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A New Model for Full Planetary Phases: The Venus Journey

With the current leveling of our structures and bodies by the transiting Saturn-Pluto square, along with the exposing of both our illusions and further visions a la the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune stellium, one might wonder if there’s any other sky story worthy of our attention now. In fact, there is, this January.

Since 2003, I’ve actively followed the synodic cycles of Mars-Sun and Venus-Sun, both through extensive sky-watching from many locations and through researching my client and celebrity files. I’ve investigated how ancient sky-watching wisdom from Babylonian, Egyptian, Celtic, and other cultures might be brought to bear on contemporary psychological and consciousness development today. I wish to go further than mundane considerations — but certainly not exclude them — and to meld our ancient and current skills for the purpose of exposing how a more complete vision of our astrological future might be engendered. It seemed to me that our post-postmodern focus on a more complex, yet integrated, emotional, psychological, and spiritual life was asking to be integrated with the ancients’ masterful awareness of direct-sky watching. If viable, such a marriage would further deepen us into what it means to be terrestrial and celestial simultaneously.

This January, the two most transformational events in the synodic lives of Mars and Venus will occur within two weeks of one another — what I have named Transcendence and Transmutation. These phases in the Mars-Sun and Venus-Sun cycles are the templates for our deepest inner and best outer masculine and feminine selves. They are our personal Shiva and Shakti, our own sacred masculine and feminine.

Synode-Nativity Work
Only through the synodic cycle do we see the larger developmental intention, the natal planetary phase, any relevant star testimonies, and important visual attributes of the birth moment. To understand how synodic and natal delineations work together, first assess the entire natal condition of the planet in question — i.e., sign, house, aspects, dignity, etc. This is the native’s core masculine (Mars) and feminine (Venus) wiring, their personal masculine and feminine ‘story’. Next, frame that multivalent image within the native’s planet-Sun synodic cycle — by phase, and by visual and physical attributes. Similar in concept to lunar phases, synodes are wonderful framing devices for natal and personal transit work. With both being considered, and in proper relationship to one another, a more robust and complete picture of someone’s full nature emerges: not only who someone individually is but what someone collectively contributes to the larger human unfolding. I often describe the natal synodic picture as a personal masculine/feminine dharma.

January 2010
On January 11, Venus will conjunct the Sun in her superior conjunction, marking what I call her Transmutational Underworld Phase (TMU), at 4:00 pm ET at 21°32′ Capricorn (tropical zodiac). TMU lets us know that Venus is invisible (co-rising with the Sun) and moving at her most rapid direct velocity. What the ancients observed, and what holds true for us today, is the correlation of the superior conjunction to a transmutation of those energies standing in the way of better, more appropriate expressions of Venusian functioning (the planet under synodic consideration).

graphic shows Venus behind the Sun at superior conjunction (Jan 11, 2010)

Venus behind the Sun


The visual experience of superior conjunction is of course an invisible Venus. Within us, however, even today, we sense/know that the Sun and Venus alchemize together to act as a doorway into what has been called “the underworld” for millenia. We can further understand the superior conjunction to force the Earth and Venus into a spatial polarity to one another, with the Sun positioned as their archetypal midpoint. The Sun inhabits the vesica region, the intersecting ripple patterns of influence of both planets.

graphic shows Venus-Sun-Earth archetypal ‘displacement’ at superior conjunction

Venus Sun Earth
When this is observed on a nativity, in phase progression or in mundane work, an archetypal loss occurs. What is lost here is not the content of the individual psyche — personal fears and contractive patterns — but the blueprint of our otherwise natural relationship with Venus. We (Earth) effectively lose ourselves as our own feminine (socio-physiological) center. We further find that it’s been replaced by the alchemical Venus + Sun being described above. This type of synodic transit event catalyzes a deeper effect on us than a traditionally conceived Venus-Sun conjunction. It’s been my observation that its influence is as strong and lasting for an individual as any hard outer-planet transit, and may have equal impact on the collective level as well.

