Full Moon in Cancer
” . . . There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience . . .
All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation . . .
One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman of Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride the segregated buses, and responded to one who inquired about her tiredness with ungrammatical profundity, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” They will be young high school and college students, young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’s sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.”Martin Luther King, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
The Full Moon on January 17, 2022 is in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn, with the Sun involved in a conjunction with Pluto. There is meaning found in Pluto being named after a deity who ruled the underworld, for experiences of Pluto transits often take us through underworld experiences of darkness and despair through which we may retrieve a renewed sense of empowerment and meaning eventually. The Full Moon opposing Pluto will activate inner, subterranean realms of deep soul patterns circulating within our unconscious which drive reactions in ways we are not wholly aware. While Pluto positively can cultivate empowerment through the intensity of associated experiences, it can also activate power struggles and dynamics of power and control that brings feelings of powerlessness. There can be a volcanic, cathartic force to Pluto demanding release that also requires exploration of the shadows cast by the desires for greater power that Pluto may constellate. One way or another we need to surrender to the process of decay and regeneration brought by Pluto, for resisting its transformative charge due to fear of letting go of the ways things have been can ultimately intensify experiences of upheaval and breakdown which force change.
Yet surrendering to processes of Pluto may also make us aware of where we do not have control and need to find acceptance for present circumstances. Attempting to be over controlling and grasp for greater power at all costs during experiences of Pluto can lead to great damage within ourselves as well as within our relationships. By accepting places out of control, we may also more strongly attune to where we do have agency to be in deeper relationship with our inner nature and desires. Ultimately, experiences of Pluto can lead to purifying processes in which we shed old restrictions and evolve into a more potent vitality.
Since the Full Moon is in the watery home of the Moon, there is great potential for emotional release and coming into relationship with the information and sensory insights that may be retrieved through the catharsis. The intense emotions that may arise in the days surrounding the Cancer Full Moon can tap us into hidden, unconscious currents that demand attention and require differentiation and probing to process. The shadow side of the Moon activating Pluto so strongly can emerge when projecting unconscious content into relationships, such as becoming upset when unconscious expectations are not being met or distorting relational exchanges rather than questioning whether or not our initial reaction was an accurate reflection. The propensity for deep emotional patterns to be revealed is amplified due to Venus being retrograde in Capricorn within the same sign as Pluto. Patience may be needed to process feelings and pass through an emotional purging that leads to the root of old wounds and vulnerabilities. It will be possible to realize important insights about yourself and your present relational dynamics, and so it will be helpful to cultivate practices that enhance your capacity for self reflection or activities which can give you a safe harbor when emotions become to overwhelming to focus on.
As the United States of America approaches the first exact return of Pluto to its placement on July 4, 1776 on 20 February 2022, it is fitting that there is a Full Moon opposing Pluto on the national holiday honoring the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, junior. The recent legislative controversy over voting rights, judicial controversy over abortion rights, and innumerable other manifestations of the oppressive underbelly of the American Dream will continue to be emerging with increased intensity through the course of 2022. The urgency that Dr. King brought to the necessity of taking action and refusing to look the other way to gross inequities of oppression will be highlighted. Yet to be most effective within external ways of activism simultaneously requires attending to the kind of inner nurturing and relational care within our community that the Cancer Full Moon will activate.
The Full Moon at 27º50′ Cancer is applying closely toward a sextile aspect with Ceres at 27º59′ Taurus, while Ceres is simultaneously forming a conjunction with the transiting North Node of the Moon. Ceres has an intensified presence of steadfast stillness during the lunation, as she recently stationed direct on January 14, 2022 at 27º58′ Taurus. Ceres previously stationed retrograde on October 8, 2021 at 12º08′ Gemini, creating a region from twelve degrees of Gemini to twenty-seven degrees of Taurus to pay attention to in your natal chart with regard to her retrograde journey that took shape over the past several months. An incredible additional synchronicity is that the Persephone asteroid stationed retrograde at the same time as Ceres within a few degrees from Ceres (Persephone stationed retrograde on October 8 at 14º11′ Gemini), and so Persephone has been on a retrograde journey during the same time period. Remarkably, the Persephone asteroid will also be stationing direct one day after the Cancer Full Moon on January 18 at 00º24′ Gemini in range of a conjunction with the transiting North Node of the Moon.
The mythology of Demeter and Persephone, or Ceres and Proserpina, is inextricably linked with the mythology of Persephone’s abduction by Hades (Pluto) into the underworld where she eventually ruled as Queen. As the present Venus retrograde transit in Capricorn began with a month-long conjunction between Venus with Pluto, you may have been undergoing your own underworld journey during the course of the Venus retrograde that has pulled you into memories of old relational dynamics that include places of deep wounding that have continued to influence your recent relational patterns. Though Ceres is most often portrayed as the great goddess of agricultural and abundant fertility, her roots are within times when the great goddess ruled both realms of life and death. Thus Ceres is known for not only bringing the gifts of civilization to humanity, but also the rites of mystery initiation that led ancient people through rites of rebirth. Indeed, many believe that the Eleusinian Mysteries involved a reenactment of Persephone’s descent into the underworld, Demeter’s search, and Persephone’s ascent and reunion with Demeter, which connects to the versions of Deneter’s grief that took place in Eleusis.
Yet there is also an alternative version of Demeter’s search for Persephone that takes place in Arcadia in which Demeter gives birth to a daughter after being raped by Poseidon, a daughter whose name cannot be known by the uninitiated. In order to flee from the pursuit of Poseidon, Demeter turns herself into a horse that although swift placed her into the patterning of Poseidon due to him being the god of horses. After experiencing a replication of her daughter’s rape, Demeter takes refuge within a cave in the Arcadian wilderness to mourn and grieve. She is finally found by Pan, the wild shepherd god of nature who also happens to be one of the living images of the Capricorn constellation. After Pan notifies Zeus of Demeter’s whereabouts, the Morai (also known as the Fates) are sent to mediate and are able to coax Demeter back into the world.
In addition to the narrative differences between Demeter’s journeys, since Arcadia was more of an uncivilized and wild region it can equate with wounding and trauma cast far off from conscious awareness in the deepest regions of wilderness within the unconscious. While Ceres is retrograde or in periods of intensification such as stationing, we may find ourselves re-enacting old patterns associated with wounding, loss, or trauma that dredge up old pain while also tearing at the fabric of the relational dynamic between those relating within the enactment. Such heartbreaking experiences can be recoverable when each person involved within the relationship takes accountability for whatever form of repair is required, conducts their own inner work and processing, and continues to relate with understanding they are within an equally mutual relational field. When repair is carried through responsibly and patiently with care, the catharsis can help free space for new relational patterns to take root.
Thus the combination of both Ceres and Persephone stationing direct, combined with Venus being retrograde in Capricorn and the Full Moon being opposite Pluto, presents opportunities for reflection upon ways we may have re-enacted past wounding within relationships in recent months, while also coming into deeper attunement with how to relate to old narratives in new ways and work toward shifting their influence within present relational dynamics going forward. There may be pain that necessarily must be felt as emotive material reemerges into awareness from hidden depths. The region of Arcadia as the setting for this version of Demeter’s story is fascinating due to it not only being a wild, uncivilized, and liminal landscape, but also that it is the birthplace of liminal deities such as Hermes and Pan who serve in roles of shepherding us through dark nights of the soul as well as putting us back in touch with the primal eros we may recover from within.
The Arcadian region was also the source of the River Styx according to Herodotus, one of the rivers of Hades whose flowing water consecrated oaths that even the gods themselves had to swear by. Hesiod in fact named Oath as the most severe of the children of Strife (Eris), “who, more than any other, brings pains on mortals who of their own accord swear false oaths.” The pain of past betrayals and broken oaths may reemerge with the activation of Pluto and Ceres with the Cancer Full Moon, yet due to the sextile between the lunation with Ceres and the alignment of Ceres with the transiting North Node of the Moon, there is potential for a new relationship with memories of broken trust to emerge from the dissolution of emotional release. Time may need to be spent within the cave of Ceres to grieve, yet through the shedding and purgation of old emotions we may come into deeper contact with the renewed sense of vitality waiting to emerge from within.
