What does the moon symbolize in astrology?

Moon—It rules Cancer, the constellation of the crab.

The Moon symbolizes that which nurtures and feeds us. The sign the Moon is in describes what it is that feeds us and where we look for nurturing.

The Moon controls the tides of our emotions. Because the Moon is a reflector of light, it represents an individual’s inner mirror, how a person sees himself or herself.

The Moon can make individuals strongly attuned to the needs of others and to the changes around them.

A number of great performers and leaders have a strong Moon which enables them to intuit the public’s needs. It is associated with the 4th house –our roots, origins, and common ground.

Whereas the Sun always appears the same—eternal—the Moon is changeable and inconstant–although, as we shall see, there is much more to the Moon’s inconstancy than meets the eye.

Juliet compared Romeo to “the inconstant Moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb…” Chiaroscuro is a word borrowed from Italian to describe art which has a strong interplay of light and shade through reflected light.

This was a way to strengthen an illusion of depth. Leonardo Da Vinci was an important artist in the development of chiaroscuro.

The Moon is like a chiaroscuro, a play of light and shadow through the reflected light of the Sun.

It is this reflected quality that allowed people to gaze at the full Moon and project a face, the man in the Moon, onto its surface.

Individuals with the Moon strong in their horoscopes are attuned to the changing, shifting nature of reality.

Unlike the stereotype of the Moon as fickle, many individuals who have a strong Moon are very grounded and well-suited to navigate the constantly shifting tides of life.

The Moon is exalted (where a planet or luminary can best express its energy) in Taurus, the sign which is most down-to-earth and grounded.

People with a strong Moon tend to be more accepting of life’s inherent messiness and troubles, and thus better able to deal with life on life’s terms.

The house and sign where your Moon is placed is where you are able to deal with life on life’s terms. For example, someone with the Moon in the 6th house or Virgo has the potential to do well at a job–sometimes to the point where work becomes one’s only “food,” resulting in the workaholic.

Not only does a 6th house/Virgo Moon individual feel nurtured by being useful in a job, they are also better able to withstand the buffets of office politics, incompetent coworkers, etc. For such a person, the Moon is grounded in the 6th house or Virgo.

Similarly, a person with the Moon in Libra or the 7th house is fed by relationships.

This individual will also be more accepting and able to withstand the inherent imperfections in human relationships.

The Moon is very protective and wherever it is placed we find some protection there.

However, the Moon’s challenging aspects with Mars or the outer planets can also cause problems.

Uranus in square aspect to the Moon, for example, can cause moodiness and a need for emotional space, and Mars opposite the Moon can indicate projected anger.

It is important to note that challenging aspects (mainly the square and opposition) in the horoscope do not condemn one to a difficult life in those areas.

That is where we have the most opportunity for growth in life. The pearl grows where there is an irritation.

William Lilly says in his book Christian Astrology, that when the Moon is well-placed in a horoscope, the individual can be “a searcher of, and delighter in novelties.”

However, Cancer—the sign ruled by the Moon—is not one of the mutable (changeable) signs. It is a cardinal sign, meaning that it initiates.

Cancer is marked in the northern hemisphere by the summer solstice, the first day of summer, when the day is longest and the night is shortest.

Read Australian astrologer Barry Perlman’s very interesting discussion of the reversal of the solstices in the southern hemisphere and what it means for an astrology based on northern hemisphere solstices.

In the northern hemisphere, it is paradoxical that the Moon should rule a sign where daylight predominates.

The Moon is strongly linked to the most human of initiations, birth, and with the feminine or goddess archetype.

The Moon is instinctive. It is how we react to things and events through our feelings.

The Moon has to do with feeling comfortable and secure, our personal retreat in the world, how and where we find our own shell.

It is easy to see why it is given rulership of the sign of the crab, its protective shell insulating the crustacean’s sensitive insides from a rough world.

It is also this shell, however, that makes the lunar type able to go through life’s ups and downs with an inner equanimity and serenity.

It also has to do with our roots, our family tree, the plot of land upon which we have staked our identity, the community or tribe to which we belong.

The Moon needs to belong, to be a part of, to be nurtured and to nurture in return.