Holidays – A Survival Manual
A Cancer Full Moon, more than any other zodiac sign, can bring warmth of belonging and connection with loved ones. But it may also amplify loneliness, depression, and the fear of not being worthy. Your emotional state could be a little different this year, helping you detach in a healthy way or putting you in touch with deep down feelings.
FULL MOON in CANCER
Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:
Dec. 26, 2023, 7:33 PM EST
Dec. 27, 2023, 12:33 AM GMT
Dec. 27, 2023, 11:33 AM AEDT
It came to him that he didn't like holidays. . . . They bore down on you. Each one always ended up feeling like an exam...
~ Lily King, The English Teacher
Celebrations of the Season
There are many holidays in the Dark of the Year. In the Northern Hemisphere, as nighttime expands and the daylight hours shrink, many cultures and traditions ritualize this time of year as assurance that the light will return, the trees will flesh out in green again, and winter clothes may be stuffed back in the trunk.
The list of these rituals is long, mainly in the Northern hemisphere – from Diwali in October or November, to Hanukkah in December, to Yule at the Capricorn Solstice, to Christmas on December 25, to Kwanzaa starting December 26, to even the ancient Saturnalia, and many more. This time of year is rich with ritual that uses light to symbolize the sustaining of faith in something beyond our immediate struggles. Some of them are religious, some spiritual, and some cultural, but all aim to have the effect of restoring hope and illuminating a vision of happier, more prosperous times.
Particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, this time of longtime darkness—and in many places also months of shivering cold—can often be a time of depression, discouragement and lethargy. Therefore, the significance of these celebrations endured partly to uplift the spirits and remind us that the light of hope inevitably returns.
With the transplanting of European cultures into Southern Hemisphere lands, it begs the question: do these celebrations have the same effect on the participants, when their seasons are opposite those from where those rituals emerged? I don't know the answer to that, but I think it would make a really interesting article! Unless we are to completely redraw the zodiac "downunder-ers" it makes sense to assume that these astrological effects will be reflected in one's psychological and spiritual journey in some way, regardless of where they are located.
Sometime between the December Solstice when the Sun enters Capricorn and January 18-21 when it leaves Capricorn for Aquarius, we have a New Moon in Capricorn and a Full Moon in Cancer, one after the other (either one occurring first). The Capricorn side is a time when we bring ourselves down to bare bones, seeing ourselves, each other and life in terms of our basic essence, without all the fluff and fantasy. In the cold northern climes, this is mirrored by bare branches and brown landscapes.
On the other hand, the Cancer side of this time is about care, keeping warm, staying connected with life and each other and the world. It's a time when we often reach out to those who are closest to us – family, be it our birth family that we grew up with or our chosen family that we gather around us in adulthood. All those cheerful Christmas lights and Yule logs and lighting of candles are meant to give us some joy, comfort, support, and the assurance that we're not alone.
And yet, many of us at this time of year are exactly that – alone, secluded, feeling unwanted or withdrawn. We may be grieving the losses from long ago, or not so long ago, and disconnected from the spirit of the season.
This is when it's important to have a toolbox of things we can do to take care of ourselves, be it reaching out to others or snuggling up with ourselves. And if we are blessed with an abundance of love, connection, goodwill and support, consider sharing some of that with others – not just your family and friends, but with others in your life you might not think about as much.
I think holidays create so much pressure because people feel they should be having a good time. But you shouldn't.
~ Craig Ferguson
The Full Moon Chart
Right now we have the Full Moon in Cancer, which opposes the Sun in Capricorn, both of them at 4, almost 5 degrees of their respective signs. There are several aspects and notable factors that suggest the good things you can draw on to make this a happier, more comfortable time. There are also a few other transits that show where the potholes in the road are that are wise to steer around.
Both Jupiter and Saturn are your friends during this time. They are in a sextile aspect together, and each form trines and sextiles to the Sun and Moon. These aspects are generally easier to work with, but you'll get more out of them if you apply some conscious effort to shape these energies into something useful.
That tension of the Sun-Moon pushes us to pick a side between taking care of yourself (Cancer) versus taking responsibility for the care of others (Capricorn). Between answering your personal need for comfort, security and safety, versus setting your own needs aside in order to be there for others. Or between investing yourself emotionally with another living being to give them connection, caring and love, versus needing to draw a strong boundary with them in order not to lose yourself in that emotional investment.
Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, is in Pisces, a sign that understands the ease of collapsing oneself into the experience of the moment. However, Saturn knows that the most productive and fulfilling results come from a well-defined set of guidelines, so that you can say no when you need some space and say yes when you feel ready to soften those boundaries. The lesson here is to keep your boundaries flexible without being a push-over, and strong without being rigid and closed off.
Jupiter is in Taurus, and especially distinguishes himself because he is stationary-direct and officially changes direction in 4 days. As a result, Jupiter has a very strong singing voice in the chart and encourages the Sun, Moon and Saturn to join in harmony to sing a song of hope, cheer and confidence.
