|Archetypal Symbols of the Pacifist and the Warrior|
Venus and Mars
In my book on Cancer Salves, I described 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.
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 act more freely in relationship to His feelings.
So, 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 the body.
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 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 tears.
Karma and the Law of Balance
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. So, what 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. 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, as the problem persists 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 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 and others 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.
In the months ahead, I plan to write more on the subject of emotions. I am absolutely convinced that every disease has what might be called "signature emotions:" characteristics that predispose towards certain physiological corollaries to the emotions. Studies indicate, for example, that schizophrenics (except paranoid schizophrenics) do not develop cancer; however, diabetics often develop cancer. Since my specialty is astroendocrinology, I am convinced that the intricate functions of the endocrine glands and their hormones are subtle, that the physical reality is derivative of the less tangible realm of feelings. It is not black and white. A near miss traffic accident is an outer situation that triggers an adrenal response that then acts to stimulate or inhibit the other endocrine glands. The survival instinct and its attending emotion, fear, are, like all emotions, reactions; but once the reaction occurs, it has a domino effect on the rest of the body (and psyche.)
I would like therefore to begin identifying critical emotions and their relationship to health. In the meantime, I would simply like to say that it is important to differentiate a single condition from a complex one, what in medical parlance is called a symptom versus a syndrome. Cancer is a syndrome: it does not occur because one is sometimes yielding or lacking spontaneity. It is important to look at this one issue as just that: one issue. Before an imbalance can become so severe that it causes deeper imbalances that are potentially life-threatening, many disturbances to harmony have to be present. What we hope and pray will happen is that when a pattern is shifted, transformed from a malefic to a benefic flow of energy, that the symptoms associated with the pattern will also subside. This is the basis for psychosomatic medicine and healing that relies on finding the keys in the psyche that explain the functioning of the physical body.
More importantly, when a pattern is identified, such as lack of spontaneity, emotional repression, or the feeling of being the victim of circumstances, then the cause can be sought and therapies devised to relieve the physical and psychological effects. In my experience, physical relief invariably follows psychological breakthroughs, but it can also be "bought" with palliative measures until the psychological "catches up." By this I mean that if we know the liver is hot and not doing an adequate job filtering blood, we can take blood purifiers until the deeper emotional issues are resolved. My observation is that many people tend to stop doing the inner work when the physical threats subside, but this is rarely safe so I advise committing to a comprehensive program of healing, not stopping the first day the pain lessens!
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2007 and 2014