New Moon in Cancer
The image above is by my favorite painter, Marc Chagall, a Cancer who is enjoying his birthday today wherever he is, as I write this. It is called, “So I came forth of the Sea and sat down on the edge of an island in the moonshine,” and to me it encapsulates the watery astrological energy of the moment and the possibility of intuitively moving with the flow of it all, finding some sense of stillness within. In case you haven’t heard, this is going to be a very potent New Moon in the midst of a grand water trine involving Jupiter in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio. Saturn is of particular prominence in the moment, having stationed direct yesterday. Saturn being in Scorpio, ruled by a Pluto in Capricorn undergoing a square from Uranus in Aries, has the sort of energy that makes the more squeamish of astrologers run for the underground. However, why not invite this energy in and have it help resurrect our truest path from within, just like the Moon itself emerges from its dark phase at this time to new light?
Examination of the Sabian symbol of this New Moon, as we astrologers love to do (if you haven’t noticed) bears in this case the repetition of you maybe having already read this one by Dane Rudhyar:
Cancer 17: The unfoldment of multilevel potentialities issuing from an original germ.
Keynote: The life urge to actualize one’s birth potential.
What is pictured here is simply the process of germination. As it unfolds from the sundered seed the plant pierces the crust of the soil and reaches up toward the light. This is a dynamic process turned outward, in contrast to the more static or introspective process of integration-through-understanding depicted in the preceding symbol. Germination is the crucifixion of the seed . . . The expanding process of self-actualization- which may mean nothing more than ego-expansion through conquest- contrasts with the introspective study of the structural relationship between, and the meaning of, the various energies and potentialities of one’s nature (svarupa in Sanskrit). The keyword is GROWTH.
from An Astrological Mandala, p. 121-2
The “preceding symbol” Rudhyar references is from sixteen degrees of Cancer, “A man studying a mandala in front of him, with the help of a very ancient book” and so is about more of a deep internal process of personality integration, in contrast to the outward expression of the potential of the individual found in the symbol associated with this New Moon at seventeen degrees of Cancer. Rudhyar’s analysis that this self-actualization process may appear to be an “ego expansion through conquest” links with the tumultuous process we undergo through individuating ourselves, and how part of this can look like narcissism or self-absorption because of the need to figure out who we are, as part of the process of then being able to move out into the world embodying more of our multilevel potential. Again, though, this symbol points to this being more of a time of germination, or feeling the urge of our potential, not necessarily that we would actually be already living the vision at this phase of our process.
One supportive New Moon aspect going with this symbolic meaning is the fact that Venus in Leo is in trine to Uranus in Aries. Another one is Mercury moving in retrograde in Cancer conjunct this New Moon, perfect for helping us perceive and reveal our inner potential- also, Mercury retrograde energy can be utilized in outer expression like this symbol suggests more so than you may realize from the pop astrology stereotypes about the dangers of it’s retrograde movement. However, I cannot think of a more harmonious change in planetary movement to support such a symbol than Saturn stationing direct in Scorpio on the day before the New Moon. Saturn being a boundary planet that is more about the collective and our role in society than a personal planet like Mercury, it’s stationing direct or retrograde can often coincide with major global events. This is particularly the case in connection with modern Egypt, as the Arab Spring there began in 2011 with Saturn stationing retrograde, and the new phase of the Egyptian revolution that took effect this past week happened with Saturn stationing direct. July 3 being the date of this most recent phase of Egyptian revolution is interesting because it is a date in which the Sun in Cancer is conjunct the fixed star Sirius, an important star in the ritual and myth of ancient Egypt. In fact, conspiracy theorists believe the Founding Fathers of the USA chose the date of July 4 to be the date of “America’s Independence” because it is a date in which the Sun is aligned with Sirius. The shifting of Saturn corresponding to major global events is also a symbolic correspondence to the power available to us on a personal level to revolutionize aspects of our lives when it stations direct. The fact that Saturn is doing this now in the sign of Scorpio, in a grand trine aspect to Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces, is an extraordinary symbol of transformation available to us on the deepest level of our being, if we are brave and honest enough to avoid denial and take accountability of our actions, release what is holding us back, and invoke what will propel us forward.
