Welcome to retrograde city, where the pace of life is slow and everything seems to come under review. Big adjustments may be in order and important decisions need to be made. Uncertainty abides – and that is actually a good thing, according to Jim Sher. “Uncertainty tells us that we have more free choice than at other times,” he wrote in an article a few years back when multiple planets were retrograde. (Check out Retrograde in the “Tag Cloud” on the Sher Astrology website.) “When uncertainty increases, we can no longer go on as usual,” he says. “Questions arise as to whether we need to take a new direction and if so, what should that direction be. Even if there are painful decisions to be made, it is also true that we are being given new opportunities to learn and grow. In other words, we are more free, not less.” Four planets retrograde at one time is relatively rare so the corresponding uncertainty level is higher. “People may be feeling stuck, even immobilized,” says Jim, “confused and uncertain as to how they should move forward. It may be that each time one tries to make a decision, new information comes in that changes the equation. Also, there may be an intuitive sense that we are in a period where many more things may be changing in the near future that could be even more unstable than what we are experiencing now.” Yet these are ideal conditions under which we can effectively learn to live in the moment, according to Jim, which includes facing our fears. “If we recoil and become ‘careful’ we hold back, inhibit and freeze our entire being,” he says. “There is no vision, no risks, and no growth.”
While Venus ends its retrograde and turns direct in Pisces on April 15th, it will continue to move slowly for a couple of weeks, meaning all the issues related to the review of our values in relationships, possessions and aesthetics won’t find sure footing until then. One thing that should be known by now, however, is what needs to be done. Venus’ unusually long square to Saturn in Sagittarius perfects on April 21st and remains in effect through the first week of May. This planetary alignment asks us to pare down to the essential worth of everything, beyond what is simply necessary to manage life on this planet to that which serves us in the most integral way. Venus’ sextile to Mars in Taurus, the sign Venus rules, on April 16th offers needed support to take action and overcome any fear, of spending money for example, that the Venus/Saturn pairing may trigger. Rather than treating money as a scarce commodity to be kept in reserve, try seeing it as just another object in our toolkit for life that is much more valuable in circulation.
The Sun in Aries’ harmonious trine to retrograde Saturn in Sagittarius on April 17th may shift us into the mode of taking responsibility for that which needs to be done. Managing our affairs becomes much more pleasant, as well as liberating, when we accept what is being asked of us without resisting either internally or outwardly complaining to others. Or as Carl Jung put it: “Freedom of will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do.” Saturn retrograde (April 5 to August 25) is about picking up missed steps before forward movement can proceed unimpeded. We may not know yet what is needed in the way of missing information, or if someone needs to join a project to make an essential contribution before the goal can be reached but there are usually signs to let us know we’re neglecting something. The archetype of Saturn insists on a thorough process and experiencing frustration is a clear sign something is amiss.
Supporting a slow, deliberate pace, the Sun moves into resolute Taurus on April 19th. What is interesting and fairly unusual is that the Sun will be the only planet in the fixed sign of Taurus until Mercury moves in on May 15th, with less than a week to go until the Sun departs for Gemini, meaning we may have to put more effort into solidifying the plans initiated when the Sun was in cardinal Aries. As the antidote to the brash sign of the ram, the Sun in Taurus is tender, patient and stable. Impetuosity gives way to unwavering determination to get the job done. The slow pace allows not only for all details to be noticed but also for a much richer experience. Taurus is ruled by Venus and very much concerned with knowledge coming in from all the senses. Well known for its sensuality, the archetype of the Sun in Taurus doesn’t just smell the roses, it takes in their visual beauty, their velvety touch, the sound of the breeze moving through their leaves and practically tastes the sweet nectar they offer to the bees moving from one to another perpetuating the cycle of life with fecund purpose.
Mercury retrograde (April 9 to May 3) has us reviewing our perceptions for necessary modifications, which may require some amount of processing to clarify the issues at hand. On April 19th, the communication planet backs into the Sun in the Inferior Conjunction, which officially commences the new four-month Mercury cycle. This is the “seed idea” moment, the dark new moon phase of the cycle where we can’t yet see clearly what is in store but have an intuitive glimmer that motivates us to continue on a new path. This cycle’s seed is planted firmly in the ground at the at the zero degree gate of Taurus, which correlates to practical material methodologies keeping things going. Additionally, the Sun/Mercury pair is in close alignment to a waxing trine between Uranus and Saturn in inspirational fire signs infusing into the seed an awakened sense of stability. Rather than making confining, fear-based choices that limit our freedom to explore, we may discover that stability comes from within rather than without, and directly correlates to a mind at peace in the service of our Being. Mercury backs into Aries on April 20th, perhaps to re-awaken the courage we need to be true to ourselves.
Pluto stations retrograde on April 20th opening a tunnel into our approach to the natural cycle of endings and beginnings through September 29. This review may bring to our awareness where we may not be allowing the natural “death” of something to take its course by regenerating in a transformed state. Before change can happen, we need to let go of the old, the tired, the worn out, the dysfunctional. If we can keep everything moving through their natural cycles, we remain constantly refreshed. Pluto’s subtle alchemic process is a quiet, under the radar energetic force that works regardless of how conscious we are of it. The more aware we are, however, the greater traction we may experience in becoming at one with the magical rhythms of the cosmos. Pluto remains in a tense square to Retrograde Jupiter (February 5 to June 9) that has us questioning whether our reigning philosophies and belief systems are more confining than liberating. We may feel driven to discover what guiding thought dictates our every choice.
On the political front, this dynamic review period will continue to reveal new information that underscores the state of uncertainty. Additionally, various players outside DC in New York and California are putting a bi-coastal squeeze on the president’s heartland. In addition to the New York Times’ first ever ad campaign called “The Truth” aimed at “fake news” tactics, the Los Angeles Times last week published a blazing series of editorials that drives the sense of urgency about the state of our democracy. “Those who oppose the new president’s reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard,” its normally staid editorial board emphatically wrote, “to stand up for the rule of law, the electoral process, the peaceful transfer of power and the role of institutions.” Local governments are leading the charge to defend democracy in the face of a dysfunctional congress, and New York and California are leading the way with new measures such as California’s proposed “Sanctuary State” law forbidding local law enforcement from aiding federal immigration agents in detaining undocumented residents.
On April 21st, Mars enters the air sign of Gemini, which may correlate to a lightening of our movements. After taking the methodical Taurean approach, Mars in versatile Gemini nimbly seeks as much information as possible to determine what actions to take. Often operating on multiple levels at a time, Mars in Gemini thrives on variation. Changeability is their game and the more players in it the better.
Here’s the data (using Pacific Time and planetary positions rounded to the nearest whole degree, unless otherwise noted):
April 15 – Venus station direct at 27° Pisces at 3:17 a.m.
April 16 – Venus sextile Mars at 27° Pisces/Taurus at 6:24 p.m.
April 17 – Sun trine Saturn 28° Aries/Sagittarius at 5:43 a.m.
April 19 – Sun at 0° Taurus at 2:27 p.m.
April 19 – Sun conjunct Mercury (Inferior Conjunction) at 0° Taurus at 10:54 p.m.
April 20 – Pluto station retrograde at 19° at 5:46 a.m.
April 20 – Mercury at 29°29’ Aries at 10:37 a.m.
April 21 – Mars at 0° Gemini at 3:32 a.m.
April 21 – Venus square Saturn at 28° Pisces/Sagittarius at 4:10 a.m.