At astrology’s most basic level, the signs are separated into the four elements, each ruling over a certain aspect of the human experience:
Fire ➝ (Spirit) ➝ Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth ➝ (Body) ➝ Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air ➝ (Mind) ➝ Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water ➝ (Emotion) ➝ Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Signs of each elemental group have their own strengths and struggles, which may include both physical and emotional issues. Mind-based air signs are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like schizophrenia. Body-ruled earth signs may experience physically debilitating diseases like ALS. And the birth charts of individuals who suffer from depression—and those have attempted or committed suicide—will often reveal more than a few personal planets in emotion-based water signs.
Being a triple air sign myself (Gemini Sun, Aquarius Moon, Libra Rising) with no watery personal planets, I’ve always struggled to truly understand the feeling natures of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. That is, until the day of Robin Williams’ death, when I was in the ocean.
Want to better understand a sign? Observe its element in nature.
In the ocean, the water rushes at you with surprising force. The tide swells, and suddenly you’re no longer sure of your strength. Waves crash over your head—pulling you down, overtaking you, tossing you with a disconcerting ease. The ocean doesn’t care who you are, or how good of a swimmer you may be, you are overpowered just the same. Even my Cancerian friend was no match for a rip tide.
In my struggling to remain on my feet, I finally understood the true power of water signs.
The overwhelming pull of the ocean is the same pull that the heavy issues of the heart have over them.
Water signs do not just feel lightly. They feel with the intensity of the ocean.
Just as water nourishes us, it can also drown us. Just as our ability to feel allows us to experience great joy, it also allows great pain. Water is needed to sustain life, yet water is also the most destructive element. Even natural disasters that have historically caused the greatest loss of life all involve water: floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes.
When someone has planets in water signs, this means that their feeling nature is more intense. They feel the highest highs and the lowest lows. Emotions more easily flood them, often without warning or logic. Feelings can easily carry them away, just as the tide attempts to carry swimmers out to sea. They may feel as if they’re often struggling to stay afloat, always fighting an invisible current. This is depression.
And sometimes, after a long battle with the tide, they feel utterly helpless. They feel like there’s no longer any use in fighting the surging waters. They feel powerless, hopeless, exhausted. So they give in, they let the tide take them. Sometimes drifting, sometimes drowning. This watery surrender may be self-harm or suicide.
A look at notable figures who’ve taken their own lives, reveals an obvious water sign pattern:
- Kurt Cobain: 8 planets in water signs
- Sylvia Plath: Scorpio Sun and Mercury, both in the 8th House (Scorpio’s native house)
- Alexander McQueen: Scorpio rising; Pisces Sun, Moon, and Mercury, all in the 4th house (Cancer’s native house, the house of mothering and nurturing) an interesting detail which may account for the timing of his suicide: a week after his mother’s death
and of course, the suicide currently weighing heavy on our collective heart…
- Robin Williams: Cancer Sun and Mars (8th house); Pisces Moon; Scorpio rising
But the life of a water sign person need not be so bleak. In those drowning moments it is easy to forget that…
Water signs embody the strength of the ocean. They are just as powerful as the tide.
Water signs are the ultimate forces to be reckoned with. Operating from an emotional place allows for a deeper understanding of others, and a gives a truly compassionate nature. No one can shower you with love quite like a water sign.
Remember: water nourishes just as effectively as it can destroy. Where there is water, there is life. And what could be more powerful that that? The ultimate water sign lesson is to harness that power. Ride that wave. Let it push you forward, not pull you under.
You are not the helpless swimmer, you are the ocean.
Feeling overwhelmed by rough waters? Please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I can almost guarantee that the voice on the other end will be a fellow water sign who truly understands your struggle and will remind you of your power.