Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
— Antonio Machado from “Last Night I was Sleeping” translated by Robert Bly
New Moon in Cancer
The lunar cycle commencing with the Cancer New Moon on July 20 brings transition from the astrology of the past few months, initiating us into the major astrological themes that will be playing out in the next five months. The New Moon in Cancer is separating from an opposition with Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn and applying toward an opposition with Saturn in Capricorn. It’s exact opposition with Saturn retrograde in Capricorn brings us into the center of Saturn’s retrograde phase when Saturn is closest to us in orbit and in its brightest phase in the night sky. The lunation also initiates a deep encounter with the fallout from the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto that came at the beginning of 2020 and now will be intensifying again until Saturn ultimately stations direct on September 29 less than three degrees away from Pluto.
The New Moon in Cancer is the first lunation to not be eclipsed since the New Moon in Gemini on May 22, and during the forthcoming lunar cycle aspects associated with the past phase of Venus retrograde in Gemini, such as the square between Venus and Neptune, as well as with Mercury retrograde in Cancer, such as the square between Mercury and Mars, will bring resolution to associated narratives by completing the final aspect in their series. The focus of the lunation on Saturn invites unknowing to temper becoming fixated upon feeling like you have already gained clarity regarding the changes that have been developing in recent months. The scythe of Saturn may bring decisive judgment toward certain issues that are in need of harvesting or severing, but in general we are entering an extended period of collective dismantling that will require remaining open to new perspectives and insights that will shift understanding and development of plans. It’s a good time to devote work toward personal goals essential to your core purpose and otherwise allow plans to take shape and adjust to the reordering of societal systems that will be continuing to intensify in the next few months.
The opposition between the Moon in its watery home of Cancer and Saturn in its earthy home of Capricorn is at the heart of the lunation. A figure who can hold the tension of the opposites between the Moon and Saturn is Hekate, a lunar goddess of nocturnal pathways (1) who was also associated with the third decan of Cancer where the lunation is taking place by the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs. Hekate’s presence with the lunation illuminates the necessity of facing the darkness of the unknown during a collective crossroads that has been constellated across global civilizations. Hekate connects with the nurturance and nourishment of the Moon, as The Chaldean Oracles called her “the font and stream of the blessed noetic” who “pours forth a whirling generation upon All.” Moreover, Hekate can also be viewed as the wise crone and dark mother who connects with the nocturnal, chthonic fertility of Saturn’s home in Capricorn.
With the inner knowing of Hekate, we can let the debris, refuse, and putrefaction of what we have had to shed and let die during recent months to serve as guidance for what wants to emerge from inner dreamscapes and imaginal exploration. Within the unstable and chaotic flux of current events that will continue to be volatilized at a rapid pace, allow awareness to open to new streams of enlivening desires cracking open from within. There may be movements of social justice and activism you become called to participate in, or inner creative directions to follow that will require making space and time to discover where they will lead you.
An unexpected visitor to the astrology of July has been the comet Neowise. Although Neowise was first discovered on March 27, 2020 when quarantine and social distancing measures were peaking around the world in response to the pandemic, the comet burst into visibility during July resulting in many stunning photographs of its fiery flare. During the first half of July, the comet was visible in predawn sky and then in mid July shifted into being visible following sunset. Neowise was at the end of Gemini at the end of June and then entered Cancer on July 3 and then Leo on July 18. It will enter Virgo on July 25 and Libra on August 2. If it remains visible until August 7, it will have made it to about eleven degrees of Libra. As a result, it’s worth considering what sort of meaning the strange visitor has been bringing to the Cancer and Leo areas of your natal chart and what it may portend for the Virgo and Libra places as well.
Scientists say that comets like Neowise are covered in cosmic soot left over from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago, and so as comets approach the Sun in orbit their tails are formed by the solar heat spewing gas and dust across the sky like a flaming stream. While asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the dawn of the solar system, comets have been described as cosmic snowballs of gas and dust that unravel in a fiery tail. Neowise was named for the infrared space telescope orbiting the earth that discovered it, and it was correctly predicted that around July 3 its approach to the Sun in orbit would cause it to become a bright object visible to skywatchers on Earth. There hasn’t been a comet this bright since 1995 and 1996, and Neowise will not be visible again for 6,800 years due to its extreme elliptical orbit that takes about seven thousand years to go around the Sun.
The astrologer Rod Chang wrote an excellent article on the meaning of comets in astrology you can read here that has suggestions for how to interpret the meaning of Neowise. It is well known that comets have long been viewed as omens of disaster in astrology, and so it isn’t exactly surprising that one would appear during a time of a global pandemic. I particularly like how Rod Chang interpreted the thawing and release of the ancient gas and dust of comets as symbolizing not only “frozen issues that ignite and grab attention, releasing from the abyss of our consciousness such suppressed emotions as fear and horror,” but also the freeing of new ideas and visions. In timing with the Cancer New Moon in opposition with Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter we can be curious about what old, frozen, and crystalized issues are being unravelled as well as what vivifying visions are being enflamed and freed from within.
Like many I had my first glimpse of Neowise at night underneath the constellation of Ursa Major. The living symbolism of Ursa Major in relation to the nocturnal appearances of Neowise is striking, for Ursa Major has long been seen as a Great Bear and Great Goddess standing guard at the central point and pole of the sky (2). Attuning with Ursa Major brings relationship with the Great Protector at the center of stillness of our world, and so as we center within our own core stillness we may also center within the many disruptive and disastrous changes erupting around the world. From this central point of stillness, open to how you can align with the wider collective changes taking shape and follow the path and vision bursting into awareness like the fiery flame of a comet.
Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
Walking makes the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path that you
will never tread again.
Wanderer, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea.
— Antonio Machado from “Proverbios y cantares” in Campos de Castilla, 1912
The dismantled architecture of Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter in Capricorn that is in the middle of regeneration will be further volatilized and reshaped by the fiery heat of Mars in Aries during the forthcoming lunar cycle. By the time of the Full Moon in Aquarius on August 3, Mars in Aries will be forming a square aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn and will then move into forming a square aspect with Pluto it will complete on August 13. By the time of the New Moon in Leo on August 18, Mars in Aries will be within two degrees of an exact square with Saturn in Capricorn. Due to Mars moving direct and Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn all moving retrograde, these will all be mutually applying aspects that will catalyze events dramatically. The impact of Mars can incite hard work and determined effort towards goals as well as lead to further shattering of societal systems and structures.
It is notable that Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn are all in the exaltation of Mars while Mars is in the fall of Saturn. Combined with Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn also occupying a superior position in the square aspect, it portends a difficult and destructive journey for Mars through Aries. Due to Mars stationing retrograde in Aries at the beginning of September, there will end up being three different passages of Mars forming a square aspect with Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto as well as three conjunctions with the disruptive dwarf planet Eris between now and January 2021. Thus whatever is stirred up by Mars in Aries during the forthcoming lunar cycle will only be the first installment of a dramatic saga, and so while we may gain a sense of some of the issues that will become important there will be many more developments before the full story is told. Although Mars in Aries can strike quickly and ask questions later, it will be advisable to keep the long game in mind, conserve energy, and continue to cultivate strategy to contend with arising challenges.
At the same time that Mars is initiating a sequence of square aspects, Venus in Gemini will be bringing to a close a sequence of three square aspects it has made with Neptune in Pisces that first occurred on May 3 and May 20, 2020. Venus will form an exact square with Neptune on July 27, and so the final lessons and awareness from the sequence will take shape in the week following the New Moon. There has likely been a combination of disillusioning as well as inspiring experiences in correspondence with the square between Venus and Neptune that have stirred imagination and activated idealism. With Venus direct and increasing in light and speed as a Morning Star, be curious in questioning and exploring the deeper meaning of associated events and how you can use the inspirational aspects to create the changes you wish to see happen.
As the Moon unites with the Sun in darkness, Mercury in Cancer will be mutually applying to a tight square with Chiron retrograde in Aries as well as applying toward a volatilizing square aspect with Mars in Aries that it will complete on July 27. Mercury stirring things up with Chiron and Mars can bring contention that requires increased focus and determination in response. As current events will continue to make collective debate even more polarized, it will be easy to become pulled into verbal disputes so pick your battles wisely. By setting focused intention on whatever plans you have clarified as being important to your purpose, it can help in navigating through divisive distractions so you can use your energy for the work and relationships that are most important to you.
Mercury will reach its maximum elongation as a Morning Star two days after the New Moon on July 22, demarcating the phase when Mercury will have picked up enough speed to match the steady course of the Sun again. From this day forward, Mercury will move increasingly faster as it proceeds through its Morning Star phase, making it a productive time to work on or embody whatever new ideas and awareness were discovered during the destabilizing and regenerative period of Mercury retrograde at the end of June and beginning of July.
Cancer 3 Decan
The New Moon is in the third face of Cancer associated with the Four of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the Four of Cups image we see someone sitting on the roots of a tree considering three golden cups ready to be filled in the foreground. While the figure appears be engrossed in contemplative thought, allowing inner exploration to guide subsequent choice, a fourth cup has become magically offered by an otherworldly hand. Ruled by the Moon and Jupiter, it’s a face in which we must come to terms with available resources and questions of our fair share and how much is enough.
Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces gave the image of “The Overflowing Cup” to the third face of Cancer, declaring that it reveals the conflict of choosing “luxurious excess” within “a world of limited material resources” in which “the attainment of luxury for one entails deprivation for others” (3). Coppock noted that the ascetic air of the figure in the Four of Cups refusing to accept more than he needs reflects having awareness of the “hidden violence and secret competition entailed within the quest for luxury.” Yet in the way the figure also appears to be conjuring the magical fourth cup, Coppock declared that the third face of Cancer also involves the spiritual dimension of abundance and luxury, the “ever-refilled” cup offered by Spirit, “the endless luxury of the limitless,” and the “ever present energy of the natural world- the chi which emanates from all living things.” As previously mentioned, the connection of Hekate with this face in the 36 Airs also reveals the chthonic fertility of the third decan of Cancer and its capacity to magically manifest what we need to survive.
With the Moon in its own face and domicile as it is reanimated in the heart of the Sun, its stark opposition with Saturn will draw attention toward the availability of resources and the limitations and restrictions you must contend with. The contemplative nature of Saturn will also demand ethical questions concerning pursuing wealth for yourself versus helping others in need of support through service or charitable giving. With many out of work or facing severe economic barriers related to the pandemic, many will be feeling the constraint and contraction of Saturn through feeling restrained by available resources and afraid concerning the uncertainty of the unknown future. The connection of Hekate with the decan of the Cancer New Moon points to the need of cultivating faith in the unknown, facing our fears, setting intention, and descending into the darkness of the lunation to discover what will emerge as the Moon waxes toward fullness in light once again.
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(1) Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press.
(2) Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.
(3) Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.