Cancer and Capricorn


Welcome. This is part of a series of articles on the Zodiac, written with tarot readers in mind. (I’ve also created a handy reference chart here to show the associations between the zodiac signs and the Major Arcana, which you can get here.)

In this article we’re exploring the astrological pairing of Cancer and Capricorn…

With Gemini and Sagittarius the focus was on truth, communication and learning.

As you might have noticed, there is a significant shift as we move through each pair of zodiac signs.
We’re covering a lot of ground.
This is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about astrology because I find it gives me the vocabulary to contemplate such a broad palette of human experience…. Let’s take a look at the next pair of Water/Earth signs…


Cancer and Capricorn

Moon ruled Cancer is a totally different flavour of Water energy than Scorpio was. With Scorpio we were in the darkest depths. With Cancer, we’re pushed and pulled by the tides.
Remember – Water is emotion. And Cancer has a reputation for being particularly sensitive to mood – both of the self and of others, too.

The Moon brings her maternal associations with her – giving Cancer nurturing, tender sensibilities.

It’s the womb, the home and the nest.

The safety and protection of the shell.

A warm and loving embrace.

Cancer is about nourishing ourselves at the level of the roots. Making sure we’re taken care of and supported. It’s feeling safe enough to bond with and depend on others.

Which makes the archetypal mother idea come through more clearly. An ideal bond between mother and child is natural and instinctual.

Zodiac signs have connections with different body parts too. Cancer’s associations include the digestive system, breasts and – you guessed it – the womb.

The more positive aspects have likely shone through quite strongly in what I’ve written so far. But like with all of the signs there’s a darker side.

With Cancer it’s the danger of becoming too attached to the safety of the known. A refusal to get off the breast. We can be unwilling to expose the soft, vulnerable underbelly to the world.

It’s protection and a need for security at any cost. When a threat’s experienced, those crab pincers come out. Defensive but also clinging.

It can also give a huge patriotic tendency. Or perhaps that should be “matriotic”. Deep attachment and love for one’s country as if it was the Mother in some way… 

With Cancer as archetypal Mother that makes Saturn ruled Capricorn the Father.

It’s also the “Man”. The System. The Establishment. The Patriarchy.

Capricorn embodies hard work and ambition. It’s both the carrot and the stick.

Ambition is a quality that is sometimes seen in a negative light, especially in regards to women. Although the times are definitely a-changing!

We have the drive to succeed, to conquer the proverbial (or literal) mountain and achieve status.

Capricorn taps us into significant levels of energy available to be used in the quest for accomplishment in the Real World. There’s a certain dignified quality to this style as well. The kind of stoicism and endurance that gets to the top of that mountain.

In Sagittarius we receive the impetus and confidence to set out on our Holy Quest. With Capricorn we diligently do the work that leads us to true Mastery in the earthly realm.

Where we need to be mindful with Capricorn is that we can be unwittingly undone by our own desire to succeed.

Pushing on towards our destination no matter who we have to leave behind. Forgetting to look after the needs of a tender and often frail inner self.

They demonstrate very different kinds of strength. Cancers from its capacity to accept vulnerability as part of the package. Capricorn in its willingness to do the work.

As we grow, we must eventually leave the nest and venture out into the world. And we need to develop the skills to go about our business in a way that truly nourishes us.

We also win collectively when we remember that it doesn’t have to be about Big Business vs Mother Earth. That success is much more than a material trophy or a worldly reputation.

Alan Watts

Alan Watts really did his philosophical Sagittarian ascendant justice – with a lifelong interest in Eastern philosophy, especially Zen.
But he also had the Sun, Mercury and Mars all closely conjoined in Capricorn – making his mark in the world with an accomplished career that spanned decades.

You’ll find dozens of lengthy audio tracks of his teachings on Youtube where he talks with a gravelly authoritative voice about lots of different topics relating to the spiritual journey of life and death.

But here are some that I particularly enjoy.

About enjoying the process of climbing that mountain, not chasing the carrot and just trying to get to the top of it (excuse the quality). And then discussing a musing on how to find what truly nourishes you. 

 “Music and Life”

What if money was no object?


Sir Edmund Hillary

“It’s not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves”

Sir Edmund Hillary is one of New Zealand’s most cherished icons.
He wasn’t only one of the first people recorded as reaching the top of Mt Everest. He was the first to climb Everest AND reach both the North and South Poles.

And he’s not even a Capricorn!

He does have Sun-Jupiter closely conjoined in Cancer, as well as Mars and Pluto, which give us an insight into his huge capacity for compassion.

He wasn’t only an adventurer, but also a philanthropist. Setting up trusts in Nepal that continue to support the region. And also various organisations in his beloved homeland as well.
He definitely made his mark on the world, but he never forgot his roots or the people on the way.

Make it Real

Cancer and Capricorn

Today is a sweet little spread for you to tap into the combined Cancer-Capricorn spirit.

These three cards offer advice to nourish you as you make your way up whatever mountain it is that you’re currently climbing. What should you definitely not forget to do for yourself? What’s important?

Up next…