The Sun’s monthly passage through a zodiac sign, related to the seasons, announces a shift in the quality of the time. Each sign has its own character with gifts, values, and proclivities. So when the Sun moves into a new sign it brings light to that particular face and expresses itself through its particular style.

Every year Summer Solstice marks the Sun’s ingress into Cancer, the lunar water sign. The Cancer new moon is on Friday the 23rd, and Mercury and Mars are also moving through this sign for the next few weeks. This is a period where the imaginative resources, emotional subjectivity and self-reflective capacity of Cancer is ripe. Take the time to open these channels.

 Guler-Bihari-Satai-Serie, no. 412 Indian, Pahari Region, c. 1780. Rietberg Museum, Zurich.

Guler-Bihari-Satai-Serie, no. 412 Indian, Pahari Region, c. 1780. Rietberg Museum, Zurich.

At the same time the Sun moves through the zodiac, it is transiting the houses of our birth chart. We too are living the seasonal changes. Different concerns rise to the surface, and we find ourselves focused on varying aspects of our lives and situations, both inner and outer. It is very revealing to track the Sun’s movement through your chart, for it shows the larger seasonal frame of your life.

To stir the possibilities of the Cancer season I offer a short piece on the element of water and the soul. This is an excerpt from a presentation I gave at the Dallas Institute of Humanities & Culture James Hillman 2016 Symposium in October, titled “Cosmologies of Soul: Astrology and Alchemy”.

“Moisture makes the soul succumb to joy”.[1] To say that the soul loves moisture means it loves feeling and flow. Emotion, reverie and reflection, the soul’s proclivities, are imagined in watery ways. Astrologically, our capacity and style of reflection is related to the Moon. And her sign Cancer carries the elemental awareness of her archetypal flow. Luna, goddess of the waters, rules the fourth house of self-reflection, personal unconscious, home, mother, and endings.

An alchemical rule: ‘perform no operation until all has become water’ means that not until emotion permeates everything is one to act. James Hillman amplifies, “Rational analysis must wait for emotion to flow, reveries to float, collect in pools, stir, sink, find outlets”.[2] When the matter (the issue, the complex, the hardness) begins to find movement and “melts into indiscriminate fluidity”[3] then something is happening.  What has become fixed, habitual, literal, then starts to dissolve and take a softer shape.

Water is an elemental medium of the soul. It is the dream element, moist and moving, animated and flowing. “Dreaming is a nightly dip, a skinny dip, into the pool of images and feelings…Dreams solve problems because all dreams are wet: they dissolve the mental constraints of the day world in the flow of imagination”.[4] Tension knots, hard edges, stony complexes, sureties impoverished of imagination, water finds purchase in the tiniest of fissures and beings to flow. And as aqua vitae, water has the power to revivify what has become dry and calcinated.  The soul stirs things back to life by moistening.  

So this may be a time of paying attention to the background flow of feeling and allowing things to deepen. Bringing the moist element into life includes paying attention to the flow of thoughts and intimations, as well as dream images.


[1] Heraclitus. (2001). Fragments: The collected wisdom of Heraclitus. (B. Haxton, Trans.). New York, NY: Viking. p. 47.

[2] Hillman, J. (2010). Alchemical psychology. James Hillman uniform edition (Vol. 5). Thompson, CT: Spring Publications. p. 42.

[3] Ibid, p. 248

[4] Hillman, J. (1986). “Souls Take Pleasure in Moisture”. In R. Sardello and A. Thomas (Eds.), Stirrings of Culture (203-205). Dallas: The Dallas Institute Publications. p. 203.