Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer
The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is full of change-inducing force, corresponding with an influx of events which can rapidly shift narratives. The solar eclipse will be visible mostly in Chile and Argentina, and so while its impact will be most potent in South America you do not need to be living in the direct path of the eclipse to experience the vortex of change that arrives with eclipse season. Those with natal placements near 11º of Cancer, Capricorn, Aries, and Libra will especially feel the effect in their lives immediately, but whatever areas of life are connected with Cancer and Capricorn in your natal chart will be undergo accelerated developments between the Cancer Solar Eclipse on July 2 and the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. During a total solar eclipse the light of our Sun is extinguished by the eclipsing Moon, temporarily turning day into night. Those who have witnessed a total solar eclipse know the indescribable Mystery of its apparition, and similarly our experiences surrounding the syzygy can feel mysterious in the way they pull us into transitions. While turning inward is advisable during the window of an eclipse, life events tend to become more dramatic and unexpected in the week surrounding an eclipse and demand response and assertion.
Cardinal signs such as Cancer initiate the seasons, and so the Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer will make an immediate, noticeable impact and will coincide with quickly changing circumstances. Since Cancer is a water sign we can expect a flooding of emotions and feelings to come with the changes, with our sensitivities heightened making us feel more vulnerable than normal. Since Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and the Moon is eclipsing the Sun, irrational feelings as well as memories and sentiments from the past may emerge from hidden places in our psyche. Even if some of the feelings that come up feel uncomfortable at first, allow yourself sit with, process, and contemplate whatever emerges. While there will be some impressions arising that need to be released, there will also be nuggets of insight to discover within the sifting that will help open new opportunities for growth in the season ahead. There is a gravity of dark matter that comes with total solar eclipses that pull our soul inexorably towards things whether we consciously intend to or not.
It’s often helpful to focus on emptying as we enter eclipse season and getting in touch with the type of cosmic void that has been described by ancient mystics as well as modern thinkers such as Stanislav Grof as a fertile emptiness which underlies and gives birth to everything. Just as the solar light of the Sun becomes enveloped in darkness during an eclipse, so may old matters and patterns become dissolved in the weeks surrounding an eclipse. The potential to liberate oneself from old patterns is particularly emphasized during the coming eclipse season, as the Sun in Cancer will be conjoining the North Node of the Moon while Mercury in Leo will be stationing retrograde in the week following the solar eclipse, while forming a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus and a conjunction with Mars in Leo. Take time in the week following the eclipse to contemplate whatever needs clearing in order to create space for an influx of vivifying growth. It will not be a time to attempt to push forward and force change but rather to find a way to flow with the currents.
In fact, the pending Mercury retrograde in Leo and Cancer will be a key catalyst within the process of change underway. As eclipse season is typically defined as the period in which the Sun transits within 18º of the lunar nodes (since that is the window within which a new moon can be an eclipse), it is notable that the Leo Sun will finally exit the eclipse season threshold around July 28 at 5º Leo in a square aspect with Uranus, the same degree that Mercury stations retrograde on July 7. In addition, just as the Leo Sun leaves eclipse season Mercury retrograde will become visible again as a Morning Star while simultaneously beginning to station direct. As a result, it is likely that the numerous storylines stirred up by the eclipses will be continuing to develop significantly all the way to the end of July. While Mercury going retrograde at the same time can increase feelings of volatility, it can also help dislodge us from stuck places and help us discover inspiration and motivation to embark in a dynamic creative direction we had not previously considered undertaking.
The color black that overcomes the golden light of the sun during an eclipse has ancient associations with death and the underworld, an experience for those believing in reincarnation that also holds the promise of rebirth. Black also resonates with the fecundity found underground in our living earth, and indeed the term alchemy finds its root in the dark fertility of soil along the Nile River. In Egyptian cosmology, the sun faces death in the regenerative underworld of Night at midnight, before being reborn at daybreak. Aaron Cheak wrote an essay included in The Celestial Art which described the primordial waters of Nun as hosting the rebirth of our solar light, a sphere that is also associated with the primeval chaos serpent and “constitutes the very matrix in which reality and existence gestates.” Serpents of chaos and dragons also have ancient associations with the lunar nodes, as both the sun and the moon become devoured in shadow whenever a new or full moon aligns with the lunar nodes.
The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, also known as Rahu or the Head of the Dragon. As a result we may notice new hungers for growth in the weeks ahead, new desires emerging which call us to pursue new opportunities and ambitions. Just as something about our old solar identity, the way we have been cohering our personality, will become eclipsed, there can also be an activation of previously hidden feelings, sentiments, and intuition that once awakened begin to drive us toward to making new choices and following new directions. However, since Mercury will be stationing retrograde on July 7 while forming catalyzing aspects with Uranus and Mars, while there will likely be impulses to follow breakthrough insights we will need to keep constant awareness for the tricks and sleights of hand that Mercury retrograde will be providing that can serve as important guidance for how we need to adjust and respond.
