Cancer is the first water sign in the zodiac and relates to the emotional and spiritual plane. As a Cardinal Water sign, Cancer pertains to beginnings, initiative, and individual identity and can be very impulsive and powerful. To learn more about Cancer energy as a whole, check out this blog.
Cancer is a measure of one’s emotional functionality. Planets in Cancer are swimming in an emotional bath, and some planets and placements do better than others in this liquidy realm.
To see what planets are in Cancer in your natal chart, head here, and then come back and look below for your planets.
The Ascendant, also known as the Rising Sign, indicates a person’s appearance to the outside world. Natives with a Cancer Ascendant come off as warm, affectionate, and loving. Watch out for their claws of steel, though, because they can and will snap if provoked.
Rising signs also influence how one sees the world. Cancer Risings are naturally sensitive and can pick up on the emotional signals of other people beneath the surface of what is said directly. These natives are artistically gifted in writing, poetry, painting, and other art forms due to their sensitive natures. They have tremendous insight into human motivation and are likely empaths; in tune with those around them whether they want to be or not.
A lesson for Cancer Ascendants is to remember that the world is not as scary and lonely as it seems. These natives benefit from recognizing that their needs can and will be met, and to not always seek to connect with others out of fear. The obstacles of youth clear up with age as Cancer Rising continues to level up in the realm of emotional intelligence.
The Sun is most comfortable when it can operate freely and directly, whereas water signs operate on a deep, emotional level and have trouble communicating on a surface level. As a Cardinal sign, Cancer is certainly concerned with the issue of identity though relationships.
Cancer natives feel more than any other Sun sign; they are like an ocean—vast and deep, with powerful forces moving beneath the surface. Watch out for that rip tide—it can easily take you out without you realizing it. Cancerians appear gentle, sympathetic, and patient, but can also wallow in self-pity or be cranky and snappish like a crab if they feel their needs are not being met. If you see a Cancer put on a hard outer shell, it’s a defense mechanism to protect a soft interior and a heart of gold.
The Cancer Sun’s motivation is forming emotional connections with others. These natives may subconsciously believe they cannot survive without others’ support. They can easily remain friends with people for years, as well as former lovers, coworkers—they find it hard to let go of and cut off people completely.
Ultimately, they just want to love freely without restrictions and rules. The lesson for the Cancer Sun is to discover the truth that they can meet their own emotional needs, and that they are whole and complete in and of themselves.
The Moon rules Cancer, so naturally it feels most comfortable and harmonious here. The Moon in Cancer is the embodiment of universal mother energy. It produces the full range of emotions, and natives with this placement perceive the world through feelings over intellect. The Cancer Moon is more receptive, yin, and inward-focused; observing the world and storing information until it is best put to use.
Cancer Moon people may experience emotional trials or explosive love affairs until they come to recognize what it is they actually want in relationships. Sometimes this is only clear later in life in adulthood, especially after the Saturn Return helps solidify one’s identity.
The Moon in Cancer (or a 4th House Moon) is a glass case of emotion, and natives may be possessive or instill passive-aggressive guilt trips to test their partner’s depth of feeling. A lesson for Cancer Moon is to learn that they are not the center of the universe, and to recognize when their emotional displays are or are not appropriate.
Ultimately, they are intensely loyal and passionate, romantic, warmhearted, and charismatic. Cancer Moon natives may come off as forceful and intense, but this is a vulnerability mask. Emotions ebb and flow, wax and wane just like the phases of the moon.
The planet Mercury is direct and efficient, but Cancer is so watery, emotional, and subjective that a straight path through the realm of expression is challenging. Mercury struggles to pull words and concepts from the emotional bath of Cancer, and finds it hard to communicate without a strong emotional undercurrent. They are also sensitive to what others think about them, and can be chameleon-like and adaptable.
Objectivity and detachment, which are gifts of Mercury/Gemini energy, are challenging for Mercury in Cancer (or the 4th House). Natives with this placement may find it hard to communicate with those who do not easily express emotions, because they listen more to how something is said than to what is actually said. They pick up on subtleties and unthoughtful, selfish communication literally stings them.
If you have Mercury in Cancer, you may find it easier to express yourself through writing and other artistic, fluid methods of communication, but the most important lesson is to be sure to say what you need to say.
Venus is a nocturnal, yin, receptive planet and has a natural affinity with the emotional nature of water signs. Venus in Cancer is primarily concerned with meeting emotional and security needs through relationships. Like the moon, this placement lends itself to beautiful displays of mothering energy, and the ability to nurture and speak to the soul of another.
