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©2018 by Richard Nolle
last revised February 27, 2018

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world, not some mystical mumbo-jumbo psycho-babble word salad. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. 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, aka GMT). Location for all mundane charts is set for the Great Pyramid at Giza; the choice being strictly arbitrary in any case. Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

PLEASE NOTE: This month’s forecast incorporates elements of (and refers to) my complete 2018 World Forecast Highlights (41 8-1/2 x 11" illustrated pages); focused, amplified and elaborated with details for the month as appropriate. The full version of my 2018 World Forecast Highlights is available in hard copy by mail ($75) or as a PDF document by email ($50). Orders may be phoned in toll-free anywhere in North America to 800-527-8761, and charged to any major credit or debit card. Orders may also be placed direct from your own PayPal account page to rnolle@astropro.com – or by using the AstroPro PayPal order page.

"I'll be here tomorrow
If I can make it through today."

-- Henry Rollins

The Skinny

The 2018 Mars Max cycle gets underway this month, and it’s arguably the most important celestial factor of the year – certainly one of the topmost. It’s the biennial close approach (perigee) of the Red Planet, the first of its kind since 2016. More common, but never negligible, is the first Mercury Max of the year – a cycle which includes the infamous Mercury retrograde. These are the two anchors of the month, but they’re hardly the whole story. There’s also a Mercury-Venus-Chiron conjunction, a Jupiter retrograde station, a Venus-Uranus alignment and more. Here’s how it shakes out.

Geophysical Disturbances, Solar & Geomagnetic Storms

There’s a lot happening in this category, and it kicks in right at the outset. For once thing, there’s the aftermath of the February 17 superior conjunction of the Sun and Mercury. (I mentioned this in my February 19 update.) It’s a cosmic connection I’ve been writing about for years now., and it anchors the February 28-March 3 solar storm window. What to expect? A surge in X-ray storms (M and X class) and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), plus Kp5 and up geomagnetic storms. Manifestations? Major auroral displays and other electromagnetic disturbances (satellite outages, radio interference, electrical infrastructure breakdowns and human nervous systems going on the fritz). No Carrington level events, mind you – but enough to get our attention.

Dumping all these Gigawatts of excess solar energy into the Earth stirs the atmosphere and mantle to a figurative boiling point, as well. So expect a surge in storms and seismic activity during the February 28-March 3 period.

This particular storm window is augmented by the overlapping March 2 full moon, in effect from February 27 to March 5. The last couple days of this shock window lack the electromagnetic component, but remain strong in terms of a run of high tides, powerful storms and moderate to severe seismic activity (M5+ quakes and notable volcanic eruptions).

A similar solar and geomagnetic storm outbreak is indicated by key points in the Mercury Max cycle, detailed in the table below. This month, these include Mercury’s maximum elongation east of the Sun (March 15), the retrograde station (March 23) and the Sun’s inferior conjunction with Mercury on April 1. Each of these critical Mercury Max points anchors a plus-or-minus three day shock window. For this month, that means March 12-18 and 20-26; plus March 29-April 4.

In addition to the electromagnetic, atmospheric and seismic disturbances associated with these Mercury periods, we also get a surge in tidal, storm and seismic disturbance associated with the March 17 new moon (in effect March 14-20) and the full moon on the 31st (effective March 28-April 3). Add ‘em all up, and what you get isn’t "in like a lion and out like a lamb", so much as "in like a lion and out like a whole pride of them". Keep an eye on your weather apps, an ear pealed for your weather radio, and your emergency kit ready to hand this month.

Mercury Max: The Big Picture

Being closest to the Sun, Mercury darts between Earth and Sun more than any other planet; several times a year in fact, including the infamous Mercury retrogrades of astrological legend. While most astrologers pay a fair amount of attention to Mercury's retrograde, few realize that it's only a part of the more fundamental Max phase in the orbital interaction between Mercury and Earth, as they both orbit around the Sun.

