The Astrology of April features Mercury, Mars, Uranus Neptune and Pluto. Mercury and Mars both remain retrograde at the beginning of the month. Mercury stations direct on the 4th and escapes its retrograde shadow on the 23rd. The usual symptoms of missed connections and mechanical breakdowns will likely prevail over this entire period, while internal meditative profundity wins out over direct action. Mars stations to direct motion on April 13th, although he will take until June to return to where he started when he began his own retrograde in late January. Especially over this current April cycle we might be spending more time questioning our motives than in acting on them. While still retrograde, Mars also aspects Neptune as well as Uranus and Pluto at the time of the April 6th Full Moon and in the week that follows. Thus the cosmos provides a rocky beginning to the month if you want to quickly move ahead, but in the context of these retrogrades gifts you with an excellent time to look within, and to dialog or to journal regarding what you are up to in your life.
Uranus and Neptune are strongly configured in the April skies. Uranus was aspected by the Aries New Moon that proceeded the current month, when the New Moon occurred at the Mercury/Uranus midpoint, in close conjunction with them both, and is prominent at the time of the April 21st New Moon in early Taurus, while Neptune is aspected in this latter configuration as well, and by the April 6th Full Moon. A week later we have a quite remarkable Friday the 13th, being accompanied by a Last Quarter Moon emphasizing Neptune that also aspects Chiron and Venus in square, presaging relationship insights of a deep and healing nature. Over the entire month, the synchronicities and unexpected enlightenment that characterizes the symbolic presence of Uranus in our psychic air space will be joined by the universal compassion and idealism represented by Neptune, idealism that can drift into illusion and that can also be confusing as it collides with practical objectives.
The Grand trine to Pluto that began the month fades as the month wears on, but Pluto remains emphasized by virtue of its own retrograde station, on April 10th. With all three outer planets prominent we are reminded of the big push this year for deep and soul-searching transformation that involves all three, especially focused on the forming Uranus-Pluto square. At the April 21st New Moon we might get an early hit of this powerful and truly revolutionary world transit, increasingly active now, which perfects on June 24th, and so for the entire remainder of the spring is growing more and more forceful. Like it or not, and ready for it or not, we are all in a process of radical transformation, for the sake of the life of the society around us and with regard to our own individual lives as well. We are faced with necessary in our own best interest but that doesn’t make it any easier. Change is difficult, and ruts are easy to get stuck in, until the universe says “enough” and comes along to blast us out of them.
The Libra Full Moon taking place on Friday, April 6, strongly aspects Neptune, and comes as a culmination of the previous two weeks of the lunation cycle that began on March 22nd with a New Moon emphasizing both Uranus and Neptune as well as retrograde Mercury. Now Mercury is in direct rather than retrograde motion, having turned around in the sky (seemingly) as recently as this past Wednesday. The symptoms associated with the Mercury retrograde period – such as missed connections and mechanical/mental breakdowns – are still somewhat active for about two weeks longer, since Mercury takes a while to straighten out, but a significant shift in the energy can be perceived at this time toward a more forward-going momentum. The Mercury retrograde period is also good for inward reflection, taking a meditative stance on where we are heading and why, and that too is still very much a part of the current configuration as we move toward the middle part of this present month.
Full Moon in Libra
We have plenty of food for thought. The revelations provided by Uranus in Aries keep coming and they are aided and abetted by the emphasis now on dreamy Neptune. Neptune is aspected at this Full Moon time by the Sun and Moon, and by its opposition to a slow-moving retrograde Mars in perfectionist Virgo. Since Uranus unfurled symbolizes this entire monthly cycle and indeed year, we have some clear visions percolating through our minds and hearts of what things could be like if we could only manifest upon the fertile field of this green earth our deepest and most wildly optimistic desires.
Neptune with Uranus can manifest as the hopeful and future-oriented idea, the out-of-place illusion or even deception depending on how well-grounded that vision might be in our waking life. It takes both dream and practicality to remake a world. As we ponder the implications for moving forward imbued with the sacred vision of a better life for ourselves individually and collectively, we need to see to the form as well as the vision and plan a way forward that is workable. We need in other words to not only trust in Allah but also to make sure to tie up our camels as well. Then, too, this is in fact only the beginning of what will be fleshed out and made manifest by further process over the coming weeks, leading up to an immensely potent Summer Solstice, so that we remain in the preliminary stages yet of our unfolding vision in this beginning part of April. The precise steps are unclear and the future is uncertain, so that we also need to rely on inner guidance and to meditate sincerely on the truth of our inner knowing and attempt to distinguish forward-looking optimism from impractical or self-serving fantasy. It is a daunting prospect to leave the past behind and to venture out on the unknown waters that might take us where we need to go but that also might take us under. But that does not mean that we can ever stop trying..
The Last Quarter Moon that comes along on Friday, April 13th, is an interesting one, befitting the superstitious black-cat glory of the date. As always this lunar phase signals a time of reflection and contemplation of the events of the lunar cycle thus far, in attempt to see these happenings and yourself more clearly. Meanwhile, at the time of the Quarter Moon, the Sun and Moon make a T-square to retrograde Saturn, in a quiet increase of inward tension. Your naturally contemplative stance is also aided this cycle by the retrograde of Mercury, recently turned to direct motion but still remaining in its retrograde shadow for the next ten days, and of the retrograde of Mars as well. Mars actually stations to direct motion later on the same day, in powerful opposition to Neptune, therefore strongly bringing in his spacey energy. This entire lunation has been Neptunian so that plenty of allowances have had to be made for the otherworldly dreaminess of this poignant archetype, which transports us to dimensions beyond the physical and allows us to tap into the deeper places within us. Now contrasted with the practicality and sense of limitation represented by Saturn, a basic polarity is set up that will stretch you and challenge you as you attempt to hold both perspectives simultaneously and reflect on where the cosmos is actually taking you.
