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Understanding the Element Water in Western Astrology: For Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

Water in astrology represents relationships, love, and emotions.

Water in astrology represents relationships, love, and emotions.

The Purpose of Water

The last element to appear in Western astrology is often misunderstood. Humans are still evolving, and we don’t fully understand how to have healthy relationships and emotions, the parts of life that water represents.

The Elements

Fire appears first in the cycle. It’s the spark that gets things into motion — it’s the energy that made the Big Bang happen. Fire is an explosion of energy, potential, and ultimately, movement. Earth is the manifestation of matter. Air is space and time and gives us the power to live in sequence. And the last element to arrive, water, is perhaps the most important. It represents life — everything would be meaningless and just a show without water.

Organic Reality

Water puts a whole new spin on our existence. It is what causes matter to transcend into organic matter. Water is the element that explores reality. We can trace evolution back to the smallest tiniest single-cell organisms that lived in water. Life appears to have started in the oceans, crawled its way up to land, and eventually, into flight — looking at you, birds and bats.

Freshwater is essential. Our bodies are made up in large of water — even our bones. Looking at all the suffering and drama in the human world, it is clear that we haven’t mastered emotions. Many of our problems can be traced back to our lack of empathy, and our lack of understanding our emotional needs. We don’t have good control of our impulses, we’re greedy and lustful. We make fun of each other, and we can be violent. Humans have started wars simply out of boredom. When we have learned better self-control and acceptance of our emotions, we’ll evolve — and hopefully, we'll treat the planet better.

Water isn’t only about life—it’s about the subconscious. We’re not entirely sure what is happening in the brain, how we came to develop a sense of self, and what exactly happens when we die. It’s likely that the afterlife is varied, complex, and perhaps too radically different from the present for us to really understand it on this side of things — that’s if there is an afterlife.

Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

There is some degree of electricity that runs through our veins — and the water signs address this.

Cancer tries to nurture the subconscious.

The metaphorical language that’s used to describe Cancer includes: the changing phases of the moon, a woman going through different stages of pregnancy, and a crab walking sideways.

Cancer is the first real sign of the zodiac that represents sacrifice and adulthood. Aries, Taurus, and Gemini are often described as children or as youthful. Cancer is old enough to carry a child to term. The water sign carries more than her emotions but also the emotions of the life she nurtures inside her. Cancer is sensitive and notices the subtle changes all around us. This is a sign who is open to creativity and believes that details matter.

Scorpio struggles with transformations.

Scorpio is one of a select bunch who connects to magic. Scorpio is the first real sign of the Zodiac to welcome and address death. This is someone who acknowledges that death is part of the cycle of life.

In astrology, Scorpio is one of the most complex signs with a challenging trajectory. Most of the signs only have one symbol, maybe two. Scorpio has at least three because the fixed water sign goes through multiple transformations and metamorphoses in one lifetime.

1. Scorpio crawls on its belly like the slithering, cunning snake.

An immature Scorpio only works on instinct. The fixed water sign accepts the darker versions of himself to eventually rise into their final self. The snake bites at the heel, he tempts others into destruction and eats at the dust. Snakes are quick, deadly, frightening, and masterminds. The snake eventually transforms into the most popular symbol for Scorpio: the scorpion.

2. Scorpions are known as disturbers of order and peace.

The scorpion is a modified snake. It still hangs low to the ground dealing with the darkest chambers of existence. It’s still territorial and aggressive. The scorpion is quick and has a stinger full of poison.

Scorpions are not just predators and rough opponents for their enemies, they’re also pretty frightening lovers — they kill their mates after experiencing intimacy. Scorpio is willing to see all these strange and terrible emotions. Snakes and scorpions represent parasitic nature.

3. Scorpio’s ultimate goal is a huge transformation and one that’s hard to stay in full. Eventually, a mature Scorpio will turn into the Phoenix.

This is an incredibly absurd transformation. Scorpios morph from a low-lying land walker with a tank of poison to a flying brilliant mythical bird with the power to heal. Scorpio doesn’t just have low lying (cryptic) emotions — they have the power to heal people, nations, and this planet — but to get there, Scorpio must be willing to sacrifice.

It takes great maturity and humility to be willing to sacrifice, let go of your ambitions, help others instead of yourself, and dedicate your time and energy to healing. Scorpio has the power to be an incredible teacher, doctor, and leader. The Scorpio can only unlock their highest self by getting in touch with their lowest emotions. They have to be real and authentic with themselves.

Pisces searches for true love and paradise.

