Mars Conjunct Chiron & ‘Toxic Masculinity’

Matt Brewster. Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Today, our nearby planetary neighbor Mars is aligned with Chiron, the holistic planet of healing. The Mars-Chiron conjunction happens about once every two years, so while it occurs regularly, it’s a meaningful aspect.

This time around, it’s happening in Aries. This is the third of three Mars-Chiron conjunctions while Chiron is in Aries (approximately 2018 through approximately 2025). Other factors are ramping up the significance of today’s meeting, including Chiron and Eris about to make their extremely rare conjunction in 2025.

Mars is typically associated with attributes of maleness, which are under extreme duress here in our polarized moment, infused with gender rage. But everyone has Mars in their chart and in their psyche. You get the choice whether to own it, or project it onto others.

Vincent Neglia. Photo by Eric Francis.

The Influence of Chiron

Chiron, for its part, is about matters of injury and moreover healing. But first it’s about the holistic principle — of treating ourselves as whole beings rather than the sum of our parts. Chiron is integrative; it’s about weaving integrity. It’s about learning and teaching. Strong Chiron placements also offer the quality of distinction.

Healing processes and methods are under the influence of Chiron, though they are situations of a specific kind: either healing seems to fail utterly (or is never sought), leaving a person compromised and susceptible to re-injury; or the healing process serves as an organizing principle for their growth, around which someone cultivates strength, talent and ability.

Chiron can represent an existential injury around which truly unusual gifts form, particularly that of healing. An example of Chiron at work might sound like this: A person is born with a medical dietary restriction of some kind. Focusing their attention on that problem leads them to become a chef and author who helps others address similar problems.

Some people get that far; at other times, Chiron can seem like a permanently installed problem where, left unaddressed, one thing after the next goes wrong.

Tom. Book of Blue / Toronto. Photo by Eric Francis.

The Purpose of Mars

Mars performs many roles in astrology, but for starters, it’s the planet associated with Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. As such, it represents initiative. Borrowing from Alice Bailey, Aries and Mars are the ignition keys to existence.

Aries also represents the idea of “I am,” and we get a good bit of that with Mars. Yet this is not “I am” in a passive sense; it’s an assertive quality, which is more often lived than talked about.

Mars represents drive. It wants to get what it wants. That can come as motivation, desire, competitiveness and aggression. With a strong Mars, someone knows what to do and sets about doing it. With a compromised Mars, there can be hesitation, lack of confidence and self-defeating actions.

To really understand Mars, one must consider the desire: the motivation to get what one wants. Even in our materialistic culture, there’s a lot of guilt that accumulates around this. There are unwritten rules governing desires, and all kinds of social norms that seem to set limits on how desire is expressed. Someone might be allowed to have 10 Gucci bags, but having two boyfriends creates a moral crisis.

Original photo by Maria Henzler, Germany, 1998.

As Contrasted with Venus

Venus is our other closest neighbor, and represents a contrasting aspect of desire. Rather than going out and getting what it wants, Venus is the principle of attraction. It’s associated with beauty, value, and being desirable. Venus is better being the thing sought than doing the seeking.

Venus is more likely to wait for what it wants than to make it happen. Both men and women have Venus in their chart, and it can express itself many different ways. Sometimes Venus bestows patience; other times it’s less so.

Because Venus is associated with femaleness and Mars with maleness, the attributes are mistakenly attributed to the biological sexes. However, we get the chance to integrate these elements into our psyche, or to project them onto others. Often, Venus is projected onto women and Mars is projected onto men.

However, contrary to the title of the once-bestselling book series, both men and women are from Earth. They are not as different as they are constantly made out to be. And this is used to stoke all kinds of contrasts and conflicts that do not need to exist.

Father Bill. Photo by Eric Francis.

The Current Situation With Aries

As I have suggested many times, most of the negative impacts of the digital environment are focusing on the expression of “I Am” energy from Aries. There is chaos and confusion here, resulting from the disembodying nature of all electrical media, but especially digital.

I will share again a quote I keep repeating, from my correspondence with media philosopher Eric McLuhan (son of Marshall):

“The body is everywhere assaulted by all of our new media, a state which has resulted in deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world. In the age of disembodied communication, the meaning and significance and experience of the body is utterly transformed and distorted.”

For those wondering about why life is so crazy and people seem so dissociated from themselves, this is why. Early in the days of the internet, it was possible to see the problems caused by avatars and aliases, which allow people to split themselves.

Yet what digital technology does is to split and divide at every juncture. And this is second only to the attempt to define, shape, scale and modify who we think we are.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Mars Conjunct Chiron

Mars-Chiron aspects represent a deep modification of the desire nature. Chiron always grants distinction, some outstanding difference. If nothing else, Mars will be emphasized in some way. Sometimes there will be an injury to one’s desire nature, which could manifest many different ways.

