Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
New Moon / Hybrid Solar Eclipse at 19Ar05, 4-8
Mercury Direct Station at 1Ar45
Juno enters Aries, 4-13
Jupiter Quintile Pluto, 4-15
Full Moon / Appulse Lunar Eclipse at 4Sc19, 4-24
Mars enters Pisces, 4-30
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
On first glance, April appears to be almost calm and low key. Personally, I think that quiet is totally deceptive once you scratch the surface, but then again my life has been total chaos since all the stations in March. The new and full moon this month are both eclipses, so any events this month cast a long shadow over the rest of the year. Check which houses in your birthchart contain these eclipse degrees if you want a heads-up on what areas of your life are in need of some remedial overhaul. It's best to cooperate with these demands instead of blowing them off, because they only get stickier and more unpleasant if you don't resolve the underlying weakness in your foundations. We're still feeling the effects of all the planets standing still at the end of March. That's one of the major reasons April is so quiet on the aspect front -- nothing's moving very much. These "stuck" periods can be very difficult and oppressive, like a platoon in army boots marching in place on top of you. Again, these stationary planets are telling you there's some unfinished business that desperately needs to be looked at. And they won't go away until you fix it. So enjoy the calm and work on those foundations.
In terms of traditional astrological events, there's not much going on in April, other than the eclipses. There's the Mercury direct station, one "big aspect" (Jupiter quintle Pluto), and Mars and Juno are changing signs.
The new moon towards the end of the first storm pattern is a solar eclipse. Since it's an eclipse, this is a chart well worth looking at closely, especially since a large group of planets are working together on this one. It's also interesting to look at where the eclipse path falls and its unusual geometry.
A "hybrid" solar eclipse is also known as an annular/total eclipse. That's because the dark part of the Moon's shadow fails to reach all the way to the earth's surface at the beginning and ending of the eclipse event, but manages to touch ground in the middle. So early on, the Sun is obscured by the Moon except for a thin ring of sunlight (called an annulus) around the edges, but is totally blotted out later on. The path of annularity and totality is mostly over the South Pacific, but it briefly touches ground around Panama and finally ends over Venezuela. The partial phases of the eclipse (where the Moon takes a "bite" out of the Sun's disk) can be seen as far north as the southern US up to the Ohio valley. Some astrologers contend that areas of the earth where the eclipse is actually visible are more affected, though this idea is not so widely accepted anymore.
The eclipse point is close to the planet Venus and widely opposite Jupiter, all of them square Saturn, a big T-square. On the other half of the sky is a wide variety of planets in a big fan-shaped pattern, including Pluto, Mars and Neptune. Both the T-square and the fan seem to be pointing towards Saturn as the key planet in this chart. With Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus all in Aries (not the best place for Venus), there's a powerful focus on your own self-interest and concerns, with a desire for things to go smoothly as they are going your way. However, they are all opposite Jupiter in Libra, so that as you reach out into the world to achieve your goals, it's necessary to compromise and work with others to a degree you may be impatient with. I doubt the conflicts are severe or that uncomfortable, generally speaking, but it's obvious these days that not everyone is able to get their own way all the time. You have to give sometimes. At the same time, your drive for self expression and to impose your wishes on the world is greatly compromised, with Mars so close to Neptune. This is another strange contradiction in terms, with the most egotistical of planets closing in on the most giving and selfless. It's vital to realize that the extremes of behavior won't work very well now, so we need to settle on a more subtle and nuanced approach that balances the extremes out. Neptune and Pluto both form quincunxes with Saturn, so our higher natures are having a lot to say about how we conduct ourselves in everyday life. We need to be motivated by the highest intentions now if we're to avoid the worst outcomes. All of which brings us back to Saturn in Cancer. This is not a favorable placement for Saturn, as Mr. Brass Tacks really hates having to put up with a place of such squishy sentiment and emotion. He feels mired in the past here, his actions hampered by ties of blood and history that prevent any forward motion. It's critical to create a supportive setting that benefits everyone (though I wouldn't push Saturn so far as to demand actual emotional warmth from him), but the tendency to get stuck in the same old dysfuntional patterns is tough to avoid. We don't normally think in terms of "disciplined emotions", but that's basically what Saturn in Cancer is demanding. Double check your responses before you act to insure they contribute to building a firmer foundation for everyone involved, whether it's your own family or the entire nation. We need to break through the problems that plague our world, most of which we (or our ancestors) created for ourselves. We can do much better in coming months, if only we try.