Pisces is the gatekeeper. The mutable water sign is the final stage of the zodiac, and yet, it promises that more will come. Pisces types look for paradise — from the Garden of Eden to Heaven. Pisces and Aquarius are the final signs, and together they guide the world to maturity and utopia.

Pisces is the mentor, the guide, and the wise one. Aquarius is their pupil and apprentice. Pisces and Aquarius may relate to each other better than they do with signs of their own elements. Pisces is wise, and kind, but can also be deeply depressed and too fixated on oblivion. Pisces needs hope to overcome despair. They need to believe there is more beyond death.

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Water Believes in Life and Understands Death

Where Scorpio introduces death into the cycle, Pisces is the one who thinks a step beyond it and questions what is beyond death. Cancer is the one who brings life into the picture through pregnancy. Cancer, in a way, is the mother of the zodiac — you could consider her the mother that brings Aries, Taurus, and the Gemini twins to fruition. Aries starts the cycle but Cancer is his mother. (I know, it’s strange and confusing, but we’re dealing with cycles and not just a linear spectrum.)

Cancer represents the death of the self. Once you go through a pregnancy, you’re not going to be the same. It’s like Pangaea spreading and breaking into new continents — you might still be the same earth that once was whole, but you’ve taken on a new look. Scorpio is the first real sign that accepts and thinks of death — it is the first to accept an existential crisis. The idea of death was suppressed in Aries through Libra. Pisces is the hope that something new, something greater lives beyond the event horizon.

Western Astrology Tunes Us to the Planet

Some astrologers see Jesus as the era of Pisces and the promise of some kind of connection to a benevolent reality. He is seen as the teacher. And the Age of Aquarius is meant to bring us to that benevolent reality (utopia). The Age of Aquarius is supposed to be technologically advanced and full of epiphanies… and that definitely seems to be the case.

There is hope that we’ll better respect our planet — maybe we’ll progress beyond our current systems of wealth exploitation, and we’ll build an infrastructure that works for all and defies money (probably not anytime soon). I’m fairly certain we weren’t born to serve invisible money and to constantly search for invisible money. I believe we have lost our purpose: we’re meant to make this planet a paradise. Unfortunately, we’re treating it like a trash pit.

It’s hard not to get really metaphysical when talking about the elements of Western astrology. In truth, astrologers developed their understandings of the universe for survival. They had practical motivations. Calendars were developed to help us understand the seasons, prosper agriculturally, and avoid famines and other disasters.

Consider the Biblical story of Joseph as the council to the pharaoh. It was because of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams that he could help save Egypt from famine. Astrology isn’t meant to be wacky. It’s meant to help us understand what’s around us — when we are in tune with how agriculture works then we are in tune with how the planet works. Astrology has gotten lost in translation from people who are trying to make it appear more ominous than it really is. At the root of it, it’s a calendar system.

We Dream Because We Live

Water is the author of life, consciousness, and dreams. Water is expressive, diverse, and capable of appearing in multiple forms from a solid to a liquid to a gas. Water is meant to spread and fill up space. It moves faster than earth; it moves slower than air. The last element of the zodiac balances out the other elements.

Mental Health Support

Water signs have to be careful and master their moods and emotions. We as a people don’t fully understand depression. We’re out of synch people full of chemicals we don’t need, doing tasks that don’t give us purpose, and disconnected from our loved ones. There are plenty of reasons to become depressed and there is a range of possible remedies. Some people successfully get out of depression for others it is chronic.

Depression is serious and shouldn’t be overlooked. If you need support please know you are worth that support. There are resources out there, even free ones.

Water deals with some complex emotions and those emotions may elude the other signs. Fire, earth, and air don’t necessarily have as much depth when it comes to feelings. Water represents caring hearts, magic, romance with all its jitters, and intuition.

This world runs on a lot of fire and earth energy. Air also feels misunderstood and out of place, but this world requires that we have clean air and clean water to survive.

Yin and Yang

Water is associated more with yin than yang. Yin and yang in traditional Chinese philosophy have to do with understanding the energies of our universe and separating them into parts. It deals with binaries, but those binaries take a little bit from each other creating spectrums. Consider the yin and yang sign: it’s white and black on different sides but both have tadpoles of the other color.

Consider this: we have a day (yang) and night (yin) — but we don’t immediately move from night to day. This would cause panic. Night and day transition with sunrise and sunset. Transitions are necessary and natural parts of our reality. Even the Zodiac acknowledges transitions. Some people are not fully one sign or the other but are cusps. You could be born right when the seasons are changing and be part Taurus and part Gemini, having an acceleration of both their talents and curses.

