Ares. He is a god, and an intimidating one at that. He is said to blanket his bed using the skins of men he has slain. Doesn’t sound like the nicest god on the block, you know? Ares just seems a little- unapproachable.
People are often unsure of how to approach Ares, both ritually and as a supplicant or devotee. Ares is harsh and demanding. He is not a monster, however. He is as fierce a lover and father as he is a fighter. A cursory glance at his page on Theoi.com actually shows more specific incidents of Ares’ favor, rather than his wrath. Ares offers strength to those who are strong enough to take it.
As far as approaching Ares, my belief is that is best and most easily done in a formal, ritual setting, in prayer. The Orphic hymn to Ares suggests frankincense as an offering, which is easily available in stick, cone, and resin forms. You don’t even have to write your own prayer, if you’re unsure; use the Orphic or Homeric hymns.
If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, seek out Ares’ domain- war. Now, I’m not saying you should just pack up your things an join the Army; that’d be a little extreme, albeit a very in-depth exploration. Find a veteran, from any war. If you don’t know any in your own life, many metropolitan areas have a Veterans Administration hospital which would gladly take a volunteer to keep lonely vets company. Talk to them about their service, but avoid the topic of combat unless they bring it up, at least at first. Combat, even indirectly, changes a person profoundly; some would rather not open old wounds.
Another thing you could try is engaging in a combat sport. I’m not talking about contact sports like football or hockey, though they are certainly violent in thief own right. No, try mixed martial arts, paintball or airsoft, fencing. A sport where, under other circumstances, would be considered lethal violence. It’s an interesting feeling, being shot at or having a rapier or fist coming at your face. In this age of institutionalized cowardice and femininity (no offense, ladies), even cartoon violence like in the Loony Toons is frowned upon. Experiencing a simulated life-threatening experience can bring you closer to the heart of Ares’ realm.
If that sounds entirely to active for you, just delving into Ares’ mythology can be enlightening. Did you notice that Ares is actually rather compassionate, despite his outward savagry? To my knowledge, Ares is never said to have raped a single man or woman, as is common in the mythologies of many of his family members. Ares, as chaotic and wild as he is, submits himself honorably to authority, such as in the Iliad and his trial upon the Areopagus. When transfiguring mortals into birds as a punishment, Ares shows mercy upon a woman who pleads with him not to turn her into a vile symbol; rather, she becomes a wood pecker instead of a buzzard or vicious eagle, whose presence is considered a good omen.
Approaching Ares doesn’t have to be hard. The most difficult thing you may have to do is get over your own hang ups, and Ares can certainly help you do that. Have courage, and be honest with yourself and Ares alike. You are only a mortal, and I personally doubt Ares will begrudge you anything but outright hubris. Open your heart and embrace Him.