One of the more obvious cases of astrological misconstruction is the case of Cancer who has become an almost carbon copies of her ruling planet the Moon and her alleged house of rulership, the fourth. With such outspoken connection between Cancer and the home, family, and motherhood, it’s no wonder we haven’t just thrown two of the three out and called them super-Cancer as the significations are apparently simply repeated all across the board. This does not undermine the emotional feelings and deep-seated memories Cancer holds, but is intended to undermine connections between the fourth house and Cancer who have very little in common in the astrological tradition. Perhaps the most annoying trait of Cancer is the ability to withdraw emotionally from situations that get too difficult to handle, that’s of course not counting the possible emotional manipulation by this sign as well as the ‘crybaby’ syndrome that Cancer seems to possess. No other sign in the zodiac can cry at the drop of a hat like Cancer can!
Cancer is the dimmest constellation in the zodiac with its brightest stars being just third magnitude, however, despite this faintness, there are some interesting things in the constellation itself. Firstly, there’s a planetary system in the constellation around the star 55 Cancri which has four gas giant planets and one terrestrial planet. Cancer is also home to the open star cluster called Praesepe which is also called the Beehive Cluster and in ancient times referred to as the Gate of Men.
The Greek tradition holds a very minor place for Cancer only showing up during the tales of the twelve labors of Hercules. During Hercules’s fight with the Hydra, Hera sent a crab to interfere. Unfortunately, the crab did very little, only grabbing onto his toe which eventually led Hercules to crush the creature. The deed earned the crab a quick death and an eternity in the heavens. In Egypt, Cancer took on the appearance of a scarab, the sacred symbol of immortality.
There’s an almost universal connection between the constellation of Cancer and shelled, shore-inhabiting creatures, Cancer having been associated with tortoises, crabs, and lobsters which connects the constellation to the idea of the emergence of life from the Primordial Ocean.
Aside from the connection between Cancer and the Primordial Ocean, there is a genuine life-giving aspect of Cancer that sets it apart from the rest of the signs of the zodiac. Namely, the Gate of Men which is said to be the portal where new souls arrive into the world just before birth.
In Christian Astrology, William Lilly writes about Cancer saying “Is the only house of the Moon, and is the first sign of the watery or northern triplicity, is watery, cold, moist, phlegmatic, feminine, nocturnal, moveable, a solstice sign, mute and slow of voice, fruitful, and northern.”
The even numbered signs of the zodiac are given the title “feminine” which basically translates into internalized energy. Cancers are very introverted, often pondering on their current moods and those of others. This introverted manner makes Cancer seem even more moody than she really is because of how unapproachable the introverted, feminine quality makes her appear. Feminine signs like Cancer also have a disdain for fame and the public eye as they are uncomfortable at the center of attention.
Cancer is one of the three water signs, which are phlegmatic or cold and wet in humour. Wetness or moisture is the manner in which people connect with others and experience emotion. Ancient astrology holds moisture as being the condition which allows for empathy, sympathy, and shared or collective experiences. One of the easiest ways to connect with people is through emotional bonds which are fostered through the condition of moisture and those signs that contain that quality like Cancer have an easier experience connecting with people. Moisture’s abilities of passivity, absorption, and reflection are all very central to Cancer, however, there is a bit more to the watery sign, that being the second half of water, coldness. That coldness does not translate to unfeeling, it simply means a delayed reaction time. Coldness makes the water signs passive and allows them to wait before acting, this is what makes them stay out of debates or heated arguments, as well as to reflect on the best course of action. This waiting period has given Cancer a reputation of weakness, being unable to apply solutions to problems in a timely manner due to the lethargy of phlegm which seeks to retain itself.
