by Nan DeGrove

April will not be a dull month, with a cluster of planetary events arriving in quick succession: Saturn, at the end of Sagittarius, turns retrograde on the fifth, Mercury, in early Taurus, follows of the ninth, leading to the full moon in Libra on the morning of the 11th. Venus, retrograde since early March, turns direct at 27 Pisces on the 15th. Pluto in Capricorn turns retrograde on the 19th.

When planets change “direction” they appear, briefly, to stand still, magnifying their effect. Saturn relates to structure, long-range plans, far-seeing vision. Saturn is the “Lord of Time.” We learn patience, devotion to things that take time. But, Saturn’s dark side is autocratic, rigid and authoritarian. Mercury’s usual retrograde tricks may upset communication and render our thought processes more confused. Mercury retrograde always orders rest and repair of over-stressed nerves. Retrograde Mercury may be a catalyst for the more volatile Saturnian and Plutonian energies. These are times of danger and alarm. We are being led by a blind king. We need vision, not only in the “visionary” sense, but in actually seeing and responding to what is close at hand, to what needs tending and healing, and to the eternal generous beauty of nature.

There is a certain interplay with Venus that unfolds with the full moon: Mercury in Venus’ sign, Taurus, the moon in Libra, another sign of Venus, and Venus, now morning star, coming out of the retrograde cycle that began March fourth. These planetary phenomena coincide with the festivals of Holy Week, Passover and Easter, all based on stories of blood, sacrifice, oppression, redemption and resurrection. Religious traditions are, in many ways and places, in flux, as the Age of Pisces draws to an end, and we feel the stirrings of the Aquarian Age, the return of Cosmic Christ, rising from the tomb of the heart, not as a savior (though we might long for one), but as an awakening, a change in consciousness. In his book the Coming of the Cosmic Christ, theologian Matthew Fox envisions the Earth as Christ crucified in our time of environmental destruction, ecocide.

I think of Venus, now morning star (before dawn) at Easter, emerging from the retrograde time, as Mary Magdalene seeing the risen Christ. Mary Magdalene is thought by some to be the “missing Venus” in Christian theology, the lost bride, outcast and defamed as a prostitute by the early church fathers. In pre-Christian mythologies, the dying and resurrecting god was consort to the goddess. There is a story that Mary Magdalene carried a basket of eggs with her on that morning when she went to the tomb of Jesus, and that the eggs turned red when she encountered the risen Christ. This charming tale reveals the link between Easter and the fertility festivals of earlier cults.

The beauty of nature and the renewal of life in spring are sacraments we may all share, a communion that transcends religious belief.