Venus’ Journey is consistently 19-months in duration. From extensive research with thousands of client and celebrity charts, I’ve come to name Venus’ phases (in order):

1. Self-Conception (Transmigrational Underworld – see graphic #3 for explanation)
2. Gestation (Transmigrational Underworld)
3. Birth
4. Adolescence
5. Maturity
6. Queen’s Descent (Surrender & Discovery)
7. Transmutational Underworld (see graphic #3)
8. ReBirth
9. Queen’s Ascent (Remembering & Embodiment)
10. Wholeness
11. Crone
12. Completion (Transmigrational Underworld)

Venus’ Underworlds
Venus experiences two distinct underworld periods associated with each of her Sun conjunctions. They are entirely different in visual quality/experience and inner meaning, as may be obvious to many. The first phase, Transmigration, sees Venus retrograde at inferior conjunction (thus invisible), effectively shifting the previous cycle to the next. The most recent Transmigration took place on March 27, 2009, when Venus transmigrated out of the former Leo Journey (8-17-07 to 3-26-09) and began the current Aries Journey at 7°15′ Aries. Transmigration is the Omega/Alpha point in humanity’s developing feminine nature. The lessons learned or avoided through our Leo Femininity (prior cycle) are now being worked out through Aries (current cycle). How we’ve embraced ourselves in acceptance and love, how we’ve discovered or avoided ourselves as creators of our world, now is put to the test. This Aries Journey may be about acting from our creative natures, bravely testing new ways to relate, facing our fear of connecting with different kinds of people, and defending what’s important. It’s an active, experimental, and heart-driven Feminine. Keep in mind that the terms ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ do not refer to gender and gender issues, but to core principles inherent in each woman, man, and child.

Venus phases
Transmutation Phase
In contrast, and the subject of this series of articles, Venus’ next Transmutation Phase on January 11 (superior conjunction, invisible, fastest direct motion) immerses Venus in the core transformative process within the current Aries cycle. TMU is the midpoint of any journey and marks Venus’ precise changeover from morning-sky to night-sky (albeit invisibly). The governing intention of this and every other phase, however, remains Aries. To clarify this idea for those new to synodic delineation, we can form the question, How will Aries’ femininity develop/grow/evolve through her transition from morning-sky, to invisibility, to night-sky? Or, how will Aries’ femininity, the sign of the overall journey, radically transform from 29° Scorpio — her first disappearance in the morning sky — through 14° Pisces — her first reappearance in the evening sky? Scorpio through Pisces are the signs Venus inhabits while moving through the Transmutation Phase (TMU).

TMU occurs at the temporal midpoint in each Venus Journey, indicating that its purpose is to shift us from morning to evening Venus, yet still within that Journey’s developmental arc. Venus enters TMU having completed her entire morning-sky period with all the impulsiveness, violence, and entitlement ascribed to early morning Venus for thousands of years. She will exit, though, as Night Star, exhibiting all the benevolent, goddess-like qualities we’ve equally inherited from the past.

The Queen’s Ascent and ReBirth Phases
In her evening-turned-night period, Venus’ movement ascends — growing brighter with each passing night, sending her benefic-ial rays to touch more of the sky (increasing magnitude). While the entire transition occurs within this Aries Journey, she will emerge from TMU stripped of inhibiting assumptions, orientations, and needs, such as impatience, impulsiveness, and anger. Venus’ evening emergence is her ReBirth Phase, which occurs on February 23, 2010 at 14° Pisces, marking her night-sky heliacal rise or EF (“evening first”).

Interestingly, late February through early March will see the meaning of Venus’ ReBirth phase (entirely distinct from her earlier Birth Phase) become wedded to the dialogue between Jupiter and Uranus. Venus will conjunct Jupiter at 6° Pisces on February 16 while still invisible (yet close to reappearing), and Uranus, visibly, on March 3 at 25° Pisces, in the ReBirth phase. This celestial transference of information between Jupiter and Uranus through our feminine functioning will play out a core theme of rebirth. How so? When the Venus arrow moves from Jupiter to Uranus, we are beckoned to surrender our cognitive superiority and dissociation and the rote seeking of hollow, yet seemingly expansive, experiences. Instead we can redirect that energy into inventively crafting our new creations with others. Now, set this delineation into the larger frame of Venus’ ReBirth Phase — collaborating on new plans with others, seeking nurturing and liberating situations, and an earnest yet naïve optimism — and Venus’ ReBirth, as an evolutionary response to her prior Transmutation, can trigger a newfound capacity to boldly create with others where pre-set beliefs and fears reigned before. The real-time results will be profound for many aligned to Venus’ rhythms, either archetypally or activated through natal sensitive degrees to these synode hot spots.

The New Moon at 25° Capricorn on January 15 and the conjunction of the North Node with the Sun-Venus superior conjunction at 21° Capricorn are two additional events playing important roles in Venus’ Transmutational Underworld Phase of 2010. Colleagues are encouraged to add these events into their own investigations into the Venus-Sun synode.

This January, feminine Venus and masculine Mars will align their most transformational phases with one another. On the 11th Venus reaches superior conjunction with the Sun, known herein as her Transmutational Underworld Phase. And on the 29th, Mars enters his retrograde opposition to the Sun, what I call his Transcendence Phase. The Moon meets up with Mars during Transcendence as well, forming that month’s Full Moon. This creates a powerful set of polarities:  Sun (masculine) and Venus (feminine), Mars (masculine) and Moon (feminine). This is one of the most potent sacred science formulas for activating seed potential, changing our internal rules about who we are and what our options are, and most importantly, forging a robust and mutual partnership between our inner masculine and feminine selves. With Mars highest, brightest and visibly reddest, and Venus invisible behind the Sun, it’s time to devote to our deepest desires (red Mars) which emanate from our deepest heart (invisible Venus).


Adam Gainsburg has authored three books, including Chiron: The Wisdom of a Deeply Open Heart. Adam is the founder of Soulsign Astrology and an active teacher and lecturer at astrology conferences since 2007. His work emphasizes the Heart’s evolutionary intelligence at the core of all astrological method. His next book, Bridges of Union (2010), will present a comprehensive delineation model of the phases in the Mars and Venus synodic cycles. Adam also records a monthly podcast on the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars and is developing an online tool to merge astronomical advances with astrological wisdom.


  1. Hey Adam, this is such great information! As you know I share your passion for empowering the inner personal planets via the synodic cycles. I couldn’t agree more that these are every bit as important, if not more so, than the outer planet alignments we hear so much about.

    But most of all I just want to say it is so very satisfying personally to see these excellent graphics and hear someone talking about this powerful alignment I glimpsed once upon a time in the astral realms. It feels like coming home. Thank you, Sir!

  2. Lovin’ your work Adam. Working with the synodic cycles shows to be quite a revealing study. I thank you for this information.

    Be well my friend.

  3. My birthday is on the 12th Jan and so I have been wondering about this beautiful planetary choreography. Thank you enormously for this information. I have had a strong feeling about these cycles and watch Mars and Venus all the time, but never known their study. Big light on!

  4. Thanks Gary…much appreciated.

    Concur, the inner planet synodics are just as potent as the outer planet transits. But they address us and the timings in our lives at broader and often deeper levels. In my view, this is because marking a synodic ‘event’ requires the full-cycle knowledge of those planets interacting with one another. The result is a steadfast framework within which to delineate or predict. It fleshes out our specificity, giving it much-needed context or dimension.

    In this article, I attempted to illuminate the Venus-Sun synode. Yes, we can run our computers to tell us Venus and Sun are conjunct, but nothing will show us when Venus is brightest, or when she is at maximum evening elongation, or when she re-appears in the evening sky after TMU.

    The real juice comes when we’re able to work with all three levels:
    1. The natal or fixed-in-time/space chart
    2. Standard transit castings: SP, Solar Arcs, etc.
    3. Synodic phases, direct-sky observations (size of aura, duration-of-shining, etc.) and/or other astromonial factors (velocity, view angle, etc.)

  5. Adam,
    Beautifully said. Thank you for the assistance in opening up another aspect of exploration of Self. This is such a rich journey!
    Blessings & Thanks

  6. Thank you Adam for such a thorough and informative look at the venus/sun cycle unfolding this winter. I am unsure of what you meant by what is lost here is “the blueprint of our natural relationship with venus”. Does this mean for those using that time frame, that one would be able to change one’s loves, likes, aesthetics, ways of relating in a profound way?
    Thank you

  7. How about Mercury-Sun and Mercury-Venus synodic cycles ? Is there similar researches by yourself or another author ?
    My natal chart may be a good example of Mercury-Venus synodic cycles works: Sun-Uranus Gemini, As Sag, Moon-Pisces, Jupiter-Virgo, Mercury cusp Taurus/Gemini/VI – Venus cusp Aries/Taurus/IV
    Discovering this magazine now – 2 Dec’ 09 – and this article, is a “gift” of Fate.

  8. To Kate (in response to your query), it’s a good question, thanks for posting it.

    Certainly and enthusiastically, yes. What I was attempting to point out though is that the reason why those kinds of changes would be much more probable then is “the collective rules for feminine humanity change” – Venus is not visible, moving at her apparent fastest velocity and at or near apogee. Venus is “in the very source of feminine dynamism, power and intelligence – raw in every sense.” (from another article) Mythologically, Inanna is hung on the spit-hook and left there to forever dry out (the antithesis of the Goddess as the Moistness/Richeness of Life and Love).

    Some more thoughts hopefully useful:

    This “natural relationship with Venus” derives from our geo-physical relationship with her – our orbit in comparison to her orbit (period, eccentricity, etc.), our diurnal rate in comparison to her max elongation from the Sun, as well as many other comparisons. There are multitudes of factors that create, quite literally, our astrology of Venus. Same for any body, or node, or pulsar for that matter. Of course, astrology today largely sidesteps these factors. That’s not good or bad, but it is a fact.

    As a result, we don’t deeply know Venus, in the sense that when we look at her in the sky or on a chart, we’re seeing the most simplistic, stripped-down symbol for what she is for us. As a community today, we astrologers generally have no sense of the many factors the ancients were fantastic at observing, like speed, latitude, relative magnitude, and others. These many factors actually constitute – in an unconscious way – our “natural” or “organic” relationship with the wholeness that Venus reflects for us about ourselves:
    1. Venus as a marker for our somatic center (who we feel ourselves to be deeply in our own skin);
    2. Venus as a signifier of our relational center (who we feel ourselves to be in relation to Other).

    If we can eventually re-engender the astro-anatomy of our sky bodies (a term I use in the upcoming book) and intelligently merge that library of wisdom with our contemporary mastery of healing, levels of self, spiritual knowledge, we’d then really have something! Not just for ourselves but for our children’s children’s children….

  9. To Pierre (in response to your query):

    Thanks for the question. Probably the best source of information on the Mercury-Sun synode is Shamanic asttrology, which you can find on the internet. Giamario’s work is very good when it comes to synodic cycles.

    The Mercury-Venus synode I’ve done some looking into with even less writing on it but not enough to claim any real useful knowledge with it for public consumption. I might suggest however that a good, solid base to begin from with this particular pair is that they are both the interior planets of our system. That is, our entire experience of them is intrinsically dualistic: their either on one side of the Sun or the other side (geocentrically). This ‘double vacillation’ holds some very deep information. One might then proceed with looking at the synodic period, how often they meet up in the mornving vs. evening, how often are those conjunctions visible, in what signs do they most occur, and have their meetups tended to occur in north or south latitude and north or south declination. These factors would be a good start in unlocking the secrets held there for us.

  10. To Kate (further thoughts):

    Some additional ideas which may be useful, in the milieu of your question.

    1. From the mundane view, Venus’ TMU is a time when one’s former ways of “loves, likes, aesthetics, [and] ways of relating” simply aren’t available. The reason is the dramatically different geo-physical, energetic relationship created by her superior conjunction (described in my first response above). So this would be a great time to go deep inside oneself to the places which are still holding on to those ‘old ways’ of ‘loving, liking, etc.’ and pry them loose, or if need by gently surrender them. The developmental focus in TMU is never setting new intentions; it’s for hanging one’s old identifications and ego-beliefs on the underworld hook permanently. In other words, dying to them.

    2. The evolutionary view is different. It includes those born during TMU or having reached it by progression, evolution-oriented archetypal considerations and also the evolution of the archetypes themselves. So it’s a time, again from this viewpoint specifically, in which we’re supposed to die, to offer perhaps our most treasured self-beliefs about our bodies and relations and loves (Venus) into the abyss. The rationale for this radical act is of course to make space for our own next piece of healing and wholeness-making.

  11. hi, adam!

    interesting idea. can you give any practical guideline on determining what phase venus is in for the birthchart? how many days/degrees lapse between phases, are they of equal duration, etc. how long after SC or IC until venus is again visible? can you tell by simply counting degrees between venus and the sun, which phase they are in? thanks for your assistance.

  12. To Alex (in response to your query):

    Each phase is entirely unique unto itself and is derived from lots of observation in my clients and night-sky meditation in fact. So there’s no standardization of periodicity as such.

    I can share here that Venus at inferior conjunction begins the Self-Conception Phase, the Gestation Phase is from the completion of that event to just before the Birth Phase, which is a 10deg elongation.

    The morning elongation marks the end of the Maturation Phase, while the TMU Phase described in the article begins with Venus’ disappearance and lasts through just before Venus’ re-appearance in the early evening (around 10deg) for the beginning of the ReBirth Phase.

    Evening elongation then marks the beginning of the Wholeness Phase in the night sky and naturally her last appearance in the evening sky marks the end of the visible journey and the beginning of the Transmigrational Underworld (also described above).

    Probably the best way to see all the phases at work with magnitudes, velocities, view angles, sky dynamics and all transits is to consider my Venus Mars Calendars here. They’re downloads and quite affordable. There’s a bunch of other info on my site in the Mars Venus section here.

    Hope the plug doesn’t leave a bad taste!

    Best, Adam

  13. Congrats, Adam, on all the great comments posted here.

  14. […] for over a month, working on the road and thinking about TMA’s two most recent blogs — Adam Gainsburg on the Venus synodic cycle and Robert Blaschke on Tiger […]

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