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Crossing The Tropic Of Cancer

Crossing The Tropic Of Cancer

Normally, I wouldn’t combine a solstice, solar ingress, and new moon into one post, but this week is so dense with big, cardinal shifts, it feels almost wrong to treat them as separate events. Besides — yours truly is a Cancer with a Gemini Mercury, so I’ve got a lot to say about this.

This Wednesday, June 21 (or late on Tuesday if you’re on the West Coast) marks the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which coincides with the Sun’s entry into the sign of Cancer. Mercury will be following hot on the Sun’s heels, crossing the Cancerian threshold a few hours later to form a conjunction later that morning. A New Moon in Cancer on Friday completes this crustacean clusterfuck, fully initiating us into a new quadrant of the zodiac.

Whenever things happen around the cardinal axis, you know stuff’s about to go down. That’s because the cardinal signs — Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn — coincide with actual seasonal shifts, lending these signs a commanding, make-it-happen presence that is the natural providence of someone who can call the shots in nature’s house. The act of crossing over into a cardinal sign is often associated with manifesting events in the material world, but if you really think about it, seasons don’t just arrive out of nowhere. They were already on their way in the transitory realms of the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces), so the actual arrival does, in some ways, feel like a tangible manifestation of something that was already bubbling beneath the surface.

Given all the meme-able, pedestrian talk about crybaby Cancers, it can be easy to forget that we’re essentially dealing with an alpha. But most of you reading this are evolved enough to understand that sensitivity can be a major source of strength, and that in many cases, Mom is the one who runs the show.

Cancer (as well as its ruler, the Moon) is essentially one giant mama complex. A 1950s astrologer would probably use this opportunity to talk about Capricorn being the breadwinner dad, and Cancer, its opposite sign, being the stay-at-home mom. But in 2017, we can have a slightly more enlightened discussion about these archetypal themes. It goes without saying that not everyone with a strong Cancerian signature in their chart is physically capable of — or even wants to be — a mother. But mothering is something that we frequently do for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our communities, and for our creations. How many times have you heard an entrepreneur refer to their new startup as a “baby?” And how’s that for reconciling that Cancer/Capricorn dichotomy?

Cancer is all about nurturing, TLC, emotional labor, emotional safety, our origins, our roots, the home, the pantry, and the family (both biological and chosen) — and boy does Cancer want to feed you. Crabs exist in the tidal waters of human consciousness, where they’re especially prone to being tossed around by the changeable waters of the emotional energy around them — waters that are governed by the Moon’s moody rotations. With all that sensitive, tender crab meat that everyone wants a piece of, it’s no wonder crabs had to evolve a tough outer shell and a set of claws that can do some damage when provoked. One thing you might see over and over again with Cancerian energy is this self-protective forcefield erected around a vulnerable interior — whether that take the form of introversion, shyness, standoffishness, bitchiness, superficial extraversion, or a reticence to reveal oneself to anyone, save for an exclusive inner circle. A Cancer is basically a Pisces, but with healthier boundaries.

This is sort of where we get into the “shadow side” of Cancer, which can be really defensive (and frankly, kind of cray) when it doesn’t feel safe. And Cancer can sometimes need a lot to feel safe. This is a sign that might need a lot of reassurance from others, which is a predisposition for neediness and clinginess. But this low-vibe version of Cancer can eventually transcend its graspiness and figure out how to generate its own source of validation and security, which has the added benefit of allowing Cancer to more effectively fulfill its role as a caretaker of some kind.

If you want to get super mystical about this, you can think of Cancer as the womb space, where babies are safe to develop inside the protective walls (and waters) of the uterus. It’s no wonder Cancer is a cardinal sign. What’s more powerful than having the ability to create another life? Cancer is also kabbalistically associated with the merkabah, or the body of light that surrounds us and serves as our vehicle (or chariot, if you like tarot) to travel between various dimensions. In a slightly more practical sense, the shell is not merely the crab’s ability to create a sense of home wherever it goes. It’s also the boundaries we erect around ourselves to preserve our energy as we make our entry into the soup of life, which is frequently full of energetic content from other people that can harm us, bring us down, or just deplete us emotionally.

Anyway, here are some #CancerFacts you probably haven’t heard a million times: crabs have tenacious little claws that can cling to the past or hold on tight until shit gets done. But those claws also like to collect and hoard (you want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty). Cancer is also the area of the zodiac where the imagination runs wild — and is often at its most colorful. Wouldn’t yours do weird things if you spent so much time inside your cozy interior world? Speaking of weird, Cancers can be…well…that. The word “lunatic” is really just a derivation of the word “luna,” or “moon.” A wacky sense of humor often comes with the territory.

So what’s any of this got to do with the solstice? Up here in the North, the summer solstice marks peak sunlight. Daylight is at max capacity, which makes this, in many ways, a sort of “Full Moon” for the Sun. Whenever a luminary reaches peak brightness, it signifies a moment of fruition. Things are literally at the height of blooming, both in nature and metaphysically. Peak ripeness would suggest that something, at some point, got impregnated — and is now bearing fruit. Indeed, many solstice rituals around the world involve fertility and sex. If you haven’t yet managed to get yourself “knocked up” (in a sense), nature’s biological clock wants us to get busy now so that there’s something to harvest in the fall.

This year’s solstice occurs concurrently with an exact trine between the Moon and Pluto. If the Moon is the creator of life, and Pluto the destroyer, then this harmonious alignment would suggest that the cycle of life and death is functioning exactly as it’s supposed to in our lives. Even if we’re currently feeling the full brunt of Pluto’s burn-it-all-down energy, this appears to be an omen that we’re merely in the midst of a natural forest fire — one that will clear away the brush and allow us ample space to give birth to a brand new thing.

With Mercury trailing (and then catching up with) the Sun on Wednesday, the intellect — how we think, perceive, and speak — will be entirely on par with where we are existentially. Mercury in Cancer speaks softly and tenderly — assuming it’s speaking to someone worthy of its affection. Water contains memory, and Cancer is a very nostalgic sign, so our minds might also be stuck in the past during this three-week period. Sometimes, it’s necessary to mine the past for useful insights — or turn your attention toward your family history.

Friday’s New Moon, at 2 degrees Cancer, delivers the final piece of the page-turning trifecta. What could be more fertile than a New Moon in its own home sign? This is as fine an occasion as any to hit the reset button, especially as it relates to your home, your past, your family, your boundaries, your self-care, or even your mom — or any mom-like (or significant feminine) figures in your world.

As we cross over the threshold of Cancer’s doorway, taking off our shoes and making ourselves at home is more or less the thing to do. Everything came from something else first. Is it your turn to be the origin, or the homemaker, for your own awesome and vital creation?

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