How to Be Your Own Best Friend

By Eric Francis

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Mars, Saturn and Pluto are working together to rearrange your perspective on relationships. This might be to help you get clear, overcome your insecurities or gain confidence going deep with others. Yet the bottom line is that you will learn how to be confident in yourself, and therefore with other people. Mars retrograde comes home to your 4th house, which is about your home base and security. Saturn is in your 5th house of pleasure and play. Pluto is in your 7th house of deep interpersonal relationships. They are all related, and they will all help you deepen your relationship to yourself.


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Cancer Part One

Cancer Part Two

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It is difficult to be as sensitive as you are, in our world. Difficult but inevitable. Your sign reveals something about the deepest state of humanity, which is often denied by layers of baggage, damage and attachments: that we are inherently nurturing, empathic people.

I will give you a clue how this is demonstrated in astrology — something you can take with you. In recent decades there has been a movement to unearth and interpret ancient astrological documents. One of the oldest is called the Thema Mundi. It’s the hypothetical “chart of the world.”

Image by RAEchel Running.

Image by RAEchel Running.

It’s not a literal chart of the birth of the world but rather a symbolic representation that was used as a teaching tool as well as an agricultural tool. (One of astrology’s deepest roots is in the Chaldean’s discovery of methods for timing the seasons for the purposes of agriculture.) I continue to use the Thema Mundi as a teaching tool.

Though I have no direct evidence, certain clues lead me to hold open the possibility that this document may be one of the astrological artifacts that survived from a prior epoch of civilization.

In modern astrology there is a habit of associating the sign Aries with the 1st house in a chart. It’s true that there are some associations between signs and houses that run parallel; however, the discovery of the Thema Mundi challenges that. The chart has Cancer rising. Cancer is on the 1st house in the chart of the world.

When I saw that, the first thing I thought was: this reorients our concept of humanity from something that is inherently aggressive and individualistic (Aries on the 1st house) to something that is more embracing, oriented on nourishing others and with an inherent instinct to bring up the young.

It would also mean that the Moon rules the chart of the world, not Mars. Most people are not warlike or overly aggressive; most people want to be left alone to take care of their lives and their family.

Putting Cancer on the 1st house of the global chart also describes the quality of humans that is distinctly cyclical. We are not such consistent beings, and if we are, we are consistent like the changes of the seasons — healthy people have dependable patterns. They wax and wane; they go through phases; they reach apogee and perigee in our relationships to them. The cycle may not be as predictable as that of the Moon, but it’s more akin to the Moon than it is to Mars.

The suggestion here is that with Cancer in your 1st solar house or ascendant, you have something in common with the chart of the world. I consider this proof that you belong here — or rather, proof that your sensitivity is appropriate and natural. You have a natural orientation here on this planet, no matter how challenging it may be to remain open and loving in the face of so much chaos and pain.

There are of course many good reasons to be alive, and to be grateful for being so — for instance it’s all we know and it’s all we have. We have one another and even when things are a little bleak for us as individuals, hanging together with one’s brood often provides sufficient incentive to survive and to make life a little better.

Pluto in the 7th House

There is a major transit that is testing your mettle, compelling you to rethink how you relate to others and providing a constant invitation to rise to the occasion of life. Pluto arrived in Capricorn in phases between 2008 and 2009. Pluto is the lord of transformation, evolution and enforced changes. You have this in your house of relationships.

This puts you in a position of being confronted with deeper reality basically all the time. Though this transit began in 2008, it reaches a peak in 2014, in part owing to the presence of Mars retrograde in Libra, your 4th house. It is emotional movement, and in particular, your quest for emotional confidence and security, that pushes the transit of Pluto to maximum intensity in the coming months. But never forget the purpose: you are seeking emotional independence, freedom from the past and the ability to home in on a space of psychic balance.

This story is told three different ways: first by Pluto, then by Mars, and then by Saturn, which is also prominently placed in your chart — in your 5th house, where you seek pleasure of any kind, as well as sexual experiences and experiments, and also where you develop your creative talents.

Let’s develop the Pluto idea for a bit. Capricorn on the 7th house (7th solar house for Cancer Sun, 7th by whole sign houses for Cancer rising) casts you as a traditionalist. You like to have some sense of structure in your relationships. You seek durability, long-lasting commitment and a sense of family.

Pluto moving through this house, however, is up-ending this whole scenario. Pluto is digging deep into the meaning of conventions, personal and family traditions, as well as your expectations, in part to get them out of the way, in part to replace them with something better, and in part to look for the hidden treasure they may contain. All your old ideas about relationship are coming under question.

This is likely to be happening on a psychic level as well as on a practical one. There may be some especially intense new experience happening to you; you may be experiencing tests in a long-established relationship. The scenario is larger than any one situation. The 7th can represent certain specific situations but it can also represent your relationship environment and where you see yourself within it.

Under some circumstances, Pluto in the 7th house can represent the ‘fatal attraction’. I suggest you be conscious of this, and cautious of it. At least be aware. If this verges onto a stalking situation, it will be entirely helpful toward resolving the issue if you withdraw your energy. I have rarely ever seen a stalking situation that was not directly fed by the stalkee. These situations are usually easy to spot well in advance, and if there is someone who makes you nervous in that subversive, actually creepy, threatening or menacing kind of way, keep your distance and shift your attention elsewhere.

One thing is clear: some situation, or evolutionary process, or both, is having a profound effect on you. One person may be a catalyst. The lack of anyone “special” in your life may be the context. You may be experiencing a relationship that seems to be out of control, whether you’re losing someone or someone is coming at you, or whether you’re lost in the passion and pathos of the experience.

You may be experiencing some invisible factor that you don’t understand and may not have identified yet. You may be noticing that you stand on shifting ground where all of your relationships are concerned, and it’s necessary to factor that into your plans and your responses to the circumstances of your life. Pluto will indeed be influencing all of your circumstances — it’s present in your environment as a general factor as well as representing specific ones. And it connects to many other facets of your life, indeed, every seemingly different factor.

Let’s move the focus deeper within and see what that tells us.

Deeper Within: Mars and Saturn

Capricorn, the sign that rules your relationships, has two planets associated with it. One is Mars and one is Saturn. We find Mars in your 4th house — the house where you seek security. With Libra on this house, you’re likely to seek security in your relationships. But as you’ve no doubt discovered, this can be risky business. Even if you are with a stable person, the chemistry has to be perfect to create an environment of safety. And even then, there is the factor of how peoples’ lives change and evolve — they are not always in sync with one another.

Mars in your 4th house is sending you the signal over and over that you must take care of your own grounding; you must be your primary partner. You must be the most dependable person in your life — your own lover and your own best friend.

While this is not the standard teaching of the world, since we are unquestionably and repeatedly taught to seek our only solace in others, the presence of Pluto and its connection to Mars may be emphasizing this point. It does not matter if you’re “in a relationship” or “not in a relationship.” This is about the space of your own interior consciousness, from which you relate outward to the world.

Mars will do its part to get you to question why you feel safe, why you don’t feel safe, and to question your modes of seeking out security. There are important family matters to consider and many of them involve questions about values placed on relationships. Most of us were raised with a contradiction: marriage is the most wonderful thing and lasts forever, but it usually ends in divorce (and typically unhappy).

Or, relationship is the ultimate source of security but you cannot trust men/women/anyone. Mars is likely to be stirring up memories of what happened in your household, revealing to you why you have had the particular challenges around trust that you have had.

Mars makes a series of contacts with Pluto. It made one in late December, another will happen in late April and a third on June 14. These may not be the dates of events but they can represent peaks of energy, moments of stress or moments of contact. You may be able to assemble parts of a seemingly disparate whole. (I will return to that theme — the Sun conjunct the asteroid Isis is a prominent aspect for you this year.)

Mars may stir up bouts of paranoia or insecurity. I suggest you use those moments as opportunities for growth and clarity. You are not crazy. You don’t need to be medicated. You are figuring out what happened to you, how it affected you and what to do about it. You are likely to be figuring out how deep this goes.

One distinct effect, of your riding this out consciously and using the opportunities for deepening your self-understanding, is that you will also deepen your relationship to yourself. You may have the feeling of repeatedly being ‘thrown back onto yourself’ or of discovering that you need to seek your security (which means self-confidence) within. The more you start from that place and then proceed into your relationship from a centered and confident place, the less this will happen.

Now, I would point out that this is slippery territory. There’s something here about going beyond a certain posture or appearance that you maintain to yourself; something about going beyond the feeling of plucking up courage and putting on a happy affect. Mars is reaching for the bottom of your confidence issues — and will go behind any inner facades, postures or appearances that you might present to yourself.

Mars retrograde in the 4th house can also bring stress among people who live together. This must be handled carefully. It can certainly affect roommates and anyone who shares space together. It will be necessary to have clear communication, vent any pressure that builds up and cultivate an ethos of everyone deals with their own stuff.

However, this will most profoundly influence couples who live together. Indeed, the question is likely to arise whether you really want to do so. And it will be a valid question. Mars in Libra in your ‘home’ angle has the sensation of burning for your own space and your domestic independence. Whether you choose to move out or stay together, I suggest you devise a way to have your space to yourself, uninterrupted, for clear periods of time. If your home space will not do, find another space. Under this transit, you need some clear air around you. You need some alone time, the real thing.

It would be wise to travel — other factors indicate that you want to do that (such as Chiron in Pisces, your 9th house). If you do, I suggest you take a trip alone.

Saturn in Scorpio

The last piece in this miniature puzzle in this little region of your chart is Saturn in Scorpio. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn and is thus related to Pluto’s presence there. The two planets are in close harmony, working toward the same end.

