Depth Astrology





This is the thirty-fourth installment of a series of sign-to-sign interpretations of the astrological symbol set. For interpretations of Planets in Signs, Planets in Houses and Planets in Aspect, please see the Depth Astrology series at the Smashwords e-publishing site,

The dynamics of sign-to-sign relationships can be useful not only in the interpretation of compatibility charts; they can also add information to the interpretation of planetary aspects.  As with other symbol set interpretations, the juxtaposition of the essential energies of each sign is the starting off point for exploring their meanings.

This series continues with Cancer-Leo and will end with Pisces-Pisces, working around the zodiacal wheel factorially with a new zodiacal combination presented each month.  Past month’s articles are archived.  Upon completion, some 4 years from now, Insha’Allah, these articles will immediately be published as an e-book for sale. 


Cancer-Leo potentially resonates with the semi-sextile between two planets.  However, a semi-square aspect is also possible between planets in early Cancer and late Leo and out-of-sign conjunctions and sextiles are also possible between planets in very late Cancer and very early Leo or very early Cancer and very late Leo, respectively.  Thus, the Cancer-Leo relationship is complex with the potential for either conflict or harmony.   Interpreting the Cancer-Leo combination may also shed some light on a number of related symbol sets.  These include Cancer in the fifth house, Leo in the fourth house, the Moon in Leo, the Sun in Cancer, the Moon in the fifth house, the Sun in the fourth house and aspects between the Moon and the Sun.

As a reminder, “container” is used here as a general term designating a planet whether in one’s own chart or another’s.  When in another’s chart, “container” may practically be viewed to mean the other person.  So that the analysis doesn’t wind up seeming too cold and depersonalized, I will sometimes use the personal pronoun (you) in lieu of the impersonal “container.”  Recognize that either term can refer to a planetary energy within you or your relationship with another person.

With Cancer-Leo, we have the juxtaposition of Cardinal Water and Fixed Fire.  Although Fire and Water are generally viewed as incompatible, and
Cardinal and Fixed are opposing modalities, conflict between containers in the two signs should not be seen as inevitable.  In a way, the relationship between Cancer and Leo is like a great bonfire on a beach.  At times of high tide (Cancer's heightened emotional states), the ocean can threaten the fire, for if the ocean waves were to reach the bonfire, it would extinguish it.  This suggests the potential for Cancer to tap into Leo's inherent insecurity.  Leo's fear is that they will not be noticed or appreciated.  The fear that the Cancer container may elicit in Leo is that Cancer's emotional demands may deprive them of the attention they need and feel they deserve.

The issue of Leo's need for attention does not always need to elicit competition.  The Cancer and Leo containers can also form a symbiotic relationship around this need.  This may occur when the Cancer Container's nurturing instincts are directed toward their Leo counterpart.  This would fulfill the needs of both Cancer and Leo, as the Leo container would enjoy the attention lavished on them by the Cancer container.  This can be a very supportive relationship.  Beside the Cancer container providing emotional and nurturing support for the Leo container, Leo can offer strong protective support, thus meeting the strong need of the Cancer container to feel protected.  Leo's capacity for tremendous loyalty is also a quality that can be appreciated by the Cancer container, adding to the feeling of safety that Leo can engender in Cancer.  This dynamic also suggests a paternal-maternal relationship, symbolized by the Sun and the Moon (to be discussed in more detail later.}

While not necessarily unhealthy, this dynamic possesses the potential for imbalance, which could spark resentment in the Cancer container.  If the basis for the Leo container's need for nurturing and care-taking is their self-destructive behavior, there is great potential for a co-dependent relationship to develop.

A positive dynamic suggested by the image of a bonfire on the beach is Leo's ability to provide stability (its Fixed quality) and guidance (its Fire/light-giving quality) to the Cancer container.  Before lighthouses, giant bonfires would be built and tended along shorelines as beacons to mariners.  So, the Cancer container, negotiating the uncertain ocean of emotion, can turn to the bright light of Leo for guidance to a safe harbor and for a focus of emotional stability.  The beacon of emotional stability  which Leo is capable of providing can calm, to a certain extent, the emotional waters of Cancer that are always in motion and sometimes turbulent.

This juxtaposition of cardinal motion and fixity can also bring tension and conflict into the Cancer-Leo relationship, however.  This can occur on two fronts.  From the Leo container's viewpoint, the mood changes, emotional ups and downs and emotional reactions of the Cancer container can become frustrating when the Leo container wants and expects emotional stability.  This frustration can lead to the Leo container attempting to exert their emotional dominance or even engage in emotional bullying to try to "stabilize" the emotional atmosphere and bring the Cancer container "under control."

Such behavior is likely to be interpreted by the Cancer container as insensitive and domineering and to provoke typical Cancerian defense mechanisms--throwing up a protective wall and appearing to shut down emotionally (but most likely seething inside), engaging in passive-aggressive emotions, or reacting emotionally.  This intensification of the emotional environment would likely cause the Leo container to either redouble their efforts to emotionally control the Cancer container or to abandon their effort to engage with the Cancer container.

Even when not provoked by the Leo container's attempts to assert their emotional authority, you may react to the Leo container's emotional self[assurance, viewing their emotional self-confidence as being emotionally naive, lacking nuance, or as insensitivity to your emotional states.  When the Leo container is viewed from this perspective, you are likely to feel that there is a lack of emotional understanding and empathy coming from your Leo counterpart.  You may feel that your emotional cures are not being picked up and that you are constantly being misunderstood by the Leo container.  This may lead to feelings of resentment or that you are not being taken seriously and can further lead to you becoming emotionally demanding in your requests to be emotionally engaged and respected. 

