The Cancer-Capricorn axis represents respectively family life and one’s place in the world. Both are necessary. One is the archetypal world of the mother, the other of the father. Childhood represents a progression from one to the other. The early years are Cancer, the close and nourishing family life (ha-ha!) As we get older, we need to start to get a sense of the world and the demands it will place on us, and this is Capricorn.
Astrology has an answer for the age that this transition needs to start to happen: around the age of 14 or 15. I don’t know if this is traditional, but the astrology seems sound.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and around the age of 14/15 we find the Progressed Moon opposite the natal Moon. So the childhood world is starting to change. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, and around the age of 14/15 we find transiting Saturn opposite natal Saturn: the adult world begins to call us.
Astrological events often occur a year or two before an exact crossing, so I’d say age 13, depending on the individual, is the earliest age this process should start.
In a way the education system reflects this: at aged 14, kids begin in earnest a 2 year process that leads to the first Saturnian event, in other words an event in which the world judges our worth, and that is (in the UK) GCSEs.
I’m not a child psychologist, but I am an astrologer, and I trust its answers. Astrology seems to be saying yes, it is necessary and appropriate that a bit of pressure to achieve and be measured is put on the kids from their early teens. But astrology also seems to be saying that the emphasis before that needs to be on being a kid and having a good home life, that a sound basis in the Moon principle is needed in order for the Saturn principle to work in a healthy way.
Of course, there is a Saturn square Saturn around the age of 7, at about the time you get a Prog Moon square natal Moon. This is also a change, but it is not an opposition, where the demand to change comes from without. A square is more of an internal challenge, so this is when kids need to begin the discipline of learning to read and write etc: as a square, however, the challenge is not from outside themselves, it is not at this stage about achievement, about being measured against other kids and against external criteria.
This, according to the astrology, is where the UK government is getting it wrong in testing all these kids at a young age. It is putting them into the Saturn phase before the Moon phase has had proper time to develop, and this reflects the one-sided Saturn of modern society.
It’s not just the government getting it wrong, because there is also the private educational system, which operates outside of the government system. Here, if anything, it is worse, the classic example being 8 year olds being sent to boarding school. This is big-time premature curtailment of the Moon principle, and premature introduction of the Saturn principle. Without proper development of the Moon, of the emotions, the person is liable to become over-identified in the long-term with the achievement of Saturn as a sort of compensation for lack of emotional fulfilment. It is a good system for creating business leaders of a certain type, for ensuring wealth and success, but at the expense of a narrow personality and probably misery in some of the people around them.
Another way of putting this is that we all have have a natural curiosity and set of interests. Education should be about fostering these (Moon), whereas it is too often about the opposite: negative Saturn puts money and success above all else, and achieves its ends through pressure. So you can end up as an adult without knowing, let alone having developed, your real interests. In its place is a programme that says you must 'succeed'.
Saturn without the Moon is a wilful husk. The Moon without Saturn is a directionless blob. Both tend to be self-centred.
The Saturn Return aged about 29 coincides with Prog Moon conjunct natal Moon. So this needs to be a time when both principles are brought together. Classically, this is a time of both promotion at work, or knowledge of one’s vocation (Saturn) together with becoming a parent for the first time (Moon). But both events involve the other pole as well: parenting is a responsibility (Saturn) while meaningful work is also emotionally fulfilling (Moon).
The Saturn Return is normally thought of in terms of worldly advancement. But bringing in the Progressed Moon suggests more of a balance, it suggests that this period also needs to involve emotional self-knowledge, knowledge of what one needs for personal happiness.