ANCIENT ROME & ITALY
A Special Myth*ing Links Page on:
Mars in Astrology, Mythology, and Science
From astrologer Melissa Stratton in honor of the 27 August 2003 "Close
Encounter" with Earth
(reprinted from her Newsletter with her permission)
"Melissa Stratton" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
August 24, 2003
As most of you are aware, Mars is closer to Earth than he has been for thousands of years. This Wed. August 27, will be the apex of this remarkable celestial event. I know, I’ve enjoyed viewing this big red sparkling ball in the heavens for the past few evenings - it’s hard to miss! Hope you have the chance to get a close look too.
Many of you have emailed and called with expressed interest in Mars’ current movements. So this is a special edition of Heavenly Messages devoted completely to Mars.
1) Mars - Astrology’s perspective
2) Mythical Mars - Kathleen Jenks’ fascinating findings
3) Mars in the heavens - Astronomy news
Head of Mars: Roman coin
1) Mars - Astrology’s perspective
by Melissa Stratton
Mars was the god of war for the Romans (whose name was Ares to the Greeks) and through the
years war-like attributes became associated with planet Mars. Archetypal Mars is young male force - testosterone driven aggression. (Saturn and Jupiter are the mature male archetypes.) Mars never looks before he leaps, is courageous, reckless, and driven by his passions. In Astrology Mars has come to represent the aggressive principle. Mars indicates active energy patterns - “get up and go”, and also reveals how we get what we need into our life. It is the inner Warrior energy. Mars rules pioneering Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, and was also the ruler of powerful Scorpio, before Pluto was discovered in 1930.
As Mars travels through the 12 zodiac signs, his demeanor changes according to the nature of each sign. Mars expresses easily in the energetic fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, and is considered to function best in Capricorn, where his reckless energy is tempered and in control. All the other signs each have their own modes where Mars is concerned, and vary depending upon the particular qualities of the sign. So Mars tends to be fun loving, yet scattered in Gemini; intelligent, but judgmental in Virgo; creative, though indecisive in Libra, and so on.
Currently Mars is making historical moves! Mars takes around 2 years to travel the full zodiac wheel, and once during this period he appears to slow down and back up in orbit, called “retrograde” movement. ( In comparison, most other planets retrograde every few months.) Mars went retrograde on July 27, 2003 and will remain in backward motion through September 27, 2003. At the same time Mars is \closer to Earth than ever before in recorded human history. (See the astronomy articles below for those details.)
On June 16, Mars entered the sign of Pisces where he will remain until Dec.16, 2003. This is twice as long as usual, due to Mars’ retrograde period. Pisces is a water sign with an effortless, creative flow, and is the most romantic and ethereal of all signs. Pisces always seems connected to the other side of reality, and often has a hard time staying grounded in the physical world. Pisces is empathetic to a fault, and avoids confrontation if at all possible. Pisces lives the lyric from the Beatles song, “You are me, I am you, and we are all together.” Pisces hates to swat a fly indiscriminately, much less kill another human being, and is considered to be the most spiritual and compassionate of all signs. On the down-side, Pisces is noted for wishy-washy attitudes, and spacey, ungrounded thinking patterns. Fuzzy state of confusion sums up the negative side of Pisces. It’s easy to see why decisive, aggressive Mars is a bit uneasy in this sign. Uncomfortable he may be, yet he must remain in Pisces much longer than usual due to this retrograde movement.
To understand what this means for the world at large, we can look an obvious arena where Mars the warrior is currently playing: Iraq. When the current Iraqi war began on March 19, Mars was “exalted” in Capricorn where his aggressive mode is masterfully directed. We saw a war rapidly won with awesome power against a weaker adversary. The U.S. and it’s allies were triumphant in their victory while Mars was in his Capricorn stride. One month later (April 22) Mars shifted into Aquarius, a sign noted for its unemotional clarity and razor-edged insight. Here, Mars remains outwardly confident, but as the world begins to demand proof of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, we saw the U.S. and Britain begin to squirm a bit as their motive and reason for the aggression of war was being challenged as dubious.