Mercury is backing up the first half of the month, reaching its direct station of 1Ar45 on the 12th. After that date, Mercury slowly resumes normal motion in the sky. Since Mercury represents the thinking or symbol using part of the mind, these 3 week periods when it's in reverse gear tend to be times when our thought processes are stuck in mothballs (or should be). Confusion abounds and communication seems to lack any clarity or certainty. This is not usually a good time to be making important decisions or attempting to perform detailed intellectual work, as the thought processes underlying these efforts are questionable and likely to need redoing later on. I wouldn't lock yourself into circumstances now unless you have the option to reassess your decisions later after Mercury is moving again. Yes, take in information, ponder your choices, talk things over with the other people involved, but actually acting on your impressions these days can be counterproductive. The basic problem is that the thinking mind has the delusion that it really understands the world and can pidgeonhole that knowledge into neat and tidy logical categories. The universe is never so black and white. There are always grey areas, exceptions to the rules and areas dominated by our blindspots that are bigger than the areas of our understanding. Normally, the model of the world we use to get by is "good enough" for our day to day purposes, but Mercury retrograde periods are not one of these times. If anything, the holes in our logic are larger than usual. The world seems a little crazy these days, another way of saying that the actual events occuring around us no longer fit snuggly into our mental boxes. Attempts to communicate with others produce more confusion and misunderstanding, despite your best efforts, since the different boxes we use to understand things fail to match up smoothly. Decisions backfire due to unforeseen "gotchas" that you failed to anticipate. It can be quite frustrating at times. The best use of this energy is to stand back from your life and watch the way your thoughts and judgments fall short of reality. By watching the shortcomings of your thinking, you gain valuable perspective on its shortcomings and limitations, even in the best of times. Our culture has an obsessive love affair with the value of pure reason -- there's no more damning insult than calling an idea "irrational", as though rationality is the gold standard of understanding the universe. Reason is only as good as the assumptions you unconsciously hold at the beginning. Start with the wrong assumptions, and reason can flawlessly proceed to the most absurd conclusions (this explains a lot about the insanity of politics). Mercury retrograde is a call to some intellectual humility, to recognize the limitations of any one-sided approach to understanding. Take these lessons to heart, as they will come in useful even in the best of times. The confusion comes to a head around the 12th, when Mercury grinds to a halt, but slowly starts to lift by the end of the month. Be careful during this time.
Juno moves from Pisces into Aries on the 13th, where it will stay until it enters Taurus on Jun 11. Here's a good influence for clearing the air in your relationships. Juno is the queen of partnerships based on mutual respect and a sense of equality, or the lack of it, as the case may be. Her sojourn through Pisces can be a time when there's a strong "victim" quality to relationships, when people suffer through issues silently, building up resentments along the way. Unfortunately, Juno never suffers a slight without working up to a rageful blow out at some point, as she simply can't stand to play the "slighted woman" forever before she takes it out on somebody. Aries is a much more forceful and direct sign than Pisces could ever hope to be. What you see is what you get with Aries. So here's a time to get all the dirty laundry out in the open and blow off all that steam that's been building up the last few months. While it may be startling at first to realize you and your partner are no longer playing Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy, in the end such openness can be quite refreshing. You're both feeling feistier than usual, ready to assert your own demands and interests, while not shrinking from a fight. Just remember to give room for your partner to be just as worked up about issues as you are. The cardinal fact to keep in mind about Juno is that she hates to be slighted or treated as second class. She may respond to such behavior by working herself into a vengeful rage or she may seethe in the background and come after you in a more covert, behind your back manner. It's best to avoid letting the situation get to such extremes in the first place, so treat each other openly and fairly as much as possible. It's easier to get into a fight under Aries than any other sign. Work together as a team with a shared point of view, show a lot of respect to each other, avoid unnecessary competition and mistrust. The fires of love can burn bright and hot during this period and you don't have to get burnt in the process. Time to clear the air!
