Your July Horoscope: You Cannot Teach a Crab to Walk Straight
I’m not sure what Aesop had against crabs, but if his fables are anything to go by, he was not a fan. Exhibit A: The Young Crab and his Mother:
“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”
“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”
So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.
Exhibit B: The Crab and the Fox
A crab, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green meadow as its feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and being very hungry ate him up. Just as he was on the point of being eaten, the Crab said, “I well deserve my fate, for what business had I on the land, when by my nature and habits I am only adapted for the sea?’
Sadly, the crab hasn’t fared much better in the rest of history: Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates is said to have named masses of cancerous cells karkinos — Greek for crab. Medical historian Dr. Howard Markel explained that during his time, Hippocrates was examining patients who likely had end-stage cancer. Because malignant tumors are often hard to the touch, they reminded him of a crab’s shell. However it was just as likely due to the pinching pain that such tumors caused, or the stubborn way they seemed to grip onto people’s bodies, but in any case, Hippocrates applied the Greek word karkinos, which means crab, to these maladies. Later, the Latin word for crab would become predominant: cancer.
Not that it wasn’t already having a time, mind you: According to Greek myth, Cancer was crushed under the foot of Hercules and then placed in the sky by Hera, forming the Cancer constellation. In Roman mythology, it is Juno (Hera's counterpart) who places the remains of the crab in the sky, but it hardly fares much better. Naturalist Richard Hinckley Allen, in 1899, deemed Cancer the "most inconspicuous figure” in the sky, adding that its mythology "apologizes for its being there by the story of being crushed by Hercules as punishment for pinching his toes during a contest with the Hydra in the Marsh of Lerna.” Poor sideways walking crab.
With the centuries, however, the crab did get its pride of place though in keeping with the crustacean’s by now obvious flair for the ironic, it was more as an ingredient than as a guest at the table. The ancient Roman cookbook of Apicius makes mention of crab in some of its more elaborate recipes, but it’s not until the 12th century Sanskrit text Manasollasa that the mighty arthropod gets at least a little bit of consideration. While it was still the main course, the text instructed that the crab should be treated well and fed specific types of fish to increase its flavor. Ok, so not precisely an altruistic pursuit, but at least crab was held in higher regard than its more vulgar relative lobster (which was considered the very opposite of luxury until the advent of canneries; another story for another time).
Luckily, astrology is a lot kinder to the crab and we spend a large part of our July happily roaming through the faintest constellation in the sky, that of Cancer the crab. Ok, maybe happy is both an exaggeration and a simplification but I want you ready for what’s coming because now that we’re past eclipse season we’re all about to witness or be part of a pretty seriously transformative month. So get your pinchers primed and your shell in order because this July is coming on strong and you know what? You’re ready for it.
The month begins with a significant shift in energy as drama queen Mars enters strong and silent Taurus on July 5 after a stint in fiery Aries. When Mars hangs out in the bullring it can often feel like nothing is happening but that’s often the calm before the storm: use that transit to think before you leap because trust me kittens, the water is deeper than it looks. You’ll have a sense of this though, when buzzy Mercury enters our sensitive crab Cancer on the same day of July 5 until July 19, which will get you thinking about what you’re doing in the future, why you’re doing it, and who you want along for the ride. The full moon comes in the midst of this on July 13 and parks itself in Capricorn and this is a major moment. Why, you ask? Remember how this year is defined by the transit of good luck Jupiter through Aries and Pisces? All that energy is helping us dream big and build the ladder we need to get there. This is the final month that Jupiter transits through Aries and the full moon in Capricorn means you’re inspired to put pen to paper, pedal to metal, or whatever other action combo suits you. The point is, you’re ready to roll and no one can stop you.
By the second half of the month, Cancer holds strong with a Venus transit on July 19 meaning that you may still want to cultivate that secret, a hidden thing that you’re a little too shy to show anyone else. However, the sun transits into Leo on July 20 so depending on the softness of your shell, you might just be ready to spread the love further than you have in a while. The new moon in Leo on July 28 amplifies all of the pent-up positive energy that the lion brings to the table, so spend it doing the thing you love most with the people you love most. Quirky Uranus aligns with the North Node of Destiny in Taurus on July 31 just as Jupiter runs retrograde in Aries. The end of the month will push us to push every boundary, even those goalposts we thought were fixed for good. So even though everyone from Aristophanes to Aesop has said that crabs can’t walk straight, try it anyway. You may just find that it isn’t your gait that’s changed, but the path of the road ahead. Maybe you’re not so crooked, and maybe the world isn’t so straight. The world was made to be walked on; however you choose to get there.
