Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
The Uranus-Pluto Cycle
Full Moon at 12Li35, 4-2
Jupiter Retrograde Station at 19Sa46, 4-5
Mars enters Pisces, 4-6
New Moon at 27Ar05, 4-17
Vesta Retrograde Station at 15Sa06, 4-18
Saturn Direct Station at 18Le09, 4-19
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
After a month like March, you'd think we could get some down time to recoup and get our acts together again. Unfortunately, that's not to be. If anything, the storms in April are even bigger and more dramatic than the ones we saw in March. The backbone pattern behind these storms almost always seems to involve Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, with help from numerous other faster moving planets. When you take into account that Jupiter and Saturn are both standing still this month, plus slowpoke Neptune will grind to a halt in late May, it's easy to see that this pattern is "stuck" and not going anywhere soon. We're still feeling the effects of Pluto's retrograde station on March 31 during the first half of the month, as the transformational processes kicked off by this retrograde cycle are now firmly underway (whether you realize it or not). The storm that arises around the 21st and continues into early May is truly spectacular. The waveform reaches up to a strength level of 598 units, practically a Koz Quake. These powerful storms are quite rare (thank goodness!) -- it's probably been over a year since we've seen anything like this. Hang onto your hat! At least there are no eclipses for awhile...
If you were only looking at the conventional planetary events in April, you might wonder what all the excitement is about. The month has little news in traditional terms. There are no "big aspects" to consider. Mars moves into Pisces on the 6th and 3 planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Vesta) reach their stations. The big outer planet pattern that dominates the month consists of aspects that are close without being exact. And since many of these planets are standing still or in slow motion, this pattern stays and stays, with overwhelming results. Not so obvious is a milestone in the long-term Uranus-Pluto cycle that is affecting situations in the background.
Let's first consider that Uranus-Pluto picture. The cycle between these two planets began with their series of conjunctions back in 1965-66, at 16-17 degrees of Virgo. If any astrological marker can be said to typify the Sixties, it has to be this conjunction of revolutionary Uranus with the thoroughly transformative Pluto. People born during this time period are particularly sensitive to this cycle, since it was practically burned into their DNA. These people can be movers and shakers, but not in a traditional, conformist fashion. They work more behind the scenes, trying to understand how things really work and operating from that deeper level. I was tipped off to look over this cycle after two great conversations this week with good friends that I don't get to see often, both of them born in 1966 about 2 months apart. I noticed that Uranus is at 16-17 degrees of Pisces during most of April, directly opposite where it was 42 years ago. Uranus is known to trigger or catalyze abrupt, unforeseen changes, especially when situations get too stuck or stagnant. It's almost as though he's pointing back towards the conjunction and reminding us to wake up from our stupor and get back to working for a vision long forgotten and abandoned. There's something very karmic and larger than life about these larger cycles between the outer planets. Viewing history from their perspective is more like watching a vast cosmic play than just glancing at the events of the day. Considering all the outer planet action in the next 5 years or so, we are entering a chaotic and tumultuous chapter of the human story. The people that will be driving these changes may be in the shadows now, but their influence will start being felt in coming months. There's a spirit in these planets that guides humanity to a freer, more expansive future, given time, insight and sometimes courage. Unfortunately, a few sacred cows need to roasted in order to bring about that future. Uranus will be reactivating the conjunction point again in September and next February, so don't expect quick results. However, there's a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, so eventually change will come. It may be messy, unfortunately. Let's hope we can figure out how to stay on the high road instead.
The full moon occurs towards the start of the first planetary storm of the month. In fact, as the day progresses, this rather modest looking waveform grows into the first Koz Alert of April. The powerful pattern that is built on Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus is showing its colors already, with support from Mercury and Venus. However, the Sun and Moon are not exactly part of this larger pattern at the time of the full moon, which leads to a kind of disconnect the next two weeks.