Jupiter is quintile Pluto on the 15th, the second of 3 such contacts. The first contact was on 2004-11-5 and the final one will be on 2005-7-8. Quintiles are a funny kind of aspect, neither good nor bad, just different. Basically they produce a change in perspective so that situations that appeared to be intractible problems morph into something that's no big deal. They don't necessarily make it easy to change your mental outlook (that can still be quite a struggle), but once the shift is made you look back and wonder what all the fuss was about really. Jupiter and Pluto are kind of an odd couple. Jupiter is about reaching out to the world, expanding your horizons, making connections with others, working towards your mutual benefit. Pluto, on the other hand, is a quick trip into a deep cave inside your own psyche, a drive to explore the inner world and what motivates you at a very deep level. They may seem like a totally irreconcilable pair, but the quintile is hinting this conflict is one of appearances only. At a more inclusive level, both planets must be given their due. Issues of integrity and authenticity often come up when Pluto is active and these issues definitely affect the way you interact with others and how they respond to you. You are being called upon to handle your connections with others at a much higher level than you may be used to, operating out of genuine, heart felt sincerity and openness free of any power issues or deceit. It's no longer possible to act in terms of the "games people play" and expect good results. This is a heart chakra issue, a realization that barriers of suspicion and mistrust must be overcome before any real progress is possible. It's curious how the timing of the first contact last November coincided with some amazing shifts on the world stage. Of course, this was just after the national elections in our country (which has had some ambiguous results so far), but more important were some of the events in other nations. That includes the death of Yassar Arafat, which broke open the long standing stalemate in the Middle East, the elections in Ukraine, Palestine and Iraq, the protests in Lebanon and elsewhere, etc. Somehow, geopolitical shifts that seemed improbable a few months ago are on the evening news on a regular basis. Things are shifting in some exciting ways, but only when people decide that enough is enough, that it's time to change. Once the shift in outlook happens, the changes in the outer world fall into place with little effort. That's a quintile in action -- one day you wake up and see the world with new eyes. We've got a ways to go yet in this cycle. It should be an exciting ride.
Even though the lunar eclipse is visible throughout the US, there's not much to see. The Moon passes throught the light part of the Earth's shadow (the penumbra) and misses the darker part (the umbra) completely, so the amount of darkening of the Moon's image is hard to see.
The overall feeling of this chart is much lighter and positive than the solar eclipse chart, despite the rough harmonics (H24). Sure, Moon in Scorpio has a reputation for a brooding emotional outlook, but the focal planet in this chart seems to be upbeat Jupiter this time. Along with Venus in Taurus and Uranus in Pisces, Jupiter is part of a tight Yod pattern, the so-called "Finger of God" configuration. I wouldn't sweat out this configuration, since all the planets are relatively positive influences. If anything, the Yod may simply be a reminder to get past the darker emotional traps we fall into and actively develop the more optimistic, forward looking parts of our being. It's an interesting influence for relationships, if you operate from your highest motivations, but it can be disruptive if you're cutting corners. Let yourself act from a warmer and more inclusive position, and be open to friendship, even in the weirdest of places. The positive influences here will likely not appear in the way you're expecting before hand, so be flexible. The full moon axis is relatively isolated, except for Chiron, which forms a T-square with the Sun and Moon. First of all, it tends to bother me when the Sun and Moon are isolated like this in any lunation chart, let alone an eclipse. It's as though the center of change and action in the chart is cut off from the rest of life. The changes operate in a vacuum, as it were, and don't really affect daily life directly. So be alert to this "inner work" going on within you and try to ground it in your everyday behavior. Second, the influence of Chiron, particularly as it nears its retrograde station on May 8 (at 3Aq17), is intriguing. Looking at the zodiac signs involved, there's a lot of dynamic tension going on between the body (Taurus), emotions (Scorpio) and thinking (Aquarius) parts of the psyche. My guess is this tension is nudging us to balance and integrate these various levels of our being in a way that is more successful and useful for us, more "enlightened" in some ways. Don't get caught up in emotional soap operas, for starters. Leave some room in your life for others to make an impact on you. It's possible to experience an "aha!" moment that changes your life, if you're open to it.
Mars moves from Aquarius into Pisces on the 30th. It will be here until it slips into Aries on Jun 11. My apologies to Pisces, but Mars in Pisces? Yuck! This sign of the zodiac is the antithesis of everything Mars stands for. How can the source of ego and willpower survive in a sign based on self-denial? I can't imagine Mars is likely to be confused with a compassionate humanitarian (to be fair to him, it's not in his job description) or any of the other things Pisces promotes. In short, this is not a happy 6 weeks for Mars. Needless to say, this is not a good time for pursuing your own self interest to the exclusion of everything else -- the backlash may not be pretty. It's a pain to set aside your own plans to participate in work for the common good, but it's just a reminder to the Warrior God in all of us to slow down and not be so pig-headed, at least once in a while. Include others in your plans before you act if you want to see results. This placement can also indicate a lowering of your physical energy levels, your drive and stamina, so pace yourself and don't over-extend yourself into a slump. Temper your drive and ambition. Don't worry, Mars will be able to cut loose again when he returns to his home turf in Aries . Selflessness too shall pass.