From Long Solstice Night to Full Cancer Moon

Posted by Amanda Painter

Photo by Amanda Painter.

The Sun enters Capricorn later tonight for the solstice, and the Moon is waxing toward Full phase on Dec. 25. Amanda Painter explains that along with Mercury now in its pre-retrograde shadow phase, this astrology suggests you keep tabs on your emotional energy and double-check the details.

Today at 11:48 pm EST (4:48 UTC Tuesday), the Sun enters Capricorn for the solstice. The shortest day and longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere; after this, the days begin getting longer — though it takes a while for the effect to be noticeable.

This year's addition to my Christmas tree, courtesy of Planet Waves; photo by Amanda Painter.

This year’s addition to my Christmas tree, courtesy of Planet Waves; photo by Amanda Painter.

This year, these longest nights are graced with a waxing Moon that will reach its Full phase at 6:11 am EST (11:11 UTC) Dec. 25 — Christmas Day. It’s not the same thing as having a couple more of hours of daylight, but as a metaphor, it’s encouraging: the Moon in watery Cancer reflecting the Sun in earthy Capricorn. Along with the flow, there is grounding.

I’ll have more to say about the Full Moon chart in Thursday’s blog post. For now, keep a finger on the pulse of your emotions and anything that feels like it could become a bone of contention or polarization.

If you celebrate Christmas and are navigating family traditions (with the attendant expectations, warm nostalgia, difficult baggage and new curveballs), keep the Full Moon in mind. Emotional energy is peaking all this week, layered on top of the practical demands on your time, attention and resources.

Speaking of emotions and stress: this time of year it can seem as though everyone is too busy and wrapped up in familial and social obligations to stop and notice when others are truly struggling; the holidays can be a brutal time of year for many people. If you’re doing okay, I’d encourage you to stay tuned to subtle clues from those you interact with that everything is not all right; a little authentic empathy can go a long way.

If you’re someone who is struggling, please reach out for help. If contacting a friend does not seem possible, there are crisis prevention hotlines all over the world. In the U.S., you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time of the day or night to be connected with a trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.


Whatever your situation, remember that Mercury entered its pre-retrograde shadow or ‘echo’ phase Saturday. Practice staying focused now. Keep small lapses in your attention from becoming major hassles by slowing down your pace; double-check details (driving directions, ingredients for the holiday meal, your cell phone and charger, etc.).

Overnight Sunday into Monday, Mercury squares Uranus in Aries — perfect for impulsive (yet intuitive) gift ideas if you’re still shopping; the Taurus Moon suggests sense-pleasing items.

Tuesday at 9:31 pm EST (2:31 UTC Wednesday) the Moon moves into Gemini. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel of two minds about holiday plans or last-minute gifts.

Also on Tuesday, Mercury conjoins asteroid Pallas in Capricorn. To me this says: make a strategy for the week — though if it’s based on traditions or past routines, be ready to flex and modify it, integrating new developments. Any blueprints from the past give you a starting point for your checklist; what will truly fit and work — and be meaningful — depends on the needs of the present moment.

5 thoughts on “From Long Solstice Night to Full Cancer Moon

  1. DivaCarla Sanders

    Beautiful compassionate article, Amanda. I have felt deeply lonely during holidays (fourth of July just as lonely as Christmas) and I didn’t want to do anything to feel better. Any time I tried it would backfire, adding anger to loneliness.

    Adding this to resources that may help some folks. I’ve been studying the vagus nerve. It can change your energy and let your emotions flow rather than get stuck or try to fix them. Deep abdominal breath, chanting, singing can all activate the vagus nerve. Sobbing and belly laughing can also tone the vagus nerve. Calling the hotline and talking to an understanding stranger will do it. Simple, embodied, solo or with company support for the emotional storms holidays and the long nights can bring. Works if you are at a family do or if you are all alone in an apartment.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

      Carla — thank you for adding those thoughts about stimulating the vagus nerve as a way to consciously keep from getting stuck emotionally. I attended a “dance and sound” workshop in May that was co-taught. One of the teachers has a counseling practice as well as experience in dance and theater, and has been doing a lot of work investigating the vagus nerve and using breath and the body consciously to move through triggers of past trauma (or other triggers of fight-or-flight response).

      Her name is Deb Grant, and she’s actually doing a vagus-specific workshop this January in Falmouth, Maine:

      And thank you for mentioning the 4th of July. I am blessed with and grateful for family and friends I can count on to celebrate with this time of year. But there have been a few of those other holidays (especially in the summer, for some reason) where I have felt alone — and wondered what was wrong with me — or what was wrong with how I am as a friend — that I was not invited to any gatherings.

      Fascinating how that can happen: the self-judgment layered on top of everything else. Sometimes it points us to insights we need to see about how we act toward others; I think most of the time, however, it just does a hit-job on our self-esteem.

      1. DivaCarla Sanders

        Ooh, Thanks for that heads up on Deb Grant. I’ll look at the link later (not supposed to be on the computer today)! I first learned about the vagus nerve in the context of expanded and alternative paths to orgasm. It’s important to use and take care of all of our brains: the one under our skull and the one in our gut. Happy holiday, Amanda. If you ever get stuck on a holiday, come up to Hope!

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