Full Moon in Cancer: Can Hard Times Make Us Whole?

by April Elliott Kent

It’s been a chilly holiday season here in San Diego. Not when compared to anyplace with real weather, of course, but the discomfort is real enough to us. Cold is a relative thing, and when a place that seldom sees daytime highs below 65 degrees experiences a string of days in the 50s, folks around here get a little testy.

Of course, we’re testy – scared, really – about a lot of things, not just the cold snap. Just as the real estate bubble of recent years inflated home values in Southern California to the point of morbid obesity, the popping of that particular bubble has had an equally exaggerated effect in the opposite direction. Many, many houses in our neighborhood are for sale, few of them are selling, and foreclosures have skyrocketed. And I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have been looking for work for what seems like years – bright, hard-working people who’ve held full-time jobs for decades. These are scary times, full of chickens coming home to roost and unpleasant realities being dumped unceremoniously at our doorsteps. Hard times. Capricorn times. Saturn’s children, we hold ourselves rigidly, as if preparing to take our punishment from a harsh father.

Caring is what binds us together

In the midst of this cold, bleak month, one of my neighbor’s cats began having seizures. I’ve always been especially fond of this cat – a brash, contentious tuxedo with chewed-up ears and a swagger in his walk. While his owner was away last summer, he suffered a broken jaw; he had maintained a good appetite and behaved fairly normally, so it took my neighbor awhile to realize that something was seriously wrong. He had surgery to repair the jaw and then, a few weeks ago, surgery to remove the wire. And that’s when the seizures started – constant, pathetic convulsions complete with gnashing of teeth and falling over.

About a week into this situation, a sensible vet prescribed medication. Within a few days the cat was groggy but stable, with the seizures fewer and less severe. My distraught neighbor debated canceling a long-planned getaway for two days after Christmas, but since we’re used to looking after each other’s cats and I wasn’t going anywhere over Christmas, I agreed to supervise the invalid. For two days I spent hours with the shut-in, coaxing pills into him, keeping him from harm during the seizures, watching him pace restlessly on wobbly legs. After a seizure he’d look up at me, bewildered. And I’d gather him up and bury my face in his neck, and we’d sit together for awhile, waiting for the next one.

The morning my neighbor was to return, I visited my charge, fed him his pill, cuddled him for a bit, then came home, sat down, and cried. I cried on and off for a couple of days, and I still cry sometimes, out of the blue, just thinking about the bewildered look on his face and the weight of his furry head on my shoulder. It’s a bit of an overreaction, probably. It’s not even my cat. But a couple of days of looking after this cat has made me love him. It seems that taking care of things binds us to them. And then losing them breaks our hearts.

I always suspected this, which is (mostly) why I never wanted to be a mother. I doubted whether I could cope gracefully with the constant fear of losing a child, or of watching her suffer. Basically, I never wanted to be so enslaved to love. Of course, I haven’t been able to avoid it altogether. I love my husband, my family, and many of my friends with the same intimidating passion I sought to avoid by remaining childless. Even the occasional cat can slink under my radar and reduce me to tears.

Nothing From the Outside

This Full Moon (Jan. 9, 2012, 2:30 am EST) falls in the sign of Cancer, the sign of motherhood and of the bonds that tether us to those people and animals and causes that we care for. Our love for them represents our tender white underbellies, our Achilles Heels, the terrible vulnerability that can bring us to our knees. There’s a passage in the novel “Gone With the Wind” in which Will Benteen eulogizes Scarlett O’Hara’s father, a once-vibrant man who lost his mind after the death of his wife. The upshot of the eulogy is that nothing from the outside, not even war and sudden poverty, could have brought down Mr. O’Hara, but that losing his wife effectively broke his heart, mind, and spirit. And I think that’s true of many of us; hard economic times can’t break us, though they increasingly come as a shock. No, for most of us it’s only the passionate attachments we form with others that have the power to bring us down, from the inside out.

But the same attachments that threaten us are, conversely, the ones that give our lives meaning and sweetness. I recently listened to a radio interview with Temple Grandin, a leading designer of livestock facilities. Grandin herself is autistic, and social interactions with her fellow humans are extremely trying for her. She has chosen to forgo the common attachments, such as romantic relationships, that most of us consider essential. But a genuine warmth crept into her voice as she described the pleasure of interacting with animals. Pets in particular are so appealing, so innocent, and such a delight that they manage to form connections with even the most isolated among us. Grandin’s latest book is called Animals Make Us Human, a title I can’t disagree with. And for those who are a lot braver than I am, I imagine caring for children has the potential to make us superhuman – capable of such a depth of love, attachment, and terror that they are our best hope of transcending humanity altogether.

