The Crab in the Iron Shell: Hard Aspects Between the Natal Moon and Saturn

Hard Aspects Between Natal Moon and Saturn

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The natal Moon describes how someone was nurtured as a child, and how they respond to nurturing as an adult. When the Moon is combined with Saturn (the planet of limitations and restrictions) in a hard aspect (conjunction, square, opposition, inconjunct), a fortress is built around this most vulnerable area. Saturn can freeze emotional development, but only those who get close to the Moon/Saturn person will ever see this. In many ways the Moon/Saturn person is an iron-shelled version of the crab (symbol of the Cancer, the Moon’s sign).

The Moon/Saturn “Shell”

To most people, the Moon/Saturn person appears cool and in charge. Their emotions (Moon) are tightly controlled by Saturn, so they come across as supremely adult. Saturn adds grit; you will not find a more patient, harder-working individual than the Moon/Saturn person. The tension from the hard aspects can make them appear superhuman, as they shoulder tremendous burdens. To someone searching for a partner who’s got their act together, the Moon/Saturn person can seem ideal.

Inside the The Moon/Saturn Personality

The reality of the Moon/Saturn person is rather different. The process of opening up to a new partner can be painfully slow. They are deeply afraid of being vulnerable and want absolute assurance that they will not be hurt. Saturn limits their ability to take emotional risks, so a prospective partner will have to work (Saturn) to prove themselves. Some Moon/Saturn people are drawn to relationships in which open expression of emotions is discouraged. It feels natural (Moon) for them to have external limits (Saturn) placed on their feelings. There must be an element of struggle—even punishment—in the mix, because security that is achieved too easily feels wrong. However, once they let their defenses down, a whole new personality is revealed.

In Astrology: Transformation & Empowerment, Adrian Ross Duncan describes the tremendous need inside the Moon/Saturn person. When they finally decide that it’s safe to unlock Saturn’s iron cage, a clingy, vulnerable person jumps out. Suddenly, they demand constant reassurance. They appear to need (Moon) more support than anyone can provide. If the Moon/Saturn person receives a whiff of hesitation from their partner, they will interpret this as rejection. The cage door slams shut, and the Moon/Saturn person abruptly withdraws, becoming Mr. or Mrs. Cool once again.

Transformative Moon/Saturn Relationships

This is a critical point in a Moon/Saturn relationship. If you are partnered with a Moon/Saturn person, know that you have found someone who will be faithful and responsible, despite their childlike vulnerability. If you choose to stick it out, you can help the Moon/Saturn person overcome their core belief that they do not deserve to be nurtured. This will involve much patience and wading through a host of fears, suspicions, and immature behavior.

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As a child, the Moon/Saturn person felt that love and acceptance from their parents was based on achievement (Saturn). The family’s social position might have been tied to the child’s actions. Perhaps the mother lived out her desire for status through the Moon/Saturn person. This is an adult burden for a child to carry. It lead to the certainty that love had to be earned. At the same time, they feel that they will never be good enough to earn it.

For the Moon/Saturn person, the pattern of stoically holding back then overwhelming a partner with their needs can be broken. Their task is to develop their own emotional resources and become their own parent. Saturn’s protection has (ironically) prevented them from developing a thick skin. Only by taking risks and consistently exposing themselves to intimacy will they be able to develop true maturity. This will mean opening up to someone and not shutting down the moment things go awry.

The energy of the hard aspects can be used to escape from this prison, while Saturn’s resilience can create a solid emotional core. Once again, the Moon/Saturn person is being called upon to shoulder a responsibility. This time it’s the responsibility for their own needs. Their reward will be a stable relationship based on trust, and the certainty that they deserve to be loved.

Are you a Moon/Saturn person or involved with a Moon/Saturn person? Let us know how you “crack” the iron-shelled crab in comments below.

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About Nadia Gilchrist

Nadia Gilchrist offers over 19 years of experience in astrology. Her writings and personal consultations focus on applying practical astrological analysis to the real world. Nadia blogs regularly at Ruby Slipper Astrology.


  1. SyncopatedDissociation says:

    Marq, your comment above is beautifully put and spot on. You are an example.

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