On Valentine’s Day Mars made its entrance into Taurus, where it will remain until March 31. This planet and sign combo is a curious one, given Mars's tendency towards passionate action and Taurus's relaxed complacency. Mars in Taurus evokes aggression with relaxation, fast movement with rooted stubbornness, new frontiers with known environs. Fire finds its fuel from earth and roots down into solidity.
To understand this transit and the kinds of experiences and events it can correlate with, we might consider what happens when Mars, the god of war, takes a break from the bloody conflicts of Aries to revive and rejuvenate. His focus has shifted from fighting battles to a passionate deepening into a calm environment, taking in salves that help heal and erase the traumas of war. At other times Mars in Taurus asserts, or defends, for the sake of preservation, stability and comfort.
We must give ourselves a break at times. If we are always facing battles we will wear out or burn out. At times being a warrior, fighting the battles that help to define us, involves speaking up for slowing down. But if we're moving too slow, Mars is here to kick us out of our ruts and calcified grooves.
At a deeper psychic level, Mars in Taurus reflects our needs to attach to physical things in order for the soul to thrive, and the dark power shadows that can emerge if we deny those needs. In his book Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes about the link between the story of the "golden calf" (the Taurean bull) from the Book of Genesis and the immensely destructive power of the nuclear bomb:
"It is not unusual for repressed forces eventually to reappear as objects...In this sense our nuclear arsenals with their mystery and threat are dark carriers of what has been ignored in the soul...In that mythic moment when Moses destroyed the bull, we banished dark power and setup altars only to the light...Because we have refused to associate ourselves with the darker forces, they have been forced into fetishistic form, where they remain, fascinating and lethal."
Too much attachment to virtue, what I call White Shadow, is a problem. To deny our pleasures and desires is to relegate them to something darker and far more threatening.
Moore then goes on to relate this state of affairs with a kind of violation against the god Mars. He points out ways our culture has become flat — too similar, too known, we might say too Taurean. Out of a desperate desire for safety we have depressed our Martian passion, courage, and spontaneous breaking of new ground. Travel through America and you will encounter much the same food, music, dress, aesthetics, political and social ideologies. But this has led us straight into the gaping maw of psychic shadow, clearly seen in the preponderance of shootings, open hatreds, and vitriolic, polarized political dialogue. What we value is now a big question in America — social, political and religious liberty that comes with the hard work of caring and change, or degeneration into the anarchy of sameness?
Speaking to the ways Mars is a part of caring for the soul, Moore writes:
"The soul, tradition has taught for centuries, needs the profound and challenging grace of Mars, who reddens everything in his vicinity with the glow of passionate life...When Mars is overlooked and undervalued, he is forced to appear in fetish and violent behavior. Mars is infinitely greater than personal anger. Creative and destructive, he is life itself poised for struggle."
As Taurus represents values and the things we attach value to, we might consider spending the next month and a half looking at how we can value Mars within ourselves. What value does our anger have? What place can we give it, or where can we channel it, so that it can be a force of conscious empowerment instead of violent destruction? What inner dimensions or truths does anger awaken us to? Where is our moral outrage, and how can we use it to not only serve the needs of our world, but enliven it with courageous passion?
Mars in Taurus asks us to take up some defense of what we value. We must choose if we will give our vital energies to a comfy couch and big TV, or to a cause that helps others in need. We might start with ourselves, for knowing the truth of our own needs is to know the needs of those around us. All are of equal value and worth taking up our sword to protect.