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The Profound Opposition of Mars, Venus, the Sun, and the Moon

by Adam Gainsburg

Editors note: Readers may wish to re-read Adam Gainsburg’s earlier article on the Venus synodic cycle.

The final week of January 2010 will serve as the proving ground for a level of change not often discussed in astrological delineation.

Mars will oppose the Sun and Venus, while a Leo Full Moon forms precisely on top of the Mars-Venus opposition. This creates a double opposition of all the tantric planets: Mars-Venus and Sun-Moon. I use the word “tantric” to refer to a unification of opposites, and that principle is triply active here: masculine Mars conjunct feminine Moon, feminine Venus conjunct masculine Sun, and both pairs in opposition. Note that “masculine” and “feminine” here do not refer to gender but to the cosmological principles at play within all manifest existence.

The Mars Journey

The Mars-Sun synodic cycle is inconsistent in length. Although it is approximately 25 months in duration from conjunction to conjunction, it is the most erratic of planetary periods. From extensive research with several thousand clients and celebrity charts, I’ve come to name Mars’ phases (in order):

1. Self-Conception – conjunction
2. Gestation – post-conjunction invisibility
3. Birth – heliacal rise
4. Explorations – morning-sky ascending
5. Crisis-In-Identity – morning quadrature
6. Subjective Maturity – post quadrature, retrograde station
7. Transcendence – retrograde opposition, “midnight Mars”
8. ReOrientation – post-opposition retrograde
9. ReSurgence – direct station
10. Crisis-In-Destiny – night-sky quadrature
11. Service – post quadrature descending
12. Elder – pre-heliacal setting
13. Completion – heliacal setting, evening invisibility
(Editor’s note: The author’s terminology uses “quadrature” to represent a square.)

The Mars Journey Transcendence Phase

I propose that the retrograde Mars-Sun opposition on January 29 signifies Mars’ complete release from any limitation. At the opposition, Mars will be:

1. at his furthest geocentric distance from the Sun, which suggests Mars’ maximum individualization;
2. at perigee, that is, nearest to the center of the earth, which suggests the strongest magnetic field effect;
3. at his highest, brightest, and longest visibility in our sky, thus commanding our attention and the collective “story.”

Mars Journey

As shown in the graphic above, the opposition, which I’ve named the Transcendence Phase, marks Mars’ completion of the first half of his 25½-month journey, which began on December 5, 2008 with his conjunction to the Sun at 14° Sagittarius. The Birth into visibility at the heliacal rise was on January 15, 2009 at 15° Capricorn. As I see it, the aim of this current phase is the full exploration of the universe from within Mars’ eyes. He finds that he has attained the mundane goal (symbolized in the opposition), but not without the sense that something is missing.

A further astronomical trait of the Transcendence Phase is to consider that Mars is traveling at maximum retrograde speed, i.e., maximum internalization. In my view, Mars’ velocity acts as an alchemist for a burgeoning and powerful new archetype.

In classes, I often joke that Mars is the planet who always wins the vote on who hates retrograde the most; his nature is to exert outwardly. Now that he is retracing through the most space in the shortest amount of time, all that he has achieved (i.e., individualization) through the year-long development of his subjective self is questioned. Mars has nowhere else to exert himself as he sees the goal slipping away. What began as an unsettling feeling at the Mars retrograde station on December 20 quickly intensifies into a release from the structure of self-identity, in a kind of backwards death march into exact opposition to the Sun.

Of course, I am not saying that, at the Mars-Sun opposition every two years, all of humanity transcends into a beatific state of consciousness. Nor am I suggesting that everyone who is not born into the Transcendence Phase is doomed to never evolve. But there is an extremely powerful (rather than forceful) event at each Transcendence Phase. In my view, sentient life on Earth can find its bigger purpose, its life’s Desire, its dharma, through the combination of celestial factors listed above. Together, they create a portal into higher vision and purpose.

Sun, Earth, Mars graphic

I believe that this synodic transit catalyzes a deeper effect on us than our usual conception of a Mars-Sun opposition. The graphic above demonstrates how Earth is well within both bodies’ field effect, producing a choice between what we can see and know (Sun) and what we can do and accomplish (Mars). In a sense, our doing is extracted from the doer. This operates trans-cognitively, that is, beyond the limits of normal awareness. In my experience, meditation or any other practice with an inward focus has consistently proven helpful to actualize the transcendent potential. It has also been my observation that the influence of the synodic transit is as strong and lasting on an individual as any hard outer-planet transit and may bode equally so on the collective level as well.

January’s Transcendence

Mars at 9°48′ Leo will reach opposition to the Sun on January 29 at 2:36 p.m in Washington D.C. My assessment is:

1. We will gain a bigger view of how we can live more creatively and responsibly for our creations;
2. We can take center stage in our life, giving up those stages and causes that are not ours to star in;
3. We can perceive life and live it with more honor and inner authority.

