From the ancient perspective, water was incredibly dangerous. The deep swallows and drowns, it ship-wrecks and ever-crashes violently upon the shores of the world. But it is also incredibly involved in religion and spirituality, where it is sacred. Crabs dwell in a transitional space: the shoreline between the shifting ocean and solid earth. Or, subtidal; they find their home at the seafloor, and thus never evolved fully for one or the other, but blended the waters of creation and anchored earth together. Like crabs, Cancers seek security because the world around them is always changing. They are vulnerable creatures. Succulent pieces of meat. The food of gulls. What hope is there for the crab if it is only a morsel awaiting the predator's mouth? To live, it must grow a shell: a wall between itself and nature. It is too delicate to protect itself in any other way. With this armor, the crab endures. But that success forbodes a perilous transformation. It eats. It matures. And soon it outgrows its shell which must be shed. If cunning, it lives to grow another one. One that is larger, more suited to its expanded state. Cancer sets out in a new direction. The crab's work creates food for smaller creatures, picking along the shore through seaweed, for fish carcass and shellfish to tear apart. Of course, they themselves are still a source of food for larger creatures as well. Like the crab which she ascended, Hera worked in sidestepping manners- to bring down Zeus through the sidelines until he cowered and hid.
The Sun begins to retreat from the northern hemisphere as soon as it enters this sign. It is also interesting that crabs walk backwards for the most part!
An automated bathysphere. Its purpose? To map the seabed ten thousands meters below the ocean's surface, extract samples from the sediment, and return intact to the mother ship. One mission supersedes all others: the bathysphere must survive. The sea presses at it, sounding the walls for any weakness, any flaw. Without armor, the delicate sensing devices within the vessel would be crushed in a microsecond. But there must be gaps in the defense. A solid wall of steel two feet thick would protect the ship too perfectly. Without breaks in the armor, the bathysphere could not interact with its environment the way it was designed. There must be windows for the cameras. Wires must run from the interior to the exterior eyes and ears. Internal storage bays for material gathered from outside... Shyness is one such defense. Especially in early life, daydreams are Cancer's cloak. Only the most barely essential interactions with the world are performed. To wear a mask, or to stand naked and revealed: Cancer has little choice. Their inner processes are so delicate and life is so jarring that without insulation, their nervous system would shatter. The danger is that the defenses can become too efficient; that safety can be put ahead of everything, even growth. For the Crab to evolve it must shed its shell. But the shedding must be calculated. No one touched by this sign needs to stand on a soapbox during rush hour and pull down their psychological pants. But they must open up. They must play. They must trust. Even love is a gamble, and that is a risk Cancer must learn to take.
Being the first water sign in the order of the zodiac, this constellation is one of emotional beginnings, sparks, and drive. Cancerians often take on bigger foes, dreams, and projects, than they can handle alone. For Cardinal signs are the tip of the spear, moving forward in any way they deem necessary. The ultimate teaching of Cancer (through the three water signs) is to realize that the security we all seek is not external to ourselves, but within.
Moonlight becomes them beautifully. In a way, the phases of the moon are like phases of their many moods, a symbol of their changing emotions. To these a Cancer must tune in, and flow along, or risk being swallowed by the tide. Emotion is the pitfall of Cancer people. As changeable as their ruler, these subjects may shift in minutes into purveyors of the darkest feelings of gloom and doom. There's a quality of despair in Cancerian moodiness. Their imagination seizes joy and despair, horror and compassion, sorrow and ecstasy and holds each emotion fast with a retentive memory. Every experience is engraved on the heart as a photograph is etched onto a negative plate. They dive head-first into nurturing what they love most in the world. They never forget any of the lessons life has taught them nor do they forget the lessons history has taught mankind. History intrigues them, they often collect old treasures and keepsakes of their own past, or are fascinated by museums and libraries, having an insatiable curiosity about yesterday. Cancer is also a sort of mental archaeologist, always digging inside themselves for memories, facts. They are like the mortar between ancient stones stacked thousands of years ago to create a home. They are home. Their crab shell protects all they hold dear.