What keeps us from turning to stone

In the heart of a cold and brittle winter, even in normally balmy and relaxed San Diego, Saturn’s wolves are howling in the distance. They howl warnings about the collapsing economy, the deteriorating climate, and the fearsome calamities that threaten us – joblessness, poverty, homelessness, starving, illness. Hard times can, in turn, harden us, but caring for each other – though it breaks our hearts – is what keeps us from turning to stone.

I don’t relish the hard times ahead, and yet I have a weird optimism about the potential for our shared difficulties to make us whole. Taking care of things – and people – binds us to them. And in hard times we’re called upon to comfort each other in our suffering, dry one another’s tears, feed each other’s hunger. My hope is that our Cancerian caring will bind us to one another with a force as strong as the earth’s gravity, in a loving embrace that can’t be broken – at least, not by anything from outside of us.

© April Elliott Kent
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47 Responses
  • starrlife
    January 8, 2009

    I love this post. I always felt that I did not really know what love was like until I fell in love, with my dog. I am not a Cancer/no planets in Cancer, but I totally related to the point you made. I bet that cat has feline TMJ ya know from his surgery. She should see a specialist BTW. It hurt me just to read that post about him….

  • Sassy
    January 11, 2009

    Let us make sure to retain some of our idealism and innocence lest our hearts become hard as well. Cynicism in times like these may be natural and pragmatic, but too much of it can turn to apathy.

  • Maria
    January 11, 2009

    And the full moon hitting my 3rd/9th houses, plus Mercury Rx, and t. Mars in the 3rd squaring my natal Saturn/Moon conj. in the 6th…

    …my website is dead and gone. Apparently the server hosting my website and many others died without hope of recovery and there’s some question of how much was backed up. He says “critical files” but what isn’t a critical file?

    Alas.

    Again, beautiful essay, Kent. It’s very much a keeper. 😀

  • Anonymous
    January 18, 2009

    What a beautiful gift of light you have given me during this dark time. Thank you.

  • Gilly
    January 5, 2012

    What a touchingly beautiful post. Thank you.

    • April
      January 6, 2012

      Much appreciated, Gilly. 🙂

  • Maria Alexander
    January 6, 2012

    Still a totally awesome, beautiful essay. Thanks, lady. 🙂

    • April
      January 6, 2012

      Thanks, sweet Maria! xoxo

  • NR
    January 6, 2012

    Oh, April, you made me cry. What’s his name? xxx

    • April
      January 6, 2012

      Neeti, we’re so tender-hearted for the little kitties, aren’t we? This was written a few years ago when my neighbor’s dear Checkers was sick; he died a couple of weeks later. But it has resonance for me this year too, since just about a month ago I held another neighbor kitty’s paw as she passed into the great unknown. 🙁 xoxoxo

  • Keleigh
    January 6, 2012

    tears tears tears. i’m a cancer sun (and venus, mercury, north node), and this touched me to the core.
    thank you.

    • April
      January 6, 2012

      I’m so pleased you liked the essay, Keleigh. I’ve got a Venus in Cancer, and I know just what you mean. That poor little kitty.

      • Keleigh
        January 6, 2012

        This passage in particular slayed me: “I always suspected this, which is (mostly) why I never wanted to be a mother. I doubted whether I could cope gracefully with the constant fear of losing a child, or of watching her suffer. Basically, I never wanted to be so enslaved to love.”

        • Keleigh
          January 6, 2012

          (I should probably mention I’m 29, childless and in the bare(ly) aftermath of my Saturn return – so these kinds of examinations are very prescient for me in the moment!)

          • April
            January 6, 2012

            ::hugs::

  • TheSpiritFly
    January 6, 2012

    What an amazing piece. I can also totally relate (also not a cancer) with the animals. I honestly believe they are a huge source of my life happiness. When we lose them in our home….. A piece of us goes, every time…. Every new rescue we have always gotten has had an entire wing of our hearts! We also have children and you are right…. There are things you can do that never before you even knew how…it’s crazy the love drives you to superhuman, yes, but more so, insanity! Thank you for this, it touched my heart, for sure.