Obviously, with so many outer planets active in this chart, the energies in the air are not to be considered trivial or light-weight by any means. Jupiter and Saturn often have long lasting influence on the broader social scene. Their trine the coming year is an indication that positive changes are possible, though by no means certain. Some of the stresses and strains between peoples and groups can feel less pressing and all-compelling, if you so choose. However, there's a laziness or complacency about trines that works against such easy enlightenment. The motto of a trine seems to be, "If it feels good, keep doing it." So this feel-good time can be a mirage, a time when we simply ignore the underlying problems until they reemerge, generally worse than ever. This is why planets like Uranus and Neptune get to be so important, since they operate at a level much higher than conventional thinking can ever take us. They give us the opportunity to see past the normal human thoughts and passions that act as blind spots, preventing us from seeing clearly. We start to see life from a perspective that is much bigger than "merely human" concerns, a drama on a scale where centuries are fleeting, the earth a small corner in the mansion, our personal concerns hardly more than a dust-bunny under the furniture. This is a perspective often called spiritual or cosmic, attempts in words to convey a vista we can imagine only on our best days. Don't let the status quo box you into a corner, restricting your freedom of action and blinding you to the view from the mountain top. Our thoughts and feelings these days are not just our own, but influence and move the world in subtle ways we generally can't see or imagine. Conventional thinking got the world into the messes we're experiencing, so it can't be expected to get us out. The more you act from your highest, clearest perspective, free from the compulsions of habitual behaviors and responses, the more this optimism infects the world around you. Each spark counters a bit more of the vast unconsciousness that pervades all human activity. At the full moon, this is probably more theory than practice, something dimly perceived but not yet applied to daily life. The ability to act on these insights is limited, since Mars and Pluto (the "doing" planets), while connected well to the full moon point, are weak and out of touch with the larger pattern. A matter of thinking one thing and doing another, perhaps. This will change with time -- we've apparently got all spring to figure this out. Question your pat answers, dig below the foundations of what you call obvious. Life is more subtle than you can imagine...
Jupiter reaches his retrograde station of 19Sa46 on the 5th, about to start 4 months of reverse gear. He will back up to 9Sa55 by Aug 6 and then resume normal motion. We generally think of Jupiter as abundance, hence Jupiter retrograde is abundance denied. To some extent that's true, however the details go deeper than that. Jupiter is more about our connections with others, how we interact, share and work together to produce a life that's better for all. The business end of things is only one part of the puzzle. This retrograde cycle is not the best for people who run their own businesses or otherwise rely on others to make a living. That's because people have less enthusiasm for the normal interactions we have with each other and how we support each other. There's a feeling of lack in the air, a sense that you need to hang onto your resources in order to get through leaner times. They stuff their hands in their pockets and do without, rather than spend their resources on things that don't seem necessary. A business person hates it when people stay away in droves. There's less coming in, while your expenses continue each month. It's usually a good idea to have a cushion to fall back on as you enter a Jupiter retrograde cycle. Plan on cutting back and getting by until people are in a more expansive mood again. It just requires a little discipline to avoid hardship. In a larger context, people support each other in many other ways besides monetary ones. Even though Sagittarius is a warm and friendly sign for the most part, it can also be fickle. Friends may be distracted and aloof, a bit depressed or serious, not in the mood to hang out and have a good time. The tendency for all of us is to crawl into our shells more than usual. It's nothing personal, so don't make a big deal of it. We'll get over it by the direct station. In the meantime, it's a good period to go within and indulge some goals that don't require other people so much. It's especially a good time for study or mental pursuits, if you have such inclinations. Just don't panic. You'll get through...
Mars moves from Aquarius into Pisces on the 6th for a 6 week stay, until it moves into Aries on May 15. Of all the places for Mars to hang out, Pisces has to be one of the signs he enjoys the least. Mars is all about ego, will-power, action, muscle and adrenalin. Pisces is more selfless and retiring, contemplative instead of engaging in action. You can practically hear our Warrior God yelling "Boring!!" as he sets foot in Pisces-land. As much as he hates being here, it's useful for Mars to settle down like this once in awhile. Mars tends to get into trouble when he's acting on his own. It helps when he can put his muscle behind a goal or activity that transcends the personal ego and works for some greater good. Other than that, he sees no reason to stay here for 6 weeks. Be patient, look beyond your own benefit, try to take other people's needs into account more often. And be happy it's only 6 weeks. Mars can cut loose properly when he gets into Aries again, his home turf.
