Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ares: God of War, God of Mercy, God of Laughter

Today, I'm going to get a little more personal than I normally do on this blog.  I'm going to talk about my patron god, Ares.  Many Wiccan woman often overlook the God in their lives, for their service to the Goddess.  I am quite guilty of this myself.  I often talk about Hekate and what She has done for me, yet, I do not speak of Ares, and He has been just as pivotal in my growth as She.

I have been a daughter of Ares since about mid-2008.  Yes, He came into my life even before Hekate made herself known.  Early on my newly pagan path, maybe 2002 or 03, I had been chosen by Demeter and Poseidon.  Well, it was kind of a mutual thing.  I asked if I could worship them and they accepted, so Ares and Hekate weren't my first patron deities.  Sometime in 2007, both Demeter and Poseidon began to not be there as much.  I noticed the loss and felt quite bereft that they were 'abandoning' me.

At that point in my life, I wasn't quite as resistant as I am now to change, so I did not rail against them and blame them for being horrible.  I simply accepted it as they moved farther and farther away.  In my confusion, I did a meditation and went to Demeter.  I begged her not to go.  With her kind, motherly smile, she said, "I am not really going anywhere.  You have simply grown past what I can teach you now.  I am stepping away to help those who need me more than you do.  Just keep on this path and all will be revealed in time."

I listened to the words of the Great Mother.  Through my sadness, I kept moving forward.  Poseidon did not even allow me to enter his realm at this point, which added to my sadness.  Months later, in 2008, much was revealed.  I was, again, doing a meditation.  I was asking for clarification in my loss.  I was in a forest, not my normal moonlit beach, walking a dirt path when Ares jumped out of the underbrush with a yell and scared the crap out of me.  Yes, friends, you read that right.  I almost had heart failure because the God of War thought it would be hysterical to announce himself by jumping out of a bush at me.

He wore a long, dark cloak and a hood as he did this, so I could not really determine who I was speaking with for a few minutes.  When I finally calmed down and wasn't screaming expletives at him for scaring me, he helped me get up from the ground and he removed his hood.  Looking fully into his face, I asked him, "Who are you?"  (Instinct told me, but I didn't want to admit it.)

His dark eyes glimmered with mirth and his gave me this lopsided smirk.  "You know who I am," was his reply.  I stuttered and stammered for a moment and he kind of cut me off.  "We have some things to attend to," he said. Ares grabbed my hand and practically dragged me down the dirt path.

We ended up at my beach, where I always met to speak to Demeter and dive to meet Poseidon.  At this point, dread filled me completely.  With a bit of urging (and force) we swam to Poseidon's kingdom.  It was at this point, my greatest of fears were unleashed.  With sadness in his unblinking eyes, Poseidon told me that there were lessons to be learned in the realm of men which he could not teach me because even he did not understand them.  (I suspect that he had no interest in them.)  He told me that there were some things that I must know and Ares would teach them to me because he actively worked in the realm of men.  Poseidon said, "I am giving you to Ares for a year and a day.  The battles you must fight now are beyond me."

Those words were like a knife through the heart.  I begged him not to let me go.  I begged him not to allow these things to happen.  His sadness was evident when he told me that they must happen and that I must learn from Ares.  He then told me to come back in a year and dismissed me.

When Ares and I came back to the surface world, I was angry.  I hated him.  I railed at him.  He, of course, laughed.  He told me to remember that fire.

For the next few months, Ares announced himself in my meditations by jumping out of bushes, underbrush, and trees.  He took great joy in my anger.  He took even greater pleasure when I attacked him physically (and he stood there unharmed, which made me even angrier).  Then, one day, his jumping out of the bushes to scare me (or maybe get my attention) didn't work.  I'd come to a point where I was simply resigned to being forced to work with him.  "What do you want now?" I asked him.

It was at this point that his whole demeanor changed.  "Ah!" He said to me quietly, "You have stopped resisting!  Now we can get to the real work!"

Ares scooped me up and tossed me over his shoulder and he ran through the forest with me.  I didn't go quietly, of course.  When we came to a clearing, he dumped me on the ground.  "Do you think I am all blood lust and killing?  Is that all war is to you?"

At that point, he was right.  To me war was all about blood and murder and I said as much.  His laughter startled me.  "War isn't just about the fight," he said.  "It isn't just about how many heads you can take.  War is as much about discipline and mercy as it is about victory.  Think about all of the warriors you know!  Think!  Are they simply killing machines?"

It was in that moment that I realized that I was surrounded by soldiers, former soldiers, and police officers.  My life was full of the children of Ares and while they might love a good fight, they were some of the most gentle people I'd ever known.  He saw the realization in my eyes and smiled.  "You haven't thought about how medics on the battlefield, in recent wars, would overdose the gravely wounded so they didn't suffer, have you?  You haven't thought about how most warriors prize the still, quiet times with their closest friends and family, have you?  You haven't thought about how many warriors enjoy a raucous party above most things, have you?  Being a warrior isn't just about the fight.  Being a warrior isn't just about winning at all costs.  You would do well to remember these things, girl.  Now, get up off of the ground and get out of my sight!  You have wasted a lot of time fighting this and my patience is wearing thin."

It was some time before Ares came back to me in my meditations.  I spent a lot of that quiet time thinking about what he told me.  The next time I saw him was after Samhain 2008 and after Hekate had claimed me.  It was at the very beginning of the debacle that would become my divorce.

At the beginning of my divorce, I was very quiet and meek (for those reading this who know me, I know that it's difficult to believe!).  I was scared of a lot of the world around me.  My ex-husband, in his drug and alcohol induced fantasy land, began stalking and threatening me and my family.  I got no help from the authorities, none.  They refused to give me a restraining order because a binder full of threatening emails and dated and time stamped tapes of his threats weren't enough.

In those darkest of times, when I genuinely feared for my life and no one else believed me, it was Ares who showed me how to fight back.  It was Ares who I would take these things to and ask him what to do.  It was Ares who, often times, had to put his sword in my lower back to move me forward on something.

My work with the God of War showed me how to face danger (real or perceived) with determination and common sense.  My work with the God of War taught me when and where to be merciful.  My work with the God of War taught me that no one is going to stand up for me unless I have the courage to stand up for myself first.  My work with the God of War also taught me when to keep my mouth shut and simply plan my next move, or maybe just give that person enough rope to hang themselves with.  That work also taught me to revel in the fight when there are no other options.  He showed me that one should never pick a fight, but one should not back down, either, and when all is said and done and the energy is expended, one should pick your opponent up (or allow yourself to be picked up) and be satisfied that it is over and done with.

After 5 years, Ares is still here.  When my year and a day came around, my own thinking had also evolved.  Poseidon gave me his blessing to keep moving forward down this particular path.  While I often dislike these lessons (still) and sometimes wish to go back to the sea kingdom, I know that my experiences have made me stronger and wiser.  There may come a day when I can go back to the sea, but until that day, I do my best to embrace the fact that the powers that be in the universe have seen fit to make this sometimes quite and often underestimated woman a warrior, of sorts.

May your gods bless and keep you, friends!