Rulers: Moon and Saturn
Natural houses: 4th/10th
Ruled by the Moon and Saturn, the Cancer-Capricorn axis, naturally associated with the 4th/10th house axis, describes the child and the parent, the one who needs nurturing and the nurturer, our need to belong and our need to stand on our own feet in the world. This is the parent-child axis, and of course there is no child without a parent and there is no parent without a child. Taken to extremes, the signs of Cancer and Capricorn can describe the twin core fears of engulfment and abandonment, which seem to be universal themes deeply lodged in all of our psyches. The sphere of Cancer and the Moon concerns nourishment and nurturing, early experiences of safety and care, and our need for protection. The Moon is the child in all of us, and the child the part of us that doesn't grow up. The sphere of Saturn, on the other end of the spectrum, is the sphere of the parent, the carer and provider, the one who is responsible for establishing safe boundaries. The entire axis is concerned with issues of security, safety and protection. This axis polarises very easily in relationships, with one partner becoming needy and dependent, demanding to be cared for and looked after, and the other partner becoming the provider and competent parent. In fact, relationships are often the arena in which we seek to resolve uncompleted primal nurturing issues, and this will be particularly so if we have Cancer and Capricorn on the Ascendant-Descendant axis, or several planets in Cancer and Capricorn or in the 4th and 10th houses. When this axis polarises, the Cancer end becomes increasingly needy and the Capricorn end becomes increasingly withholding and withdrawn.
Opposites becoming each other: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes,
'Saturn Devouring One of His Sons' (1815)
I once had a client for whom this was a particularly painful theme in her life, and I learned a great deal from her. She had Cancer on the Ascendant, which of course indicates that issues of self-protection were very important. However, as is generally the case with this axis, she had projected the Saturn-ruled Capricorn parent-figure onto her husband, whom she experienced as judgemental, cold and distant. As the axis became further and further polarised, she became more and more needy as she felt increasingly rejected and judged by her husband, and very alone. What made this theme even stronger was the fact that Saturn, the ruler of the Descendant, was right on her Ascendant in Cancer. The first thing I noticed when I met this client is that she was extremely overweight, which is not something you would expect with Saturn on the Ascendant. But I realised that this was a physical manifestation of her feeling of emotional starvation. The whole Cancer-Capricorn axis concerns our ability to give and to receive nourishment - what is enough and what is not enough. My client felt so emotionally starved in her marriage and by her husband that food had become her only comfort.
Audience: And I suppose her size was also a suit of armour - a way of protecting herself, if she had Saturn rising. Were you able to help her?
Clare: No, I don't think so, because this axis had become so polarised that I was unable to reach her. I did spend quite a bit of time suggesting that she could learn to parent herself, and to take care of her own needs. I was trying to encourage her to start taking responsibility for herself as an adult. After all, we all start off being spoon-fed, but there comes a time when we take the spoon and learn to feed ourselves. In other words, I was trying to help her to find a more conscious relationship between the Cancer and Capricorn poles of this spectrum.
Audience: But she didn't get it?
Clare: No, because she was just so needy. And the last thing you want to hear, when you are craving some kind of support, some kind of emotional food, is that you will not get the emotional support you are looking for from your partner, and that you will eventually need to learn to protect, nurture and nourish yourself. Hopefully she was able to hear this later, when she listened to the recording of the session. But in this case, I heard that she did eventually leave her husband and went into a relationship with another man who - guess what? - turned out to be cold, judgemental and withholding. She repeated the pattern because nothing had changed within, and this axis remained polarised.
Audience: What happens if you are identified with the Capricorn end of this spectrum?
Clare: Then it is likely that you will be more self-contained, and may well end up playing the role of parent in relationships.
Audience: This has always bothered me, but I can see how it works now. I have Capricorn rising, but I always have men in my life who behave like a wife.
Clare: Or a mother?
Audience: Exactly. They cook for me and look after me. I don't know why this always happens, because I am not really needy. I work really hard, much harder than they do, so they end up doing things for me. I always wonder why I end up going out with these passive, 'house-husband' types who look after me. It's very easy to live with, but my problem is I am bored to death. On the one hand it is really good, but I feel stifled. I also have a lot of fire and air in my chart, so I suppose I want to break away and rebel against it.
Clare: But perhaps this is saying that, instead of feeling stifled by the man who is there in your home, who looks after you and runs about and cooks for you, that you have projected - by delegating onto your partner - your need to be cared for and protected and fed, rather than doing this for yourself.
Audience: I know I have that side, but it is due to a lack of time that I delegate that to him.
Clare: And so he does it for you. With Capricorn rising, you are adult, responsible and self sufficient, so naturally you attract all those Cancerian qualities in partners, and so the relationship axis polarises, with one of you doing the caring and looking after the domestic side of things, and the other doing the career and the work and bringing home the bacon.
Audience: The problem is that, because I don't like this situation, I find myself living a double life. That is my great dilemma - that I end up having a secret life on the side.
Clare: So we can see clearly how the Cancer-Capricorn story is working out, but of course every chart has more than one story, and there is obviously something else here as well.
Audience: I don't look for it.
Clare: You may not be consciously looking, but no doubt you are unconsciously looking.
Audience: I keep on searching for partners who are Capricorns or Aquarians, but when they are with me, they seem to transform almost immediately into Cancerians.
Clare: In your case it seems that you have embodied the qualities of Saturn and the Capricorn Ascendant so successfully that it is difficult to recognise your neediness and dependency, which is why you meet it 'out there' in your partners. This is really the opposite situation to the client I was talking about, who was just feeling desperately lonely and needy.