April 2017: In Magic Chains To Bind

April 2017: In Magic Chains To Bind

April’s story, though possessed of many details, can be broken down into two major parts. These are the plotlines spun out by Mercury and Venus’ retrograde cycles. The month begins with Venus retrograde, but the morning star has plans to reassume forward motion on the 15th. Meanwhile, Mercury will station retrograde on the 9th, and remain so for the rest of the month.
Each of these retrogrades involve the planet being paired with another by exact aspect. Venus’ partner in April’s dance is Saturn, while Mercury is scheduled to plot mischief with Uranus. This gives us two simple, yet important themes.


Venus-Saturn points towards the bonds of passion between people — commitments. As the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite goes:

“Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, ‘tis thine, mortals in necessary bands to join;

And ev’ry tribe of savage monsters dire in magic chains to bind, thro’ mad desire.”

Venus’ retrogrades melt down our jewelry, reducing them to liquid and precious metal. But this is a transitional state. The molten desire-nature must eventually cool and take form. It is best if that shape is chosen rather than accidental. Thus the question of form is crucial. In the much-referenced story of Inanna’s descent into the underworld, the bright goddess (widely syncretized with Venus) is said to have with her the regalia of heaven — 7 magic items which provide her with strength. Though she must leave them behind when she descends into the underworld, she is reinvested with them when she emerges into the light. Not being ancient sky-goddesses ourselves, we may have to be a bit more thoughtful as to which of the 7 pieces of regalia we’ll choose to invest our energy into creating and then wielding. What mythic tool do we need? Is it a mirror with which we can repair a fractured self image? Perhaps a cord to bind those who would do us harm, or a crown with which to inspire and lead? What precious chains shall we forge, to tie us to those who we love best? The answer to this question must necessarily come as response to what the times allow and what they require. Venus’ connections with Saturn this month will reveal our challenges, and in doing so, the piece of divine regalia required for this phase.

Mercury and Uranus

The other major pairing this month is Mercury and Uranus. Though Mercury is retrograde from the 9th onward, we won’t see this theme fully developed until Mercury regresses back into Aries on the 20th. In addition, Mercury and Uranus won’t be done with each other until well into May, and so this particular plotline will be left with threads hanging at April’s end.
Mercury and Uranus have much in common, especially retrograde Mercury. At the simplest level, both entail surprises, and point to the questionable fruits of the tree of knowledge. Together, Mercury and Uranus will have a good old time bouncing apples of knowledge and chaos off of mortal’s heads, inspiring revelations and reversal aplenty. Some will liberate and empower, others will expose, and some may simply madden. Just imagine seeds of Promethean fire cast about the landscape willy-nilly, with Hermes playing a tongue-in-cheek version of Johnny Appleseed.
April thus proceeds from the binding of the passions to the inflammation of the mind. It is an interesting progression, one some will enjoy more than others.


Venus Returns To Pisces: Undersea Retreat

Early in the month, on the 2nd, Venus retrogrades into Pisces. The Ram she’s ridden backs up to the edge of the sea, as if it were preparing to spring forward and butt. Yet as it does so, its body begins to devolve. The hooves disappear and retreat toward the body, becoming fins, while the wool shrinks, tightens and hardens into shining scales. The resulting fish walks back toward the waves on bony stubs. Then a bloodied goddess, older than Aphrodite and wielding a double-bitted ax, jumps aboard. The two disappear beneath the shining surface.  They head just offshore and beyond the drop of the continental shelf, to an undersea palace where Venus is always welcome. Venus is at home in Pisces. The waves and visions calm and steady her. They wash the blood from her wounds and the rage from her mind.

Though Venus finds refuge in these waters, a difficult conversation with Saturn awaits. Venus’ time in Pisces puts her in a square, a 90’ angle, with Saturn. The two hold this position, with little variation, for the entirety of the month. Venus will make two exact squares to Saturn, one retrograde and one direct. The retrograde square occurs on the 8th and the direct on the 20th.
Though Venus is in a place to recover from the cuts of recent weeks, the call of Necessity haunts her respite. Tasks remain incomplete, great works still loom far in the distance. Aphrodite will heal, but with the knowledge that there is still far to go, and much to do. A glorious rebirth awaits, but it is one whose labor is protracted, and whose pangs cannot be circumvented by caesarian or epidural.

