Devotion and individuation may sound like opposites. However, Mars’s entry into Cancer combines these processes. Devotion is defined as profound dedication. An earnest attachment to a cause or person, etc. It is an assignment to a purpose or an ecclesiastical, religious observance; a form of prayer. Jung’s definition of individuation is as follows, “Individuation means the embrace of our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it implies becoming one’s own self.” The former is associated with exterior relationship while the latter is an internal revelation.
Mars is a planet of action, courage and individuation. Where Mars is located in the natal chart and is by transit, we are challenged to know and understand ourselves. Mars classically is the god of war, forceful, powerful and like war, violent at times. Courage is required in becoming your own person as we have to identify self and not-self. This process begins in the family of origin.
Cancer is a constellation associated with mother, family, love and devotion, Cancer, like the ideal family, is the place of security and nurturing. In healthy family systems, we develop relationship skills, social values and positive self-esteem. Ideally, healthy family systems nurture a secure ground for children to grow, develop and eventually create their own family systems (Jupiter is exalted in Cancer as the purveyor of abundance and growth). Healthy families nurture a loving and devotional character among it’s members. Unfortunately, in unhealthy family systems the opposite is true. Devotion is replaced with enmeshment and a lack of personal boundaries. Self-esteem is difficult as a development process when there is no clear personality seperate from family members and the mother in particular.
It takes the power, force and courage of Mars to shear away the enmeshed, false self developed in a dysfunctional family. This shearing away can feel violent and at times, is a physical experience of violence. Battered women know this well as they separate from a violent partner to become their own person. Painful as it is, and Mars is associated with pain and accidents, it is part of a necessary process.
Mars is debilitated in Cancer meaning this is not his ‘happy place’. Promoting war and battle within family systems is not his paradigm. However, there is an archetypal, spiritual model for Mars in Cancer and it comes from the Bhagavadgita. Bhagavadgita means, ‘Song of God’ and is a story of Arjuna, a prince and spiritual warrior. The Divine God in the form of Krishna guides and consults Arjuna on many topics but first and foremost, in war. This war is the process of separation-individuation from his family. To be continued….