The summer solstice occurs on June 21 at 8:26 AM EDT—as the sun enters the sign of Cancer, summer arrives in the northern hemisphere. Like all births, seasonal beginnings (astrologically known as ‘ingresses’) are extraordinarily powerful and magical times, especially this year. This season auspiciously starts at precisely halfway between two solar eclipses, with the nodes of the moon (dragon’s head and tail) prominent at zero degrees of Aries This degree, known as the "Aries point," is a pivotal moment in the zodiac. In an individual’s chart, it is where he or she meets the public head-on. The exact aspect between the sun and the nodes at zero degrees (of cardinal Aries/Cancer) suggests that this solstice is a time of potent transition for everyone, best navigated with a time-out for soul-searching and centering.

Liane Thomas Wade, executive secretary of the National Council for Geocosmic Research told me that these tight aspects between the sun and the nodes at zero degrees Cancer-Aries speak "of a moment and a season in which all individuals will be making ongoing important connections to one another. Pay close attention to who ever you meet or come into contact with this summer. These meetings, however fleeting, could very well be of major import—and soon.”

Astrologically, Cancer is the strong and sensitive security-seeking cardinal water sign of home, motherhood, nurturing, wounding, family, and tribalism. Both the U.S.A. (July 4) and Canada (July 1) are Cancerian nations. Influential people are often born close the cardinal axis (the seasonal ingresses for spring, summer, winter, fall are the signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn). Those born close to the Gemini/Cancer cusp include: Meryl Streep, Dan Brown, Salman Rushdie, Prince William, Cyndi Lauper, Lillian Hellman, Jean Paul Sartre, Carson Daly, and Kris Kristofferson.

Jump-start Your Heart Chakra
What makes this particular summer so interesting is that on June 18, Mars, the planet of action, and Saturn, the planet of restriction, collide at just under nine degrees of the royal and patriarchal sign of Leo, just in time for Father’s Day. These two planets, which are often at play during times of great stress, strife, and even death, have not met up in Leo since 1978. Because Leo rules the heart, the up-side of this dynamic Mars/Saturn conjunction is its heart-opening potential. Also, this year the asteroid Vesta (having to do with pure devotion) is with Mars and Saturn at virtually the same degree, urging us all to pay very close attention to what we are ‘vested’ in.

In what are you investing your time and your energy?
Is your attention being invested wisely?
Have you been letting things slide and is it time for you to do some investigating?
What is lurking in a vestibule in your home that needs clearing? Many of my colleagues agree that this is what we need to focus on now. For example, Emily Baumbach, astrologer, author, and teacher of the "Michael System" says, “Summer 2006 is a time of re-evaluation. Many of us will need to strengthen our roots. We think we know what’s important but do we really? While our careers may be the focus, it’s soul growth that is much more essential right now. We need to strengthen our ability to tolerate ambiguity, frustration, and all of the ‘young-soul’ acting out that is going on around us.”

How this plays out for you depends on the specifics of your personal birth chart. For example, President Bush’s solar return on July 6 has his ruling planet, the moon, in hard aspect to Saturn and Mars. Not an easy time for him at all, say the stars. And going forward there’s concern about the possible loss of his parental shielding. Dick Cheney’s planets in Aquarius and Taurus are also extremely compromised at this time. Could his popularity tumble further? Or are legal and health problems unavoidable? It could be a combination of all three. Other notables with planets in mid-fixed signs include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, and Oprah Winfrey. Expect all of the above to remain in the headlines all summer long.

The sign of Leo rules the heart and the spine, and Leo is often associated with courage (the French word for courage means "of the heart"). Yoga teacher and astrologer Mark Wolz reminds us that “Mars and Saturn are involved with the root chakra (the muladhara), which is related to the survival instinct. (Politicians often manipulate the masses through the root chakra.) With Mars, Saturn, and Vesta in Leo at the time of the solstice, we have an opportunity to infuse the root chakra with heart consciousness and neutralize our fear.”

Mythic astrologer Don Cerow , also said, “The asteroid Vesta combined with Mars and Saturn has people very security minded and psychologically in need of protection, which could come in the form of new laws. But there is a danger of over-emphasizing the letter of the law while sacrificing the spirit of the law.”