At 8:01 PM PT on July 12th, a Solar Eclipse in Cancer will perfectly oppose retrograde Pluto in Capricorn.
That sentence might as well be nonsense to most people, so let’s break down what each of those components mean.
Cancer is the sign that our sun is currently in. Ruled by water and the moon, Cancer is known to be a nurturing maternal type that also has a moody and defensive side. With the crab as their animal, Cancers fortify their soft, watery interior with a tough armor. At its best, this makes for someone with excellent boundaries, heart-centered intuition, and a familial relationship with all the people that matter most to them. When this energy is blocked or hidden away in shadow, it can instead manifest as isolation, very aggressive passive aggression, and a constant feeling of emotional burnout. When the Sun is in Cancer, we’re encouraged to navigate the waters between these two extremes as they relate to our ego and identity.
When the moon is in Cancer, the qualities of the sign are magnified. We’re encouraged to evaluate how well we mother ourselves, with a special opportunity to look into the parts of our past that make mothering ourselves difficult. The moon controls the tides, and Cancer is the slice of the zodiac where we can best sink into the waves of our emotions and let them take us wherever the gentle pull of the moon leads.
"When we look at life through an astrological lens, we are bowing to the connections that link us to each other, to our planet, and to the cosmos circling around us."
The sign that opposes Cancer is Capricorn. Opposites are important in astrology because they are important in life. They act as mirrors — a picture of each other in reverse. Where Cancer is all about motherhood and the family, Capricorn is the sign of fatherhood and society. Ruled by Saturn (who is chilling retrograde in Capricorn as we speak!) and the earth element, this sign is all about doing the work. Capricorn doesn’t just coax Cancer out of its shell; it sets off an air-horn alarm and pulls the fire sprinklers on its way out. Their intense focus enables them to succeed where most others would give up, but it can cause them to be insular and single-minded. This is the sign where Pluto will perfectly oppose the eclipse.
Pluto is the “youngest” of the outer planets — it was the last one to be discovered. As such, it represents our deep unconscious. Pluto is the ruler of the Underworld, and his planet represents just that in astrology. Trauma, death, tragedy, addiction, obsession, compulsion, madness — all Pluto’s domain. Some people hand that stuff over to Mars and Saturn, since the orbit of outer planets is thought to be too slow to affect people’s natal charts individually (I call bullshit, but that’s a whole other topic entirely), but I find Pluto’s liminal status to be a really powerful way to link all these “taboos” together. As for NASA, there is nothing more Plutonian than considering Pluto too much of an outsider to be an actual planet.
Where Cancers approach things with a sideways crab walk, a Capricorn goat charges full speed ahead. The polarity linking these two signs is a focus on systems and structure; Cancers rule over the emotional aspect of the systems that govern our lives (family, close friendships, intuition, emotional labor), and Capricorns rule over the physical systems that frame our external lives (time, employment, work ethic, problem-solving). This eclipse is inviting us to consider the wisdom of both Cancer and Capricorn as two halves of a whole that transcends duality altogether by calling into question the systems that we live our lives within. The biggest system of them all is the ego — that thing in our psyches that helps us survive and succeed in life. This eclipse cracks open our ego so that the soul it protects has room to expand. Sounds pretty intense, yeah? That’s because it is!
Eclipses have a way of clearing out all the shit in our lives that just isn’t serving us. Secrets stop being secrets, epiphanies are had, and lives are turned upside down. When the sun, moon, and earth are aligned, we can’t help but be forced to align ourselves as well. By tuning into the wisdom this eclipse has to offer, you’re reorienting your personal orbit around truth instead of your ego (aka how you think things should work).
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In the tarot, Cancer rules the Chariot card. The Chariot is a lot like hermit crab shell — essential for survival but also necessary to evolve beyond. An eclipse in Cancer is like getting into a brand new chariot (or shell!) to set off on a quest — a way to get where you need to go, but also a place to call home when you’re in the constant motion of personal transformation.
How can you make the most of such an intense energy? The first step is surrendering to it. When we look at life through an astrological lens, we are bowing to the connections that link us to each other, to our planet, and to the cosmos circling around us. Acknowledging that life is larger than our personal experience of it is a great way to peel away that first layer of ego. Thinking of yourself as cosmically connected to everything around you is fertile ground for ancient wisdom. No big deal or anything.
Use this eclipse as an opportunity to cut cords. Cut cords of attachment to people, patterns, and behaviors that do not serve you. This eclipse is face-to-face with Pluto; it won’t leave us without exorcising a few demons in the process. Your job is to look at all the muck this brings to the surface and glean the best parts from it. When we get our total lunar eclipse in Aquarius later this month, you’ll have a better idea of what to do with all the dark matter this one will have excavated.
In the meantime, be gentle with yourself — because the cosmos sure as hell won’t be.
Now is the time to listen to and contemplate the systems and structures in our lives that we are ready to change. It’s high time for a personal revolution.