Cancer the Crab

Cancer the Crab

June 22 to July 23 approximately

History, Mythology & Archetypes of Cancer


Cancer the Crab
Cancer the Crab

Cancer is a medium sized constellation of the zodiac comprised of faint stars, some of which have planets in orbit. The word cancer is Latin for “crab” and Cancer is mentioned in Greek mythology as Karkinos, the crab that was killed by Heracles after biting him on the foot. Karkinos was later immortalized as a constellation by Hera.

Cancer’s symbol is the Crab but other animals with exoskeletons have been identified as the constellation of Cancer. In Ancient Egypt the constellation was called the Scarab, a very sacred symbol of immortality. In Babylon he was sometimes depicted as a snapping turtle, and other ancient texts have referred to Cancer as a crayfish or lobster.

The Crab is the 4th sign of the zodiac and is a cardinal water sign ruling the 4th house and is ruled by the moon. The sign Cancer is named Karka in Hindu astrology also ruled by the Moon. The goddesses Luna and Diana have been associated with Cancer since Renaissance times. There are many myths regarding Selene/Luna and you can read more about the mythology of moon goddesses here.

Relationship to the Moon

The ruling planet of Cancer is the moon (astrologers call the moon, sun and Pluto planets even though astronomers do not). Ancient Rome’s Luna and her Greek counterpart Selene (aka Mene, and from where the word “moon” is derived) were goddesses of the moon, the female counterpart of the male sun god Sol. Luna is more a personification of the moon itself whereas Diana and Juno were considered to be goddesses of the moon and also childbirth.

The moon in astrology represents mother and the emotions. Cancerians as a rule are emotional and those emotions run the gamut from A to Z and may change quickly displaying as many moods in a day as the moon has phases. The moon represents nurturing of needs, desires and wants and the sign of Cancer is very concerned with ensuring basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Any threat to their needs makes them feel threatened and they react emotionally. Cancer also rules the 4th house of home and family.

Luna the goddess
Image by Marzena P. from Pixabay

Luna is symbolized by the crescent moon as is the sign of Cancer in its glyph and the crescent moon was often depicted as a crown on her head. Selene was said to have had fifty daughters by Endymion and several children with Zeus and was depicted as a voluptuous woman with a full round face and beautiful hair. Selene was often depicted riding a chariot drawn by two horses as she traversed the night sky.

Cancer is the sign of motherhood and the home as is the moon. The home is a place of shelter and where we should safely feel vulnerable and relaxed; some species of crabs carry their home on their backs and their hard shell protects their soft, vulnerable body. I always wondered if it was a Cancer who invented the motor home or RV.

Cancer often works in a field caring for children who needed to be treated differently from adults, requiring a more gentle approach that takes into account their developing and vulnerable feelings. This dovetails well with the moon which is all about moods and emotions. Understanding moods and emotions enables you to react with the appropriate response for the situation and when skilled at this one is said to have intuition and emotional intelligence. A mother’s intuition is well-known and many Cancers have a well-developed intuition which is based on their advanced nature to feel things deeply.

Relationship to 4th House

The 4th house in astrology is a house of home, family and safety among our own kind. There is a homogeneous quality to the 4th house in that family members may be similar sharing traditions, genes, last names, and relationships. The home should be a happy place where we can feel safe, secure and isolated from the rest of the world, to sleep, feed, rest and gather our energies to face another day.

Cancer is very involved with 4th house activities. Their family is very important to them, and is the place where they really shine. Whether female or male Cancer enjoys keeping a home, cooking, and caring for family and loved ones. The home and family is central to a Cancerian’s life. Caring for very young or very old family often occurs in the home and the home is a place of recovery.

The 4th house is where we learn our first responsibilities to ourselves, other people and our own self-care. Cancer is very good at caring for the home and other people in a myriad of ways. They may be involved with home renovation, real estate or home decor working in the trades, sales or the arts. They may work with food, most of which is prepared at home in the kitchen where Cancer is comfortable. Even Cancerian men who may not cook love food and will hang out in the kitchen.

Cancer can be a very kind and giving sign, recognizing when someone is in need and willing to help. Their compassionate caring nature enables them to take friends or strangers into their homes for help and many Crabs foster kids, people, pets, and foreign students, or often care for the kids of relatives and friends. They may love kids and people so much that the Cancer’s home is the place where the neighbourhood comes for food and nurturing or socializing. It was likely a Cancer who coined the phrase, “my home is your home.”

