FULL MOON IN CANCER – A powerful time for releasing, purging, and cleansing (January 17, 2021)

by Anne Reith, Ph.D.

AstrologyIn the Pacific Time Zone, the Moon will be full at 3:48 p.m. on Monday, January 17.  With this Full Moon, the Sun in Capricorn will be in opposition (180°) to the Moon in Cancer.  To further clarify how this Full Moon will impact you on a personal level, locate 28° of Capricorn and 28° of Cancer in your birth/natal chart.  The issues associated with those two houses are going to be most impacted by this Full Moon’s presence.

All Full Moons involve finding a better balance between the two signs involved.  This time, those signs are Capricorn and Cancer:

  • The best qualities of Capricorn include being responsible, practical, disciplined, patient, hardworking, and organized. The lower expression can involve being critical, overly conventional, status-seeking, or materialistic.  Its focus is on the accomplishments and contributions that we make in the public arena, which usually come through our career.
  • The higher expression of Cancer includes being nurturing, sympathetic, maternal, and family-oriented. The lower expression could mean being moody, overly sensitive, dependent, or fearful.  Its focus is on our home base; however we define that.

Most people think of their “home” as a physical dwelling.  However, we need to remember that our true home is our “self” and our body.  We are often very good at taking care of others, but this lunar event is asking us to evaluate whether we are spending too much time on our career or public activities and not doing a very good job of nurturing, nourishing, comforting, mothering, and loving ourselves unconditionally.  Those latter activities will make sure that our proverbial “well is full” and that we have enough energy to move out into the public world of Capricorn again.

Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and the Moon represents our emotions.  Therefore, emotions are destined to play an important role during any Full Moon in Cancer.  Although we may feel more sensitive than usual, it will be helpful to remember that our feelings have a wisdom worth listening to.  They can provide guidance toward what is “right” for us, as well as guide us away from what isn’t a good fit.  This is a good time to either re-establish or experiment with trusting that our hearts can sometimes provide better guidance than our heads.

In some ways, this lunar event appears to be simpler and more straightforward than most.  For example, this time there aren’t any major planetary configurations, such as t-squares or grand trines.  However, when the aspects between planets are analyzed, there is incredible power and intensity to this Full Moon that shouldn’t be ignored.  Most Full Moons coincide with endings or culminations; however, this one is super-powered in that regard.  Why?  Because Pluto is closely conjunct (0°) the Sun and, therefore, in a close opposition (180°) to the Moon.

As mentioned, the Moon in Cancer activates our emotional world, and the Sun shines light on them so we can see them clearly, which can include both positive and negative emotions.  What role does Pluto play?  Being closely conjunct the Sun gives us added clarity regarding our goals and provides us with additional power to achieve them.  However, the opposition between the Moon and the Sun-Pluto conjunction can trigger some very deep emotions that we perhaps weren’t aware of or were even trying to hide from ourselves.  Pluto is very good at revealing things that were previously hidden from our awareness.

Due to Pluto’s involvement, it can feel like old wounds and perhaps our deepest fears are being brought to the surface.  Often those fears have to do with releasing something that no longer serves us.  Pluto tells us that it is time to shed, cleanse, release, and purge.  In order to evolve into the next phase in our life, it’s likely that we have to let go of something that once was very precious to us and that we may still have an emotional connection to.  Whatever it might be hasn’t lost any of its value; but if we hold onto it, we cannot see what is next.

Luckily, the large amount of Capricorn energy swirling around us right now can provide us with the structure we need in order to do the releasing purging work associated with Pluto.  Although Capricorn tells us that this may not be the best time to start something new, it does provide us with the impetus to clean up and clear out the old energy by proceeding slowly and carefully.  Actually, spending time around the Full Moon getting organized may actually provide some structure when we are processing some of those Cancer feelings.

When thinking about what needs to end or even what may need to begin, Capricorn tells us to take larger tasks and break them down into small, manageable steps.  Prioritize what should be done first, second, and so forth.  This is a good time to go through old files or anything in our lives that has been collecting dust.  By bringing organization to whatever feels chaotic, we will be releasing old energy and making room for something new to enter our lives.

