Father of Victory; Lord of the Dance
Ares, Lord of War, is the Greek Olympian spirit who garners the least respect. Even Zeus told him that he was the Olympian he loved least. He made people nervous and was considered a dangerous, though useful, spirit.
Ares loves war passionately. He loves brawling, the heat of battle, a good fight. Ares may fight on either side or both: he enjoys the fighting itself. He may instigate a fight just for the fun of it (even if he’s the only one having a good time). Ares is not a cool-headed strategist sitting in the war office; he may be a military leader, but he’s the first to jump into the fray, a howling, screaming warrior.
Official Greek myth describes Ares as a son of Zeus and Hera, or as only Hera’s child. One version suggests that she was so annoyed when Zeus gave birth to Athena and Dionysus thatshe determined to give birth independently, too. She conceived Ares without male input.
Ares was reared by Priapus, who taught Ares dancing first, warcraft later. Ares had a long love affair with Aphrodite (she bore him four children), although she is officially married to his brother, Hephaestus. Ares and Aphrodite may be venerated together.
Mythology books tend to disparage and belittle Ares. He’s treated as a minor Olympian, frequently compared unfavorably to Athena. The truth is more complex. In the Iliad, Ares reproaches Zeus for giving birth to Athena, describing her as crazed and frantic, reversing the usual image of Ares as bloodthirsty and Athena as the spirit of cool wisdom.
Athena helps Heracles kill Ares’ pets, the Stymphalian birds. Several of Heracles’ labors seem at least tangentially directed against Ares. Ares gave Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, the golden girdle that was the object of Heracles’ ninth labor.
Historians suggest that Ares entered Greece from Thrace. (
Bendis; Dionysus; Orpheus.) Devotion to him spread through Macedonia to Thebes, Athens, and especially Sparta, where he was embraced. Ares was also deeply venerated in Scythia, Thrace, and Colchis (now modern Georgia). Ares is closely identified with Amazons, who worshipped him as an ancestral spirit.
Ares is not ashamed to fight alongside a woman. He encourages Aphrodite’s warrior aspects and lends her his own war-chariot. Ares lacks an official wife or consort. His closest female companion is his sister, Eris. However, he may just not be monogamous. He maintains long stable relationships with several women, including an Amazon Queen.
Ares is a devoted father. When his daughter Alkippe was raped by one of Poseidon’s sons, Ares promptly killed him. Poseidon accused him of murder. Ares was tried before the Olympian pantheon and acquitted. In a cosmology where rape was common, Ares objects and protects his daughter.
Keep Ares’ image outside your doors or just inside to keep watch and chase enemies away. He is petitioned for victory, courage, protection, and martial skills. He is a sociable spirit and likes the company of other spirits. He has a quick temper, but it usually blows over quickly, too. The exception is Athena: there’s a long grudge, competition, and jealousy between them. Keeping them near each other invites fireworks.
In general, his Greek shrines were outside city limits for two reasons:
• Ares was considered dangerous; it might not be safe to keep him too close to home.
• He was expected to provide the first defense: keeping enemies from even entering the city.
Warriors of all kinds; those born under the sign Aries
A handsome, virile man. In Scythia, he was venerated in the form of a sword.
Frequently depicted naked but for shield and helmet. A statue of Ares in chains was kept in Sparta, indicating that the martial spirit would never leave Sparta.
Sword, spear, helmet, shield
Vultures; woodpeckers; eagle owls and barn owls; the Stymphalian birds
His chariot is pulled by four fire-breathing stallions.
Ares leads a host of battle spirits including his sister, Eris, and his sons Deimos (Terror) and Phobos (Fear). He has a good relationshipwith Amazons. Ares may lead an army of disease spirits.
Ares and his fearsome host haunt old battlegrounds, reminiscing over good times. He had a temple with a sacred grove in Laconia, Sparta, where an annual festival, restricted to male devotees, was held for him. He also has a private island off the coast of Colchis, a haven for Stymphalian birds who survived Heracles’ massacre.
It is traditional to make an offering on the eve before an anticipated battle (military or otherwise). Give him wine, hard liquor, miniature weapons, and/or images of horses.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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