Last Quarter Moon in Capricorn
Challenges in your life are there for a purpose; easy to forget in the passion of the moment, but incontrovertible when you review after the passage of time. As famous astrologer and mystic Alan Oken puts it, if you have a difficult experience and you do not learn from it, using it to ratchet yourself upward into a more consistently conscious state of being, what’s the point? Ideally, your way forward involves both Neptunian vision and Saturnian grounding as – based on your experience – you make your way forward, sometimes slowly and painfully, sometimes joyously, to where you were all along supposed to go.
The combination of Mars with Neptune is a tricky one. You can’t be entirely sure where you are standing. You might be making a drama out of ordinary events or on the other hand you might be seeing, in the Blakean phrase, “the universe in a grain of sand and eternity in a wildflower.” Or it might be both deceptive illusion and a form of truth. It is difficult to discern illusion from true seeing, and hard for the logical mentality to accept the necessary paradox implied by living in the spiritual as well as the purely physical world. Yet somehow we must try, and for the highest, as we attempt to navigate the shimmering waters of Neptune and simultaneously bring real-world practicality into the occasion.
The Taurus New Moon taking place on Saturday, April 21st – at midnight on the West coast and early morning elsewhere – is a dynamic one. The New Moon closely aspects Neptune, while Mercury is in forming conjunction with Uranus, guaranteeing still more synchronicities in the works for us over the next few weeks while the sensitivity represented by numinous and otherworldly Neptune is also still very much in the picture. Music and poetry are emphasized, and an introspective attitude that prompts us to see beneath the covers of actions and relationship motivations. This is especially so with Venus slowing in Gemini as it prepares to retrograde on May 15th. Meanwhile, Mars is still recovering its lost Zodiacal ground from its own recent retrograde, working up through the early degrees of Virgo, and at the New Moon opposes Neptune, emphasizing even more strongly a poetical and refreshingly miraculous view of the world around us.
New Moon in Taurus
Uranus and Neptune posited together make for an interesting and highly spiritual mix of energies. Their axial alignments every eighty-five years or so are implicated in the founding of new religions. Uranus gives the gift of insight, and Neptune the gift of compassion, enabling us to understand ourselves and our world just a little bit better, perhaps as the result of synchronous or mystical experiences in which the magical quality of what we really and truly have going for us becomes for a moment or two more immediately evident. When a surprising so-called coincidence comes along over these next few weeks, you win when you take the time to analyze it for its ulterior meaning. Could it be that this collision of events is trying to tell you something, or perhaps alter your course a little? You can find startling enlightenment and mystical motivation around every corner or – as Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter famously penned – “in the strangest of places/ when you look at it right.”
Neptune can be confusing as well as inspiring, and we do well to put everything that comes to us in any form to some kind of practical test. With the Sun in Taurus we are also more in tune with the workable rather than the wild and ungrounded idea. We are inclined to dismiss the mystical truth that has no bearing on day-to-day life, or merely complaining about a problem, choosing instead to focus on what can be done about it. This action attitude will become more and more of a necessity as the summer months come on, since the Uranus-Pluto square, drawing ever closer, becomes exact in the week following the June 20th Summer Solstice. The tension builds until then, with the pressure on for us to get it right. And what can help is when we can step back from our activities in the physical world and see with the numinous and other-dimensional viewpoint of Neptune, giving us at least a momentary glimpse behind the curtain that shields us from this ultimate reality.
The First Quarter Moon that takes place in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 29th, is an exciting one, aspecting both Pluto and Chiron. The Sun in Taurus trines Pluto in Capricorn exactly, with Chiron residing in Pisces at almost their perfect midpoint. Traditionally this phase represent a time when the rubber meets the road as far as seeing the changes through that were only glimpsed at the time of the New Moon a week earlier. Since this New Moon was a powerful one, closely aspecting Neptune, it stands to reason that this First Quarter phase would be powerful as well. We are enjoined to attempt to see through the illusions and potential confusions of Neptune and to strive for greater clarity in our dealings with others, within the deeper levels of our own psyche, and regarding our inner mandate for spiritual evolution.
First Quarter Moon in Leo
With Pluto so involved we are of course reminded of the transformation of death and rebirth that he represents, and as well of the pain (Chiron) of the implied loss. We might be more than ready to shuck important pieces of ourselves in our own best interest, but that doesn’t make it any easier to follow through with that high resolve and actually do so. As a noted astrologer of my acquaintance recently put it, the butterfly is in the womb of its process and great beauty will result, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the caterpillar.
As the caterpillar’s cells turn to mush there are initially only a few butterfly cells that are engendered and, as Chakra specialist and activist Anodea Judith likes to point out, these are called “imaginal” cells, and although the immune system tries to fight them off they overpower it and succeed in changing the form that they invade. And of course this is just what we as individuals need to do in order to accomplish what is necessary for the surrounding society where we make our home and which provides our sustenance. If we are talking about the structure of our own separate lives the metaphor remains the same. Even though the system fights back with all its dying powers, we must become the imaginal cells in that failing system, forcing it to its knees, and to the promise of its eventual evolution that we envision. We already hold that vision firmly in our hearts and only need to externalize it into the world, giving it a new birth.