This is the time of year sharks come close to shore looking for food. When I look at Cancer's New Moon chart, I think about this: about sharp teeth and nurture. Mars squares Cancer's Sun and Moon, a planetary aspect that could be illustrated by watery meat-eaters. Or the client I just spoke to yesterday. She threatened to scratch out the eyes of her husband's ex when the woman wouldn't take care of her own troubled children. Fierce is not the word that first comes to mind when we think of moon-ruled Cancer. This is the sign of the Goddess, for whom we like to conjure more comforting words: mother, nurture, intuition, and home. Yet the Goddess wears many faces, all driven by fierce truths of the belly, like hunger, anger, compassion, and a powerful need to protect. Think of the white-gowned deity from the old margarine commercials of the seventies, issuing thunder and lightning while wearing a crown of daisies in her hair: It's not nice to fool (with) Mother Nature!
Two weeks ago at the solstice, when the Sun entered Cancer, a remarkable story came out of Africa. It is a reminder, perhaps, of how fierce Cancer must sometimes be. A 12-year-old Ethiopian girl was kidnapped, then beaten, by seven men trying to force her into a marriage she didn't want. That's not unusual; a majority of Ethiopian marriages begin this way. Yet surely the Goddess had a hand in what happened next. Three lions appeared. Fierce lions. They chased off the men. They guarded the girl for half a day until she was found by family and police. "Like a miracle," said a local police sergeant. "They just left her like a gift," he continued, "and went back into the forest."
Life often serves up better Sabian Symbols* than the astrologers do. This story from Ethiopia implies a message for all of us at this New Moon. It asks us to identify its characters in our own lives: the girl, the abductors, the lions. Is there some injustice that wants to call you into action now? What innocence has perhaps been abducted in your surrounding world-or in your psyche? Where do you see cruelty? Is there some part of you that hears a distant cry, begging for your help and protection? "A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound of a lion cub, which in turn could explain why (the lions) didn't eat her," said a local wildlife expert after the incident. If the lions hadn't rescued her, added the police sergeant, the girl would have been raped and beaten more severely until she surrendered.
There is a poignant coda to this story. Ethiopia's lions, known for their impressive black manes, are a national symbol. They are honored with statues and depicted on the local currency. Yet hunters have been killing these lions for their pelts. Now only a thousand Ethiopian lions are left in the world. The protectors in this tale need protecting too.
It is appropriate that our hearts break for something now. Each year Cancer's cycle calls us to commit to what's most important. Cancer is a cardinal sign, demanding action. At this New Moon, affirm your roots, declare what you stand for, act on the most pressing of matters. Let yourself choose intuitively, responding to instinct or emotion. Treachery exists. Sometimes it is we who abduct and beat the weak but beautiful element within ourselves. Resolve this cycle to pay special attention to any sentence-uttered by you or a loved one-that begins with the words "I feel." All feelings-anger, shame, fear, joy, love-have an energetic truth that needs to be honored. Anger suggests a violation of boundaries and innocence. Shame is a signal to restore your integrity. Anxiety is a sign of intuition gone haywire-caught in the past, a memory that needs to be recognized and healed. Listen to these emotional signals.
And if you are called to get fierce about something, know that this is the force of the Goddess. Don't behave. Do something! Rise up, as though there were three mother lions in you.
* Sabian Symbols are esoteric images meant to illustrate the deeper meaning of the zodiac degrees.