This Full Moon in the family-oriented sign of Cancer brings to mind a story from a 2018 trip to New Zealand.
Jonny and I are standing in a tiny house, part of a museum in Okains Bay, a remote village on an out-of-the-way peninsula southeast of Christchurch. We’ve made a pilgrimage here to visit the general store, built by Jonny’s great grandfather in the 1870s. The little building is still operating today as the town’s grocery and post office and is reportedly the longest continuously operating store in New Zealand. We enjoyed having a quick look, and on the advice of the new proprietor we had stopped off at the museum down the road, a collection of small buildings filled with Maori and colonial artifacts.
The walls of this tiny dwelling, the home of some early settlers, is lined with posters detailing the colonial history of the community. Jonny is reading, with keen interest, the stories of his Moore and Robinson forebears, while I roam around aimlessly looking at old household items. Suddenly, he calls out, “I don’t believe this! April, come look!” He’s pointing at a paragraph adjacent to his family’s history, to an account of one Tom Coffin of Nantucket Island.
One of my ancestors.
I’ve always mused at the unlikely set of circumstances that had to fall into place for me to meet my husband, when we were born ten years apart in opposite hemispheres. How still more extraordinary to find that our families were acquainted eighty years before either of us was born!
Both of us, youngest children with independent streaks, are growing more interested in family as we get older. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because once you start moving into the Last Quarter phase of your life, you want to understand it in a larger context. Rather than seeing yourself as some singular, stand-alone miracle (why did I always assume I was the first person in my family to get to New Zealand?), you start to see that you are, in fact, a tiny thread woven into a larger tapestry. The older you get—and the fewer members of your family that remain—the more comforting it is to think of yourself as part of something timeless, as belonging to something.
Capricorn, the Sun’s sign at this Full Moon (Jan. 6, 2023, 3:07 pm PST), symbolizes the place we carve out for ourselves in the world by dint of grit and fortitude. Cancer, its opposite, symbolizes the place we inherited, with no effort at all, simply because of having been born into a particular family and place.
The Cancer Full Moon falls just after the holiday season this year which, more than any other, throws our family relationships into bold relief. Being with family or away from them; reminders of holidays from youth; estrangements and losses that ache like an arthritic shoulder in cold weather… we may celebrate the holidays or not, but we can’t easily separate them from the legacy of family.
Not every family story is a happy one; for some of us, the healthiest life is one that cuts us out of that family portrait. But the family we’re born into is only the preamble to a lifetime of building intentional family, those dear friends, spouses, children, and neighbors who make you feel that you belong to them.
The mystery of how we choose a mate, close friendship, or even a place to live feels a little less random to me after that day in Okains Bay. Perhaps when a new person or place reverberates with uncanny familiarity, it’s not necessarily about past life connections, at least not our own past lives. Something electrical in me leapt to attention the first time I heard my future husband’s voice on the phone, and now I wonder: was it our Moore and Coffin DNA calling to each other in happy recognition, leading to a happy series of events that eventually called us back to that faraway place where we were once neighbors?
I suppose you could just call the whole thing a coincidence. But it’s in my nature and in my job description as an astrologer to read meaning in symbols. The Cancerian part of me feels strengthened and comforted to know that if I can find a family connection on a remote peninsula on the other side of the planet—because that probably means that I can go virtually anywhere in the world and find myself among family.
For some of us, this is a sad time of year. If it’s cold out there and you’re feeling disconnected from others, estranged from your family, missing someone dear, or not at home in the world, consider this: By definition, you belong here. You’re part of what makes the world what it is, and without you it literally wouldn’t be the same. You’re the latest installment in a story that began a long time ago. So under the bright, Cancerian Full Moon, let’s summon that long ago time when our ancestors were friends, neighbors, cousins; no matter how far apart we may be, dear reader, it’s good to know you are out there, and that we belong to the same family.
Writing and collages © 2018-2022 April Elliott Kent