Having a happy trine to the Sun and potential opportunities involving the Moon, stationary Jupiter can be a powerful energy to help you start seeing a more positive road ahead. The trick is not to let yourself go overboard making promises (to yourself or anyone else) that you can't realistically keep. Jupiter in Taurus has a way of wanting more, more, more of physical abundance and creature comforts, but not enjoying it long enough to feel satisfied.
On the other hand, Uranus forms a Hard Wedge aspect pattern with the Sun and Moon, which generates demanding friction in the form of instability (perpetually fluctuating situations), unwelcome surprises (unexpected changes), or a need to be more detached than you want to be (lowering your expectations of a particular outcome).
If you are someone who is mostly along during the holiday season, Uranus might also nudge you toward feeling more secluded than you expected. You might feel like you just don't belong anywhere, which could trigger depression, loneliness or feeling unwanted.
If this is you, it's good to remind yourself that although your feelings are very real, they don't define the reality you're living in unless you let them. In other words, you feel what you feel, but you also have the ability to make different choices that can create a better reality for yourself.
One of the best ways to feel less lonely, sad or isolated is to reach out to someone else and give to them what you wish for yourself. That might be a simple hello, a conversation, or a smile.
Mercury Retrograde and Mars
For this you may need some extra courage. It takes some guts to open up to people, if you're scared they might think you're an idiot (you're not). Even if you're around family or friends this holiday season, you might try doing something a little differently. Give someone a friendly hug. Fetch someone something to eat. Offer to do the dishes. Bite your tongue when Aunt Hortense or Uncle Horatio start telling boring stories again. Find genuine things to say something nice about with the host(s) or guests. It doesn't have to be anything profound or earth-shattering, just done with the confidence that you have something nice to give.
Mars is generally the source of courage and daring to do something you don't ordinarily do. Mars is conjunct Mercury who is still retrograde for another 6 days. They are tightly conjunct in Sagittarius, reaching exact the day after the Full Moon, so together they form another loud voice in the chart. This voice is more like an orator who has much to say, although with Mercury retrograde you'll need to dig deep into your thoughts and passions to find the right words to get your message across. Acting out your thoughts on impulse might be tempting, but you risk blurting them out in a way that could be misunderstood or might spark an argument at an inopportune time.
Adding to this is the fact that Mercury and Mars are tightly square Neptune. In fact, the 3 come to their closest alignment on Dec. 27/28 at just 0:39 orb. The down side to this is that while Mercury and Mars fight it out as to which one will deliver the contentious message, in words or actions, Neptune might provide guidance that may not be the best advice.
It might be difficult to judge clearly what your best choice is. Because of this, it may not be the best time to commit yourself to something important, especially if it's a fast decision. Better to wait until the energy settles a bit, if possible, so you can see the situation more clearly. If life won't wait for Mercury and Mars to be easier to handle, then watch out for any assumptions, implications or "fine print" that might not match the reality.
In addition, there's no Air in the chart – no planets are in Air signs. Air is about your thoughts, intellect, thought processes and communication. Mercury is who you would turn to for help with Air matters, but Mercury has his own problems right now and might not be the most reliable resource if you need to put thought into action.
That said, it's still good to pay attention to your impulses, revelations and emotional reactions. These may or may not show something about the external situation, but they could reveal what's going on inside your head and heart, like secret expectations, projection of hopes and fears, or even having a piece of the cosmic puzzle streak across your inner sky.
Chiron is also stationary-direct and officially turns direct a mere 2.5 hours after the Full Moon is exact, which supercharges his energy. Particularly when in Aries, Chiron is ultimately our ability to struggle with yet rise above our limitations, and make the most of what we have despite them. It is about finding the courage to keep going when things seem bleak, even if that means taking only baby steps on a long journey. Even—especially!—those small victories deserve to be acknowledged, embraced and celebrated. These are probably more important than you think.
Chiron has only minor aspects (and very few of them) beyond its approaching conjunction to the North Lunar Node, which brings a focus to the struggle of woundedness and the need for healing. It's about connecting with your confidence and courage to remove the obstacles in your way (especially internal ones) so you can do what needs to be done in situations that are scary, intimidating, daunting or dreaded. This is a longer-term transit, which was with us from mid-August to the end of October, and now again from mid-December to the end of May, having one exact pass on Feb. 19, 2024.
At the Full Moon, although Chiron has few aspects, he sits at two midpoints: between the Moon and Pluto, and Jupiter and Neptune. Chiron's potent stationary energy gives extra significance to these connections. A process of healing by strengthening your "guts" or confidence becomes the answer to questions about how to find a balance between sensitivity and brute force (Moon and Pluto). Spiritual healing can also be reinforced by building up trust in your abilities, through knowledge and imagination, principles and faith, and by participating in something greater than yourself (Jupiter and Neptune).
There are also several important declination factors in the Full Moon chart. The Sun and Pluto are still parallel, as they were at the New Moon in Sagittarius. As the Sun rounds its southernmost declination (a.k.a. the December Solstice on Dec. 21/22), it makes two exact parallels with Pluto on Dec. 12 and Jan. 1. These parallels between the Sun (vitality, sense of self) and Pluto (transformation through purging what is no longer required) remain in effect from Dec. 6 to Jan. 10 (within a 1° orb).