Also, remember to take breaks.  This is particularly important around the time of the Cancer Full Moon because we need to allow the time and space for emotions to come to the surface.  The process of releasing, cleansing, and purging often is a catalyst for grief.  Remember, grief can include sadness, but it can also include a variety of emotions, such as anger or regret.  Feel it all.  Allow the tears to flow or swear words to be expressed.

For some of us, forgiveness of others (or of ourselves) may be needed in order to move forward on our spiritual path.  Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.  Or if we are feeling regret or remorse due to choices we made in the past, then this is a good time to figure out a way to make amends.  Humans make mistakes, and our job isn’t to be perfect.  We need to learn from our inevitable boo-boo.  But sometimes, we need to say a simple “I’m sorry” to someone else or even to ourselves.  This can restore our inner sense of personal integrity.

If forgiveness or making amends involves another person who is alive, then you can talk with them or simply forgive them in your heart.  If amends are needed for past actions, then you can talk to them or send a quick note, email, or text.  But even if the person has passed away, we can do the work of forgiveness and making amends.  Simply create a quiet space, ask the person to be present, and tell them what you want say.  Trust me, they can and will hear you!  If you aren’t comfortable dealing with a living person directly or you aren’t comfortable asking the person’s soul to be present, then you can write them a letter.  You can either keep the letter or you might want to do a releasing ritual such as burning the letter.  This will show the Universe that you are ready to move on!

If we resist this releasing and purging process, then this is a good idea to explore why we are holding on.  Insights about what is blocking us may come intuitively because Neptune is in a trine (120°) to the Moon and sextiles (60°) to both the Sun and Pluto.  These supportive aspects will help us explore where we are acting from fear rather than faith (Neptune).  If we trust ourselves, we may intuitively know what the right course of action is, or we may feel more charitable, compassionate, and accepting of differences.  Given Mars is square (90°) Neptune, this adds energy to our intuition and provides the courage to trust the messages we are receiving.

A few final notes about this Cancer Full Moon:  Mercury, which is still in retrograde, is conjunct (0°) Saturn, and both of them are squaring (90°) Uranus.  Although typically Mercury retrograde makes it harder to concentrate, Saturn could help counter this tendency around the time of the Full Moon.  Saturn may also (a) cause us to feel more serious about life than usual, (b) create a need to be alone in order to think or work, and/or (c) encourage us to think through whether or not we are being practical and responsible.  The good news is that given both Mercury and Saturn are in sextiles (60°) with Chiron.  This means that all this serious thinking could definitely lead to healing our wounds and areas of greatest vulnerability.

Right before the Full Moon (on Friday, January 14), Mercury begins its first retrograde phase of the year.  It will initially start moving backwards in Aquarius, but it will eventually move back into Capricorn on Tuesday, January 25.  Of course, Mercury retrograde is never something to fear.  It’s an important time when we all pull inward in order to rethink and reconsider what has been happening lately.  We just need to recognize that everyone’s minds are turned inward more than usual, and this means that mistakes can happen.  Therefore, we should doublecheck important legal documents, travel plans, etc.

In general, Mercury in retrograde is a good time to reevaluate any recent decisions to make sure we haven’t missed anything.  We also want to make sure that our choices truly support where we want to go from here.  While retrograde in Aquarius, we may be thinking about how we are (or aren’t) effectively using our gifts to serve humanity.  Once Mercury moves back into Capricorn, we should look at our responsibilities and make sure that they are actually ours or should, instead, be left to someone else.  We also want to make sure any new ambitions are truly aligned with who we are at this point in time.  (NOTE:  In the next Moon Update, we’ll talk about Mercury’s upcoming dance with Pluto, which will likely cause important information to be revealed, both in our personal lives and in society.)

