Cancer Season Insights by Stacey Sproule

Cancer Season Insights by Stacey Sproule

June 21st to July 22nd

Element: Water
Planetary Ruler: The Moon
Tarot Association: The Chariot
Herbal Association: Lemon Balm

At the height of the sun’s power in the Northern Hemisphere, Cancer enters to offer some cooling relief in the form of water energy. Cancer is the latin word for crab giving this zodiacal sign its namesake and some key behavioural traits. The crab has excellent instincts with its ability to hide and disengage when danger or conflict arises. There’s something very intelligent about this reflex to go inward, or to batten down the hatches. It’s a returning to self and safety; seeking sanctuary inside one’s own body vessel. Once inside we can take inventory and centre into personal truth, and agency, as well as ground in a sense of self.

Where this behaviour can become a hindrance is if it begins to transform into conflict avoidance, or even being conflict averse. To retreat into our shells can provide us with a sense of safety and security but we need to still show up and face conflict when that’s what the situation calls for. Doing the old duck and cover at the first sign of discomfort will erode our ability to participate in our own lives over time. The care of the self is important but maintaining healthy interpersonal connections is also important, and avoiding conflict can often just erode the soil of a relationship.

In this way Cancer the crab has a unique position: access to the water, and access to the land, the duality of the inner and the outer. Crabs can travel between worlds, and care has to be taken to not take this ability for granted. In other words, we can be wise about using the tool of retreating, and take care to make sure it’s not the only tool we are accessing.

With Cancer as the fourth sign in the zodiac it serves as the ruler of the 4th house, the house of the mother, or the home. In astrology we take these concepts as metaphor and archetype. What does the symbol or archetype of the mother have to teach us? And what about the archetype of home? Is home a place, or could it be a feeling? What does it mean to be ‘at home with one’s self’? In what ways could the archetypal mother and archetypal home be connected?

Cancer season can teach us how to mother ourselves and find that balance of nurturance and release in our own lives. With the Moon as the planetary ruler of Cancer there’s an essence of trying to be with and understand the cycles of our lives. Cancer also finds us at a pivotal time in the year with regards to creation. In the agrarian sense we’ve sown our seeds and growth is taking hold. What is viable has already sprouted and we are now in the process and maintenance phase of the year. So our active attention in some areas is allowed to wane a little, to relax. Maybe we have the space to dream again, or fill our minds with thoughts not immediately related to survival because we have crested the hill and are about to enter into a time of abundance. Dreaming, floating, meandering and being in no certain rush is a big mood in Cancer season.

Cancer season often ushers in the beginning of summer vacation too, if you get to be so lucky to have that kind of expansive break in your life. The time of ‘out of office’ replies has begun, and even if you are not among those who are ‘out of office’ the Moon will always make sure you take your allotted dreaming time. We can often start to experience a lanquidity of days in Cancer season, beyond our own control things begin to slow. What seemed pressing and imminent suddenly diminishes greatly in importance. And beyond that there’s a huge release too, a letting go, an exhale, and a washing away. We use the water of this season as a cleansing ritual to return back to ourselves, the water can take from us what we no longer need. Bask in this, allow the grip to loosen where it can, and embrace the potential ease.

When the sun is in the sign of Cancer we’ve completed one third of the zodiacal year, one complete journey through the elements (fire: Aries, earth: Taurus, air: Gemini, and water: Cancer) and one half of the calendar year. At this pinnacle of the sun we are given the chance to return home to ourselves and work with the water element in all of its shimmering facets.

Water as an element is significant for being analogous to our emotional lives. Water moves and flows in tides both low and high, through small trickles, rushing rivers, forking deltas, great waves, gentle rains, and temperamental deluges. Water either shows its presence strongly, or else we feel the effects of its absence, in drought, thirst, and dehydration. Water is essential to life on this planet, water and life being synonymous to each other, and our physical bodies are composed of a great deal of water. So much so that we secrete it from our eyes when overcome by great joy or great sadness. Water is flow, intuition, mystery, and the emotional life, and water is sustenance. We can address that intuition, mystery and our emotional lives are intricately linked to the sustaining of our lives. They are not secondary or superfluous, but in fact foundational- we need them to live.

Water serves as the expanse of emotions, a vast rolling ocean of feeling that tugs at the tides of our lives. Sometimes the water in ourselves can feel like a rich aquifer bubbling under the surface providing the perfect amount of moisture and other times it can feel like we are adrift on a great sea, directionless and praying for the shore. Our emotional landscape shifts as quickly as weather and is only as marginally predictable. Water is expansive and daunting to traverse, but of course not impossible. Our willingness to be explorers in the depths armed with tools and orientation devices gives us the opportunity to create a cartography of our own emotions.

