When the Sun and Moon make their annual conjunction in the sign of Cancer—as they will do on June 28 at 7:52 p.m. on the West Coast—the Moon is said to be in its “domicile,” the place where it finds most comfort. Each year, the Cancer New Moon occurs some time close to the June 21 Solstice, the time when the Sun reaches its highest pinnacle in the Northern Hemisphere.
In popular Sun Sign astrology, Cancer is boiled down to something like this: It’s the ultra-sensitive water sign most associated with motherly nurturing (of children, pets, and even pet projects and pet grievances). Cancerian-type people are seen as introverted, stay-at-home matrons of domesticity, cooking up a storm and knitting socks for everyone in town. Stereotypes are popular because they have grains of truth. (Full disclosure: I have natal Sun in Cancer, and I love to cook and knit socks.) But like everything in astrology, there is surface, and then there’s depth.
A good place to look for how the planetary bodies were assigned their rulerships over signs is a diagram called the Thema Mundi. It’s a teaching tool from the era of Hellenistic astrology dating back over 2000 years ago. In a zodiacal wheel, the Thema Mundi shows each of the five visible planets ruling two signs, the Sun and Moon each ruling one sign.
Guess which planetary body and sign appear in the very first house of the Thema Mundi, as the rising sign? It is the Moon in Cancer, and that is evocative, as the Greeks likened the rising sign to the helm of a ship. In astrology, our own rising sign is at least as important, if not more so, than our Sun sign. The Sun traverses a sign each 30 days and all day when we’re born, whereas the rising sign marks the actual time of birth. That’s why the planet said to rule over your rising sign is called the chart ruler. Cancer, the sign of the Great Mother, the Creatrix, the giver of birth, is ruled by the Moon and guides the ship of souls in the Thema Mundi model.
The Moon is the fastest moving body in the sky, and it is also the closest celestial body to the Earth. Cancer’s totem is the Crab, a creature with a hard shell and a soft, squishy inside. Crabs move along sideways but move forward nevertheless, at the place where land meets sea.
Because of its association with the Moon and the Divine Feminine, Cancerian people can be characterized as being shy, inwardly drawn, maybe timid. This doesn’t capture what the Cancerian archetype contains. Quiet does not mean weak.
Just think of some of the well-known people whose Sun sign is Cancer: the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Frida Kahlo, Princess Diana, Malala Yousafzai. And on the unwholesome end of the spectrum: Elon Musk, Alexander the Great, George W. Bush. Shrinking violets? I don’t think so.
On the healthier end of possibilities, Cancerian energy is protective, like a mother bear. Cancer is cardinal, initiatory energy. As my astrologer friend and fellow Cancerian Eric Meyers sums it up: Cancerians lead with the heart.
The June 28 Cancer New Moon makes a couple of tight aspects. One is a conjunction with an astrological phenomenon called Black Moon Lilith (BML). This is a mysterious point in the sky, the point along the Moon’s orbit when it is furthest from the Earth. Astrologers assign many different meanings to BML. Named after the mythic Lilith, who was Adam’s first wife, she was created not from one of his ribs as Eve was, but from the same dust of the earth. Lilith would not submit to anything but equal status with Adam, and for that she was banished from Paradise, making her a symbol of fierce and repressed female power. Whereas the Moon represents that which is most familiar, the BML point in a chart is what’s hidden from view and even difficult to access consciously. That the June 28 New Moon conjoins BML suggests an invitation for each of us to invoke our inner wildness and wholeness—even if society doesn’t like that!
The tightest aspect at this New Moon is a tense square between Jupiter in fiery, cardinal Aries and the Moon and Sun in Cancer. A square aspect is like something in our way. We cannot get around it or away from it and we just have to try to make peace with it.
Jupiter in Aries is expansive. Something wants to charge out of the gate. There can be a feeling of exuberance, all things possible. This can be generous and optimistic. There can also be extravagance, grandiosity, an inflated ego. Jupiter in Aries is at odds with the Cancerian imperative to hunker down and take care of oneself and others.
And yet the friction between Aries and Cancer signals some ways to work with this particular June 28 New Moon: deploy your own individualized Arian initiative and self-interest, as a leader in your own realms. You might find yourself birthing something sweet and new, something you might previously not have thought possible.
Blessings for the New Moon in Cancer!