The new moon is one of the rare times this month when we get a little peace and quiet. For 3 or 4 days here, we are between storms. Quiet transition times are a good time to rest and recoup, but lousy for trying to get anything done, so start out the week slowly. It's also one of the few times when Pluto energies are prominent, due to a close trine from the new moon point. It's curious how focused and lopsided this chart is, with 9 bodies in only 3 signs (Aquarius to Aries); the rest of the chart is rather unpopulated. Notice Saturn is about to go direct.
Yes, Pluto is still retrograde. In fact, it has hardly moved since its station on Mar 31, so we're still feeling that "grinding to a halt" feeling that kicked in during late March. Up to this point, the energies in April have been positive overall, so when Jupiter, Saturn et al go silent for a few days and Pluto finally shines through, it can be quite a change in mood. Under all that bright, intense energy is something deep and brooding, an influence that points us towards a world far beyond mundane realities. As Pluto starts to back up through the spring and summer, we'll be feeling more and more of his intensity. He's pointing out (very quietly and briefly this time around) some of our shortcomings, the places where we need to let go of useless habits and pointless plans. He's also pointing towards a more profound spiritual understanding of our roles in this world, especially as he repeatedly contacts the Galactic Center this year. The voice is quiet, dimly heard, easy to ignore for now. Next time, the Dark Lord may be much more insistent. That's just his style. Let the echos of his voice play around in your head for awhile, until life gets busy again. At the very least, consider the new directions being presented to you, even if they require you to give up on some other things that you're fond of doing. Be still, be present...
Vesta is at her retrograde station of 15Sa06 on the 18th. She will back up to her direct station of 2Sa21 by July 11, when she returns to normal motion. As with Jupiter, this entire retrograde cycle takes place entirely in Sagittarius, so beliefs and perspectives take on an exaggerated position in coming months. Vesta is a planetary energy that gains strength and comfort from withdrawing into her own presence. Oh, she enjoys others, but only to a point. When she reaches that saturation point, however, she's off to her own place for an indefinite stay until she feels whole within herself again. In short, she's a professional introvert. This can be a problem when you're travelling through such an outgoing sign as Sagittarius, especially since this is an extended 9 month stay with a retrograde cycle to boot. I somehow doubt Vesta will stay interested in the outer world for such a long time, so the Sag part of the picture may come out in different ways. This is a sign of spirit, of belief and searching, of digging to the bottom of things to find out what makes them tick. I can see her getting into a spiritual quest like this, as long as it doesn't involve leaving home. It's perhaps a time to reexamine long held beliefs and ideas. Many of our "truths" are held out of habit instead of conviction. When they become sources of limitation, when they diminish your power and effectiveness in the world, it might be time to give them a look over and chuck them out the window. Doing a spring cleaning on your brain, simplifying your mental baggage, is a liberating chore. Ideas can be inspirations, but they can also be a prison. If your beliefs don't support who you are deep inside, if they only serve a more superficial or trivial aspect of yourself, why hang on? You're much bigger than any philosophy. Just remember to say hello to others every once in awhile...
Saturn stands still at his direct station of 18Le09 on the 19th, ending a retrograde cycle that began on 2006-12-5 when he went into reverse at 25Le04. Saturn's retrograde cycles are rarely much fun. That's because he's all about being responsible and taking care of your world, a noble goal in the abstract, but often a drag in practice. Saturn is about your unpaid bills, old karma coming due, promises you haven't kept, work that is only half finished. When a Saturn cycle focuses its attention on some part of your chart (check which house it's criss-crossing currently), "good enough" is no longer good enough. He requires you take care of business, down to the last detail, and let's you know when you're coming up short. These cycles can be a lot of work, with many road blocks and frustrations along the way, but they can also be very rewarding if you put your ego aside and clean up your own messes. The good news is that Saturn is going direct. The ordeal is drawing to a close and you finally get your "report card" on how you've done. It may not be perfect (nothing on the material plane is), but hopefully it's a big improvement over the way it used to be. Slowly (my, how Saturn likes that word!), the pressure is coming off of you from this point on. If you've earned Saturn's approval, you can move on with a clean slate. Of course, if you screwed up, if all you did was create new karmic conditions to deal with, there's always another time. Saturn is patient and can always wait you out. He can't be cheated in the long run. Learn your lessons and leave on good terms. You may not love Saturn, but he's a valuable friend none the less.