Mars is transiting through my first house right now and I am beginning to feel some battle fatigue. The past couple of weeks have brought lots of opportunities to to create and enforce boundaries, say no to friends I'd prefer to please, stand my ground and learn some remedial lessons in right use of anger and will. I'm fired up to do ... something and impatient of anything that feels like lollygagging. As a gentle Taurus with lots of planets in the 12th house, I am also finding this fierceness a bit exhausting. But then I remembered Steven Forrest's suggestion of personifying transiting planets as teachers and mentors. Thinking of Mars as my mentor, I feel less beleaguered and more ready to rise to this opportunity for assertiveness training.
That being said, I also feel like a bundle of impatience, anger, resentment and frustration. Being more practiced at swallowing those kinds of feelings than in letting them inform my actions, I have found great benefit from Gabor Maté's description of anger. In When the Body Says No, Maté cites Allen Kalpin's explanation of genuine anger (as opposed to rage):
"Healthy anger... is an empowerment and a relaxation. The real experience of anger ... is one of a surge of power going through the system, along with a mobilization to attack. There is, simultaneously, a complete disappearance of all anxiety.... [there's] a decrease of all muscle tension. The mouth is opening wider, because the jaws are more relaxed, the voice is lower in pitch because the vocal cords are more relaxed. The shoulders drop,and you see all signs of muscle tension disappearing."
This has revolutionized how I think of anger. I used to fear its destructive powers, stuff it down deep and change the subject in my mind as quickly as possible.
Now when I feel it rising, I allow my body to take on the posture of anger, as described by Kalpin. I relax my shoulders, let my jaw soften, feel my throat relax (sometimes I also imagine I'm The Rock, because being a 6'5" gentle giant seems like it might be helpful). And the next right action arises in my mind. That might mean I need to set (and enforce) better boundaries. Once, during a squabble with my husband, I realized we were simply blowing off steam and there was nothing I needed to do but let it go. Another time I saw that my growing resentment against friends was due to the fact that I'd overextended myself, so I disengaged from some of my activities (without having to bolster my resolve with angry self-justifying stories).
It was a great relief to me to learn that anger doesn't always have to lead to confrontation or fights. Wise anger can suggest that we let things go as often as it points to action. But when we notice anger's warning signs, it's empowering to let it inform our conscious choices rather than to seethe silently or overreact. That's not to say that anger is comfortable at any time, but it can become a powerful ally.