God Symbols for Mars
Before I get into the nitty gritty about the god symbols owned by Mars, let's go over some groundwork about this deity.
Overwhelmingly, Mars is a mega-father god. He is purported to be the father of Romulus and Remus who were said to be the founders of Rome. A very big deal.
Mars was initially an agricultural god to the ancient Romans. He originally governed the fertility, sanctity and nourishment of vegetation. Essentially, Mars was the divine guardian of the land. The month of March is named after Mars and (barring odd weather patterns) this is the time spring begins to start her engines. This connection between Mars, the land and inchoate springtime, renders symbolism of: New growth, burgeoning life, renewal and big-time surge of energy.
As Rome expanded territories and became more militaristic, Mars morphed into a war-like deity. This shift in roles isn't a far stretch of the imagination. Springtime, with all her unpredictability, wild growth and intoxicating promise can be a very aggressive time. For all Nature's soft sides, She can be a battleaxe too. I think that's a neat dovetail with Mars transitioning from a Springtime agricultural god, to a god of war. Also, ancient wars were put on moratorium during inclement weather. Battle usually commenced around March, in the Spring. This could be another reason for Mars' evolution from nature god to war god.
As mentioned, Mars' month is March. This is time to party-hearty in the name of the great patriarchal god. Here are a few of his festivals if you want to party down in honor of Mars.
Feriae Marti (Festival of March):
Starting off the month on the 1st, Feriae Marti is a good-vibe time that lasts till March 24th. This festival marks the start of Spring in the old Roman calendar. It honors both Mars, and his mom, Juno. General frivolity included priests of the Martian cult clattering about with swords and shields, drumming of drums, tooting of horns...you get the idea. Courts were closed, and some agricultural chores were suspended to honor the deities. Merry-making with seeds wasn't restricted though. Some accounts say Romans tossed seeds in the air during the festival to honor the pending thrust of spring.
This was a time in which animals were sacrificed to honor Mars, and hopefully bestow promise upon farmlands. The shedding of blood is a powerfully ancient act of cleansing, purification and atonement. Roman farmers sacrificed one pig, one goat and one bull to Mars. This was to appease the god, and auger blessings for fruitful crops.
This day in March typically marked the beginning of war campaigns. As war was kind of a big thing for the Romans, they logically created a party to launch the date (around mid-March). This was a time of cleaning and putting a good shine on battle weapons. Uniforms, chariots, horses, war trumpets and all manner of war implements were polished and blessed during this festival.
If sacrificing pigs, and polishing your spear isn't on your top 10 list of party scenes, perhaps you can dig Mars' symbolism.
As a patriarchal god, Mars is symbolic of fatherly themes such as: Provision, Security, Order, Teaching male-centric skills of the time (fighting, battle strategy, etc).
Mars is a major symbol of male'ness. Indeed, the symbol for Mars is often recognized as the universal symbol for male gender. It's also the symbol for Mars the planet as well as the symbol for iron. See the Mars symbol here. Male symbolism deals with: Thrust, Action, Energy, Control, Power, Strength.
God symbols of Mars offer loads of interesting aspects we can hook into for understanding in modern-day times. How so? Well, connecting to ancient goddess and god symbols opens up a portal into old school wisdom. These symbols offer a touchstone by which we can relate and associate. God symbols are intended to provide instant recognition to an emotion, personality trait or a energetic essence. For example: The wolf makes a strong impression. This is one of Mars' sacred animals. If you didn't know anything about Mars, knowing the wolf is one of his symbols provides you with a foundation, like: Protection, Communication, Assertion, Instinct. These are symbolic traits of the wolf. By association, these traits belong to the god Mars too.
As you read through this list of god symbols for Mars, see if you can relate better to the deity through his sacred objects/animals. Very often, objects and animals can simplify grandiose concepts. I mean...gods and goddesses are big mojo. Sometimes breaking these grand energies into their smaller bits (like their symbols) can help us get a handle on the enormity of god-meanings.
As mentioned, the wolf is a sacred animal to Mars. One wolf-association comes from Mars' sons, Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. Because R&R were founders of Rome, the wolf (and her role in raising the sons of Rome) are positioned in a place of high esteem in the ancient Empire. The wolf is also a symbol of victory in battle in the ancient Roman culture. Artistic renditions of Mars with a pack of wolves indicates a battle won. The wolf's connection with Mars speaks to us about loyalty, respect and raw power. Wolf is also a great Mars symbol for cunning, strategy and intelligence. As god symbols go, the wolf denotes:
Check out more symbolic meanings of the wolf here.
Remember I mentioned drumming of drums for Mars' festival, Feriae Marti? Romans observed woodpeckers as quite the percussive critter. They associated the thunderous sound of battle drums with the bonkity-bonk-bonk sound a woodpecker makes driving its beak into trees. Hence the connection between the war god Mars and the battle-drumming woodpecker. The Greek historian Plutarch observed the woodpecker as a stubborn, hard-headed bird. This of course relates to the woodpecker's ability to hammer on those trees without getting a terrific headache. It also relates to the woodpecker's skill at downing the hardest trees with aplomb. Plutarch also revered the bird for being fiery and vivacious with lots of courage and verve. Woodpeckers sometimes take up residence in other bird's homes. This is symbolic of Roman armies taking territories and enforcing their rule. These qualities are synonymous with Mars' godly personality. In respect to god symbols, the woodpecker relates to Mars with these themes...
Check out more symbolic woodpecker meanings here.
Spear and Sword:
As a weapon related to the Roman god of war, spears and swords are kind of no-brainer god symbols for Mars. Weapons were sacred things to the Roman culture. They carried an energy...an essence that was deeply profound to a warrior. Every knick, scratch and chip told a story of a victory won. Spears and swords represent power, strength, domination and control. Aside from their war-like associations, it's interesting to note spears and swords are also very male symbols. Not to get too graphic, but these weapons are quite phallic. Hey, I'm not the only one to make this erect association. Swords have been seen as phallic symbols way before I got on the symbol-scene. My 'point' (pardon the pun, lol) is this...as a male symbol, swords represent: Virility, Conquer, Status, Worthiness. As god symbols go, swords and spears associated with Mars speak to us in these terms:
Check out more on sword symbolism here.
Now, don't let all this talk about warmongering god symbols put you in an overly dour state. The pacifist in me abhors the idea of war. But regrettably, war is woven tightly into the fabric of human history. Just because I may not agree, or understand war, doesn't mean I can't acknowledge its place in history.
What's important (to me), is paying tribute to the warriors who have sacrificed themselves so I can sit at my desk in this very moment writing about god symbols that honor the warrior archetype. Foremost, this article about Mars and his symbols is intended to be a respectful account of the god's importance in history - as well as the importance of god symbols associated with Mars.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this perspective.
If you liked this article, check out the related links at the end of this page for more keen symbolic meanings.
Thanks for reading, and may all your Mars meanderings be empowering.
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!