The war in Ukraine has brought the words bravery and courage to the fore. We mostly think of these concepts in terms of coping with physical danger. Bungee jumping, protesting when it is dangerous to do so, rescuing people or animals from a burning building, or, as is the case with our ‘man of the moment’, Zelensky, staying in war-torn Ukraine and leading the battle. Being a ‘hero’.
But what is bravery?
There are some strange definitions of bravery on the web: showy dress, splendour, magnificence, and courage (which isn’t strange but doesn’t help much as I want to define that next!) There are also the more familiar definitions such as boldness, fearlessness, heroism, nerve, balls, guts etc. Doing something without fear or perhaps without thinking first. Aries rules the head, so headlong or head first are very Mars words, a planet I associate with bravery.
What is courage?
Courage is bravery of course! However the origin of the word suggests that a courageous act comes from the heart. In the links below there is an interesting post on the difference between these two words. Courage suggests doing something despite the fear. Bravery is fearless.
Astrologically these qualities make me think of the fire planets and their associated signs, Mars and Aries, Leo and the Sun. Of course we need to look at a horoscope as a whole, but sometimes going back to basic astrology and focusing deeply on one planet and one sign can offer valuable insight.
Mars and bravery
Even if other parts of a horoscope dominate, everyone has Mars somewhere. Very often ‘our Mars’ is visible to others. It describes how we go about getting what we want, how we stick up for ourselves and how we fight. And, I think, how we dare to be brave.
Although the Sun could perhaps describe where we are courageous, where we follow our hearts, I want to discuss Mars here. It is the Aries post after all! Astrology suggests that, unlike our normal definitions of bravery, which are often fiery, there are other types. Maybe this will make you feel better if you are not feeling particularly brave in this dangerous world of heroes. So I give a few examples below to help you contemplate your own style of gutsiness.
When you have Mars in one of the earth signs, Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn, it suggests a more practical sort of bravery. In Taurus, being brave might mean standing your ground. In Virgo, it may mean being brave to serve and in Capricorn, standing against authority.
Femke Halsema has Mars in Taurus. Our mayor of Amsterdam was nominated for the World Mayor Prize for 2021. Reasons for nominations included: She stands her ground and is not afraid to stand for the city and force the government to make decisions or take responsibility. She wants a greener world and more economic equality between people. She showed a great deal of common sense and did not allow the media to provoke her. These are all very Taurean! As a woman in power she has had to deal with a lot of criticism, so not backing down takes guts.
John F. Kennedy also had Mars in Taurus. A quote online: “JFK stood his ground when Cuba threatened to fire missiles at the United States.”A different example is shown by the fact that he was known to have physical pain from a back injury and he also suffered from Addison’s disease. He bravely suffered and carried on – managing to hide his medical issues from most people.
In her long life, First Lady Betty Ford suffered from alcohol addiction and breast cancer. She bravely spoke out on both these issues as a service (Virgo) to others. A quote from her: “That’s what we’re here on this Earth for, to help others.” She is known for setting up the Betty Ford Drug Rehab Center. Another quote online about her: “Mrs. Ford was a courageous pioneer, a groundbreaking First Lady, and a forceful advocate for anyone suffering from addiction or breast cancer.” Among other areas, Virgo rules health.
Rosa Parks is an excellent example of Mars in Capricorn. She stood against authority and rules (Capricorn) to champion rights for black people, when she refused to give up her seat in a bus to a white person. She was later arrested, however her refusal to move triggered many improvements for fairer laws (Capricorn).
Mars in air signs shows a pioneering, mental bravery. Mars in Gemini, Libra or Aquarius might mean you are brave in your ideas and are not afraid to fight for them in discussion.
Erica Jong writes a lot about fear and courage and is known in particular for her 1973 novel Fear of Flying. The book became famously controversial for its attitudes towards female sexuality. A typical, and perhaps brave, way of writing (Gemini): “Beware of the man who denounces woman writers; his penis is tiny and he cannot spell.” This is typical Gemini wit. I listened to an interview with her recently and she said she was ‘pilloried’ at the time because of this book. Her ‘brave’ idea was that women were supposed to enjoy sex!
A more recent example of someone with a Gemini Mars is Ed Sheeran, who was taken to court for plagiarism in one of his songs, ‘The shape of you’. He has been called a magpie who often plagiarises others’ work. He stated “…there is a growing “culture” to file “baseless” copyright claims with the idea that it is cheaper for a songwriter to settle than fight a claim.” But this time he decided to fight and stand up for his ideas. And he won.
Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan, after writing a blog and discussing education for girls, won the Nobel Peace (Libra) prize in 2014. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described her as “a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global leader.” I wrote a post on her in 2013, when she didn’t win this prize. I maintained that – yes – she is brave. But in her case, I felt she was fighting for the idea of equality (also Libra) rather than peace.
Julian Assange, of Wikileaks fame, and now in prison awaiting extradition to the US, is a great example of someone who has been extremely brave, because he wants to expose the truth. That’s one way Mars in Aquarius can work. I mentioned him in my 2019 ‘Honorable fight’ post.
