Full Moon in Cancer
The Moon keeps close to us through eternal flux, constantly changing phases, waxing and waning in light. The Moon pours down the influences of the wandering and fixed stars, carrying and transmitting their messages and meaning. Reflection is the Moon’s method. Rather than generating light like the Sun, the Moon reflects the nourishment of divine light back to us. We learn of our affinities and feel our many associations through the swift movement of the Moon, gaining awareness of the relationship between our mind and body with the multitude of all life, including the multiplicity of ancestors who feed into our being. The peak light of the Cancer Full Moon takes place every year within the watery, nocturnal domicile of the Moon, zodiacal terrain where the Moon fully activates the realms of memory, imagination, dreams and the unconscious. The Cancer Full Moon on 6 January 2023 possesses a dynamic potency for descending into inner realms of intuition in order to reascend with revelatory insight. The silvery light of the Moon will illuminate the cracks and crevices of inner psyche, helping us shed and release old patterns so we may clear ground for the nourishment of new ideas and a renewal of vitality.
The Cancer Full Moon has an intense relationship with Mercury. Mercury and the Moon are the two key messengers within astrology. In combination they bridge the irrational with the rational, picking up messages from the unconscious to interpret and translate through our conscious awareness. During the exact timing of the Moon opposing the Sun on 6 January, Mercury will be simultaneously applying toward a conjunction with the Sun that will bring about a reanimation of Mercury on 7 January while the Moon remains full of light. It’s an electric atmosphere for reception of revelation, amplified by Uranus in Taurus possessing harmonious aspects with both the Moon and Mercury. Mental and emotional material will be highly activated. Depending upon circumstances, there may be a need to respond to major eruptions in storylines or mediate the turning of one’s own mind into rumination of memories, thoughts, and feelings that need to be worked out. It’s a fruitful time for both solitary contemplation as well as deep dialogue within intimate relationship. Finding ways to animate feelings such as through physical exertion, writing, or artistic expression can deliver important insights to integrate.
The Full Moon in Cancer is separating from a square with Chiron in Aries and a sextile with Uranus in Taurus while applying toward an opposition with Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, a trine with Neptune in Pisces, and an opposition with Pluto in Capricorn. Black Moon Lilith, the lunar symbol revealing shadowy material in need of integration or release, is also in Cancer and forming an opposition with Pluto in Capricorn. Utilizing practices for mindfulness can help deepen awareness of subconscious material rather than becoming dissociated or projecting inner issues in destructive ways through external relationships. Creatively, the days following the lunation can be powerful for research and writing, especially when needing to brainstorm and generate new ideas or ways to renovate ideas already under development. With the polarity between Cancer and Capricorn amplified during the first week of 2023, make space to reflect upon your use of time, your health routines and habits, the interplay between rest and work, and the ambitions to prioritize in the year ahead that are aligned with your larger dreams as well as the nourishment of your most soulful needs.
The Full Moon in Cancer is also applying closely to a conjunction with Pallas Athena retrograde in Cancer and a flowing trine with Vesta in Pisces. Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses described the daimonic, angelic influence of asteroids as mediating the personal and collective, guiding us through emotional crises that bring about a metamorphosis attuned with the whole of creation. George theorized that the asteroids possess a cyclical and nonlinear nature similar to the cycles of change that the Moon is constantly setting in motion, so that “the asteroid goddesses relate to the cycle of coming and going, ” the “new archetypal principles that are currently being activated and integrated into the psyche,” serving “as agents in the transformative process of individuals.” As we continue to traverse an extraordinary period of collective crisis, it’s worth considering the meaning held by Pallas Athena and Vesta and how they can assist with the regenerative changes needing to be made.
I have not conducted extensive research to develop a meaning for Pallas Athena retrograde in contrast to direct motion, but one idea that comes to mind is that perhaps her Athena Nike quality obsessed with victory in the moment could give way to her more prophetic side that is less focused upon engaging in battle and more open to biding her time while divining the full scope of circumstances and developing strategies for future success. In myth, Pallas Athena and her glimmering gray eyes possess an “in-betweeness” like Hermes that can utilize disguise, deception, subterfuge, and cunning dialogue in her quests and heroic mentoring, attributes that fit well with her forming an opposition to Mercury retrograde in Capricorn. Pallas Athena can scan the personal and collective environment for root causes of ills, devising practical solutions that lead to the building of forms that facilitate success within civilization. The combination of Pallas Athena with Vesta creates a laser focus that can penetrate into the heart of a multitude of issues, whether we are invested in matters of health, creativity, the arts, or political change and activism.
