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

Andrea has an extensive background in writing, pottery, knitting, Europe, ghosts, pirates, and environmental science.


The Purpose of Water

The last element to appear in Western Astrology is often misunderstood. I think we're still trying to understand what are the mysterious of water, what it means for life, and what is consciousness.

The Elements

Fire appears first in the cycle. It's the spark that gets things into motion -- think the Big Bang. 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. Water is life -- everything would be meaningless and just a show without water.

Organic Reality

Water puts a whole new spin on our existence. It gives organic matter the chance to explore all of this beautiful and absurd reality around us. We can trace evolution back to the smallest tiniest single cell organism in the water. Life appears to have started in our oceans, crawled its way up to the earth, and eventually some of us actually got to take flight -- looking at you birds and bats.

We will die if we don't have fresh water. Our bodies are made up in large part of water, even our bones. Humans haven't yet mastered their emotions. Many of our problems can be traced back to our lack of empathy, our lack of understanding our emotional needs. We don't have good control of our impulses, we're greedy, lustful, we make fun of each other, and we're horribly 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 treat the planet better.

Water is essential. Humans are just beginning to awaken to their EQ and not just their IQ. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are paving the road to better understanding, to an organic universe.

Water isn't only about life it's about consciousness. 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 now. And why take care of our future selves now when we have the present to address?

  • Don't expect to understand things you haven't experienced.
  • Don't expect your current self to have the tools to really comprehend what comes after death.
  • You're not meant to know what lies ahead for reasons that help shield you from potential corruption.
  • Don't try to merge two realities all at once.
  • Let there exist some mysteries.

Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

There is some kind of electricity that runs through our veins. The water signs address this. Cancer tries to nurture that consciousness. Her moods change with the moon, she is the pregnant woman going through changes, and she is walking sideways like a crab.

Scorpio is one of the few signs based in 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. 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 it goes through multiple transformations and metamorphoses in its lifetime.

  1. Scorpio crawls on its belly as the slithering, cunning snake. An immature Scorpio only works on instinct. It accepts the darker versions of itself to eventually rise into its final self. The snake bites at the heel, it tempts others into destruction, and it 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 not exactly lovable and sweet critters either. Scorpios still have more to work through and mature. The scorpion is a modified snake. It still hangs low to the ground dealing with the darkest chambers of our 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 having some kind of intimacy. Scorpio is willing to see all these strange and terrible emotions. They must mature through what are exceedingly dark places that have to do with our nature. They go through emotions related to our survival, to compete, and to continue our species. Snakes and scorpions deal with our parasitic nature.
  3. But Scorpio's ultimate goal is a huge transformation and one that's hard to stay in fully. Eventually a mature Scorpio will turn into the Phoenix. This is an incredibly absurd transformation. It jumps from a low lying land walker with poison to a flying brilliant mythical bird with the power to heal. Scorpio doesn't just have low lying emotions, but the power to spread into something more that has the ability to heal people, nations, and this planet -- but to get there Scorpio must be willing to sacrifice. It is really hard to be a sacrificial person but it is the answer to healing for this planet. It takes great maturity and humility to be willing to sacrifice, to let go of your ambitions, to help others instead of yourself, and to 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 coming into touch with their emotions and allowing for maturity.

Pisces is also a magical sign. Pisces is the gatekeeper. It is the final sign of the Zodiac and promises to look for more. To look for the Garden of Eden, to look for Heaven. Pisces and Aquarius are the final signs and together they help open the world to the utopia waiting for us. Pisces is the mentor, the guide, and the wise one. Aquarius is his pupil and apprentice. Pisces and Aquarius may relate to each other better than they do their own elements. Pisces is wise, kind, but can also be deeply depressed and too transfixed on oblivion. Pisces needs hope to overcome despair. They need to believe there is more beyond death.

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 the door behind 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 into 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 spectrum.

Cancer in a way is a 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 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, It Reminds Us of the Work of Agriculture

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 utopia. We can easily predict that our future is much more entrenched in technology and industry. 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. I'm fairly certain we weren't born to serve invisible money and to constantly search for invisible money. I believe our purpose to work has been lost. We're meant to make this planet a paradise, and by respecting the planet we respect consciousness.

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 understand the seasons, it was to best serve us for agriculture, and to avoid famines. A society that could avoid famine has a much greater chance at survival.

Consider the Biblical story of Joseph as the council to the pharaoh. It was because of his 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. For many Astrology is lost in translation because our world has become too bent on capitalism. Capitalism exploits rather than supports. Capitalism is about gaining as much money as possible and not about creating an infrastructure that supports all. It divides rather than completes. It chases after the invisible rather than taking care of the physical reality that is Earth.


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 gives balance to the other elements.

Mental Health Support

Water has the greatest risk mentally of falling into depression. Water signs have to be careful and master their moods and emotions. We as a people don't fully understand depression at this point in time. 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 are a wide 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, for you to get help and guidance. You are not alone. You matter.

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 as you do when it comes to feelings. We need your caring hearts, we need that magic in you that gives romance all its jitters, we need you. Often your depression stems from the fact that you don't feel you have a place to belong or you feel excluded. You want to feel understood and seen.

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 medicine have to do with understanding 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 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. You're a super Zodiac in a way, and these are more rare than falling into a traditional date.

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 and you're 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 there in the mix. That's a lot of personality and brain power.

Exercises to Help with Water Based Issues

As I said earlier, water signs struggle with depression. There are some exercises and things you can do to help with water based issues.

  • Incorporate some expressive type of exercise into your routine. It's obvious, but swimming is natural for water signs. Try getting into a pool. Try dancing to get some movement. Gymnastics for some flow. Look for collaborative exercises as opposed to more competitive sports. You would like group yoga classes, cycling classes. You don't want to put yourself around obnoxious competitive people. Go for walks.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat things that take water to grow.
  • Take a hot shower or bath.
  • Listen to meditative sounds that incorporate water. Listen to rain, listen to the ocean, listen to the sea.
  • Read fiction books that allow you to empthasize with other point of views.
  • Add scents to your home that make it smell like the sea, the beach, or other water based areas.
  • Clean off surfaces with water and a touch of soap. You will feel better with a clean home and less chemicals. Earth is a manager of physical resource, 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.
  • Read up on Feng shui and align your home to better accomodate your water based needs. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at water not just Western Astrology.
  • Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces all need a quiet space at home to think and isolate 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 thoughts. Create clean, minimalistic spaces for yourself. Be tidy.
  • Water is about cleansing, baptizing, and purifying. Clean spaces mean something to you.
  • Water rules the hands, feet, and the midpoint of the body. Find activites that you can use to express your hands and feet.
  • Learn from fish. Watch them swim. The species that rules the water is obviously fish. Eat fish. Consider their ways. Fish are not 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.
  • Get involved in projects to clean up water and to supply fresh water to places that don't have it. Volunteering and doing projects to help others will do you good.
  • Water is meant to bring life into fruition. Water is meant to nurture -- that is their goal and lesson.

Water at a Quick Glance


Sun Signs

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

4th, 8th, and 12th signs

House of Cards


Suit deals with emotions, romance, love, luck, 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.



Strings carry emotion with them more than any of the other instruments. It rules the vibrato.


Fruits, vegetables, and fish

Anything that requires water to grow it, plants, fish and critters that swim. These foods are good for Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces especially if void of chemicals or preservatives

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 wide range of weather systems related to it. Many necessary for our survival but some 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 meant to help those around you grow.

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