The quality of time surrounding the Cancer Full Moon will be saturated with the confounding presence of Uranus in all of its wide ranging, revelatory disruption. Uranus will station direct one day after the lunation on January 18 at 10º49′ Taurus, intensifying the impact of Uranus within our daily interactions and world events. With Venus retrograde in Capricorn also having an intensified presence due to reappearing in visibility as a heliacal rising Morning Star, the flowing trine aspect between Uranus with Venus can lead to unexpected insights emerging that may feel uncomfortable or painful at first, but ultimately lead to important awareness of underlying relational patterns we are in the process of reshaping through the retrograde journey of Venus. During the waning half of the present lunar cycle, Venus will station direct on January 29 at 11°05’ Capricorn a couple days before the New Moon in Aquarius on January 31. Whatever relational issues erupt around the period of the Cancer Full Moon will need to continue to be processed as Venus completes her retrograde journey and then slowly begins moving forward again, but the impact of Uranus stationing at the same time may make them take on an accelerated intensity.
In addition to Uranus having an intensified presence during the time period of the Cancer Full Moon, Mercury does so as well as Mercury stationed retrograde in Aquarius a few days before the lunation on January 14. In addition, Mercury stationed retrograde in range of an extremely close square aspect with Uranus as well as only a few degrees away from Saturn in Aquarius, thereby setting off the longstanding square aspect between Saturn and Uranus. As a result, the Cancer Full Moon will bring illumination to deep emotional patterns related not only to Pluto and the present Venus retrograde phase, but also the ways in which we have been coming to terms over the course of the past year with the ways our own desires for personal liberation and structural change have been interfacing with titanic disruptions to societal systems. Read my article on Mercury retrograde here for more information about how the Cancer Full Moon relates to the stationing of Mercury and the forthcoming retrograde phase of Mercury that will extend through the duration of the waning half of the present lunar cycle.
Cancer 3 Decan
The Full Moon in Cancer will illuminate the third decan of Cancer associated with the Four of Cups card 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. T. Susan Chang in 36 Secrets wrote that the Four of Cups “is a complex card, because it evokes opposing states: scarcity vs. surplus, temptation vs. apathy.” Chang further pondered that if the image evokes the refusal of the call of the Hero’s Journey (see Joseph Campbell), it may also contain the hidden polarity of the call itself. Chang wrote that the Four of Cups represents the “restlessness” that comes after satisfying the pursuit of a new interest and while it could correlate with states of boredom, it can also be seen as an invitation. Chang advised listening “to those dissatisfied voices till they quiet down: they will tell you what is not leading you toward purpose and fulfillment,” and thus through “process of elimination,” we may attune to another inner voice prompting us to consider what we would do if we “could do anything in the world?”
Ruled by the Moon and Jupiter, the third decan of Cancer is 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 Facesgave 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.” 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.”
Resonant with cycles of creation and destruction that bring limitless luxury and spiritual gifts, Coppock also noted that the Hellenistic text The 36 Airs of the Zodiac connected the goddess Hekate with the third face of Cancer. Hekate 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. 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 help guide us toward manifesting and receiving what we need to survive. Hekate’s presence in this face also points to the need of cultivating faith in the unknown; just like she guided the grieving Demeter toward the next step she needed to take within her journey of finding her lost daughter Persephone, so may Hekate’s presence in this decan do the same for us.
Due to the Moon ruling the third face of Cancer, the Full Moon taking place within this decan takes on amplified potency related to the imagery and themes of this decan. May the emotional content it unleashes be received with the wisdom of Hekate, mediated with her inner knowing which can surely guide us through liminal spaces into the choice we need to make at the crossroads intersecting with our present path.
If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting my work through a monthly subscription on my Patreon page. Take a look to see the benefits you will receive as a patron – in addition to the normal benefits patrons receive, I have a new Oak Branch tier featuring an astrological learning group that will be meeting monthly and exploring various astrological topics and techniques on an ongoing basis.
Chang, T. Susan. (2021). 36 Secrets: A Decanic Journey through the Minor Arcana of the Tarot. Anima Mundi Press.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Hesiod. (2004). Theogony, Works and Days, Shield. Second edition. Translated by Apostolos N. Athanassakis. The John Hopkins University Press.