by Oraia Helene
We’re now continuing our tour of the Zodiac with the constellation and sign of Cancer the Crab. The Sun enters the sign of Cancer at the time of the summer solstice – though remember, that’s not the same as the Sun entering the constellation of Cancer. Precession has pretty much screwed that up, as discussed in an earlier article about astrology.
The constellation of Cancer is not easy to find, but it’s most visible high in the sky in the month of March. In the band of the zodiac, Cancer sits between Gemini and Leo. Its brightest stars form a shape like the Greek letter Lamda when viewed from the northern hemisphere. The trouble is that it isn’t very big, and it’s made up of very faint stars. One of these stars has, however, been confirmed to have five planets orbiting it.
And although Cancer is made up of faint stars, it is also home to M44, an open star cluster called the Beehive Cluster, so named because it looks like a swarm of bees. This cluster is just barely visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy blur. This was one of the first objects that Galileo studied with his telescope, through which he was able to see 40 stars. The current estimate is that it contains at least 1000 stars. The ancient Greeks and Romans, with their naked-eye view of it, called it Praesepe, “the manger” from which two donkeys were eating. These two donkeys, of course, are two nearby stars named Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis – the northern ass and the southern ass. (Insert your own joke here.) These two donkeys, by the way, are the two donkeys that Dionysus and Silenus rode when they went to battle with the Titans.
The constellation has been seen as a crab by many cultures, but also as a beetle, a crayfish, and a lobster. In Greek mythology, Cancer is said to be the crab that the Goddess Hera sent to distract Hercules from one of his tasks. Hera wasn’t fond too fond of Hercules, since he was the product of one of her husband Zeus’ many extramarital adventures. The crab pinched Hercules in the foot while he was fighting the Hydra, but it barely broke the hero’s rhythm, and instead the crab was crushed under foot. Hera gave the poor little guy a place in the sky for the valiant, if pointless, attempt. (I’ve heard it said, though, that she was a little disappointed in his performance, and that’s why she didn’t give him any bright stars.)
Astrologically, Cancer is the sign of cardinal water – cardinal signs, remember, begin seasons. It is ruled by the Moon, and associated with the fourth house, which governs the home, the family, one’s personal life, and the ancestors – though it also relates to the unconscious mind.
Generally speaking, the energy of Cancer is deep and emotional, often too deep for words or rational analysis. Cancer relates to the need for emotional security, and the need to feel connected, especially connected to the past and one’s roots. It’s about nurturing and feeling nurtured, and often strongly relates to mother figures.
As a Sun sign, Cancer brings a tendency to protect and nurture themselves and others, as well as tenacity in their chosen fields of endeavor. Cancerians tend to be highly emotional, and often have strong intuitive natures, and will tend to do well by following their instincts. Unfortunately they often don’t trust those instincts and instead have a tendency to worry, which often comes from having a powerful and active imagination. Some time should be spent channeling that imagination into creative pursuits instead of conjuring disasters every time someone is a little late coming home. Their protective instincts can also sometimes lead to defensiveness over even little things, and care should be taken to avoid being oversensitive.
As a Moon sign, Cancer can be very powerful since, after all, the Moon rules Cancer. Intuition in particular will tend to be strengthened, often to a highly conscious degree. Given the emotional nature of Cancer, I would bet that many times this manifests as a strong empathic sense in particular. The tenacity that Cancer often brings will be strong as well, though this kind of tenacity is usually tempered by the nurturing, emotional nature of the sign. This can be a very good combination for parenting, though it’s important to be aware of any impulse toward over-protectiveness.
As a Rising sign, the Cancer characteristics will tend to come out in relationships with one’s partner and family more than in other areas. The tendency toward worry and self-defensive reactions may be apparent in general life, however, but otherwise Cancer rising tends to bring a lot of inner strength and tenacity. It will also tend to lead toward a strong devotion to family, though care should be taken to ensure one isn’t neglecting one’s family in the short term while working hard to build a good life for them in the long term.
This article was adapted from the Astra segment of Media Astra Ac Terra Episode #9.