Saturn in Cancer

Saturn in Cancer Comprehensive Analysis

Issues facing Saturn in Cancer

If you were born with Saturn in Cancer, the issues during your Saturn Return will be about mother, nurturing, feelings, home, security, food, babies and rejection.

saturn in cancer

Saturn in Cancer Dates

Those born between roughly June 1944 and August 1946 and August 1973 through September 1975 have Saturn in Cancer. This group chooses to work on issues regarding bonding, nurturing, “the family”, expressing feelings appropriately, artistic self-expression, motherhood (both being a mother and being mothered) and a great love for “the Family of Man”.

The wound appears immediately in the birth family. Something is terribly wrong. We don’t find what we expect. We find strangers, awful people, or worse — no one. Many with Saturn in Cancer are orphans. Incredibly, sometimes this happens to them more than once. Often the father is absent. Not only do the children suffer materially from lack of a father but the mother is spread thin. She is spread so thin that she can’t nurture or provide the emotional support she could otherwise. Sometimes there is just something wounded about the mother. She may be an addict. She may suffer from mental illness, or develop physical health problems. In his or her search for nurturing, the child may adopt any surrogate possible. The range being from a cat (yes) to a barely older sibling.

Ironically and conversely, the “poor little rich girl” syndrome also belongs with this placement. The parents of Saturn in Cancer children often provide materially but neglect emotional needs. For example, they may send their children off to boarding school at a young age.

Due to these damaged bonding and family issues, Saturn in Cancer children are usually fiercely loyal to those who have abused or neglected them or will have absolutely nothing to do with them – and nothing in between.

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The Feelings of Saturn in Cancer

Cancer also has to do with feelings. Many Saturn in Cancer children were so abused, neglected or ignored that they became stiff upper lipped. As one Saturn in Cancer person said, “Why cry if there’s no one there to hear you?” Breaking out of a cold, stony shell of seeming indifference (think of a crab) is an emotional healing path many with Saturn in Cancer must take.

Cancer is a cardinal sign of leadership so there are a few very exceptional people with Saturn in Cancer who lead their people, clan, or “human family” with reserve, discipline, and the deepest commitment. Who would know better than them how it feels to be marginalized because you are young, weak, old or wounded.

Saturn in Cancer asks you to reflect on past failures

Saturn asks us to become conscious about areas where we have failed in past lives. Where Saturn lies in the chart are both the greatest desires and the greatest fears. Desire gives the courage to work through the fear. Great are the rewards. It is typical to recognize the fears between 28 and 30. It is typical to avoid this area from 30 to 40 because it is so painful. But then the pain of avoiding it becomes worse than the pain of turning and facing the fears. Much of the energy expended between 40 and 58 is devoted to this and brings the rewards of the second Saturn Return between 58 and 60.

Where Saturn in Cancer is concerned, let’s look at the biggest fears and biggest gains, rewards and fulfilled desires.

Biggest Fears

  • Rejection
  • Abandonment
  • Not feeling safe anywhere
  • Humiliation
  • No comfort in time of need; therefore a tremendous fear of failure
  • Too much asked too soon; so reluctance to grow later in life (always looking for someone to take care of you)
  • Family is never there when needed
  • Shame where family is concerned
  • Stuffing or cutting off feelings which guarantees they will not get the love they need
  • Replacing the nurturing of emotions with food; thus obesity
  • Huge issues about mother – to the Saturn in Cancer, mother is everything but there is something terribly wrong with mother

Biggest Gains, Rewards and Fulfilled Desires

  • Becomes younger as the years go by
  • Comforts others
  • Creates own family with great love and responsibility
  • Nurtures and protects the “Family of Man”, country or other emotional project
  • Can experience and express feelings appropriately
  • Becomes a shelter to others, an empath

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Famous People with Saturn in Cancer Natal Placement

Read more in-depth analysis of Saturn in Cancer in other Famous People on “People with Saturn in Cancer.”

Let’s look at some examples of how the Saturn in Cancer energy plays out on several different levels. Levels including the mundane, artistic, humanitarian, and worldly leadership. I am going to give examples of how different people have used this energy. This is so that you can identify a path that you may choose through the challenges of the years that lie ahead.

