Warrior Archetypes I: Ares/Mars - The Adrenalin Warrior
Where is the line between action and aggression? Ares doesn’t know, and doesn’t care. It is true that every act of creation is an act of violence, forcing your will onto a resisting world? Of course it is, He says. So what? Should you seek out struggles or wait for them to find you? Why sit around and wait for anything, He says. Go for it! This is the god for whom the astrological principle of the warrior was named, and he is the keeper of that fiery Martial energy. When Ares is influencing you, the ability to do becomes a compulsion to do something, anything, preferably something big and fast and energetic.
Ares, the Greek God of War, was the son of Zeus and Hera, but he did not get along well with either parent. His impulsive aggression caused his mother to shun him as unrefined, and he continually fought with his father over every small thing in his life. Their biggest arguments seemed to revolve around Ares’ constant interfering with mortals and their battles. Zeus preferred the gods to meddle in the mortal world only when it would do him and his Olympian crowd some good. Ares, a creature of emotion and strong passions, would jump in wherever he thought that one side might need his help, like a sort of divine vigilante looking for fights to take part in. Who he chose to help was generally a spur-of-the-moment subjective decision, not based on any thoughtful consideration, and might just as easily be the wrong side. Ares was not a strategist. In fact, it seemed sometimes as if it didn’t matter much to him who the “right” side was; he just needed to be fighting someone, for someone.
As a child, his tutor was Priapus, the god with the giant phallus. This testosterone-laden deity taught Zeus’s only legitimate and healthy son to be a warrior, and also how to make moves on women, which he did aggressively and often. Before Priapus taught him the arts of warfare, however, he first taught Ares how to dance. Early tribal war gods are often associated with dancing, just as young male warriors in tribal societies dance wildly as a way to attract mates and gear themselves up to fight. Dancing can also symbolize the kind of resilient fancy footwork that the warrior learns to do as he tumbles from one dangerous situation into another. A mature warrior has learned to roll with the punches, never lay sprawled despairing in the dirt, get up and face the fear again, or at least move on to the next problem with confidence. His momentum carries him through. Dancing is the best preparation for fighting, both physical and mental. It keeps you supple and resilient, and allows you to duck.
The God of War was both dearly beloved and reviled, venerated and hated. Ares is the embodiment of the aggressive forward push, something that we generally want to appear in a blast of competence and fearlessness when we need it, and to conveniently disappear afterwards, waiting on our command. Ares was called upon with great pleadings when the citadel needed defending, and the rest of the time he was dismissed as an impetuous brute. The problem is that it’s not so easy to put that geni back into the bottle to be ignored until it’s needed next. Ares-type warriors often become the social scapegoats for people who like to pretend that they themselves have perfect control of their Mars urges, and don’t need or use them much any more. They are the ones sent to the “front lines” and considered expendable - “Let them do the fighting, they’re better at it, and they were annoying anyway.”
This is the original God Of Adrenalin. He likes active stimulation, preferably with some struggle involved. Ares-type warriors need this positive sort of self-challenging struggle, the personal test of their courage, or they start picking fights with others. People roll their eyes at Mars-ruled “adrenalin junkies” who jump out of airplanes or race cars or climb mountains with their fingernails, but these are actually people who have discovered a useful way to channel that energy. Perhaps it’s not useful to the rest of the world, but pitting oneself against the limits of one’s own body and endurance is an excellent way to build up this kind of courage. It’s also a much better alternative than starting fights. A pugnacious, chip-on-the-shoulder warrior is either bored or suffering from low self-esteem through lack of positive challenges. It’s as if, no matter how hard he tries to live the quiet life, the Powers That Be push him towards physical challenges of some kind. If he’s not consciously working with these urges, it can leak out as warlike behavior.
Ares interfered most when the mortals being injured were children of his. Although he is derided as being an immature hothead, pugnacious to a fault, “a graduate of the Han Solo School of Action Without Thought”, as a friend of mine quoted, he was the only Olympian deity to routinely step in whenever mortal children of his were in danger. The other gods often ignored their mortal offspring; not Ares. He even defied Zeus’s command to stay out of the Trojan War when a son of his was killed in the fighting. This kind of willingness to protect loved ones, or the weak and innocent, is the best quality of the Ares warrior. It recalls that the Roman version of Ares, for whom the planet Mars is named, was much less of a youthful hothead and more of a seasoned protector of cities, the defender of those who called upon him. After all, what’s the point of building up all that courage if you’re not going to use it to champion those who need help?
The lover of Ares was Aphrodite, just as Mars and Venus complement and are drawn to each other. Indeed, this is the way that the intense, overreactive Ares energy can be calmed down and controlled...not through Saturnian discipline, which will only provoke rebellion, but by the Venusian touch. He needs to learn deeply, emotionally, that even the people he fights with are not demons but humans, who are worthy of compassion. He needs to understand Love, and what it means not only to defend those whom you love, but to defend their rights as well...against yourself, and your own anger, if necessary. He needs to learn how to apologize, and to atone, and if possible to think first before jumping and striking....or at least to feel first, in order to know how the other person is feeling and thus short-circuit the destructive urge.
Ares’s children with Aphrodite were Deimos and Phobos (Fear and Terror) and Eros and Harmonia (Falling In Love and Harmony). He can reap fear and terror, or love and harmony. It’s the choice between being the Destructive Force or the Hero, and the world can use all the Heroes that it can get.