As mentioned above, on January 15, 2009, Mars’ heliacal rise was in Capricorn; that sign can be seen to stand behind, or be the backdrop for, the current phase. Mars is now in Leo, the sign through which the longer Capricorn Mars Journey will transcend. This combination of zodiacal influences may be asking us to:

1. Bring all our service-oriented efforts forth and perform them in a way that allows us to validate ourselves;
2. Lose the heaviness of stress and control and take up the reins of the bigger adventure;
3. Retain the crucial importance of our life’s work, as we discover how to center in our deeper selves and not in the compulsions to organize life in prescribed ways.

Mars & Venus

Venus and Mars synodes

Overlaying the Mars and Venus visual synodic cycles together in the graphic above, we instantly see their symmetry — and their polarity. The pattern reveals a primordial and complex relationship that is also a profound expression of the intrinsic duality that governs the very basis of our material life.

Final Thoughts

The Full Moon at 10°15’ Leo on January 29, tightly aligned to the Mars-Venus opposition, will materialize the New Moon eclipse of January 15, 2010. This eclipse was insightfully covered by Gary Caton in last week’s TMA blog. Gary describes an “expansion-dissolution” dynamic that is strongly affirmed by the Mars/Moon – Venus/Sun opposition (from January 26 – 31), as is his read of the emergence of a “new power.”

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. Thanks, Adam, for your article. Very timely!

  2. ADAM,
    I just “found” this article (actually felt led to it) and as everything coming to me now,it is PERFECT……….THANK YOU!!!!!! Your info just helps a lot of my puzzle pieces “move” right into place……..THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  3. I HAD to google “What’s with the Planets today?” just because I cannot quite believe how much is going on in my life. The google search was a way to help mentally release some of this profound impact. I then got serious about the question and moved to the Mountain Astrologer site (of course!). The Mars-Venus-Sun-Moon oppositions explain it all! Your article confirmed so well how I am being urged for the first time in 18 years to move in a new direction with the knowledge I have acquired. It is an extremely strong energy moving through as well as around me and the force is certain about the direction to take. There HAD to be something with the planets! Thank you for all your knowledge and energy; it is very valuable.
    Spread the word my dear, spread the word! Everyone needs to understand the energy of the Solar System we reside in.

  4. Adam, this is awesome work! Adam & I had a conversation about this on the latest Goddess Astrology Podcast if anyone is interested.

  5. Hi all,

    So glad you all have enjoyed Adam’s work..

    Gary, how do we find your podcast?

  6. I’m especially appreciative of Adam’s heads-up to this Mars-Sun and Mars-Venus cycle, as Mars has been Rx-ing through my natal (11th House) Leo stellium (with Venus at 10 degrees, Saturn+Pluto exactly conjunct at 13, and Sun at 17 degrees). And my partner’s Venus is exactly opposed mine; this should be quite a full moon for us! Thanks for the heightened awareness. Any advice welcome!

  7. on a personal note: my 1/29—on Sunday 31—I experienced what “I would call a most painful heartache” as Mars c. my SonsN.Mercury–8’Leo—opposed my Mercury-Saturn-Sun -in-exact opp. to my planets in Aquarius—-felt like a dull sword being driven thru my gut. this lasted aprox. 10 hrs.

  8. Gainsburg, do consider the nobility and professionalism of acknowledging and honoring your teachers, specifically Shamanic Astrologer Daniel Giamario, from whom stems “your” Mars journey/phases and the Venus synodic cycle material. Giamario’s work on Mars and Venus was published in the Mountain Astrologer in 1997.

  9. Hello Kathryn,

    Thanks for the check-in. The huge amount of snow here delayed my response to your post.

    I certainly do acknowledge those whose work has influenced mine. In fact, in my previous article appearing here in the TMA blog site just a few weeks back, I said this in response to a reader’s comment:

    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.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with Shamanic Astrology’s (Daniel Giamario’s) approach to the Mars-Sun synode, but I take quite a different approach, beginning with the apogee conjunction. This fact, in addition to the 13 carefully chosen phase cusps from my research with many hundreds of clients, and my position that we can, in fact, delineate a synodic phase for a native in just as personally meaningful a manner as a birth chart signature strongly differentiate my philosophical, archetypal and psychological approach to Masculine wholeness through the geocentric Mars-Sun synode experience.

    Rest assured Kathryn, in every one of my articles and lectures on the synodes of Mars and Venus with the Sun, I consistently credit those whose work has been instrumental or influential on my own, including Mr. Giamario. His is a particularly outstanding one for our field, though sadly not as popular as it perhaps deserves. As you claim to be a certified SA’er (I didn’t find you on the SA site), I trust you are imbued with a healthy dose of “nobility and professionalism” yourself which Shamanic Astrology instills, a credit to our field to be sure.

    Much success!

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