The Leo container may be oblivious to your emotional signals, which would tend to frustrate or even infuriate the Cancer container.  If you do notice your Cancer counterpart's emotional signals (which is likely as they become stronger), you may not perceive these as having validity but, rather, interpret them as undue emotional neediness.  Of course, in your magnanimous role, you may decide to engage with the Cancer container in an emotional dialogue aimed at understanding and supporting their emotional needs.  The more authentic is this impulse to understand the emotions of the Cancer container, the more likely that your efforts at dialogue will be successful and not be received as patronizing.  On the internal level, these dynamics may manifest as incomplete integration or understanding of your own emotions and inner conflict concerning their validity or the validity of their being expressed outwardly.

That a dialogue about emotion could take place between the Cancer and Leo containers bespeaks that both are emotion-based signs, although it might be said that, whereas emotionality forms the primary basis for Cancer, it is only one component of Leo's makeup.  Furthermore, emotion in the two signs is very different.  In Cancer, emotion is feeling-based, instinctively arising from subconscious layers of reactive content.  In affinity with the Water element, it is also fluid, coming and going and ever subject to changing states.  Leo emotion is shaped by the Fire element.  It is active; it is passion.  As passion, it may express itself in various forms--romantic attention, jealousy, anger, loyalty, pride, or righteousness.  And, while these emotional states may arise and subside, they tend to be a more permanent fixture in the Leo character, arising consistently again and again as triggers are applied.

The ways in which these two emotional worlds interact or do not interact may strongly characterize the relationship between Cancer and Leo.  On the one hand, there is much scope for parallel emotional worlds to exist and lack of understanding between the two signs.  Cancer, though living in a world of feeling, may not understand the intensity, the passion of Leo's emotions.  Leo, on the other hand, fixed on the directedness and purposefulness of emotion, may not understand or appreciate the reactive, changeable and seemingly purposeless emotional states of the Cancer container.

There is, also, much scope for conflict and tension between the two modes of emotional being.  First of all, the intensity of Leonine passion may feel intimidating to the Cancer container, provoking a Cancerian defensive reaction.  There is also the possibility of emotional empathy, however, if the Cancer container does not feel threatened.  "I understand and support your passion" may be as message communicated to the Leo container by their Cancer counterpart.  It is also possible that Leo passion could inspire the Cancer container to direct their emotional energy toward the goal defined by Leo's passion.  You may also find emotional comfort and support in Leo's steady passion, particularly when it takes the form of romance, steadfast loyalty or benevolent protection directed towards you.

The frustrations that Leo may experience with Cancer's emotional changeableness have been discussed above.  The Leo container may also perceive Cancer's lack of sustained passion and dwelling on feelings as signs of weakness.  This may stimulate Leo's proclivity towards paternalism, which may or may not be well responded to by the Cancer container, or it may tempt Leo's authoritarian nature and will to dominate (which is a distorted form of Leo's need for recognition).  As hinted at above, the perception of the existence of a different emotional world may also entice Leo to explore that world and, thus, expand and deepen your range of self-expression.

It is also instructive to explore the glyphs of the two signs to gain a greater understanding of the Cancer-Leo relationship.  We have the Cancer crab and the Leo lion as the traditional glyphs.  It is easy to see from these glyphs that Cancer and Leo may have nothing to do with each other.  Lions generally don't inhabit beaches and crabs generally don't make their way into the jungle.  When there is interaction, these glyphs suggest the dominance of Leo and the defensive posture taken by Cancer.  There is also an inherent possibility that the Leo lion may simply walk all over the Cancer crab, oblivious to your existence or to your possession of any rights.  With this scenario, in order not to be trampled underfoot, the Cancer crab must either scurry out of the way or nip the feet of the lion with your pincers.

The Cancer glyph can represent another image, however--a pair of female breasts.  We then recognize that the Leo glyph is the mane of a male lion.  With these glyphs, Cancer and Leo can be seen as representing the archetypal feminine and masculine energies.  We can, at this point, turn to an exploration of the two ruling planets of Cancer and Leo--the Moon and the Sun, which also symbolize archetypal femininity and masculinity in the form of motherhood and fatherhood.

Seen in this context, the Cancer-Leo relationship carries the potential for strong partnership and a reflection of both the cooperative and conflict-laden dynamics of the matriarchal and patriarchal principles.  One important realization is that, in its partner form, the Cancer-Leo relationship needs to be directed toward the care of a third party or force.  This is not the dynamic of feminine-masculine attraction but, rather, of feminine-masculine shared responsibility.  The "third party" does not have to be a human child; it can also be a purpose or goal that is held in common by both containers.

This dynamic brings together the nurturing-protective nature of Cancer and the guiding-protective nature of Leo--archetypal motherhood and fatherhood working together.  Conflict is likely to arise when guidance and nurturing result in different concepts of protection.  this is likely to happen when the Cancer container wants to hold back our of fear that the outside world will ravage their charge, while the Leo container wishes to push or lead forward, out into the world, so that their charge can gain the necessary experience to make them strong.

To resolve this conflict requires developing mutual trust.  The ideal of this mutual trust and cooperation may be found in the concepts of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.  Both are creative Powers--the Divine Feminine bringing forth out of the Cosmic Womb, always guiding with a gentle hand and always ready to take back Her creatures to their Source; the Divine Masculine creating the world through the projection of His Essence so that, separated from His Being, they can grow and learn to love and, thereby, return to their Divine Heritage.  It is a Dance, a Play of Love and, ultimately, two sides of One Reality.

Of course, all of the Cancer-Leo dynamics can play out internally, as well as between two people.  The Cancer-Leo energy will also be modulated by the planets involved, whether in your own chart or someone else’s.  The depositorships of the Moon and the Sun may also come into play.  Gargatholil 

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