Saturn Stations Retrograde: The Leaden Tide

On April 5th, Saturn stations retrograde. The slow planet rolls to a stop at 27’48” Sagittarius, and begins its journey backwards. The retrograde phase is due to last until August 25th, when Saturn stations direct at 21’11’ Sag. This phase lasts for four and half months and will see Saturn grow increasingly bright in the night sky. During this period of contrary motion the tide of molten lead recedes, revealing structural problems and highlighting portions of life-architecture in need of a remodel.

The Sun, Jupiter and Pluto: Bright and Dark

The Sun in Aries opposes Jupiter in Libra on April 7th at 18’15.” This is the center of Jupiter’s retrograde phase, and the big planet’s point of maximum visibility. Like a Full Moon, the greater benefic will rise bright in the East as the Sun sets in the West. This polarization between the Sun and Jupiter highlights the divergence between what we hoped to achieve and the current situation, as it stands. Seeing our present position relative to our aspirations, we can then work to bridge the gap between the two.

The annual opposition of the Sun and Jupiter is this year complicated by the interjection of a visitor— Pluto. Dark and distant Pluto makes a 90 degree angle to both the Sun and Jupiter, squaring both. The bright light of the Sun is potentially obscured here, while the hope which springs from Jupiter may temporarily run dry. These are brief negations, though, and the succeeding days will likely see them evaporate or be circumvented.

Venus Square Saturn: The Firm Hand of Necessity

Meanwhile, on the 8th, retrograde Venus in Pisces and Saturn in Sagittarius make the first of their two exact squares this month. Duty, responsibility and necessity press the heart, further pushing the month-long themes stemming from the Venus-Saturn pairing.

Mercury Stations Retrograde: Dividing The Land

On the following day, April 9th, Mercury stations retrograde at 4’51” Taurus. Though this retrograde begins in the Bull’s pastures, its backward motion will return it to Aries by April 20th. This retrograde is thus split into two, the first phase beginning in earnest with the retrograde station.  Mercury’s backward motion begins in the first face of Taurus, traditionally represented with images of agricultural labor. It is in this face that the land is measured and divided, the crops to be planted decided upon, and plans laid. Planning and measuring are Mercury’s domain, and so the swift planet is considered the ruler of this decan. Retrograde here, Mercury strongly suggests that plans will need to be reconsidered due to unexpected developments. Mercury is sure to extract a toll from those who insist on proceeding stiffly. Remember to stretch daily, so that you’ll have the flexibility required.

The Full Moon in Libra: Love and Strife

The Full Moon in Libra arrives on Monday the 10th, the day after Mercury’s retrograde station. This lunation stretches silver and gold across the Aries-Libra axis, highlighting the relationship between action and repose, harmony and strife, self and other. It is the first Full Moon after the Northern Hemisphere’s vernal equinox, and thus also has the responsibility for anchoring Easter to the following Sunday.

This year’s Full Moon in Libra is joined by other planets, some of whose arguments have been ongoing for months. At the time of Luna’s maximum light, the Sun is applying to a conjunction with radical Uranus in Aries, and the Moon is just past conjunction with justice-seeking Jupiter in Libra. Meanwhile, Pluto looks on from Capricorn, casting a shady, perpendicular gaze on all involved.

The Full Moon thus energizes the dynamic generated by the ongoing Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto t-square. Such issues include the value of radical change vs. steady growth and the importance of individual freedom vs. interpersonal harmony. These are not new polarities, nor will they be thoroughly resolved during the present lunation. This Full Moon occurs very much mid-stream, and so it does not offer beginnings or endings, but instead developments in plot-lines already well underway. The advice which the Moon anchors can be best reduced to a call for balance, in particular the type of equilibrium called upon by the tightrope walker, whose road is the unsteady bit between two solid points.

