Partial Solar Eclipse in Cancer
All new lunations deemed eclipses are not equal, for those that succomb to total blackening of the Sun are far more potent than those in which only a sliver of a shadow obscures our solar light. The Partial Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 12 (or July 13, depending upon time zone) is one such eclipse, as it will only be visible in the southern reaches of Australia and the south pole region. The first solar eclipse in Cancer is partial due to its distance from the lunar nodes, 15º12′ from the true node position. However, even though its not the most intense type of eclipse, it’s incredibly dynamic due to its Plutonic quality. The Cancer syzygy is closely aligned with the planetary nodes of Pluto while opposing Pluto at the same time. This creates the potent matrix of the partial eclipse conjoining the North Node of Pluto, while Pluto is aligned with its own South Node. We thus we will be experiencing a total activation of the entire orbital arc of Pluto, and a colossal release of all things Plutonic into our collective field.
Eclipses have a long association with destined events due to new forms entering our life in the weeks surrounding them, often with an unexpected gravitas, while other forms we had previously felt securely attached to pass away. The Partial Solar Eclipse in Cancer is the first activation of an upcoming cycle of eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn, with the next Partial Solar Eclipse in Capricorn in January 2019, followed by a Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer in July 2019. As a result the Plutonic eclipse will be revealing first intimations of new themes that will become more firmly established in our lives once the lunar nodes make the switch into Cancer and Capricorn in November 2018. The eclipse emphasizing areas of future oriented growth is further shown by it occurring on the side of the North Node of the Moon, with the Moon waxing toward a conjunction with its ascending node across our ecliptic, moving from southern toward northern latitude.
However, since our Sun will be partially covered by the shadow of our Moon, it suggests there are elements of the irrational, deep unconscious, potent dream experiences of night, and charged memories that will be oozing or erupting into conscious awareness. Since the North Node of the Moon is in Leo and we will be experiencing a Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius at the end of July combined with Mercury moving retrograde in Leo, the Cancer lunation opposing Pluto in Capricorn brings the Cancer-Capricorn polarity strongly into a context dominated by Leo and Aquarius. I’m reminded of a talk I heard Jason Holley give on Cancer that explored its archetype through the myth of the crab in the constellation sent by Hera to attack Heracles. 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- thus it as if the crab has emerged from the undifferentiated unconscious to attack Heracles, the solar hero wearing lion skin. 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 opposition from Pluto in Capricorn to the lunation will force awareness of any such issues.
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, we open ourselves to the treasured gifts we will eventually unearth in the underworld process. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche gave an excellent summary of terms associated with Pluto including “the principles of elemental power, depth, and intensity; with that which compels, empowers, and intensifies whatever it touches, sometimes to overwhelming and catastrophic extremes; with the primordial instincts, libidinal and aggressive, destructive and regenerative, volcanic and cathartic, eliminative, transformative, ever-evolving . . . violent purgatorial discharges of pent-up energies, purifying fire; situations of life and death extremes, power struggles, all that is titanic, potent, and massive.” Collectively we will be experiencing a massive purge of all things Plutonic in the time surrounding the Partial Solar Eclipse due to the eclipse conjoining the North Node of Pluto, with Pluto conjoining its own South Node. Within the discharge can be found vital empowerment as described above by Tarnas, the question becoming what do you want to empower?
Planetary Nodes can be confusing for some people to understand when first coming across them, but I can vouch from years of experience with them that they are well worth the effort to integrate into astrological practice. There are valid reasons to use heliocentric planetary nodes (calculated from the accurate concept of the Sun being center of our solar system) as well as the geocentric nodes (calculated as they appear from our Earth-bound perspective as the center). The Partial Solar Eclipse in Cancer is closely conjoining the geocentric North Node of Pluto (geocentric North Node of Pluto is 20º33′, lunation is 20º41′ Cancer) and Pluto is tightly conjoined its own geocentric South Node (Pluto at 20º00′, geocentric South Node of Pluto is 20º32′). Pluto and the Partial Eclipse are also closely conjoining the heliocentric nodes of Pluto. This means that Pluto is in the process of crossing the ecliptic from northern latitude into southern. For astronomical information and diagrams on the alignment of the lunation with Pluto, which also means someone on Pluto with a massive telescope could watch the earth transit in front of the Sun, see here and here.