Just as eclipses are associated with dragons, so are eclipses also grouped in families according to the Saros cycle, which we can also think about as a sort of family of dragons. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer is part of a Saros cycle which began with a partial solar eclipse in 991 and only has included eclipses aligned with the North Node of the Moon, with the previous one in the series occurring on 21 June 2001. Bernadette Brady described it as an “over-excessive eclipse family” which can bring information that transforms circumstances and can spark anxiety as well as obsession. Brady wrote that while this eclipse family can be positive in correlating with desire to take on a large enterprise, we need to be careful to not get carried away heedlessly.
In addition to considering the eclipse family the Total Solar Eclipse belongs to, it can also be helpful to reflect upon the previous times that the lunar nodes were in Cancer and Capricorn and hosting eclipses. From August 2009 through March 2011 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Cancer with the North Node of the Moon in Capricorn; from April 2000 through October 2001 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Capricorn while the North Node of the Moon was in Cancer. If you can notice a pattern of changes that took place during these times of previous eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn, see if there are aspects that relate to the way you can tell your present life story is beginning to shift. In particular, the previous Cancer Solar Eclipse and Capricorn Lunar Eclipse that occurred in June and July of 2001 have an additional connection to the end of the Saturn and Pluto cycle we are experiencing now, as in 2001 it was the midpoint of the cycle with Saturn forming an opposition to Pluto.
“What our age thinks of as the ‘shadow’ and inferior part of the psyche contains more than something merely negative. The very fact that through self-knowledge, that is, by exploring our own souls, we come upon the instincts and their world of imagery should throw some light on the powers slumbering in the psyche, of which we are seldom aware so long as all goes well. They are potentialities of the greatest dynamism, and it depends entirely on the preparedness and attitude of the conscious mind whether the irruption of these forces, and the images and ideas associated with them, will tend towards construction or catastrophe.”
— C. G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self
The component making the upcoming eclipse season especially intense involves the intersection of the planetary nodes with the alignment of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon. Saturn is in range of a conjunction with the South Node of Saturn while Pluto is also conjoining the South Node of Pluto, meaning the orbital arcs of both celestial bodies are descending downward across the ecliptic and the path of our orbit around the Sun. This has been creating an intensification of the difficult gravity that always comes when Saturn and Pluto come to the end of their cycle, bringing a deeply karmic feeling of having to face issues of civilization and systematic oppression with deep roots in the ancient past. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer begins an eclipse cycle that will peak with a Lunar Eclipse on July 16 in which the Moon will be eclipsed in Capricorn while also occulting Saturn and Pluto.
Dane Rudhyar wrote that when planets conjoin their own south node, we experience the entire history of their orbital arc being released: thus we have been overwhelmed and saturated with all things signified by Saturn and Pluto in recent months. Vitally, Rudhyar theorized that when this happens we can experience a seeding of new values related to positive aspects of the planets conjoining their south node, as well as the toxicity and “negative existential results” of their cycle. Thus during the coming eclipse season we will be simultaneously facing issues in which to utilize the empowerment and tenacious, disciplined determination of Saturn and Pluto while also witnessing the horrific impact from oppressively organized political, military, economic, and social forces.
As Richard Tarnas described in Cosmos and Psyche, “the widespread sense of victimization and suffering under the impact of cataclysmic and oppressive forces of history” that correlate with the Saturn and Pluto cycle can lead to many people feeling anxiously constrained as if their life is out of their control and being determined by historical, political, economic, and other impersonal societal forces. Tarnas made the key insight that within the same individual, group, or nation there can be a deeply felt wounding from violation or defeat that simultaneously can also constellate desire to prove one’s capacity to violently fight back if necessary. As the eclipses further will be triggering Saturn and Pluto, we will be facing questions of what we need to cultivate within civilization in order to meet the needs of people, while also recognizing that numerous aspects of the old order must now break down and decay in order to clear space for the needed new structures to take shape.
“Even today people are largely unconscious of the fact that every individual is a cell in the structure of various international organisms and is therefore causally implicated in their conflicts. He knows that as an individual being he is more or less meaningless and feels himself the victim of uncontrollable forces, but, on the other hand, he harbors within himself a dangerous shadow and adversary who is involved as an invisible helper in the dark machinations of the political monster. It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know by foisting it off on somebody else.
Nothing has a more divisive and alienating effect upon society than this moral complacency and lack of responsibility, and nothing promotes understanding and rapprochement more than the mutual withdrawal of projections.”
— C.G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self
Neptune in Pisces is in a place of being able to mediate the polarity of the eclipses, as it is forming a trine to the North Node of the Moon and the Cancer Solar Eclipse, while also forming a sextile to the South Node of the Moon, Saturn, and Pluto. Furthermore, during the time of the upcoming Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16, Neptune will also be forming a trine with Venus in Cancer as it conjoins the North Node of the Moon. In reference to the negative potentialities described by Tarnas and Jung above, Neptune can correlate in many with shadowy projections and being consumed by illusive conditioning from societal structures. However, there is a profound potential for Neptune in Pisces to be an imaginal ally in not only sustaining belief in the potential to find solutions and mediate discord, but to also envision ways to creatively respond to difficulties without denial and escapism. Neptune’s role in the eclipse supports showing compassion to others who are struggling as well as make time to nurture and calm your own anxieties enough so that you can respond to events from a place of creativity rather than fear.