From these associations we can see that Cancer the Crab is well-suited to the caring emotional moon and the homey 4th house.

Basic Character


The sign of Cancer includes some of the nicest people in the zodiac. They love to care for people and are like the proverbial mother encouraging you to eat and eat more until you’re stuffed. As a self-oriented cardinal sign they can see themselves in your position and as a caring water sign, if they think you need anything then it is offered. Their clinging nature is partly due to their need to care for others and to be cared for in return.

Crab on beach
Image by Franklin Medina from Pixabay

The clinging side of Cancer can be reassuring but some who value freedom and independence more may see it as a liability. Cancer can be a very grasping sign; they hang on tightly to whatever they have and can earn a reputation as a hoarder. Once they have their pincers into something they cling to it as if their life depended on it. Sometimes they flog a dead horse… forever… and ever, until it becomes truly annoying as their persistence is legendary. It is hard for Cancer to let go of anything and their clinging and hoarding nature can be seen in many of their activities.

They say an elephant never forgets and it was probably a Crab in its last life as a Cancer remembers everything. Childhood experiences, details and events or knowledge that the rest of us would never remember Cancer does. It is recommended not to lie to a Cancer as their memory is long and they will call you out or remind you when you contradict yourself. Unfortunately, their long memory is tied to hurt and painful experience and if you hurt Cancer they will never let you forget it. Rote memorization comes easily to Cancer the Crab which is likely related to the moon.

We measure some parts of life with the sun; the passage of the day is registered by hours based on the earth’s rotation during visible light as seen on a sundial. The moon is also used to measure time using the phases of the moon and its approximate 28 day cycle.

The behaviour of people has been correlated to some phases of the moon and in ancient times it was thought that the moon could affect people as it does the ocean’s tides. Some thought that this physical influence of the moon on the earth’s tides could also effect the mind and body of people because we are mostly water. Science has yet to effectively prove or disprove this but the many phases of the moon are reflected in the many moods of Cancer. The term lunacy was coined as during a full moon irrational behaviour would increase in some people’s behaviour and it was thought to be related to the moon’s cycle.

sleep and memory
Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

Psychics are possibly tapping into the collective unconscious or Akasha where Jung said that all information is contained and available. The mind just knows where to look it is presumed. Cancer people may have a more natural affinity to obtain information in this manner because of their well-developed memory which may be a conduit to the Collective Unconscious.

Memory is definitely a mysterious phenomena and although it was believed that memory resides in the brain cells some researchers believe the body can store memories anywhere in the cells of the body. This gives some credence to that “gut feeling” some of us get when intuition kicks in or “butterflies in the stomach” when excited, especially for Cancerians. How is it that the moon, memory or feelings and the stomach area could be related? Physiologically, Cancer rules the stomach in the body, making this connection even more mysterious. The stomach is even involved in immune response as we often get a sick tummy as a symptom of a host of potential infections. In some Crabs the stomach is almost a sensory device as it reacts to many outside influences good or bad.

With the Moon as the ruling planet, the basic character of Cancer is soothing and nurturing. They can be a bit motherly or paternalistic but this is usually offered in a kind, friendly manner. Of course some Cancers can be despotic as parents because in the home is where they are the boss and they will let you know if there is any question. Generally, male, non-binary and female Cancers are all motherly, they cling to you and want to be clung to (they love to cuddle!) and they’re often warm and affectionate. They know how to make you feel cared for and they are concerned about your welfare. Cancer’s love is as enduring as a mother’s love.

Physiology, Health & Physical Appearance

Cancer rules the stomach and breast areas and the moon rules a woman’s menstrual cycle, the ductless glands (aka endocrine, or they secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream), hormones and the involuntary nervous system. As the influence of the moon fluctuates its not hard to see the relationship with hormones once one is familiar with Cancer moodiness. Hormones do much to influence our moods and this is seen during certain times in a woman’s monthly period when the fluctuations are more pronounced.

Cancer females tend to be full breasted but not all. Males tend to be stocky or barrel chested and again not all as some Crabs can be skinny, especially as children. Both sexes tend to have short arms and legs and a long trunk, perhaps with a bit of a belly and large luminous eyes that exude warmth and concern. One of the more defining features of Cancer is their unusual gait. Many Cancerians tend to scrabble or shuffle along like a crab, darting sideways fashion from here to there. Cancer gains weight easily and can lose it as easily at times and their weight and appearance tends to fluctuate throughout their lifetime.

