I feel the water signs get a pretty bad deal in general, that there is, somehow, something uncool about them.
Even Cancer, the cardinal or dominant water sign, is often described as overly emotional or ‘touchy’. All of this is unfair. Maybe it is to do with the fact that they are all classed, traditionally, as ‘negative’.
So what is the sign of Cancer, the first of the water signs? I see it in its clear relation to the fourth house, which sits visually at the bottom of the birth chart.
Cancer is associated with home and family and the protection of them. How is this ‘negative’? It is fundamental, the foundations of our whole existence; very little can be achieved or sustained without it.
We all need a base to our lives and Cancer and the fourth house gives indications as to the quality of that in our birth charts.
Cancer, because of its associations with the family, is also about our roots and the past, another very important base of our lives. Look at the huge interest in genealogy and DNA analyses these days. Yes, of course, they’ve been marketed, but for a good reason: we all want to know where we come from. It’s important to us.
And this has spiritual connotations too, all to do with the Cancer/Capricorn axis and its association with birth and rebirth, reincarnation. Cancer can be see as the gateway into life, in human form, Capricorn the way out.
Of course we can also see this mapped out on the earth, if you will, in the two tropics of Cancer in the north, and Capricorn in the south, the two extremes of the path of apparent path of the Sun around the earth.
The summer solstice, which traditionally marks the beginning of summer in the north, also marks the start of the sign of Cancer, the beginning of the Sun’s fall southward, symbolically showing the soul’s descent into matter.
Glyphs and symbols
But why the crab symbol? I think it’s all to do with protection, the hard outer shell. In earlier medieval astrology, Cancer was often represented by a crayfish, which would have been much more evident in the streams and rivers of Europe back then.
Maybe the Cancer glyph, the 69, represents the crab’s pincers. And the Moon’s rulership of Cancer is beyond doubt, its phases and associations with water being key here.
Walking on the Moon
It’s also interesting to note that the first Moon Landing hit our screens in the year 1969, co-incidentally incorporating a suggestion of the Cancer glyph – and on July 20-21, as the Sun was leaving Cancer for Leo.
My own musings lead me to speculate that the 69 glyph may represent the Sun’s turnaround at the summer solstice (which means sun standstill); in other words, the 6 flips over to become 9, symbolising the beginning of the return south for the Sun. Just a thought and I’m probably not the first to say this.
If Cancer is ruled by the Moon, Jupiter is said to be exalted in the sign, bringing out the best of the Jupiterian positivity in nurturing ways.
However, Saturn the ruler of Capricorn, is said to ‘fall’ in Cancer, and Mars is in his detriment because Mars is exalted in Capricorn.
So, here in a few words we can see that Cancer (and the water signs) are far more interesting we realise. And Cancer due to its prominent placing on the ecliptic (the zodiac), is in fact most fundamental – literally.
copyright Francis Barker 2020
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