Pluto in Cancer Traits
It might be dramatic, but I would say without reservation that the period when Pluto was in Cancer marked the worst twenty-five years of modern history – possibly the worst twenty-five years of the entire history of humanity. People born during this time had a pretty good reason to be “crabby” but the natural characteristics of Cancer the crab ended up being pretty awful ones for this group of people.
Pluto entered Cancer in the year 1914, and it remained there until 1939. During this period, the entire globe was shaken by the First World War, the Great Depression, and the beginnings of the Second World War. Frankly, it’s hard to get much worse than that.
Cancer is the sign of the hearth and home, and when Pluto passed into it, an instinctive desire to protect the home took over. People born during this time were highly protective, reactive, and prone to nationalism. This is why countries that had previously celebrated good relations with each other developed rivalries and deep-seated hatreds that sprung up faster than virtually anything history had seen before.
People born when Pluto was in Cancer tended to be reactive, high-strung, and politically volatile. This isn’t surprising considering what they grew up with! Remember, Pluto influences everyone on the planet when it’s in a certain sign, not just the people born in that. Revolutions and the First World War left Europe in ruins, so, because Cancer is a sign that seeks comfort, people sought structure and sources of confidence after the war. All over the world, this meant Cancers being colder, more protective of “their own,” more suspicious… and it’s not a coincidence that racial crimes skyrocketed.
Cancer filled people with the desire to protect themselves and their “group,” whether that group was national, ethnic, or ideological. Obviously Cancers are not naturally intolerant and violent, but they can be prone to these protective behaviours, which led to the hardening of lines between different groups that had previously been relatively fluid.
While in the zodiac, Cancer is often seen as a fairly gentle, receptive sign, Pluto’s tendency to tap into the darker aspects of human life made people born when Cancer was in Pluto very suspicious of others, and not very charitable, preferring to avoid people who were different.
During this time, racial tensions mounted to an all-time high. The KKK, “Jim Crow” segregation laws, and even the Holocaust all happened during this time. If that sounds sad or scary, it was – but remember, it isn’t the fault of people who were born during that time and too young to participate… they were just swept up in the protective spirit of Cancer.
People born with Pluto in Cancer saw the world in “us versus them” scenarios, where they were heroes and they stood up against villains. The “us versus them” mentality, and the hardening of racial boundaries led to nations becoming divided, and even at home and during the interwar period, the tensions led to crime and violence at higher levels than anyone could have predicted.
It surprises many people to hear that a sign that is so gentle when a person’s Sun or Moon appears in it can be behind so much crime and violence when the whole world is affected by it at the same time, and for an extended period of time. It just goes to show that things that may seem positive in an individual can have massive negative effects when they are applied to entire nations.
Pluto in Cancer Women
During the period when Pluto was in Cancer, women became a more integral part of society than ever, as the First World War killed off hundreds of thousands of men from every country involved. Women stepped up to take their places at home, entering the workforce in enormous numbers and gaining personal independence – albeit with a hefty price tag.
Women born under Cancer have always been more comfortable taking action to protect the home and hearth, so no surprise that they played a vital role on the “home front” during the War. Remember, Cancer is the sign of the home, so it only makes sense that the home would become a fixture of war in its own right during this period.
After the First World War, many women of the 1920’s and 1930’s took up the traditional “motherhood” roles associated with Cancer, although there was certainly a contingent who embraced the newfound freedom – but they were clearly being far more influenced by other signs than Pluto in Cancer!
Plutonian Cancer women adhered far more strongly to “traditional” gender roles than had their mothers or even grandmothers. While women strove to buck the system and attain more freedom starting in the 1860’s and going through to 1914, women after the First World War tended to feel that they had had quite enough freedom, thank you very much, and were happier to go back to the perceived stability of having a man at the head of the household.
The fight to find stability is one that Cancers fight no matter where they appear in the horoscope, and it was an uphill battle for Plutonian Cancer women. However, their natural tirelessness when it comes to the family and dedication to people they loved served them well.
Pluto in Cancer Men
While this was not a great time to be a woman, it was an even worse time to be a man. Any man who was old enough to enlist in 1914 and somehow made it through to 1939 could count himself among a lucky few.
Those men who survived the First World War were sent home both physically and mentally injured, and many struggled to regain a sense of self at home. Cancer’s relation to the home and hearth can easily become dysfunctional if a Cancer forms negative feelings around the idea of leaving the home, which was what many men experienced with the symptoms of shell-shock (now called post-traumatic stress disorder).