The watery trine between the Full Moon and Pallas Athena retrograde in Cancer with Vesta in Pisces emphasizes the importance of creating sacred space for contemplation within a boundary of protection. With Pallas Athena retrograde also in aspect with Chiron in Aries, any techniques that can enhance mind-body connections will be extremely helpful, including the use of guided visualization. If you’ve been dealing with excessive stress recently, create an immersive environment of imagination in which you can experience restoration and realignment with your deepest dreams and desires. Allow for solutions to emerge from imaginal realms and relationships with spirit, discerning how to make practical use of received messages. The aegis armor of Athena may need to be cast aside temporarily, as well as attachment to societal status and ambitions in order to gain the necessary understanding of issues involved in present challenges. Pallas Athena on the prowl is known for her invulnerability, but her retrograde configuration with the Cancer Full Moon and Mercury retrograde in Capricorn indicates that letting down her guard to access the profound inner wisdom of her mother Metis and grandmother Tethys will deliver the vision and insight needed for ultimate success.
Less than a week after the Cancer Full Moon, Mars will station direct on 12 January at 8°08’ Gemini. There will be a burning intensification of all things Mars that will become progressively louder each day following the lunation. Fitting for stationing in the sign of the Twins, the glowing redness of Mars will be situated above the bright redness of the royal star Aldebaran in the night sky. The burning, sacred eye of the bull, Aldebaran’s alliance with Mars will amplify the potential for gathering resources and honing strategies. If possible to wait for implementing plans of action, let yourself recover from whatever fiery process of internal transfiguration you have experienced since Mars stationed retrograde in Gemini on October 30. With the cunning presences of Pallas Athena and Mercury illuminated by the Cancer Full Moon, focus on integration and allowing for inner insights to deepen. The end of January following the Aquarius New Moon on 21 January will be ripe for direct action and riding a tidal wave of forward momentum.
In contrast to Mars and Mercury, Venus will be moving in direct motion while increasing in brightness and visibility as an evening star. Venus in Aquarius will form a flowing trine aspect with Mars in Gemini on 9 January during the same time that Mars is stationing direct. During the Full Moon in Cancer, Venus in Aquarius will be separating from a creative sextile aspect with Jupiter in Aries and applying toward the trine with Mars. Venus in Aquarius possesses intellectual and artistic brilliance that can enhance whatever grand plans for future adventure that Mars is presently incubating. Venus in Aquarius can detach and dissociate from overwhelming emotions to gain a cool comprehension of complex interpersonal dynamics, analyzing the most artful and productive path forward.
Cancer 2 Decan
The Full Moon in Cancer will illuminate the second decan of Cancer associated with the Three of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The merry image of dancing women evokes the three graces and signifies creative collaborations as well as reception of pleasure. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Walled Garden” to the second face of Cancer, adding an element not obvious from the image above: the need of protection to create a nurturing space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance. Mercury and Mars are the rulers of the second decan of Cancer, as the cunning creativity of Mercury needs the fierceness of Mars to secure a container within which the magic of Mercury may manifest desires.
In Henrich Cornelius Agrippa’s The Celestial World, the fertile capacity of the second face of Cancer for bringing “wealth, cheerfulness, joy, and love of women” are shown through the images of “a man dressed in beautiful clothing” and “a man and woman sitting at a table playing.” The 13th century Picatrix gave the gifts of “games, wealth, joy and abundance” to the second face of Cancer, describing the image of a beautiful woman wearing a crown of green myrtle while delicately holding a water lily and singing songs of love and joy. Similarly, the 12th century philosopher and astrologer Ibn Ezra in The Beginning of Wisdom described the image of a beautiful women wearing a myrtle crown who has pleasant speech and desires music and wind.
Austin Coppock in 36 Faces made the astute insight that “the great secret” of the second face of Cancer “is the power of right incubation.” In relation to present transits this is a perfect fit for the retrograde phases of Mars and Mercury happening during the Cancer Full Moon, the two rulers of this face. Coppock connected the co-rulership of Mars and Mercury as signifying “the protective, guiding power of the mother goddess” that can cultivate gardens where “rare pleasures bloom.” Similar to how the Moon has both a dark and light side, Coppock discerned that the connection between the Great Mother goddess with the second face of Cancer is that “while we may find pleasure in being coddled, the wise mother orchestrates challenges that her children might become heroes and heroines.” Coppock described how this is illustrated by the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribing the ancient Greek hero Heracles to the second face of Cancer, as “though on the surface Heracles is a symbol of masculine potency, his entire story, from before birth until after death, was orchestrated by Hera, the mother.”
