Extended sign description for Cancer

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Nurturing, loving, devoted, cuddly, milky and self-centered, Cancer has it all. Your sign is not multifaceted; rather, you change like the tides, and are a little different every single day. Less polite people call you moody. What, not everyone has moods? Why do they all take things so personally? Or is it you who takes others so personally?

In any event, those born under your sign possess a certain desire for intimacy that is mingled with defensiveness about getting too close to others, and this can send a mixed message. It’s important that you have a sense of control in your relationships, but you don’t want to take that too far. You won’t respect weak people, so you may as well surround yourself with strong ones who respect your space and who feel at home in your home.

It is sometimes said that the crab walks sideways, and your most important learning in this life is to be direct about what you feel and what you want, without feeling guilty about it. Your inclination is to experience your relationships in a structured way; you would have more fun if you would be more flexible. Remember that the people you love now are not as powerful as your mother was, so don’t treat them like they’re her.

Keep a Moon calendar on your desk and know the current phase and sign all the time. Cancer is one of the water signs, and is also a cardinal sign, being the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter south of the equator. If you want to know more about yourself, study the position of the Moon in your chart, as well as what are called the lunar nodes. These will reveal the deeper elements of your nature, and more than any other sign, the Moon’s house, sign and aspects may reveal your most authentic nature.


In the system described in Alice Bailey’s book Esoteric Astrology, the sign Cancer is considered the gateway to humanity. She describes Cancer and its opposite sign Capricorn as the portals through which humanity flows; Cancer is the entrance, and Capricorn is a kind of exit to the next reality. (Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, is sometimes depicted as death personified, which has not made particularly good public relations for this planet — but it does help us understand some of the esoteric meaning involved, and how it might be misinterpreted.)

Cancer and Capricorn are the gateways: Cancer in, Capricorn out. This is symbolic; think of it as representing initiations: thresholds within life that take us from one place to the next. Yet in a curiously literal way, Cancer and its ruler, the Moon, are associated with many, many people, and you seem to be under consideration to be their spokesperson, messenger or alchemist for progress.

Cancer is also the sign associated with the conscious personality, which is an interesting metaphor for a gateway: a portal to awareness. That awareness is emotional (the Moon rules Cancer) and it is intuitive (in Esoteric Astrology, Neptune rules Cancer). There is a difference between the two that it would help you to sort out. It’s good to know when you’re emoting and when you’re getting intuitive information.

For you, it relates to one rather significant fact: in the chart of the world, the sign Cancer is in the ascendant. In other words, the chart that holds the key to astrology has Cancer rising; and Cancer — not Aries — is the sign most closely associated with the 1st house. This is another clue that your sign is closely associated with the concept of identity, and that your own identity has something in common with the whole process of incarnating — and part of incarnation involves mastery over the emotions and mastery of a topic or field of expertise.

The main implication of this discovery — the Thema Mundi — is that the identity orientation of humanity is not the Aries/warrior/conqueror that modern astrology suggests; rather, in the view of the ancients, the primary identity of humanity is to nourish and nurture and gestate existence. Any placements in any first house of any chart will have this idea associated with them.

Cancer is more of an internal process, within the crab shell of the home and the feelings; Aries is more like that ram, which can run up a mountain or leap onto a rock like a lizard.


You have an extremely dynamic career chart, now and always, and one of the reasons why it’s so dynamic is because you have to project your personality into it. One of the places you are the most daring and innovative is in your professional life.

Remember that everything involving your work or profession is a visioning process — right down to the stamp you put on an envelope containing your résumé, or whether you have a résumé at all. This includes how you describe what you do, who you are and how you present yourself.

One thing I can tell you is this: you’re a lot more visible than you think, and your visions have more power than you’ve ever imagined.

Who you are is a process you vision every day. But usually the story is defensive, that is, compensating for something you feel you lack; or it is strategic, designed to manipulate or convince others of something. The visioning process you need is something that is born of originality, to create something new in the world, which is an expression of yourself with a role in the world.

