Friday, March 31, 2017

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It’s a grey day, and the house is quiet since my California family (with my ten-year-old granddaughter) went back home.  Last night I got to talk to her on FaceTime, and after the usual questions about school and friends, she amused herself and me by making up an alternative history of the world. 

She described the dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and Christopher Columbus as if they’d all happened in the 20th century and their recurring source of despair was that they all had to use old-fashioned flip phones.  I got into it too;  it was silly and fun.  For some reason, she thinks flip phones are an automatically funny concept. 

Last week, when she was here, she had me stretching more than my imagination.  I stretched my legs, walking to the park with her and her father.   I haven’t walked much since my knee injury, and it was slow progress, but it was good for me.  With her gone, I feel restless, and have a hard time keeping my mind on my work.  The gathering clouds outside reinforce a sense of gloom. 

Could be that the sun in Aries, the springtime sign, is making me restless?  April often gives this desire to rush at life, and limits can make you chafe.  But why do I feel so limited? -  I ask myself.   

Ah, yes, it’s not just me.  Venus is entering a time of sadness.  She is moving very slowly all this month, as she changes directions.  The thing is that the planet of love has chosen a tricky spot to do this, right at the square to Saturn, the planet of time, structure, discipline and restriction. 

A hard Venus/Saturn aspect generally comes around every three months, and lasts three or four days.  During those days, we may feel a little lackluster, and have a harder time getting whatever we want.  Some pleasurable plans may not work out, and we might find ourselves spending the evening scrubbing the kitchen floor instead.  But a few days later, we’re back having more fun.   

This Venus/Saturn square, however, is long and drawn-out, and will cover most of April.  It will be in orb between April 3 and 27.  During this time, Venus and Saturn challenge each other, with Venus trying to lighten things up at the same time that Saturn keeps reminding you how heavy they are. 

The aspect brings up recurring questions about desire and frustration, joy and fear, love and obligation.  What do we want?  Are we really entitled to it?  Are we being selfish?  Are other people being selfish?  (And if they are, can we sue?  Remember Jupiter is in Libra, the sign of law.)  Is it safe to fall in love? Can other people know us, as we truly are?  Can we know them?  Why don’t we get what we want when we want it?  Why do we have to wait? 

Venus is all about the search for happiness, but Saturn hobbles that search, often from an excess of worry about what the future might hold.  Saturn represents the weight of past experience, especially old trauma, and so it tends to hold us back from risk.  Most of us have felt pain, and retreated from it, and we don’t want to feel it again.  Not only are we not going to touch that hot stove again, we’re going to stay completely out of the kitchen, even if it means we don’t get any cookies.   

Saturn also represents old structures, traditions, walls and barriers, which do not yield easily to change, especially frivolous change.  And isn’t happiness always frivolous, a passing giggle in this serious slog called life?  Or  - is it something essential, the heart that keeps beating and gives us energy to navigate the walls and fences around us? 

This Venus/Saturn square isn’t the only stagnating influence in April.  Mercury in Taurus is also moving slowly as the month begins, and it retrogrades on April 9.   At this point, the deliberate, cautious energy of Taurus becomes even more deliberate.  Will anything get done this month?  Some old stuff could be fixed, organized, sorted out, put away.  With Mercury retrograde in earthy Taurus, you can get back to some old projects that you put aside, like building those window boxes, or cleaning out your garage.

Then things are bogged down further between April 15 and 20, since there’s an inconjunct between Mars (planet of action) and Saturn.  Mars, like Mercury, is in slow, thorough Taurus, and normally you can get quite a lot done with Mars here.  It gives a more natural, instinctive approach – but  Saturn is too rule-bound to let you do things organically.  It’s hard to find the right rhythm, the pace that works.     

During April, things that would normally take days take weeks, and many things go unresolved. Instead of breaking out of your winter doldrums, you may find yourself brooding, planning and preparing for some hypothetical future event.  Seeds, normally so eager to sprout in April, seem to be taking an extra month underground this year.  And even if everything is budding on cue outside, you may not feel that quickening inside your own soul.   

Through the blockages, obfuscations and disappointments of April, everyone gradually goes to sleep. They keep on working in their sleep, the way you do when you’re not feeling particularly hopeful.    Things do pick up a little after April 20, when Mercury re-enters Aries, a speedier sign, and there’s a little more chance of action.  But Mercury is still retrograde, and it isn’t yet time to take off in a new direction. 

Mercury meets Saturn too, but in a more constructive relationship, a trine.  This will be in orb between April 21 and 28, and it makes for a bit more efficiency.  There will be some successes – not quick or flashy, but perhaps the culmination of months of careful, meticulous planning, with an eye to the bigger picture.  The Venus/Saturn square will still be in orb, though, so there won’t be much celebration.  A few wins may go largely unnoticed, but they will be something you can build on in the future.   

And then the month ends with Mercury meeting Uranus, planet of abrupt change.  So suddenly, after this long slow drawl of a month, everything is going to be upended right as April ends.  Suddenly, we’ll all be startled awake by some development we didn’t expect. 

And do all these April blockages mean that Neil Gorsuch won’t be confirmed?  Unfortunately, I think he probably will.  Currently, he has some lucky aspects -  Jupiter sextile his natal Jupiter, Pluto trine his natal Pluto.  These are the kinds of aspects that give you a professional growth-spurt.  Saturn isn’t making any aspects to his chart as all, so he has very little to worry about.  The rest of us do, but not him. 

The only positive thing I can say about this is that his natal chart is full of mutable signs, so he’s more malleable than he appears.  In fact, mentally, he’s on the skittish side, and he may suffer from hypochondria and anxiety.  So he won’t be the steadiest justice on the court, and he may be influenced by the other justices more than you would think, whether for good or ill. 

Trump’s luck is holding for now too, as Jupiter retrogrades and then goes direct over his natal Jupiter.  It won’t be till August that his luck runs out.  Right now, resistance is like digging a big hole in the ground, a time-consuming and dirty job.  Sooner or later, Trump and his gilded throne will fall into it.  For now, we’ll have to accept that this administration, as messy and awkward as it appears, isn’t going anywhere immediately. 

In April, it may feel like you’re on a time-loop, sometimes moving an inch forward, but quite often going backwards.  Things are done, and things are undone, and nothing seems to budge.  It can seem interminable.  And all the time, we can feel burdened by the challenges we’re not facing, the earth we’re not protecting, the future generations who might blame us for not doing enough.       

What will people remember of all this?  Maybe next month, we’ll be too busy to consider this, but now we can pause.  Pausing is what we do best this month.  And as we do, we can store away these memories - the earth, our loved ones, our bodies, the age we live in.  It’s just a trinket on the charm bracelet of the passing centuries.  But it’s all we have, right now.