The Sun-Mars Synodic Cycle

Mars is currently retrograde, so close to the earth and at its brightest in the sky. Since it’s opposite the Sun now, look for it in the eastern sky after sunset. And now you can see Jupiter and Venus in the western sky. These are beautiful nights for star gazing if you are lucky enough to have a view and clear skies.

The synodic cycle of Mars and the Sun is the period between two consecutive conjunctions of these planets. The synodic cycle with Mars is not totally consistent, but somewhere around 25-26 months. The actual length will be between 762 – 819 days, with an average length of 779 days. (1)

We can consider the cycle to begin at the superior conjunction when Mars is in direct motion and conjunct the Sun. The cycle reaches the halfway point at the opposition between the Sun and retrograde Mars. The current cycle began on February 4, 2011, with the Sun and Mars at 15º Aquarius. We’re just past the opposition — it was on March 3, 2012, with the Sun at 14º Pisces and Mars retrograde at 14º Virgo.

We are all born with Mars (and each of the other planets) in a synodic relationship to the Sun. We most commonly think of the Sun-Moon cycle — the arc between the two luminaries at birth. That arc, called the phase angle, repeats every 29 days. (Astrologers have commonly used this, sometimes for determining times of fertility in a woman’s horoscope.)

The late Robert P. Blaschke demonstrated a sophisticated theory and practical use of synodic cycles in his 2006 book, Holographic Transits, which I reviewed for TMA.

Robert first explains the mechanics of the synodic cycles of all 10 planets with the Sun. He shows how to work with the phase angle return charts, that is, the time within the cycle when the birth angle repeats itself. These vary in frequency: Venus is every 584 days; Mercury, every 116 days; and erratic Mars, who’s average is 779 days.

Along with his impeccable explanation of the mechanics of the synodic cycles, Robert proposes a theory that considers the fate vs. free will question. He writes about astrology as depicting the space-time continuum. He describes the transits to the birth chart as connected to one’s fate, which is associated with time. He then describes free will as related to space — the recurrence of the synodic cycles, i.e., the phase angle return, of a birth chart is related to free will.

The practical application of this theory is that the phase angle return is when the individual can most directly and efficaciously use free will to change patterns related to the particular planet during one’s life.

Regarding Mars now, anyone born with Mars retrograde just past the opposition to the Sun with be having the phase angle return sometime in the next few days. (I’m paying attention to this because I have retrograde Mars inconjunct the Sun — before the opposition — and had the phase angle return a few weeks ago.) Remember, with Mars the phase angle return will only be every 25 months or so. If, for instance, you were born with Mars in a closing square to the Sun, your phase angle return will be sometime around June 7, when Mars in the sky at 18º Virgo will square the Sun at 18º Gemini.)

Another idea from Robert: people born in the same prenatal synodic cycle are part of a “soul group” who have incarnated together. (This notion does explain why you can have an especially close or familiar feeling about people born close to you, again specifically depending on the planet you are talking about.)

Since Mars is the subject here, look (in the ephemeris) for the conjunction of Mars with the Sun that occurred before you were born. Cast a chart for that conjunction at your place of birth. In the case of Mars, Robert felt that “one’s individual hologram of passion emanates from an immense ‘desire matrix,’ of which one is a part.” (2) He also said that those born in our same Sun-Mars synodic cycle have “similar karmic inclinations and tendencies, as well as similar leadership abilities.”

The degree symbol (Sabian or any other symbol system) for the Ascendant shows one’s personal place within that group. The degree of the conjunction is also significant as well, of course.

I spent time yesterday looking at family member’s prenatal Sun-Mars conjunction charts cast for the birthplace and it was riveting. The aspects to the conjunction are important as well. (I have the prenatal Sun-Mars conjunction in an exact square to Uranus, which feels like it says a lot about me, and, as Robert writes, it will also describe all the souls born within that 25-month cycle. The Ascendant degree is what makes it specific, as well as the way the prenatal conjunction chart interacts with the natal.)

Have fun with this if you’re inclined to try it out with your own chart. I’d love your feedback.

We miss you, Robert!


(1) Astrology, A Language of Life, Vol. V: Holographic Transits, by Robert P. Blaschke, Earthwalk School of Astrology, 2006.

(2) Astrology, A Language of Life, Vol. V: Holographic Transits, pg. 128.

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