Sun at 28 degrees 47 minutes Cancer
Moon at 28 degrees 47 minutes Capricorn
Each time Sun and Moon face each other from opposite sides of the sky, the polarities of existence come into sharp relief. The full moon is thus potentially a time of heightened awareness when we can come to grips - emotionally, philosophically, politically and spiritually--with our inner splits and ambivalences, and with the tensions and conflicts in the world. This year we have a "bonus" Capricorn full moon at the end of the Sun's journey through Cancer. The previous full moon occurred in the very first degrees of Cancer-Capricorn, at the Summer Solstice on June 21-22; this one falls in the 29th degrees of the two signs, reflecting the fact that the lunar month is shorter than the solar (calendar) month. This is like getting an extra review session at the end of a course. In this instance it's an opportunity to reflect further not only on the basic meaning of Cancer-Capricorn, but also on the transit of Saturn through Cancer which began in early June 2003, and which has just concluded with Saturn's move into Leo on July 16th.
Cancer is the great maternal principle, the source of life and nourishment, our organic emotional connection with family, tribe, ancestors, and mother country. Capricorn, the father principle, shelters, limits, structures and contains. Where Cancer attends to the personal and subjective, Capricorn takes care of the impersonal and the objective. The two together represent structure and function in the life of an organism or an organization. Since Saturn rules Capricorn, its sojourn in Cancer has meant a prolonged encounter of opposites. Saturn may restrict Cancer's ability to nourish or create a sense of scarcity, insecurity or lack. It may reveal inherent structural or emotional difficulties that have to be addressed for the good of the individual or the society.
Between these two Capricorn full moons, of course, we had a new moon in Cancer. And on the morning after the new moon the war came home to London. Four suicide bombers struck at the heart of their own country. The attacks came in the midst of a week of ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Leading up to the national gathering in the capital on Sunday, towns and cities around the country honored the fallen and saluted the surviving soldiers, sailors and airmen, nurses and medics, members of the "Land Army" and other civilians who had mobilized to support the war effort.
Here in Canterbury, just two days after the bombings, there was a parade in honor of local veterans, followed by a service at the Cathedral. I went down to pay my respects and to hold in my heart my uncles who served in the American forces. It was very moving to see the aged vets pass by, some marching, some pushed in wheelchairs, all spotlessly turned out in their regimental caps, and each one the absolute epitome of modest British dignity. Marching before and behind them were active duty service personnel and young cadets, crisp as you please, ready to carry on in their turn as defenders of the nation. Here beneath the skies where the Battle of Britain was fought, on cobbled streets where Nazi bombs once wrought destruction, grief for fallen comrades of long ago mingled with sorrow for the newly dead and wounded of London. But as in London itself, people carried on, as if to say: we know who we are and what we can handle. We've seen worse than this and come through it.
Had the British people needed a steadying perspective, these historic observances (so appropriately scheduled for the season of Cancer) would have provided it. I'm not sure they needed it, though. Despite the fear and grief, and the clear realization that difficult decisions and actions will need to be taken, the nation has responded with a kind of organic integrity, like a person whose immune system has been mobilized. Biologically, Cancer represents the fluids that make up the greater part of our bodies, delivering nutrients and antibodies, carrying away waste products, transmitting chemical messages across cell boundaries, and generally keeping us plumped up and able to navigate. Here, in the midst of the horror, one can sense the social equivalent of those fluids. A nation is in its own way a living body regulated by intricate chemistry and spiritual hydrodynamics. It has the equivalent of an immune system that recognizes what belongs to it and what doesn't. And these days, the breadth of what is acknowledged as British is quite remarkable.
What will Saturn and Leo bring?
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As Saturn moves through each sign of the zodiac it teaches the inner laws of that archetypal principle and reveals personal limitations and institutional problems. In Cancer, the limitations tend to be emotional. One expression of Saturn in Cancer is an uncritical patriotism and excessive attachment to ethnic or national identity, camouflaging and compensating for a sense of emotional lack and existential fear. People will support whatever their group or government does because to challenge its policies would be to attack their own emotional foundations. "Homeland security" then becomes a cover under which governments can make legislative, legal and military moves that would be unthinkable if we were acting from a sound emotional position. The true basis for these moves can be denied even when the evidence for it is in plain sight. Disinformation, pious slogans, and faulty logic are allowed to dominate public discourse.
In Britain at least, the spell seems to have been broken. The bombings exploded any notion that fighting a war in Iraq might keep terrorism "over there." It's clear that there is no "over there" any more. London is an international city in an international nation. As a huge sign at one of the London memorial gatherings put it, "ONE CITY, ONE WORLD." Identity flows across porous national boundaries rather than resting securely within them. The public conversation now is not only about capturing the perpetrators of this attack and enhancing police work to prevent further ones, but also on taking thoughtful and constructive action to address the root causes of terrorism. The British Muslim community, stepping up to claim full membership in the society, has begun to find its voice and mobilize its resources in this effort.
Saturn at the time of the bombings was at 28 degrees 49 minutes Cancer, almost the exact position of the Sun at today's full moon. Perhaps the Sun's passage over this degree will shed additional light on the crime, its perpetrators and their motivations, and the larger world picture in which suicide bombing has become a routine feature of the news. And as the Sun moves forward to conjoin Saturn in the first degree of Leo, let us hope we will begin to see new ways of moving in this difficult and dangerous world. Leo is the principle of kingship and courage, of creativity and artistic performance. In the body it corresponds to the heart. As we face the challenge of learning to live together on the home planet, Saturn in Leo will call upon us to leave fear, defensiveness and excuses behind, summon our courage, open our hearts, think creatively about the problems we face, and assume leadership in acting for the good of all.