Venus in Cancer (and in the 4th House) is romantic and sensitive, and more than anything, desires being loved. With Venus being the planet of one’s values, natives with this planetary placement are particular about their future security and are not interested in sharing a partner’s poverty nor supporting a struggle life. Security, both in the material and emotional realms, are a good foundation for the Cancer Venus native to be more demonstrative in love.
Lovers of their family, chosen kin, and domestic duties, whether they realize it or not, Cancer Venus natives lead with the heart in every relationship. The lesson for Venus in Cancer is to recognize that not all relationships have to operate on a deeply emotional level, and that everything is about balance.
Mars is the planet of power, sexuality, anger, and defenses and protection. Cancer being a Cardinal sign is impulsive and expressive, and has the least amount of perspective of the water signs. Cancer Mars is in fall and operates rather subtly, but these natives have a great sense of will. Mars here (or in the 4th House) may tend to immediately and impulsively defend and protect anytime it encounters what could be perceived as an emotional slight.
However, with Mars in Cancer being cooled down by the water, it could also manifest as more passive aggressiveness. The feeling can be likened to a pot of water slowly heating to a rolling boil, and if a Cancer Mars native holds onto its feelings too long, it can spill out in a not-so-pretty way. Mars in Cancer is the intuitive, sensuous and refined lovemaker, but their passion relies on sensitivity and responsiveness from their partner.
Generally speaking, though, Mars is inherently lucky in the water signs, as water is able to channel aggression in a more productive way instead of burning bridges and blowing up relationships like a fire Mars might. Like Venus Cancerians, the realms of family and chosen kin especially are important to Mars in Cancer natives, and they will kill for the ones they love. Not being able to go sword-happy immediately is a good thing, but watch out for the words, which can cut more deeply when they are finally expressed. A lesson for Mars in Cancer is to express itself as clearly as possible, lest the Mars energy bottles up and manifests in the body as pain and discomfort.
Jupiter is exalted in Cancer! Being the greater benefic, Jupiter blesses whatever sign, house, or other planet it touches, especially in daytime charts (when the Sun is above the AC/DC horizon). Generally, planets in Cancer have a subconscious fear that their needs will not be met, and Jupiter is the only planet that is large and expansive enough to meet all of Cancer’s many needs.
Cancer Jupiter (and Jupiter in the 4th House) natives are open, loving, and nurturing to others and can certainly take care of themselves, and their children. They are imaginative and creative, and can find success dealing in the realms of food and drink.Since Jupiter rules Sagittarius, the sign of higher insight, people with Caner in Jupiter can teach others that there is more than enough universal love to go around, and that we all are truly loved and protected.
Saturn doesn’t do so well in water signs: Saturn creates practical structures and boundaries, but emotions are impractical, irrational, and intangible. Cancer seeks to create, initiate, and express a soul identity while nurturing emotional needs, so Saturn here inevitably brings a sort of inflexible structure to the realm of emotions. This can be good in some ways, as self-reliance can be positive, but Saturn has trouble receiving nurturing energy, which is an important component of emotional intelligence.
Saturn in Cancer (or Saturn in the 4th House) natives can be shrewd and good with business dealings, but may feel insecure or have trouble in early life with their parents. This can lead to dependence on others, but also tenacity at the same time. Natives with this placement can certainly see a task into fruition and continue building on their foundations.
Mentally and emotionally, Saturn in Cancer can manifest as worrying about others’ feelings, or taking on responsibility for things that have nothing to do with the native. Saturn loves to be accountable, but sometimes you can’t just take on other people’s issues. The lesson for Cancer Saturn natives is knowing when to draw the line and distinguish between their own feelings, emotions, and reactions, and those of others.
The asteroid Chiron represents the core wound carried into this lifetime, so Chiron in Cancer pertains to a wound around the ability to nurture and be nurtured. Cancer planets in general (with the exception of Jupiter) have a subconscious fear that their survival needs will not be met, so Chiron here manifests as a fundamental fear of that abandonment.
Cancer Chiron (or Chiron in the 4th House) natives may be good at giving love and being of service, but have a challenging time receiving love. Even though they struggle being on the receiving end, this is still because of a subconscious fear that it can never be sufficient.
These individuals may also have trouble with mother-related issues, although it may not always be challenges with their own mothers. Perhaps they struggle with being parents themselves and nurturing their own children. Perhaps they chose to have children to fix their own wound or escape a painful childhood situation, which does not work because we cannot and shouldn’t project our own wounds onto our children (although it’s the easiest thing in the world to do). Often, we’ll find that what our children require is radically different from what we needed, and this is due to people becoming parents in
It has to be an inside job of coming to wholeness before we can even be efficient parents, otherwise our children will only trigger that wound even deeper. Natives with this placement may benefit from waiting until the Saturn return, or later in life in general, before having children (although I believe everyone could benefit from waiting to become a parent til their 30s anyway).
Healing the Cancer Chiron wound requires digging deep to unearth the fundamental survival fears are recognize they are illusory. My Shadow Integration natal chart decoding technique looks directly at the Chirotic wound (and Saturn) and integrates in through the North Node as a path to healing. Ultimately, the Chiron in Cancer lesson is the opportunity to recognize the true spiritual laws of abundance and radiate that from the inside out.
For more on Chiron, read my column called “How to Heal the Chiron Wound Through Shadow Integration & Root Work.”
Uranus is the planet of awakening, unique innovations, new ideas, and “revolutionary” shifts. It takes a LONG time to move through a sign (approximately seven years, give or take), so as it transits a sign it is responsible for significant changes and advancements in that sign’s realm.
Uranus was last in Cancer from 1950-1955. This transit brought a new point of view to the role of mothering and women in society as a whole, particularly in Western, American culture. Women were no longer satisfied being housewives and mothers—this era is a time when women started to join the workforce while their men were at war, shifting the whole dynamic of the nuclear family.
Uranus represents a deep-seated energy within a personality; the purpose that is revealed over a lifetime. Uranus brings independence and resourcefulness, and also eccentric behavior. Natives with strong Uranus are unconventional but can be rebellious. They’re inventive, but also unpredictable. Uranus in Cancer (or the 4th House) natives are artistic and can trust their intuitions, receive valuable insights through sudden feelings, and can experience success in home-oriented activities. To decode your Uranus placement, the House in which it resides will be more telling of how it influences you personally, since it spends so much time in one sign. Also watch your 11th House and wherever Aquarius falls in your chart, since Uranus rules that house and sign.
Neptune moves so slowly; it spends nearly 15 years in a sign. Neptune is the foggy planet of the collective dream; our ideals and wishes and delusions and illusions. Neptune gives you rose-colored glasses, whether or not they’re appropriate.
The last time Neptune was in Cancer was 1901-1916, and back then, women and their life dreams in Western, American culture pertained to living a life of leisure as housewives and mothers (unlike the description of Uranus in Cancer above). Life’s indulgences were a priority in the American Dream, and the country even elected 300-pound William Taft as president. Social protest and change was afoot, Freud was exploring the unconscious, and Jung formed his theories of the collective unconscious.
Neptune in Cancer (or in the 4th House) brings psychic, spiritual and idealistic qualities to the native, with sensitivity and compassion, and a love of luxury and classic values. These natives also strive for change and innovation to revolutionize the world.
To decode your Neptune placement, the House in which it resides will be more telling of how it influences you personally, since it moves so slowly. For more Neptunian themes, examine your 12th House and Pisces placements, as Neptune naturally rules that house and sign.
Pluto: the final frontier. It moves THE slowest out of the planet, with a 248-year orbit around the solar system.
Pluto is the unstoppable force; the single most destructive force in the universe: unconditional love. It calls us to die to ourselves and be reborn anew; to change and evolve, to fulfill our cosmic and soul purposes. Pluto shows up where we fear our lack of control and where we try to exercise control.
As with the outer planets, Pluto is generational and brings about powerful, irrevocable societal change. Pluto was in Cancer from 1913-1939, and during that time, the United States as a collective saw drastic changes in how its needs were met, true to Cancerian form.
When Pluto was in Cancer, World War I skyrocketed the economy until the stock market crash in October 1929, when people were plunged overnight into severe economic distress. This gave rise to criminal mobs and organized gangsters, and the rise of Hitler. Interestingly enough, the planet Pluto was discovered three months after the stock market crash. This is how Pluto works—instant transformation and forces beyond one’s control.
Another thing to consider is that the United States as an incorporated entity will be experiencing its Pluto return in a few years, so it’s worth observing what structures are crumbling at this time related to this country and its foundations. It burns away what is unnecessary and strips us to the core to show us of what we’re truly made.
Pluto has a strange orbit and stays in one sign for anywhere from 13 to 32 years! So the sign it is in is one thing, but apply the Plutonian descriptions above to the House in which it resides in your natal chart for better perspective of its influence on your life. Also pay attention to your Scorpio and 8th House.