Marie Claire

Marie Claire had a loving family, but for some reason when she was three weeks old, her family left her with a babysitter for a few days. This sitter was ill-equipped to handle an infant. Back in the days before plastic bottles, children used glass bottles. These bottles had black “stoppers” in them. Parents used the “stoppers” during the process of sterilizing and storing formula. Before the parent gave the baby the bottle to drink, it was necessary to remove the stopper.

The babysitter was unaware of this and gave Marie Claire full bottles of formula which she could not drink because the stopper blocked the flow of milk to the plastic nipple. The babysitter thought Marie Claire wasn’t hungry and didn’t even know enough to worry about whether she was getting any liquids or nutrition.

When I met Marie Claire she was 45 years old. She usually looked a little dehydrated and shriveled. She vividly remembered being held by the babysitter and thinking, “This woman is clueless. I am going to die.” This experience of being left alone with an unfit caregiver scarred Marie Claire’s psyche terribly. She no longer felt safe in the world. Fortunately, Marie Claire’s father returned home earlier than expected from his business trip and realized what was going on. When Marie Claire tells this story it is always about her father. One wonders if her mother was unfit as well. Most mothers would not leave a newborn baby under any circumstances.

The theme from Marie Claire’s example

The Saturn in Cancer theme here would be neglect, abandonment, rejection, lack of nurturing, lack of comfort and understanding within the family and frankly often lack in the face of plenty. Saturn in Cancers often suffer the additional pain that “everyone else gets it but me”. In Marie Claire’s case this was inadvertent; however, it clearly established the Saturn in Cancer pattern of “never having needs met” often to the point of failure to thrive.

Throughout Marie Claire’s life this theme has repeated itself. She has loved married men her whole adult life who promise much and deliver little. The relationship is like an emotional bottle that she cannot drink from while she sees another woman get what she can’t ever seem to get. Marie Claire also has rejection issues. She has undergone quite a bit of cosmetic surgery to presumably make herself more lovable. Yet she, a really beautiful woman, remains alone and often is disconnected from her own inner beauty. In addition –this is common to the Saturn in Cancer pattern – Marie Claire mentions her father and brothers often but never a single word about her mother. Even an amateur psychologist would notice this with a sense of foreboding. What is it about Marie Claire’s mother that we can’t even talk about her?

Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf is an example of a person who worked out her Saturn in Cancer issues through artistic self-expression. You may have seen the feature film La Vie en Rose about Piaf’s life. Legend has it that France’s greatest chanteuse singer was born under a street lamp in Paris’s poorest district and promptly abandoned. Little Edith went from pillar to post emotionally and materially all through childhood. At one point, she bonded deeply with a prostitute who seemed to really care for her, but was ripped from this woman’s arms and returned to her ne’er do well father and his sadistic mother.

Throughout her life Piaf experienced emotional pain and bonded deeply and inappropriately with almost anything she could, including a cat. Lack of parental care left her with lifelong health issues.

Piaf was immensely talented. The crowds adored her but she never had a satisfying or stable relationship until she met Marcel Cerdan. Cerdan was a world famous boxer with whom she had a brief, thrilling, and ecstatic love affair. The charismatic Cerdan was married, however, and died tragically at 33 in a plane crash. This seemed to worsen Piaf’s always frail health. It also undoubtedly hastened her death at 48, as she found the emotional pain unbearable.

Edith Piaf is a world renowned chanteuse. She is an example of an individual who transmuted the pain of Saturn in Cancer into a gift for her audience for all time. The comments about videos of her singing made online by today’s audience, more than 30 years after her death, reflect on her astonishing ability to convey intense emotions. I practically defy you not to have an emotional catharsis listening to her sing these songs.

