July 2nd, 2019 // 12:16pm PDT
Three days before the summer solstice and the start of Cancer season, I found myself on a chilly Pacific beach littered with crab shells. Tangled among ropes of seaweed, there were hundreds of them, the empty shells deposited on the sand by the tide. My partner and I wandered the beach for hours, combing the ocean’s flotsam for treasures and marveling at the crab shells, some tiny and some six inches across, many with legs and claws and eye stems still attached.
At first, I thought the seagulls had engorged themselves on a crab feast, but then I realized that all of those shells were molted. The crabs hadn’t been ripped from their shells, but left by their own volition. A crab’s shell is its primary defense mechanism and also its home. It’s survival and safety. But eventually, crabs outgrow their shells. Their defenses start constricting more than protecting, and the crab is faced with a choice: stay safe but stunted, or risk everything in order to grow. After so much time carrying its home on its back, the crab has to leave home and learn to be vulnerable in the world.
(At least until it grows a new shell.)
As with the crab and the sign of Cancer, as with the Moon and the tides, our lives move in these same cycles of staying and going, withdrawing and advancing. We stay blissfully and perfectly in one place for a time, loving it, filling up all its corners with our soft flesh, comfortable and entirely at home. Maybe it takes years, maybe decades, but at some point home starts to cramp. At some point, we find we can’t quite stretch out our toes. At some point, change comes a-calling, and we must go.
We’ll probably be scared. We’ll likely be sad. Maybe we’ll be excited. But Cancer (and its tarot card The Chariot) knows that we have to accept some risk, some pain, some vulnerability in order to grow. Cancer knows that we have to leave home in order to find home. And, through this process of growing and shedding, Cancer teaches us that home was never outside of us to begin with. True home, true safety and comfort, is carried within.
But this isn’t just a new moon, my friends—it’s a total solar eclipse. After the crab leaves its old shell and before it grows its new one, its body is soft and defenseless, vulnerable to all manner of dangers until its new shell grows. Initiated by the total solar eclipse in Cancer, followed by Mercury Rx in Leo and then by the Capricorn lunar eclipse, and concluded by Mercury going direct on the 31st, the month of July is going to feel like that: soft-shelled and vulnerable.
Maybe we’ll ease out of the shell slowly, or maybe it’ll be ripped away, but either way, many of us are likely to feel emotionally raw this month. We might also feel attacked or defensive, which could lead to arming ourselves with whatever jetsam of ocean trash is nearest—but don’t mistake that for a shell, my darlings. The trick this month is going to be in choosing NOT to crawl into the nearest trash can for some semblance of protection, and instead to dare to remain vulnerable.
This eclipse cycle invites us deep within, to understanding our internal, emotional homespace so we can evolve toward living in greater harmony with it, so we can grow our outsides to match our insides. The Capricorn lunar eclipse in two weeks will bring in themes of authority and worldly work, making the next six months intrinsically focused on that push-pull of inner and outer, softness and structure, nurture and power.
But above all else, this eclipse cycle will be about staying tender. This portal invites us to break the dam on our inner reservoirs of tenderness and love, to dare to keep feeling and loving even when the world is terrifying and brutal, to practice radical softness even as we stand up for ourselves and stand up to authority, to spill that radical love all over ourselves and all over each other, and to understand the incredible POWER and indomitable STRENGTH inherent in the act of LOVING.
All the shells, all the armor in the world is worthless with nothing behind it. Let that something be love.