April gets a really bad rap, for such a beautiful month. Spring is officially on, and every day brings another example of the Earth's awakening. In my neighborhood, the first bulbs are popping out—hyacinth, grape hyacinth, snowdrop and crocus. The dandelions are showing up, of course, and suddenly the robins and wrens are joined by woodpeckers and blackbirds. Every day the clouds dapple a brilliant blue sky, and bring in a sorely needed sleety rain. But there are daily reminders of why TS Eliot once wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” He was referring to Easter, to the sacrifice of the Christian God and his resurrection. April has been the time of tragedies, of uprisings, assassinations and shootings. It is tax season and therefore makes us account for ourselves (and who enjoys that, really?). In many ways, April compels us toward hard paths and tough choices, to make sacrifices and commitments. April pushes us out of our comfort zones, in order that we may grow and aspire.
One of the best known April traditions is that of the April Fool, a tradition of misrule where pranks and practical jokes are tolerated. In France, “le poisson d'Avril” or April fish, was a gullible person sent upon a fool's errand. Much like the Fool of the Tarot card, representing pure potential and possibility, all things are contained in that moment of setting out. Courage necessary to take that first step, to step out of the safety of what we have known, and venture forth. It is a leap of faith, a deliberate giving up of control and surrendering to the Universe. The Fool card often depicts the Fool about to go off a cliff to represent the free fall of surrender. This movement, out of what's familiar and comfortable, into the unknown, can be as scary and jarring as a fall, but it can bring about tremendous growth and profound transformation. Sometimes this movement is precipitated by a Fool's errand—we follow an intuition, against all logic, or circumstances around us force us to change, or we find ourselves swept along by powers we cannot control. When everything around us is “going crazy,” we fight to regain control and resist the letting go that is called for. That loss of control is maddening; it feels dangerous and threatening to us. And so it is! It is threatening to the old patterns and systems of our lives. It is threatening to our masks and facades, to the games we play, to all our ego attachments. Departing from the safety of the known path is “crazy.” It flies in the face of logic to deliberately embrace risk when we have achieved safety. But we are often driven to choose risk. And in that irrational movement, incredible amounts of energy is released. That energy is what renews the Earth in Spring, and what renews us as well.
April begins with the Sun firmly in the sign of Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac, the cardinal sign which ushers in the Zodiacal year. Ruled by Mars, Aries embodies the intensity of Earth energy as the land wakes up to Spring. That push that drives the seeds to rise out of the soil, that drives the trees to put out leaves and the birds to begin nesting requires a lot of energy, and Aries ignites the fuse. Whether it's getting dirty in the garden, or making progress on creative projects, or committing to our work in a deeper way, right now the Earth is humming with drive to go forward. What is it that you truly want to do? What goals seem out of reach, what behaviors seem too ingrained to ever change? As we begin the new astrological year, and welcome the opportunities for renewal and cleansing, what new possibility can we dream and actually make manifest in the world? Part of April's discomfort is sitting with these questions and trying to listen for the answers.