Each lunation has its own special features. The Full Moon in Cancer of January 17, 2022 (3:48 p.m. on the West Coast) will be no exception.
When the Sun is in Capricorn, the Full Moon is in its opposite sign, which is Cancer, the Moon’s home sign. The Moon’s passage through its home sign is what gives this particular Full Moon its potency.
Traditional astrology is based on an analysis of planetary condition—how well one of the planets, or the Sun or Moon, is able to carry out its functions. The best condition is when a body in the sky is in its home sign.
Both the Moon and the sign of Cancer have to do with our primal needs for security. We need Mother in all of her obvious and hidden forms. That the Full Moon occurs in Cancer during the severe time of winter has a sense to it: we seek reassurance that we will survive the season.
Some Native Americans and Europeans named the Cancer Full Moon the Wolf Moon. When food is scarce, the wolves howl louder. They survive by instinct and in packs. Human cultures have demonized wolves because they prey on farm animals. But it was through long and close wolf-human contact, involving the sharing of food, that some wolves evolved into dogs, who are among our most loyal and protective companions.
A Full Moon represents a culmination, a maximum illumination of the issues at hand. Something has fully ripened and is ready now to be harvested and disseminated. The Moon governs our emotions and our habits. At the Full Moon, something in our daily, emotional lives may have reached its peak. There’s an obvious intensity at this time. We may welcome the relief of tears. Or, we just might howl.
As for the sign of Cancer, its self-protective nature is depicted in its animal totem, the Crab, soft and squishy on the inside and with a hard outer shell to survive. The crab gets where it’s going by stepping both forward and sideways, as if it’s not quite sure of its destination. This ambiguity is curious when associated with the cardinality of Cancer, as the cardinal mode is about confidence in forging ahead. Cancer is forward-moving water, like a rushing river or waves crashing on the shore.
In a recent course I took through Astrology University called Zodiacal Polarities and the Mythic Imagination with archetypal cosmology scholar Safron Rossi, we considered the ambiguity of crab-like Cancer. We read astrologer Liz Greene’s classic book The Astrology of Fate. Greene traces the Cancerian archetype to the mythological sea goddess Thetis, a Creatrix who existed not only as a goddess but as water itself, her mythology predating the Hebrew G-d. In myth, Thetis is both a life-giver and a monster, a shape-shifter. Like the Crab, Thetis is ambiguous. Thetis gives birth to seven children, and she does not want to let any of them become mortals. Greene writes that “sometimes Cancer[ians], if there are no actual children upon whom to project a vision of superhuman performance, will nurture this attitude toward their own creativity, finding anything that comes from them flawed unless it is divine.”
Can anything that is not perfect still be loved as it is, perfect in its imperfections, which is divine? The sideways gait of the Crab speaks to the uncertainty. Yet in myth, the Cancerian archetype is creativity itself. It is eternal mothering. Mothers (of any gender, biological and otherwise) shelter progeny and also need to let the creatures—unready as they may be—eventually leave home.
The light of the January 17 Cancer Full Moon spotlights the near completion of Capricorn season, as a few days later, the Sun will ingress into Aquarius. Capricorn, with its emphasis on achievement and preservation of the status quo, is an earth sign, ruled by steadfast Saturn. Water goddess Thetis, the shape-shifter, speaks to allowing the full flow of creativity to manifest in some unanticipated ways, outside Saturnian concerns with mortality, limits, the endings of things.
The most prominent aspect this Full Moon in Cancer makes is its opposition with Pluto, which will be conjoined with the Sun by one degree on January 17. Plutonian power is like lava rumbling from below before it destroys whatever is in its path and creates a new landscape. Pluto represents our personal and collective shadows. It’s the secrets we hope no one will ever know and the questions about ourselves we may not yet know to ask.
At this lunation, the bright, mothering Full Wolf Moon will face the Sun. In each of our natal charts, the Sun represents the story of our lives, our heroine’s or hero’s journey to live our life with a purpose.
What is it about your life story that you are ready to fully excavate, to see and to know, to finally deal with, to offer up into the safe arms of your own creative power?
Blessings for the Full Moon in Cancer!