In a world that can often feel off the rails, there’s reassurance in a pattern. Human behavior may alter the course of human history, but the course of the stars, the planets, the moon, and the Sun remains. Reassurance, of course, is not the same thing as relief — unless what we mean by relief is surrender. You can rest assured that a moon will cycle. You can look up at the darkening January sky expectantly, waiting for the Cancer full moon to cast herself against it. But whether what fills her heavenly body, and our earthly bodies in response, is a balm or a burden is anybody’s guess. Or, anybody’s right to attest.
Under the Cancer full moon, which occurs on Monday, January 17, we know what’s shared begins in the celestial sphere and moves down into our atmosphere. We know that when the moon is full, she’ll be opposite Pluto in Capricorn as well as the Sun. And, if we are to believe the ones who study the movements of the cosmos, we know that the Sun is a planet that lends vitality to the planets it is near (though not too near!). What powers does the Sun stir in Pluto? “Pluto reminds us that we all do have ‘a mess.’ It brings out our prima materia from the shadows. It connects us to our ‘shit.’ The base material for psychotherapy and other Plutonian processes,” explains Judy Hall in her book The Hades Moon. “As the alchemical process proceeds, our past experience becomes the breeding ground for insight and experience.”
What better time to use our past experiences as a breeding ground for insight than when the moon is full in Cancer, her cosmic home? Of course, insight isn’t as readily available or compact as an old journal or a shoebox of memories. But, most Cancerian placements grip tightly to those very things, holding the evidence of their experiences and past selves as sacrosanct. And perhaps it’s this very grip on the past as we want to remember it, the tight lid of it, that keeps us from being close to it.
Obsession is antithetical to intimacy. Pluto is opposite the moon. To love something is to strive to see it everyday as it is, not as it was or as we hope it to be. To cling tightly to a story frozen in time — about yourself, about another person, about love, about a country — is to refuse the living story and the ones who live it. Pluto in Capricorn is structural. It means to strip the house down to the bones and uncover the skeletons beneath it. It’s a reminder that our compulsions run deeper than one workshop or retreat can cure. They run deep down into the essence of who we are and how we were raised. They are historical.
Venus in Capricorn continues her retrograde cycle through Capricorn in the midst of these negotiations between what we value within ourselves and what we can expect from others, applying a trine to Uranus in Taurus, which stations direct the day after the full moon. Mercury, meanwhile, applies a waning trine to Uranus and has stationed retrograde in Aquarius — the sign of the collective, the sign of humanity and interdependence, which is a kind of hope. Retrograde, we know by now, doesn’t mean a time of stagnancy. It’s a time of retracing, reestablishing; it’s a purposeful return to the present moment. It’s the same within us and between us: to understand how we got here and how far we’ve left to go, we have to account for our personal and collective histories. Even if the evidence of the past casts our most intimate stories and solemnized experiences in a new light. Even if it hurts.