Max-E S-Rx Cnj. SUN S-D Max-W
MAR 15, 2018 MAR 23, 2018 APR 1, 2018 APR 15, 2018 APR 29, 2018
JUL 12, 2018 JUL 26, 2018 AUG 9, 2018 AUG 19, 2018 AUG 28, 2018
NOV 6, 2018 NOV 17, 2018 NOV 27, 2018 DEC 6, 2018 DEC 15, 2018

Max-E = Mercury (Evening Star) Max. Elongation East of Sun (Max begins)
S-Rx = Retrograde Station (Retrograde GBegins)
Cnj. SU = Inferior Conjunction with Sun
S-D = Direct Station (Retrograde Ends)
Max-W = Mercury (Morning Star) Max. Elongation West of Sun (Max ends)

The Mercury Max phase begins when the little Sun-grazer reaches its maximum elongation east of the Sun, during its evening star phase. This happens when Mercury has come 'round to the same side of the Sun as Planet Earth, and is relatively near us. The little planet is then pulling up to pass Earth on the inside track, as it were; catching up to us from behind and then passing between us and the Sun. Just as it catches up with us, Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This is Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun. After the inferior conjunction, Mercury continues pulling ahead of us until it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun (its morning star phase), at which point the little planet is headed toward the far side of our parent star. Between these two extremes, the greatest east and west elongations, comes the fabled Mercury retrograde period of astrological lore.

I have long wondered how astrologers managed to get astrology so wrong, when it comes to the notion that retrograde planets are somehow inferior. They’re the very same planets as when they’re direct – only they’re bigger and brighter in the night sky, because they’re closer. I think maybe Mercury’s retrograde is somehow key to this misperception. Mercury after all goes retrograde more than any other planet. So we have more experience of its retrogrades. Since Mercury has to do with mental processes and communication, and since so many people can’t be bothered to think straight and communicate clearly under even the best of circumstances, it’s understandable that they might be frustrated and anxious when they encounter a cycle that places a premium on these qualities. It takes all kinds to make a world, and there are many kinds of intelligence. The Mercurial kind places a premium on rationality, on seeing, understanding and communicating things as they are. These are the folks who have the best prospects for success during a Mercury Max cycle. The rest tend not to do so well, which is one of the main reasons why they moan about Mercury being retrograde. (There are others, and I’ll get to those in a moment.)

Mercury's Synodic Cycle What I have termed the Mercury Max cycle is simply a way of putting the Earth-Sun-Mercury relationship into a perspective that reflects real-sky, observational astronomy; the dynamics of our solar system as seen from our terrestrial perch – which is what astrology was, back in the time when it was astronomy. Look up in the sky over the indicated periods, and you will see the phenomena described above. Astronomical software and references provide the greatest eastern and western elongations of Mercury (and Venus, for that matter), but astrological software and references do not. One is a real sky perspective, the other is something less – and that is what astrologers have settled for over the course of time. Instead of peering into an ephemeris (book of planetary positions), I advocate a more natural "eyes to the skies" approach; which is exactly how real astrology began millennia ago.

This perspective replaces the stilted, removed-from-reality practice of looking not at the sky, but at an ephemeris: first to see when Mercury comes to the degree at which it will later makes its direct station, and second when it reaches the degree at which it will later make its retrograde station; and then referring to the overlap between these two dates and the lesser included Mercury retrograde dates as the “shadow” and “storm” phases of the retrograde. (Some astrologers don’t use the "storm" nomenclature, referring to the overlap at both ends of the retrograde as the "shadow" period. It makes no difference: either way, it’s just plain nonsense.)

MAR 15, 2018 Mercury Max. Declination East For example, the first all-2018 Mercury Max cycle – not counting the one that bridged from November 24, 2017 into January 1, 2018 - begins with the little planet’s maximum eastern elongation from the Sun on March 15, 2018, includes the Mar 23-April 15 retrograde period and the April 1 inferior conjunction with the Sun, and wraps up with the western elongation extreme on April 29. The corresponding shadow period would begin on March 9, the day Mercury reaches the degree (4°46’ Aries) at which it goes direct on April 15; and ends (or the storm period ends, depending on which irrelevant nomenclature you prefer) on May 4, the day Mercury returns to the degree at which it went retrograde on March 23 (16°54’ Aries).

But in terms of any organic, visible manifestation in the skies of our home planet, these ephemeris-derived dates have no relevance at all to the Earth-Sun-Mercury dynamic. It’s like left-brain versus right-brain thinking, linear versus holistic; nose in the book versus eyes on the skies. One is a made-up abstraction looked up in a reference book (ephemeris); the other is a reality that can be seen in the sky. The corresponding organically derived dates in this case are March 15 (greatest eastern elongation) and April 29, 2018 (western elongation maximum). Occasionally the real Mercury Max begin and end dates will coincide with the artificial so-called shadow period start and stop dates. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But the reality is there to see in the sky.

