Pursuing Happiness: Life Energy and Mars
The core of vitality in human beings seems to come from their personal sense of purpose or meaning in life. There has to be a feeling of a challenge to overcome, a goal to achieve or a reason for existence, in order for us to feel that its worth getting up in the morning. For many people this comes from a personal faith that there is a good reason for existence and that faith is sufficient. Other people have come into this life with a clear sense of "mission", and will quickly find ways to move in that direction throughout their lives.
There can be a variety of motivations that people use to get through their days. One person has the challenge of achieving a certain standard of living for himself and his family. Someone else may need to prove that she is capable of independent thought. Another may know that this life is simply a prelude to something better or that one may consider that they need to squeeze all the good they can out of this life because that's all there is. These are all impelling motivations. They have the power to keep us moving, or motivated, in motion.
A simplified explanation of the symbolism of Mars in the horoscope is that it describes our needs and desires. As you can see, needs and desires motivate us to seek their satisfaction. The "pursuit of happiness" is the action of Mars. We can get quite assertive about going after what we want in life, in fact, we may get into competition for it or be willing to fight for it. This, of course, is Mars.
In our culture testosterone-based instincts are not currently very fashionable. We are attempting to evolve socially, with political correctness, scientific logic and hygienic contacts. The basic Mars approach of roll in the mud, whack your prey over the head and bully others into submission are qualities that few of us will admit to. The instinct isn't wrong though, and the continued repression of it could account for the numbers of slowly dying, purposeless individuals we see walking around.
Although we may refine the means, the instincts are perfectly valid. They work in line with every other factor in the horoscope to show us a well-rounded human being. These instincts tell us that it is acceptable to want and then to go after that want. We now employ our analytical faculties to a greater degree than the cavemen did, reasoning out strategies and coming up with contingency plans in case of difficulties.
When the martian instinct has become too thoroughly denied or repressed, we have a person who can no longer see a reason to live. Whatever their desire may have been, it has been invalidated or taken away and the individual has given up. Either a new purpose for living must be found or the old one taken back. This is life. One can rehabilitate their old life purpose and seem to lose 10 years from their appearance. The feeling of energy and vitality returns along with a sense of joy.
When the astrologer is dealing with a person who is subject to depression, Mars is an excellent place to begin. There may be transits which are affecting it, or there may be childhood conditioning techniques which must be re-evaluated in the light of adulthood.
A healthy human being doesn't have to be aggressive or violent. It is important though, that they have respect for their own needs and purposes. This is a form of "healthy selfishness" that Mars represents. It is less concerned about the opinion of others than the fact that it has the right to exist. When integrated with the rest of the chart, this is sanity.