Some Cancers also have short, stubby fingers, a wide forehead and an uneven hairline. Many Cancerians have beautiful hair with a hairline that recedes with age and some may turn prematurely grey or the hair thins out early on. Cancer males of any age see themselves as macho and females tend to be ultra feminine or motherly.

Cancer is not usually athletic generally preferring to be an armchair athlete and they often are relaxed about their appearance. Obesity is not uncommon and their hormones can have a lot to do with their appearance. Some Crabs are very concerned about how they look however (they are a cardinal sign!) and follow fashion and beauty trends. Many successful models or entertainers may be Cancer as they wear clothes well and can be very attractive. Some Crabs are strikingly beautiful and many Cancers look for function and comfort in clothing and their appearance, and they prefer traditional looks tending to avoid extremes. Cancer usually likes jewellery and anything that is luminous, glitters or sparkles.

Health-wise many Cancers have stomach and digestive issues. They tend to be emotional worriers and suffered from ulcers often before it was found that ulcers were most often caused by a bacteria, H. Pylori which can be killed by antibiotics, thereby reversing the ulcerative condition and ruling out the need for surgery. However, they are prone to stress-related illnesses due to their natural tendency to be fearful and focus on the negative. Cancer may suffer from phobias that can be limiting to their emotional health and lifestyle.

The sign Cancer is no more prone to the disease cancer than any other sign it should be noted but as the sign rules the breast and stomach area these body parts may suffer illness before others. Stomach aches, food allergies, digestive issues especially with assimilation of nutrients or enzyme activity can be issues. Although the sign of childbirth, some Cancers may have difficulty conceiving or giving birth. Being a mother or father is very important to Cancer usually.

Image by Pixel_perfect from Pixabay

Cancers tend to love food and some have stomachs of steel being able to eat nearly anything. Most Crabs will have very strong likes and dislikes for certain foods but comfort food would be their most favourite generally. They can also have a large sweet tooth and a huge appetite so a lot of what a Cancer may consume is not necessarily healthy which leads to nutritional issues or weight gain. Cancer is a sign that may hide deep emotional concerns and they may stress eat in an attempt to comfort themselves yet this may create greater problems as the stress often relates to self-image.

If fitness and physical health are important to Cancer they then tend to eat very healthfully. They understand the importance of diet and exercise as self-care and contributing to a healthy body and self-image. Then, they understand that what they put into their body is directly related to mood, body image and their overall happiness.

Many Cancers are insecure and miserable because they put the care of others before themselves and are unhappy with themselves. This seems unfair considering they make every effort to help another but they can be their own worst enemy. These Cancerians need to learn taking care of others does not have to be a detriment to themselves and find the right balance.

Personality & Psychology

Cancer may be the most kind sign of the zodiac. They are naturally encouraging of others and very motherly, even the males. Cancers often stay home to care for an elderly or ailing relative with no complaints. They tend to not mope over what they missed out on like other signs. Crabs can be very patient people and are excellent at tedious work that would bore other people.

They have the best memory of the zodiac and often are the family historians. Cancers remember everything which makes it difficult to lie to them. They can do anything well that requires rote memorization. They help keep the rest of the family and friends together as they remember all the details and are good friends.

Although generally slow moving, Crabs can be overachievers in school perhaps because of their excellent memory. They are reluctant to change, and it is difficult to get Cancer (or any cardinal sign) to change or stop any bad habits. Cancerians can be extremely habitual people, not impulsive as a rule but also not that ambitious. They like to carve their little niche in life and are happy tending to it.

antique collectibles
Image by Deedee86 from Pixabay

Cancer is usually good with money as they can be very good at budgeting. They like money because they know it buys items that nurture us. Cancers are excellent bargain hunters and love garage sales and second-hand stores. They often work at charities and are very good at helping others while usually asking for nothing back. As people who live with Cancer know, they are pack rats and collect everything. Their hoarding nature finds tossing anything out distasteful. They always believe they’ll find a use for something and hate to part with it just in case.

Because of their emotional nature they are a bit sensitive and can be easily offended. They tend to be insecure and will never forget their hurts. This may lead to them being self-centred and when they want something they take persistence to a whole other level. They can be very persuasive and at times manipulative. They can keep nagging at you until you give in just to shut them up (and they know it).

