Summer, in the Northern Hemisphere, kicks off officially with the June 20 Solstice, the longest day of the year above the equator and shortest day (start of winter) below. When Sol reaches its highest point in the sky, it’s a moment to stand still with the Sun.
At the June Solstice, the Sun enters 0 degrees of the sign of Cancer. The word Cancer comes from the Latin word for crab, and from the shape of the stars that comprise the constellation called Cancer. (The zodiacal signs correspond only roughly with the constellations. The signs name the twelve 30-degree segments of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, and due to an astronomical phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes, the part of the year when the Sun is in a given constellation has changed over long swaths of time.)
The crab is a great totem for Cancer, the cardinal water sign. The cardinal mode is about forward motion and getting things done. Crabs do move themselves along, but they walk sideways lest they trip over their own four pairs of legs. Crabs need to be able to retreat and defend themselves, so they’ve got a hard shell covering a soft and squishy inside. At some point in their lives, they will drop one shell in exchange for another, in a cycle of rebirth.
If these qualities sound familiar, it’s because they describe the personality of someone with their Sun sign in Cancer. If the Sun in Cancer person strikes you as emotionally sensitive and self-protective, it’s because the life-quest of a Cancerian is to move (albeit sideways) on a path of healing and wholeness.
Just a few days after the June 20 Solstice, the Sun at 3 degrees of Cancer will be opposed by the Full Moon in Capricorn on June 24 at 11:39 a.m. on the West Coast.
When the Moon appears in its fullness, it has reached its maximum point of reflecting the light of the Sun. Think of ancient times when there was no artificial light and nights were pitch black. A Full Moon meant one could see things in the night.
Similarly, when the Sun and the Moon are opposed, as they are at a Full Moon, we might better “see” what is hidden in ourselves, including polarities represented by opposing signs. Exposure of the within and the without can be so intense as to have some people wanting to go out and “howl at the Moon.”
Traditional astrology is binary and gendered, with each planet and sign corresponding to “masculine” and “feminine” and a system of “essential dignities” that describe the signs in which each planet is most at home or is “in detriment.” Taken literally, traditional astrology is way too binary for contemporary mindsets. Taken more poetically, there are rich meanings in the planetary dignities.
Traditionally, Cancer is said to be “ruled” by the Moon. Softer, more introspective qualities – which both men and women have – are associated both with the Moon and the sign Cancer. Thus, the Moon is “at home” for a couple of days each month when it passes through Cancer. Opposed to Cancer, a Capricorn Moon is seen as “debilitated.” The Moon is considered to be least able to carry out its gentle functions of nurturance when passing through hard-charging Capricorn.
Capricorn is an earth sign, which puts it in the “feminine” or “yin” group of signs. Capricorn is also “ruled” by Saturn, a planetary force having to do with rules, structures, responsibilities, limits and even basic survival. When the Moon, having to do with security, passes through earthy Capricorn, it symbolizes having to contend with real-world necessities for making a life that is protected and safe.
In traditional astrology, Cancer is associated with the archetype of the Mother and Capricorn with the Father. Again, that is way too binary for our current thinking, unless we blur the lines to see that both “mother” and “father” are, in essence, parental and nurturing. Parenting is a way of being that includes and also goes beyond the biology of having children. Our “children” may not even be human!
Opposite signs are on display at every Full Moon, as they will be on June 24 when the Sun will be in Cancer and the Moon in Capricorn. Opposite signs need not be in conflict. They are complimentary.
The Capricorn sensibility can get a bad rap as being about work, achievement, pressure. But the doing is not all just for glory and status. There is responsibility, too. Cancerian energy is sensitive, unpretentious and may involve a bit too much navel-gazing. There is also sweet, protective love. Cancer and Capricorn share an approach. One nurtures, and the other builds. Both are about caretaking, for self and others.
This makes the Capricorn Full Moon with the Sun in Cancer an excellent time to do and to feel that which one knows to be most safe, solid and healing.
Blessings for the Solstice and the Full Moon!