Many Cancers had difficulty integrating with their families, because the influence of Cancer made them hold themselves to very high standards. Cancer is a sign that upholds very specific ideas about what a home should look like, which PTSD didn’t really fit into!
The sense of discomfort with the home is another interesting feature of Pluto’s presence in the sign of Cancer. Pluto is a planet that reveals secrets and mysteries, and when it appeared in the planet of the home, it made clear some of the flaws and inconsistencies of the ideal home that had been ingrained in the popular imagination up to that time. Many people born with Pluto in Cancer became cynical about home and families over time, as they grew up into the ‘50’s.
In a healthier time, if things hadn’t aligned so negatively, men born with Pluto in Cancer might be highly sensitive, responsible, and caring towards others, as well as being very loyal. These are all characteristics that men had when Pluto was in Cancer, but they were horribly misused. Hopefully, next time Pluto moves through this sign, Plutonian Cancer men will have the opportunity to use these characteristics to better effects!
Pluto in Cancer In Love
There was also a hardening of gender barriers for many people – although certainly not all – during this time, which strained many relationships! One contingent of people, including flappers, “new women,” and their supporters, promoted lovemaking liberation and freedom for men and women to intermingle, so that they could choose to eventually pursue relationships on equal footing. The keyword for relationships forged during this period was “stability”: what most people pursued in their romantic love was someone who could take care of them and their home.
However, while this group was a vocal minority, it was a minority nonetheless. Most people during the period after World War One were desperate for stability, and so relationships became hierarchical power exchanges, with women intentionally relinquishing power over to their menfolk.
As I have explained above, stability in the home is the most important thing for people born with Pluto in Cancer, so a relationship between two people born under this sign always focusses on creating a reliable family. Being in love was nice, but being responsible was more important to most Cancers.
While the era of the arranged marriage was over, marrying for wealth and prosperity became fashionable again, and many women eagerly pursued the wealthiest men they could in the hopes that that would provide stability.
Unfortunately for people who had high hopes in this field, the wealthiest people at this time were making a lot of their money on the stock market, and when the market crashed in 1929, and banks all over the western world foreclosed, hundreds of thousands of people went from successful to destitute in a matter of days.
Since stability was so important, and so hard to achieve when you were married, to many Cancers, relationship became a liability. A family meant more people to support, which led to thousands of marriages splitting up as men set off to try to regain some wealth, leaving women behind to take care of themselves and their children without any form of support from their husbands. Divorces, both legal and practical, skyrocketed, and record numbers of women were left to fend for themselves in a dangerous time and with few marketable skills.
The 1920’s and 1930’s were a time of great doomed romances in the media, both fictional (Gone with the Wind) and real (Bonnie and Clyde). It was not a happy time to be in love. Plutonian Cancers tend to have negative attitudes surrounding romance due to the “risk” that Cancer perceives it as.
While there have always been tragic romances in literature (from Romeo and Juliet to Charles and Diana), the 1920’s and 1930’s saw their popularity at an all-time high, even in comparison to the “happy” romances that appeared during that time like Pygmalion or Bringing up Baby. While those films were certainly popular, they simply have not had the cultural impact of the tragic romances of the early twentieth century.
Dates for Pluto in Cancer
This is the oldest phase of Pluto that any people alive today lived to see. I encourage you to speak to people who were alive during this time, so that you can learn about their experiences, even from very early childhood. See for yourself how their experiences align with what I have described here.
No one reading this is going to be alive the next time Pluto passes into Cancer, which will be in 2159 – and a good thing too, if this experience is anything to go on. The tragedies of this period are not something that anyone will want to face again, and we can only hope for the sake of our future generations that 2159 is not as bad a year as 1914.
It is difficult to judge at this point when exactly the next phase of Pluto in Cancer will end. Most phases of Pluto are in the realm of thirty years, but some are far shorter and some are far longer (due to Pluto’s elliptical path through the sky), so they cannot be accurately determined this far in advance.
I hope I have made it abundantly clear throughout this article that Pluto in Cancer is a dangerous combination. These years were some of the most destructive in human history, with killing at a massive scale, and politics and nationalism dividing people all over the globe.
While no other phase of recent history has been quite as astonishingly awful as this one (although the next phase, Pluto in Leo, comes close), these years cast a long shadow over modern history. I hope that we can learn from it, and learn what kind of disaster befalls us when we shut down conversations and allow violence to thrive in our attempts to protect our in-group.
While Pluto will not shift into Cancer again for over a hundred years, the features that characterized this period still exist today, and we must learn to recognize and avoid them. Just because Pluto is no longer under Cancer’s influence, doesn’t mean that its influence is completely gone from the world.