The Final Full Moon of 2020 Will Have You Craving Change In the New Year

The emotional final full moon of 2020, the "Cold Moon," will have you in your feelings and aching to shake things up.

The Final Full Moon in 2020 Will Have You Craving Change in the New Year-Adobe Stock-378484565
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With a new year symbolizing new hope just around the corner, this last week of 2020 — which has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years ever — feels like a time to enjoy the wintry darkness and quiet, to hibernate, to slow down, and yes, to steel yourself. But the astrology of the moment is a bit more action-packed than you might expect for this generally sleepy week.

On Tuesday, December 29, at 10:28 p.m. ET/7:28 p.m. PT exactly, a full moon will occur in the cardinal water sign Cancer. Here's what it means and how you can make the most of this heartfelt, change-bringing astrological event.

What Full Moons Mean

First, a little background on the significance of full moons in general: The point at which the moon is at its most full and most luminous every month has proven inspiring to many cultures. It's a time that's considered ideal for cleansing your crystals and recharging them. And in astrology, because the moon is tied to your emotional compass, intuition, and sense of security, it tends to throw you into the deep end of all those things when it's full.

The traditional buzz about full moons is that they make people crazy — and sure, lunacy (from the Latin "luna" meaning moon) can occur around them — but the root cause of that craziness is often the release of pent-up, intense emotion. Whenever you notice more road rage or eyebrow-raising behavior around a full moon, consider how it might be the result of people projecting their stress, pain, trauma, and a gazillion other tough emotions onto others (or inwardly, hurting themselves) rather than looking at and dealing with difficult feelings head on.

Full moons also mark culmination points in astrology. Whatever narrative in your life is being summed up during a full moon often began around the new moon in the same sign. (Reminder: A new moon is essentially the opposite of a full moon, when it's not being illuminated by the sun from our viewpoint on Earth, and appears totally dark.) So, for instance, this upcoming December 29 full moon in Cancer is linked to the June 21 new moon and solar eclipse that was also in Cancer.

Given the intensity of a full moon and the way it can urge you to face deep-rooted emotions and cross a finish line of some sort (for better or worse), they're ideal for opening yourself up to reflection and inner work. While new moons are suited to intention-setting, full moons offer you a chance to look back and be in the moment versus plow ahead. After all, once you've gone through the process of releasing emotional baggage you have no use for, you'll only feel lighter and more capable of building momentum.

Themes of This Cancer Full Moon

Water sign Cancer, symbolized by the Crab, is ruled by the emotional, intuitive, maternal moon and rules the fourth house of home, family, and security. Sentimental, sensitive, and endlessly dedicated to their loved ones, Cancers default to caring for others before themselves, and when they hit a wall, they'll turn inward and go into whatever they deem their cozy, safe zone — just like, yep, a crab. That said, this full moon could have us feeling the weight of emotions that have piled up over months, perhaps even years, and coping by gravitating to the creature comforts, people, and habits that make us feel most secure. (

This particular full moon is also referred to as the Cold Moon — a Mohawk name for the moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, which speaks to the chilly temperatures that generally accompany this time of year. It's a reminder that it's completely normal to seek warmth, support, safety, security, and comfort — all Cancerian themes — more than ever right now, and this moon is a perfect opportunity to voice your desires around those themes.

It's also possible whatever you're processing during this full moon has its roots in reflections or realizations that first popped up around June 21. Back on the summer solstice, when the solar eclipse fell in Cancer, chances are you were swimming through a lot of emotions, some that were tough to even put your finger on. But over the next six months, you've been exploring and gaining clarity on those feelings. Given the homebody nature of Cancer, it's possible these emotions have been related to fostering a sense of security, navigating relationships with loved ones, or rethinking how, where, and with whom you want to feather your nest. Now, six months later, it's the culmination point of that cycle, and this full moon could bring on some rather game-changing realizations and decisions.

Although Cancer is a cardinal sign, known for the ability to come up with invaluable big-picture ideas and bring energy and enthusiasm to the table, they're generally not impulsive or rebellious. But because this full moon forms a harmonizing sextile to revolutionary Uranus — which tends to spur excitement, surprises, and change — you could find yourself craving stimulating experiences and the satisfaction of striking out on your own. No doubt, leaning into the Cancerian need to find your footing and bolster your sense of security can make it easier to take a leap of faith. (

Who the Cancer Full Moon Will Affect the Most

If you were born under the sign of the Crab — approximately June 21 to July 22 — or with your personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars) in Cancer (something you can learn from your natal chart), you'll feel this full moon more than most. More specifically, if you have a personal planet that falls within five degrees of the full moon (8 degrees Cancer), you'll be in your feelings in a major way and find that working through them can expedite transformative healing.

Similarly, if you were born in a fellow cardinal sign — Aries (cardinal fire), Capricorn (cardinal earth), Libra (cardinal air) — you could feel the weight of this full moon on your heart and your mind, encouraging you to face deep-rooted emotional wounds and nurture the relationships that support your dreams.

The Heartfelt Takeaway

Full moons are, as a rule, emotionally intense, and as this incredibly stressful year ends, it'll be perfectly normal to find yourself deluged by feelings. But this moment isn't about getting swept away. Instead, by forming a friendly angle to game-changer Uranus, currently moving through grounded Taurus, the Cancer full moon urges you to use the heaviest emotions in your heart as fuel. Once you've faced the past, healed old wounds, and have your bearings, you'll be better prepared to steadily pave a new path in 2021 — this time with a softer, more open heart.

Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents,, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie.

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