Why is the Moon Dignified in Cancer?

Moon Cancer alternateThere are obvious correlations between Cancer and the Moon. Both are emotional and both are concerned with home and family. But the similarities don’t stop there. One aspect that I think is often overlooked is the quality of protection.

The Moon represents our softest, most vulnerable self. It’s the place that calls us to retreat from the world and look for safety. It’s the small child within us that still looks for a mother’s arms. And that small child needs protection. And Cancer is perfect for the job. With its hard outer shell to shield and pincers to keep others from getting too close, Cancer is a supremely protective sign.

It reminds me of the story of Artemis and Actaeon. Artemis, the great lunar goddess, had to be strong. She was a goddess, for goodness sake. She couldn’t show vulnerability to her worshipers. But luckily, she had a respite.

One day, after working hard to appear strong and flawless, Artemis was exhausted. To soothe herself, she retired to her favorite place in the world. Deep in the forest of Gargaphie, beyond the hustle and bustle of nearby Thebes, lay a pure, untouched spring. Artemis approached and took a deep breath, delighting in the way the pines and cypress trees perfumed the air. Her handmaidens took the bow and quiver from her limp arms and undressed the tired goddess. She slipped into the pool and let the waters caress her body, letting out a little sigh of contentment. She was home.

But just as she began to relax, movement from the tree line caught her eye. She whipped her head around and saw a man staring at her. And not just any man. This was the Actaeon, prince of Thebes, well known for his arrogance and sense of entitlement. And here he was, hunting in her sacred grove and brazenly gazing upon her as if he had every right to invade her privacy.

She jumped out of the pool with an enraged cry. Her handmaidens crowded around her to shield her nakedness, but being a goddess, she was much taller than her human servants, and her chest still lay bare. As Actaeon continued to stare with a grin on his face, Artemis raised her arms and said, “Go ahead and tell everyone you saw me naked. That is, if you live to tell about it.”

With that, horns began to sprout from his head. Fur began to grow all over his body, and he was brought to all fours as his hands hardened into hooves. He tried to cry out, but only a pained bleating escaped his throat. The transformation was complete. He had become a stag.

At the same moment, Actaeon heard the howl of a pack of dogs – his own hunting dogs, in fact. He turned to face the furious beasts and again attempted to cry out, to make them recognize him, but again only the strangled bleating of a stag could be heard. He turned and ran, desperate to escape. But with Artemis’s goading, the dogs chased after him and eventually caught up, leading to his grisly end.

Artemis smiled, satisfied. He had invaded her sacred space. He put her in a place of vulnerability without her consent. He broke her protection. His punishment was just.

The Moon needs safety, a place away from threats and prying eyes. In this story, Artemis tried to do just that, retreating to her space of safety and comfort, the equivalent of Cancer’s shell. But Actaeon tried to breach the shell, he got the crab’s claws instead. That is why the Moon is dignified in Cancer. The Moon needs a comforting home, and by hook or by crook, Cancer WILL provide it. Armed with shell and claw, Cancer keeps us safe.

Do you have the Moon in Cancer? If not, how do you protect your safe place?

27 thoughts on “Why is the Moon Dignified in Cancer?”

  1. While I don’t have my moon in Cancer, my Sun is, and I have a tight Mars/Uranus conjunction in Cancer in the 4th house…on my Nadir. That mars is triggered whenever I see bullies hurting someone/thing that is defenseless. I become a fierce, protective Mama-Bear…very primal reaction that actually scares myself. I will protect the defenseless even more than myself. My moon is in the 8th trine pluto…

      1. This was when I was a teacher in an elementary school. Also happened in corporate america. Believe me, they appreciated my protection – I don’t go looking for fights – just keeping the peace and justice.

  2. I have Moon in Cancer. Home is sacred. I tell me family I expect BS out in the world but within our fence line we must have safety and peace. I have 3 dogs for protection. We’ve thought about guns, but that seems more trouble than it is worth. In the past I had a neighbor that was trying to have me prosecuted for excessive dog barking and she would come to my gate and record video of my dog barking at her and I took out a restraining order on her. She didn’t see that one coming. She could build her case from her home, I protected my home and my fur children.

  3. I refer to my home as my sanctuary, and put a fair bit of effort into keeping it cosy and nice (Saturn in 4th, bucket handle). My fourth house stellium buddies are great to discuss matters of the home with, and are very nurturing people.

  4. When a planet is in dignity (Sun in Leo, Moon in Cancer, Mars in Aries, etc, etc), does that mean the negative aspects of the sign and planet is amplified?

  5. It is about privacy and total vulnerability, so it seems.. family are the first people to see you shit yourself..

    to me the moon is the most revealing part of the chart.. I always pay attention to it.. it is the gooey center or hard center.. I feel sorry for people who beat themselves into a frenzy and always have to appear invulnerable (hem, Capricorn).. if you don’t take care of yourself how well can you perform? at one point you’re gonna have to face your babyness and slow down..

    I think dontbotherme808 captures the spirit of this placement.. you just don’t want to put on a face for people 24 hours a day.. or constantly maintain your image..

    I have Venus in Cancer and my problem is that I want to feel safe and secure everywhere and all the time and will bite people if they scare or judge me..

    1. But is it weak to need so much repose and vulnerability? To need to be cared for and not fucked with?
      Air dominant people ask why I don’t just let things roll off my back.. but that’s rooted in other social problems of being inadequate in groups..