Today’s New Moon also happens to be conjunct Sirius, a beautiful star to behold in the sky and a star that carries a deep well of myth and tall tales encircling it from the most ancient of days, among the widest variety of indigenous cultures imaginable. One mythic figure who is especially connected to Sirius through myth is Isis (to read my archetypal analysis of Isis click here). I was reading recently about the Isis and Osiris myth in Carl Jung’s revised version of his Symbols of Transformation, thinking there could be something there about Isis to connect with this New Moon energy. The following quote I found I feel is a perfect addendum to the sabian symbol cited above by Dane Rudhyar:
But it is far from clear, because a new adaptation or orientation of vital importance can only be achieved in accordance with the instincts. Lacking this, nothing durable results, only a convulsively willed, artificial product which proves in the long run to be incapable of life. No man can change himself into anything from sheer reason; he can only change into what he potentially is. When such a change becomes necessary, the previous mode of adaptation, already in a state of decay, is unconsciously compensated by the archetype of another mode. If the conscious mind now succeeds in interpreting the constellated archetype in a meaningful and appropriate manner, then a viable transformation can take place. Thus the most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood state is indicated. One such succesful interpreation has been, for instance, Mother Church, but once this form begins to show signs of age and decay a new interpretation becomes inevitable.
Even if a change does occur, the old form loses none of its attractions; for whoever sunders himself from the mother longs to get back to the mother. This longing can easily turn into a consuming passion which threatens all that has been won. The mother then appears on the one hand as the supreme goal, and on the other as the most frightful danger- the “Terrible Mother.”
–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation (2nd edition, with corrections, 1967) , p. 236
Carl Jung’s interpretation of the Isis and Osiris myth in Symbols of Transformation has an almost obsessive attachment to viewing it through the lens of incest as a taboo. Jung focused on the sibling sexual relations between brother-sister Osiris and Isis, as well as Osiris and Nephthys being connected to the marriages between brothers and sisters that were common among the aristocracy of ancient Egypt. Jung then connected the concept of cultural taboos to the repressive effect they can have on human instincts, and then how the separation humans developed with their instinctual natures led to cultural prohibitions associated with various taboos. Jung believed that when children are bound to unconscious attachment to their mothers they are “still one with the animal psyche,” but that “development of consciousness inevitably leads not only to separation from the mother, but to separation from the parents and the whole family circle and thus to a relative degree of detachment from the unconscious and the world of instinct” (p. 235). This is the source of why in the quote above Jung reasoned that as consciousness develops away from the instincts of childhood, we are forever tempted “to make evasions and retreats, to regress to the infantile past” (p. 235). We can look for other new sources or mother archetypes to compensate for our detachment from our mothers, but this can at times also take us down the road of illusion and addiction as coping strategies.
The fact that Sirius is known as the dog star makes me think of the instinctual strength of dogs, and the significance Jung drew to the idea of us not being able to transform ourselves only through reason, but that the process to be successful would require a transformation in accordance with our instincts. This makes me think that if the star Sirius could symbolically embody a sense of instinct like a dog, it could be a guide at this time for helping us germinate a new level of potential from within ourselves that is aligned with the deepest levels of our instinctual nature. In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung connected the myth of Isis and Osiris to Sirius, the dog star, because of the role of Annubis, the jackal-headed deity of death, in helping Isis to reanimate Osiris after he had been dismembered into many pieces by Set, and how Sirius as the dog star played a major role in ancient Egyptian ceremony:
. . . the deeper meaning is connected with the astral form of the dog ceremony, i.e., the appearance of the dog-star at the highest point of the solstice. Hence the bringing in of the dog would have a compensatory significance, death being made equal to the sun at its highest point. This is a thoroughly psychological interpretation, as can be seen from the fact that death is quite commonly regarded as an entry into the mother’s womb (for rebirth).
