image by きうこ

 “Without a proper feminine vessel, we can gestate nothing, nourish nothing, bring nothing to complete birth. “

James Hillman

The base of the chart is the 4th house and the IC. For the sake of simplicity we will take the IC to be the beginning of the 4th house, though it’s worthwhile to note that in the whole sign house system, the 4th house starts at the beginning of the whichever sign is on the cusp there. Cancer and the Moon are both associated with the 4th house, since in the natural zodiac Cancer is the sign on the cusp of the 4th house, and the Moon rules Cancer.

Though there is a certain amount of thematic overlap between Cancer, the Moon, and the 4th house, they are each differentiated from each other. Among the many symbols of the moon is our instinctual response to the world– the automatic reaction that, like breathing, happens of its own accord.

The 4th house is the second of 4 angular houses. Up until the point we reach the 4th house, we are experiencing our individual identities (1st house), the substantive qualities about our personalities that separates us from others (2nd house), and how we are in interacting with our immediate surroundings (3rd house). Angular houses 1, 4, 7, 10 start new experiences of life. These are the cardinal houses, and there is a thrusting, initiating quality about them. Angularity is why planets in angular houses are dynamic, expressing themselves with a lot of energy and force.

In the 4th house we find our base of operations, literally and psychologically. It can tell us about the actual home situation, in addition to the deep emotional worlds we encounter when we retreat back into ourselves. This house carries information our family background, early childhood experiences, parents, ancestral lineage, the soul, the roots of being.

In a recent presentation on the houses by Shawn Nygaard, he lavishly explained that the 4th house is associated with the following notions: The soul, the underworld, a rich imagination, deeply rooted things inside of us, secretiveness and the inclination not to share every little thing about ourselves; we don’t want to let every single person into the depth of our souls, in the Celtic tradition, the underworld is the secret mother source of all fertility, wells, healing water.

In the fourth house we return to ourselves for nourishment at the soul level. The Water element is associated with soul, and the emotional overtures that happen beneath the surface of perception by the five senses, which cannot be seen but are felt powerfully and resonate through reality. In many traditions the world over, ancient and modern, immense importance is assigned to water, as water is the source of all life. In the Thema Mundi, the chart of the world, the Ascendant is Cancer, with the Moon there; a commentary on incarnation and where, and with what quality, and under which circumstances, soul comes into being.

thema mundi
Thema Mundi

 “Building the psychic vessel of containment, which is another way of speaking of soul-making, seems to require bleeding and leaking as its precondition. Why else go through that work unless we are driven by the despair of our unstoppered condition? The shift from anima-mess to anima-vessel shows in various ways: as a shift from weakness and suffering to humility and sensitivity; from bitterness and complaint to a taste for salt and blood; from focus upon the emotional pain of a wound – its causes, parameters, cures – to its imaginal depths; from displacement of the womb onto women and ‘femininity’ to its locus in one’s own bodily rhythm.” 

James Hillman

images: roots by きうこ 

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