Eric Clapton

In addition, Ms. Piaf, like another singer with Saturn in Cancer Eric Clapton, also lost a child. Eric Clapton is an award winning English guitarist. Also, a song writer and composer (The Yardbirds, Cream and solo). Clapton’s grandparents raised him due to the inability of his 16-year-old unwed mother to properly care for him. Family led Clapton to believe she was his older sister. Drugs and alcohol plagued Clapton’s life. At one time, when he was 46 and seemed to be on an even keel, his four-and-a-half-year old son Conor fell from the 53rd floor of a hotel window when a housekeeper left the window open. Clapton grieved inconsolably for 9 months. He later wrote the song “Tears in Heaven” for his son. The pathos of this story is typical of the lives of many with Saturn in Cancer.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is an example of someone with Saturn in Cancer who is choosing to redefine the family at a global level. Her own childhood was scarred by her father’s abandonment of her. Scarred also because of his alleged refusal to pay child support and interact with her or her mother throughout her young adult life. Jolie’s mother died during Jolie’s first Saturn Return. The tabloids have speculated that the loss threw Jolie into a depression.

In her twenties, Jolie made a conscious decision to create a family that felt right to her. As a single parent, a few months before her 27th birthday, she adopted Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt, from Cambodia. Maddox was less than a year old. After her Saturn return, Jolie found an eager father for her planned brood in Brad Pitt. He has a lot of fatherly Capricorn in his chart.

Saturn in Cancer’s devotion to family — Angelina’s example

At 30, Jolie added to her family. She adopted baby Sahara from Ethiopia. She gave birth to Shiloh at 31 (her child by Brad Pitt) in Namibia. And she adopted year old Pax Thien from Vietnam at 32. Jolie’s idea of family includes her humanitarian values. Her idea of family is that people of different cultures, skin colors, and ethnic backgrounds are all one family. Not only does this redefine family for Jolie in a healthy way, it embraces her humanitarian and global 9th house Sun.

Regardless of what one may think of Jolie. Or what you may think of her relationship with Brad Pitt. And regardless of what you think of her colorful past, you can be sure of this. With Saturn in Cancer, she will remain devoted beyond comprehension to the children she considers “her family.” She will make any sacrifice she feels necessary. Jolie’s famous tattoo, “Quod me nutrit, me destruit” means “What nourishes me also destroys me.” While this is a kitschy Latin phrase used to refer to sex, drugs, and alcohol, it also has many levels of meaning to one with Saturn in Cancer where nourishment and nurturing are “all”.

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow - a famous Saturn in Cancer
Mia Farrow had Saturn in Cancer

A similar example several decades ago was Mia Farrow, also with Saturn in Cancer. At one time, Farrow was married to Frank Sinatra, Andre Previn, and then became the long-time companion of Woody Allen. Neglected by her own family (poor little rich girl), Farrow had polio as a child and spent a year in an iron lung. She gave birth to four children and adopted eleven children from around the world by herself and with Previn and Allen. Many of the children had severe handicaps, including a Vietnamese war orphan with asthma, a crack-addicted baby who was blind and later died, a paraplegic, and a polio victim who had been abandoned at a Calcutta railway station. Her devotion to these children is generally taken as pure and absolute.

Saturn in Cancer energy can also play itself out on the world stage. In this case, the object of devotion is one’s motherland or the future of one’s “clan” or “people”. Two of the greatest generals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington, both had Saturn in Cancer and both became protectors of their country and countrymen and ultimately immortals.

Arthur Wellesley and Napoleon

Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, and Napoleon Bonaparte were born in the same year, 1769, on May 1 and August 15 respectively. Forty six years later, destiny brought them together at the battlefield of Waterloo to fight the war of worlds (18th century style).

Both boys were withdrawn and troubled youths. Napoleon Bonaparte saw his homeland Corsica invaded as a child. He felt his father sold out to the enemy, for which he never forgave him. At 9, Napoleon was sent away to school in a foreign country where he was mocked and ridiculed. The great impression this made on him as a child is reflected in this statement by the more mature Napoleon: “I was born when [Corsica] was perishing. Thirty thousand Frenchmen spewed onto our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood… The cries of the dying, the groans of the oppressed and tears of despair surrounded my cradle from the hour of my birth.”

Napolean’s Mother

Napoleon’s mother, Letizia, was a harsh woman, punishing her children to teach them sacrifice and discipline. “She sometimes made me go to bed without supper, as if there were nothing to eat in the house. One had to learn to suffer and not let others see it.” [Napoleon scholar Sandra Gulland on PBS Online] The complicated relationship between someone with Saturn in Cancer and his or her mother may be poignantly suggested in the fact that Letizia scorned Napoleon’s coronation ceremony.