Sun Conjunct Uranus: Plasma Torch

A few days after the Full Moon, on Thursday, April 13th, the Sun completes its conjunction with Uranus in Aries. This conjunction brings together the fire of the Sun and the lightning of Uranus, lighting a plasma torch capable of searing insight and wide illumination.

Venus Stations Direct: Pivot

Retrograde since March 3rd, Venus stations direct on April 15th at 26’55” Pisces. From this point onward, Venus resumes direct motion, and will continue forward until October 5th, 2018. This particular station is unusual for multiple reasons. First, the single degree in which Venus stations direct is the exact degree of the zodiac traditionally considered to be the most powerful for Venus — her degree of exaltation. A planet in its degree of exaltation is generally thought to be of unimpeachable fortitude, as that degree acts as fortress and throne for that planet in particular. This is a fine place for Venus to end her retrograde, and will be the only time she does so this century.

That happy throne is, however, besieged. A hard square to Saturn puts the ancient one at her door, eager to discuss Necessity’s demands. Furthermore, the planetoid Chiron is present in her throne room, in the very same degree. Though not a planet proper, Chiron is more than capable of inspiring aches in old wounds. The small body maps the spiderweb of emotional scar-tissue, pointing to the need for deeper healing. Chiron and Saturn may not be who Venus hoped to see at this point, but we would be remiss if we did not consider the strength of the morning star in this position. Here, Venus has the greatest capacity to accept, embrace and find beauty in the roughest of trials, and we would be foolish not to be inspired to do the same.

Venus Sextile Mars: Red and Green Lights

Shortly after her direct station, on April 16th, Venus makes a sextile with Mars in Taurus. This sextile helps re-establish harmony between the two bodies. It offers clarity to conflicts, and may help stitch back together frayed romantic relationships.

Sun Trine Saturn: Intention and Form

While Venus sextiles Mars, the Sun in Aries completes a trine with Saturn in Sagittarius. This configuration, which also occurs on the 16th, asks that we make the effort to bring the mind, and matter, back into conformity with our will. Attempts to re-establish discipline and organization are aided and abetted by this aspect.

The Sun Enters Taurus: Join The Herd

Several important planetary shifts are packed into the period from the 19th-21st. The first of these, on the 19th, is the Sun’s movement into Taurus, which begins the next chapter of the season. Here the Sun’s beams fall on the state of homes and fields, revealing fresh blooms and trampled flower beds alike. Look to the state of your works, and consider the planning and labor they’ll require to bear fruit. The Sun will be in Taurus until May 20th.

Mercury Conjunct The Sun: Ground Penetrating Radar

Immediately after the Sun’s ingress into Taurus, the Sun and Mercury conjoin. This conjunction, in the very first degree of the sign, sees Mercury occupy the space between the Sun and the Earth. This so-called “inferior” or “interior” conjunction is the heart of Mercury’s retrograde, and Mercury’s closest pass to earth. The Sun’s light is focused by Mercury here, giving their combined rays a penetrating depth and clarity.

Pluto Stations Retrograde: Chthonian Grind

Depth is indeed a theme, for while the Sun and Mercury conjoin in one earth sign, Pluto pivots in another. Hades’ dark little rock stations retrograde on April 19th at 19’54” Capricorn. Pluto’s station opens a mineshaft, clearing the way to the deep places, where the slow tectonic grind of stone-against-stone can be heard. Pluto’s retrograde phase will last approximately five months, with the direct station at 16’51” Capricorn scheduled for September 28th.

Mercury Re-Enters Aries: Lightning Rod

On April 20th, Mercury’s retrograde takes it back into Aries. This change of sign brings Mercury within spitting distance of disruptive Uranus, which waits at the end of the Ram’s zoidion. Uranus is the planet of surprise and sudden change par excellence. Mercury’s extended time hovering within orb of Uranus’ volatile field thus promises a number of surprises and reversals. Two conjunctions punctuate Mercury and Uranus’ time together. The first, while Mercury is retrograde, takes place on April 28th, while the second, which will occur after Mercury’s direct station, takes place on May 9th.