Scorpio is your solar 5th house if you have Cancer Sun, 5th by whole sign houses if you’re Cancer rising — the house associated with pleasure and sexual experimentation. It’s nice to have Scorpio here, because Scorpio likes to go deep, and loves direct contact. So usually this house works well for you (it would be dependent on what natal placements you have there and the aspects they make, but of its own, Scorpio is an excellent ‘working end’ of the sexual topic).

I can offer three potential scenarios for the presence of Saturn here, and relate them back to Pluto.

Scenario one is that sex seems to have dried up. It’s like you cannot get dates, or you’ve lost interest in your partner, or they have lost interest in you, or your sex drive seems to have evaporated. Or, you cannot get dates but your sex drive is urgent — and you may be worried if sex will ever come back into your life. The way this relates to Pluto is that you may be dealing with the intensity of this transit by being a bit more guarded. You may be slowing down your sexual metabolism for a spell, trying to sort out some past issues.

Scenario two is that you’re going extra deep. You may have encountered a relationship situation that is confronting you with the desire or the need to make a real commitment, and you want to express that commitment fully. At the same time, this may be stirring up your fear of commitment. That’s natural enough. As part of this scenario, you may be involved with someone older and more experienced than yourself, and as part of that, you may be working out some father-related material. (That connection involves Saturn’s influence over Libra, which is your 4th house — the ancient house of fathers). Even if this is a little weird, it’s probably interesting.

Scenario three, speaking of a little weird, is that you’re taking an opportunity to go down some unusual sexual pathways, particularly those that involve what is called power exchange. Sometimes known as B/D-S/M, this transit could signify a wide-ranging group of activities that involve power, dominance and submission. This could include bondage, power play, role play or a bit of spanking, flogging and other stuff that will have the influence of creating a space of deep surrender. You are safe as long as you’ve done all your requisite reality checks, use your ‘safe word’ and as long as you feel safe.

Whatever the scenario — and I would be interested if any of these relate to you, or if you’ve picked up on the pattern and have experienced something else — this is certainly a meaningful transit. Whatever its manifestation, it will help you come to terms with who you are as a sexual being — including confronting your fears of being perceived as such.

In the mix is getting over your fears about your parents’ perception of you as a sexual being. You may need to work out some early childhood stuff, or adolescent stuff as you were coming of age sexually. As is the best use of the 5th house, you will gain knowledge, face your fears, explore your passion, or feel what it’s like not to depend on a lover, all through direct experience. One thing that Saturn and the 5th have in common is that they are not theoretical; they represent real events.

One other thing before we move on to what is going on in your sign, Cancer: Saturn requires that you take the time necessary to learn or accomplish whatever you happen to be doing. So, take that time, take your time. Learn well and notice where you come out. Heck, notice if you want to come out — and I think we all have lots of coming out to do.

Interesting Activity in Cancer

There is so much going on in your sign that I could write an additional 2,700 words about it, but I want to focus on one thing. Okay, maybe two. On the chart for the northern solstice (i.e., Northern Hemisphere summer solstice), the Sun ingresses your sign as part of a triple conjunction with two asteroids — Isis and Sauer.

Isis is about assembling the parts of whatever it touches. It has a definite Egyptian flavor, and it can add that flavor to whatever it contacts, in addition to its mundane theme (the bit about assembling the bits). The thing with Isis is to remember to gather yourself together. In the words of Sally Brompton, you can figure out how many small things it takes to make a lot. This can translate to how many parts of yourself it takes to complete the whole. We might include something about whole-system thinking here — what is sometimes called synergy — that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. As you start to assemble yourself, you will reclaim power based on that principle. I would add one bit of wisdom I’ve learned from Isis: Don’t forget the penis!

The other point exactly conjunct the Sun at solstice is called Sauer. I’ve written a pretty good article about this asteroid, which was named for Dr. Carl G. Sauer, an astrophysicist who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), part of NASA.

Sauer spent his life plotting the course to asteroids. If NASA wanted to send a spaceship somewhere, they went to Sauer. If they want to send a spaceship to a known body today, they go to Sauer’s calculations, of which he left many. I am sure that Sauer helped with the relatively easy flight to the Moon. Sauer knew how to get places, places few people ever dreamed people would go, or even send unmanned spacecraft.

Take this as a personal metaphor. Sauer was an engineer; he did what he did for a reason, with a plan. He was a flight engineer, whose specialty is getting there safely, or completing the mission and getting back safely. I suggest you claim this as an element of your personal identity.

One last. I would remind you, or inform you, that Varuna has been in your sign for a long time, and is still there. Varuna’s message is: You are on a level playing field with the world. You may not feel that all the time, but it’s a reminder that you are. Whether this is in relationships, your professional pursuits or experience, your family life or your social life — all of which come back to you as the leading actor — you are on level ground. You may not have felt that way as a child, but a lot has changed since then.

Remember that. Be intimidated by nobody. Look people in the eyes and introduce yourself. Rise to every occasion.

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Cancer chart.

Cancer chart.

Cancer sketch.

Cancer sketch.

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