How do you know if you’re a cusp? Look at your birthday and when the dates of your sign begin and end. Also, look at your time of birth. On some natal charts, you might get put under different sun signs. Read descriptions of both the signs and see if they correspond to you at all. Also, do you seem to be a little more advanced than some people? Did you do exceedingly well in school but also needed extra therapy to help you untangle all the mess of thoughts you had? There’s a good chance you’re a cusp: a combination of two elements working together.

Imagine for a social Gemini to be a cusp with either Taurus or Cancer. The Gemini now not only has the twins to chatter about but a third sign. That’s a lot of personality and brainpower.

Exercises to Connect with Water

Everyone has water aspects to their natal chart. Here are some ways you can embrace the water aspects of your personality:

  1. Incorporate expressive exercise into your routine. It’s obvious, but swimming is appropriate for this element. Try getting into a pool. Try dancing to get some movement. Gymnastics works well for some flow. Look for collaborative exercises as opposed to more competitive sports. Consider group exercise classes like yoga, cycling, and weightlifting. You don’t want to put yourself around obnoxious competitive people. Go for walks.
  2. Get on a boat. Take a trip to the lake, go to the ocean, hit up the river. Every element should try to get out in nature and find something that reminds them of their energy. For water signs, it’s all about finding water. Watch how it moves, watch the ripples, and get in it (if it’s safe and clean).
  3. Keep a dream journal. Write down your dreams. This will help you with your memory and help you organize your thoughts. Try to interpret and understand your dreams.
  4. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat things that take water to grow. It’s easier on your digestive system when you eat fruits and veggies.
  5. Take a hot shower or bath. Unwind and stop trying to be ambitious all the time. Prioritize relaxation.
  6. Listen to meditative sounds that incorporate water. Listen to the rain, listen to the ocean, listen to waterfalls. You can find YouTube videos for this.
  7. Read fiction books that allow you to empathize with another point of view. Reading lets you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  8. Add scents to your home that make it smell like the sea, the beach, or other water-based areas. It’s good to put reminders in your home that suggest relaxation.
  9. Clean off surfaces with water and a touch of soap. You will feel better with a clean home and fewer chemicals. Earth is a manager of physical resources whereas water is a manager of emotions. You are more sensitive to chemicals, so try to get rid of products with lots of preservatives. Get rid of household cleaners that have been used and treated on animals. Look for products that are vegan friendly; they’re likely better in your home.
  10. Read up on feng shui. Align your home to better accommodate your water-based needs.
  11. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces all need a quiet space at home to think and isolate themselves from the world. Cancer needs to feel their emotions and shapeshift with the moon. Scorpio needs privacy. Pisces needs a space to hum and chew on her thoughts. Create clean, minimalistic spaces for yourself. Be tidy.
  12. Find activities that you can do with your hands and feet. Water rules the hands, feet, and midpoint of the body.
  13. Learn from fish. Watch them swim. The species that rules water is obviously fish. Consider their ways. Fish aren’t meant to sit still — they’re meant to flow. They’re meant to swim together in harmony. They go to dark spaces that are unseen by the human eye. They’re meant to be strange. They migrate. Look to the aquatic for answers.

Water at a Quick Glance


Sun Signs

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

4th, 8th, and 12th signs

House of Cards


Suit deals with emotions, romance, love, intuition, and empathy. Suit stretches you to think more about others.


The Crab, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Phoenix/Eagle, The Fish

Water is about life. All its symbols have to do with creatures. Those creatures live in the water, land, and in the air. Mammals belong to other signs.

Ruled by

The Moon, Mars, and Jupiter

The Moon only belongs to Cancer. Mars is in Scorpio and Aries. Jupiter is in Pisces and Sagittarius.



String instruments convey emotion more aptly than other instruments. Strings rule vibrato.


Fruits, vegetables, and fish

Anything that requires water to grow it. Plants, fish and critters that swim are all relevant.

Motivated by


Cancer deals with mood shifts and the anxieties of bringing life into the world and how that changes the space around them. Scorpio deals with the full range of emotions with darkness included. Pisces deals with all emotions and the potential of heaven and the beyond.


Solid, liquid, gas

Flexibility in expression. Capacity for different moods.


Rain, storms, hurricanes, precipitation

Water has a range of weather events related to it. Some which are necessary for our survival, and some that are dangerous and deadly.


Taste and smell

Water deals with purity and is more sensitive to particles in taste and smell. It has the power to decipher these. Water deals with particles. Air deals with waves.


To Nurture

You are a nurturer whose meant to help others mature.

© 2020 Andrea Lawrence

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