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      You sound like a very kind, giving person. I’m glad you liked the essay – thank you!

  • Ien in the Kootenays
    January 6, 2012

    Your best yet. Beautifully written, heart-felt, and so true.

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      Very kind of you to say, and much appreciated. 🙂

  • michelle
    January 6, 2012

    i am an Aquarian with my moon in Cancer, so it seems that my ‘mind and heart are in the right place’…tho i know Aquarians have a rep for being ’emotionally cool’…perhaps it is this odd combo that balances things out. how to explain my sentimental feelings when i am supposed to be the opposite of that!!

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      One of my favorite expressions, Michelle, is “People are not signs.” None of us embodies the pure archetype of a particular sign. The Sun in Aquarius is interesting because while Aquarius may be a “cool” sign, the Sun is anything but a cool planet! And anyone with the Moon in their chart – which is all of us! – has a warm, beating, emotional heart. Especially someone with the Moon in Cancer!

  • Marjorie
    January 6, 2012

    This block makes me think of only one thing ~ Lyme disease!

    There is a Lyme disease epidemic sadly going on in the USA. That poor cat sounds like it has Lyme disease which can cause seizures. My friend just this week commented how she and her neighbor’s cat in San Diego both came down with Lyme disease at the same time. The cat’s vet gave it prompt treatment yet her MD’s did not do the same.

    Autism is often Lyme induced as well. Research Lyme Induced Autism. Funny how on this full moon the IDSA has more comments on their facebook wall than they have ever had before all concerning Lyme disease.

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      That’s interesting, Marjorie. I hadn’t heard about Lyme disease in cats. The essay was written a few years ago, and that cat died soon after, so we’ll never know exactly what caused the seizures. But it’s interesting to know about Lyme disease, and I’ll be reading up on it with an eye to looking after my own cats.

  • John Carr
    January 7, 2012

    Thank you for this wonderful insightful article. Today, as Saturns’ transit across my natal Sun becomes exact I can tell you that it is especially moving…..

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      Thank you for those kind words, John. Saturn conjunct the natal Sun is one of my very least favorite transits. (It reminds me of that old expression, “It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken.”) Thank goodness it only happens once every 29 years or so! Be well, and look ahead to the light at the end of Saturn’s tunnel.

  • Krystal
    January 7, 2012

    I have 8 cats, which is what is left of 23 that had shown up under my deck one summer, 5 yrs. ago, and a dachshund with a broken back I’ve taken care of for the last 5 yrs (he gets around well, and loves to snuggle with the cats). I have grown children. I have just had my house go into foreclosure, and have to move out in the next 30 days. No job, little retirement left, and can’t find homes for any of my babies and can’t find a place I can take them with me. The pain is unbearable, it seems they all know what is happening and stay close by. I have gone through (divorce, death of Ex, job loss, loss of financial support, and now loss of home, but loosing my babies seem seems the worst. Turning to stone seems appropriate.

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      I can understand your feeling that way, Krystal. Wishing you comfort and strength in a very difficult time.

  • Marsha
    January 7, 2012

    “…the sign of Cancer, the sign of motherhood and of the bonds that tether us to those people and animals and causes that we care for. Our love for them represents our tender white underbellies, our Achilles Heels, the terrible vulnerability that can bring us to our knees. There’s a passage in the novel “Gone With the Wind” in which Will Benteen eulogizes Scarlett O’Hara’s father, a once-vibrant man who lost his mind after the death of his wife. The upshot of the eulogy is that nothing from the outside, not even war and sudden poverty, could have brought down Mr. O’Hara, but that losing his wife effectively broke his heart, mind, and spirit.”

    Thank you so much for this passage. It brought home so much to me (Cancer Moon in the 7th house.) My dear mother is suffering from advanced dementia that has bewildered my siblings and I. Why she lost her mind so fast has baffled us. After reading your passage above it all came clear…dad passed away and mom has never been the same. Her long term memory is intact and so she asks when dad is coming to visit her. It is so very sad. They were high school sweethearts, together for almost 60 years.

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      My heart goes out to you all, Marsha. Of all the illness a loved one can suffer, I imagine dementia might be the kindest to the one who is ill and cruelest to their loved ones.

