- Amanda Painter
After what seemed like an interminably gray and chilly spring, you’re not alone if you feel like we’ve come upon the Cancer solstice (when the Sun enters Cancer, summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere) rather suddenly. The Sun ingresses Cancer this Saturday, June 21 at 6:51 am EDT.
One of the most direct and potent ways we can experience astrology is by tuning into the seasons and the daily changes in our immediate environment through our senses. But when the information our senses gives us lags behind the calendar, a major turning point like the solstice can feel like it has come out of nowhere.
This is one of two days of the year (the other being the Capricorn solstice in winter) when the Earth’s movement around the Sun means that our planet’s poles are directly aimed toward and away from the Sun. After the solstice, that direct alignment begins shifting as we continue around the solar system.
For the northern half of the planet, this means that our turn at being oriented toward the Sun is coming to an end this weekend—almost as though we’ve been playing at “being South.” That experience reaches its peak Saturday, and then the days begin gradually shortening, inching us ever closer toward “being North” again.
Thankfully, reaching this peak does not indicate an immediate shift to the opposite polarity; rather, it’s more like a palpable pause, something like the moment just after breathing out before you breathe back in again (or vice versa). If anything in astrology encourages us to fully embody an extended, suspended moment, the Cancer solstice is it.
Nothing says “summer” like the longest day of the year, especially if the weather is nice: with the most daylight hours (and coming this year on a weekend, when most people are not working) the invitation is to take some time for yourself outdoors. The winter (or Capricorn) solstice is the one most associated with contraction and looking inward; the Cancer solstice is more about expanding yourself into your environment. Yet that can still be done in a very present and mindful way; an external focus need not mean busy-ness and filling up every minute with superficial distraction.
You can honor the Earth’s apparent pause and focus intently on your extended surroundings (Cancer rules the home, but for a crab, “home” is always on its back). Or if the first day of summer allows you to greet it with minimal clothing outdoors, focus intently on your skin and the messages it sends you from the breeze, the warmth of the sunlight, and any water or earth you may come into contact with. Fill your sensory memory banks at this peak, before the switch and the Sun’s shift in the sky begins.