If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget it. This is real astrology. See the section above. And if you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT).
Light tomorrow with today.
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
With its solar eclipse and Mercury retrograde - to name just a couple of the celestial notables over the next several weeks - April is the first heavyweight month of the year. Everything until now has been an undercard, a preliminary bout. This month is the real deal, and it's the first in a string of them. This will be evident at many levels, from the geophysical (storms and seismic activity) to the political and economic - and right down to the level of personal experience. Brace yourself, get ready to duck and weave your way through the incoming, and prepare to capitalize on the openings that will present themselves. Above all, be alert, stay focused: the punch that takes you out is the one you never saw coming. And in the meantime, in between times, expect the pleasure principle to be in the spotlight. It's challenging - even dangerous - sometimes, it's a thriller sometimes, but that's what doing time on Planet Earth is all about this month.
April carries a certain amount of baggage forward from March. For one thing, there's Saturn. The Ringed Planet stationed and then went direct at 6 Cancer on March 7, and remains within a degree of that point until April 9. Similarly, Pluto went stationary and then began its retrograde at 22 Sagittarius on March 24, remaining within a degree of that station point throughout the month of April. (Got stuff near these points? Check your natal horoscope!) Among other things, these are the signs of the major equity market correction that's been underway all last month exactly as predicted. If it caught you unawares, you missed last month's forecast, wherein the Saturn station was described as heralding "a period of profit-taking in the financial markets, as some kind of confidence-shaking news sends a lot of investors running for cover." It's coming close to having run its course now, as Jupiter moves within a degree of its May 5 direct station as of April 10. The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq have been heavily discounted lately, but they're coming out of the bargain basement this month. While the major market indices in general should do well, some commodities and market sectors seem likely to really shine: precious metals and copper, communications, military and emergency services suppliers, and health care among them. The exact date of the turnaround is problematic, but it's going to happen in April for the US markets. It could be around the 9th or 12th, give or take a few days of Saturn and Jupiter leaving and entering the one degree point from their direct stations respectively. Or it may happen later in the month, such as around the time Mercury goes direct on the 30th.
Speaking of Mercury, you may as well plan on April being a month of mixed signals, dropped connections and well-laid plans gone awry. As of March 29, when the little planet reached its maximum elongation east of the Sun, Mercury entered its intersolar phase; namely the period when it orbits between Earth and Sun. That's silly season to you and me, and it lasts until Mercury finally reaches maximum elongation west of the Sun on May 14. This cycle includes the Mercury retrograde of legend, which this time around begins when Mercury goes stationary retrograde on the 6th (a day after the full moon), and carries through until the direct station on the 30th.
Count on it, the Mercury intersolar phase from March 29 to May 14 brings all things Mercurial to the forefront of human experience; transport, commerce, communication and planning among them. Schemers and dreamers and plans too clever by half are common currency, and there's always more to it than is apparent at first glance. This is a time to anticipate the vagaries of Murphy's Law: whatever can go wrong, will. Be ready for delays and complications, allow extra time in your schedule, have a backup plan ready for every occasion - or as close to it as you can manage. Even that won't be enough, but it beats the alternatives. Mostly, you need to keep your sense of poise and humor as things go awry all around you. Those who are flexible, adaptive and of cheerful disposition will at least get through with grace, even if there is a bit of egg on their face. The rest will fume in frustration.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that the entire March 29 - May 14 Mercury intersolar period (or the April 6-30 Mercury retrograde kernel within it) is one big mess. It's true that the comedy of errors will be piling it on during this period, especially around the stations on the 4th and 30th and the Mercury-Sun inferior conjunction alignment on the 17th. In fact, some of the errors will be quite serious enough as to be very unfunny - even tragic. Transportation accidents and tie-ups can snarl the movement of people and goods by land, sea and air at times like this, with consequences ranging from the inconvenient to the disastrous. Communication, power and other infrastructure networks (including the Internet) are about a hair's breadth from collapse at times like this. All it takes is one simple mistake, or one malicious vandal, to tip the system into chaos. Make your plans and schedules accordingly, and hope for the best.
On the other hand, these intersolar episodes really bring all things mercurial to a kind of fever pitch. The breakdowns foretold above will occur as a result of this emphasis, but there will be successes also. They come through careful, methodical, detailed planning and procedures. This is a good time to review, to remedy past mistakes, to go over the intricate, involved and complicated with a fine-tooth comb. The thing is, with Mercury so emphasized by virtue of its prominence with respect to Earth now, you can't just proceed on a business as usual basis. Things require more attention, more consideration. That's why this is a good time for wrapping up unfinished business, fixing what's gone wrong, etc. So the message now is not simply a Murphy's Law theme of everything going haywire. It's more like: pay full attention, take nothing (and no one) for granted, think things through - or they will go haywire.
Mercury's intersolar sojourns are common, happening three times a year on average. Venus goes intersolar (passing on the same side of the Sun as our own home planet) only once every couple of years. Mercury and Venus both reached maximum elongation east of the Sun as seen from Earth on the same day, March 29. So they're both intersolar now. Venus will remain in this state until reaching maximum west elongation on August 17. So everything I said of Mercury also applies to Venus: it's emphasized in the extreme for the next several months. The difference, of course, is that this is Venus; so an entirely different spectrum of human experience is highlighted during this cycle. Value is the hallmark of Venus, and all manifestations of value are dramatically emphasized from now through mid-August; love, money and aesthetics being prime examples. It's just getting started this month, and will be most prominent around the dates when Venus stations (May 17 and June 29) and transits across the Sun (June 8). What to expect? Where do I begin . . .