In attempting to understand a personality like Napoleon, that shaped our western world, one cannot help but see the pathos. The pathos in his not being able to fight for his own country or bring it to glory. As I believe Corsica was yet the greater love of his life. For some with Saturn in Cancer it will be the motherland. His family was eventually spit upon and briefly exiled from Corsica and he, himself, never returned.

On the other side of the battlefield leading the British was Arthur Wellesley. Wellesley was the Duke of Wellington. The “Iron Duke”, as he is called, earned his nickname by being able to completely shut off all emotions. He did this in order to perform the duties required of him. This is the shadow side of Saturn in Cancer, the little stone child.

Like so many with Saturn in Cancer the Duke of Wellington’s father died when he was young. His mother neglected him to the point of scandal. With Capricorn Rising and Mars conjunct Saturn in Cancer opposed by Pluto in Capricorn, he was a somber boy and later noted for his iron will and cold menacing stature.

The Stoic Saturn in Cancer

According to John Keegan in The Mask of Command, “Wellington’s energy was legendary; so too was his attention to detail, unwillingness to delegate, ability to do without sleep or food, disregard for personal comfort [and] contempt for danger.” These are qualities Wellington may have developed due to the deprivation of his needs as a youth. This kind of stoicism is common to those with Saturn in Cancer. After all, they’re not used to “comfort”.

Qualities apparent in a famous battle

Keegan describes a Waterloo battle scene where Wellington exhibits these qualities. The Duke took a piece of parchment from one of the buttonholes in his waistcoat (where he kept such things) and penciled this note:

I see that the fire has communicated from the haystack to the roof of the chateau. You must however still keep your men in those parts to which the fire does not reach. Take care that no men are lost by the falling in of the roof, or floors. After they will have fallen in, occupy the ruined walls inside of the garden, particularly if it should be possible for the enemy to pass through the embers to the inside of the House.

Keegan writes, “Wellington’s clarity of mind and conciseness of expression were famed. To write such purposeful and accurate prose (the note contains both a future subjunctive and future perfect construction), on horseback, under enemy fire, in the midst of a raging military crisis is evidence of quite exceptional powers of mind and self-control.” This quality you can find in many with Saturn in Cancer, as it involves an extraordinary ability to control the emotions and therefore to manipulate others emotionally. This is a less conscious use of the energy though effective in war and propaganda.

Saturn in Cancer’s Vulnerable Side

Let’s examine another anecdote which will reveal a very vulnerable Cancerian side of the Duke:

The Duke once met a little boy, crying by the road. “Come now, that’s no way for a young gentleman to behave. What’s the matter?” he asked. “I have to go away to school tomorrow,” the child sobs, “and I’m worried about my pet toad. There’s no-one else to care for it and I shan’t know how it is.” Keen to ease the little chap’s discomfort, the Duke promised to attend to the matter personally. After the boy was at school for just over a week, he receives a note: “Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Master xxx and has the pleasure to inform him that his toad is well.”

How very Saturn in Cancer. Who would know better than the “Iron” Duke, the miseries of a young boy whose heart is troubled upon first being sent away from home to boarding school … and amidst the horrors of war?

The Duke of Wellington was also known for his cold menacing stature. He is quoted as having called the men who fought and died for him “the scum of the earth.” This was probably literal rather than emotional, since the soldiers of those days were mercenaries, down and out.

Both these men looked at their countries as their family and absolutely devoted their lives to protecting and providing for those they loved.

Obesity as a Pattern with Saturn in Cancer

Another part of the Saturn in Cancer pattern is obesity. Obesity may provide a means of meeting emotional needs or the need for nurturing through food. Raymond Burr, the actor who played Perry Mason on TV, was obese. Like many with Saturn in Cancer, his father took off when he was 12 or 13. This gigantic man left school early to support his family.

Burr left a budding film career to earn a purple heart in World War II. Later, he returned to suffer the subsequent death of two wives and a young son. Burr carried his burdens with great dignity, being a very private person. His height is believed to be perhaps a hormonal condition as he reached 6’3″ before he started junior high. This is one of the things that permitted him to get full time work so young.

Literary Geniuses born under Saturn in Cancer

Not surprisingly, three of the world’s greatest literary geniuses were born under Saturn in Cancer.