American Gothic (1930) Grant Wood
In contrast to the current transit of Pluto across its own South Node, Pluto transited across its North Node in 1929 through 1931, stationing retrograde in close proximity in October 1928. The year 1929 is famous of course for the Wall Street stock market crash that led into the Great Depression of the 1930s. Dane Rudhyar in his landmark text The Planetary and Lunar Nodes cut to the heart of the significance of paying attention to planetary nodes, writing that “in philosophical traditions concerning the meaning of astrology it was stated that the fundamental reality of what we call a planet is not its material mass but rather the space which its movements define.” Planetary nodes bring awareness into the relationships between the entire orbital arcs of planets in our solar system, therefore in archetypal terms we are talking about discerning relationships between the entirety of the archetypal cycle of each celestial wanderer to one another, and to our experiences on Earth.
When planets ascend across their north node into northern latitude as Pluto did in the transition from the 1920s into the 1930s, to Rudhyar we experience “an increase in the radiation of the planet’s characteristic attributes.” In part this period of history involves not only the Great Depression but also the rise of fascism, nationalistic forces, and the ascending terror of Hitler and Nazi Germany. When a planet reaches its northern bending of forming a square to its own nodes, as Pluto did in Libra in the transition from the 1970s into the 1980s, Rudhyar stated the planetary archetype reaches a collective “turning point” and thereafter begins the trajectory down in latitude toward where we find ourselves now with it crossing its descending node toward the south. Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes wrote:
One of the most significant ways of thinking of the nodes is to consider them as two “gates.” When a planet [Rudhyar includes the Moon here] is at its north node, its essential function and quality in the solar system is focused upon our Earth-space which is then most able to absorb and assimilate it. When the planet is at its south node what is released as “substantial” factors are the results of the relationship between the characteristic nature of the planet and whatever in the Earth-space has absorbed its power. If the relationship has been positive, then what has been absorbed has also been “assimilated” and integrated to the Earth-consciousness and has produced a new “seed,” i.e., new experiences and values. If the relationship has proven negative, what is being released or exteriorized are disintegrating materials, or negative existential results.
It’s easy to find the “disintegrating” and “negative existential” manifestations of the Pluto archetype in current events these days. There has in fact been a re-activation of white nationalism and supremacy and many people have had fears of another rise of fascist forces rising. There is also the additional factor that Saturn also has its South Node in Capricorn close in degree to the South Node of Pluto, and that Saturn is now heading toward a conjunction with Pluto at the beginning of 2020 that will be aligned with the South Nodes of both Pluto and Saturn. It is in fact striking that the second World War erupted after Pluto crossed its ascending node, and that the “Cold War” in the aftermath took shape in alignment with a conjunction between Pluto and Saturn. NATO was then formed between North American and European nations against the threat they feared from the Soviet Union, and today as this eclipse forms with Pluto on its own South Node the relationships within NATO are taking center stage in current events.
The last time Pluto was conjoining its South Node was the beginning of the 1770s leading into the Revolutionary War that created the United States of America. As has been often discussed, the USA is now approaching its first ever Pluto return, with the coming conjunction of Pluto and Saturn being intrinsic. The USA is known as a country formed by immigrants, a creation also involving the displacement and destruction of indigenous populations as well as enslavement of people from the African continent. Today all of these issues are flooding collective events, including the controversial “Zero Tolerance” policy of the U.S. administration that separated family members attempting to cross the border. It is striking how resonate the term “Zero Tolerance” is with the archetypal meaning of the Pluto and Saturn cycle.
Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1647) Rembrandt van Rijn
Within the raging thunderbolts and hurtling winds of collective history, the Partial Solar Eclipse occurring in Cancer illuminates our capacity on personal levels to nurture and protect what we hold most dear. Within relationships with loved ones and within larger spheres of community, the opposition from Pluto to the eclipse highlights the necessity of taking the personal responsibility to live in alignment with one’s integrity and to devote choices and commitments in service to the greater good for all beings, not just those we feel bound to by family or culture. The polarity of Cancer to Pluto and Saturn occupying Capricorn, in tandem with the nodes and coming Total Lunar Eclipse along the Leo and Aquarius axis, places importance on finding our inner emotional security so that we can claim personal power without the shadow of needing to control others or be competitively threatened by the power of others. The Cancer Partial Solar Eclipse holds potential to discover the essential value you want to cultivate within that you can then share with others for their own support.