Another different example shows how an Aquarius Mars can align with brave ideas. Elon Musk has ideas that are future oriented – another Aquarius theme. A quote from INC. sums him up well.
“Throughout history we tend to remember bold thinkers. Try changing the world while being un-bold. Elon Musk revels in thinking big, from inventing the most exciting car company of the 21st century (Tesla) to making space travel a reality (SpaceX). At the last count, Musk has disrupted at least five different industries (Payments, Cars, Space, Transport and Batteries).
Water is the element of emotions, so Mars in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces can show emotional bravery.
Dolly Parton has a reputation for many things Cancerian – not least her very noticeable breasts (Cancer). Mars also rules surgery! There is a certain amount of bravery in carrying off this look as many have commented about her figure, both positively and negatively.
However, she is also known for taking a risk setting up Dollywood, a popular theme park aimed at families (Cancer) having fun together. Although she has no children herself, her Dollywood Foundation supports literacy for children (Cancer). Her Imagination Library serves almost 850,000 children each month across the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland, by mailing one book a month to pre-kindergarten age children.
Dean Radin is among other things, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). He is also the author of four popular books and many scientific papers. He is a scientist who studies exceptional experiences and abilities commonly called psychic. And this is where his bravery lies. His research (Scorpio) has been a taboo (Scorpio) subject in the scientific field for years, and still is in some circles. He is trying to transform (Scorpio) the materialist views still very dominant in the scientific arena, and of course this attracts a lot of criticism. I imagine being emotionally strong is helpful to him.
A quote from his site: “But science, like any social enterprise, has strictly enforced rules of what is acceptable to talk about openly. Thus, despite the aspirations of academic freedom, the reality is that it is still risky for anyone engaged in an academic or scientific career to admit their interest in controversial topics (in any domain, not just psi).”
There are two very different examples here who, I think, are linked by their intrepid searches for inner life. They both dare to go deeper into spirituality. One is Alain de Botton, a well-known philosopher, author and engaging speaker. He is an advocate for showing vulnerabilty, something which is not always easy. A very Piscean quote from him: “Art galleries should be apothecaries for our deeper selves.”
The other is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, theologian, philosopher and teacher, who died in 1955. He was also a scientist who tried to challenge church doctrine and merge it with science, which resulted in some of his books being banned. A quote by Brian Swimme, an evolutionary cosmologist: “Teilhard was one of the first scientists to realize that the human and the universe are inseparable.” At the time of his writing, this was a very challenging ‘Piscean’ concept.
And of course fiery bravery
Mars in the fire sign of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius highlight the type of bravery that we are used to. The daring, instinctive action we expect from many of our heroines and heroes.
Harvey Milk, is probably well known from the 2008 film ‘Milk’, starring Sean Penn. Milk was one of the first openly gay officials in the US in 1977, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was a gay rights activist (Aries) and became a strong leader (also Aries). Sadly his gallant actions led to his murder in 1978.
Dame Zaha Hadid, a world famous British-Iraqi architect who died in 2016, received many prestigious awards for her designs. Moshe Safdie, another well-known architect said: “Zaha Hadid was, as her name signifies, made of steel. She had a radical vision and a particular sensibility about the world and she fought for its realization with courage against all odds. ”
Sagittarius shows her bold vision and in a male-dominated industry, her views on design and space (another Saggi concept) were not always easy to manifest. But she envisaged and designed some truly spectacular buildings.
Mars in Leo people act spontaneously from the heart when help is required.
Joanna Lumley is a good example of one aspect of Mars in Leo, particularly in her role as Patsy in the TV series ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. She dares to sometimes look ridiculous, over-the-top, dishevelled and drunk to entertain (Leo). Enjoying and braving the spotlight is a Mars in Leo attribute, although Lumley has said that she never reads the sometimes negative reviews that come with it.
Apart from her modelling and acting careers, she is known for producing and presenting travel documentaries and is a human rights activist, using her fame (Leo) especially for the Gurkhas. She also supports animal welfare.
And of course … last but by no means least … another Mars in Leo, who is definitely in the world spotlight.
As man of the moment, Zelensky deserves more than a sentence or two. And not only because he has Mars in Leo!
Like Joanna Lumley, Volodymyr Zelensky has a background as an actor and comedian. But as many have suggested ‘cometh the hour cometh the man’, Zelensky has stepped up to world leader status, and is putting his Mars in Leo to best use! At zero degrees of Leo it has particularly strong Leo characteristics.
Fiery Mars seems to produce leaders. In a post I wrote way back in 2006, called Authentic leadership, I suggested then that Aries is the battle fighter – the activist, Sagittarius is the strategist leader – the visionary, and Leo encourages and acts like a father figure. A Leo Mars enjoys the spotlight and rules as a king might.
