New Moon June 23, 2017 exact at 7:31pm Pacific Time
3 degrees Cancer
And so we arrive at the first New Moon of the summer. How are you feeeeeeeling? Did you feel that shift from frenetic, curious Gemini mind to soft and sensitive — or in my case, a little cranky — Cancer?
Perhaps the most simple lesson of Cancer is this: we are emotional beings, yes. But emotions shift and change. Constantly. Like the tides. One of the biggest lies of the modern era is that a ‘mature’ human has consistent, stable emotions all the time. They would have us believe that any show of emotional shift, let alone grief or rage, is inherently pathological.
But you know what? It’s ok to feel. There’s power there. In holding ourselves through the feelings. In being able to see them through, knowing they’ll shift again. To be aware of the stories that arise from our wounded, aching hearts without giving them power.
Emotions and feelings are indicators. And although they can be distorted, or we can get stuck or have chemical imbalances that require treatment, having and expressing emotion is not pathological in and of itself. We should never overlook the fact that there are abundant reasons to be feeling a lot of things really viscerally right now. We are living through a paradigm shift and there is radical insecurity in that. Or, taking it down a philosophical notch — in our world, genocide is constant, black men are being murdered by the police in front of their families, we treat our earth like a sewer, and a group of sociopaths run our government continually smashing any hope that these things will change. To me, it’s lack of emotional response to these things that is pathological.
In a shower time meditation on the nature of Cancer the other day, I recognized a nuance of sensitivity in the sign that I’d never fully thought out before. I often look at astrology as a developmental wheel, with Aries being the birth instinct, and then Taurus the internalization of security based on touch and a sense of being held.
In Gemini, we begin to develop our perception-thought-speech process. We become conscious. We start to think and label and categorize. This intellectual development leads us to language and communication.
It is also through Gemini that we ultimately learn about difference — and separation. Which, after all the fun is said and done, is actually a terrifying proposition. The soul contains two conflicting desires: to separate from source (Aries) and to return to source (Pisces). As we gain consciousness, we gain awareness of our separation and our difference.
And so, in Cancer, in response to the outward activity of Gemini, we return inward — we remember the warm waters and how cozy and serene they were… and for the first time in our brief incarnation, we yearn to return. We are able to label our separation, and insecurity emerges. We remember Pisces, the part of the water triad that transitions us from the end of the wheel to the beginning, and we long for it — we long for home.
But that’s the thing, right? That memory of the water being warm and serene is an idealization, emerging fresh out of the ocean of Pisces. We’ve idealized the memory of it. Rare is the child who is born to the ‘perfect’ parent. Perfectly present, perfectly nurturing. Our original home — our mother’s womb — is but a mere replacement for the universal womb, that primordial blob where everything exists in an undifferentiated state. The love from which we ultimately sprang. We try to map that memory onto our human experience, unconsciously, registered only in our tissues and bones and cells. The memory of what it was like to truly be one.
But our mothers are human. Their wombs are subject to so many innocent mistakes, or even well-thought-out-decisions-that-turn-out-to-be-wrong. That doesn’t even go to mention the flat out purposeful ways that they sometimes make decisions that…well, that fuck us up to some extent.
Cancer, the sign of home and family and unconditional love, is also the sign of being thrown back in on ourselves. For it is through that process of being forced inward that emotional self-reliance and responsibility are born. There we meet Cancer’s polarity — Capricorn. Nurturance is tempered with boundaries. Not to say Capricorn is any less tender than Cancer, but it has mature awareness of timing and cycles — and how to make use of them.
It takes a long time to learn about those cycles. Think of our oceans etching away at rocks turning to sand, slowly over time. Here we can understand Cancer’s association with ancestral lineage. Standing behind us, the ones who came before, sending their teachings down through language, yes, but also through our genes…strengths and weaknesses, health and disease, phobias and favorites…it takes a very long time for patterns to become ingrained. And then to change again.
The first time we re-encounter that sense of bliss through merging that we so long for and yet fear is when we merge sexually with another human. Sexual union (in its idealized form, at least) is the first visceral remembrance, and that’s part of why it’s so intense — we’re recalling what it was like to be in the ocean, in the womb, merged with another being. But we’re experiencing it in compact physical form as a human for the first time. These are the undulations of Scorpio, the third of the water signs. Where Cancer feels too fresh and raw for intensity, Scorpio dives into it, seeking the orgasmic bliss of union and the transformation that arises there.
This Cancer New Moon represents the yin, receptive principle after the outward mapping of Gemini. We return inside again to integrate and map our emotional bodies instead. To build an identity based on what we’ve learned and our family mythology. We discover who we are, and then wear that identity like armor — like the shell of a crab. We find the healing salve of belonging through family and blood ties.
This New Moon gives us the opportunity to re-discover our roots, to tap into what’s made us who we are and re-evaluate our identity. Not based on who we think we should be, but on our emotional responses, which constantly shift and change, and on the magic of memory. Where Cancer and Capricorn come together, we develop emotional intelligence — the ability to understand our own needs through experience and embodied practices, to love ourselves unconditionally through changes, and to locate ourselves within a family, be they of origin or chosen, where we find sanctuary and home.
This New Moon, in conjunction with the Summer Solstice just days before, gives us the opportunity to examine our shadows as well. The longest day, the darkest shadows. As the Sun and Moon are also in conjunction with Mercury, perhaps there is a message there as well, trying to come through the emotions or the heart. Be gentle and take care, but also watch for where you coddle yourself when you need to step up and take responsibility — this act, too, can be a reflection of superior self care.
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