Mars in Cancer Square Chiron in Aries – April 27, 2023
The Nine of Wands
The translation between two archetypal systems is a curious and dynamic affair. Any good lexicon of symbols has theoretically been distilled down to what its creator(s) has deemed some fundamental object. Here, I see very little to no difference between the planets and signs of astrology, the arcana of the Tarot and the periodic table. While all of these “elements” could potentially be broken down into further derivatives, at some point we must settle on something solid as a workable model of reality. I believe this is one of the strengths of materialism — it can give a construct in which to orient and position ourselves to generate meaning and purpose where that otherwise may have been lacking. From an existential standpoint, if we were to keep reducing these constructs down to nothingness we might find ourselves in a perpetual freefall, praying to eventually land on solid ground. The infinite void may be the playground of mystics and sages and can also be a generative space for perennial wisdom. However, it is the belief of this writer that a balance can arise when we arrive at, and work within, a more stable state of resonance – whether or not it is an illusion of the sensual extensions of our mind.
All this is to say that translation errors are unavoidable. If two things fit together in a perfect relationship, would they not be the same thing? In this incongruency of metaphor is an immense power. It’s as if two live wires writhed around on the ground beside us and in a moment of inspiration and adventure, we grabbed each end, completing the circuit and embracing the electricity of life surging through us. Perhaps, in order to arrive at new metaphysical understandings it takes a similar capacity and courage.
The long transit of Mars in Gemini felt a little like fire season in Northern California — keep your “go bag” packed because you never know when the wind might pick up and we’ll all have to flee for our lives from the raging inferno. When contained, this type of energy can be a regenerative force. Unleashed, it is unpredictable and recklessly destructive. Thus far, Mars in Cancer feels a little more stable. Our drive for security, while maybe indulgent or selfish at times, is generally focused inward and at the very least is demonstrating some restraint.
The slower-moving passage of Chiron through Aries has lifted the sediment of self-worth muck and mire to the surface of our individual waters. Rather than see this as something to be removed from the murky mixture, in an effort to cleanse or purify, Chiron invites us to recognize the wounds we face around our self-love, individuality, and autonomy as a nutrient-dense substance — an inextricable aspect of our personal ecosystem. From this perspective, healing is about bringing balance to the environment rather than simply trying to eliminate a threat.
The square of these two signatures feels challenging to tease apart. With Aries on both axes of the angle, the Martian energy is at odds with itself. Although, if any sign were to go to war with itself, it would certainly be Aries, wouldn’t it? Here’s how I am making sense of this transit: Vulnerability often arises when we perceive a threat to our security. While vulnerability might be the long-play for lasting security as it ensures that we get to show up as our most authentic selves, it also presents a risk to our more superficial selves, that is, the immediate need for security. Authenticity asks us to risk something: whatever socialized protective mechanisms we’ve put up to keep our soft underbelly safe. The irony of our defense mechanisms is that they often wall us off from deeper connection and intimacy. And yet, as social beings, it is connection that actually enhances our feelings of safety and belonging. If we’re connecting with others via our personality (ego) structures, that connection will only ever go so deep. Vulnerability – the openness to share and receive – is what allows for the cultivation of more meaningful connections. Think: watering at the roots, as opposed to spritzing the leaves. Both might be necessary acts of care, but only one ultimately is going to keep the plant healthy and thriving.
In order for us to heal around areas of self-worth, we are certainly going to have to put ourselves out there in one way or another. Even if it’s in minute doses, the small sips of validation we feel from overcoming the fear of rejection and living into a fuller expression, are the sweet rewards of exposure therapy.
The inner conflict between the autonomous parts of ourselves and our wounds around self-esteem can land us in a neurotic, “lift yourself by your own bootstraps” mentality rather than one of authentic rehabilitation of our intrinsic value. The paradox is that we can actually reinforce our self-worth by asking those around us to support us in our efforts for self-care — it can simply be asking for the spaciousness of acceptance. Our process of growth may look and feel unwieldy at times, but we can give ourselves permission to give and receive gracefully as we pass through the waves of integration into the wholeness of being. As Aries is action-oriented, giving it a task to do can be a constructive use of its fervor. A restless mind looks for and often finds problems where there aren’t any; this can easily subvert our process.
The suit of Wands in Tarot is the equivalent of the Club in the contemporary playing card deck. It is associated with the element of fire, which makes it an ideal analog for Aries. In particular, the Nine of Wands shows us (because we are always invited to see ourselves in the image of the figures on the cards) as a fatigued and injured warrior on the brink of… is it going to be victory or defeat? Though wounded, there is an implication in the fortitude of the warrior’s gaze and the wall of Wands around him that we are going to make it through.
On the edge of a new level of realization or healing, we are often tested most voraciously as we are about to enter a new echelon of existence. The Mars-Chiron square, like the Nine of Wands, lets us know that “victory” of personal transformation is near. This doesn’t mean we are forever “cured” of our ails. As we’ve come to know through our lived experience, the growth process is never done… but it does ebb, flow, and plateau. Can we learn to harness the assertiveness of Aries to more fully express ourselves, to transcend whatever wounds we have around vulnerability and worth, and to live more unabashedly?
Our needs for security are valid. In fact, it might be wise to put up a defense against any threats that might derail our healing journey. However, we can’t let a need for safety keep us guarded against the exposure necessary to build confidence in expressing ourselves. We need support, and we will likely need to voice that need. We see the warrior of the Wands standing alone, but perhaps that’s just a zoomed-in perspective that allows us to recognize that we need to take care of ourselves. When we step back, we see we are part of a community, a larger whole, and those around us are willing to fight alongside us when we sound the call — to victory, to healing, to feeling our inherent value and its integral role in the web of life. As long as we are alive, we are needed.
Image: Festival of the Phoenix Sun by Rithika Merchant @rathikamerchant