Our Wyrd Arts & Poetry section is dedicated to the magical, intuitive side of astrology, and serves to celebrate all the different ways we can express this timeful language.
Plant Planet: MARS
by Paetra Tauchert
Editor’s Note: This column explores the relationship between plants and planets from a personal, experiential, and astrological perspective. As an elemental language, astrology plugs into other elemental systems, such as plants and herbs. The elements are the building blocks of all life, as every manifest thing expresses some mix of earth, air, fire, and water. All plants contain a unique blend of elemental compositions and, when studied, may be worked with to counteract conditions of excess or deficiency in the human being. This is the basis of herbal medicine.
I am an enthusiastically devoted grower of any and all species of Nicotiana, the genus of tobacco. In the modern world, tobacco has been commodified and somewhat bent into submission at the hands of big biz, and is largely pumped out into very questionable-quality packs of smokes, filled with pesticides, herbicides, sugar (carcinogenic when smoked), and other chemicals. In combination with nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, you have a potent cocktail of addiction and disease. It’s all packaged in very seductive marketing to make you feel like smoking will be the cherry on top of your stylish coolness. (Tommy Shelby’s chain-smoking in Peaky Blinders is enough to make anyone want to smoke lol.) But once you get past the glamour, there is a fierce addiction with which the seductive charmer pulls you in — and then there is a grumpy old man, demanding his pound of flesh, again and again.
My friend and teacher, Kat Harrison, says that there is something very ritualistic about tobacco smoking even when used unconsciously/habitually, in that it grants the user an excuse to step out of the fray and go to the edges and light up, taking a break and taking off the edge. She says that the way to properly smoke tobacco is to do it consciously, always in connection with a prayer, invoking the spirit of tobacco to send your prayer out into the ethers.
When people try to quit smoking, they lose not just the nicotine hit, but also the excuse to step out and away from normal routine. There is more of a war on smokers than there used to be, but for a long time, someone stepping out to have a smoke was recognized as having a respected need. Smoking tobacco for anyone with addiction tendencies is walking the knife’s edge, and Mars rules knives. The people I have known over the years who truly struggle with the addiction to tobacco are all what I call “lightning rod” people; they are very open and sensitive and tend to attract intense people and energies in their lives. I have seen that, for them, tobacco is the only thing that seems to protect and ground them.
Like Mars energies in a chart, tobacco is a mixed bag of potential blessings and curses. Tobacco is used in ritual to exorcise and break hexes, also to send and reverse curses. The malefic qualities of tobacco are very evident in the cases of associated lung cancer; these days in my home state of California, tobacco smokers are vilified, and in many areas there is nowhere to go to smoke, even while cannabis smoking is generally now allowed in public places.
Mars is a provocative planet and this is evident in the ways tobacco is received in this world.