Ancient Motivation

Adam Sommer
4 min readJan 3, 2024


…On Mars in the start of the year

Art by Antonis Tzanidakis

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

The year seemed to have a puttering start. With all the pent-up despair and confusion coming out in the years ending for many us, the aftermath has felt like a reach for meaning. Whether because of imbibing too much or by being exhausted by the same old stories spinning on the inner record player, it’s easy to blame Mercury — who was still retrograde when the ball dropped — or any other innocent planet trying to help. That’s never our best move. But fortunately for us, this is all about to change.

With Mercury now a morning star reaching for the hands of Ceres and Venus, there is but one more planet left to arrive in the coming days, and that is Mars. Tomorrow, Jan. 4th, Mars will also reach an exalted position by stepping to the base of Capricorn Hill. This combination of his helical rise and this earthen sign can inspire our movements much more than the guilt or shame we feel living in our resolutions. It’s going to take a lot of effort to continuously navigate the themes to come. With all this coming at the start of the year, I find it quite auspicious.

The first degree of Capricorn has been getting a lot of attention lately. Aside from the Sun crossing it on the Solstice, Mercury had its cazimi there as well. It’s a degree that some call the “Gate of the Gods.” It’s the part along the milky road of stars where souls find the exit door; it’s also a signal for a Sun-god (like JC) to be reborn; It’s also when Pan in the form of the seagoat wiggles away from disaster, to find safety in the lands of Egypt. In other words: it’s a degree that is both a pivot and an ancient invitation.

For over 4,000 years (at least) we have related to this space as where the seagoat splashes and climbs. A strange creature indeed: goat from the sacrum up, all fish deep down. There are numerous interpretations of its meaning, yet the one that always sticks with me is to have our fins swimming in the mystery and our eyes constantly scanning the peaks of the landscape of our lives. We come ashore when we are born, and we dive back in when we are done; it’s in between these “gates” we must travel with grace and curiosity. Something not easily done when constantly bombarded with bad news.

I’m going to assume that most of us reading this have been blessed with a certain amount of freedom we take for granted. We aren’t homeless in Gaza at the moment. We haven’t quite experienced our savings evaporate with hyperinflation — yet — but we feel its effects nonetheless. This entire barrage quickly activates Mars within us all. We become angry and dark, full of complaint and worry; as Kierkegaard says, “…our anxiety is the dizziness of [our] freedom.” Mars also gives us the ability to discern, cut out, and hold firm to the boundaries we set in our lives, yet there needs to be a proper motivation. As we all know, there isn’t a high percentage of New Year’s Resolutions that we have kept for 365 days. I feel this is because of poor motivations ( ie. If we want to get in shape but hate the gym, perhaps we may find joy and pure motivational forces by getting involved in some seagoat activities: swimming, climbing, and just getting out to the water and earth.) Joy is the great motivator, not lack or fear or guilt. This is the root of so many of our failed commitments to change.

And so, with Mars slowly emerging behind Mercury and Venus in those early hours, we have this sweet spot of an opportunity to find a new flow state in 24'. Adventure beckons. It’s different than before. I think we all know that this year isn’t going to be any easier than the last, so we best get in the best shape of our lives — mentally, spiritually, and, of course, physically as well. To think of it more as an Ideal than a Goal is helpful. It’s those early hours that hold the key to all of this.

*the first person to spot Mars and take a photo of him wins access to one of my Mars classes

**If you’d like to learn more about these cycles, I have many classes and readings on my website about the subject.


Mercury leaves post-shadow: Jan 21st (8º Cap)

Mars into Capricorn: Jan 4th

Mars sextile Saturn: Jan 10th (4" Cap/Pisces)

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Adam Sommer

Dedicated to Kosmos, Mythos, and Psyche. “Great stories are worthy of constellations.” Substack: