A few articles ago I wrote about "Where Do You Find Mom and Dad in a Chart? The Parental Axis."My emphasis at that time was on the 4th/10th axis in an astrology wheel because astrology considers that to be the parental axis. Another title for that particular axis is the security axis and the two titles describe similar platforms. To recap briefly, the bottom of the wheel is more personal, subjective and introspective in nature. The upper half of the wheel is less personal and more objective in nature. Ideally one parent (4th) provides safe haven and the personal, intimate security every infant and child needs. Again ideally, the other parent (10th) provides the ability to successfully encounter the outside world with its demands to develop and maintain security in a more external and objective environment. Let us take that explanation a bit deeper by focusing in this article on maternal issues. I will write about paternal issues in a later article.
Starting with the ascendant and first house as the emergence of the entity onto its environment, the entity begins with "I Am" or knowledge of I/me, my personal self. Experience will then move counter-clockwise around the house wheel to the 2nd house of "I want" or "I need," such as food, comfort, or a clean diaper. "I" has naturally moved to "mine" as in possession and territory. The next need is that of communication. I am and I want leads to "I must make those needs known," the 3rd house of communication. Past that point, we transition from the very personal left side of the wheel across the vertical axis to the right side of the chart, which represents our interaction with others. We are still subjective and intimate because we are located in the bottom of the wheel, but we are no longer an island of individual want and need. If we communicate in the 3rd house we will need someone, anyone, to listen. To have a listener we must cross into the "other" side of the wheel.
The most immediate "other" to a newborn infant is mom. After all that infant just spent several months in the warm, safe, nearly silent cocoon called its mother's womb. Her smells, her sounds, rhythms, and her heartbeat are familiar and safe because the infant existed within her. It is therefore logical to reach out to the most familiar being in that infant's world, the mother as intimate, subjective, personal security. Life is not always ideal. The mother may or not be able to fulfill that role for whatever reason. Perhaps that parent is absent or incapable. Perhaps the dad fills that role or the role remains unfulfilled. If unfulfilled then there never is any real personal security provided for that child. Think about that. That situation could create long-lasting security issues within that infant, problems that entity will carry from childhood into the world of adults. Insecurity rather than security is what is formed.
Look at the keywords for the natural 4th house, regardless of what sign is on the cusp or what planets are in or associated with the 4th house, home, hearth and family. The resulting keywords are subjective, introspective, personal, and intimate in nature. Now look to the 4th zodiac sign, Cancer. You can see many of the same keywords and issues in the sign. Signs are the manner of expression and they can be similar or in affinity to what you see in a house, which is an arena of physical experience. The sign of Cancer naturally rules 4th house matters regardless of the zodiac sign on the cusp. Cancer issues and 4th house issues have a natural resonance. Whatever sign is actually on that 4th house cusp and whatever planets reside in that natal 4th house modifies (adds to) that inherent home, hearth, family, and intimate security core meaning.
Planets are the "what" of the energy, what part of the person that energy represents and what principles are affected. Houses are the "where" of the energy, the part of your life that is affected and the part of your life that is forever connected by occupation and rulership (affinity). Signs are the "how" of the energy, what mannerisms, what expressions, what issues are moderating or influencing the energy itself just as a colored lens (sign) effects the observation of a light source (planet). Signs are observational in that they modify, diminish or enhance the core (planet or personal sensitive point) energy.
We can see the association between the 4th house and the sign of Cancer. Now we must take a step further and include the planet that "rules" (has affinity for) the sign of Cancer and has mundane (down to earth experience) rulership of the 4th house. That planet is the Moon. If you describe the energy of the Moon itself in a person's life, the coloration or modification proved by the sign Cancer and the affairs or arena of life experience provided by the 4th house, you can see the natural association or affinity. Signs are descriptive and houses are divisions of physical space. Since the only tangible energy of the three categories is planets, the planets get to "rule" the signs and houses. While the three segments of astrology: planets, signs and house, are intrinsically different, they do take on flavors and characteristics of each other and can be used collectively as a tool for understanding.
All of the comments I have made so far link the Moon, Cancer and the 4th in a natural pattern. This linkage occurs instantly in the life and experience of the infant. This is a natural association. We do know that most people are not born with that specific combination. So in reading the wheel of an individual the actual positions of cusp sign and house occupation must be added to the mix. Here is where contradiction and paradox can enter the picture. And of course I have written another article on that as well: Astrological Choices - Identification, Paradox, Contradiction, the Flip Side of the Coin. All these meanings must be combined, even those that confuse or contradict the reading being built. People are complex, sometimes paradoxical or contradictory because that is normal for humanity. We are developing a word picture of another human being, the maternal role in the life of the entity represented by the chart. That description cannot be formed from a single reference. Humanity is far more complex than a single reference. So we must read the complex to obtain a better definition of any role but particularly either parental role.
Examples might help here. Perhaps this maternal parent (of whatever sex) is creative and a dreamer. Watch for Pisces and Neptune involvement. Perhaps this maternal parent is rebellious and "different" watch for Uranus and Aquarius involvement. Perhaps this maternal parent is beautiful, harmonious, social, or a creature of comfort. Watch for Venus involvement. These additional factors are like layers of an onion but all are necessary to your understanding of the maternal parent role for that individual. Paradox or contradiction must be read and integrated because it is the nature of reality itself.
Perspective It is important to realize also that although a household may consist of two parents and several offspring of those parents, each of those children may see the maternal and paternal roles quite differently. I have four children, born as single births between 1958 and 1965 with the same parental pair. Each child has their own unique astrological pattern and each sees their maternal role quite differently. I raised them pretty much the same in a one-parent household with basically the same rules and circumstance. Whether there were two bodies in the physical dwelling might not change a single parent household premise. Do not make assumptions like this about how this works out. I am a reasonably stable person so while we had our tough moments, the children raised by one person and all under similar circumstance. Even with that sameness, my children see me quite differently. I am simultaneously an Aries Mom, a Cancer Mom, a Virgo Mom and a Pisces Mom depending on the perspective of each child. I am viewed as the maternal parent through the lens of their own individual Moons (generic mom). As I grew and became as an individual, I naturally changed and each child responded to those subtle alterations in who I was (natal) and who I was becoming or experiencing (progression). These changes were not necessarily on a conscious level but they did occur, Change is normal in human experience and it should be visible in our experience and in our sky maps.
I recommend reading the two articles I mentioned because they do interact with and help build a body of information about the maternal influence (mom) in any life. Think about these concepts when you are attempting to read the maternal parent in a chart, trying to understand your own maternal relationship or attempting to understand the changing relationship between you and your own children. There is a core maternal principle that does get affected over a lifetime of experience. The individual's chart grows and changes with the person. In addition, those who are viewing this maternal figure through their own personal lenses are growing and changing as well. And you thought astrology was easy to do!