22 Apr April is the Cruelest…~ April 22nd-29th, 2019
THE WASTELAND BY T.S. ELIOT
The Burial of the Dead
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers. . .”
As the Sun travels through the first degrees of Taurus this week, you will feel overstimulated by a strange admixture of pleasure and pain. It may feel like your nerve endings are surging with the electrical energy of Uranus, ushering in a renaissance of sensual experience.
Taurus season is devoted to luxury and indulgence, but this week is much more about the hard labor that precedes enjoyment.
On Wednesday, Pluto will station retrograde in Capricorn forcing a confrontation your own darkness. This year, Pluto stations retrograde next to the South Node, calling you to release some things from the past that are preventing you from moving forward. Though the energy of Pluto’s station has a trembling intensity, overall this release from the past will be a slow and deliberate process that lasts until October 2.
And over the weekend, Mars in Gemini will make a disorienting square to Neptune in Pisces that will be prone to weakening your resolve and tempting you to succumb to discouragement.
Suffice it to say that this week will be an interesting juxtaposition between springtime’s rejuvenating spirit and some much darker revelations about your own spiritual decay.
To feel this kind of intense mood in the dead of winter is bad enough, but to feel like this in springtime can feel emotionally irreconcilable. How can your heart become so heavy when the world is so lovely?
You are not alone in feeling like this. And this is not the first era in history to arouse such conflicted emotions. If you have ever read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, you will recognize how beautifully it expresses this tangled response to life. And you will also understand why it is widely considered to be one of the greatest epics of modernist poetry.
Eliot was committed to an asylum for his depression when he wrote The Wasteland. In the first lines you can feel his despair:
“April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire…”.
He has lost the connection to the blossom time of spring. Rather than feeling filled to the brim with the joy of rebirth and revivification, Eliot grimly faces all the death that came before…the decay which has fertilized the soil.
In The Wasteland, Eliot describes an experience of spring where every flower represents a fragment of a lost world…dead friends, lost tradition and a language ground into mulch. He longs instead for winter, where at least the cold hard earth will numb his memories and stop his confrontations with all that he has lost.
The title of The Wasteland is an allusion to Arthurian Legend. There is a story where a knight named Balin steals the holy Spear of Longinus and stabs the King that guards the Holy Grail. This act is called the dolorous stroke.
As the King suffers from his wound, the castle collapses and the land withers into a forsaken waste land. This state of wounding and despair goes on for years, until a worthy knight of the roundtable arrives in search of the Holy Grail.
What caused T.S. Eliot to resonate so much with the legend of the the dolorous stroke? The Wasteland, describes the agony experienced in the wake of destruction left by WWI, where lost souls like Eliot had nothing but a decadent industrialized society to find solace in.
He was a poet born into a war-torn infertile world, a wasteland. In the poem, he described his imagination as “a heap of broken images”, giving you the impression that he feels his modernist poetry is only the shattered remnant of the great tradition of poetry from the past.
“. . . What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief. . .”
Despite the bitterness and pain that Eliot evokes, this poem is true poetry because of its innate quality of resourcefulness in expressing subtle emotional experiences. It is bleak and it is grim, but Eliot faces the end of the world with courage and uses what voices and symbols and sounds are at his disposal.
It is true that the poet of his time could no longer linger on the whispering winds or the rosy-fingered dawn.
Instead his genius was to accept the crisis of his era and to accept the chaos of ideas, cultures, and crises as his Muse. Through The Wasteland, Eliot began to cultivate the rebirth of an authentic poetic voice to herald the rebirth of life.
In the Wasteland, Eliot fearlessly observes the ebb and flow of the tide upon the Plutonian shore. He sees how worlds are born upon these waves just as surely as they are destroyed by them. This week, as Pluto’s retrograde reveals hidden darkness within, there will be a rushing current of elimination and release. The darkness finds its way into the light, exposing itself to the regenerative and transformative powers of Pluto. It may feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, but over the next five months, patience will reveal that this is the path towards the resurrection and the light.
Monday/Tuesday: Breeding Lilacs
Monday is the exact the conjunction between the Sun in Taurus and Uranus. You’ll most likely be broken out of some of the routines that give you comfort. You may experience an unexpected shock to your reality. And you’ll likely feel more attracted to things that glitter with sensation and novelty.
On Tuesday, the waning Moon will transit Jupiter in Sagittarius, giving you an optimistic and generous perspective. The more forgiving you are of others, the more forgiving you can be towards yourself. This is a day to let go of petty grievances.
On Wednesday, as Pluto begins its retrograde in Capricorn. This retrograde is a five-month cycle of deep regeneration in areas of life that have been stalled by distractions and denial. There will be a burial of the dead in terms of outworn ideas about yourself regarding your purpose in this life.
The Plutonian vibes seem to interrupt the springtime bliss. But it is in fact a bass note in music of regeneration and renewal. It will become well integrated into the flowering springtime energies soon.
Emotionally speaking, you may find the same melancholy as Eliot does in The Wasteland as you meander through painful memories. Feelings of loss and feelings of regret will wash over you as surely as feelings of mirth and unconditional affection.
Find the courage to face the end of an era, knowing that the next one will contain enough pleasure to continue making beautiful memories.
As April showers bring May flowers, so too does inner evolution bring ecstatic experience.
Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Dull Roots with Spring Rain
On Saturday, Mars in Gemini will square Neptune in Pisces tempting you into a moment of weakness. The influence of Neptune dissolves and depresses the virility of Mars. Your point of focus may slip away. Your initiative and drive may become clouded.
Allow for imprecision and let yourself rest. When Mars is in Gemini, the desire for information becomes white hot. You begin to connect all the dots, amassing a wealth of knowledge and communication tools. But this weekend, as Mars squares Neptune, you may just feel dazed and confused.
This is a positive thing since the Sun will finally be escaping the orbit of Uranus and the slow languid rhythms of Taurus can begin to take over once again.
No matter what your joys or struggles may be, it is time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
paintings by modernist artists Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall