drives demanding their expression in human form. The drive to actualize being in the immediate realm of time. The drive which thrusts the principle of ego (Sun) into actual manifestation (Mars). The incarnation of the Sun principle (the potential for individual identity) into the immediacy of physical form or force. The individual will (Sun) physically or psychically directed into the interpersonal human arena, or upon the immediate environment; especially, through the intense expression of energy. The drive to live, to activate and to protect the physical form. The desire to procreate. The urge to take, dominate, possess, ravish, experience, hold, push away, discard. The assertion of self as separate; the experience of self through separation. Experiences which further discrimination through acts of separation. "Relating" through assertion. The notion of "personal force." Actualizing the self by counterpointing it against the surrounding milieu in order to realize, through separation and discrimination, the distinctive self-borders. The secondary manifestation of Yang consciousness (following the Sun) in the "symbolic" solar system. In Indian astrology Mars rules strength and corresponds to "desires and the animal instinct in man."1 The Yang energy experienced as interactive self-identity and the interactive self.


1. "The 'mild' light of the moon ... merges things together rather than separates them. It does not show up objects in all their pitiless discreteness and separateness, like the harsh, glaring light of day, but blends in a deceptive shimmer the near and the far, magically transforming little things into big things, high into low, softening all colour into a bluish haze, and blending the nocturnal landscape into an unsuspected unity." C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis (Collected Works Vol. 14).

2. Ibid., Dreyer, Indian Astrology, p. 89.


Rob Couteau has been a regular contributor to Starcats for many years and remains a close personal friend. Couteau, who spent 12 years living, writing and painting in Paris, is back in the USA doing all these same good things in upstate New York. Excerpts from his book, The Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography, have appeared in the Celtic Astrologer, Astro-Talk magazine (Matrix Software), Aspects magazine, and Astrology Panplanet. Recipient of awards such as the Astro-pro, The Canopus Award for Excellence, and the Golden Ratio, he has also received on-line praise from numerous readers and astrologers, including Linda Reid; Noel Tyl; and Donna Van Toen. Couteau's essays, fiction, interviews and reviews have appeared in publications such as The Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy; Bloomsbury Review; The European; Netsurf; and James Hillman's Jungian annual, Spring. His current research explores the statistically-high occurrence of least-aspected Saturn in the charts of American presidents and in the 'birth' of nations. The full text of Rob's book is available at: Couteau

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