When Mars entered Pisces on June 16, it gradually became apparent to all, this war was not going according to plan. It was supposed to be clean and decisive, but now was becoming messy and unfocused with Coalition soldiers getting picked off daily by unseen snipers and hidden traps. It was not even clear who these killers were. Are they Saddam loyalists? Al Qaeda operatives? No one seemed to know with certainty. The WMD’s still had not been discovered, nor had Saddam Hussein. Is he alive or not? Mysterious tapes of his voice pop up one by one from some murky deep hideout - whereabouts unknown. The Iraqi people seem equally confused: relieved to be rid of a despotic leader, while complaining that at least his rule kept order in the country, with gas, electricity, and water flowing. They look around to see who will clean up the mess, and get few answers. The recent deadly bombing at the Baghdad UN Mission headquarters also reflects this same confusion. Who did it and why are proving to be elusive answers.
Currently, this state of affairs remains, and is likely to continue for some time. Both military and political leaders are now stating we may be in Iraq for years to come. The price tag and who will pay up for this massive mess is equally vague and hard to pin down.
Another current event reflects this Mars/Pisces confusion: the North American Blackout of Aug 14. As we all know, the electric power grid in Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, and New York was compromised, creating a massive power blackout for 24 + hours - the first blackout of this proportion in over 25 years. This area, which is home to over 50 million people, is still in process of recovering as I write this, and the economic implications are staggering to say the least.
The fuzzy Piscean element in this event is evident. At first there were confusing innuendoes flying around. New York said it was a Canadian plant’s problem. The Canadians said it was a lightning strike in Niagara Falls, NY. Others said it was a fire in a NYC plant. Now an Ohio plant is the likely suspect, and so on. Officials were quick to say it was not terrorism, but sabotage was not ruled out. It became painfully obvious no one seemed to know what actually caused this catastrophe, and the search for the answer still continues.
The positive side of Pisces was also present in this blackout. Unlike the last massive Blackout in 1977 where there was mass looting and violence, reports from New York City this time indicate the public for the most part, not only remained remarkably calm, but reached out to each other and helped their neighbor. New Yorkers cite their post 911 understanding that “we are all in this together”, as the reason for this elevated awareness. Pisces is the sign most likely to “stop and smell the roses”. One of my clients who lives in NYC, personally confirmed this mellowness. She told me that on the evening of the blackout, when she looked out onto the city scene, it was lovely! Gone were harsh neon and florescent glare, and the usual hub-bub was subdued. Instead, candles filled all the windows with their soft glow, and neighbors, trying to stay cool, sat outside in the night air, and talked softly on their stoops. She said she felt as though she had gone back in time to a gentler, simpler era.
And of course, the flaky side of Pisces is also very evident at present. In fact, it cannot go unnoticed in the circus-like atmosphere of the California re-call election! From famous actor, to well known stripper; from respected journalist, to tabloid porn king; along with a big list of other weirdoes, and assorted millionaires of all stripes, this election is something to behold! A case could be made, that since this phantasmorgoric process is being considered seriously at all, it must indicate a case of mass Piscean hysterical delusion!
On an individual level, this historic Mars activity can help you look inward to your own use of aggression, and your own higher Piscean elements. Are you simmering with frustration at the hectic pace of your life, while your misplaced anger spills onto those around you? Or are you actively creating more calm, peace, harmony, romance, and beauty in all areas of your life? Do you see yourself as a Lone Ranger among the foolish masses, or do you realize how intricately inner-connected we all are? Do you know with certainty, that when you reach out to help your neighbor, you are ultimately helping yourself? It is no cosmic accident that Mars is where he is at this time in human history. It is all part of a celestial plan developed long before our time. As you gaze up at the magnificent Red Planet during this historic era, consider asking for his aide in your own and the World’s Piscean process. Contemplate the possibility that this is exactly the plan, and activate it for yourself!
Now read on to see an older, deeper understanding of Mars’ origins.