Mars Enters Gemini: The Pen and the Sword

On the 21st, Mars enters Gemini. In the sign of the Twins, the red planet’s fire finds its way into the nervous system, speeding up actions and ideas. That same flame may find itself spurting out
of the tongue, giving voice to harsh words and ugly gossip. It may take more effort to stay on-task while Mars is in Gemini, as the tendency is try to move in every direction at once. Mars will be in Gemini until June 4th.

Venus Square Saturn: From Here

On April 21st, Venus in Pisces makes her final square to Saturn in Sagittarius. This is the last exact square between the two, and it highlights what bridges people have been able to build between grace and duty, beauty and obligation, passion and restraint. It is from these compromises that we will move forward, bearing with us those sacred implements required by the dictates of the present.

Mercury Trine Saturn: Structural Analysis

After Venus’ square to Saturn, the skies slow down a bit, the flurry of shifts exhausted and the waning Moon increasingly tired. The next aspect of note is retrograde Mercury in Aries’ trine with Saturn in Sagittarius on the 24th. The connection between Mercury and Saturn makes it easier to see blockages and obstacles. Look over your plans, and consider whether there might be an easier way to get from A to B. As you look, though, you may find yourself less convinced that B is a truly worthy destination.

New Moon In Taurus: More Cow-Bell

The New Moon occurs on April 26th, at 6’27” Taurus. Here the Sun and the Moon plant a stabilizing seed within the Bull’s pasture, the same fields in which Mercury’s retrograde began on April 9th. The New Moon slows the pace for a few days, providing ample enough opportunity to relax and survey matters.

Venus Returns To Aries: Once More, With Feeling

On April 28th, Venus returns to Aries. This will be the third time this year that Venus has walked this stretch of road. Once forward and once stumbling backwards, this time the way is known. Venus’ re-entry into Aries brings us back to the same hot-heart issues which confronted us before, but this time we come armed with knowledge, and perhaps even grace. The fire which before burned may this time serve to illuminate. Venus will be in Aries until June 6th.

Mercury Conjunct Uranus: Lightning’s Forked Tongue

Within hours of Venus’ return to Aries, retrograde Mercury conjoins Uranus in the Ram’s sign. In conjunction, Mercury can communicate the paradigm-shattering insights that Uranus emanates. Yet Uranus can also disrupt the affairs that Mercury is responsible for, such as communication, travel and the exchange of monies.
Though Mercury departs from exact conjunction with Uranus shortly afterward, the tricksy planet is slowing down for its May 3rd direct station and will thus be back for another conjunction with Uranus. The month ends with the electric conversation between Mercury and Uranus unfinished.

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Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.


  1. Kate plumb 6 years ago

    Truly inspiring. Austin. I get a real sense of journeying with the planets holding my hand. You are a master at illuminating and coordinating the sacred with the mundane. Thank you. ☘️

  2. Jeremy wood 6 years ago

    Wow. So real.

    Thank you.

  3. Matthew Barker 6 years ago

    “Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Los Angeles”
    No longer, I think.

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 6 years ago

      Haha. Yeah, I need to change my bio.

  4. Larissa Godat 6 years ago

    This was exquisite, Thank You.

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 6 years ago

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. C. 6 years ago

    This was an amazing monthly, I’m curious where the Horoscopes have gone?

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 6 years ago

      No time for that this month. They’ll be back soon.

      • C. 6 years ago


  6. Ivanka 6 years ago


  7. weaver 6 years ago

    always appreciated, austin, and all the best in your new home and community.

  8. Mary 6 years ago

    Spot on so far, as always. This site has become my astrology go-to. Thank you so much for all your wonderful, hard work!

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 6 years ago

      Excellent! Glad you like.

  9. Adam 6 years ago

    Dude, I forgot how much I love your writing. Epic article. Miss you man. Talk soon – Adam

  10. Barbara Cowin 6 years ago

    Beautiful, intelligent, classic yet inspirational narrative. Loved it. xx

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April 2017: In Magic Chains To Bind

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