Having now entered into the Tropical sign of Aries with the Spring Equinox on 21 March, the focus shifts to our Manipura or Solar Plexus (3rd) chakra located just above the navel area. This is the natural New Year where we can finally grow a little further above the surface of the earth, but it is still a vulnerable time (especially this year astrologically as you will see below). Aries is a cardinal sign - all cardinal signs mark the big seasonal changes during the year and this one is represented by the element of Fire which ignites new life and the solar force beginning to strengthen in the natural year. Mars is the ruling planet of this sign and chakra and also rules Scorpio associated with the fixed Water element. Fire and Water go hand in hand in the early stages of creation (remember that the previous Sacral chakra is also associated with these two elements). I see the Sacral chakra at Pisces time as the more gentle, feminine creative and intuitive force (mutable Water) in which ideas are nurtured in the womb before being realised out into the world at the masculine driven Solar Plexus during Aries (cardinal Fire).
The Solar Plexus is all about willpower and in the case of Aries we can see this very clearly in the representation of the Ram's head (headstrong), Aries does actually rule the head in medical astrology and sticking one's head above the parapet and coming out of hibernation are resonate with Spring. So essentially this is finally when we can begin to take practical worldly action towards manifesting our dreams and goals conceived during Aquarius and Pisces, by making use of the action based driven qualities of Mars to support us. I would say this with a caveat this Spring however, as Mars is actually currently in conjunction with Saturn in Tropical Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) and this can cause some delays as Saturn constricts and slows everything right down. He is also approaching his retrograde period (April 17) so is even more potent in energy as he comes to a standstill. We also have a retrograde Jupiter and invisible and retrograde Mercury to contend with at this time, so please don't be surprised if things don't take start to take solid shape just yet. Delays are all part of God's plan it seems at this time and we are being tested to find that extra Fire within to nourish and flourish this year! There will likely be a revisiting of the earlier part of the year as Saturn retraces his steps, so it is literally a question of going over old ground and revising or redefining plans etc at the Root chakra level. Patience is key but with extra hard work Saturn always rewards so don't give up! As an aside, I sense that the repeated and sudden cold snaps in the UK are also to do with Saturn exerting his power over Mars (remember that he rules Cold / Dry Earth element).
On a physical level the Solar Plexus is associated with digestion and so here the Fire element really comes into play. If natally your Mars or Aries is strong and emphasised then you might find you have a strong Fire constitution and tendency towards heartburn, indigestion, anger, frustration, stress and inflammation in general, but especially at this time of the year. Again as with the Sacral chakra, balancing this out with some Water element qualities, adding alkaline nutrition and avoiding/limiting stimulants from your diet can help to cool and aid with natural flow and of course vice versa if you have a Fire deficiency. As with all constitutional work, best to find out your type to get a better understanding of the nutrition, herbs and exercises that you can work with to best suit you as an individual. Please note, as I mentioned before in my previous blog on Pisces, there are many systems of working with the elements such as medical astrology, TCM and Ayurveda and different bodily rulerships are looked at - here I am simply focussing on the chakra / zodiac perspective! Ideally we need a good balance of all the elements, but it is good to work with the seasons as the prevalent elements at those given times become triggered and more active in our consciousness and natural environment.
In general there are some easy things one can do to support the Solar Plexus including exposure to sunshine (Vit D) and warmth - essential in early Spring when we are coming out of the Winter darkness. The more physical yang/Sun based Western yoga is also very much a Solar Plexus / masculine orientated practice (as opposed to Yin or Moon Yoga). Although it is Mars that rules the Solar Plexus, as its name gives away, the Sun is also of importance - both share heat as properties and Fire. Moderate according to your constitution, but this practice would help someone with underactive Fire especially, not those who are heavily yang in constitution - then you are best suited to Yin or Moon practice to bring out the feminine flow. If you find you have surges of energy at this time as is natural during Spring then try to channel these into exercise, creative pursuits, gardening and helping others so that the energy flows (Water element) up and out of the body and doesn't remain stuck - this is the time for more external activity (increased daylight hours) and being proactive (Martian qualities).
In terms of the Tarot, Temperance and the Strength cards relate to Mars - the former being the feminine qualities (notice the Water in the image - keeping the Ego in check) and the latter the masculine (Courage to face fears and challenges). So again one can exercise Temperance with an excessive Mars / Aries / Fire bringing in more of the feminine Scorpio / Water side of things and vice versa. The two go hand in hand and are essential for maintaining health and building dreams throughout the natural year. In Cardology (reading the Playing Cards) the suit of Hearts comes into play at Spring Equinox and represents Water and the Fruits in nature - it is preceded by the Spades, which represent Fire and the Life Force in nature - so again we can see obvious synergies and interchanges with these two elements moving from Winter to Spring and encouraging new sparks (Fire) and shoots / fruit buds (Water) of life.
Keep an eye out during Aries for more on the Solar Plexus including herbs, recipes, crystal info and aromatherapy! Do also check out my Spring sale with 30% off selected items in honour of the 3rd chakra!