Their energy level is not high and they can be as slow as molasses. They are hoarders so they can be very messy but some are as neat as a pin. Crabs will collect everything and anything but often deny it, and it is rare to find a Cancer that does not collect something. They are fond of miniatures and knickknacks and usually know exactly where they put things.

Their attention to detail can make them petty or stingy. They can be so clingy they may kill you with kindness and appear needy. Sometimes, they are too kind causing others to feel obligated to them and this in turn becomes resentment. They can be terribly insecure and a little over concerned with security; they often have more than one bank account and may have a fear of poverty.

Like other cardinal signs, Cancer is self-oriented but also very caring of others. Their water nature indicates a deep sensitivity and deeper emotions. Although their moodiness is unnerving at times, they generally come back to a good mood and can be a lot of fun. They are capable of an inordinate amount of care for the people they love and seek devotion in return.

Love, Family & Relationships

The Cancer child is generally sweet in nature, often shy but never far from mother. Mother is like God to them (at any age) or sometimes it’s dad or both or the whole family. Cancerian families are often large and boisterous when all together. Especially if an older child, Cancer usually wants to help out with the younger kids and will try to be the parent when mom’s not around. Likely every sibling of a Cancerian has been heard to say, “don’t tell me what to do; you’re not my mother” as they can be a bit bossy but it’s meant well.

In love Cancer is very emotional and they believe in love at first sight. Most emotions erupt in Cancer very quickly and their moods and emotions can change rapidly. Old-fashioned at heart, Cancer looks for a traditional romance that is life long. They believe in fairy tale style romance and love can be filled with a lot of angst and melodrama if things don’t go their way. Generally very attentive to their partner they often end up being a second mother or father to their spouse, caring for every little need that may come up. Others may be more independent and take their space but they’ll often check in on family while away.

Cancer may trust others easily but if that trust is betrayed it’s difficult to get it back due to their insecure nature. They worry far too much about their children and some Cancers never untie the apron strings, smothering their kids with too much attention. The most common request to Cancer from anybody may be, “please, give me some space”.

Cancer tends to relate to people very well and because they are usually so nice most everyone loves them. The more freedom loving signs will find them a bit clingy or needy and want to run for the hills. A good thing to keep in mind if you are a fire or air sign in love with a Cancer is to establish your separate “me” space and time. They can be very reliable partners and are devoted to friends, lovers or family as friends become family and they make friends in their family so that the line gets fuzzy.

As parents Cancer needs to learn to untie the apron strings and let the kids grow up and become independent. The more tightly they want to hang on the more the child wants to get away from them, which isn’t leaving either person feel good. Attention all Cancers: let your child grow up and have their own life and they will come back to you. Unfortunately, many Cancers spoil their children who never want to leave home or visit every weekend which probably makes Cancer happy. Cancer tends to have a lot of rules and regulations at home but when coupled with so much love and care their kids usually turn out well.

Sometimes in relationships, like other cardinal signs, Cancer can be a bit selfish. They worry too much about having their needs met and have high expectations to be taken care of the way they want to take care of you. Being persistent, they don’t always take no for an answer and can be manipulative until they bully you into doing what they want.

Cancer loves family
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Cancer can be very passionate and sensuous in love. It’s all about making you feel good and this makes them feel good. Showering them with attention is the way to their heart and everyone in love with a Cancer will often tell you they were snared by their stomach. Crabs love to kiss and canoodle.

Cancer appreciates food and your home-cooked meal is generally preferred over going out. They also need security so your financial wealth or potential is attractive to Cancer. If you have a Cancer spouse you’re probably a bit spoiled as they love to take care of you. They also need pampering too, some need a lot of reassurance and attention, so any of that will only get you brownie points.

Females are usually soft and sensitive and so are the males but they tend to behave more macho, perhaps adding a bit of male posturing if embarrassed by their emotional nature which society still dictates as being female and weak. Many Cancerians tend to latch onto the more traditional male and female roles at home but this sign can move with the times too and be very liberal and accepting. Not all of them are old-fashioned.

Astrologers generally use sex and gender specific terminology in a way that is not necessarily denoting sex or gender but more as a modifier as in language. In English both a male and female cat is a cat. In French a male cat is un chat and a female is une chatte. The gender modifier is needed to make sense in the French language. This is also true to some degree in astrology which is also a language but of behaviour and events.

