Today marks the Sun’s final day in the astrological sign of Cancer for this year, as tomorrow it moves into the sign of Leo at a few minutes before 6 a.m. Chicago time. As it does every year, the Sun began its journey through Cancer at the Summer Solstice, which this year occurred at 7 p.m. Chicago time on Friday, 20 June.
Since the Solstice, Cancer’s energies have given all of us opportunities to reflect on the feminine aspects of in our lives, especially our mothers, our need for nurturing, our relationship with food, and our quest for security. In a final burst of lunar energy before the shift to Leo, three days ago the Moon was full in Cancer’s opposite sign of Capricorn at 3 a.m. Chicago time. Since then, although the Moon has begun to wane, its nearly full shape has stood guard in the evening sky, lighting up the heavens with a comforting presence.
Last night, looking across the street before closing the living room blinds, my heart felt happy at seeing the bright white Moon to the southeast, partially hidden behind an enormous tree. It called forth memories of warm summer nights without air conditioning but made more bearable by cooling moonlight…and the haunting image of a Full Moon reflected in a pool of water as part of an initiation described in the Brownie handbook from my early days in grammar school. After going to bed and falling asleep, something woke me in the early hours of this morning…and a glance out our bedroom window gave me a dramatic view of the Moon, which had moved far across the sky and now sat in the southwest among dark horizontal clouds.
How fitting, then, that today, this final day of Cancer, should fall on a Monday—whose name comes from “Moon Day” to indicate how the Moon rules this day of the week. The Moon also rules Cancer, giving this sign its deep imagination, emotional sensitivity, and strong intuitive abilities. Today, we woke to a completely overcast sky that gave way to a hard rain. After a wet and moody morning—typically Cancer—it now has grown partly cloudy, as if heralding the shift from the Moon and Cancer to Sun-ruled Leo. The morning weather came like a motherly prescription to stay indoors, enjoy the quiet of routine tasks, and allow feelings and memories to surface.
Looking back over the past month, it occurred to me today that my experience of the Sun’s sojourn in Cancer had—without my conscious awareness— been filled with deeply feminine, nurturing experiences. It began appropriately enough with attending a lecture and book signing by the Yarn Harlot, a Toronto knitter, blogger, and writer of humorous books about knitting. Two days later, we took five blankets created by me in recent months to our contact for the Linus Project, which provides blankets for abused, neglected, and hospitalized children. Throughout the month, my social life has revolved largely around outings and phone calls with female friends.
About a week after the Sun’s entry into Cancer, a health concern gave me an opportunity to compare a hard-edged, stereotypically masculine approach to health care with a soft, deeply feminine course of treatment that ultimately healed my ailment. This experience called forth deep emotions and a desire for change that prompted me to engage in the highly Cancerian pursuit of evaluating excessive rigidity in my diet and health routine, releasing the need to be so hard on myself, and allowing myself to get extra rest.
Cancer’s feminine and family-oriented symbols and experiences seemed to follow me everywhere. On the 4th of July, we attended a barbecue hosted by my father and stepmother and attended by my husband’s parents and several of my siblings; seeing so much family plunged me into childhood memories and musings on the role of holidays and food in holding families together. It also filled me with longing for a Norman Rockwell childhood that never existed…and for the time when all of my siblings lived together. We are all long since grown, and those days will never come again, and my heart grieved at the losses time inevitably brings. Later that day, we attended a neighbor’s Independence Day party, and being with her large extended family amplified my earlier reflections. After dark, area residents set off (illegal) fireworks for hours by the nearby railroad tracks in an annual display unofficially sanctioned by law enforcement; watching these colorbursts splash red, white, blue, and green across the sky took me back to childhood’s summer nights, 4th of July sparklers, my father’s few holiday explosives made with ammunitions expertise gained in W.W. II, and watching Yankee Doodle Dandy on television after attending our town’s fireworks show.
Cancer’s watery energy came through in early July on a lunch outing with a friend followed by an afternoon sitting on the rocks at Lake Michigan just north of Lawrence Avenue. We drank in the lake’s cooling blue color, and the sunshine, whitecaps, and gull cries reminded me of water’s vast healing power. Before going to Margie’s Candies for sundaes, we enjoyed a long meditation made more intense by our closeness to the water. The following week, my husband joined me for a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan as guests of a friend, a Cancer who was celebrating her birthday that day.
Bringing the feminine energies full circle, this month we marked the passing of two women from our lives. Two days ago found me attending the deeply mystical funeral service for a friend who died unexpectedly last month at 56; the rites brought together many of the friends she made as a member of the Rosicrucian and Martinist Orders. Last weekend, we attended the funeral for one of my husband’s cousins, a retired nurse who died earlier this month at 66. The service was held at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on Chicago’s South Side in the Marquette Park neighborhood. After experiencing the moving music and recitations, we waited to go over to the luncheon next door in order to admire the church, which is filled with stained glass windows, statues, and paintings of Mary that proclaim the glory and power of the divine feminine.
This feminine power expressed itself most forcefully to me this month on the day after Independence Day. Late that morning, we went outside to weed the garden, prune trees and bushes, and clean up the yard. We finished in the afternoon and went to run several errands. Shortly before sunset, we returned to the backyard to sit on the patio and enjoy the newly spruced up landscape. After a while, something inspired me to get a blanket from the house and spread it out on the grass so we could lie down. As we stretched out our arms and legs, closed our eyes, and breathed in the early evening air, my body let go of all the day’s tensions and concerns. Soon, my being felt at one with the Earth, melding into her depth and grounding energy…and then a pulsing power made its way up from the core of the Earth and into the core of my body. It filled me with a healing, uplifting energy and made me know Earth as an expression of our Divine Mother, always ready to nurture and protect us as we journey through life.
Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Moon. The planet Venus. The goddesses of earlier times. Along with these archetypes, the Earth offers us a key to the mystery of Creation and the role of the feminine in the Divine plan. Together, they bring us closer to the mystery of Cancer and the beautiful Divine Mother. As the astrological times shift to Leo, may we carry with us and cherish all the love and nurturing the Crab’s maternal presence has given us this past month.