This shift brings the Solstice and a new season (summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern). By taking us from air to water, from our heads to our hearts, it offers new opportunities to honor our feelings and create greater emotional security. In the process, we can unite Gemini's logic with Cancer's caring to give our most beautiful thoughts the motivation they need to manifest.
Cancer the Crab watercolor by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
When the Sun travels through Cancer each year, it brings a tender, watery energy that invites us to feel deeply, use our imagination, enjoy memories, and nurture ourselves and others so we feel safe, connected, and cared for. Like the zodiac's other cardinal signs--Libra, Capricorn, and Aries--Cancer asks us to take action, often by exhibiting leadership or by starting something new. As with astrology's other water signs--Scorpio and Pisces--Cancer insists that we tap our emotions so we understand what we truly need and feel motivated to take care of ourselves properly.
After the experience of airy, lively Gemini, this energy can feel weepy, needy, or even weak. Ultimately, however, it supports all the curiosity and new information we experienced during the Sun's time in Gemini, as Cancer's receptive, emotional intelligence helps us humanize our ideas and harness our intellect to serve the greater good in a kind and loving way.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, the ancient symbol of the mother, which gives rise to Cancer's association with mothers and children as well as nurturing, food, and security. Besides inspiring poets and lovers with its mysterious light and constantly changing appearance, the Moon affects Earth's tides and women's monthly cycles.
Blue Moonrise acrylic painting on canvas by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
The Moon's movement around the Earth and its rotation on its axis are synchronized so closely that those of us on Earth always see the same side of the Moon. Paradoxically, this unchanging face changes constantly in appearance because of the Moon's phases, a physical fact that calls to mind Cancer's often shifting moods. Regardless of its phase, the Moon reflects light from the Sun, and except for the new or "dark" moon at the beginning of each monthly lunar cycle, the Moon appears in the sky as the brightest object we see besides the Sun.
Cancer's symbol, the Crab, has a soft body encased in a hard shell, and those born under the sign of Cancer generally are highly sensitive and tend to retreat into their safe shells when vulnerable or hurt. This image reminds us that everyone needs a home that feels safe and allows for emotional healing and growth. At its best, Cancer energy encourages us to mother ourselves well so we can be tender and risk caring for others despite past hurts. When out of balance, however, the Crab may use its big claws to hang on to what it has outgrown or to hoard money or food; it also may retreat permanently to its shell and refuse to risk change while it laments losing the past.
Current astrology: challenging configurations launch era of intensity, potential for positive change
Besides ushering in a new season, the Solstice on June 20 launches a time of increasing intensity and tremendous opportunity for constructive change:
* As Cancer time begins this year, the Sun joins Mercury, already in the sign of the Crab. This day also brings the Solstice, giving us the year's longest day in the northern hemisphere and its longest night in the southern. By bringing us to the extremes of light and darkness while the Sun occupies a highly emotional sign, this Solstice can cause feelings to run high; this is a good time to take good care of ourselves, notice what we feel, and take time to reflect before taking action.
* On June 24, Uranus in Aries will reach a difficult angle (called a square) to Pluto in Capricorn, causing turmoil, disruption, and clashes around freedom (Uranus) and identity (Aries) versus power (Pluto) and structure (Capricorn). This square configuration echoes the energies of the mid-1960s, when Uranus and Pluto launched a new cycle by coming together in Virgo; it is one of the factors making 2012 a pivotal year. This June 24 configuration is the first of seven squares Uranus and Pluto will make between now and spring 2015, indicating a time of significant change is at hand. This pairing offers an opportunity to renew the idealism and urge toward improvement and better health that these two planets seeded in the mid-1960s.
* Relationships, justice, peace, and the arts take center stage again when Saturn ends its retrograde in Libra on June 25. Since early February, when Saturn turned retrograde, we have had opportunities to re-think relationships and consider Libra's love of fairness; now we can act on what we've learned and benefit from Saturn's gift of maturity and restraint.
* On June 25 or 26 (depending on your location), Mercury leaves watery Cancer for fiery Leo, boosting our creativity and turning our thoughts to playful self-expression.
* On June 27, Libra's ruler, Venus, turns direct. During its retrograde, which began in mid-May, Venus's gifts of pleasure, beauty, and socializing have been muted or even absent because we have been called to turn inward (retrograde) to re-think (Gemini) our values, relationships, and creative expression (Venus). Now we can move forward, using what we've learned over the past six weeks to make positive changes.
* On June 30, the Sun amplifies the Uranus-Pluto square's themes when it reaches its own square to Uranus and sits exactly opposite Pluto in a challenging configuration called a t-square. With all three planets in cardinal signs, the urge to take action will rise, and the Sun's placement in Cancer will spotlight emotions. Notice what you feel, especially about your unique gifts and your personal power; if your life lacks zest or empowerment, consider how you can make constructive changes.
* On July 3, relationships take on even greater emphasis when assertive, masculine Mars enters peace-loving Libra, where he will stay until late August. The warrior's sojourn here will bring opportunities to focus our drive, energy, and passion on relationships, the arts, equality, and justice. Mars also will help us carry out changes we realized must be made in relationships during Saturn's retrograde in Libra.
* On July 13, Uranus goes retrograde in Aries, giving us until mid-December to re-think what constitutes personal freedom and how to express our unique genius for the greater good.
* From July 14 through August 8, Mercury will be retrograde. Prepare now by setting a regular schedule to back up your computer and planning for life to slow down a bit. During the retrograde, take extra time to check details and review any aspects of your life and work that experience snags or obstacles. Put off starting anything new, if possible; instead, spend extra time in reflection and meditation and take note of new information that surfaces. Once the retrograde lifts, you can move forward with whatever you learned and will find that waiting has served you well.
What do I feel?
During this Cancer time, we experience strong impulses to open our hearts and take emotional risks. In northern areas, the shift to Cancer is associated with the Sun's zenith, its annual glory, as the daily amount of sunlight reaches its longest duration. From a spiritual perspective, this climax of light corresponds to the potential for inner awakening or illumination, which can serve as inner light over the next six months while outer, solar light diminishes steadily until the next Solstice in December.