The Great Mother goddess making her home in the second face of Cancer is shown in the Hellenistic text Liber Hermetis, as it pictured the body of a vulture with the face of the great goddess Isis wearing a crown. Furthermore, Demetra George’s translation of The Sacred Book of Hermes to Asclepius (a Greek language text ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, possibly around 50 CE) gave the image of “Woman, entire body winged as if flying, plaited wreath upon her head” to the second face of Cancer.
These winged feminine images evoke the story of Isis searching for her dismembered lover and twin Osiris by transforming into a kite, a winged raptor that feeds on the dead like vultures. The relentless courage of Isis to locate and reanimate Osiris was necessary to give birth to their new storylines of Osiris becoming lord of the underworld and Isis becoming the mother of Horus. Under the light of the Cancer Full Moon, feel into how the trials by fire you have endured over recent months have proven essential in shaping your personal growth and the new skills, talents and opportunities emerging for you to develop in the new year.
Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius. (2021). Three Occult Books of Philosophy. Translated by Eric Purdue. Inner Traditions.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.
George, Demetra. (2021). Egyptian Decans: Star Gods of Time. Astrology University.
January 6th ~ 13th
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea! ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
On January 6th we have a Full Moon at 16º Cancer 22’. Nostalgic, emotional and protective, the Full Moon in Cancer is usually a time for reflection, looking back on where we have come, while also looking forward to where we hope to see ourselves going in the future. The Sun is in Capricorn, a disciplined and organized sign, armed with a plan and a resolve. And it can often feel at this Full Moon as if we are standing on a precipice, with one eye looking back, and the other gazing forward to the future.
In order to know where we want to go, we need to find ourselves in the scheme of things, and know fully who we are. At the Full Moon emotions can come bubbling to the surface. All the more so with the Full Moon in emotionally laden Cancer where memories swirl up through the cosmic mists of time, carrying with them all of their associated feelings. Pay attention to those feelings, for they are trying to clue you in to a story about yourself.
This year the Cancer Moon coincides with the (inferior) conjunction of Mercury, which begins a new Mercury cycle in the sign of Capricorn. Occurring in the middle of the retrograde phase of Mercury, the conjunction between Mercury and the Sun sets the tone for the next whole Mercury cycle which continues through the 1st of May.
Although we are in the midst of the retrograde phase of Mercury, and Cancer is a reflective sign, there is no nostalgic clinging to the past with this Moon. With a square to Chiron and an exact sextile to Uranus this moon seems to be making quite a different statement. Limping into the New Year, Chiron square the Full Moon is asking us to face those problems that we’ve been trying to avoid. But in order to do so, we will need a safe harbor in order to heal old wounds, and receive the support we need in order to meet the world on its own terms.
The sextile to Uranus implies that we are looking towards the future with the hope for something better. One of the things that becomes apparent to us under these Uranian rays is that we don’t have to keep doing things the same way over and over. That there just might be better ways, and better solutions. Change is in the air. And many will be seeking the solutions that would best suit them and their purposes.
The time for action is not quite yet. But it is near. Mars is slowing for its direct station on January 12th. As it does so, it could feel as if the pause button is being pushed and we are being put on hold. This coming week can feel like a full stop. But a full stop just before we are about to take off. Many will be agitated to get moving right away. But it will take some time for Mars to pick up speed again. So allow things to come together as they will, in their own time.
This pause can also be a good thing. Mercury is still retrograde until January 18th, and we stand here at the dawning of the next Mercury cycle, when the focus is directed within. Mercury in Capricorn, albeit retrograde, is very organized and goal oriented. But even before we take any action, we are being asked to orient ourselves within: Is this path truly the one for me? Are these goals at the expense of my personal needs? And if you were to make any changes in your life and goals, what might that look like for you?
This is when we are being asked to set our inner gps system, and make sure that we are aligned with the proper coordinates. The coordinates we truly wish to be aligned with. For once Mars, and then Mercury are direct again, all systems will soon be moving forward. May they bring you where you need to go in order to fulfill your heartfelt goals, and build more stately mansions ever more noble than the last.