I am talking about being passionate about what you do, with intention and love and a sense of devotion and nurturing, and honoring the value that your work has on the lives of others. This, in turn, will help you cultivate your sense of self-esteem, which is in truth your sense of belonging on the planet.

You have a public image and a relationship to the public, and you need to get it working. It’s a relationship like any other, and for you, like most other things, it’s someplace where you give from yourself deeply.

The world puts great emphasis on marriage, romance and love relationships, and practically ignores the miracles and beauty of work partnerships. Indeed, they are at once some of the most meaningful and underrated of our human contacts.

Personally for you, they are where you share, cultivate and grow two things vital to a whole life — service and faith.

Cancers have a need to care for people, critters and/or plants. They also need to care for organizations. This is their way of participating in the larger world of which they know they are a part, and in which they surely have a place — somewhere.


Money is an indicator for you, a kind of bellwether of your overall condition in life. This extends to how you feel about your resources and whether they are worth anything, including your talents.

You could make a list of everything you categorize as a financial issue, and then write on top of the list, “This is how I feel about myself,” and you would have an accurate, useful summary. Much of this involves how you relate to what you want in the material world. What story do you tell yourself about those desires? What rationalizations do you make?

Worth is generally a comparison. It is a relative estimation. A cigarette lighter may be of little worth in a bar, where nearly everyone has one, and where (in many locales) you cannot even light a cigarette these days; but if you’re stuck in the wilderness, it could save your life. Likewise, you estimate your worth based on certain comparisons to your environment and to others who are making contributions to the world. So the question is, what is your reference point?

Is someone else’s contribution the reference, or is your contribution the reference? Or do you have some objective value? Your own particular constitution suggests that you need to use yourself as the reference point, and not compare yourself to others.

By all rights, you are exceptionally good with money. You are resourceful and you have ideas for how to create more of the stuff. Where you are in a potentially difficult spot, and need to really pay attention, involves your socialist leanings, and your agreements with others. The upshot is that, if you had the resources to do so, you could easily set up shop as a charity and be quite happy.

Unfortunately, that is not how our culture works. We need access to one another’s resources as a way of life.


You are someone who exemplifies the concept of equanimity. Your ideals far exceed what is typically considered possible in the world. With Leo in the 2nd solar house as a constant factor, you identify with your values more passionately than most people. Indeed, this is something you share with the other water signs, Scorpio and Pisces. What is important to you is really important for you, and it’s nothing you take for granted. Water signs get accused of all sorts of interesting things, but we cannot really be accused of not caring.

Remember that it’s never easy for a water sign person to truly feel good about herself or himself because you feel so much, so deeply, and on this plane of reality there are so many reasons for doubt. But even you would agree that one of your greatest personal assets is determination.

Crabs come in a variety of species; some are tough and spiny, and come on claws-first. Many, though, tend to be receptive and lack the boundaries that you would normally associate with an invertebrate. Note that a crab is one of two animals in the zodiac that lacks a backbone, the other being a scorpion. The skeleton is on the outside, protecting an extremely soft interior.


Cancer is one of the most feminine signs, and the sign of the family. As a Cancer your orientation naturally will be to take care of the world; to nurture and nourish and leave it a better place than you found it. You may be inclined to think emotionally, without words, on “intuition” or hunches or to “go with your gut.”

Cancer is the sign of compassion and nurturing. It’s soft and curvy and makes good food for everyone. For your sign the essence of life is to need and be needed.

That is a primal instinct for humanity, and you embody it: it is the spirit of the relationship between a mother and a child. Cancer is the sign of mothering; the sign of breasts, security and feelings. Breasts feed humanity when it is young.

Because of your lunar orientation and your inherently nurturing nature, true paternal strength may be not only alien to you, but something you have sought over and over again in the world and never quite found.

