The world is young. This morning I noticed that our azalea bushes are getting ready to bloom. The grass is growing out and getting raggedy. Rabbits appear, nibbling on all the new weeds in our yard. The birdsong is louder, and my windows are open.
The coming month is full of fiery influences. The fire signs are fresh, impetuous, spontaneous, playful – like spring. They’re also hot-blooded, impatient, and sometimes combative. Throughout April, we have four to five planets in fire signs. The second strongest element this month will be earth, and this helps ground the energy somewhat.
Of all the fire signs, Aries is the most rambunctious and dynamic, and there will be a strong Aries influence all through April. So there will be plenty of passion, especially among the young. I remember what it was like being young, that constant high level of excitement, anxiety and confusion, and the endless search for a larger meaning. Young people are vital, creative, full of promise - but also so easily exploited, so often lacking in worldly power.
Ever since the sun entered Aries, there’s been a spate of deadly terrorist activity - in Belgium, Turkey, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan. In Lahore, sixty-nine picnickers died, many of them young, many children. And although I know nothing of the suicide bomber who carried out the attack, it’s likely he was also young.
The fire signs are the heroic ones, the ones who want to demonstrate their courage and dedication to noble principles. When a suicide bomber is surrounded by people praising him for this “selfless” act, how can he turn away from it? He’s caught up in the worship of violence. Violence is a fetish in every culture in the world today, although in some much more than in others. Handling instruments of death and destruction, a person becomes as powerful as a god, for just a moment – and then it’s over.
With the sun in Aries, this culture of violence is even more apparent to all of us. We no longer live in a world where the young are carried up a mountain and sacrificed to the gods with an obsidian blade. But still, we practice human sacrifice, and it’s a cause of great suffering.
Even in this fiery month, there’s one factor that might slow the bloodshed, and that’s Mars turning retrograde. Mars is the ruler of Aries, and it’s the planet of action, will, physicality, desire, anger, combat, competition, blood and war. It retrogrades once every two years, and then stays in apparent reverse motion for a little over two months.
Usually Mars makes a few aspects every month, and these aspects make it visible. When it makes a soft aspect to another planet, that planet is suddenly vitalized, and things get done. When it makes a hard aspect to another planet, the planet has to struggle with some conflictive energy. Either way, the rough, fast energy of Mars comes through.
But this month, Mars makes no aspects to any other planet. It hovers there, barely moving. In April, its function seems to be mainly jinxing most plans to move forward. On all sides, monkey wrenches will be thrown, and gears will grind. It takes a while to find the wrench, extricate it, and get the engine fixed, and when that’s done, something else may break down. There’s a pervasive uncertainty, very different from Mars’ usual brashness.
This is not a particularly good month to attack anybody, especially after mid-month. And when people do attack each other, they’re likely to end up hurting themselves. But this doesn’t mean that people will stop trying, since all this fiery energy seeks outlets. However, we may see more people burnt by their own matches. For example, more of the GOP front-runner’s insults could bounce back onto himself. More of his people may get busted for enacting violence on people in the crowd.
The point of Mars retrograde is to turn us all away from business as usual. How do we use our energy, our passion, our will, our amazing physical bodies? What are we doing with these resources? When we come to a place where new beginnings are possible, what do we choose to do? What doors do we open? What paths do we create, leading to which futures?
This is the month of the Aries new moon, always a great time to plan the future. It’s the optimum time for planting seeds, both literally and figuratively. It’s a time of renewal for this world we’re living in, a place that’s abundant, surprising, and beautiful. There’s so much we can do here, and this is the time to experiment, to try new things, to follow our inspirations.
With Mars retrograde, we will have to pause though, to look at the situation in a different way, and sometimes even to refrain from whatever we passionately desire in the moment. We might have to attend to the things we’ve learned from the past. We might need patience, and a sense of humor. We might have to take a lot of deep breaths until an impulse passes, especially if the impulse involves firearms. And if we can’t resist, and we throw a punch, or lob an insult, we might need to step back, before the energy comes around to us again.
The world is young, and full of vigor. All that we long for is before us. And also before us are the shadows, the contradictions, the wounds and knotholes, everything that’s part of living. It’s never quite as simple as it appears at first. It’s okay to hesitate, in this moment, as we stand here and imagine the new world we are entering.