Caspar David Friedrich (1810) The Monk by the Sea
New Moon in Cancer
Memories envelope the New Moon in Cancer on 4 July 2016, memories which nourish as well as memories which torment with the pang of loss. The Moon is home in Cancer, and the blackness of the New Moon lacking solar light signifies the pure, raw emotions of the lunar realm. The Moon’s constant waxing and waning, reflecting and holding the light of the Sun, illustrates why we associate Cancer and the Moon with the ebb and flow of our moods and the ever present influence of our memories. We hold memories of past loves and peak emotions in Cancer and the Moon, as well as remembrances of family, cultural, and ancestral origins. While memories bring sustenance and source our flights of imaginative vision, the reminiscences of our most blissful times can also become torturous in the pain of losing their source. Attachments to memory can overburden us when grieving what we have lost, and can also be sources of disruptive illusions in those attached to sentimental nostalgia rather than the arising change of the moment. In collective events there has been a Nationalistic, xenophobic, homophobic, and bigoted monstrosity raging that has its roots in a nostalgia for cultural illusions of the past. The positive message found in the Cancer New Moon is resolution through reconciling the past with the present, and in the stillness of a reflective moment experiencing the flowering of grace.
The New Moon in Cancer brings a cathartic release through its opposition to Pluto. Instead of a soft and supple lunar goddess we will feel more in the protective presence of a hard and skeletal Santa Muerte. Pluto has been associated with Shiva and his fierce destructive aspects by many astrologers, as the experience of a hard aspect from Pluto can not only feel like a complete destruction of one’s personality, but also be experienced through devastating losses of structures and relationships we had been attached to. When we stop resisting, denying, or being overly defensive, allowing our ego to be destroyed in the quakes of Pluto, in the resulting dismemberment we are given the opportunity to reassemble ourselves into a more authentic presence, remembering our essentiality through the dismembering.
Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche associated Pluto with Dionysus because it shatters and brings forth new forms in transit, and dismemberment also circulates through the stories involving Dionysus. James Hillman in Mythic Figures wrote that the dismemberment of Dionysus is “necessary for awakening the consciousness of the body,” because the loss of central control resurrects the light of each separate organ making up the whole. Hillman saw this alchemical dismemberment as an awareness that can cut through the “habitual ways we have ‘grown up’ and ‘grown together,’” by making us aware of the light found within each distinct part of our body- so it is not really a process, and “not a movement from integration to dis-integration to re-integration.” It is more of a loosening that “results in the activation of the psychic life of the organs.” Similarly, within the chaos of recent collective events that has caused fear and destruction in multitudes, the Cancer New Moon brings an opportunity to reawaken from within, impacting the external world through healing and vivifying internal fractures.
J.M.W. Turner (1844) Sunrise with Sea Monsters
Modern astrology associates Cancer with mothers, the womb, and birth, and in ancient astrology Cancer was noted as the rising sign and first house of the thema mundi, the birth of the universe. The New Moon occurs in the second decan of Cancer, and Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces noted that the fragmentary Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Heracles to this decan, the legendary hero who was tormented from birth by his stepmother Hera. My good friend Jason Holley gave a brilliant talk linking Cancer and the Moon with Heracles at the recent Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC) of 2016. In the Greek myth connected with the constellation of Cancer, a crab was sent by Hera to attack Heracles as he was engaged in battle with the Hydra. After the armored crustacean emerged from the watery depths and charged, sideways, toward Heracles as its claws protruded into the ankles of the hero, Heracles obliterated the crab with his foot. From the shattering of the crab, Hera thus placed it into the sky as a constellation rewarding its service to her.
In his talk “Exquisite Attunement: the Moon and Empathy,” Jason Holley described lunar material as being emotional openings to the fertile void, a realm of memories that is nonlinear, somatic, and implicitly pulls things into its own rhythm. Hera’s wrath stems from her being betrayed and abandoned, similar to a devaluing of the lunar realm that sees the fertile void as valueless. Hera nurtured the Hydra to destroy Heracles, and the Nemean Lion has been said to have fallen from the Moon, sprung from Selene and brought forth at the bidding of Hera. Holley interpreted Hera’s desire to attack Heracles as an undermining of the solar self that seeks to bring the self back down into the unconscious and the emotional body. The crab emerging from the lake has come ashore from the undifferentiated unconscious, yet as Heracles shows is vulnerable to attack. Holley noted that when our internal world lacks a sense of structure and order it leads to reliance on external sources for a sense of stability and safety. If one’s capacity to contain emotional experience internally is not developed, it will be delegated to others rather than claimed from one’s own sense of inner authority.
The Cancer New Moon is fruitful in terms of regaining inner security and authority following a period of loss and disillusionment that has caused deep questioning of one’s value and how it is accepted and nurtured by others. The New Moon is separating from a trine with Neptune and therefore pulling away from the square between Saturn and Neptune, applying toward harmonious aspects with its own lunar nodes. Following its opposition to Pluto, the waning Moon will form an exact sextile with Jupiter and conjunction with Venus. The embrace of loved ones will be a balm that calms, but the true potency of this New Moon is found through genuine self love and discovering security that is not dependent upon approval or admiration from others.
Georgia O’Keefe (1927) Black Abstraction
The New Moon is also notable for intention setting related to all things Mars, as Mars is finally direct in Scorpio and beginning to slowly generate momentum in the black of the Moon. The opposition between Pluto and the New Moon reinforces the slow metamorphic feeling, akin to the tension of a butterfly wing struggling against the confines of the releasing chrysalis. Mars moving forward again in the final decan of Scorpio is a slow inferno burning off desires needed to be laid to rest, a funeral pyre releasing and transfiguring what has passed away.
