Solar Eclipse in Cancer
The Annular Solar Eclipse on June 21 will emit a thin golden ring of light around a pulsating black center. For those who can view the eclipse in daylight hours, the supremacy of the radiant sun will be overcome by the darkness of night, the blackness that gives birth and through which life passes into the otherworld of ancestors. Experiencing a solar eclipse brings a sense of the fertile void where the emptiness underlying everything is found. Eclipses can feel like an opening into the primordial reality that is always there, unchanging, waiting to be entered. It’s not a time for projecting your ambitions into the world, but rather a moment of allowing your conscious ambitions to be eclipsed, connecting awareness with what is waiting to emerge from inner shadows.
The Solar Eclipse will occur nine hours after the exact moment of the Solstice when the Sun enters the tropical zodiacal sign of Cancer. The time of peak day that marks the beginning of Summer in the northern hemisphere, it is simultaneously the pinnacle of darkness in the southern hemisphere that demarcates the beginning of Winter with the promise of returning sunlight. The word solstice has stationary at the root of its etymological meaning, a time when the luminous Sun pauses at an extremity of height within its endless cycle, initiating a descent. As the Sun is a living symbol of coherence, the shadows that will devour its light indicate an old paradigm that has been used to hold a center on civilization is ready to be dissolved and de-centered.
The lunar nodes demarcate eclipses whenever a new moon or full moon conjoins them, as the nodes are the intersection of the great planes of spirit/soul and matter, the intersection of the apparent path of the Sun with the orbital arc of the Moon. The word node comes from the Latin nodus or “knot,” and so the knots that bind and tie together the strands of civilization become unravelled within the vortex of the ringed blackness. Similarly the knots of our consciousness we use to tie down and bind our inner multiplicity become loosened, allowing vibrant new desires as well as difficult fears and projections to temporarily erupt into awareness.
Since the Solar Eclipse in Cancer is very close to the North Node of the Moon in Gemini, it places more emphasis on intake and a surge of new activity more so than the release, sacrifice, and harvesting associated with the South Node of the Moon. Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes stressed the importance of properly metabolizing, digesting, and integrating the absorption of new material that takes place at the North Node of the Moon. It will be vital to discern what we consume and make the necessary time and space to integrate and digest what we take in that can bring nurturance and nourishment, emptying ourselves of the toxic residue we have taken in from our surroundings.
Although the Annular Solar Eclipse is at the first degree of Cancer, the transiting North Node of the Moon is in Gemini and therefore signifies a great upwelling of new perspectives and information to sift through. There will be new perceptions, new information, and new insights that need to ferment within and disrupt our old belief system and worldview. Yet the amount of information and viewpoints to consume in the present information age is far too much to take in. Discovering the personal meaning of the eclipse can be facilitated by turning away temporarily from the cacophony of culture to discover what the blackness of the eclipse is revealing about the inner fertility of your own underground world of chthonic, black depth.
The lunar nodes have long been imagined as a dragon or serpent of chaos that devours our lights, the Sun and the Moon, with the North Node of the Moon symbolizing the head of the dragon and the South Node of the Moon its tail. In Egyptian cosmology, the sun faced death in the regenerative underworld of Night at midnight every night, 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.” As a serpent signifying the matrix of reality consumes the Solstice Sun, we may ask what new forms are gestating to come into existence and take shape.
An eclipse in Cancer, in fact at only twenty-one minutes of Cancer, reveals how we have been caring and who we have been caring for. It reveals the people who have been targets of the oppressive weapons of civilization and the people lacking support and care from their families and community. We can consider how we have been appeased and distracted by technological gadgets made in oppressive working conditions to look the other way. We may ask how we have been enmeshing ourselves in co-dependent attachments in relationships that do not truly nurture us or in material items and conditions that never fully satisfy our soul.