Retrograde means moving backwards. This is what Mercury appears to do in our skies when the little inner planet catches up on us and passes us on the inside, between Earth and the Sun. First Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation, then it appears to stand still in the sky (the retrograde station), and then it appears to move backwards through the heavens for a period of several weeks: that's Mercury retrograde for you. It ends when the little Sun-grazer's backwards motion comes to an apparent halt (the direct station); after which, Mercury moves forward again, until it reaches its maximum elongation west of the Sun. The reality of course is that Mercury never stops in its orbit, and never moves backward: this is only how the relative motions of Earth and Mercury around the Sun cause Mercury to move through our night sky.

MAR 23, 2018 Mercury Station (Retrograde Among the sort of things to be ready for during the above mentioned Mercury Max cycles: strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human effort (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times.

Mercury retrograde is the cycle when everything goes wrong, to hear some astrologers tell it. The truth is not so simple-minded. All things Mercurial are crucial during the Mercury Max phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. Mercury's Max phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, follow-through and communication - all the qualities of the active and involved mind, in short. In case you haven't noticed, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury Max, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking.

Granted, Mercury Max as a whole tends to be a period of greater than normal solar activity – solar flares (M and X class), Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and geomagnetic activity (KP5 and higher). These tend to peak around (within plus or minus three days of) the dates of the five critical points in the Mercury Max cycle: the maximum eastern and western elongations at the beginning and end of the cycle, as well as the two stations (retrograde and direct) and the inferior conjunction with the Sun. Because of the geomagnetic activity component of these solar storms, auroral activity spikes, circuits and networks here on Earth can get erratic. Think Carrington Event (1859) or the Quebec Blackout (1989). Even today – in fact, more so now than back in the 19th Century - a Carrington-level event would be catastrophic. But work continues on hardening the technological infrastructure that sustains humanity, to make it more resistant to solar storms. Already, satellite systems and power grids are better equipped to handle these surges, precisely because scientists and engineers have studied the problem, tested solutions, and applied the ones that work best. In other words, they have done their Mercurial best. That’s exactly what we all need to do during the Mercury Max: think sharp, stay focused, and carry through.

(Incidentally, I’ll venture a guess that the first use of a high altitude nuclear detonation as an Electromagnetic Pulse [EMP] weapon will come during a combined Mercury Max and Mars Max. Miscalculation or equipment failure will probably be a causal factor. 2020 looks vulnerable: Saturn and Pluto are conjunct early in the year, and within a few degrees of conjunction during the Mars Max and Mercury Max cycles in the fall.)

Mars Max 2018: Super Mars Returns

September 11, 2001 is another of those dates which will live in infamy, just like Pearl Harbor. And, just like Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 terror attack on the US took place under what I have termed Mars Max, a phenomenon that consistently shows up in the heavens when the tide of human violence surges to extraordinary levels. It loomed large and bright in the sky at the Valentine’s Day Massacre, the start of World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the start of the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Gulf War, etc. (Not to mention the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing, a kind of precursor to the 9/11 attack.)

Synodic Cycle of Mars We can look back to see what Mars Max has ushered into history, and look ahead to see when it will come again. But the best place to start is to look into the night sky, because you won’t find Mars Max in astrology books and references. That’s because, like SuperMoon (a concept I defined and named on the pages of Dell Horoscope back in 1979), Mars Max is a new kind of astrology. Like SuperMoon, it’s a concept with deep roots in ancient astrology; but it has been lost down through the ages, as astrology turned away from the night sky and into books and tradition.

I call it Mars Max because it’s a cycle anchored by the Red Planet’s close approach to our home planet. Astronomers call this close approach to Earth perigee, and it is the key to both Mars Max and SuperMoon. Any planet in perigee appears abnormally big and bright in the sky – like a full moon SuperMoon, for example. You can see this for yourself with the two full SuperMoons of January, at the beginning and end of the month. In both cases, the Moon will be in perigee, and will look larger and brighter than usual when it rises full in the eastern sky at sunset.

