Working With Mars & Anger

This week, warrior planet, Mars in Aries, squares Pluto in Capricorn (2/22), then conjoins Uranus (2/26). As the red planet heats up our world, it’s time to become more conscious about our personal Mars.

I read this post by astrologer Michael Lutin about the upcoming Mars-Pluto-Uranus aspects:… “Even the calmest, most patient, spiritually developed, all-chakras-aligned, organic vegetarians can be heard muttering under their breath, I’ve had enough of this shit.”

It takes a lot to make me chuckle, but I laughed out loud. There’s a lot to be angry about lately, and spiritual folk are not exempt from this.

It struck me that we do often think anger is un-spiritual. Anger is not un-spiritual. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “fuck this shit”, as evidenced by the popularity of the humorous but ultimately spiritual book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I haven’t read the book, but one of my best ways for clearing energy when it’s stuck is jumping up from meditation and yelling “fuck this shit!!!”. I call this my “fuck it!” energy clearing technique (TM me, 2017).

Having anger is totally spiritual. Having anger is not the problem. It’s what we do next, or don’t, that matters.

Yes, what happens next…that’s often a problem. Most of us are not taught how to work with our emotions -especially not hot ones, like anger. Mars is a planet of extremes. We may flip out, or we may even deny our experience completely.  How can we be more conscious with Mars, so we don’t go off half-cocked, hurting our selves or others?

To work with Mars, the inner warrior in you, it helps to understand what anger is. What is anger? Energetically, when you look underneath the hood of anger you will always find fear. Fear that I’m not being valued, respected, important, cherished, and ultimately fear that I don’t exist at all. The existential cry of anger is: “I am no one. I don’t matter to you or anyone.” Know this and it’s easy to see how that perception incurs a great terror capable of great violence and harm.

So one of the great secrets of working with anger is to go underneath it. Admit that you are terrified that you really don’t exist, and you don’t matter at all. But that’s hard to do because anger disguises that terror (because its so afraid) by justifying a drama. Like a puffer fish, anger thinks, if I take up more space and oxygen and get really in your face, if I generate this feeling of strength and power, I won’t have to feel my deep vulnerability and fear. Hence, the puffer fish approach.

Attempting to protect our selves with big energy may work in the wild animal kingdom, preventing other animals from eating us, but in our human reality there are only a few occasions that actually call for that level of ferocity. Mostly, fear and intimidation causes harm, pain and suffering. After all, anger never inoculates us against our true fear of vulnerability, it just prolongs the fear we are protecting our self from honestly seeing, saving it for a later date. It distorts something so basic and natural to human life, our vulnerability, into something so big and scary that it takes on a life of its own.

Vulnerability is the sweet spot of anger. Vulnerability is your true strength… because it’s the truth, and the truth always has strength and freedom in it. The truth is that we are vulnerable, and none of us are protected from the pain of abandonment, rejection and betrayal. These are realities the Ego has experienced many times and denying that is believing a lie. The honest solution is feeling our fear and pain.

Truly, with Mars, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”.

Mars actually has a very simple job- to say “ouch” when someone steps on our toe, to stand up for our self when we need to, to truthfully and appropriately assert our self, to generate energy for emergencies, and be the courageous hero and leader when that’s called for. Simple right? Not so. Conditioning and personality limitations distort Mars’ function (we can see that via Mars and aspects in the birth chart), making integrating our personal Mars more difficult, and necessary. I have quite a few Mars aspects in my chart, so I’ve worked at this for a long while. Here are my strategies, a method for your mad-ness, if you will.

How to work with anger:

1. Admit you’re angry, and know its totally okay to have it (don’t reject or deny it- it will become more explosive and painful!). Own that you’re feeling hurt, angry, resistant, pissed… and, if you can go there, maybe even a little afraid?

2. Make a safe space to feel your feelings fully, alone. You may scream in your parked car, throw an axe against a piece of wood, hammer nails, scream into pillows, punch pillows, write letters you never send, yell curse words at a personified empty chair. All of these work to discharge anger. You don’t want to let it build up because this literally harms your body and health, so these practices, as silly as they may sound, are actually forms of deep self-care that protect you from harm- which is the function of Mars. Note: When you allow yourself to fully express it, anger often shifts into sadness and fear. Don’t be afraid of that fear when it happens! It’s a sign you’re making progress.

