Originally published in Peacock Goat Review Vol. 1 No. 5
The energies of Mars are peculiar. On the surface they seem violent, aggressive and warlike, but beneath all that externalized vitriol is a core of control. An unfocused burst of energy rarely does any lasting damage but a directed strike carried out with pinpoint accuracy can be devastating with little effort.
On November 6th of last year, I performed a Mars initiation. Leading into the initiation I had a series of synchronicities surrounding Gevurah and the sphere of Mars. I became obsessed with the formula V.V.V.V.V. and everything it symbolized. I had a dream where I was pulled over by the police for some kind of headlight issue and then the next day I had a headlight issue while driving into work, which thanks to the dream I noticed before any police saw it. I also had a dream about being attacked by a Lynx. I also looked more deeply into my natal chart and realized my natal moon is in Scorpio, a sign heavily associated with the ancient Mesopotamian god Nergal. I also picked up a pair of pentacle earrings with little witch hat, athame and broom charms that hang from them.
I performed the initiation largely in my usual style; I took the rites proscribed in Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres and added my layer of Sumerian flavour. I crafted a Layman centered around the Sumerian god of the planetary sphere of Mars, Nergal, and covered in Cuneiform. I invoked Nergal with a hymn in my best attempt at Sumerian while the soundtrack from the recent Doom remake blared in the background. (I’ve posted a set of instructions to perform the one I performed on my website for those interested. http://gnostictempleofinanna.org/nergal-initiation/)
Usually when I perform planetary initiations I don’t ask for anything specific, preferring to let the spirits give me whatever lesson they see fit, but this time was different. This time I asked for something specific; discipline. It was a very energizing experience and one which ended with Nergal appearing in my scrying surface (an obsidian crystal ball) which I drew afterward.
When I first told Aaron I was planning on performing a martial initiation I remember it was in the context of a conversation about my Scorpio Moon and he told me “This may be pretty intense for you.” Nergal is the ancient Mesopotamian god war, plague, death, and disease. He is also lord of the underworld second only to the goddess Ereshkigal, his consort. When I made this request, I expected this would play out in taking some kind of martial art course or having to face off with some kind of violent, destructive force. However, what came was more or less the opposite.
On the first day immediately following the initiation, I had my most productive day in months. I got so much done that I had been putting off doing. I felt compelled to accomplish everything I had been avoiding like I was being driven to the beat of a war drum. It was intense but not in the way I was expecting. It was like all the motivation that had been drained from me had been returned tenfold. Exactly five days after the initiation while driving home from work, I started smelling tobacco and at the same time a car started tailgating me with the right headlight missing. I started swearing at them and reciting a banishing ritual to get them to go away, then something hit me like a ton of bricks; this is the energies of Mars manifesting in my life and I was the one who summoned them; to struggle against them is stupid. I felt the need to apologise to Nergal for trying to banish him. Almost immediately afterward, the smell vanished and the car went around me and on its way.
Shortly after I became obsessed with Taoist magic and the I Ching. I felt driven to try to syncretize it with western modes of magick. It never really fit the way I was hoping it would but the experience led me to better understanding the elements in western modes of magic and especially geomancy which led to my article from the second issue of Peacock Goat Review entitled “Interrogating Geomancy”. Leading from this I picked up a copy of the Zohar and was immediately drawn to the section that covered the elemental correspondences behind the Binding of Isaac; water versus fire.
So how did all these components come together? A synthesis of elements. I slowly learned that these elements weren’t only external but internal and that most of my externalized struggles were but reflections of the internal struggle I was facing within. My childhood expectations of how I should be raised seemed to come from an innate sense of the practices of historical Celtic Druidry but my lived life experience of the western protestantism my parents practiced flew in the face of that. My childhood self was anticipating the arrival of some Merlin, some Gandalf, some wise old Druid that would take me under his wing and show me the ancient forgotten tome of wisdom teaching me the secrets behind everything Christianity had taught me. I was expecting the equivalent of the reveal that Santa Claus isn’t real but I never got it and this continued disappointment turned into bitterness and then anger and resentment. Worse, add to the mix the discrimination I faced for being queer and things came to a disgusting boil.