William Shakespeare, Alexandr Pushkin (Russia’s greatest poet, 1799-1837) and the Russian novelist worshipped almost as a saint, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). As a matter of fact the sign Cancer features prominently in the charts of most great artists. Why is this? If the purpose of writing is to touch the emotions and to take us someplace we would not ordinarily go, here we find Saturn in Cancer elevated to the level of genius. It is interesting to consider briefly the Cancerian characteristics and subject matter of each of these world renowned writers. They are writing about men, women, human nature, families …. They are writing about the Family of Man.


Shakespeare had Saturn in Cancer natal placement
Shakespeare had Saturn in Cancer

William Shakespeare had a genius for making his characters so personal that even though their experience might be universal. For example, Macbeth’s power hungry wife drove him to ruin — one feels that no one else could see. Or one thinks or feels like MacBeth – or King Lear or Hamlet. Shakespeare’s characters are simply vivid, unique and unforgettable. Their names have become household words. Shakespeare also had his South Moon Node in Cancer as well as Saturn.

It’s a shame Alexandr Pushkin is not well known in America. In describing Pushpin’s greatness, Fyodor Dostoyevsky singled out the great Russian poet’s “endless sympathy for all”. This is the sympathy all with Saturn in Cancer must learn to emulate. The writer Andrei Bitov believed that Pushkin single-handedly developed Russian culture and created Russian civilization. “In Pushkin,” he says, “we have found our freedom, not the freedom people are talking about, but an inner, secret freedom. This freedom is present in his every line, in his every gesture.” Cancer is all about the inner. Poets in Russia are far more than poets. They are magical, high priests. Pushkin’s poem, “The Bronze Horseman”, is widely considered to be one of Russia’s treasured literary masterpieces, along with his play Boris Godunov and his novel in verse (later made into an opera) Eugene Onegin.


Leo Tolstoy, another Russian literary giant and father of twelve, wrote often about the family. In fact, one of the most famous opening lines in literature is the beginning of his book Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Along with War and Peace, Tolstoy’s novels stand at the peak of literary realism. I mention his saintly inclinations in the first chapter. As a moral philosopher Tolstoy promoted the ideal of nonviolent resistance in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You, which later influenced such twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Tolstoy reached long arms around the Family of Man.

Your Karmic Destiny as a Saturn in Cancer

The lives of some people with Saturn in Cancer are so incredibly painful it is hard to comprehend. However, they can heal themselves and fulfill their karmic destiny. You can do it.

Cancer is a water sign so you must deal with your feelings. With the kind of childhood most Saturn in Cancers have, the first feelings will be extremely painful or completely blocked. It is the challenge of the Saturn in Cancer person to heal and in so doing eventually provide parental comfort for others.

The ultimate path of the Saturn in Cancer individual is to mature into an empath, someone who feels their own and other people’s feelings, but releases them with the help of spiritual gifts back into the universe. You possess the gift of being closer to and trusted by more people than any other Saturn natal sign.

The Challenge

The challenge for those with Saturn in Cancer is to learn to express their feelings. Cancer is a water sign and like the other two signs, Scorpio and Pisces, we know that to feel means to feel pain. The British writer Horace Walpole put it succinctly, “Life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.”

Whereas the Cancer Sun does this freely and for all, those with Saturn in Cancer have felt unbearable pain long before they had the resources or maturity to know how to bear it. They have also been hit where most vulnerable, being orphaned or losing babies of their own or sometimes both. The unconscious reaction is to break down completely, anesthetize or bottle it all up. If you are reading this and have Saturn in Cancer you will know which route you took. To heal is to learn to cry a little every day. No more. No less.

The real reward

For those who choose to move a little farther in consciousness, the years between 30 and 60 will give you the opportunity to heal your own pain and minister to others. True intimacy is the real reward.

Many are called. Few are chosen. For those who rigorously seek growth and enlightenment and faithfully pass their Saturn tests between 30 and 60, the gift is to become an empath and to embody such compassion. Also, it’s to become so archetypically maternal that you are incredibly close to an incredible number of individuals throughout your life. If not to say worshiped and adored as some may be even by crowds. You can wash others clean with your maternal embrace, as you cry gently with them in compassion.

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