These can range from the sense of not deserving, to desire being blocked, to frustration or fear, or feeling frequently denied what one wants. Aspects manifest differently for everyone. Other planets in the pattern will help describe the particulars, though most of them will come from the client once the topic is focused.

The conjunction of Mars and Chiron represents the end and the beginning of the cycle of these two planets. In a natal chart, it describes what some call the Sacred Warrior energy. What is that? It’s difficult to describe, though Chögyam Trungpa describes it beautifully in his book The Sacred Path of the Warrior. I’ll provide a couple of quotes:

“You begin to understand that warriorship is a path or a thread that runs through your entire life. It is not just a technique that you apply when you are unhappy or depressed. Warriorship is a continual journey. To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life. That is the warrior’s discipline.”

“What the warrior renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others.”

“The way of cowardice is to embed ourselves in a cocoon, in which we perpetuate our habitual patterns. When we are constantly recreating our basic patterns of habits and thought, we never have to leap into fresh air or onto fresh ground.”

Photo by Eric Francis.

The Question of ‘Toxic Masculinity’

With Mars conjunct Chiron as I write, it’s time to ponder the idea of “toxic masculinity.” The term is thrown around casually, as if we all know what it is, and it’s the only kind of masculinity there is. It’s the contemporary equivalent of the 70s slogan “male chauvinist pig.” It made it into high pop culture in a series of ads by Gillette, one of which describes it as a line of men standing behind barbecues saying “boys will be boys.”

To my sensibilities, this is both spreading and capitalizing on prejudice and hatred against men and boys generally. It’s an actual stereotype. And some nerve from a company which has made billions off of the needs of men for its whole existence.

Under the theory of toxic masculinity, a man does not look at a woman; rather, he is guilty of the “male gaze” (which is actually a gung-ho theory of cinema about visual pleasure and the depiction of women’s bodies).

Carol Harrington wrote in The Journal of Men and Masculinities that the term “toxic masculinity emerged within the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 1980s, coined by Shepherd Bliss. Bliss confirmed to me in a 2019 email that he coined the term to characterize his father’s militarized, authoritarian masculinity.”

(What Bliss meant was, “My abusive father,” but the term is stated in a generalized rather than specific way.)

Photo by Eric Francis.

Men Hugging Trees

What Harrington calls the mythopoetic movement was largely started by the American poet Robert Bly with his outstanding book Iron John: A Book About Men. This movement has been brutally ridiculed (mostly by feminists) as men hugging trees (allegedly faggy, sissy behavior), so it would seem like there is no way to win. The dualism is “toxic male” versus “not manly enough.”

Iron John is essential reading for boys and men and anyone who wishes to understand them. It goes through essential stages of male self-development, and the nature of the “wild man” within all boys. Both the Iron John myth and the book are both interesting and helpful.

Harrington writes, “Since 2013, feminists began attributing misogyny, homophobia, and men’s violence to toxic masculinity. Around the same time, feminism enjoyed renewed popularization. While some feminist scholars use the concept, it is often left under-defined.”

I would agree: it’s void for vagueness. Harrington concludes, “Accusations of toxic masculinity often work to maintain gender hierarchies and individualize responsibility for gender inequalities to certain bad men.”

She’s being kind here. It’s really about claiming that all masculinity is inherently toxic, and that the current prejudice against men is justified by it. This morphs quickly into “all men are bad.”

If someone says “everything women do is disgusting,” that’s misogynist. If someone says “everything men do is disgusting,” that’s just trendy.

Photo by Eric Francis.

The Opportunity for Healing

Humans at this time face deep questions around sexual identity, sex, sexuality, and injuries to both our masculine and feminine qualities. Part of this is the chaos being generated by digital over-immersion, and nonstop exposure to hormone-disrupting toxins, rendering the realm of sexual consciousness a mess.

Mars and Aries come first in the zodiac, meaning that they are essential to initiating anything. On this level, Mars has nothing to do with men or males, but rather the ability of any person to acknowledge their desires; to have some courage; and to get the job started.

Mars is the ability to assert oneself as a distinct individual with your own distinct will. Mars is about what you want and are willing to make, create or initiate.

The first thing to question here are the social influences that dictate what allegedly is and is not allowed as a desire. While our whole society is motivated by acquisition and greed (though all individuals are not), there are certain kinds of desire that are being deemed illegal.

Unfortunately, they are the same ones that assure the continuation of our species. There seems to be an idea going around that women are except from desire, and anything that happens is therefore caused by men. Everyone knows this is not true.

Without desire, drive and motivation, nothing happens. And since those who perpetuate injustice are brimming with Mars, we here on the ground might want to claim a little for ourselves.

With love,

Eric signature

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