In a recent YouTube video I recorded for last week’s full moon in Pisces (Sept. 20), I emphasized that full moons are the halfway point, not the end of the cycle. They represent the culmination of the waxing, creative force, and pivot us into the receptive half of the cycle. They are the moment when the inertia of something carries it out of our hands, and what we have put into motion becomes its own and leaves the nest, so to speak. But we still participate in how it plays out, and it playing out is half of the time.
In a world of beginnings and culminations, it is easy to forget that most things are cyclic. A year ago, I wrote a column about Mars’ retrograde in Aries, which took place in the fall of 2020. But, like the moon, the retrograde period of Mars (that covers Mars’ opposition with the sun, effectively a ‘full moon’ of Mars) is only the midway point of Mars’ synodic cycle.
A “synodic cycle” commonly refers to the period of time it takes a celestial body to complete an orbital period (i.e., it takes the earth 365.249 days to complete its orbit of the sun). When we talk about synodic cycles in astrology, we are referring to a planet’s cycle relative to the sun from our viewpoint on Earth. This cycle starts with the “conjunction,” when both the sun and the planet occupy exactly the same degree of the zodiac, through the waxing “square” at 90 degrees of separation, the “opposition” at 180 degrees, the waning square and a return to the conjunction. The angular relationship between two celestial bodies is one of the primary ways that astrologers interpret how the archetypal forces represented by the two bodies are working together or running into complications. For Mars, a full synodic cycle takes about 26 months, just over two years, and through the changing angles with the sun, in these two years we experience the full cycle of the Hero’s Journey.
The idea of the Hero’s Journey was created and popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book “Hero with a Thousand Faces” (1949), in which he synthesizes mythic stories across history and culture to come up with what he calls “the monomyth,” or the archetypal plot that many stories share. This is relevant to the Mars cycle because Mars represents the hero archetype, and like Campbell’s hero, as he moves through the sky, we embark on new journeys, encounter challenges, defeat dragons and earn boons that will ultimately reinvigorate our lives.
The sun conjoins Mars on Oct. 7 at 15 degrees of Libra, beginning a new synodic cycle that will last until November 2023. The sun is the archetype of the supreme ordering principle. It is the sense of purpose in our lives that we use to help us prioritize, make meaning and earn satisfaction from our work in the world and on ourselves. Mars is our physical stamina, the ability to take action, assert ourselves and make decisions. The sun is the consciousness that lights the way, Mars takes the steps to make it happen.
The conjunction of Oct. 7th sets us out on a new quest. In Libra, a sign that denotes justice and social justice, equality and fairness, the fight is for harmony. Is that an oxymoron? Probably. And yet, the Mars cycle that resets next week asks Mars the warrior to deal out justice for all. This is not the job of a few months but of more than two years. I will lay out some of the key dates correlated with key points along the Hero’s Journey:
Oct. 7, 2021 – The Conjunction between the sun and Mars. All hero myths begin with the hero in a metaphorical wasteland, aka in post-pandemic, late-stage capitalism and Mercury is in retrograde. We know something needs to change, but are at a loss for where to begin.
Aug. 26, 2022 – The first square. Around this time we choose to commit fully to the journey, or to excuse ourselves. It is the moment of no return, where we say a hearty “yes” to our adventure, or sit this one out.
Retrograde from Oct. 31, 2022 to Jan. 12, 2023 – The period of the greatest challenge, when we test our strength and push ourselves to answer the question, “what is worth fighting for?” The exact opposition between Mars and the sun occurs on Dec. 7, 2022, which serves as the peak of this tension.
March 16, 2023 – The waning square begins the phase of “falling action.” Gradually, things become more peaceful as we integrate what we learned during the retrograde about our own strength and limitations.
Nov. 17, 2023 – The conjunction that resets the Mars cycle occurs in Scorpio.
So, if you have been feeling exhausted and are struggling to take action right now, it may reflect the fact that we are in the very dregs of the Mars cycle. After Oct. 7, a new cycle will begin, and by next March, there should be a noticeable increase in energy and clarity of purpose. Good luck out there.
You can follow Whitney’s work at: https://www.starhearthastrology.com/