The Moon, Neptune, and the Inner Journey of Cancer

Neptune “God of the Waters” ©Anya Sophia Mann

Cancer is associated with home, birth, family, and our tribe, clan or nation. It is also the sign of empathy, emotional intelligence, re-birth and mass consciousness. The mysterious sign of Cancer is one of the quietest. It is the tiniest of constellations in the Zodiac, and could easily slip by without being noticed. Yet within this tiny silent sign are held the deepest secrets of reincarnation, for Cancer is the gateway into the physical realm. The sacred marriage of matter and spirit happens through this gateway of Cancer.

In considering the planetary rulers of Cancer, it is most important to understand what we really mean by ‘rulership’. What may have been considered ‘ruling’ in times gone by, as in domination or holding power over us, is really referring to a kind of custodianship in which certain conditions that are necessary for growth and evolution to unfold, are held in place.  It is therefore more useful to think of planetary rulers as space-holders, providing the necessary vital conditions for specific stages of evolutionary unfoldment. Once this is understood, we can then begin to understand why, according to the Tibetan (see Esoteric Astrology by Alice Bailey), Cancer is said to have only one true space-holder (ruler) at personality, Soul and Hierarchical level, and that is Neptune.

However, the Moon ‘veils’ Neptune, at the personality level, for this stage of our evolution. In this sense it acts almost like a filter, adjusting the energy of Neptune to something that can be utilized by humanity at this time. Which is why the Moon has such a powerful effect on the masses. The true spiritual energy of Neptune is too subtle to be sensed or perceived by us at this time and, once we have fully awakened our sense-perception, we will be able to sense and fully utilize Neptunian energy. It is in Cancer that we cultivate and fine-tune our sense-perception, which is why Cancerians are so empathic and in tune with their emotional world.

Just as a gardener digs, turns, prepares and softens the hardened earth to become receptive to tender seeds, so the Moon softens our hardened hearts to become more receptive to tender spiritual energies. By creating the conditions of ebb and flow in the emotional tides of humanity, the Moon provides the masses with the experiences necessary to awaken us to our compassion and deeper sense-perception. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that we are feeling, sensing, sentient beings and the doorway in to this deeper knowledge is through our emotions. We begin the journey of acknowledging and cultivating our sense-awareness by first of all becoming aware of our emotions.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”

– HH Dalai Lama (Sun and Rising Sign in Cancer)

The Moon ‘rules’ the physical form, while Neptune ‘rules’ spirit. In Esoteric Astrology the Tibetan tells us that the Moon is the “Mother of All Forms” while Neptune is the “God of the Waters”.  In Cancer we have the sacred union of the Mother of all Forms  (the Moon) and the God of the Waters (Neptune), which represents spirit. This is a clue to the deepest mysteries of Cancer, which is to be a gateway for spirit in physical form, that is later consummated in Virgo.

“…in orthodox Astrology, the Moon is substituted for Neptune
because it is the form nature which is dominant
in the longest stage of human unfoldment.”

– The Tibetan

More clues to the vital role of Cancer can be found if we study “The Labours of Hercules: An Astrological Interpretation” by Alice Bailey. In Hercules’ fourth labor, which pertains to Cancer, he rescues a Doe by taking her to his heart and carrying her to the Sun Temple, whereupon she dies of a leg wound. On returning to his teacher Hercules sees the Doe standing out in the field again on the very spot where he had first seen her.

This hints at the spiritual lessons of care, loving concern and compassion in Cancer. Having concern for all creatures by taking them to our hearts. It also symbolizes rebirth.  This story is a metaphor for the spiritual truth that (under the custodianship of the Moon) physical forms are subject to the tides of change and yet (under the custodianship of Neptune) there is a continuous influx of Spirit that remains steady within and throughout the changing forms.

“The process of incarnation takes a lifetime. [It] is organic soul movement in which the higher, finer vibrations or soul aspects are continually radiated downward through the finer auric bodies into the more dense ones and then finally into the physical body. These successive energies are utilized by the individual in her growth throughout her life.”

– Barbara A. Brennan, Hands of Light.

It is Neptune that sensitizes us to spirit, conditions us to receive spirit in matter, and increases our capacity for spiritual awareness. In this sense Neptune spiritualizes whatever he touches. After the Moon has done her work, by conditioning humanity through our emotions, Neptune increases our capacity for spiritual awareness. Neptune’s reputation as an ‘illusionist’ in mundane Astrology, stems from this role in challenging our attachment to, and identification with, appearances and form. Neptune clearly shows us how forms themselves are constantly changing and illusory in nature,  so we may turn our attention inwards and discover the unchanging spiritual reality that is our true nature. Neptune invites us to go within and keep our attention on that which is steady, constant, and is in fact our true nature.

We are currently still being conditioned by the Moon to awaken to our emotions and the power of our emotions. Which is why emotional intelligence is such a hot topic right now, and will be for many years to come, because we are all at different stages in the development of emotional intelligence and awareness. For those who may be thinking that emotional intelligence is an old topic because the term was first used back in the 1920’s, be assured that the subject will be with us for many years yet to come. At the moment humanity is able to talk about emotional intelligence but very few can walk the talk by translating that intellectual understanding into emotional skill and competency. This is why we still have war, aggression, violence and bullying rippling through the masses, and their associated behaviors tend to leak out and peak around the time of the Full Moon. If we really understood the importance of emotional intelligence, compassion and cultivating our heart-wisdom, it would be at the core of every educational system on the planet, rather than being tagged on as an afterthought, and marginalized.

It is the conditioning effect of the Moon on the masses that leads to these tides of emotion, and humanity’s lack of skill in the emotional realm that leads to conflict. As the Moon continues to do her work humanity will become more open to acknowledging emotions and more skilful in handling our emotional experiences. This will pave the way for us to be receptive to the energy of Neptune, which will awaken us to our true spiritual nature. It is through the gateway of our emotions that we will begin this stage of our journey. Before we can even come close to receiving the energy of Neptune, we need to become much gentler in spirit!

This brings us to the Law of Rebirth, which is the realm of Cancer. It is through a continuous experience of rebirth and suffering in this realm that we learn:

  • the true meaning of compassion
  • the consequences of our actions
  • how to change so that we stop the many man-made causes of suffering
  • how to cultivate great skill in relating
  • emotional competence, and
  • the truth of our inter-connectedness

This is how we will rise above our current tribal cultures, as we increasingly recognize the whole of humanity as our family.

The more we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, the more we develop sensitivity and empathy. The more empathic we become, the more we realize the deep spiritual truth that we really are all connected. The more we realize our connectedness, the more difficult it becomes to harm others, because when we feel their pain, we know from experience that we really are only ever hurting ourselves. The pain of others, is our pain too.

“In this world period, and in a peculiar manner …
Neptune is known esoterically as the Initiator”

– The Tibetan

Cancer is a Cardinal sign and Cardinal energy has an initiating quality to it. It is a creative energy of leadership. If you have Sun, Moon or Rising Sign in Cancer a major theme in your life, and perhaps a major part of your life purpose, is to play a significant lead role in the transformation of emotions, the shift towards intuition through emotional intelligence, and the shift from tribal culture to that of one interconnected human family. It is important to take care that you don’t get caught in tribal-thinking and carried away on a tide of (lower) mob consciousness. Go deep within, listen to your intuitive voice, and honor all of humanity as your true family.

“It is the planet Neptune which is predominantly active
in bringing about such an activity in Cancer that will produce progress
(through the intervening signs) to Aquarius.”

– The Tibetan

So we can see that, even though the Moon is conditioning humanity at present, she is really acting as a filter, and that the real energy behind these shifts in perception, awareness and consciousness, is Neptune.  This is why the sign of Cancer is also associated with deep listening, because it is only through deep listening, intuition, and recognition of subtle energy streams, that we may begin to receive the deeper Soul impressions of Neptune.

In the Soul’s journey through the Zodiac, it is in Cancer that we hear the first whispers of our intuition. One of the lessons for the Cancerian Soul is to learn to hear your own still, quiet voice, above the many voices of the crowd. Because of this dual activity of the Moon and Neptune in Cancer, we hear both the call of the tribe (the Moon) and the call of the ocean (Neptune). We will find a way to honor both by going within and listening deeply to our hearts. In this way we will be evolving both emotionally and intuitively, and walking our very own conscious journey home to the center of humanity within our own hearts.


Ruth Hadikin is a Soul Path Coach, Author and Soul Astrologer.

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