As ever, Virginia
Coconut crabs are so named not for their resemblance to the tree fruit, but for their ability to latch onto and tear them open for food. These land-dwelling crustaceans can live for decades on islands on the Indo-Pacific rim, can grow to be more than a meter wide (legs outstretched), and weigh more than 2 kilos. But neither their eating habits, dimensions, nor residence makes coconut crabs so unique. What sets them apart is that they change colors throughout their life cycles into brilliant reds, blues, or whites, and scientists have no idea why. All of the reasons that normally explain color variations (evolution, sex, mating, diet) seem to fall flat upon further study. They are just different colors. That’s all there is to it.
So take heart, Aries. You’ve been showing your colors for a long time and have had to answer questions about how you wound up where you did, and the fact that you never seemed to have a clear answer has always bothered you. But really, who cares how you got to be so colorful? Why should you have to explain yourself? This month you’ll stop worrying and start learning to love your fancy shell, especially as Jupiter dances through your house. The full moon in Capricorn means you’ll dig your heels into whatever it is that you believe, and by the time the Sun enters Leo you’ll be proven right. Don’t let the coconuts bring you down.
Though often referred to as such, soft-shell crabs are not a separate crab species. Instead, they’re regular crabs that have gotten too big for their shells, and in order to keep growing, they must shed their shells and make roomier ones. To do so, the crab forms an inner soft shell underneath, swells its body with water to break its current shell, and then slowly crawls out to begin forming a new shell. It takes a couple of days for a new shell to fully harden, which is when they often find themselves in the unfortunate position of being caught and fried. Though the molting process is common to many other animals, few are caught as often in their altogether as the soft-shelled crab.
I bet you also feel a bit like a crab without her shell these days, huh? You Taureans really don’t like being vulnerable and if you could, you’d trundle through life with that same clunky suit of armor you’ve been wearing for centuries. The good news is that once Mars enters Taurus on July 5, you’ll have a new, upgraded shield to start experimenting with, and it should help to protect some of that messy goo you’re still trying to emerge from. The full moon in Capricorn will make you feel like you’re finally standing on solid ground, but you’re going to have some tough choices to make in the coming days and months. Now that you’ve molted and shed that too- small shell, what are you going to do next? You can try stuffing yourself back into the old one or give it all up and get swept into the next net that passes by. Or, you can get to work on building the shell that’s right for you, the one that protects you not despite but because you allowed yourself to be vulnerable.
21 May- 20 June
When researchers attempted to reconcile the evolutionary history of crabs earlier this year, they arrived at the conclusion that the defining features of crabbiness have evolved at least five times in the past 250 million years. Even more confusing though, is that not all crabs are crabs, so to speak. Of the 8,000 recorded types, about 7,000 are known as true crabs; the rest are called “false crabs” and include hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and crab lice. Two questions often arise from this revelation. The first is, “how can we tell true from false crabs?” The answer has a lot to do with the length and number of legs as well as the size of the abdomen. The second is, “are we all eventually going to evolve into crabs?” The answer to that might take a little longer to hash out.
The point, dear Gemini, is that you might also get accused of being both a true and false crab from time to time, and you might take it pretty badly. Mercury entering Cancer on July 5 will make you even more touchy to those who will question your dualities and try to measure the size of your abdomen. But take heart! By the time your home planet enters Leo on the 19th and the Sun follows a couple of days later, you’ll have a hard enough shell to withstand any of those jibes. Besides, it's easy to try to parse things out into black and white, but you and I both know that reality is much grayer and constantly evolving. In the great shuffle towards essential crabbiness, hang your true/false flag proudly, and don’t be afraid to lead the way.
21 June - 21 July
When we think of crabs, we often think of the generic, oblong, red variety teetering along the sandy ocean floor. I blame The Little Mermaid. The truth is, crabs live in just about every climate, topography, and area of the world, and do a tremendous job of adapting to their environment. There is the tree-climbing Coconut Crab, the Hairy Chested Yeti Crab who lives in Antarctica, and even the Hoff Crab, found over 2000 meters under the sea, where volcanic vents superheat the water to c380 degrees Celsius and belch out noxious chemicals, and where there is no light and very little oxygen. Basically, crabs are not only one of the oldest species on our planet, but they are also the most resilient.
Keep this in mind, oh great subject of this month’s inquiry. Though it is true that you have your habits, and that some of them might be a bit...eccentric (like hanging out near volcanoes), you’re constantly changing, shifting, and adapting, often to put others at ease. This month should be about you, and it’s ok for you to want it to be that way, really. The full moon in Capricorn will see you putting your claw down with whoever keeps making you climb trees when you really want to go ice skating, and though it will be dramatic, your shell is harder than you think. Let Leo take the reins on the 21st and enjoy the afterglow of your own success. It’s the sort of thing you might just want to cultivate a little more often, wherever you are.