Those who have felt confused or thwarted in action during the Mars retrograde, or hung up on past pain that continued to poison rather than purify, will now be able to feel greater capacity to navigate into favorable currents of change and forward momentum. Laying desires to rest is never easy, and when dealing with heartbreak or mourning the pain may never be fully released. With Mars beginning to move direct again, however, there is powerful support to commit to a path and the practical actions and steps in need of the zealous force of Mars. The quincunx from Uranus and trine to Chiron are further indications of the depth of material being purged and purified in the forward crawl of Mars.
Paul Klee (1937) The Rhine at Duisburg
my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end
my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts
— Samuel Beckett
Mercury is applying to a conjunction with the New Moon, approaching its superior conjunction with the Sun in which it is on the far side of the Sun in orbit from Earth. Mercury reaches its Superior Conjunction a couple days after the New Moon on July 6, where Mercury rules from the throne at the heart of the Sun and is strengthened in all of its significations. At the time of the New Moon, Mercury is combust meaning it is undergoing a period of purification and regeneration in the flames of the Sun. With Mercury in Cancer it is possible moods, memories, emotions, or fears circulating could overwhelm capacity to maintain centered focus, especially within a tumultuous environment of chaotic collective events stirring up hysteria.
Although this phase of Mercury can feel overwhelming, the surrounding potent aspects to Mercury suggest epiphanies can be unveiled. The Mercurial atmosphere will contain moments to soak within the elements of our past whose memories will nourish us going forward, while simultaneously opening to a regenerated presence. Insights into one’s family or ancestral karma and influences can be found, as well as greater awareness of relational patterns and emotional dynamics we have been constellating. As a result, the New Moon supports intention setting for a strengthened sense of inner security less needful of external attachments to feel stable.
3 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith
Cancer 2 Decan
The second face of Cancer where the New Moon occurs is associated with the 3 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The mirthful image of merriment radiates mellifluous metaphors, a tarot card that 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 nurturing to allow for an incubating space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance. A glance through images of this face from ancient texts reveal a profusion of beautiful women of melodious voice, some “seated on a snake-throne” (Yavanajataka) and all adorned with flowers or wreathed in myrtle (Picatrix, The Beginning of Wisdom, 777). A man appears in Three Books of Occult Philosophy in this decan, dressed elegantly in style and engrossed in play.
The second decan of Cancer is ruled by Mercury. Mercury at the moment of the New Moon is applying to a trine with Neptune as well as a conjunction with the Sun and Moon. After Mercury separates from its conjunction with the Sun, it will be opposing Pluto and then receiving a sextile from Jupiter in Virgo. Mercury is in position to mediate the fracturing and ruptures created by the last quarter squares between Saturn and Neptune, and Saturn and Jupiter. Though current events are rife with destruction, murder, and desperation, though many are wrestling with struggles and fears over poverty, if one can enter into a protected space of nourishment the astrological aspects of this New Moon can also foster enlivening creativity and collaboration. Joining with others to create structured and protective spaces that filter out the mayhem of the surrounding world can help to circulate and amplify the potential for shared fulfillment and beauty. This can be a beautiful time to share your own precious gifts with others while being emotionally present to receive the inspiriting blessings of what others have to share.
Fig-tree, for such a long time now, there has been meaning for me,
in the way you almost wholly omit to flower
and urge your pure secret, unheralded,
into the early, resolute fruit.
Like the jet of a fountain, your arched bough
drives the sap downward, then up: and it leaps from its sleep
barely waking, into the bliss of its sweetest achievement.
See: like the god into the swan
……….We, though, linger,
ah, our pride is in flowering, and, already betrayed,
we reach the late core of our final fruit.
In a few the urge to action rises so powerfully,
that they are already waiting and glowing with their heart’s fullness
when the temptation to flower, like the mild night air,
touches their tender mouths, touches their eyelids:
heroes perhaps, and those chosen to vanish prematurely,
in whom Death the gardener wove different veins.
These plunge ahead: they go before their own smile,
like the team of horses in the slightly
hollowed-out relief of Karnak’s victorious pharaoh.
The hero is strangely close to those who died young. Lasting
doesn’t contain him. Being is his ascent: he moves on,
time and again, to enter the changed constellation
his risk entails. Few could find him there. But
Destiny, that darkly hides us, suddenly inspired,
sings him into the tempest of his onrushing world.
I hear no one like him. All at once I am pierced
by his darkened sound carried on streaming air.
Then, how gladly I would hide from the yearning: O if I,
if I were a boy, and might come to it still, and sit,
propped on the future’s arms, and reading about Samson,
how his mother first bore nothing, and then all.
Was he not a hero already, O mother, in you, did not
his imperious choice begin inside you?
Thousands seethed in the womb and willed to be him,
but see: he grasped and let go, chose and achieved.
And if he shattered pillars, it was when he burst
out of the world of your flesh into the narrower world,
where he went on choosing, achieving. O mothers of heroes,
O sources of ravening rivers! Ravines into which
weeping girls have plunged
from the high heart’s edge, future offerings to the son.
Because, whenever the hero stormed through the stations of love,
each heartbeat, meant for him, lifting him onward,
he turned away, stood at the end of the smiles, someone other.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, The Sixth Elegy, Duino Elegies
Beckett, Samuel. (1977). Collected Poems in English and French. Grove Press.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Hillman, James. (2007). Mythic Figures. Spring Publications, Inc.