Venus is at the very end of Gemini at the time of the Total Solar Eclipse and enters Cancer the next day. In between eclipses, Venus will be approaching a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon and an opposition with Saturn which it will complete at the same time as the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. Simultaneously, Mercury will station retrograde on July 7 as a visible Evening Star and then will begin descending under the beams of the Sun into its invisible phase a few days later. This means that in between eclipses, both Venus and Mercury will be undergoing the regenerative purification and stripping away of their underworld phases. Thus the irrational feelings, potent dream images, and reawakened passions that arise during the coming eclipse season can be utilized as part of a process of revisioning our values and the ways in which we make meaning in our life.
A particularly challenging period in between eclipses will be July 8 and 9, as Mars will conjoin Mercury retrograde in Leo in range of a square with Uranus in Taurus at the same time that the First Quarter Moon in Libra forms a square aspect with the Sun, lunar nodes, Saturn, and Pluto. However, the coming eclipse season in general has numerous transits intersecting which have the potential of corresponding with frustrating experiences which will make us question why we are doing things. It will be best to make an effort to set aside time as often as possible for reflection and anything that helps you calm down, ground, and process. For example, we may be able to realize ways we have been acting due to trying to fit in with our conception of how to be successful within the system we are working that are actually at odds with our authentic approach and expression. There has been so much emphasis in recent months on Saturn and Pluto impacting the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn that the solar eclipse setting off the Cancer side of the North Node of the Moon can help open awareness to new ways of doing things that will be in greater alignment with what we feel inspired by rather than being preoccupied by the opinions and judgment of others.
Cancer 2 Decan
The second face of Cancer where the Total Solar Eclipse occurs is associated with the Three of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The merry image of dancing women evokes the three graces and signifies harmonious collaborations of inspired thought and creativity. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “a walled garden in which something precious is kept” to this face, adding an element not obvious from the above image: the need of protection and nurturance in order to create an incubating space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance. With a Total Solar Eclipse impacting this decan, we will want to consider whatever we have been letting in as well as keeping out from our life with the barriers we have erected to protect whatever is most important to us. It’s likely we will need to restructure and renegotiate boundaries in order to cultivate the inner process of creativity and intimacy we desire. It will also be helpful to find ways of finding joy with others similar to the image of the Three of Cups as a way of navigating through the difficult astrological terrain on the horizon.
As the second decan of Cancer is ruled by Mercury, it further highlights the fact that Mercury will be stationing retrograde less than a week after the eclipse and then shifting into its underworld, psychopomp role of guiding us through a regenerative and liminal process of death and rebirth. Interestingly, the Liber Hermetis described the image of the second face of Cancer as having the body of a vulture with the face of the great goddess Isis wearing a crown. In part we can imagine how this image connects with the brilliantly bright fixed star Sirius which was associated with Isis and heralded the flooding of the Nile, as well as the significance of vulture goddesses within Egyptian cosmology. Vultures connect the upper wold with the underworld through the eating of the dead, and in the story of Isis searching for her dismembered lover and twin Osiris she also transformed into a Kite, a raptor which is also known to feed on the dead. Similarly, with Mercury shifting retrograde in between eclipses it will be necessary to undergo a cathartic, underworld experience in July that may feel difficult at times but also holds the potential to break us free from ways in which we have become stagnant.
In addition, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Heracles to the second face of Cancer, a legendary solar hero who connects with the constellation myth of Cancer. The great goddess Hera sent the crab to attack Heracles as he was engaged in battle with the Hydra, and after Heracles destroyed the crab Hera placed it into the sky as a constellation for its service to her. During a Total Solar Eclipse just as the solar light of our Sun is consumed by darkness from the fertile void, so may the way we have been identifying as a solar hero in our life become pulled down into nonlinear depths to be stripped away and regenerated. Allow the death of however you have been cohering a persona to navigate the world of external ambitions so that a more authentic one may be reformed in the coming month.
Within the polarity of Cancer and Capricorn becoming so intensely activated, it will be necessary to focus on finding ways to contain and process the emotional flooding and intense feelings that may arise during the coming eclipse season. Rather than seeking stability within external sources and giving our power away to others in order to grasp at security, it will be essential to act from a place of one’s own sense of inner security and authority. As C.G. Jung famously wrote in The Undiscovered Self, “A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally short-sighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would thing that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman.”
Brady, Bernadette. (1999). Predictive Astrology: the Eagle and the Lark. Weiser Books.
The Celestial Art. (2018). Edited by Austin Coppock and Daniel Schulke. Three Hands Press.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Jung, C.G. (1990). The Undiscovered Self. Princeton University Press.
Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.
Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.