Taking a walk Monday, I encountered several water striders zipping about the surface of a stream pool. The shadows of the slight, quick insects were bold and magnified into a curious shape; the ripples from their movement reflected the sunlight in quickly expanding and intersecting rings; and if I shifted my focus, I could see the bugs themselves gliding effortlessly (seemingly magically) on the surface.

Water strider & shadow zipping along the surface of the little stream near my home on April 10, 2023.

As I watched, I had a fleeting thought about the concentrated burst of astrological activity arriving in about a week and a half. Something about the shadows, ripples, and reflections called to mind the upcoming Mercury retrograde and pair of eclipses, as well as ideas about how to move through them.

Retrogrades and eclipses come with their own echoes from the past, reflecting the light and the dark of our experience — sometimes accurately, sometimes warped by emotion and the fallibility of memory. They include shadows that may foretell or obscure — and then reveal — “the thing itself” at the heart of a matter. The energy of events associated with eclipses in particular (and also retrogrades) ripples out into the future, and the impact may be striking or quite subtle as these ripples shape our experience in the following months or years.

One of the things most notable about the astro-events coming up is how concentrated they are. Over the course of three days, we’ll experience:

– A total solar eclipse and New Moon in Aries, on April 19-20 (depending on your time zone; for the U.S. east coast, it’s exact at 12:12 am EDT on April 20). This also happens to be a second New Moon in Aries, occurring in the very last degree (offering unusual symmetry with the Aries New Moon we just had on the equinox, in the first degree of that sign). The accompanying lunar eclipse occurs May 5, with the Scorpio Full Moon.

– The Sun’s ingress of Taurus, at 4:13 am EDT on April 20.

– The Taurus Sun squaring Pluto in Aquarius, exact at 12:27 pm EDT on April 20 (though in effect for a several days before and after).

– Mercury stationing retrograde in Taurus on April 21, at almost 4:35 am EDT. Notably the Taurus Moon will be exactly conjunct Mercury at that moment, with Uranus only a couple degrees away — potentially describing some surprising feelings to go with whatever pops up.

I’ll be saying more about these charts soon but wanted to offer a broader take today. Mercury retrogrades are generally considered times to review, repair, and perhaps redo or reconsider, and astrologers usually suggest caution (or outright avoidance) regarding major purchases, contracts, and launches.

Yet most modern astrologers also see eclipse periods as important times for clearing out what is not working, setting intentions that align with your deeper purpose and loftier goals, and then taking action to move in that direction and set new patterns.

Having the Sun square Pluto describes some potentially intense pressure to make tangible changes at a fundamental level — involving mind (Aquarius), body (Taurus), soul (Pluto), and your own unique expression of life force (Sun). That can sound and feel heavy when we take it on the level of ego and personality, where things get cast into black and white, “good” and “bad,” easy and hard, right and wrong, life and death, and so on.

Which brings me back to those water striders. I hesitated in using them as a metaphor, because it would be easy to view the way they skate along the surface of the water as “superficial,” and the upcoming astrology is anything but.

Yet consider the physics of their movement.  

Water striders’ legs are coated with specialized “hydrophobic” hairs on the underside that repel water, providing buoyancy thanks to how surface tension works. Water molecules “reject” air — they actually bond more tightly with one another where water meets air. This makes a kind of elastic membrane at the water’s surface. Between the extra-tight water molecules on the surface and the water striders’ hydrophobic leg hairs, these insects remain agile and can interact with their environment without either drowning in the water or drifting off, untethered, into the air.

I think there’s something here for us, as we navigate our lives during some potentially very “interesting” astrology. Can we be responsive to what we encounter — both within ourselves and externally in our physical and social environments and relationships — without sinking into a place of soggy emotional paralysis? Or without entrenching further into what is familiar but no longer serves us?

Can we allow a measure of elasticity into our concept of possible outcomes beyond false “either/or” dichotomies? Maddeningly, the “third option” or “middle way” often only becomes visible (or even possible) when we make the bold, perhaps frightening choice to be true to ourselves, to dare to align with what serves our highest good — no matter how impossible it may seem to the naked eye of onlookers. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen only two possible options before making a decision, only to discover those around me responding in unexpected, creative, supportive ways once I’d finally taken action, and new pathways opening up.

The major astrological events of next week are primarily concentrated in “fixed” signs, but their outcomes are far from written in stone. I’m not known for moving through transitions with the magical zip of a water strider, though I’ve often found my own kind of buoyancy. I’ll be keeping their movements in mind as my model, and wish you luck in doing the same.

With love,


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