The Astrology of April focuses on Mercury in retrograde, an Aries lineup as the month takes off and also once again the outer planets: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Mercury is in retrograde all month long, when you count the shadow period – the time when it is still catching up to the Zodiacal degree where it began to go backward – so we might expect the usual symptoms of missed communications and false starts. This is a particularly powerful Mercury retrograde, due to the fact that it contacts so many other planets as it moves backward through Aries. The times of its most heightened activity are the 9th, 17th and the 23rd. Mercury will be totally free of its shadow by next month, on May 11th.
The Aries New Moon, taking place on Sunday, April 3rd, in the beginning weekend of the month, features a long chain of planets in Aries, each feeding off the energies of the others. Mars and Uranus, in the beginning degrees of the sign and in almost exact conjunction, are followed by the Sun and Moon at the 14th degree – a degree with a particularly powerful Sabian Symbol – conjunct Jupiter and directly opposed to Saturn across the Zodiac at the 14th degree of Libra. Finally, in the last decant of Aries, Eris and Mercury are in conjunction. The Sabian Symbol for this New Moon is a serpent encircling a man and a woman, representing the process of transcending polarity in conscious evolution, and certainly that is precisely what these climactic times are all about.
Mars conjunct Uranus – and at the beginning of Mars' own sign of Aries – brings a creative spark of enlightened activity to the fore. It is an exciting time to be alive right now, and also, we must note, a time to temper the headstrong rush of activity with a dose of caution. It is definitely in the cards to go overboard with sudden enthusiasm and accidents are more than possible. Saturn opposed to Jupiter brings in this corrective energy of limitation as a counterweight to the rebellious and forward-going energy represented by Uranus and we do well to heed it during this powerful and climactic month.
Since Saturn, retrograde in Libra and exactly opposed to both the New Moon and Jupiter, is also now in forming square to Pluto, there is a great deal of emphasis on the darker side of limitation. Rick Tarnas, in his ground-breaking astrological study Cosmos and Psyche, refers to Saturn-Pluto as "conservative empowerment." This can be seen in reaction to the forward-going energy of Uranus in square to Pluto. So we have Uranus newly in Aries – and being given a kick this month by Mars – urging us to go forward, while Saturn holds us back, thereby pulling us in at least two directions at once. The revolutionary energy of Uranus has been prominent for weeks now, as evidenced by the Mid-East protest movement that has toppled at least one prominent dictator so far, and the reaction to that movement.
Now, with Saturn-Pluto, we will be seeing an even greater resurgence of conservative backlash within the collective. In our own lives as well, we will continue to deal with disillusion and loss of faith in ourselves, just as we are also getting a jolt of new energy to go forward and accomplish great things, freeing ourselves from the shackles of the past. We are getting both contrary impulses simultaneously, and this is complicated by Pluto in square to both Saturn and Uranus. We are thus experiencing a final surge of the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square from last summer, with all its potential drama. We win when rather than experiencing defeat we make these difficulties an occasion for learning and growth of character.
Pluto in his turn, stations on April 9th, squared by Mars in Aries, and is therefore very powerful in the midmonth timeframe. This midmonth time is also when Mercury retrograde conjuncts the Sun, and when Neptune enters Pisces for several months leading up to this summer. The entrance of Neptune into Pisces brings his planetary archetype of compassion and selflessness more fully into play. This is an energy that is also idealized in nature, wanting the best for everyone, and perhaps too, an energy somewhat confused by real-world considerations. We will very much need to access the sense of compassionate oneness with all the rest of humankind that Neptune brings. We are all in the same boat, as we are increasingly reminded, and the boat is leaking.
The Full Moon in Libra takes place on Sunday, April 17; along with the Sun and Moon, Mars and Saturn are now opposed, making it difficult to get things done. retrograde Mercury conjuncts Mars – exact on the very next day. Neptune and Pluto are also powerfully aspected at this time, Neptune by parallel, so the outer planet energies continue to be powerfully invoked. These energies take us literally out of this mundane world. Compassion is with us now, which we need both for ourselves and for others within the pressure cooker of the evolutionary impulse provided by Uranus and Pluto in combination. Their square is well within orb, and draws ever nearer right through the summer. These times are tough now and we need to be even tougher if we are to survive – and to prosper artistically – in the midst of creative chaos.
