“Finding one’s purpose is the primary goal of initiation…. The indigenous formula says that we all come into this world with a gift that we must give to the world. We must undergo initiation to discover what our gift is and how to share it.” – Malidoma Somé, Interview in The Sun

the sunOne of the four traditional “gates of power” in the wheel of the year, the Summer Solstice on June 21 signifies a new season, a shift in focus, and a portal for expanding awareness. Intentions set and seeds planted at the Spring Equinox on March 20 — the start of the astrological new year — are now ready to be birthed into form.

The Summer Solstice is an activation point for the Cardinal Grand Cross, the planetary headline for the years surrounding the end-date of the Mayan Calendar. The main players of the Cardinal Cross are Pluto in Capricorn (Cardinal Earth), Uranus in Aries (Cardinal Fire) and Saturn in Libra (Cardinal Air). Cancer — Cardinal Water — is the missing piece of the puzzle that gets filled in as the Sun moves into Cancer.

Upping the intensity, this year’s Solstice is sandwiched between the last two Eclipses of a dramatic trio. The Cancer Solar Eclipse on July 1, the most potent of the three, will further energize the Cardinal Cross.

The Cardinal signs are the initiators of the zodiac, the leaders and pioneers, and the Cardinal Cross reflects our collective initiation into a new reality, which always requires a death. As Jessica Murray says, “Something has to come crashing down so that a threshold can be crossed” (Something’s Happening Here).

cancerCancer is the mostly missing sign of the Cross, and therefore the one we need to pay special attention to, the energy to consciously embrace. Moon-ruled Cancer is the Great Mother Goddess, the nurturing, maternal feminine; home, family, roots and ancestors; deep feelings and emotional bonds. Cancer says, that what is invisible is often the most powerful.

Over the next few weeks, as the Solstice and Solar Eclipse heighten sensitivity to the subconscious, we have an enhanced ability to access hidden power, connect with ancestors and traditions that can support us, and break free from past ties and traumas that are holding us back.

Cancerian strategies for successfully navigating the tides include being willing to be vulnerable and ask for what you need; nurturing yourself and others; strengthening your base of support; and taking time to really feel your feelings instead of stuffing them down or projecting them outward. The shadow Crab qualities of defensiveness, crankiness, self-pity and emotional manipulation tend to appear if you’re neglecting your inner world.

Separation, Ordeal and Homecoming

“The very core idea in initiation is to die in order to grow, to die in order to live a bigger life. The hardest thing to do now… is to have a big life…, especially inner life, while the outer collapse is crushing most things and many people.” – Michael Meade, Initiation and the Soul

plutoThe soul, according to mythologist Michael Meade, is always seeking initiation — the intentional creation of circumstances that cause a person to connect more deeply to what’s already inside them and more extensively to the unseen world” (Initiation and the Soul). In a culture lacking formal initiations, we tend to experience informal initiations — the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, serious illness, mental breakdown, falling into addiction, or another form of loss, crisis or trauma.

The first stage of initiation is separation — leaving behind the known and familiar world. Next is the ordeal where “we begin to encounter those things that are both the wounds in our lives and the gifts” (M. Meade). In the third stage, the homecoming or return, the initiate is welcomed back into the tribe, and the gifts gained during the ordeal are acknowledged by and shared with the community.

Malidoma Somé says that what’s generally missing from “informal initiations” is this last phase:

“Homecoming requires recognition and acknowledgement that the person has survived…. All people need is to be held, to be told that they’re safe now, that they have arrived home…. What people need is someone willing to create a space for them in which they can be seen, honored, and praised for what they have been through.” (Between Two Worlds)

Without the homecoming, without completing the full journey of initiation, people tend to get stuck in the ordeal, and not only continue suffering, but never get to give their gifts to the community.

Coming Home to the Eternal

“Mythic imagination is a primordial resource of the human heart that combines heart-felt intelligence with a reverence for life in its myriad forms. When times become tragic and dark with uncertainty, what is missing is the touch of eternity and a mythic sense of being woven within the ongoing story of the world.” – Michael Meade, The Water of Life

The Sun’s move into Cancer awakens our desire for what feels secure, comfortable and familiar, the desire to return home. But the activation of the Cardinal Cross highlights the separation and ordeal that are well underway in the collective process of initiation. The Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis, the natural and unnatural disasters exploding around the planet, the escalating war and violence, the increasing toxicity of water and food… have cut us off from one version of reality and into the realm of chaos.

Obviously, there are those who are suffering the ordeal much more intensely than others, but we’re all in this together, and the climate is such that we who currently have the luxury of food, clean water, shelter and safety could be catapulted into a different story at any moment. The ordeal is scheduled to intensify over the next few years, as the square between Uranus and Pluto — the two slowest-moving planets of the Cardinal Cross — move into exact formation seven times between 2012-2015.

neptuneWhile the Solstice Sun forms challenging angles to the planets in the Cardinal Cross, catalyzing these intense energies of radical change in ways that are likely to be (at the very least) uncomfortable, the Sun will also form a friendly trine (120-degree angle) to Neptune in Pisces. The Sun’s harmonious angle to Neptune reveals where we can find support, the resources that can help carry us through the ordeal.

Neptune, God of the Ocean, rules the invisible realm of imagination, intuition, dreams, spirit and the infinite. In Pisces the Fish, Neptune is particularly powerful, since Neptune is the modern ruler of this sign. At the Solstice, the Moon — the ruler of Cancer — will also be in Pisces, increasing our ability to feel into this watery, imaginative, dreamy energy.

The chart of the Solstice suggests that the way to find security is to lean into what’s eternal and unchanging, to connect with and strengthen the part of ourselves that is infinite, and to access the depths of our imaginations to dream a new vision for the future.

The systems and structures of the seen world are collapsing around us, and there is no going home, there will be no return to the way things were. In the coming season, our cosmic assignment is to return to a more expanded version of self, the truth of who we are, and through this homecoming, access our higher purpose. The world is waiting, desperate, for each of us to bring forward the gifts we came here to give.

– Emily Trinkaus

Note to Portland-area friends: I’ll be giving a talk about the Solstice — exploring these themes and more — on Sunday, June 19, 7:00-8:30pm at Om Base: 6357 SW Capitol Highway. All are welcome! More details here.