The sun’s ingress into Cancer marks the beginning of summer, and it is due to this that the sign is called cardinal. Cardinal signs are changeable, and Cancer’s moods, opinions, and views are subject to change on a daily basis. Perhaps as a grand paradox by design, Cancer has a hard time handling change within their environment as they tend to be clingy to things as they remember them.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and as such Cancer has an interest in the past and a pride in the home that is unseen in other signs. Cancer has a deep interest in cultures of the past, especially if that past is her own. By researching family history, Cancer finds fulfillment and a deeper connection to her past. Due to the Moon’s association with tribal instincts, Cancer has an “it takes a village” approach to family and children, understanding the importance of having several adult role models for children to experience as opposed to just being limited to their mother and father. As a result, Cancer is likely to draft their friends and siblings when it comes to childcare. Cancer has strong parental instincts as the Moon is directly associated with young children, and is likely to be very protective of their children, bordering on suffocating.
Cancer is represented by the crab, a creature with a tough outer shell protecting a soft inner core which is appropriately shown by the ability to withdraw emotionally to protect oneself. This highlights the sign’s want to avoid issues as opposed to facing them, however, when Cancer does decide to face issues, she still doesn’t. Like the crab, Cancer confronts issues from the side, making decisions that defy logic after much hesitancy to make those decisions in the first place. Due to the sideways thinking, the fact that the sun seems to stand still for three days after entering Cancer, and the darkness associated with the sign due to the femininity and faintness of the constellation, Cancer is anything but transparent and the motives behind decisions often lie behind confused and inconsistent logic powered by emotive responses.
Anatomically, Cancer is associated with the breasts, stomach, and chest and all ailments targeting those areas, most notably, bad coughs and digestion problems. The sign is one of overall poor constitution. As is standard among all water signs, Cancer relates to places that are near sources of water. This includes everything from the ocean, rivers, brooks, streams, the seashore, and marshy land. Inside it represents cellars, bathrooms, and places near water.
The stars that make up a constellation are a good indication of what a constellation is likely to end up signifying. In his work Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy likened the stars in the eyes of Cancer to be of the nature of Mercury and Mars, the stars in the claws to be like Saturn and Mercury, and the nebula in the breast to be like Mars and Luna. The star Asini is specifically said to be of the nature of Mars and Sol.
The cloudlike cluster in Cancer is called Praesepe which comes from a word meaning multitude. Today it is often referred to as the beehive cluster, but astrologically, this cluster is a weak, vulnerable area that often manifests itself in blindness or sickness. The two stars on either side are called the Northern (Borealis) and Southern (Australis) Ascelli (Asses) which are said to give a charitable nature and caring responsibility, however, there is a danger of violent death, accidents, and burns. The alpha star of Cancer is called Acubens (the Claws) which is said to show malevolence and poison as well as making its natives undesirable in the manner of liars and criminals.
Dignities and Degree Influences
The Moon is said to be dignified in Cancer due to the agreeable gender and warmth of the sign and corresponding brightness of the planet, for these exact same reasons, Saturn is in detriment in Cancer. Jupiter is said to be in exaltation in Cancer due to it being the northernmost sign and Jupiter loving the northern winds, whereas Mars is depressed in Cancer, as Mars loves the southern winds. Cancer is a member of the watery triplicity, which is ruled by Venus during the day, Mars at night, and Luna as a participary ruler.
0° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars, Increasing Fortune
1° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars, Masculine, Increasing Fortune
2° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars, Increasing Fortune
3° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars, Increasing Fortune
4° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars
5° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Mars
6° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Jupiter
7° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Jupiter, Feminine
8° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Jupiter, Lame
9° Cancer: Face of Venus, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Lame
10° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Lame
11° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Feminine, Light, Deep, Lame
12° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Lame
13° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury, Dark, Lame
14° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury, Lame, Increasing Fortune
15° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury
16° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury, Deep
17° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury, Void
18° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury
19° Cancer: Face of Mercury, Term of Mercury, Smokey
20° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus
21° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus
22° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus, Masculine, Deep
23° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus
24° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus
25° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus, Deep
26° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Venus, Feminine
27° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Light
28° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn
29° Cancer: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Masculine, Dark, Deep