Mars just recently went Out-of-Bounds (Dec. 20 to Jan. 23) and is still close enough by declination to join in the parallel with the Sun and Pluto (0:27 and 0:47 orbs). This puts a very powerful spin on this triple parallel (as well as the Mercury-Mars conjunction squaring Neptune).
Mars being OOB can intensify an already volatile or precarious situation. Or it could go the other way too, where hostilities may cool down or reorient to a different direction. Either way, Mars energy (courage, action, assertiveness, aggression) may need to stretch his legs and move in a different way. For example, to push forward or to fall back and regroup, to ramp up conflict or to let it settle.
(I found it very interesting to read recently that President Vladimir Putin is reported to be hinting that he's open to negotiating a ceasefire with Ukraine, just as Mars has gone OOB. Also notable is that this was apparently also the case back in late 2022, when Mars last went OOB from Oct. 22, 2022 to May 5, 2023. It would seem that an energy shift during Mars OOB may or may not lead to immediate or permanent change. But it still holds the potential of it, and each instance might make it easier to come back to it again later.)
Venus is exactly contraparallel to Uranus (0:03 orb). This might indicate surprise gifts, unexpected interactions, or uncharacteristic behaviour from or toward your loved ones. By longitude, Venus is at the tail end of her opposition to Uranus (7:04 orb, was exact on Dec. 21). So, this contraparallel could be a reactivation of themes during the second half of December related to money, spending, gift exchange, love, relationships, beauty, women, or breaking away from old obsessions and passions of desire.
Jupiter and Saturn continue their contraparallel that has been in effect through May of this year, and again from Oct. 27 to Jan. 12, 2024, with two exact passes on Nov. 28 and Dec. 15. By longitude, these two have also been in a sextile aspect (60°) from May to July (exact on July 19), and again from the end of November to late April 2024 (not exact, but closest on Feb. 6, 2024 with just 0:48 orb at 7° in Taurus and Pisces).
This has been a quest to find balance between vision and manifestation, principles versus rule-of-law, faith versus proof, and what could be versus what is. The combination of parallel and sextile is likely to be more malleable than the parallel and opposition (as with Venus-Uranus), and perhaps with greater promise for an amicable result. Creative solutions can work better than trying to force a final answer.
And last but hardly least, the Full Moon itself is far Out-of-Bounds. The Moon's highest possible declination is 28:42, which it reaches in March 2025. The Moon's maximum declination first reached 28+ degrees last August and will continue until late 2026. So, we're in a time of especially powerful OOB effects for the transiting Moon. This includes themes like exceeding your safety comfort zone to stretch yourself into new experiences, feelings and reactions.
Under the OOB influence, you may feel unusually open or sensitive to the Moon-in-sign themes, especially when that Moon is Full. The rule of thumb is generally that the farther OOB, the stronger the effect. In the case of this Full Moon in Cancer, during a holiday season that can push emotional buttons at the best of times, your feelings about this time may become more pronounced.
For example, you might feel the need to withdraw from all the noise and heavy expectations of the season, which might include family, friends or loved ones. Or you might feel the absence of connection and belonging, perhaps through loneliness or grieving past losses. Or you might feel unusually warmed and welcome during this highly sociable time. Clearly, there are many different indications in the Full Moon chart that could lead to either emotional struggles or emotional healing. Whatever happens, be sure to take care of yourself.
Sabian Symbol for Cancer 5: An auto wrecked by a train.
This rather foreboding image seems to warn against possible disaster, which is one way we could read it. Don't drink and drive, don't drug and drive, don't drive when you're angry, and don't drive if you're struggling to stay awake. The warning may suggest that a lack of caution could result in preventable problems. On the other hand, Dane Rudhyar (An Astrological Mandala) reads this as "The tragic results which are likely to occur when the individual's will pits itself carelessly against the power of the collective will of society."
In the symbol, the crash occurs at a crossroads, which implies that when you find yourself at the crossroads where you must make an important choice, make sure you watch out for possible unwanted reactions, results and implications.
In other words, if you are determined to follow the OOB Moon away from participating in the usual traditions of the seasons, just be careful you don't do it so recklessly or brusquely that you get blindsided by whatever collective you may be at odds with (e.g. family, religion, friends or society, etc).
The Very Best of the Season to You!
That's it for 2023! I want to wish all my readers and followers – whatever, whenever and however you celebrate – a heartwarming holiday season of blessings, gifts, love and warmth. May 2024 bring a fresh start to the weary, new inspiration for the hopeless, an illuminated path for the lost, and a new vision to those who aspire to something greater. May we all have the abundant spirit to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of our planet.
The next update will be for the New Moon in Capricorn on January 11, 2024. In the meantime, stay safe. Stay sane. Stay awesome. There is no one else in the world who can take your place. The world needs you! ❤️
At Christmas, tea is compulsory. Relatives are optional.
~ Robert Godden
© 2023-12-24 Wendy Guy, all rights reserved. Astrological diagrams by Wendy Guy. Divider of pooped out doggie with reindeer antlers by Karsten Winegeart via Unsplash.com. Sabian symbol image of train-car wreck by @NCDOTcommunications via YouTube.