Creative & Hobby Interests

Cancer tends to enjoy being creative and their attention to fine detail is well used in work or arts and crafts. They like pastels and tertiary colours and are often good at watercolours and other painting, and home renovation. Many Crabs are excellent at needlework, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving and tapestry work. They can have a deep appreciation of the artworks of others and may be a patron of the arts, more often home or fashion related.

Being good with their hands their intuition appears to help them learn skills and they can make, build or assemble anything. They have the patience to read instructions and they are fond of working with miniatures and models. They may good at plumbing and other home maintenance and repair; the home is where Cancer will excel. Some Crabs are excellent interior designers or can be artistic in other ways, often with fashion and apparel. They like to make their kids/grandkids clothes or their own, or spend time doing art or baking with the kids. Some Cancers are very playful and they can enjoy any kind of family game or fun.

Cancer can be competitive and they like to win (cardinal sign, me first!) but they are not sore losers. They may persist and want to do better next time and should be encouraged to try again as they can give up too easily on some efforts due to insecure feelings. When into sports they like the water and swimming or boating. Fishing, cottaging, hunting, trapping and the great outdoors will generally attract most Cancers unless they’re the more homebody type. When it’s just the guys, the Cancer males are the ones who may become the dorm mom and prepare the food and amenities for the others.

Much of their interest in creativity or the arts is related to the home and they often don’t live too far from family. Any activity in the home or that decorates or renovates the home is on their list of fun things to do and when looking for Cancer the first room searched should be the kitchen. Most Cancers are excellent cooks and can make a real gourmet meal out of next to nothing. They prefer hearty, rich comfort foods or sweets more than anything.

When Cancer is into music they prefer deeply emotional and spiritual music, or the oldies but goodies. Cancer can be very nostalgic and generally likes the “old” way of doing things and art activities from the past (philately, calligraphy, collecting antiques, etc.). They enjoy romantic ballads and country and western, or nostalgic and classical music as a rule. Cancerians like antiques and collectibles over modern art but any art can be appreciated when a Cancer is needing to feel inspired. They appreciate the work of others and can be very encouraging and supportive in the creativity of others as they are with most everything else.

Cancer the Crab loves any holiday as it’s an excuse to get together with friends and family and whoop it up. Not only do they love home and family they are also very patriotic to the homeland. If they emigrate they often greatly miss their heritage and country of birth and may often reminisce about “the good old days” and the great fun they had as a child.

work at home
Image by Rolf Hassel from Pixabay

Work & Career

Cancer loves to work from home but should set aside specific rooms for doing business otherwise home and work get very mixed up (due to their hoarding ways). Cancer enjoys most kinds of business work although they’re not terribly ambitious. They often do not work far from home and they may have invented home-based business.

Crabs are not very good managers. They don’t really want the responsibility of “the buck stops here” and like Virgo is better at being number 2 than number 1. Cancers would rather tell you what to do than be bossed around but they can be diligent and responsible in their work.

They can be very emotionally involved with their work and if things are not running smoothly in the workplace they can pick up on this easily and become stressed and uncomfortable. Crabs tend to worry about every little thing which can drive others crazy. They can be good at business and make great administrators and VP’s. They don’t mind the routine of a 9 to 5 job but will work outside those hours too.

As they are usually very caring people Cancer is often attracted to social service or health care as a job. They can be nurses, child care workers, teachers, doctors, or may work in another capacity of health care perhaps involving children. A Cancerian may also work with animals and are good on an assembly line or with any work that requires repetition or finely detailed hand work. They are good at clerical work, accounting and administration.

Their love of the past and tradition may have them involved with antiques, history or archaeology. Some are expert at heraldry or calligraphy work. Their love of the home may have them work in interior design, or the retail or wholesale marketing of home-based wares, or food. They are excellent caterers, bakers and chefs so they do well in the restaurant industry.

It may take a while for Cancer to get a job done or climb up the ladder as they are good with the tried and true. They are happy in their own mini empire (usually an empire of one) and will leave the social and ladder climbing to the more competitive types. They tend to be up front and even blunt at work as they’re not usually slippery in their dealings with people. Their changing moods may be confusing but other than that their work is usually consistent.

Whatever kind of work they do their approach is like a kindly mother who wants everyone to do well and be happy. Because of this Cancer is one of the most pleasant signs to work with, live with or love and enjoy. Even the more masculine versions of Cancer can be maternal, caring and supportive as they look out for all those in their circle.

Title image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay