Skip to content

The 79-Year Cycles of Mercury and Mars in the USA Horoscope

“The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon . . . has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.”
-James Madison in The Virginia Resolution of 1798 (1)

This has been quite a Mercury retrograde period (June 26 to July 20). We have had further revelations of U.S. spying (which appears to this author to extend to nearly the whole world); abortion restrictions being enacted in North Carolina and Texas; and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. All are examples of challenging information revealed in the public sphere. The kind of chaos we have seen during this Mercury retrograde reminds me of what many astrologers were expecting from the 2012 presidential election (which occurred on the day of a retrograde station). But looking at synodic cycles, there is a good reason why there is so much chaos now and not last year. (2)

Due to a convergence of sidereal and synodic cycles, Mercury will repeat its position near the same zodiacal degree every 46 or 79 years. (3) If we assume that the U.S. was born on July 4, 1776, we can see that the 79-year period comes into play in 2013. (This is because 79 x 3 = 237 and 1776 + 237 = 2013.) Therefore, this is a year in which Mercury will trace close to the same path through the zodiac as in 1776.

On a practical level, this means that the U.S. experiences a Mercury return close to the same time as its solar return in 2013. Mercurial natal themes are brought to the fore this year, much more prominently than in other years. We should expect this particular year (especially the period when Mercury is retrograde in Cancer) to be especially significant, as the nation was born with Mercury retrograde in Cancer.

The July 4, 1776 chart has Mercury retrograde in Cancer making a sextile aspect to Neptune in Virgo, as well as an opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. The need to re-think and re-visit issues, especially Cancerian issues such as “family values” and childbirth, is ingrained in our national blueprint. However, this need for introspective thinking is also affected by the idealistic and religious nature of Neptune, which is facilitated by the ease of its sextile aspect. At the same time, there is a standoff with a very powerful figure represented by the opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. These aspects are clearly reflective of the fact that in 1776 we were engaged in a seditious information campaign (in the name of ideals such as liberty and democracy) against what we saw as a tyrannical authority.

If you look at the bi-wheel above, you will see that solar return Mars (24° Gemini) is very close to the U.S. natal Mars (21°23’ Gemini). Like Mercury, Mars has a 79-year cycle. (3) Since 237 years is a multiple of 79, the 2013 solar return for the U.S. is also a Mars return. This means that Mars themes from the July 4, 1776 horoscope are also being re-activated. The presence of Mars explains the surgical and weapons-related themes that have surfaced. The over-the-top and rogue way that these themes have expressed themselves is a reflection of the fact that Mars is out-of-bounds currently, as it is in the U.S. nativity. The hidden, nebulous nature of much of this information, and the idealism/disillusionment that many feel about these issues, is a reflection of the natal square between Mars and Neptune in the July 4 chart.

The supreme irony is that while internal contradictions in the U.S. psyche, represented by the natal Mercury opposition to Pluto (both retrograde) and the natal square of Mars to Neptune, tend to resurface every 79 years, we seldom recognize them as such collectively.

As another example: The year 1855 — a 79-year cycle after the U.S.inception (1776 + 79 =1855) — saw the escalation of a border war concerning the issue of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state, with “border ruffians” from Missouri influencing the early process. One cycle later, in 1934 (1855 + 79 = 1934), there was a crime wave of unprecedented proportions, as desperation from the Great Depression brought figures like John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers to the fore. This resulted in the concept of “Public Enemy #1” being invented by the FBI and the subsequent empowerment of that organization. It should come as no surprise that “rogues and ruffians” like Snowden, Zimmerman, the NSA, and even the North Carolina legislature are the big news of 2013. (4) The real question is: will we ever collectively wake up to recognize these figures for what they really are?

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ -all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. (5) We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.” – C.G. Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (6)

I do not think it is melodramatic to posit that our future may very well depend on our current ability to embrace these lowly parts of our national character and heal these internal contradictions. I’m certainly not the first astrologer to note that the last three transits of Uranus through Aries brought events that eventually led to major conflicts for our nation during Uranus in Gemini (i.e., the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and WWII). This trend is clearly evident to non-astrological historians as well. (6) While the recent SCOTUS decision to strike down DOMA was a victory for human rights, it was also a victory for state’s rights. And it appears clear to this astrologer that the blue states are getting bluer and the red states redder. Will it take another full-blown conflict for these divisions to come together? Or can we choose another path? Much still needs to be decided, but it seems pretty obvious to me that a “Cold War II” environment where the U.S. government is spying on everyone and their brother is not optimal for the free examination and communication that James Madison saw as necessary for securing all our other precious liberties. (Editors note: See the quote at the beginning of this post.) Perhaps in this sense, Edward Snowden is indeed just the “devil” that we need at this moment in our history. (7)

References and recommended reading:

(1) The Virginia Resolution was authored by Madison in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts.

(2) GlobalPost

(3) The planetary synodic periods were well known to Mesopotamian astrologers and later Ptolemy used them in his Almagest. Alexander Ruperti, Michael Munkasey, and Robert Blaschke are the modern astrologers who have researched these cycles in depth.
Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS Vancouver, WA, and re-published in 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA.

Michael Munkasey, “Station Cycles,” an as yet unpublished research article shared with interested members of the community.

Robert P. Blaschke, Astrology: A Language of Life: Volume 5 – Holographic Transits, EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA, 2006.

(4) New York Times

(5) “Raca, a Biblical term of Aramaic origin used in Matthew 5:22. See Aramaic of Jesus or Expounding of the Law. Its meaning is ‘worthless,’ ‘vain,’ ‘empty.’ Is a word of contempt towards an object that is depised.” Wikipedia

(6) Wikipedia
and here Life Course

(7) In my last installment for this blog I mentioned that perhaps we need some “devils” to shake things up a bit; it happens that the Yods in the chart of the prior Sun-Venus conjunction, which I used to make this prediction, point precisely at the Ascendant and Moon in Edward Snowden’s birth chart.

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 24 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 20 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer


  1. that chart doesn’t make sense to me….back in 1776 they only used 7 planets when constructing a chart….the Gemini rising chart makes more sense to me as then the soon to be discovered planet Uranus resides on the ascendant in the 12th house….planets on the ascendant are who was present at the birth which was a secret society…and the most northern point of the chart the IC is the regal sign of Leo residing in the 3rd and 4th saying to me the neighbours to the north and the roots of the US 4th house were under British rule and not to mention when a chart and time was being chosen who wouldn’t chose a chart with mars ruling and residing in the 1st house, venus ruling and residing in the 2nd house and mercury ruling and residing in the 3rd house…and there’s more

  2. I am actually partial to the Scorpio Rising chart. The time the Declaration of Independence was signed is actually pictured on the dollar bill!

  3. Seriously, ladies… that’s all you’ve got… arguing over the chart to use? Fascinating article, Gary… well done… thanks…

  4. It does not matter what chart you use, if it is cast for July 4, the principles of this article apply

  5. in fact, any chart cast for the year 1776 will see a Mercury and Mars return coincident with the Solar return in 2013

    • And _that_ invalidates the whole exercise.

      • Far from it, the fact that every chart undergoes a synodic return of both Mercury and Mars in the 79th year is both an interesting coincidence with the current life span of the human male (in the developed world. This interesting astrological concurrence or repeat of Mercury and Mars happens as the man passing away after 4 generations time gives way to a new world, a new man and a new cycle of the “four turnings” of Strauss and Howe

  6. Thanks Gary, and for the record I’m a Sibly fan if for no other reason than September 11, 2001. However, I want to thank you for this information because the solar return chart (U.S. Sibly) that just ended had the same ascendant degree and MC degree as the original chart. This, even though the original was set for Philadelphia and the return chart for Washington, DC.

    To me this past year represented a do-over for the U.S.A.; an opportunity to rethink our past “sins” and correct them. Last year’s solar return also featured Mars on the MC (0+ Libra), an Aries Point degree that would draw each of us into the political arena and also draw attention from other countries. Other remarkable features of last year’s birthday chart had the Moon (28+ Capricorn) conjunct the U.S. Sibly Pluto (27+ Capricorn), and Venus (8+ Gemini) conjunct the Sibly Uranus at 8+ Gemini.

    These natal outer planets (Pluto and Uranus) were felt on a more personal level due to the conjunctions from the inner (solar return) planets. As well, these inner planets, Moon and Venus, were experienced through feminine energies and succeeded (to a certain degree) in making us feel a need to balance the harsh energy of the 1776 chart interpretation.

    The two previous solar return charts for 2011 and 2012 also held almost identical yods between Pluto, Chiron and Mercury, with Mercury conjunct the north node of the Sibly chart and at the apex of the pattern. This combined with what you have revealed regarding the repeat patterns of Mercury and Mars leaves no doubt in my mind that the Universe (or Karma!) has provided the U.S. another chance to “embrace these lowly parts of our national character and heal these internal contradictions”. I’m grateful for your efforts toward making us more conscious of these extraordinary times.

  7. Very good article, this is of course a special time with 4 planets back on their natal

    The combination of both September 11, 2001 and the start of the spanish war in 1898,
    saturn-pluto were bungling in the 12-15degrees of sagittarius-gemini supporting the sibly

    Sharon, any time on the 4th of July has 2 planets in gemini and 0 in sagittarius, so the
    focus is always on gemini.

    What counts most for me for the angle degrees of the sibly chart:
    -Tiger Woods with prominent neptune on 12 sag (linked with his moon), who hasn’t heard of Tiger Woods?
    -Robert Jackson, the Judge of the Nuremburg Tribunal after ww2, had mars node-ruler, mars on
    12 sag. I’m sure they sent someone who was representative of the American spirit.

    In the Scorpio chart is very weak to me, the meridan aligned to the moon’s nodes, the scorpio
    tone is basically the pluto-nodes conjunction.

  8. Were not the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and WWII just wars, for a greater good?

    I think it’s wise that people are wanting more clear evidence before an intervention, but Syrians have suffered long enough and Jordan and Lebanon are both harboring refugees they probably cannot afford to continue as the years are dragging on. An esteemed American journalist died in Homs to try to present the horrors of this civil war to the Western world.

    My sense is that Assad is a Hitler type figure, committing genocide against an ethnic group other than his own.

    If you look into the truth of the world trade center incident, it would be clear that things don’t add up, and we were not attacked by Muslims that day. I appreciate people’s caution in hindsight, but I would say this is different than Iraq or Afghanistan, it is a humanitarian mission to aid rebels of an evil regime.
    Why does the US spend 1/2 of the budget on military if we don’t use it, when needed? It’s very concerning that Russia has moved a warship into the Mediterranean, and I would love you to give more insight on Russia’s and Putin’s chart. *Please* 🙂

  9. Hi Ani, I appreciate your comments. It seems you’ve come to this article via the Syria article.

    Personally, I’m not so sure there is any such thing as a truly “just” war, other than those which manage to win over the public to that perception.

    My sense is that this is a crucial turning point.
    Like a good Libra south node, I can see both sides. Since WWII, the US has been playing World Police, trying to stop the next Hitler before he can get started. And yet, in the process, we have helped create many monsters.

    Ultimately, I think we cannot pretend to know what is best for the entire World.

    “The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil.” -CG Jung

    Therefore, imho, we should be more like Voltaire’s Candide and tend to our own garden, our own people.
    (Ironically, this work was written during the last series of 7 waxing Uranus-Pluto squares)

Comments are closed for this article!