It’s the same with Mars Max. Look up in the sky to find the Red Planet during a Mars Max cycle – and particularly around the time of its peak, the Sun-Mars opposition that defines the Mars perigee – and you’ll see Mars burning bigger and brighter than usual - roughly eight times bigger and brighter than it does when farthest from Earth. This increased Mars prominence in our sky coincides with an amplified presence of all things martial in human experience. (As above, so below.) This isn’t to say that humans are gentle lambs the rest of the time – far from it, as is clear from history and literature. But it is to say that, when the red orb of Ares burns brightly in the sky during the Mars Max cycle, everything martial is amplified in us.

It’s the same with Mars Max. Look up in the sky to find the Red Planet during a Mars Max cycle – and particularly around the time of its peak, the Sun-Mars opposition that defines the Mars perigee – and you’ll see Mars burning bigger and brighter than usual - roughly eight times bigger and brighter than it does when farthest from Earth. This increased Mars prominence in our sky coincides with an amplified presence of all things martial in human experience. (As above, so below.) This isn’t to say that humans are gentle lambs the rest of the time – far from it, as is clear from history and literature. But it is to say that, when the red orb of Ares burns brightly in the sky during the Mars Max cycle, everything martial is amplified in us.

JUL 27, 2018 Sun-Mars Opposition The 9/11 attack, the German invasion of Poland that started World War II, Pearl Harbor: they’re all obvious Mars Max manifestations. Warfare is integral to the astrology of Mars, which is why Roman mythology dubbed Mars the god of war. But war is only one end of the Mars spectrum of violence, which ranges all the way from the individual to the collective, from interpersonal squabbles to mass murder to terrorism to all-out warfare. Consider Columbine a case in point: the archetypal 1999 high school massacre took place within days of the April 24 peak of the 1999 Mars Max.

Wars, terrorism and crime are intentional mayhem, by definition. A rising tide of anger and belligerence accompanies the growing prominence of the Red Planet in the sky during Mars Max. But unintentional mayhem also surges, with people becoming more irritable, careless and impatient as Mars grows bigger and brighter in the night sky. So an increase in accidents also accompanies this cycle; along with a surfeit of fires and explosions, whether natural or human caused. Take, for example, the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire known as "The Beast", which roared through Alberta and into the history books as Canada’s worst natural disaster ever – right in the middle of a Mars Max. Or the April 20, 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in history: Mars Max again.

Between its start at the waxing Sun-Mars square, through its peak at the Sun-Mars opposition, and its end at the waning Sun-Mars square, there is a seemingly paradoxical quality buried in the Mars Max cycle; namely, that its peak occurs while Mars is retrograde – i.e., apparently moving backwards through the sky. Of course this is apparent motion only. Mars – or anything else in space – will never go backwards in its orbit. This seeming reversal is only what it looks like to us, as our Home Planet catches up and passes Mars. It’s like passing another car on the highway. The car may whizz by as it passes us. But if we accelerate, we catch up on it, and as we do its motion relative to us gradually slows – until, if we maintain sufficient speed, we pass the car and it begins to move backwards until it fades in the rearview mirror.

The 2018 Mars Max begins with the Sun’s waxing square to Mars at 4 degrees Capricorn on March 24. The retrograde station of Mars takes place on June 26, at 9 degrees Aquarius (opposing President Trump’s natal Pluto). Mars at 4 Aquarius makes its perigee (close approach to Earth) on July 26, opposing the Sun at 4 Leo. The Red Planet’s retrograde ends on August 27 at 29 Capricorn (opposing Trump’s natal Venus). And the Mars Max cycle as a whole ends on December 2, with the Sun-Mars square from 11 Sagittarius to 11 Pisces. If any of these happen to be important degrees in your own natal chart, pay attention: be cool, be calm, be focused – and then watch the maelstrom unfold around you.

MAR 24 JUN 26 JUL 27 AUG 27 DEC 3

SUN-090-MARS = Sun-Mars Waxing Square (Max begins)
MARS S-Rx = Retrograde Station (Retrograde Begins)
SUN-180- MARS = Sun-Mars Opposition (Mars Perigee)
MARS S-D = Direct Station (Retrograde Ends)
SUN 270 MARS = Sun-Mars Waning Square (Max ends)

The big picture here is that Mars spends the 2018 Max cycle between 4 Capricorn and 11 Pisces. This range, and the specific degrees and dates mentioned above, outline the high points of the 2018 Mars Max. Mark those dates in red on your calendar (give or take a few days or so) as focal points for the “fires, crashes, clashes and explosions” factor. To them must be added April 2 (Mars Max conjunct Saturn in the sky above, and opposing Mercury in Donald Trump’s birth chart), the last week of April (Mars Max conjunct Pluto in the heavens, opposing Saturn in Trump’s natal chart); mid-May (Mars Max opposing Trump’s natal Venus), early August and mid-September (Mars Max square Uranus), late July (the lunar eclipse conjunct Mars Max), and mid-November (Mars Max square Jupiter).