The eclipse is separating from a trine with Neptune in Pisces, as Neptune continues to be in range of a sextile with Pluto in Capricorn. Neptune’s transit in Pisces has coincided with massive illusions and disillusionment, the ascendancy of “fake news” and massive amounts of the populace getting their imaginal fix from phones, tablets, and other electronic devices all being closely monitored by the hierarchical power structures we can associate with Pluto in Capricorn. Part of reclaiming our inner security is engaging with our inner imaginal potency and our capacity to help co-create through our participation the world we hope to dream into being, rather than the nightmare we fear.
Utagawa Hiroshige (1852) Carp Swimming Against Waterfall
Jupiter Stations Direct
The Partial Solar Eclipse is in the exaltation of Jupiter, with Jupiter in a trine to the eclipse. Jupiter holds monumental influence due to stationing direct on July 10, two days before the eclipse. Jupiter is in the home of Mars, as the red planet is currently retrograde en route to aligning with an incredibly intense Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius at the end of July. Jupiter brings hope and reason for faith in the unknown, yet this simultaneously requires unflinching awareness of the depths and shadow of current circumstances. Jupiter is now in forward motion through the rest of Scorpio where it will reside until entering its home in Sagittarius at the beginning of November. It is a bright Evening Star shining in the same sky that both Saturn and Mars can be seen in. The forward momentum of Jupiter will bring corresponding opportunities to find sources of expansion and growth within the disintegration of societal structures signified by Pluto’s influence on the eclipse. With the activation of Pluto, this likely could come with connecting to ancestral lineages whether that is one’s blood family or family of like-minded souls.
Interestingly from a planetary node perspective, Jupiter has stationed in range of a wide conjunction with the heliocentric nodes of both Mars and Mercury (heliocentric North Node of Mercury, heliocentric South Node of Mars). This is of vital importance due to Mars already being retrograde, and the fact that in the forthcoming waxing cycle of the Moon we will also experience Mercury stationing retrograde just as the Moon reaches full reception of light. During Jupiter’s time in Scorpio we’ve also been experiencing it forming a square with eclipses as well as the transiting lunar nodes. When I previously wrote about Jupiter in Scorpio, I shared the following about it forming a whole sign square to the lunar nodes being in Leo and Aquarius:
The Leo North Node of the Moon emphasizes creative actualization and pursuing desires that bring visceral vivification rather than restraint. With the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, we are experiencing a purification of our humanitarian ideals and how we can contribute to creating the type of global community we wish to exist within. Jupiter in Scorpio will thrust us into exploration of difficult questions and answers, enabling us to get at the underlying roots of our current circumstances.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1655)
Red Star of Ares
Mars retrograde in Aquarius is not in aspect to the eclipse, but is one of the most important underlying factors. We’ve been experiencing Mars retrograde since June 26 and so now have a better sense of what elements of life are shifting in correspondence. A more recent element is that Mars went out of bounds by southern declination on July 7, adding in a higher degree of freedom seeking to its retrograde vibe. Just as Mars is at its brightest red at night as an Evening Star, so is the inner heat we feel in correspondence also inflamed. Desires may be emerging that we have been denying or unaware of previously that are in fact vital elements of our nature to begin integrating and embodying.
Mars retrograde in Aquarius is forming a retrograde loop pattern relative to the ecliptic that is taking it into its most extreme southern latitude, as it is in the sign of its southern bending to its heliocentric nodes in Taurus and Scorpio. Gary Caton has been doing a lot of intriguing work with the planetary nodes and retrograde loop patterns, and has added on to Rudhyar’s previous interpretation by suggesting the current Mars retrograde will lead us into the deepest subconscious elements of the Mars archetype. Since Mars is aligned with the South Node of the Moon and the Total Lunar Eclipse will be on the South Node of the Moon, the theme of sacrifice takes prominence. Again the words of Dane Rudhyar are worth reflecting on:
At the south node one does not build personality; one may expand it, releasing its contents in full dedication to a community and an ideal. There are many ways of speaking of sacrifice, some quite meaningless, even actually egocentric or masochistic. But the true meaning of sacrifice is “making sacred”; and this implies a complete dedication of one’s thoughts to what one may call either God or mankind – – or to a specific group, culture or ideal. This means a surrender of the ego-will.
