Dante - Paradiso - Mars, Courage and bravery
Type of Spiritual Experience
Mars denotes Courage and bravery, and in this respect all sorts of courage and bravery. Courage in the face of threats, as well as illness and hardship. Thus it includes stoicism, as well as the hero's approach to extreme danger.
When the words 'Christ' are used they actually mean 'cross' in its symbolic sense. So to take up your cross means to be brave. Jesus Christ is thus Jesus of Nazareth who took up his cross – was brave and courageous in the face of both opposition and the final death sentence. His message was one of Love, wisdom, moderation, hope and justice. As such he was a true hero in that he fought for the positive. The story of the death of Jesus on the cross is the symbolism of Mars but taken to an almost final conclusion.
The ultimate form of bravery is the certain knowledge that you will die at the hands of other people if you continue to do what you believe is needed and right, but continue anyway. The symbolism is made more intense because the death in Jesus's case, is such a violent and seemingly cruel one.
It should be noted that the symbolism is quite precise here and in all other religious texts.
A description of the experience
Dante – The Divine Comedy – Paradiso XIV
I saw clearly that I had risen higher
By the glancing smile of the star
Which seemed to me redder than ordinary
A splendour appeared in two bands
With such radiance and with such red glow
That I said 'O Helios, who so arrays them!'
As with its lesser and its greater lights
The Galaxy spreads its white path between
The poles of the world, and makes wise men reflect;
So those starry bands composed,
In the depths of Mars, the venerable sign
Which diameters crossing at right angles make in a circle
Here what I remember is too much for expression;
For in that cross Christ himself shone
So that I find no fit comparison
But whoever takes his cross and follows Christ
Will still forgive me for what I leave unsaid
When he sees that that whiteness flashed out Christ
Meeting together and passing one another
The lights sparkled brightly as they moved
From side to side and up and down that cross;
It is thus that tiny specks may be seen,
Straight and twisted, swift moving and slow,
Never staying the same, long and short
Moving through the ribbons of light which sometimes
Appear in the shadow which human skill
And brains procure for our protection
So from the lights which appeared to me there
Was gathered on the cross a melody
Which carried me away, though the hymn was not clear
Certainly I could hear it was a song of praise
Because I could make out 'Arise' and 'Conquer',
As one might, without understanding, hear