As one born under the sign Cancer, you tend to seek security and need a container for your intimate bonding. Yet the Moon speaks of a need for nourishment, contact, warmth and the opportunity to nourish others. Part of the challenge of being born under the sign associated with the Moon is that it implies constant variables of the kind that defy your need for containment.

Your relationship angle is represented by Capricorn, which suggests that you tend to seek the structure that you need from others, a little like a hermit crab takes up the shell of another creature. This is natural enough, even necessary, for a water sign. All the water signs are opposed by earth signs. We need them and they need us. The key is to create situations that are balanced; that we can sustain and that provide what we need. I am aware that in this world, that’s extremely difficult.

Capricorn gives us an image of your reliance on traditional modes of relationship, which are themselves challenging enough; but in the times we are living, where the months go by like dog years, it’s particularly difficult to create stability. What we need is to be able to stay inwardly centered in the midst of constant change and stress.

The truth is that you are inclined to live by certain agreements that might have worked well enough 100 years ago, which did not work so well 40 years ago and which are seriously strained today.

Relationships happen in many houses, and another important one is the 8th, the house of shared resources, contracts and agreements. For you this is Aquarius, which suggests that while your relationships may lean toward traditional forms, in your deeper values you are a socialist.

In other words, you are someone who thrives on the sharing of resources, which in part can work because you feel you have plenty to offer. I’m not speaking about political socialism but rather an egalitarian notion that there is enough for everyone, so let’s make it happen.

If there was ever someone who could become sexually attached to another person from one experience of sex, you’re that person. This is an emotional need, and you have it. But combine it with your state of sexual need and the potential is volatile. The sad truth is that not everyone you meet is as enlightened or has the openhearted intentions that you do. Not everyone cares about people, and some of the ones who care the very least are attracted to the ones who care the most. For their part, the ones who care want to treat everyone with compassion, including those who would not be healthy for them; I think you get the picture.

Yet you need what you need: contact of the sexual, emotional and psychological kind. You need validation and you need attention. The crab shell does not work well in bed.


The containment power of Cancer (the sign) is helpful when it comes time to create a space for ourselves and our families: a container like a sense of protectiveness, a house, a financial structure, a company, a sense that we belong together — and also some boundaries within the family community so everyone knows who is who.

For individuals within that structure, there needs to be some level of participation in creating that collective sense of security that everyone benefits from. If you come in late, make sure all the doors are locked. If you see your sister has left a candle burning, blow it out. If dad’s dinner is about to turn to char in the oven, take it out for him.

The shadow side of all this caring, nurturing and safety is an obsession with security. It can be a vague to troubling sense of insecurity; a need to protect everyone and everything; or a defensive posture in life that gets in the way of being forward-moving. Cancer is an inherently protective energy; it’s a little defensive; and the feeling is, ‘well, it’s a big ocean out there, I better have a little space of my own’.

Everyone around you needs to get together and make a conspiracy to support your need for private space. This goes for anyone with strong Cancer signatures in their chart (whether Sun, Moon, rising, Saturn or Chiron; or a strong 4th house of some kind). Seek out quiet time (or leave these people alone) around the Full Moon and New Moon.

Children with strong Cancer signatures need to be protected from siblings born with more assertive, aggressive or feisty charts. They are less likely to defend themselves and more likely to respond by retreating psychically.

There’s a need for a tangible security base of some kind in Cancer kids. The sense that they can participate in the larger whole, or the system of the family, community or group, is intuitively part of that security. Often this participation comes through nurturing others. Cancers do have a need to be alone when it suits them, but there’s also the fear that they may wind up being alone.

To mitigate that, remember to stay plugged into your dynamic professional life (and if you have a Cancer child, to encourage ways for them to contribute to group endeavors). The more you invest in and honor the work you do, and recognize the value it has to others, the harder it will be to feel invisible inside your shell.

Keep your visioning process of who you are and your ability to contribute something original to the world at the forefront of everything you do. Each time you molt your shell, you reveal a bigger, truer version of you — one that’s perfect for its moment.

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