April 3rd New Moon
This exciting and intense New Moon provides a huge punch with loads of energy for visioning new purpose and also for holding back from making it happen. It is exciting to jump forward but it can be powerful also to watch and let the energy build for important changes, remaining cautious before acting on them, and that is what this configuration provides. As the proverb goes: "trust in God but tie up your camel." The urge to go forward comes from a close Uranus-Mars conjunction at the second degree of Aries, near the New Moon at the 14th degree, plus the Sun and Moon in conjunction with optimistic Jupiter . This is such an intense energy that one would do well to beware the possibility of accidents. The holding back comes from two important factors. Mercury is in the early and stronger stages of its retrograde, and conjunct the new planet Eris for additional emphasis, while, even more important, Saturn – representing limitation – is exactly opposed to this New Moon , across the Zodiac from the remainder of the planets and therefore quite powerful as well in favoring a conservative approach. The New Moon squares Pluto representing evolutionary intent and radical transformation. The implicit frustration of this moment is obvious, but might be rendered less difficult when we let go of trying too hard to steer, reflecting that Spirit has its reasons and that all things come in time to those who wait. It is important to wait with as optimistic an attitude as possible and to observe everything that is happening to you now very carefully hoping for the best but making sure also to tie up your camel.
April 11th First Quarter Moon
This First Quarter Moon, taking place in the early morning hours of Monday, April 11th, is traditionally a time of tension in our process, when we find that what seemed so easy conceptually at the time of the New Moon a week earlier becomes more difficult and complex as we get into the details and run into snags at this crossroads – which seminal astrologer Dane Rudhyar called the "crisis of action" within the cycle. Since the Moon is now in Cancer, there is a softer and more nurturing sense of ourselves available than at the time of the Aries lunation – when everything was go, go, go with little time to get into feelings or to smell the flowers. Now an entirely different energy prevails – which is the basis for the square between Cancer and Aries, where the Sun still resides. The power of the situation with this particular Quarter Moon is even more intense for several reasons, not the least of which is an especially strong Mercury retrograde period that is reaching one high point over the week of the 11th. Also, all the Aries planets are now being opposed by Saturn and squared by the Moon at this critical juncture. Finally, the Sun is in conjunction with a powerfully placed Eris (the recently named planetoid beyond Pluto) and as well a feisty Mars and Jupiter so that the gloves might come off in whatever personal conflicts come up for us Sunday or Monday morning.
April 17th Full Moon
This Full Moon continues the series of powerful lunations that began with the month's beginning New Moon in mid-Aries. With the Sun still in late Libra, it signals a culmination, in service to our process of spiritual evolution, of one stage in the energetic release and flowering of the seeds of new ideas from that time. One major difference in this mid-month time frame is that Neptune has now entered its own sign of Pisces, and is quite strong in these spring skies. The Full Moon trines and parallels Neptune and therefore even more greatly emphasizes this powerful energy of compassionate sensitivity to the plight of others, and to ourselves. Meanwhile the energy of Uranus in square to Pluto is still very much with us, representing an urge for truly revolutionary change that could begin at this very moment and within the heart/mind of each one of us. We thus constructively serve as the vital holographic link to the dramatic collective transformation that is beaming down to us from the beneficence of the surrounding cosmos. A strong Mars-Mercury conjunction exactly opposes Saturn, the dour-faced guardian of the door to this important next phase. We must also pass the tests that he imposes of concrete practicality and obedience to the standards of the past as well as of the present moment. As the poet Andrew Marvell expressed it, we must take all our past and all our future possibility and roll it up into one ball, so that we might tear our actions with rough strife through the iron gates that separate us from our emerging destiny.
April 24th Last Quarter Moon
The Last Quarter Moon of Easter Sunday in standoffish Aquarius contrasts with the Sun in passionate Taurus for creative tension. This is traditionally a time when we take stock of what has happened over the preceding three weeks of the lunation cycle – what has worked out and what just hasn't – particularly poignant in these troublesome and contradictory times that we are currently living through. We can profit enormously from the information that we glean at this juncture, a point within the cycle that seminal Western astrologer Dane Rudhyar called the "crisis of consciousness," and by making good use of the lessons learned as seed material for the next. In this case the information is particularly useful, and refers to key factors for one's process, since Mercury has only just one day ago - on Saturday April 23rd - stationed in conjunction with Mars and in opposition to Saturn. Although Mercury will remain in its retrograde shadow for the next two weeks, this station direct brings to an end the major phase of an unusually powerful Mercury retrograde period.
This configuration of the Quarter Moon that kicks off this last week of the month is interesting as well in terms of Chiron and Venus which are both closely aspected, in the very same degrees of Pisces and Aries as the Sun and Moon are in Taurus and Aquarius. This creates an interesting pattern of yearning and staying separate, with both joyful and also difficult connection to everyone around us, particularly significant others. Then, too, Mercury in Aries is closely opposed to Saturn in Libra, still emphasized by his position across the Zodiac from the personal planets plus Jupiter and Uranus. Saturn is said to be exalted in Libra, enforcing a slow approach to a hard-won and longer lasting sense of balance. This is an extremely powerful year that we are launching into, as is obvious already, leading up to the major changes of 2012 and beyond. We benefit by checking things out carefully and holding back as long as possible before we leap forward into the springtime rush of this climactic year.