      1. I guess every moon has a thing they need from other people.. maybe the mutable and fixed moons have things they can get themselves.. information, freedom, food, intense absorption in study, isolation.. but moon in Aries might want to win over people or to have their own way or start projects, moon in libra might want pleasant company, moon in Capricorn might want dignity/distinction and respect over others, and they all want not to be fucked with. Cardinal needs seem to involve others more so there’s more of a possibility of not accepting the behavior of others and controlling it. Or just shutting down and avoiding people. Then again moon in pisces tends to fair better when people love it. But, low cardinality seems to hinge on controlling others. I am flailing about and these days with a progressed Libra moon, impolite behavior is going to piss me off, but usually because it makes me uncomfortable. What’s the high energy of cancer placements?

        I think they fair better alone at home, letting their creativity go when there’s no one to control and no one to hurt them or make them feel less than. Or otherwise doing nice shit for others in small bursts, without controlling them too much.

  6. I think this also gives the lie that this placement is primarily obsessed with family and “the more the merrier”.. there is a mother/child polarity with people sometimes.. but often you have to mother yourself.. and put some hot food on the stove and stuff.. I think that the self-protectiveness can equate to not letting people into your bubble and can seem rude, particularly when threatened.. not necessarily nice to everyone.. but the thing is, do people owe us comfort? Do they owe us compassionate treatment? I get mad when someone crosses into my space when I’m walking or lets their dog bark and run at me or when they give me the feeling that they’re about to do something intrusive.. I resent even being scared at all.. or made uncomfortable.. I’m just an object in their space, I don’t know what social debts they owe me.. I know the ones I think I owe them.. but these aren’t often what they want.. how can I curb someone from doing anything “at me”.. It’s my own responsibility to control my discomfort even if I think someone is acting in a socially douchey way

    1. Some of us are better equipped to fend off external assaults than others. It depends on how your chart is set up. Eg. I have Sun and Jupiter in Cancer. I used to be that weepy, easily-triggered child.

      But I also have Pluto for a chart ruler, Uranus and Mercury angular, and a whole lot of Leo, so trust me when I say I have enough “fire power” to blow ‘em belligerent intruders away.

      We are mostly careful with other people’s feelings because we understand how easily injured ours are. However some people have hide like a rhino and just aren’t mindful of their behaviour. In that case we shouldn’t be either.

      1. Here’s the thing.. I’m good at protecting myself too, and will get up in the face of someone I get a miniscule weird vibe from.. I don’t tend to accept much behavior from someone I feel is dangerous.. most other people allow those they don’t trust to say their piece.. there have been times I refused to take a certain street and the guy said “come here, bitch, I love you”.. and I was like I was right.. I wasn’t connecting with a group of environmentalists who looked cool enough, then they teased me for my stomach problems.. I try to give people leeway and treat them respectfully but my dander gets up easily

        1. Ah, that’s another thing Cancer placements tend to give you: stomach ailments. Mine are tied in to a host of allergy issues but it’s as if the stomach has a life of its own. ?

          Good on you for not putting up with bull crap. Congratulations on listening to your gut. ? Cancers are typically viewed as softies, pushovers and light-weights so it’s unexpected when we snap shut.

  7. I wonder what the “you choose your parents” element is to this.. a kid born with this placement needs to be nurtured and treated with kid gloves?

    1. I have a Cancer Moon, and my parents most definitely didn’t treat me with kid gloves; I was mostly ignored. They both have Sun/Moon in Taurus and Gemini rising and were stubborn and selfish.

      1. Wowww. Does your moon take any aspects to Pluto or Saturn or something?

        I don’t assume that someone with moon in cancer necessarily gets treated sweetly by their parents, but they grow up sensitive for some reason. Also the moon is your experience of your family too.

        1. I have Moon square Saturn. My parents were young when they had me (18 & 19), so I think that had something to do with it. My dad and I have a good relationship now, but I keep things superficial with my mother. She’s still very selfish.

            1. I’m not sure I understand your question. I wish I could lose my sensitivity to be honest! I absorb other people’s energy way too easily and struggle not to.

              1. I mean if people hound you all the time, it’s possible to harden and lose empathy or something.. I often wondered if I grew up with a tougher family would I still say ‘that hurts my feelings’ as a kid all the time

    2. My parents were mostly too busy working to nurture me as an individual, mom trained me to be caretaker to my brother and keep a tidy house when she wasn’t around. I don’t feel great about that, but I’m over it.

  8. Cancer Moon here. I can relate to the feeling in the story. Vulnerability is hard for me when I suspect someone will be hurtful. I’ll just close off. I mean, why bother? And if I am proved right, I do feel angry. If I had the power to turn someone into a stag…hmmm not a bad idea 😉 (I’m kidding.)

    Now that I have children, this definitely applies to them. Mars squares my Cancer moon and I have become quickly angry over threats to my children. I don’t want to imagine what I’d be capable of if someone hurt them irreparably.

  9. I wonder how the Buddhist concept of equanimity relates to astrology. I was listening to Jack Kornfield talk about tolerance. I think it stands to reason cardinal people who are not in control of themselves are less tolerant of others behavior and this placement in particular will be self protective in the face of what others do.

  10. When you have planets in Cancer, you are naturally self-protective. There’s an acute sense of what is inside vs outside of yourself.

    I have Sun and Jupiter in Cancer and my brother has Moon, Venus, Mercury in Cancer. To me, our father is very maternal and nurturing. To him, it’s our mother – although her attention borders on smothering.

    With Cancer placements, people share WHAT THEY WANT TO SHARE, and trying to pry from their claws is tantamount to an invasion of privacy and yes, as drastic as it may seem, justifying the action of Artemis on Actaeon.

    Those who partake in this “inner world” have to know that theirs is a privilege and not a right.

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