Then the point was driven home in a form I wasn’t ready to handle and my need to finally face my internal battle was brought to bear; my paternal grandfather died. This is something I expounded upon in greater detail in my article in the previous edition of the Peacock Goat Review entitled “Don’t You Forget About Your Friend Death” so I won’t retread that ground here.
This working through my internal struggle came to a head when I purchased a copy of Thích Nhất Hạnh’s How to Live collection of books. His book on How to Fight stood out to me and I was drawn to it. It features a pair of boxing gloves on the cover and a red spine; it practically screamed Martial energy. I was expecting a book on activism, but despite the cover the book actually centers around finding the seeds of anger within and caring for them so that they turn into seeds of peace. There was one particular passage that hit me like a ton of bricks
“Your anger is the wounded child in you.”
When I read that, it was like the secrets of my lifelong struggle with my upbringing was revealed to me and I finally figured out how to loosen my grip and let go of all the hurt I had been holding onto. It broke me and I cried for over an hour. It was the most cathartic cry I think I have ever experienced and it felt wonderful. It was like I had been holding onto the end of a dagger of ice since I was a child and when I finally let go it melted in my hands taking all the pain away with a cool stream of water.
Since then I’ve been slowly sorting through all the pieces of myself and my ideas through a new lense. I’ve slowly come to realize that all the problems I had with Christianity had less to do with its teachings and more to do with the arrogance with which I was beat over the head with them as a child. At the core of their motivation was a number of mistranslations and misunderstandings of the source text. They didn’t harm me out of malice, they harmed me out of ignorance. Why should I hold onto that wound and allow it to continuously cause me pain when everything that caused it hasn’t been a part of my life in decades? Why should I allow the past to keep me from being able to have a relationship with my living relatives now?
Beyond that, I’ve finally let go of my struggles to find my identity. I no longer feel the need to cloak myself in a guise of beliefs imposed by this or that system in rebellion of the one I was raised in. I’m no longer fighting that system. It’s a part of who I am but it doesn’t define me. Everything is but a piece of the puzzle and if the pieces are busy fighting each other the picture will never be built. I am simply a witch; I don’t need to further define that to shove labels on it or rearrange things to fit some paradigm. The world itself is a paradigm. Nature is a paradigm. My own personality is a paradigm. It is enough on its own. It’s okay to simply be. I already have all of the conditions I need to be happy. I no longer feel the need to shove who I am into other people’s faces or wear it like a cloak to show the world who I am. I know who I am. I know what I’m doing and why. I no longer have to pretend not to care what they think as a defense mechanism, I simply have grown disinterested in it. I know my path and I’m going to walk it because it is compelling to me. I don’t need to define it in opposition to another one, their path may well coincide with mine and that’s fine too. I go this way because it’s the way I want to go. I have given up my scorpionic need for defiance and attack; my scorpion has transformed into an eagle.
Yesterday I finally took the final step in my healing process; I sent my dad an olive branch in the form of a translation of the New Testament which as been translated to be as close to the original text as possible. On the one hand it’s a symbol of my having finally let the pain and anger of my past go; I’ve stopped hating the Christianity I was raised on. On another hand it’s an effort of giving my dad a gift I think he will actually appreciate and use. Finally though, it’s an attempt at trying to rebuild the bridges that were burned in the past and attempt at rekindling the close relationship we had when I was young by giving us something to connect over.
I expect it to be delivered tomorrow. Tonight I intend on performing a Uranus initiation. To me, Uranus represents the wizard-mentor archetype I so desperately sought as a child and it feels like the next step in this journey. Time will tell where this leads but for now I am happy with where I am; no longer simply content with resignation. I can breathe knowing that I am alive.