Cancer: The Starry Crab in the Zodiac Sea

Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

 Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? It’s that time of year again

Common associations

The pincers: Zodiac symbol of Cancer

Ruling planet: Moon (not a planet but counted as such in astrology)

Key phrase: I feel

Body: The chest, breast, heart

Birth Stone:  Stones and metals fall under the rule of planets, not signs, but through its association with the Moon, Cancer has affinity with pearls, silver and crystals.

Colour: White, silver

Tree: all trees rich in sap

Flower: Acanthus

 Tarot card: The Chariot (see how it is a shell?) Drive, Control, progress, teamwork, and the harmonizing of different elements.

The Chariot, Rider-Waite Tarot

The Astronomy

Cancer, Latin for crab, is in a dark region of the sky, the faintest constellation in the Zodiac, with only two stars above the fourth magnitude: Acubens (The Claw) and Al Tarf (The foot)

Cancer is visible in the Northern Hemisphere in the early spring, during March at 9 PM and can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere during autumn.

It’s almost impossible to see Cancer with the naked eye or even binoculars, looking between Leo, the lion, and Gemini, the twins. And it doesn’t look much like a crab at all. It’s more like a faint, upside-down Y often compared with a crayfish or lobster. It was also called the Crayfish in classical astrology, and in Egyptian astrology, The Scarab.

Whatever it’s name, it’s always been seen a creature with an exoskeleton; an arthropod, and Cancer appears to rise crab-wise; not sideways, but backwards in the zodiac. The Sun’s entry into Cancer occurs at the summer solstice,which is today.

‘Solstice,’ Latin sol stice means the Sun seems to be ‘standing still’ as it approaches this point.

Wiki: The constellation of Cancer

Cancer may be faint but it’s got a great star cluster glowing at its centre. Praesepe, or ‘The Manger’ is one of two Messier objects in Cancer, identified in 1771 by French astronomer Charles Messier.

Its modern name is The Beehive Cluster. Seen through the telescope it looks like a swarm of bees, but to the naked eye it looks like a small, fuzzy patch of light -or a tiny cloud floating through the stars.

Public Domain: The Beehive Cluster

As the sign of the Sun’s greatest elevation, Cancer was considered nearest to the highest point of heaven – and was called ‘the Gate of Men’ through which souls descended to Earth to be born.  The opposite constellation, Capricorn was the ‘Gate of the Gods’, where souls of the departed rose back to heaven. 

I knew a soul who descended through the Gate of Men and ascended again through the Gate of The Gods the same day, the day of the solstice, twenty seven years ago today. He stayed an hour and twenty five minutes. A baby soul, his name was Rowen; he was my son, and he always will be.

Cancer also contains a planetary system; 55 Cancri, containing five known planets, with possibly more awaiting discovery. 55 Cancri is about 40 light-years away, and is just about visible to the unaided eye, although you need help to find it. The innermost of its planets is a “super Earth,” a few times heavier than Earth – but none of these planets has the right surface conditions for liquid water, and life is thought not likely.

The Myth

Cancer is associated with the Twelve Labours of Hercules after he went mad, mistook his wife and children for monsters and killed them. His twelve great labours were performed in token of penance. The second of his great challenges was to kill the Hydra, a terrible water serpent but his enemy, Hera, who had always hated him as an illegitimate son (yet another one) of her husband Zeus, sent a crab to harass him while he fought the serpent. The crab faithfully did its best, nipping Hercules again and again, but he stepped on it and crushed it, or in other versions of the story killed it with his club.

Look at that crab getting right stuck in. Hera rewarded its loyalty by placing it in the heavens, but she placed it in a dark portion of the heavens with only faint stars because crabs need dark, quiet places to feel safe and at home. However, its shy, retiring placement is also the highest point in the zodiac, nearest to heaven, and the crab is the herald of the summer solstice.

The Astrology

Cancer is the fourth sign of the Zodiac and represents those born between June 20 and July 22. It is considered a water sign, and is one of the four cardinal signs, which are the signs indicating a change of season when the sun makes its annual passage into them.

Cancer is all about the shoreline, and tides, monthly and annual. Cancer is uniquely both the moon and the sun.

The sign of Cancer, ruled by The Moon, is a cardinal sign, herald of the seasons, announcing the arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.

Ruled by Cancer, the Queen of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot

The Cancer Personality

There is no such thing in reality as THE Cancer personality. Your sun sign is the keynote but it’s not ‘The Story.’ The archetype of the Cancer personality is complex, elusive and riddled with contradictions.

Cancer stands for both mother and father. It is the zodiac sign of the nurturing parent. Cancer famously adores babies and small animals, all wild things; and struggles with separation. The empty nest can be anathema to the Cancer parent.

By Rose Maynard Barton

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, and expanding this; tribal identity and ancestral legacy, historical, cultural and genetic. It is the sign of memory, nostalgia, sometimes regrets, and a longing to return to happy childhood haunts. Maybe a rock-pool.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cancer’s famous subjects include Nelson Mandela.

Until next time 🙂

The Saturnian Strangeness of the Winter Solstice

Saturn rules Capricorn, the zodiac sign which became associated with the dates of Christmas. Bright lights, good cheer, a nosh- up, a knees-up; the Romans celebrated Saturn as the god of agriculture, and also because, according to their theology, Saturn was the god who ruled the world during the long lost Golden Age, and they wanted it back, please.

The Saturnalia was celebrated 17 December, with festivities usually culminating round 23 December.

Public Domain

Outside of this context, Saturn is not usually so jovial in aspect. It is the planet of great virtues, but stern and serious. Life is a serious business, and requires effort, is the message of Saturn.

Caesar must be rendered to. The bottom line safeguarded. Nothing came from nowhere, nothing is for nothing. Even the birds don’t sing for fun. The birds especially do not sing for fun. They sing to win and stake a territory, and keep it. They sing to win a mate, they sing to ward off threats to their nests, but is their song less beautiful for that?

Saturn is all about the bottom line. Food is the bottom line, and the solstice meant the return of the sun for the new year’s crops. It wouldn’t do to take Saturn for granted.

The face of Janus, past and future, could be seen as another face of Saturn himself. Janus, the primordial god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, is the god of endings. An ancient legend said the souls of the dead returned to their origin, rising through the gates of the constellation of Capricornus, where the souls of newborn descended to arrive on Earth through the gates of Cancer, zodiac sign of the summer solstice in a never-ending wheel of souls.

Public Domain

For all of us there comes a point where every year, a familiar face or name will leave the orbit of our lives, and we revisit the memories. Maybe it is a person, or maybe it is a place. Perhaps it is something we used to do, or used to wish for. The ghosts have their own pictures, particular songs, sounds and smells.

They are many, bittersweet, the ever-more crowding ghosts of Christmas past.

WHO WALKS THIS EARTH UNSEEN

The ghosts of the Displaced

Those who could have been

Those who never knew

What else where else

To whom they could belong

Not here or now where else

They could have been

What else around us all

The ghosts of Might Have Been

Behind the lives behind the claims

Their space not yet but come their time

Make way

Margaret Whyte, December 2019

Christmas 1972