3. Have a hard time feeling your anger? Throw gas on the fire. Peace-loving souls have a hard time being mean, nasty or angry. This build-up of anger can lead to toxic resentment that erodes confidence, happiness, promotes victim-hood mentality and can even cause physical pain. If you find it difficult to experience anger but you can feel it there like an ugly, dark thing silently seething in the corner, feed your anger, bait it with negativity, curse words, encourage your self to feel justified in being a “diva,” or whatever. For some people, it is totally appropriate to pour gas on a fire — to fully feel what we’ve been avoiding feeling because we judge anger as too ugly, dark, scary, wrong. For others, it is not (see no. 4).

4. If you are reactive, if you regularly say or do things in a fit of anger that you regret later, you need to ask this. What am I about? What are my values? Who am I? Do I even like the person I’ve become? Which leads to…

5. What are you fighting for, anyhow? Remember that 80’s REO Speedwagon song that goes “I can’t fight this feeling anymore. I’ve forgotten what I’ve started fighting for”? During any battle or fight, especially a prolonged or repetitive one, it’s very easy to forget what you started fighting for in the first place. Any battle or war, even if once initiated from a strong sense of principle and injustice, easily devolves into blind brutality. It’s important to be honest about how easy it is for your inner warrior to get pulled into a rage so blind that you no longer recognize your self, and thus do real, lasting damage.

6. Go underneath the anger. When you’ve exhausted your self, sit in a space of vulnerability and tenderness for your self (note: this is impossible to do if you’re still angry, so do #2). From that space, ask your self what your real and true need is in this situation. Then deeply listen. You may be surprised when what you truly need isn’t what you originally thought. Self-honesty is crucial at this stage. Anger may be trying to get us in touch with something we want, but don’t think we can have. Anger can do a smoke and mirrors dance, distracting us from something we don’t want to face. Sometimes, if you’ve been shamed for expressing anger, it simply needs to be felt, accepted, not judged.

7. On the other side of anger: your inner badass! Society tells us there is strength in violence and anger, and vulnerability is weakness. Cue: every action hero movie you’ve ever watched. From a spiritual perspective this is 100% opposite of true. Angry behavior does not make you strong; being willing to feel it fully, without blame or judgment, does. When you allow all your hot feelings to exist without judgment or shaming, you discover true inner strength is the flexibility to compassionately allow whatever comes up. A ninja warrior is adaptable, permeable to others, and a master of self-honesty.

Because anger masks fear, it is much harder to work with anger than fear, in my experience, so give your self time and space to honor what needs to come up. If you’re in a process of releasing anger, it can take hours, days, even weeks. If that sounds like way too long, here’s a secret:I am angry” is a complete sentence. The mind wants to say “I am angry because…” but that doesn’t transform anger. Allow your self to experience the pure energy of anger, you’ll return to peace more quickly

This is honorable and necessary inner work. Your balls, your power, your lady strength, your true badassery -in other words, your most courageous Mars- relies on you allowing your self to fully feel your hurt, betrayal, fear, nastiness and pain in a safe way. Everyone wants to embody the best of Mars, to be the valiant warrior hero they’re capable of being, and to do that, we’ve got to be willing to work with our anger.

Comments

  1. I just want to express a note of caution for readers not to assume that expressing anger relieves anger. According to psychological studies, expressing anger increases anger, and the notion of catharsis through expression is incorrect. I do not think you intended to make that connection as you stress being in a safe place and that the end goal is to “feel” the anger in such a manner as to be enlightened by it through a mindful awareness of it. Just want to be sure folks don’t misunderstand since the mistaken (and damaging) notion of catharsis has been around a long time.

  2. You are right, Jackie. That is a BIG misperception, and its one that I grew up with and caused trauma in our household, that “I have anger, and I have a right to express my anger (to you).” Bottom line: Releasing anger on others is harmful. The goal is to fully feel anger as an energy, without judgment, shame or blame. Catharsis/expression can be done on one’s own, and in my experience does transform the energy, because it leads to breaking up the energy which then allows self-witnessing.

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