PART ONE by Daniel Giamario
The New Mars Cycle of Libra to Begin April 8th, 2014
On the evening of April 8th, Mars will rise in the East, just as the Sun sets. Technically, this is called the Acronychal Rise similar to when the Full Moon rises in the East as the Sun sets in the West. In this case it is Mars rising in the East as the Sun sets in the West or stated another way it is the Sun/Mars opposition. This year, on April 8th, the Sun/Mars opposition is occurring at 18 Libra 56.
This also happens to be the point in the Mars synodic cycle when Mars is closest to the Earth. In contrast Mars will be furthest from the Sun (aphelion) in May-June, 2015. Six days after opposition, on April 16th, 2014, Mars is closest to the Earth, about 57 million miles away and is also at its greatest brilliance from the Earth’s perspective.
Mars Opposite the Sun
During the April 8th, 2014 opposition, Mars reaches a magnitude of -1.2, only slightly dimmer than the bright star Sirius. During this Mars opposition, Mars is not all that bright or close to Earth. In contrast, the Mars opposition to the Sun in 2003 saw Mars’ brightness at -2.9, more than 4 times brighter than the current cycle and at that time was even brighter than Jupiter can ever be. Mars is always retrograde when it is opposite the Sun and is usually retrograde for nearly three months. This year Mars is retrograde in the sign of Libra for 79 days from Feb. 28 to May 18th, 2014.
When looking at the synodic cycle of Mars from opposition to the Sun to the next opposition to the Sun the average length of the cycle is about 26 months. Mars has an eccentric orbit creating considerable variability in each cycle with regards to length, distance from Earth, and brightness.
Even with the variability, each synodic cycle of Mars will always have the same phases and the same developmental processes relative to the observer on the surface of the Earth using the naked eye. It helps in understanding the phases of the Mars cycle by comparing the phases of the synodic Moon cycle, or the observable phases of the Moon (over 29.5 days) from New Moon to New Moon. Each month (moonth), the Moon cycles through all her phases, including the First Quarter Moon, Full Moon Last Quarter Moon back to New Moon and all the phases in between.
It is important to know that the pattern and meanings of the phases of Mars, (as well as Venus and Mercury), are completely unique archetypal expressions of that planet. The cycle of Venus, Mercury and Mars all have specific phases and meanings associated with each phase. The Moon also has its own equally unique pattern that repeats itself every 29.5 days.
Mars in Shamanic Astrology
There are many possible meanings and interpretations of Mars from different frameworks or schools of astrology and astronomy. In the Shamanic Astrology paradigm, Mars by sign primarily represents the specific archetypal expression of the masculine principle (the animus) for both men and women. For men, Mars symbolizes the archetype of the masculine or the intended current life expression of the new “god”.
For women, initially, Mars represents the projected externalized imagery of the masculine or the beloved. The intent for a woman is to eventually internalize and integrate her Mars in the psychological/spiritual process of the Sacred Marriage. This is when a woman develops the capacities and ability to take responsibility for her own Mars, ultimately creating wholeness.
Shamanic Astrology recognizes 12 organically evolving and ever changing core archetypal expressions of Mars (and 12 archetypes of the feminine for Venus). This represents the full spectrum and wide diversity of the symbolisms of each planet. These energetic patterns are found to have more essential value and significance than the more popular and more culture-bound definitions of masculinity (or femininity). Therefore, Mars is not to be identified with men per se (or Venus with women), but rather as the archetypal expression of the Masculine and Feminine.
Mars in the Current Culture
The Shamanic Astrology Mystery School continually questions and exposes the cultural and historical biases and assumptions regarding gender. We are quick to admit that human beings are pretty confused these days about masculinity and femininity and it seems that, culturally, we have far more clarity about what they are not. This is a subject that I am exploring in greater depth in a new book. However, the 12 signs, or archetypes of Mars, contain extremely useful and quite specific instructions for exploring our intended purpose as men and women at this time in history.
The synodic cycle of Mars through its 26 month phase process, describes the currently unfolding story and journey of the masculine principle through its 12 unique archetypal expressions. On April 8, 2014 a new cycle begins, bringing the LIBRA masculine archetype to center stage in the theater of life. The following is a proposed structure for understanding and participating in this journey as the Mars in LIBRA god steps onto the world stage.
Where Does the Mars Cycle Begin?
The first consideration is to determine where the cycle begins. Unlike Venus where there exists a variety of historical and traditional precedence (Babylonian, Sumerian, Mayan, etc), that uniformly placed her cycle as beginning with the Heliacal Rise (currently being used by the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School), no known experiential or mytho-poetic tradition exists for Mars. In the non-experiential and abstract considerations of mainstream astrology, the Mars cycle is thought to begin with the invisible Mars/Son conjunction.
Shamanic Astrology places great importance on direct observation of the visible planetary cycles. For this reason, the Heliacal Rise of Mars has been ruled out as the starting point of any Mars cycle, because it’s at that phase of the cycle that Mars is so faint and difficult to see that it’s hard to locate through visual observation (and the conjunction is totally invisible taking place behind the Sun). Over the last 20 years we have found the acronychal rise of Mars (Mars opposite the Sun) is the most dramatic and useful starting point from a visually oriented perspective.
