©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Some folks aren’t happy unless they’re sad. Others use anger to keep themselves pumped up. For some people, dwelling on self‑pity or feeling victimized become well‑worn grooves that occupy an emptiness they wouldn’t otherwise know how to fill. Here I’m talking about the feeling tone that typifies each of us. “Doris is always depressed. What a sad sack!” “Bob would rather bite your head off than say hello. He’s always in a foul mood.”
Although a broad range of emotions is possible, most of us experience and express a very narrow range. The content and breadth of that range vary with the individual and are shown by the Moon in your chart. The Moon rules emotions, habits, and the unconscious. I made many discoveries by looking for connections between Moon matters. One such discovery was that many negative emotions that torment us persistently are bad habits we learned very early. We are no longer conscious of why they arose, so these tapes switch on automatically in stressful situations. In a crisis, we play the same tapes, only louder.
An emotional habit is a learned pattern, an unconscious and automatic response to emotion‑ producing circumstances. When people or situations push your buttons, it makes you feel safe. It works well most of the time, so it is no longer conscious. In a sense, it is a defense mechanism.
Emotional habits are familiar and comfortable, whereas unfamiliar feelings rock the boat too much. While the selected feelings tend to be unpleasant, they are still less difficult to handle than others that threaten the status quo. When uncomfortable reactions come up, many people unconsciously and rapidly call on the habitual ones. These become multi‑purpose tools used‑‑and overused‑‑in many situations to keep from confronting the real feelings.
Many strong but recurring emotions should be seen as suspect, as all too often they are a distortion of the true response. The conversion may be made so quickly that people don’t even allow themselves to recognize emotions they regard as unacceptable. For instance, those who don’t wish to acknowledge their need to control may instantly convert it into guilt and walk around feeling guilty much of the time. Guilt may not be pleasant, but they believe it makes them a nicer person than someone who wants to dominate others. Those who find guilt too ego‑wounding may convert it into blaming others.
Those who are uneasy with anger may immediately turn it into depression or anxiety. They may even say‑‑and believe‑‑that they never get angry. Anger, again, isn’t nice. People around them, however, may sense the underlying anger in their words and deeds and react to it. Haven’t you noticed how irritating depressed people can be? Others are far too comfortable with anger, using resentment and brooding to keep from experiencing a variety of feelings, such as powerlessness or grief over their losses.
For someone else, anxiety may be a habit. In each new or challenging situation, anxiety gushes up from an endless pool underneath. The person spins into a state of fear that becomes all consuming. Just as the depressive person automatically settles into the funk, the anxiety-ridden person unthinkingly allows his nervousness to become his total reality. In both cases, these habits can be defenses against other feelings.
Our personal range of safe, old‑shoe emotions often correlates with the Moon’s sign and aspects in the birth chart. The patterns characteristic of the twelve Moon signs are often no more than habit. As we go along, we will learn about the reactions typical of the twelve Moon signs. For example, most Moon in Aries people aren’t comfortable with fear or neediness, so they may react aggressively instead. Moon in Virgo individuals, on the other hand, may avoid strong emotions by turning them into psychosomatic illnesses or by overworking.
Because these states are unconscious, it requires a great effort to become aware of Moon habits and break them. Therapy and other insight producing situations may help if these habits are making your life miserable. However, conscious awareness is a good beginning, and it can come through studying the Moon in your horoscope. The Moon’s sign and aspects relate to the mother’s state during the child’s first year of life. For example, with Moon in Capricorn, the mother was probably depressed or very somber in the child’s earliest months . . . perhaps even suffering from postpartum depression. Living in this emotional bath, her offspring’s reactions to the world may be shaped by depression, even in adulthood.
Apart from the tone of your earliest contacts with mother, she shaped your emotions in the same way she shaped a great variety of behaviors you take for granted. She trained you—just as she did in toothbrushing and table manners‑‑by giving her approval or withholding it. Like anyone else, Mom had a narrow comfort zone of emotions. If she gave attention or approval for showing particular emotions, they would tend to increase. If she withdrew‑‑or even punished you‑‑when you displayed others, you quickly learned to suppress them or mask them behind the ones she could accept.
For instance, the mother of a child born with Moon in Aries typically has little patience when the child is whining, clinging, or afraid. She may respond with impatience and even rage. On the other hand, some such mothers have a sneaking admiration for spunky little displays of independence, of assertiveness, or even of temper. You can guess which of these qualities she suppressed and which she rewarded. In addition, rage is contagious, so if she was irritable and impatient in handling the child, the result could be an irritable child.
Incidentally, this approach reveals clear distinctions between the Sun sign and the Moon sign. The differences are not so much in the behavior, but in the underlying motivation. For instance, Sun sign Virgos and Moon sign Virgos may both overwork to the point of exhaustion. Sun sign Virgos do it, however, because their self‑worth is bound up in their work. Many of them identify strongly with their productivity. They don’t feel good about themselves unless they put in more hours and get more work done than anyone else on the job. It’s almost a form of one-upmanship.
Moon sign Virgos, on the other hand, overwork as a way of avoiding feelings, especially about some ongoing issue or condition. When there is too much conflict in their primary relationship, they may absent themselves by working long hours. Or, when there is no relationship, they may overwork to avoid going home to an empty house and confronting the loneliness. Sun sign Virgos, on some level, are still trying to please Dad or his equivalents, while Moon sign Virgos are modeling themselves after Mom.
See a related post on Vibration, the flower essence blog: Bad Emotional Habits and How to Break Them
Posts about the Moon and Cancer:
- How Strong is your Moon? Here’s the Score?
- Why Transits to the Birth Moon are so Challenging
- How Outer Planet Transits to the Moon Affect Family Life
- Why Cancer Isn’t a Popular Sign
- Cancerians, Memory and Emotion
- The Dance of the Primal Lights –How the Sun and Moon Light Up the Personality
- The Moon Signs and their Emotional Habits
- Outtake from a Moon-Pluto Life
- Understanding Mercury Aspects to the Moon
- Cosmic Piñata #6—a Moon Miscellany
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 4th House
- Fool’s Gold—the Slippery Slope of the South Node
FREE EBOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: a 50-page excerpt from my out-of-print book, The Moon in your Life, also known as Being a Lunar Type in a Solar World. Read more about it here: NEW: FREE BOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS! If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at email@example.com. To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.” Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post.
Note: This post was adapted from my hardcopy book The Moon in Your Life, published by RedWheel/Weiser and now out of print. You may also find it under the original name (first edition) of the book, which was Being a Lunar Type in a Solar World. Used copies can still be obtained through Amazon.com. You might also check out a place where people swap books for free. http://www.paperbackswap.com. All it costs is postage.This place is a gem. It has several hundred astrological and metaphysical paperbacks among the several million books on a variety of subjects that people can swap.