Roman coin showing Mars shaking hands with Faith (Fides)
2) Mythical Mars
Kathleen Jenks’ fascinating findings
This information was recently sent to me by mythologist Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D. I am an avid student of mythology, yet I was amazed by this new information, as you will be too, I’m sure. Check out Kathleen’s wonderful website for more info: http://www.mythinglinks.orgI was struck by your comments on Mars in this month's (August ‘03) Messages. The astrological roles played by deities often are quite different from their mythological counterparts. Yet the myths predate later astrological insights and, for what it's worth, I thought you might be interested to know that Mars was originally probably an agricultural deity, not a warrior. One reason scholars suspect this is that many of the oldest festivals during his month of March are agrarian. Also, his conception was quite unusual and hardly befitting a war-god. His mother, Juno, a very old pre-Latin goddess embodying lunar cycles, wanted to bear a child without the aid of her mate, Jupiter. So flower-goddess Flora brought Juno a magical lily, with which Juno impregnated herself. That clearly sounds much more like the conception of an agricultural god than a warrior.
It's thought that he may have become a warrior god when the land was overrun with invaders. Farmers would invoke him to protect their fields which, as an agriculture god, he would certainly have the right and duty to do. After generations of this, his warrior side quite likely trumped his original magic lily-born nature and now he's seen exclusively as an aggressive energy.
Roman coin showing Mars armed,
and yet holding out an olive branch in his right hand
Perhaps, however, being in the magic-lily time of Pisces, he'll remember his origins and begin to access some very ancient and interesting patterns. Perhaps he'll remember that under all the sound and fury, he's really born to be earth's husbandman and protector. He may feel uncomfortable in Pisces but hopefully being 150-degrees and 7 signs away from the sun for the first time in ages will activate his far-memories of what he once was -- and help him to realize that we really need that Mars, born of a celestial moon-goddess and a magical lily, back again.
3) Mars in the heavens - Astronomy news
This first one is a short piece going around the web that I’m sure many of you have read. It was sent to me by many list members. It’s unsigned, so don’t know who deserves credit:
CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH MARS
Never again in our lifetime will the Red Planet look so spectacular!
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the
closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this
close is in 2287.
Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be
certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as long
as 60,000 years.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles
and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of
-2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look
as large as the full moon to the naked eye.
Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August, Mars will rise in the east at 10 p.m. But
by the end of August, when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its
highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient when it comes to seeing
something that no human has seen in recorded history.
So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter
and brighter throughout the month. Share this! No one alive today will ever see this again.
Here is a more expanded version of the same info for those who want more details. It’s from
(Note the difference in the amount of years this supposedly last happened. I suppose 10K years
or so is a blip, in these terms!)
Orbital Oddities: Why Mars will be So Close to Earth in August
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer -www.space.com
Anyone who had a Spirograph drawing toy as a kid has a head start in grasping why Earth
and Mars will be closer to each other this August than ever in recorded history. The drawing
wheels with the little toothy gears were very simple, yet they produced amazingly complex
patterns that seemed to change, ever so slightly, for as long as you kept them moving.
The relationship in space between Earth and Mars is never exactly repeated either. Each
planet orbits the Sun on its own elliptical path, and those paths actually rotate through space
over thousands of years.
The result, in late August, will be a proximity that hasn't occurred for 73,000 years, according
to a calculation made by Jean Meeus and first reported by SPACE.com in November.
Interestingly, even closer passes are in store for our descendents.
How it works
The orbital dalliance is complex, but it's not so hard to envision when broken down into parts
and sprinkled with sports analogies. We turned to Myles Standish, an expert on planetary orbits
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for just that.
The main thing that alters the distance between the two planets is the fact that Earth takes a
path closer to the Sun. Physics dictates that inner planets must zip around more quickly than
outer planets. Earth requires 365 days to go around the Sun once. Mars needs 687 Earth-days to
fill up a calendar.
Right now, Earth is catching up with Mars each day, like a race car driver heading into Turn 1
on the inside, preparing to lap a sputtering competitor for the umpteenth time.
When the pass occurs, Earth and Mars will be on the same side of the Sun, as seen from
above, all three objects lined up in a row. This happens about every 26 months. When this
configuration occurs, astronomers say Mars is at opposition.
But the separations during these oppositions vary wildly. On Aug. 27 this year, Mars will be
34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) away. The last opposition, in 2001, involved a
separation of more than 41 million miles (67 million kilometers). In 1995, the distance between
the two worlds was nearly double what it will be later this year.
