Psychology of Cancer in Astrology

If we think of life as the ebb and flow of the tide then we can understand Cancer best as the drawing back of the water. It brings focus back towards the self, as is necessary to tend to our personal needs and emotional development. Cancer focuses on building inner strength so that we can plunge forward with renewed vigour and conviction at the next wave.

Cancer basic needs and dominant drives

  • The desire to create a meaningful existence through identifying with people, places, things and ideas on a personal level.
  • The need to create a safe haven to which we can retreat in order to process experiences, build resilience and grow spiritually.
People embracing on a wall showing Cancer's need for connection.

Through Cancer we begin to experience life through an emotional lens. When we do this we realise that our experience of life is highly subjective; not one of us will experience a single event in exactly the same way. As we become increasingly aware of our unique self we also begin to realise that we are separate and stand alone as individuals.

This fact can be frightening. The Cancer personality stems from a need to negate this feeling of isolation through connecting and identifying with others, places or even things. (This often begins with an innate reluctance to be separated from mother.) For this reason they form very strong personal attachments and go to great lengths to build a secure base so that they never feel alone and adrift in the world. The lesson for Cancer is to learn to understand and meet their own security needs from within.

This heightened awareness of the emotional realm bestows an innate understanding of human vulnerability. This sign understands that our strength stems from being secure and centred in ourselves and they’re driven to support this growth process in others. This is why they are our natural carers, tending to the needs of vulnerable whilst they find their way in the world.

Situations that bring the best out in Cancer

Having the opportunity to foster growth

With Cancer there is a strong drive to nurture and support growth making them naturally very kind and attentive individuals. In a sense they watch over the emotional develop that precedes new stages of development. Cancer’s really come into their own when they’re able to protect and care for things whilst they build strength. This could be an artist who cultivates the seed of an idea, tending to its manifestation before releasing it into the world. Of course, a mother tends to the needs of her children whilst they grow into their independence. Alternatively, a business manager may watch over his team, endeavouring to meet their needs in an effort to nurture their potential.

When it comes to fostering their own growth they will create a private environment, set apart from the demanding proceedings of the outside world. This may be a child’s den, a teenagers bedroom or an adult’s home. Each provides a safe space to which to retreat, be calm and process personal information. This can lead to a reputation for being intensely private or even reclusive. Cancer’s need to bring order to their inner world before embarking on their next endeavour.

Forming deep connections

A family in a field showing Cancers need for emotional security and social connection

Above all Cancer desires connection. The warm sense of belonging that comes with being able to identify as being part of a supportive network. We see them at their most contented when they’re secure in the union of love. This may be through a family unit or in a devoted relationship. Alternatively, this need is often satisfied through feeling as if one belongs to friendship group, a team at work or even to one’s country. Cancer’s can be very patriotic and often identifies strongly with their nationality or place of birth. They are naturally very loving and affectionate, taking great care of the bonds in their life.

Situations that are personally challenging for Cancer

Situations that incite a strong reaction in Cancer individuals and ones whereby they’re made to feel:

  • Disconnected from those they love
  • Disorientated in unfamiliar or foreign surroundings
  • Pressured into assuming an overly assertive or combative position
  • Immersed in situations that are superficial and vacuous

Cancer can find it difficult to assert dominance in situations, even if that’s simply saying ‘no’. Their more fiery counterparts may accuse them of lacking authority. It’s just not Cancer’s way to use force. They prefer to use their power sparingly and rule with a gentle hand. Though the consequence to being unable to openly express anger is to suppress it, but this energy needs to go somewhere! Therefore it tends to come out indirectly, through mood swings and depressive episodes.

The act of suppression can make it difficult to correlate emotion with the past event that caused it. This makes feelings difficult to understand and leaves the individual feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to correct the situation. Often a friend can help to join the dots and apply a framework of logic to these complex layers of emotion. If Cancer’s can learn to structure and direct their emotions then they’ll develop an inner strength that’s hard to rival.

Alternatively, this difficulty with asserting oneself can lead an individual to consider alternative methods to getting what they want. Cancer’s make wonderful strategists but this can be expressed negatively through manipulative behaviours (often unconscious). For example, in an effort to fulfil their need to feel safe and loved they may ‘play the victim‘ so that others stay by their side. This cycle can be self-perpetuating and lead Cancer individuals to become overly dependent on others.

This innate need for emotional connection is incredibly strong, and if it comes under threat these individuals can become clingy. Cancer find it very difficult to let go making them very sentimental and loyal to a fault. The flip-side to this is that they can often stay in destructive situations or relationships for far longer than is necessary. For them it can be easier to believe that everything will be ok than to let go, so an element of self-delusion is often present as a defence mechanism in these individuals.