If you happen to be in the Indo-Pacific's warm, shallow waters, you’ve got a good chance of coming across the Oates’s soft-coral crab, also known as the commensal soft-coral crab, or candy crab. Named for its vibrant colors, the candy crab camouflages itself according to the shade of the soft coral in which it lives, and it can be white, pink, yellow or red. Pointed spines cover its carapace and it often adds to its camouflage by selecting polyps from its host coral and attaching them to its body. You’ll find this planktivorous species, which grows only up to 0.8 inches (2 cm), among the spines of Dendronephthya soft corals. The candy crab is the only species in its genus, making it not only exceptionally beautiful but also completely unique.
You know how it is, Leo. You can run, hide, and cover yourself with polyps but when you’re this unique, you’re gonna get found. It’s not because you’re not good at hiding, mind you: it’s just impossible to dim that bright a shine. You’ve been trying (sort of) because you thought it was the thing to do, and at certain points you might have been right to do so. But it’s about to by your time, dear Lion, and don’t let anyone tell you different. By the time you get past that pesky full moon in Capricorn, Mercury and the Sun come find you, and a new moon in Leo on the 28th truly gets the party started. So get your best coral earrings on, and get ready to shine.
22 July - 22 August
23 August - 22 September
Despite its name, the Crab Eating Macaque typically does not consume crabs; rather, it is an opportunistic omnivore, eating a variety of animals and plants. Their diet consists primarily of fruits and seeds, though it will also eat leaves, flowers, roots, and bark. In Indonesia, the macaque has become quite well known for its ability to dive into mangrove swamps for crabs and other fish, which also results in it being fed by humans in exchange for their hard won crustaceans. The Latin name is equally perplexing: M. fascicularis is Latin for a small band or stripe but Sir Thomas Raffles, who gave the animal its scientific name in 1821, did not specify what he meant by the use of this word.
I know, Virgo, I know. How many times have you been blamed for a dumpster fire you didn’t start, and ignored when it’s all been admirably extinguished. Mercury enters Cancer on the 5th and it’ll make you a little more anxious about what people really think, but let it ride and know that Mars in Taurus will help calm your nerves if you’re willing to let things go a little more (like water off a macaque’s back, amirite?). The full moon in Capricorn will remind you that you have more people on your side than you often realize, and by the time you get to the end of the month, you could just get to the point where you’re trading the things that come natural to you for the things you really want.
23 September - 22 October
Originating as a birthday celebration that coincided with Pride Week, Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974 by Michael Gonzalez, a local resident and mime. The parade has since grown into the largest single-day event in Santa Barbara County, attracting crowds of more than 100,000 people who come to watch the spectacular floats and costumes as well as to enjoy street art, food, and entertainment. But it really is a celebration of Santa Barbara: artists and technicians work with the community to conceive ideas, build floats, make costumes, and plan performances. Indeed, when some of the entries veered off a little too far into, let’s say, bondage territory, the organizers decided to strictly regulate the themes and materials used by participants, prohibiting any that represent physical harm to any human being. Numbers and creativity have only increased since. See, there is such a thing as balance.
But who am I telling? You’ve been saying that for ages, dear Libra: after all, it’s kind of your thing. You’ve done a great job of navigating that thin line between the brutal truth and the kind word, even in the midst of a Mercury retrograde last month that left you wanting to ditch the ceremony and tell people what you really thought. Mercury gets out of your way this month, which is lucky for it because you’re full steam ahead into the next chapter of whatever brilliant book you’re currently writing. The full moon in Sagittarius lights up your creative juices and gets you thinking of what costume you want to wear, and by the time the new moon enters the scene in Cancer on the 28th you’re ready to lead the band. Respectfully, of course (or not).
23 October - 21 November
The Japanese spider crab has the greatest leg span of any arthropod, reaching up to 3.7 m (12.1 ft) from claw to claw. For reference, that’s about two full grown men long. The crab can weigh up to 19 kg (42 lb), making it second in mass only to the American lobster among all living arthropod species. For reference, that’s really heavy. Despite their terrifying, mega-alien, how-can-that-be-real appearance, Japanese Spider Crabs are also known as gentle giants and the vast majority of their diets comes from scavenging on the ocean floor. This combo of nightmarish looks and delicate demeanor could be the reason that they have the longest lifespan of all crab species: the Japanese Spider Crab routinely lives for more than 100 years which means that the same creature could terrify generations of us.
But you see, it’s all about balance! This is your wheelhouse, dear Libra and this month, you’re even better at treading the fine line between fearsome and awesome. Venus, your ruler, enters Cancer on the 17th which maxes out your Spider Crab energy, but it’ll be building throughout the weeks before so don’t be afraid to flex. You’ve got a nice opportunity this month, to get what you want and what you need from the very people who should have been giving you your due this whole time. The Leo transit will embolden you but keep it in check and stay the course that your giant, impossibly horrible but actually glorious aura will inspire. You’re a gentle giant, after all. But they don’t need to know that.