  • Skydog Institute
    January 7, 2012

    This is quite beautiful. And oh so what I/we need to hear. Our gorgeous and sweet black greyhound, Jilly, went to the stars last week–so we relish your sensitive and poignant words in “real time”. We see her in what I call the Animal Sanctuary in Heaven–Canis Major–she burns brightly as Sirius and we find comfort seeing her happy and healthy and home. Your post is equally comforting and sweet. Thank you. Claudia

    • April
      January 7, 2012

      I’ll never look at Canis Major the same way again! Be well, Claudia; I’m sorry you lost your lovely canine friend.

  • Pamela
    January 7, 2012

    Thank you for this April – so true.

  • Gia
    January 7, 2012

    This is really beautiful. And yet, I was feeling rather upbeat today with the weather in the Northeast being strangely in the 60s! New York seems to be warmer than San Diego. But true, the moon in Cancer is conjuncting my Mars and Saturn right now so I can certainly feel what you’re saying. I have allowed myself to be immersed in that profound motherly love over and over again, I can’t seem to get enough of it. Painful, true but makes life worth living.

  • PrintessLeah
    January 8, 2012

    Thanks for reminder, April – hope springs eternal! you always touch my big ol’ childless-except-for-the-fur-kid leo heart…got me right in my cancer stellium lol

  • Deidre Raven
    January 8, 2012

    Thank you April for your heartfelt story. I thank the Universe for my feline friends who have been saviors in my life. With losses of loved ones, they reminded me that there still is more. As they look in gaze around my aura as almost to say,you are not alone they are still here. They do see beyond the veil and it is comforting.

  • Incognito
    January 10, 2012

    Whats with all this loving and nurturing cancerian BS? My Mother and ex husband both had cancer moons. Niether of them live up to alleged cancerian attributes. Both were manipulative and controlling. To be honest I never felt love from either of them. Although the ex did keep a tidy home 🙂

    • April
      January 10, 2012

      People are not signs, of course – we have full birth charts full of often conflicting symbols. We don’t always achieve the best expression of our charts’ symbols, but that doesn’t mean that the traditional archetypes are wrong. I wrote a story to illustrate the positive archetype of Cancer, about kindness and caring, and about the potential to realize them at this full moon. As your comment illustrates, some of us are unable or unwilling to do that.

  • Incognito
    January 10, 2012

    My apologies for disagreeing with you. I can only relate to what i’ve lived. The sun sign of cancer is more caring.

    • Keleigh
      January 10, 2012

      I think it’s key to remember that the moon expression of ANY sign is vastly different from the same sign when it’s our sun (life-giving) energy. The moon represents our unconscious, reactive habit-patterns – so in the case of a Cancer moon, the “shadow” Cancerian qualities would be dominant, which definitely can include controlling, manipulative (fear/survival-based) behaviors. My understanding of this article is that April is highlighting Cancerian qualities in their more conscious expression – caring, nurturing, sensitive and compassionate. <3

      • April
        January 10, 2012

        I agree to an extent, Keleigh, except I would say that in a Cancer moon person, the shadow qualities COULD be dominant. The Moon is, I believe, a key to discovering consciousness as much as a symbol of unconsciousness! But of course, one has to make the effort to do that – and by their nature, unconscious patterns are the hardest to break.

    • April
      January 10, 2012

      There’s no need to apologize for disagreeing. We’ve all had personal experiences that make it hard to grasp the full potential of a sign, planet, or planetary placement. Astrology’s strength, in my opinion, is that it provides an objective framework for thinking about these things, instead of having to rely solely on our subjective experiences, however powerful.

  • Keleigh
    January 10, 2012

    Ah, thank you for the distinction! Could to remember, as I grapple with my own (Leo) moon. 🙂

  • Keleigh
    January 10, 2012

    Ah, thank you for the distinction! Good to remember, as I grapple with my own (Leo) moon. 🙂

  • Incognito
    January 10, 2012

    Well Mom was a Capricorn, the ex was a Sagg w/ Cap Mars. I was oncwe told that I married my Mother, LOL!

  • Incognito
    January 10, 2012

    Oh yea, if you havent viewed my profile, I’m a Taurus. So was my Dad who was more loving & caring than Mom. At least thats how I viewed it as a child. Since dad was an immagrant, his birth data was transposed. We’re not sure if his moon was Gemini or Aquarius.

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