Part of what's behind the seemingly erratic behavior is that a number of things have to line up
at the same time.
The measurements involved in the close approaches every 26 months vary because during
a year, the Earth's distance from the Sun varies from its average, greater and smaller, by nearly
2 percent, and Mars' distance varies from its average by more than 9 percent, greater and
The trick is to get the furthest part of Earth's orbit from the Sun (its aphelion) to line up with
the closest part of Mars' orbit to the Sun (its perihelion).
These orbital points slowly change their directions in space over thousands of years. They are
presently evolving toward alignment, Standish says. So, when they do get nearly aligned and
when Mars and Earth pass near the key points at the same time, then a truly close approach
Standish suggests envisioning the orbits as a bit like one football inside another. Both are
slowly revolving end over end at different rates, constantly changing the relationship between the
two. All the while, the planets are travelling along their respective football shapes with
The ultimate differences in proximity due to the changes that occur over millennia are not
Prior to the 1988 close pass, the two planets were even closer in 1971, just 34.9 million miles
(56.2 million kilometers) apart. The 2003 approach is less than 1 percent closer than the one in
1971, Standish points out.
"So it's not like you're going to see something gigantic in the sky," he said. "It’s not like Mars
is going to look like the Moon or anything."
Mars will appear strikingly brilliant, however. It will be about as bright as Jupiter ever gets. It
will shine like a beacon in its characteristic red or orange, in stark contrast to most of the other
planets and stars, which exhibit little color.
Officially, Mars will reach magnitude minus-2.9 on a scale used by astronomers to denote
brightness. Lower numbers indicate brighter objects, and negative numbers are reserved for the
The Red Planet will present a large enough disk for backyard astronomers with good-sized
telescopes to discern some of the planet's features, such as the polar ice cap, dark surface
features and perhaps even storm clouds.
From Above: See how Earth catches up with Mars on the inner track, in this animation of the
solar system. Animation runs from Jan. 8 to Aug. 28, 2003.
From Earth: A second animation shows Mars getting bigger as it and Earth get closer during
2003. In astronomers' parlance, Mars increases from an angular size of 4.7 arcseconds in
January to 25 arcseconds in August, as seen from Earth.
Professional astronomers won't pay the event much attention. Mars is so well studied from
probes orbiting the planet and even some that have landed, that there is little scientists still need
to know that can be examined from Earth any better now than last year or next year.
One possible exception involves radar studies. Radar works best at close range. But
Standish said there probably wouldn't be much if any extra effort in this area, either, because
radar has gotten so sophisticated that it works even on targets far away.
One might think this would be a great time to launch a spacecraft to Mars, to take advantage
of a shorter travel plan. But that business has to do with another layer of complexity that renders
the extra-close approach moot. Space probes are actually launched on trajectories very similar
to Earth's orbit, by necessity. They travel arcing paths that only gradually make their way
outward, intersecting Mars about eight months after launch.
Quarterbacks know all about this (at least those who don't throw a lot of interceptions to slow
defensive backs). You have to lead the target, because it takes time for the ball to get there.
"Imagine it as a couple of race cars going around a track," Standish suggests. "It's a very
wide track, and one of them is on the inside and one is on the outside. If you're going to throw a
ball from the inside to the outside, you don't throw it to where the guy is now, you throw it ahead
and it intercepts him as he's going along."
He said the slightly reduced distance of this opposition is no advantage compared to the
normal launch windows, which do, however, take advantage of the 26-month cycle for Earth and
Mars being on the same side of the Sun.
More to come
There are even closer approaches on the horizon because, to continue Standish's analogy,
the concentric footballs are not yet fully aligned.
"Earth's aphelion and Mars' perihelion are still not in the same direction, but they're getting
closer during this present era," he said. "The alignment motion is so slow -- thousands of years --
that the bodies will pass through the right spots a number of times [during their regular orbits]
while the alignment is quite close.
A handful of even closer oppositions, seven to be exact, will occur between the August 2003
event and the year 3000, according to new calculations by Standish recently provided to
SPACE.com. The next one that will be closer than this year's occurs in 2287.
The closest of all comes in 2729, when Mars will be about 34,580,000 miles (55,651,000
kilometers) from Earth.
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