— Dane Rudhyar, The Planetary and Lunar Nodes
The intensification of Mars will be building during the entire forthcoming waxing cycle of the Moon, as Mars will oppose the Sun at the heart of its retrograde at the same time as the Total Lunar Eclipse on July 27. While this is happening Mars is also getting closer and closer to receiving Chiron in Aries through a sextile, and forming a catalyzing square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. At times we will need to retreat into inner spaces to process everything coming up in correspondence. As this will all be happening in the middle of eclipses, the information and messages coming our way could be nonlinear and feel irrational. Be open to what is coming up, while maintaining discernment for what to act on and what to simply witness within.
Virgo 1 Decan image by Cosimo Tura from “Allegory of August: Triumph of Ceres” fresco in the Palazzo Schifanoia (1476-84)
Venus & Ceres in Virgo
At such a Plutonic syzygy, it is fitting that Venus in Virgo is applying to a conjunction with Ceres. Venus is in its fall in Virgo, which can be seized in terms of walking and witnessing with awareness the myriad forms of suffering occurring around us, offering service where appropriate. The world is full of suffering, yet Venus and Ceres in Virgo also offer us the potential to ground and find the resources around us that will nurture us and others. Their alignment offers strong discernment found within subjective inner senses and intuition. Venus and Ceres also support transmuting nervous or anxious energy into creative work or productive maintenance such as focusing on needed cleaning, repair, or purification.
Venus and Ceres are in the home and exaltation of Mercury, which is notable because Mercury is in Leo, the home of the Sun being partially eclipsed. Moreover, Mercury is bright as an Evening Star and on its way toward stationing retrograde in Leo in a couple of weeks. Gary Caton has also been doing a lot of interesting research into the retrograde loop patterns Mercury forms when retrograde, and the one Mercury is now forming is notable because it will take it into extreme southern latitude just like the Mars retrograde loop is also taking it into extreme southern latitude. This is because Mercury in Leo is at the southern bending to its own heliocentric nodes in Taurus and Scorpio. Mercury is conjoining its geocentric South Node at the Partial Solar Eclipse, meaning it is now heading toward southern latitude and will not return back to cross over the ecliptic to go into northern latitude again until August 28. Furthermore, Mercury is in Leo is at 17 degrees at the time of the eclipse, the same degree it will be when it experiences it’s inferior conjunction with the Sun at the heart of its retrograde journey.
While the writing in the previous paragraph may sound like a confusing foreign language, there is a simple takeaway. The combination of all of this happening for Mercury with Venus and Ceres coming together in Virgo suggests rich fertility to be found in our inner landscapes.
4 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith
Cancer 3 Decan
The Partial Solar Eclipse occurs within the third decan of Cancer associated with the Four of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Moon rules the third face of Cancer, bringing extra potency to the shadow cast by Luna upon our solar light in the eclipse. In the image of the Four of Cups illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith above, we see someone sitting on the roots of a tree with three golden cups ready to be filled in the foreground, with a fourth cup being magically offered by an otherworldly hand. The recipient of this magical offering appears to be engrossed in contemplative thought, allowing inner exploration to guide subsequent choice.
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,” leading to a “hidden violence and secret competition entailed within the quest for luxury” (p. 115-6). Coppock noted this seems to be the perspective of the young man seated in the Four of Cups with an ascetic air of refusing to accept more than he needs, and therefore bringing up questions around choosing the extra cup of luxury. Significantly, Coppock additionally noted the spiritual dimension of luxury, the “ever-refilled” cup offered by Spirit, “the endless luxury of the limitless,” the “ever present energy of the natural world- the chi which emanates from all living things . . . an ocean even a thirsty god could not drain” (p. 117).
Hecate has dominion within the third face of Cancer according to the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs. Finding ourselves at a collective crossroads, facing the darkness of the unknown, we may turn to Hecate for guidance. Hecate connects with the luminosity 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, Hecate is also the wise crone and dark mother who connects with the nocturnal, melancholic nature of Saturn’s home in Capricorn (check out this article by Charles Obert on Saturn as Feminine and Crone). Hecate rules over the phases of the Moon, all realms of the upper world and the underworld, crossroads, magical craft, midwifery, and prophetic mediation among many other significations. For ages Hecate has been available to call for regenerative power during dark nights of the soul. She serves as a reminder of the inner guidance we can call upon to discern what choices and steps to next take on our path through the liminal season of eclipses and retrograde phases of Mars and Mercury we now enter.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.
Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Plume.