That being said, a finely tuned focus on the feeling is what we can hope for in Cancer season. To enter into the felt sense of our bodies and attune to what the needs of our emotional lives are, and to converse with ourselves in all our intimate nooks and crannies. Emotional intelligence as a skill is unfortunately not taught to human beings in many ways other than just by lived experience. We are often taught to get a grip on our emotions and rule our lives from a place of pure rationality. We are taught to toughen up, hold our cards close to our chest, to be polite, to not lose control. And the big one- to not make our decisions from a place of emotion. But this compartmentalization of ourselves undercuts our complexity and does us a disservice. It is vital that we allow the transformative power of our emotional lives a seat at the table. As Karla McLaren says in her book The Language of Emotions

“emotions contain indispensable vitality that can be channeled toward self-knowledge, interpersonal awareness, and profound healing. Unfortunately, we don’t treat them as such. Instead emotions are categorized, celebrated, vilified, repressed, manipulated, humiliated, adored, and ignored. Rarely, if ever, are they seen as distinct healing forces”

So just as the crab traverses both earth and water, we need to reconcile the way in which we sever ourselves into the rational and the emotional sides and instead come to the understanding that both aspects are necessary. Both the rational and emotional self working in concert is the recipe that will see us thrive.

Cancer rules the chest and stomach, including the lungs and breasts, according to medical astrology. The vagus nerve plays a huge role here. As one of the longest reaching cranial nerves in the body, enervating many of our organs, the vagus nerve enacts a critical role in our stress management system. From Yoga of the Subtle Body Tias Little writes-

 “In order to reduce levels of stress, the parasympathetic arm of the vagus nerve keeps the artillery of the sympathetic nerves, which are always loaded for response, in check. When the parasympathetic nervous system is overwhelmed, trapped emotions such as grief, fear, and helplessness adversely affect the organs.”

Proper digestion, and gut motility can be deeply affected by our emotional lives especially in the case of that which remains unprocessed or lacks integration. And the breath ties in as a way to access and soothe those nervous system agitations. Being in a heightened emotional state can restrict or change our breathing because our fear responses get triggered. Often reminding ourselves to breathe is enough to regain the faculties to respond, or to stay and work through something. Our breath is a wonderful self regulation tool. So perhaps thinking about Cancer season in our physical bodies as a chance to retreat into rest and digest mode when it feels necessary, and to actively work with calming the nervous system through breath work, gentle movement, and meditation as an aid to our digestion.

In this process-based time the Tarot card associated with Cancer is the Chariot. The Chariot encourages us to enjoy the ride, stay with the present moment and to not become overly fixated on the final destination. Whenever the Chariot comes up it suggests we are in a process of some kind, engaged in making something manifest and collaborating with time in that process. The Chariot, even though it has the visual of fast movement, reminds us to slow our roll and keep our eyes on what is asking for our attention in the present. The Chariot brings with it the value of hard work, and the unglamorous concepts of maintenance, care, and patience. There is so much that comes along with the Chariot too that speaks to the various landscapes of the process, and that it is not always all passive. We can get a bit hung up on when we conceive of an undertaking, that we should be able to execute our vision in one perfect gesture. But that’s not what life is about. Life is about engaging as best as we can with a series of present moments, which unearth a series of emotional reactions from us that run the gamut from exhilaration to utter dread. The Chariot only needs us to show up in the here and now. The present moment is asking for our deep and undivided attention.

And finally our last tie in for this zodiacal cycle, the herb or plant ally we can work with in Cancer is Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis). Lemon balm is an herb used for many purposes including to soothe the nerves and work with stress, so we can see our nervous system tie in as another indicator of the importance of self regulation and rest this season. In addition to stress relief Lemon balm has been used to improve memory, aid sleep, ease colds and flu, and offer relief for headaches or indigestion. There is much talk of Lemon balm as a herb to be used to lift the spirits. The plant is in the mint family and has a similar look, with small white flowers when it blooms. The leaves have a lemony scent to them, hence the name. Sometimes referred to by its first name, Melissa, I like to think that the Allman Brothers Band song by the same name is actually about their enduring love for lemon balm.

Wishing you rest and relaxation this watery Cancer season, and remember the words of Bill Callahan-

    “Riding for the feeling, Is the fastest way to reach the shore, On water or land”

Cancer Season pairing:
Ouid’s Relax Blend with Sundial’s Blue Nova

Suggested Activities:
Watering the garden (physical or metaphorical), listening to the waves, listening to Joni’s Mitchell’s For the Roses album, watching the Andy Goldsworthy Documentary Rivers and Tides, watercolour painting, or performing a full moon ritual.

Referenced Works:
Little, Tias, Yoga of the Subtle Body
McLaren, Karla, The Language of Emotions
Mabey, Richard, The New Age Herbalist

Ouid is creating 12 unique zodiacal herb blends to mix with cannabis or to consume on their own. Stay tuned for the launch of the collection and other exciting offers.