And those crab claws aren't just for show. Cancer has an innate understanding of emotions as a tool, in some cases a weapon. The stereotype that those born under this sign will cry over anything and everything is due to their sensitivity. They have far too much interest in control for that, both of themselves and of the situation. They're not easily interested in tipping their hand so easily with public crying fits. Emotional nakedness is especially frightening. Equally frightening is the insecurity in external life: change, adventure, experience. For the crab, a little bit of experience goes a long way. Those fireworks that propel Aries and Gemini are like a horror movie come true to Cancer. But even Cancer needs change.
Put Cancer on a bus and they settle down, close their eyes, and in thirty seconds they are trekking through Middle Earth. Imagination and feelings are the raw materials of the crab. And they come to a focus in love. Look at another person. Feel tenderness. Feel the desire to help, to heal, to care. No competitiveness, no fear, nothing but support. Kindness and concern are the only forces more potent than the sign's self-protective instincts. Laudable traits, but they are not the same as shedding a shell, not the same as standing naked. Cancer draws out the sensitivity and suffering in everyone they contact, encouraging them to feel safe enough to laugh and weep. Let the crab sit down on that bus. Within ten minutes there is someone sitting next to them, pouring out his heart.
Some have a deep fear of emotional vulnerability. All have sensitive and touchy emotions. Some resort to stuffing their emotions and living in denial of them to avoid the pain of continual removal of emotional dependencies. Those who have repressed tend to draw people to them whom they can emotionally dominate, typically people in need of some form of emotional healing. They attempt to make themselves indispensable in the person's life, both as a way to create emotional security for themselves, and as a way to feel "better than' someone else.
Journeying through the perspective of Cancer, the ego seems to manifest from the divine in a way, having forgotten its deeper roots of Pisces. Cancer have been learning how to create their own emotional security from within. Since this is a new cycle, most have not yet finished learning this lesson. This can manifest as being born into difficult family situations. As this is the home and the beginning of self-recognition in relation to the material world, we go about our business condensing experiences into a container that appears limitless from our freshly minted perspective. A perspective which misinforms us that we can remain forever in this cuddly place. Because we have become so identified with this condensed material form, the preconscious Piscean dreams recede into the mist, reinforcing the construct that Cancer is just a material body flung into a material world.
An ego is necessary. An ego is a vortex of energy within consciousness, the lens in the projector through which the movie of the soul can be seen. The point is not to lose one's ego, but rather to re-identify it. Most of us are almost completely identified with "Who I Am" as a separate and unique ego that has a name and a form; that was born and will die. The goal of evolution, over great lengths of time, is to cause us to re-identify with the cause of the ego- with that which created the ego in the first place- the soul, rather than with the ego itself.
The ego is self-image- how we see ourselves inwardly, not how others see us. That is related to the Ascendant and the Descendant, and how Cancer was said to be the Ascendant of the Universe in the thema mundi chart.
The sign on the 4th house, the planetary ruler of the 4th house, the location of Cancer and the aspects it makes, the location of the Moon and the aspects it makes point out the following: the structure of the personality and self image, and the nature of the emotional dynamics. Someone's ability to adapt to change may be determined by looking at the sign on the 4th, and where the Moon is. Fixed signs here may indicate a problem with adapting to change.
Aries squares Cancer. You could say that the moment of birth when the baby leaves the familiarity and safety of the womb is literally, an insecurity, especially in the ancient world where giving birth was a process rife with dangers. The baby is to be born into a new life, in which it needs the comfort and nurturing of the mother through bodily warmth, re-connection, milk, and so on. If the baby were left alone to fend for itself, it would die: hence, the anxiety of separation.
This sign is at an inconjunct to Sagittarius: an aspect which connects with the shared need for others to believe the same things as them, in order to generate emotional security. It also connects to how Cancer struggles with staying rooted, wishing they could stick to survival off their traditional ways, their known lifestyle. Every Cancer experiences this period of trouble in their life where the external security of home must be left behind.