For one thing, all that's precious gets more so. Gold, for example, which peaked in early January as predicted, will soon make a breakthrough to the upside. This could happen any day now, but is especially likely around the full moon on the 8th (as Jupiter moves to within a degree of its direct station) and May 5 (when it hits that station point). Jewelry, fashion, art, entertainment and fine furnishings are headlining as never before at times like this. All that's beautiful and sensuous and sexy and passionate is front and center. People shop 'til they drop, and some of them will drop dead in the process, financially if not literally: personal bankruptcies will soar. Theft of every stripe will be plentiful as well, simply because there's so much temptation and so little sense of propriety or restraint. Orgiastic excess and the puritanical reaction to same . . . an eyeful, an earful, scandalous exhibitions that few will avert their eyes from. Hollywood and Gomorrah, the pundits will cry - while the public gazes with glazed and hungry eyes. Fodder for the tabloids will be plentiful, skirts will be short and blouses breath-taking. If not for tape, people would be naked; if not for the pleasure principle, people would have no principles at all.
While you're enjoying the sights and sounds and tastes and smells and feels of this sensuous paradise, remember that there will be a tomorrow and the bills will eventually come due. So pace yourself: enjoy, drink it in, but don't abandon all good sense. This is a time of wonderful excess - but it can turn into a real mess for those who surrender in complete abandon to the siren song. A great time for a vacation, but don't forget that reality will be waiting back home.
Excess and abandon will be much in evidence in the marketplace in the months to come, and this includes many aspects of the financial markets. Exuberant investors will push major equity indices higher by and large, despite the inevitable capitulations now and then; as for example during the last ten days or so in April, particularly around the 19th and 24th. If you aimed to buy low and sell high, you've almost missed the buy. And the sell is only a few months down the road.
If all this Venus stuff makes April sound like all fun and games, that's not entirely the way it is. The period around the solar eclipse on the 19th is heart attack serious, for example; and we're not out of the woods 'til the end of the month, what with Mars opposing Pluto on the 24th and remaining within a few degrees of that alignment into May. Some of this will be Mother Nature on the rampage, especially near the time of the eclipse. Some of it will be man-made catastrophe, and only some of that by accident, because some is definitely by malicious design - the bombs and bullets and chemicals kind. And then there's Jupiter being within a degree of its May 5 station opposing Uranus, from the 10th onward: this speaks of the potential for a public health scare of some kind. Infectious diseases make a headline comeback, from West Nile to bird flu to Norwalk to what-have-you. But this looks like something else, too - like dangerous contaminants of the inorganic variety, perhaps polluting byproducts, chemicals, minerals or metals.
On the geocosmic front, April looks like a real heavyweight contender. It starts out relatively calm and quiet, but by the 2nd the storm and seismic signals are strong and getting stronger - all the way through the 9th. During this period, the greatest likelihood of strong storms with high wind and heavy precipitation comes around the 4th (as the Moon crosses the celestial equator southward), the 5th (the full moon at 16 Libra), and the lunar perigee (the Moon's closest approach to Earth) on the 8th. Moderate to severe earthquake activity (at or above Richter 5) and volcanic eruptions are apt to surge during this phase as well, along with coastal flooding due to storm driven tides that run much higher than normal. (Inland flooding due to heavy downpours is also in the picture.) Because it's geocosmic in nature, the risk is planet-wide. That said, Alaska, the Rocky Mountain states and the eastern Midwest down into Florida looks vulnerable in the US; plus western South America, along a line due south from Scandinavia down through the Mediterranean Sea and onward to around Cape Town, South Africa; the Indochina peninsula and along an arc from Singapore through eastern China; and the eastern quarter of Australia Atlantic seaboard. Watch the news, watch the sky, be weather-wise and ready.
The major next batch of geophysical activity, other than a brief bout around the 11th, kicks in starting on the 16th, in advance of the solar eclipse in the last degree of Aries on the 19th. This is the main bout of storm and seismic potential for April, and it's strongest from the 16th through the 22nd. I see severe windstorms as a likely specialty of this eclipse, which also shows signs of ushering in high fire hazard conditions. This is of course in addition to the above normal potential for moderate to severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions during this period. Anyone living in seismic risk zones of this sort would do well to have emergency preparations made and ready every day - and especially around the period from a week before to a week after the April 19 eclipse. Other areas of special risk during this period include the eclipse's zone of visibility - mainly southern Africa. And there are astro-locality hints of a heightened storm and seismic risk along the Pacific coast of North America, with severe storm warnings through the Midwest and eastern Dixie, as well as near Caracas and southwest of Rio de Janeiro. Another risk zone lies on a southerly line from Iceland down through the Atlantic; plus the whole of the Middle East and along a northeasterly arc through Delhi and into western China. Just don't get blasé if you're not in one of these zones during the April 12-26 risk window. Have your foul weather backup plans ready, your emergency kit stocked, and allow for weather-related delays if you're traveling at the time. And be especially alert around the 17th, 19th, and 25th in particular.
SPECIAL FEATURE: This month's birthdays of the famous and infamous (with astrological birth charts)