zodiac seasons

Your Guide to Cancer Season

Notable Cancers (clockwise from left): Frida Kahlo, Solange, Courtney Love, Karen Dalton, Poly Styrene. Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos Getty

With the summer solstice, the sun moves from Gemini into Cancer. And if all the previous month’s springtime Gemini energy had you feeling breezy and bright — if you’ve been social and alive in the world, if you’ve been relishing in the sparkle and shine of your rowdy chaotic energy — well, we’re in Cancer season now, and I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s time to get soft again. It’s time to feel your feelings.

Cancer season, which typically runs from about June 21 to July 22, is all about summertime water energy — but this isn’t exactly the splashy, carefree water energy of pool parties or boardwalk antics with all of your friends. Astrologically, the water element is much moodier than that; water signs are intuitive, perceptive, in touch with their depths and their feelings. It’s an energy that’s more sensitive than blunt, more magnetic than aggressive, more reserved and emotive than straightforwardly fun.

Lana Del Rey — who recently told astrologer Randon Rosenbohm on Twitter that she’s a Cancer and not, as had previously been thought, a Gemini — gave us a classic Cancer season anthem with the lush and dreamy “Summertime Sadness.” Solange, another Cancer, gave us another with the rhythmic bass and melancholy vocals of “Cranes in the Sky:” “I tried to work it away / But that just made me even sadder.” Karen Dalton, with her haunting voice and 12-string guitar, gave us a whole catalogue of Cancer season folk vibes.

Cancer’s ruling planet is, naturally, the moon — dreamiest, moodiest, most intimate of all the planets. The moon represents emotions and instincts, our immediate reactions untampered by logic, the selves that we are when nobody else is looking. The moon is also strongly associated with the home and with close caregiving relationships.

In this way, while Cancer season is very much a season of emotion, it doesn’t ask you to deal with your emotions entirely in isolation! You can still open your heart to caring and being cared for. This is a time to love the people closest to you, who have proven themselves true, and to let them love you in return. At parties, you might find yourself drifting to the kitchen, the porch, the fire escape — somewhere quieter, somewhere you and your friends can really talk. Or you might find yourself preferring to stay home altogether.

If there’s a stereotype of Cancer, it’s the homebody, the crab whose softness is protected by its hard shell, but this desire for home and safety isn’t always literal. It might, instead, look like defensiveness, evasiveness, an intense desire for privacy. It might look like hypersensitivity to the smallest unkindness, hyperawareness of all the cruelty that exists in the world. It might look like a preference for the people and situations that are warm and familiar, rather than the thrills of the new.

Depending on your own placements, all this talk about Cancer’s inward focus and caring nature might sound comforting and lovely, or it might sound awful, muggy and heavy and hard to move through. If nothing else, Cancer season’s big demand is that you not try to fight off your feelings. They’re stronger than you are right now; you won’t beat them, and ignoring them won’t work any better.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to become soft and retiring, either. Not all feelings are gentle, and not all Cancer energy is hazy and sad. Courtney Love — hard-edged, confrontational, messy — is a Cancer too; so was punk icon Poly Styrene! So was poet June Jordan, who loved the world, and her people in it, more fiercely than tenderly. “I choose to exist unafraid of my enemies; instead, I choose to become an enemy to my enemies,” she wrote. In Cancer season, you can choose to do what you want with your feelings, but you’re going to have to feel them.

Your Guide to Cancer Season