22 November - 20 December
After a particularly potent mescaline trip, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre suffered from the very particular side effect of seeing crabs everywhere he went: “after I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time. They followed me in the streets, into class. I got used to them. I would wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?” I would talk to them all the time. I would say, “O.K., guys, we’re going into class now, so we have to be still and quiet,” and they would be there, around my desk, absolutely still, until the bell rang.” Apparently, the presence of these little ones profoundly affected Sartre’s writing and philosophy, and they accompanied him throughout much of his life. However, in typical Sartrean fashion, “... The crabs stayed with me until the day I simply decided that they bored me and that I just wouldn’t pay attention to them.”
As a philosopher yourself, dear Centaur, you know the power of the mind and how easy it is to make the little ones appear and disappear at will. This July, you should work on that power because first, it will serve you extremely well in the coming months and second, the universe is aligning itself in particular favor for you to flex those lovely neurons of yours. The Mars-Pluto movement will get your mind buzzing, and Leo season will give you a renewed excitement for the thought experiments and exercises that make you who you are. You’ve been shying away from asking the big questions lately, but we all know that the nature of existence is your wheelhouse.
21 December - 19 January
The ancestors of the horseshoe crab date back justy a hair over 450 million years, which is why scientists consider it a living fossil. Well, that and it’s decidedly prehistoric appearance. A dome-shaped carapace covers its entire body, and the crab uses a long tail to right itself should it accidentally become overturned, giving it the overall look of a wayward lollipop, if dinosaurs would have been in charge of Chupa Chups. However, the horseshoe crab has much more than this going for it. Because it has no hemoglobin, the copper-based blood of the horseshoe crab is blue and contains a substance that can be used to detect bacterial toxins. Each year, humans harvest the blood of horseshoe crabs via a non-lethal procedure so that it can be used to test the sterility of medical equipment and intravenous drugs. That’s right, this living fossil is a bona fide badass.
Now, you and I have been here before. Me, telling you that you’re an amazing mystical sea-goat that possesses powers far beyond the ability to organize your sock drawer; you, steadfastly refusing to believe me and deliberately mixing your paisleys and argyles to prove a point. Well this month, it’s going to be harder than usual to convince the world because a full moon in Capricorn on the 13th unleashes your inner horseshoe crab, raining magic down on anyone around you. You’re going to have to get used to it, Capricorn: by the time the sky turns Leo you’re going to be smiling in spite of yourself and whistling while you work. You may not be a living fossil but every now and then, you’re a living legend.
20 January - 17 February
The first rainfall of the wet season on Christmas Island usually falls between October and November, but can sometimes be as late as December or January. Once it happens, the Southern Pacific Island transforms into the host of one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon that our human eyes witness. The migration of the Christmas Island Red Crab sees nearly 50 million crabs make their way towards the ocean, where their will mate and lay their eggs. The red crabs leave their burrows at the same time, when the Moon is in its third-quarter phase, and return just as unanimously. It’s not entirely natural these days, however: special bridges have been built on the island to help the crabs navigate traffic, and local radio stations provide updates of the crabs’ movements throughout the migration period. David Attenborough has called it one of the most incredible experiences he’s ever witnessed, which is saying a lot.
What have we learned from this? Slow and steady wins the race. Mars enters Taurus on July 5 and Mercury moves into Leo on the 19th, which will make you want to scurry ahead of the pack. But although you might have a hard time admitting it, you’re part of something bigger and that’s awesome. You don’t always have to go it alone and July 28th’s new moon gives you the chance to look around at all the other crabs heading seaward alongside you. Enjoy it, because by the end of the month you’re going to be back on the rebel trail once again, your mission having been completed. But just remember, the bridge is always there, waiting the moon to lead you back again.
18 February - 19 March
Among a 2019 discovery of hundreds of fossils was a previously unknown species of crab, which scientists called Callichimaera perplexa. The name translates to “perplexing beautiful chimera” and was so given because, according to paleontologist Javier Luque, “Callichimaera perplexa is so unique and strange that it can be considered the platypus of the crab world. It hints at how novel forms evolve and become so disparate through time. Usually, we think of crabs as big animals with broad carapaces, strong claws, small eyes in long eyestalks, and a small tail tucked under the body. Well, Callichimaera defies all of these ‘crabby’ features and forces a re-think of our definition of what makes a crab a crab.”
Pisces, this month is the perfect time for you to embrace the perplexing beautiful chimera that you have always been. July’s Mars-Pluto square, the movement of Mars into Taurus, and Mercury in Cancer all give you a chance to reflect on who you really are, in the best possible way. The full moon in Capricorn is a chance to stand up in work or play and fight for what you really want to do, be, and become. Leo season is your cue to morph again, into the sunniest version of yourself, so don’t worry too much about the naysayers. Remember, just when you think everything’s been done another new species gets discovered, and its more magnificent than we could have ever imagined.