Cancer is Love in action; though it centers in feeling (Moon ruler) it shows itself in action (Cardinal sign). Cancer gets into trouble when it feels but doesn’t act; this is when the life-giving force that is the essence of the sign becomes frustrated and stunted, trying to share Love through passive means. The purpose of nurturing is to put Love into action; that is, in essence, what nurturing is, an influx of caring that supports all facets of Beingness. That’s a big order for anyone, and it’s in trying to fill this, consciously or not so, day after day, that Cancer may come to feel hollowed out, used, devoid of enough energy (love!) for him- or herself—and yet the Cardinal push behind the sign may make giving and caring compulsive, anyway—and that means that feeling unloved or sorry for himself is a Cancer pitfall extraordinaire—though it’s also the answer: Cancer must learn to care for her- or himself, to nurture the Self without qualifiers or reservation, in order to be any good at doing for others; after all, we can’t give away what we don’t already possess.
Cancer needs to be especially attentive to the ebb and flow of the emotional reactions; these, when carefully monitored, will signal when the Crab should give, and when she or he needs to reserve loving energy for her- or himself. It’s important to note, the Crab’s reactions may vary, as does the energy available to respond to others with feeling, but the orientation of the feelings themselves, toward others and about circumstances or things, remains surprisingly constant. They don’t change their hearts easily, and may suffer for it. There’s also the matter of mistaking empathy, sympathy, and desire for others to be comfortable with Love in the more romantic sense; the Cancer Ascendant can be misread by others as caring because they want more in the relationship, rather than as caring being the simple but driving force behind the personality, and Cancer herself may confuse the meaning behind the feeling, too, at least initially.
To those looking on, Cancer may seem a vulnerable person with a quickly-changing emotional outlook, temperamental and overly reactive. This may have originated in an early environment that required the Cancer individual be especially sensitive to others. Often the early years involved caring for others even younger or more in need than they (or at least being highly sympathetic toward them, for instance, finishing all one’s supper because “think of the children starving in China”), or required Cancer to accommodate a particularly sensitive caretaker or other adult who, Cancer believed, needed their emotional support. This may have oriented our young Cancer to a service mentality that insists on putting the Self last (guilt is oh-so Cancerian when operating with shadow values), setting them up for a life of feeling drained by various demands that come at them via tradition, rules, expectations, hierarchies, and the harshness of life itself, all reflections of a negative take on opposing sign Capricorn.
Unconscious sensitivities, a Cancer specialty, may show first in stomach or digestive issues, or through skin conditions or in surprising bone breaks, as Cancer reacts unconsciously to feelings or fears, and/ or tries to rid the Self of pollutants of all kinds. Cancer, as the absorbent sponge of the zodiac, may take in emotionally without being consciously aware of what they’re ingesting, and that makes them exquisitely responsive, linking psyche, soma, and emotus at a molecular level that sees little difference among the forms. Feeling permeates everything, for the Cancer individual, and that means they feel about everything, even if that response doesn’t immediately show. Note, too, the relationship between the Moon and the asteroid Ceres in the natal chart for clues as to the kind of physical sensitivities the individual might be prone to.
To the observer, Cancer on the Ascendant is sensitive, almost to a fault, and perhaps gives others the impression that they are continually being monitored or watched—for their own good, of course—and that can make Cancer on the ASC seem older and Mom-ish, no matter the chronological age or sex—awkward! It also, though, fosters a certain amount of Trust with even the unlikeliest of individuals—the feeling is Cancer cares, even if we’ve just met them, or they have no reason to—and that can give others the incentive to take a leap of faith. Cancer’s mere presence, then, can act as a motivator for others. Cancer needs to incorporate into the way they meet the world clear boundaries and structures that protect and honor the Self, a positive expression of Capricornian duty. Looking out from their Cancer Ascendant, these individuals often feel much too easily swayed by the demands of simply being alive, by authority and tradition and obligation, and can wear themselves out trying to respond as they believe they should, with an outpouring of emotional support for others—when stressed, fear or ‘shutting down’, negative Capricorn factors, can be the result. If they can put emotional and psychic boundaries in place, and find a solid vessel in which to secure their own emotional sustenance, they can bring caring to a world that can be too harsh without the Lunar sensitivity and ability to reflect one’s needs and concerns, to gauge the amount of input, support, or nurture needed, and then to fill that individual, situation, or reaction with soothing light.
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