zodiac seasons

Your Guide to Cancer Season

Illustration: Sunny Wu

The summer solstice marks the sun’s entrance into wise, nurturing, emotive Cancer. If Gemini season has been stressing you out with its bottomless capacity for chaos, if you’re tired of your attention always being drawn in a hundred directions at once, or if you’re just ready to stop making so much small talk, Cancer season is here to offer some relief. Over the next month, you can reconnect with your roots, your loved ones, and your deepest emotions. You can rediscover how fulfilling your rich inner life is.

Cancer season, which typically runs from about June 21 to July 22, is the first sign of the summer, and the first water sign of the year. 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 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 than extroverted.

Lana Del Rey, a Cancer sun, gave us a classic anthem for the season with the lush and dreamy “Summertime Sadness.” Solange, also a 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, intimacy, and caregiving relationships.

This makes Cancer season a good time to focus on your closest relationships — not necessarily with your family of origin (though Cancer is strongly associated with family), but whoever you truly connect with, whoever makes you feel loved, protected, and safe being yourself. In other words, while Cancer season may push you to delve into your deepest feelings, you don’t have to do so alone. This is an opportunity to nurture and be nurtured, to make room in your life for all kinds of genuine care.

The flip side is that outside of the safety of one’s own trusted circle, Cancer can experience intense vulnerability. Sometimes this manifests as defensiveness, evasiveness, an intense desire for privacy. Sometimes it looks like hypersensitivity to the smallest unkindness, or a myopic focus on all the cruelty that exists in the world. It’s not easy to feel this deeply!

Depending on your own astrological chart, all this talk about Cancer’s quiet, inward focus and caring nature might sound comforting and lovely, or it might sound awful — muggy and heavy and hard to move through. But whether it’s easy or difficult for you, 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