As summer thrusts sunlight into the receptive hollows of the earth here in the north, and the benediction of winter silence presses into the cold soils of the south, the Sun moves into the sign of Cancer on June 21st and pauses at the threshold in the year. Margaret Atwood reminds us, “This is the Solstice, the still point of the Sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future. The place of caught breath.”
Our Earth is girdled with contrast, bejewelled with the shimmer of light and the stillness of darkness. Spiritual teacher Gary Zukav describes the Solstices as “the opposition of light and dark, expansion and contraction, that characterize our experiences in the Earth school so that we can recognize our options as we move through our lives.”
At the solstice, and right now in our human his-story, we stand at a threshold, and at a time of unlocking, which promises the release of pent-up energy, the slaying of old dragons, shedding of old skins. Between June 21st to July 23rd, against the backdrop of the widening gyre, the Sun rides his chariot through Cancer, that segment of the zodiac associated with home, with family, with safety and security. We have a choice to expand, or contract against the forces of change that swirl around us all.
Like all astrological archetypes, Cancer is nuanced. The little crab knows about defensive armouring and threatening claws. As the shards of life piece our tender hearts, embed themselves in our sweet spots, we may be acutely aware of our vulnerability.
This ancient dweller of this liminal, in-between place where the great oceans meet the shoreline is an adaptable scavenger, a brave opponent. We all have Cancer somewhere in our birth chart. Cancer is the place of our tender heart. This is where we close the curtains, turn down the lights. This where we long for the comfort of soul food, or the ache for the soft bosom of an all-loving Mother. This is the place we protect with claws and pincers that flay against life when it presses in too hard.
We may feel uneasy, exposed, as an unyielding triumvirate in Capricorn—Pluto, Saturn and the South Node—threaten to break the fragile thread of security we have cast into the world. As silver-back politicians jostle for power, as bellicose tweets ricochet across our future lives, and invisible hackers prey on our most intimate and tender communication, hijacking our accounts, we may be feeling a kind of sea-sick. Tension mounts in Iran. Stock markets shiver. An epidemic of homelessness is a stark reminder of the widening chasm between the rich and the poor. Cancer is associated our human capacity to heal, to nourish and nurture. Cancer is associated with the stomach. As those who wield power avoid answering inconvenient truths about the climate crisis and the increased use of pesticides, we may be feeling a little queasy as we realise that we are eating a credit card sized portion of micro-plastics each week.
The world may feel volatile as Mars in Cancer joins forces with Mercury and the North Node to oppose the Capricorn planets (Saturn, South Node and Pluto—June 12th —June 23rd) rocking our cradle of comfort.
In contrast to the earthy Capricorn knot, all though this year a tidal surge of a very different kind of energy is swirling across the skies as Jupiter, that planet associated with big dreams, grandiosity and faith meets Neptune where we yearn to escape, be rescued from the burnt out ends of our human existence, where we long for romance, ecstatic spiritual experience; yet in real life we do the laundry, walk the dog and come home to relationships that, as John Welwood suggests in his book, Journey of the Heart, “will inevitably penetrate our usual shield of defenses, exposing our most tender and sensitive spots, and leaving us feeling vulnerable—literally, able to be wounded.”
We may have been consciously or deeply unconsciously threading strands of this Neptune/Jupiter square through our lives since January this year. (January—14° Sagittarius/14° Pisces; June—19° Sagittarius/Pisces; September 17° —Sagittarius/Pisces) This waning square is often accompanied by the deep bruise of loss, a sinkhole of disappointment, or the dissolution of a high-flying dream. Neptune yearns for the ineffable, the ideal. This aspect brought Theresa May’s career as leader of the Tory Party to an end. It’s difficult to get things accomplished under this kind of energy. We may be undermined, duped, deluded. It’s the illusive green curtain behind which the Wizard of Oz directs the affairs of state and promises deliverance. For us all, there are opportunities to tumble into the ache of our heart, or to feel the brush of an angel’s wing as we soften in acceptance of the way things are. As Byron Katie, who has Jupiter Retrograde in Cancer, suggests, “When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.”
The ancient god Dionysus stretches and yawns when we enter Neptune’s nebulous realm of music, dance and intoxication; as we enter the non-ordinary; as we engage with magic and mystics; as everything empties into One. Neptune is Retrograde from June 21st to November 27th. This is our invitation to find deeper meaning in a renewed sense of purpose. This is our invitation to take off those rose-coloured glasses. To see more clearly a larger vision. This is our invitation to feel compassion, as we “suffer with” and our hearts open wider.
Venus makes a T-square to the Jupiter/Neptune square June 23rd – 24th to offer us the gift of soul-union with a lover, artistic inspiration, the ability to be selfless, to see the beauty growing out of the cracks in the pavements, the black delta of mould in the subways. It also can signify the tsunami of grief and loss at the ending of a relationship or the realisation that we have been unrealistic or too naïve concerning our finances or what we hold dear to our heart.
Mars changes sign from Cancer into Leo and the eclipse season begins on July 2nd with a total eclipse of the Sun. This eclipse is at 10° Cancer and is followed on July 16th by a by a partial lunar eclipse at 24° Capricorn (conjunct Pluto and opposing Mercury and Mars.) These are celestial power-points that drop into our consciousness and will re-calibrate national and global events.
Mercury turns Retrograde (4° Leo) on July 8th, stirring up the silt from the shadowy waters of the previous sign of Cancer. We may be prompted to be more introspective, to be mindful of just how we choose to wield our authority, how we bring forth our vision and creativity. As we stand at the Still-Point of the year, may our path be gentle. May we learn to pause and appreciate the simple pleasures, the exquisite beauty, the Love that is all around us.
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