New Moon in Cancer: The Hibernaculum

Last year I developed a personal association between Bear Magic and the Cancer Moon.  Now, during the Summer Solstice New Moon in Cancer, I suppose it seems counter-intuitive that I am reading about hibernation, the winter phase of life for bears.

Of course, Summer Solstice for me (and for the vast majority of the world’s bears) is Winter Solstice for the southern hemisphere.  And while it makes sense to orient oneself to the wheel of the year based on your actual location, a global, holistic awareness of Earth Solstices should acknowledge that summer and winter occur simultaneously.

Mothers with cubs are the first to enter- and the last to leave- the winter den, also known as the Hibernaculum.  They experience the greatest percent body fat loss during winter.  Pregnant bears do not exhibit the same extended periods of suppressed physiology as other bears- their heart rates remain elevated, even as they rest.  In the depths of winter, they give birth to their helpless cubs, who nurse on their mother’s body until the spring, when they are all ready to leave the Hibernaculum together.

I am learning about the difference between true hibernation and something called Torpor, which is a more accurate word for the physiological changes that are actually happening to the bear.  Torpor is similar to hibernation: body temperature and heart rate drop in correspondence with ambient weather and food availability.  In true hibernation, exhibited by many species of much smaller mammals, nothing can rouse the sleeping beast, lulled by hormones into an immovable slumber, until the warmth of spring beckons them back to life.  Research has shown that bears in torpor are acutely aware of their surroundings and any possible danger, even when their temperature and heart rates are deeply suppressed.  Torpor is almost always referred to as hibernation, because the periods of rest in torpor are the same as the rest of hibernation.  The difference is that torpor does not give you a break from external stimuli.  The bear arouses itself from torpor with what is described as “violent shivering” a specialized type of muscle contraction that many species exhibit when moving in and out of traumatic experiences.  After the Hibernaculum is determined to be safe, the bear can return to the sleep of hibernation.


I feel like I have spent the last two years in a multidimensional state of torpor, affecting my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual layers in different and inter-related ways.  With a default of being hunkered down in a depressed state, I daily shake myself out of deep suspension to be hypervigilant- returning to seek the lowest possible levels of stimulation when I am done.  At this point I am longing for months of uninterrupted sweet darkness and slumber, oblivious to the rest of the world.  But whatever species hibernates that way is not my Cancer Moon totem, lol.

The Bear Mother wants me to know that eventually I am going to have to stop violently shivering off the torpor, just to return to a deep sleep again.  At some point, I am going to have to leave the Hibernaculum, and really, truly, wake up.





So much of the chart for the New Moon in Cancer is a continuation of astrological processes that have been in motion for a long time: the T-square from Jupiter in Libra to bodies along the Cancer/Capricorn axis; Juno’s unwavering presence during Cancerian lunations; Psyche opposite Neptune.

It actually feels strangely difficult for me to sit with this new moon chart, here in the moment, because I’m following these narratives forward into the Leo New Moon, Eclipse Season, and the final Lion’s Gate that we will ever experience with a trine from Uranus in Aries.  While keeping an eye on the next major wave of life changes, I will do my best to stay present, and meet myself where I am.

The New Moon in Cancer sits between Mercury and asteroid Hekate, and is otherwise without any major aspects. The major planetary configuration revolves around the new moon’s neighbor Mars in Cancer, transiting square Jupiter and trine Neptune.  Psyche opposite Neptune, and Juno opposite Mars, form a mystic rectangle.

Hekate’s heavy presence lovingly smothers the Cancer New Moon.  In the recently published article Meeting The Dark Mother, Grace Ng Dung shares a personal experience that describes what it is like to meet Hekate at the crossroads:

“I’d never been in a deep depression before, and while there’s no doubt that’s where I was, something about it made no sense. I hadn’t gone through trauma, hadn’t lost anyone close to me, wasn’t really unsatisfied with my life…so where was it coming from? In my case, the depression wasn’t the effect following an event, but the prequel—the messenger—of what was coming.”

This type of depression is also known as the Black Dog- Hekate’s companion who will wait with you until you understand.

Mars trine Neptune confirms that we are at the very beginning of a gradual process that will eventually result in fully waking up.  In this aspect, they want to stay focused on inner life and their main motivation is emotional fulfillment.  When Mars meets Neptune in trine, they are moving through the dark in order to find the light.  But make no mistake- they are still in the dark.

The aspects between Jupiter, Juno, and Neptune have been steady since all 3 are moving slowly, and is a positive interaction for any efforts towards creating a new kind of space where we can feel safe being ourselves.  When we just look at Juno moving between Jupiter quincunx Neptune, the safe place being built is for collaboration and mutual growth between self-expression and social bonds; expanding the view to include Mars and the New Moon in Cancer creates the conditions that make it safe to engage in a different kind of waking up- not a temporary burst of hypervigilance before drooping into inactivity once again, but instead a gradual return to full capacity- in response to warmer temperatures, rather than in response to the perception of a threat.

Psyche’s first opposition to Neptune occurred conjunct the lunar nodes, and in aspect to last year’s Scorpio New Moon.  Neptune in Pisces is all about the subconscious, and the sea of possibilities contained within, that silently and secretly inform… everything: our thoughts, goals, plans, identities, and orientation to relationships.  Psyche in Virgo is about the cognitive organizational skills that it takes to get your shit together.  When the two meet in opposition it’s a rare chance to meditate on that subconscious sea of possibilities and choose from amongst them, which will best serve you as you consciously build yourself up.

My meditations for the New Moon in Cancer revolve around the idea of safety.  Safety is of course relative, and contextual, never absolute.  Safety is multidimensional (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) each dimension has unique criteria for definitions of safety, so we can be safe in some dimensions and not others. But being able to construct that context where we can experience relative safety is crucial to the various multidimensional processes that contribute to self realization and self-actualization.

My eyes are fixed on the not too distant future, the 2017 Lion’s Gate.  I am ready, for the first time in a long time, to wake up gradually, and completely, and return to the full capacity of my abilities as an ensouled human.


6 thoughts on “New Moon in Cancer: The Hibernaculum

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