At opposition, Mars is:
3) Retrograde (Shamanic Astrology views the retrograde phase of any planet as the time when metamorphosis occurs, or when complete archetypal change takes place shifting from one sign to another.
4) Mars remains in the same sign for 6-8 months
Note: Similar conditions also apply to the synodic cycle of Venus at her Heliacal Rise or the starting point of a new Venus Cycle.
The Six Phases of the Mars Cycle
Phase Zero: Conception, Gestation, Incubation, and Metamorphosis
December 7, 2013 – April 8, 2014
Although the synodic cycle actually begins, or births, at opposition (April 8, 2014), there is a preliminary phase just prior to opposition. This is something like an initial dream or vision that occurs as Mars enters into the sign of the next opposition. Mars also begins the retrograde phase during this time. It’s here that the new archetype is actually conceived. During this phase, Mars rapidly increases in brightness, dominating the late evening and morning sky.
December 7, 2013 Mars entered Libra
February 28, 2014 Mars stationed retrograde
Phase One: Birth/Emergence/Youth April 8, 2014 – July 2, 2014
This phase, commencing with the Acronychal Rise, includes the birth, youthful education, and the onset of puberty of the new “god” LIBRA. It concludes with something similar to a strategy council or a specific period of training before embarking on the intended quest.
April 8, 2014 Sun opposite Mars at 18 Libra 56
Birth of the new archetype
May 18, 2014 Mars stationary direct at 9 Libra 01
Mars at puberty
July 2, 2014 Mars reaches the initial degree of the opposition at 18 Libra 56
Training and education is complete
Phase Two: The Labors of Mars July 2, 2014 through April 17, 2015
During this phase are found the late teenage and young adult challenges. Each labor carries the “god” to a new place of additional knowledge and greater experience. This phase describes how the new expression of the archetype can rise to meet the challenges. There can be 7 to 11 conjunctions of the Moon with Mars during this phase that illuminate this journey of Mars as he travels across the evening sky from east to west. The constellations and signs he passes through articulate the nature of the challenges encountered.
July 5, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #1 20 Libra, with Spica
Aug.3, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #2 4 Scorpio, with Acrux
Aug.31, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #3 22 Scorpio, with the Scales
Sept.29, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #4 10 Sagittarius, with Antares
Oct.28, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #5 2 Capricorn, with the arrowhead of the Archer
Nov.25, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #6 23 Capricorn, with the centaur’s flanks
Dec.24, 2014 Mars conjunct Moon #7 16 Aquarius in the GoatFish
Jan.22, 2015 Mars conjunct Moon #8 9 Pisces in the Water Bearer
Feb.20, 2015 Mars conjunct Moon #9 1 Aries, at the Vernal Equinox below the Fish
March 21, 2015 Mars Conjunct Moon #10 23 Aries
Phase Three: Mars in the Underworld April 17, 2015 through August 5, 2015
In this phase, Mars enters into a 15 degree orb with the Sun and drops below the horizon into the underworld. This is the where Mars exits the world stage and undergoes a variety of initiatory experiences appropriate to the underworld, including chaos, surrender, and conditions beyond one’s control. Spiritually, this phase can be perceived as a kind of sundance or okeepa, a spiritual trial that is ultimately undergone in service to the people and the greater community. At this time, Mars is totally invisible and located at the other side of the sun.
April 17, 2015 Mars enters the underworld
June 15, 2015 Mars conjunct the Sun 23 Gemini
Aug.5, 2015 Mars leaves the Underworld
Phase Four: Libra Mars Rebirth and Growth of Wisdom August 5, 2015 through November 12, 2015
During this phase, Mars is barely visible slowly rising from the underworld. For months, Mars is difficult to see in the morning sky. Slowly moving through the signs and constellations, the Libra “god” slowly regains strength and grows in experience and wisdom as an initiated male. This phase completes with the entrance of Mars into the sign (Libra) where this journey began in April, 2014.
August 5, 2015 Mars 15 degrees from the Sun in the morning sky at 28 Cancer
August 8, 2015 Mars enters Leo
September 25, 2015 Mars enters Virgo
November 12, 2015 Mars enters Libra
Phase Five: Libra Mars Maturity and Elder Knowledge November 12, 2015 through March 5, 2016
Having now completed a long journey with many accomplishments, and powerful initiations, the Elder stage of the Mars cycle has arrived. Mars is now seen gradually gaining brightness in the morning sky. This phase represents the culmination and the assimilation of the entire journey of the development of the Libra archetype. The mature wisdom as a Libran elder can now be disseminated.
November 12, 2015 Mars enters Libra
November 28, 2015 Mars reaches previous stationary direct degree 09 Libra 01
December 14, 20135 Mars reaches the degree of the opposition 18 Libra 56, 2013
December 29, 2015 Mars reaches the degree of previous stationary retrograde degree 27 Libra 31
January 3, 2016 Mars enters Scorpio
March 5, 2016 Mars enters Sagittarius; the sign of the next opposition and cycle
Phase Zero: Conception, Gestation, Incubation, and Metamorphosis March 5, 2016 through May 22, 2016
March 5, 2016 Mars enters Sagittarius
April 16, 2016 Mars stations Retrograde at 18 Sagittarius 53
May 22, 2016 Mars opposite the Sun at 1 Sagittarius 47 BIRTH OF NEW MARS ARCHETYPE – start of new synodic cycle of Mars.