Donald Trump Natal Chart I mention President Trump’s chart here not only because it takes direct hits from this year’s Mars Max, but also because it has been so heavily aspected ever since the August 9, 2017 solar eclipse, which fell on his natal Mars at the ascendant while Saturn was at the same time sitting on his natal lunar eclipse; also because the February 15, 2018 total solar eclipse reactivates his natal Mars-ascendant alignment. Now that Mars Max is also drawing a bead on the President’s chart, he becomes more beleaguered by the day. As I pointed out in my August 2017 online forecast, the solar eclipse that month has ominous connotations for the President. (The eclipses of 1974 and 1998 had impeachment connections for Presidents Nixon and Clinton.) As I put it in that forecast, "Is impeachment in Mr. Trump’s future too, under the same eclipse that brought Mr. Clinton to that impasse? Or will it be a 25th Amendment removal from office? Or something else? There are a lot of possibilities here; none of which bodes well for Mr. Trump." Astrology goes back to a time when rulers didn’t leave office for constitutional reasons, so there are less genteel possibilities in the picture here.

Of interest to me, with regard to these Mars transits and the eclipses activating Trump’s natal Mars, is that his BC data yields an astro-locality map featuring a Mars horizon line that arcs through Washington DC and Pyongyang, North Korea. Mars, the planet of war, connecting these two points at the moment of Trump’s birth is ominous, both literally and figuratively. (For more on astro-locality mapping, see the Astro-Locality section at the end of this forecast.) So much Mars activation, at so many levels, raises the specter that Mr. Trump is surrounded by danger, which threatens not only him but also the world at large – particularly during the Mars Max cycles of 2018 and 2020, if he manages to stay in office that long. I don’t expect he will. The greatest Mars Max threat comes after his time in office: late 2019 and on and off throughout 2020, when at one time or another we’ll see Saturn conjunct Pluto – or within a few degrees of each other, plus Mars Max and Mercury Max. (See the full version of my 2018 World Forecast Highlights for a fuller discussion of the Trump chart, its Mars astro-locality lines, North Korea and more.

Unfortunately, given that war and peace hang in the balance over Korea even in the best of times lately, rash action can easily spin out of control. We can be sure that the infamous Trump petulance will raise its ugly head around eclipse time. The fact that Mr. Trump’s natal Mars horizon line arcs from Washington DC across North Korea is noteworthy. Born under Mars rising, Mr. Trump is widely known for his belligerence, for going on the offensive when he feels threatened, for bullying his way through adversity. Those lifelong traits are especially dangerous now that he is Commander in Chief – and particularly under all these Mars Max contacts to his natal chart.

In Passing

March is a turnaround month, associated with the Jupiter station on the 9th, in markets (commodities and currencies). The Mercury-Venus conjunctions on the 4th and 20th play into this – and the latter is part of a solar storm signal, a market breakdown indicator. The Venus-Uranus conjunction on the 29th is world class wild, sexy and surprising: the improbable breaks through with ease. Sometimes, rules were made to be broken, and propriety is futile. Wanna play it safe? Sell and go to the sidelines, and buy back in when you hit your target price. The bull market isn’t over ‘til the Venus Max ends – and it doesn’t even take hold until August.


All mundane astrological charts as well as eclipse and astro-locality maps are set for the Universal Time (UT) of the event, and calculated and produced using Esoteric Technologies’ Solar Fire Gold Version 7.0.8. Charts are set for the location of the Great Pyramid - a purely arbitrary choice, since location is irrelevant to these charts. Unless sotherwise noted, sky map images are screen captures from the Pocket Universe or Star Rover apps for iPhone, or produced by Starry Night for Windows; storm tracks are screen captures from The Weather Channel app for iPhone; and earthquake maps are screen captures from the QuakeFeed, QuakeWatch or QuakeZone apps for iPhone. Any market images are screen captures from the default iPhone Stocks app, unless otherwise noted. Weather images and storm tracks are screen captures from the Weather Channel app for iPhone.

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