Rick Tarnas has deservedly been gaining increased recognition for the incredible amount of time and research he put into his book Cosmos and Psyche and how accurately he pinpointed the cultural themes that erupt during periods when Saturn and Pluto come together as they have in 2020. At the United Astrology Conference in 2018, at the threshold of our collective entering the amplified period of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto we find ourselves in today, Tarnas gave the talk “A Kairos Moment” in which he described periods of Saturn and Pluto as activating tremendous moral courage in the face of totalitarian forces and that it activates the moral determination of birthing a baby, or new era, under huge stakes.
Rick Tarnas has often said that the gift we can take from modernity is the idea of taking personal responsibility to shape our world, applying this to developing a participatory and co-creative relationship with the Anima Mundi or World Soul. The Cancer Solar Eclipse is arriving at a collective dark night of the soul exactly as described by Tarnas, a moment necessitating the ego death of initiation and facing the evil and danger of our world. Tarnas and many other great minds before him have long highlighted the fact that transformative rites of passage necessitate uncertainty, and that is is the uncertainty of the unknown that can compel us to confront our moral values and make the changes not only within ourselves, but also within the wider systems of our civilizations. In his talk at UAC 2018, Tarnas concluded that we cannot do the work as isolated individuals but need to form heroic collectives and communities who hold a vision of good values radically different from the oppressive structures of mainstream society.
Cancer 1 Decan
The Cancer Sun will be eclipsed by the Cancer Moon in the first face of Cancer associated with the Two of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we find two lovers coming together with equal passion, with a caduceus of intertwining snakes and a winged lion arising in the space between their merging desire. Fittingly for the erotic reciprocity found in the symbolism of this image, the first face of Cancer is ruled by Venus and the Moon. Yet Venus is not only about the romanticism of Eros and Psyche, nor the Moon only about the enclosure of their fertile love in the palace of Eros. The ferment of the Cancer Solar Eclipse on June 21 combined with Venus stationing direct in Gemini a few days later on June 25 will demand confrontation with the inner values that underlie all of our relational dynamics with others and the emotional needs we seek to fulfill.
Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Mother and Child” to the first face of Cancer, as he wrote that the face holds the hungers of our emotions and biology, the womb that gives birth to us and all of our resulting needs. Coppock further connected the themes of mother and child to the pursuit of romantic love found in the Two of Cups since “it is the perfect support, half-remembered from the womb, that gives rise to the human dream of similarly nursing bonds between committed partners.” Coppock wrote that idealized unions can be realized in the first decan of Cancer, the type of relationships that seem “as if the two reside in each other’s wombs, simultaneously devouring and being devoured, yet neither is depleted.”
The first face of Cancer holding the Solar Eclipse indicates not only the seeking of idealized union with another, but also realization that the union of two can never be permanent and that all relationships must pass through loss. We may gain realization for patterns that have led us into unhealthy enmeshment with others, as well as a more lucid sense of the deeper needs of intimacy we seek in partnership. We may also gain awareness for a new passion to pursue in the arts or sciences and how we can be nurtured through exploring it in more depth. The eclipse can also break us out of isolated relational dynamics to turn our energy and focus into the wider needs of our community, realizing ways of receiving emotional fulfillment through giving to others or contributing to collective efforts of reform.
The Hermetic text Liber Hermetis ascribed an image of a serpent joined with the face of a dog to the first decan of Cancer, revealing the chthonic powers of fertility and regeneration present. In contrast, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the goddess Nike, the goddess of victory, to the first face of Cancer. A daughter of the underworld river goddess Styx, Nike allied herself with Zeus in the war against the Titans, a mythic war resonant with the astrology of 2020 that will end with a new order being constellated between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. Nike served as the divine charioteer of Zeus in battle, while also rewarding victors of competition with the glory of wreathed laurel. Nike’s presence in the first face of Cancer suggests the eclipse bringing questions of what you are fighting for, who you are fighting for, and how your ambitions for glory may make you complicit in systems that go against your moral values. May the thin ringed light encircling the blackness of the eclipse help illuminate the values you will commit to embodying and living in integrity with.
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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.