The day after the Full Moon (on Tuesday, January 18), Uranus ends its annual 5-month retrograde phase and begins moving direct again.  The days right around the change in direction could seem more chaotic than usual while we adjust.  Uranus is a slow-moving planet, so it may take a few weeks before its fully back up to speed.  This gradual increase in influence is actually well-timed given Mercury is still in retrograde until Thursday, February 3.  Once Uranus is direct, we are ready to take action on the changes we’ve been thinking about while it was in retrograde.  But until Mercury begins moving direct again, it may be best to use this time to think about how best to implement the changes we want to make.  Use the time to plan for success!

But Tuesday, January 18, is important for another reason.  It’s the day that the (True) Nodes change signs, which only happens every 18 months.  Some astrologers describe the change in nodal signs as a “shift in humanity’s evolution.”  Although it can be subtle, we may feel that certain tasks require a different approach.  The North Node, which was located in Gemini, will now be located in earthy Taurus.  The South Node, which was located in Sagittarius, will move into watery, emotional Scorpio.  What we will collectively be learning while the Nodes travel through the Taurus-Scorpio axis is that we need to approach our deep healing work (Scorpio) by using simple, grounded methods (Taurus).  When issues emerge (and Scorpio will make sure that they do), we will see the benefit of remaining calm, avoiding emotional reactivity, and learning how to not force changes to occur.  Healing, change, and transformation will occur more easily if we breathe, take a practical approach, and remember to do whatever is needed in order to stay grounded and centered.

The very next day (Wednesday, January 19), the Sun moves into Aquarius for a month-long stay.  During this time, we all may feel an increased need for freedom and independence.  Our minds are more open to new solutions to old problems, and we often don’t hesitate to take an original, innovative approach.  Our focus is on the future, which sometimes brings into focus what is outdated in our current life.  (NOTE:  The ongoing influence of Pluto in our lives will continue to reinforce releasing, clearing, and purging.)  While the Sun travels through Aquarius, we are often more open to diversity and humanitarian causes.  Above all, we will likely resent any efforts to constrain us because we want to feel free to express ourselves and our unique gifts to the world.

Then on Monday, January 24, Mars moves into Capricorn, where it will remain until March 7.  While Mars traveled through fiery Sagittarius, it was restless and eager for adventure.  Now in Capricorn, our actions become more responsible, deliberate, and goal-oriented.  We are aware of the consequences of our choices and actions.  If we are going after a goal, our actions will likely be determined and persistent.  We also may experience an increased sense of duty and/or a willingness to take on a leadership role of some kind.  But in general, the expression “slow and steady wins the race” is a great way to describe the energy of Mars when it is located in Cap.  We will get further ahead if we take it one step at a time.

Overall, this Cancer Full Moon may be when we make the decision to release a part of our life that has outlived its usefulness.  We are ready to graduate.  But even if we are the one to initiate the ending (or we have been expecting it), we need to remember that strong emotions and grief are often involved in letting go of something or someone that has served an important role in making us who we are today.  It can help to remember that whatever is being shed has served its purpose, and we can release it with love and gratitude in our hearts.  This Full Moon in Cancer is encouraging us to embrace the ending and any emotions that are coming to the surface.  If needed, we should also actively pursue any forgiveness work or making amends that will allow us to move forward unencumbered.  This Cancer Full Moon and Pluto’s involvement is telling us that we need to “Feel it to heal it” and that “The only way out is through.”  Only by reading to the end of the chapter can we progress to the next one.  If we skip over the ending because we don’t think we’ll be comfortable with that is says, then the next chapter won’t make nearly as much sense.



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  • Anne Reith, Ph.D. (AnneReith.com)
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  • The Mountain Astrologer (magazine)
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  • New Moons and Full Moons often influence us for the 3 days before and 3 days after the actual event.


Full Moon at 28° of Cancer

  • Monday, January 17, 2022, 3:48 p.m. PST
  • Monday, January 17, 2022, 6:48 p.m. EST
  • Monday, January 17, 2022, 11:48 p.m. GMT


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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.

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