–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation, p. 238
These themes connect strongly to me with the zodiac sign of Cancer in general, and how in mundane astrology it is ruled by the Moon, and how in esoteric astrology it is ruled by Neptune. With the associated astrological symbolism of the Moon and Neptune, such as themes of family, mother, Spirit, Source, . . . many of us are on the wheel of spinning through stages of desire to separate from these as well as a desire to return to them, with all sorts of ramifications of this separation/return theme impacting our daily life and actions in connection with our relationship to our unconscious and instincts. The esoteric rulership of Neptune makes me think of the birth-death-rebirth theories of Stanislav Grof, in which he connected the stage of the womb with Neptune. This womb stage evokes the imagery of Neptune not as the wrathful Poseidon, but as the Divine Mother, the mother of matter. It also connects the sign of Cancer to the complications of connection to the oceanic psychic realm of Spirit in a manner that goes along with Neptune currently being in the sign of Pisces. Having psychic urges or inclinations, or a desire to connect with God or Spirit or what have you, requires a strong sense of self in order to avoid drowning in the numinous ocean. At times we may think we are engaging in a psychic experience, or a communion with the divine, when in fact we ultimately realize we were off on some sort of illusory folly. In Soul Centered Astrology, Alan Oken illuminated the connection between Cancer with the Moon and Neptune:
The waters of the Soul/Neptune wish to pull the individual into the ocean of the collective life experience. Yet the individual cannot “swim” safely in these universal waters without first having anchored its own sense of psychological independence and particular focus of self-expression. It is here that we come to understand that the more individualized a person becomes, the more universal he can be. Through the expanding consciousness, the many is seen as a reflection of the One, and the Ones is seen as whole in each of Its parts. This revelation (which some would rightly call “mystical”) is the gift of Neptune, as well as the product of a Soul-centered consciousness.
The Moon relinquishes its control to Neptune when attachment is released from those facets of life ruled by the Moon on the personality level. Then the root chakra- the center wherein dwells the unconscious urge for self-preservation . . . loosens its dominance as the driving force behind life. The removal- or, at the very least, the objectification- of the desire to be attached to form frees the individual in increasing stages toward the identification with the Will-to-Be at the crown center . . . The root center can then be utilized for the externalization of matter which has become consciously linked to Divine Cause . . .
The connection to Neptune as the Soul-centered ruler of Cancer is very profound. Neptune “unveiled” is not the same influence as it is when masked by the unconscious waters of the emotional life. It is by her actions on the unredeemed lower self that Neptune earns her reputation as the primary force behind self-destructive addictions. If the personality is not safely anchored through a strong, integrated, and aligned ego structure, the magnetic force of the waters of the psyche will indeed try to pull the struggling individual back into unconscious and undifferentiated beingness. One has to work incredibly hard to unmask the mirages of Neptune (as focused through the Moon) to arrive at the illumination of Neptune as a vehicle for the Sun!
–Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, p. 182
Saturn stationing direct at this time in trine to Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Cancer corresponds to an increased ability for us to discern what sorts of mirages or illusions could have been impacting us in this recent time period. It is no coincidence in this way that Saturn in this cycle stationed retrograde back in February during an incredibly intense time period of planets lined up in Pisces.
An additional enlightening element of Cancer I have come across from looking more into esoteric astrology is the stage of incarnation it symbolizes, following the mental birth of incarnation in Aries, the solidifying of form and desire in Taurus, and the movement between the mental and emotional in Gemini. Cancer along these lines represents a new cycle of physical incarnation that synthesizes the three previous stages of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini. This does not mean incarnating for the first time in form, but rather means that “an incarnation in Cancer indicates that this is the first cohesive anchoring of the Soul in a physical body for a particular cycle of unfoldment” (Oken, p. 179). For me this brings us back full-circle to the sabian symbol interpretation by Dane Rudhyar I brought up at the beginning- this New Moon in Cancer amid all of the other aspects of this time, calls our attention to the “particular cycle of unfoldment” we each are here on planet Earth in this moment to enact. This is a time of germination of that multi-level potential we have within ourselves- and with the upcoming magical yet heavy astrological aspects on the horizon, it will be a time in which we can manifest our potential into tangible results.
Below is a link to a video of a dynamic drawing of the zodiac sign of Cancer developed by Wolfgang Wegener. I learned of this technique from Evelina, an astrologer and translator of ancient texts who lives in Bulgaria, and appears to be a star sister of some sort to me, or someone whose thoughts on astrology give me a jolt to my own thinking. I somehow managed to find her blog pretty much as soon as it was published through a link to the Chiron archetype, and I recommend reading this post here that she made, for I feel it encapsulates the larger context of what I am writing about this New Moon and the current “above” our “below.”
At this time may we be still enough to hear the birdsong, the wind, and the streaming of water ahead of us on our path, and may we have the courage to follow it.
Jung, Carl. (1967 edition revised from original 1912). Symbols of Transformation. Bollingen.
Oken, Alan. (1990). Soul Centered Astrology. Ibis.
Rudhyar, Dane. ( 1973). An Astrological Mandala: The Cylce of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic phases. Vintage.