Fighting for truth, freedom, fairness and peace
Zelensky’s Mars shows how he is a brave leader. His Sun, however, shows his calling. He is an Aquarian with Mars opposite the Sun, so in this case Mars is also part of his calling. He’s a fighter. His heart (Sun) will want equality and truth. And especially freedom. This is also his mission in life. He will probably be convinced he is right about his own view on this war.
Venus is right next to the Sun, so he is also called to negotiate and create peace and harmony. To find balance and create a fair world. With the Sun picking up Jupiter he is a positively oriented, talented strategist and we see this on the global stage in the way he is encouraging his troops and other leaders to support him. He believes in himself.
At home in the spotlight
The Moon was also in Leo when Zelensky was born, meaning he needs attention and probably revels in the spotlight. As the Moon also contacts Pluto and Neptune, he likes taking control and is probably good at reading a situation, although Neptune is sometimes too idealistic. I think other aspects of his chart compensate for this though. His Moon contacting Uranus would suggest he has a restless quality, which also gives him the ability to react quickly and unexpectedly to situations, which in a war can be advantageous.
But it’s his Gemini image and his ability to communicate that is very evident on the world stage. He is a gifted story teller and is someone who uses all media to full advantage. He has developed a network and is using all his contacts at high levels to appear on Zoom calls around the globe. With Mercury in Capricorn picking up Uranus and Pluto, he is straight-talking, determined, clever and also very persuasive!
Faith in democracy
Jupiter in a horoscope shows where we have faith, what we believe in. Zelensky not only has faith in the power of dialogue (Gemini) but he also believes in responsibility (Saturn) and the democratic principle (Ceres). The goddess of the underdog, Ceres, is right with him at present ( on his ascendant), so the world is with him in his role as protector of the disenfranchised. A David and Goliath struggle. I hope he can come out of this in a fit state to carry on with his democratic mission. The cosmos is still testing him for a while but the conjunction I wrote about last time in my ‘All at sea’ post is also on his side, showing compassion for the many displaced people of his country.
How are we brave?
This month I have been asking a few people I know well how they think they are brave. They were fascinating discussions. I also asked them how they thought I was brave. This was definitely food for thought and enlightening. I urge you to pose these questions to people you know. I found they elicited very encouraging debate!
And so to you
I hope this is food for thought for you too and shows that you too have the potential to be brave and show courage. The world needs all kinds of bravery. Especially at the moment. The way you can be daring, pioneering and brave must be in a way that is authentic to you and may not be the same as any of the above examples. But it will be in you somewhere. The challenge is to find it!
Websites of the month
The post on bravery vs. courage
A slightly different topic but interesting in times of war. Rupert Sheldrake on Easter, Passover and the Archetype of Blood Sacrifice
And just because I like the song
Quote of the month
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
PS. If you don’t know which sign your Mars is in, send me a message with your birth date and place, or try astro.com’s free horoscopes.
I read somewhere (can’t remember where), that you cannot really be Brave without being vulnerable. That feels like a Truth to me.
I’ve also read that Courage is being willing to move through fear or despite feeling fear, rather than to be without fear.
These are interesting subjects. In this 3-D world where fear is used both to teach people and to manipulate people, it’s good to know that there are many forms of bravery and of courage.
Thanks Nedda – yes staying with what we believe is brave enough these days!
The author I couldn’t remember when I wrote my comment is Brené Brown, and the book is “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Are you familiar with her?
I first heard Brené Brown give an interview on a radio show called “On Being” which I can listen to Sunday mornings where I live. If you’re interested, they have a website called onbeing.org and they archive the interviews there.
On page 12-13 of her book, Brené Brown talks about courage as originally defined, “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Then she says a few sentences later, “Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.”
I’m in a spiritual practice group from Siddha Yoga, and when I share from my heart, people tell me how courageous I’m being, but I don’t feel courageous. I feel like I’m just speaking the truth of who I am. Perhaps I no longer allow the judgments of others to affect me, at least in some areas of my life.
If Ares nature doesn’t include vulnerability, then what modulates the influence of Mars? Or is this a naive question?
If we create our reality and the outer world reflects our inner world, then until we find peace inside, humanity will continue to fight wars. Is it possible for us to find inner peace and to end all war, astrologically speaking, when Mars/Ares remains in the sky influencing us?
Hi Nedda – Thanks and yes I am a big fan of Brené Brown especially on the subject of vulnerability. I think all people can show vulnerability. Mars Aries types included. They get hurt and wounded as much as anyone. They are in the moment, so they can move on quickly. I agree about peace inside. Mars like any planet has levels of consciousness. A good Mars is a strong warrior and he was a dancer so knows how to move. He defends and leads the battle – sometimes we need to defend boundaries but that doesn’t necessarily mean war. Sometimes a good Mars just says no. Venus is the peace goddess, and we need Mars and Venus to be in balance. Mars can encourage Venus and she can disarm him.If we have too much Venus we miss the pioneering initiatives that Mars is capable of. It is a question of self-awareness as to how useful all the planets can be for us.