The Story of Cancer
According to Greek mythology, Cancer the Crab was sent by Hera to harass
and distract Hercules when he was on the Second of his Twelve Labors.
Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. The ever jealous Hera, Zeus'
wife, vowed to irritate Hercules throughout his life. She tricked him
into a wild rage in which he killed his beloved wife and children. To
purify his soul, Apollo assigned him the Twelve Labors which would each
test his strength and courage. At each turn, Hera was there to make
Hercules' life as wretched as she could.
In the plain of Argolida there was an unhealthy marsh known as the Lerni.
An enormous water snake with nine heads lived in this swamp. The Hydra
was a terrible monster. One of its heads was immortal and it had breath
that would kill upon contact. The Second Labor given to Hercules was to
kill the Hydra.
Hercules was joined by his nephew, Iolaus, as he approached the swamp.
With the help of Athena, Hercules was able to find the Hydra and a major
battle ensued. When Hercules would manage to cut off one of its heads,
another would appear. Finally, his Iolaus brought a flaming torch and
seared the neck of each head that was cut off so that another could not
Fearing that Hercules might indeed defeat the Hydra, Hera sent in a
large crab to attack and distract him while he was fighting the Hydra.
Cancer grabbed onto the hero's toe with its claws, but Hercules crushed
the crab with his foot. He then cut off the Hydra's immortal head,
killing it as well. Afterwards, he dipped his arrows in the Hydra's
blood. It is said that even the glance of one of these arrows meant
Some say that Hera placed the Crab in the heaves as a reward for
sacrificing its life. Others say that Zeus put it there to honor
Hercules' victory and to remind Hera of her failure.
Cancer in Astrology
The energy of Cancer is caring and feeling. Like the awkward gait
of the crab, it approaches things sideways. It wants to help and
take care of us. Once attached to something, it is tenacious and
never lets go. And like the crabs who live in the ocean, whose
lives are spent searching the ocean floor for food, the Cancer
energy is concerned with feeding us so we can grow and prosper. Our
green thumbs come to life when planets spend time in the sign of
Like the tiny Hermit crabs who live along the seashore in
protective shells, the Cancer energy is happiest at home, where it
is safe from predators. It doesn't need elegance and finery. After
all, the shell it lives in is a second hand shell, once occupied by
someone else. It needs this shell to protect its soft abdominal
area. And like the Hermit crab, our own stomachs can become
sensitive when the sign of Cancer is too active.
When planets are transiting Cancer, we want to build our nest
and stay in it. We cater to our loved ones and want to make them happy and comfortable.
But we can also become clingy and whiny and malign the past.
Freedom From Want
We can feel sorry for ourselves too. It's much
better to recognize the importance of home and family during these
times. We'll have our own day in the sun later.
Natural House: Fourth
Energy: Yin (-) Feminine
Traditional Ruler: The Moon
Modern Ruler: The Moon
Key word: Nurturing
Key phrase: I Feel!
Part of the Body: The Breast, Stomach, and
Cancer in the Sky
Constellation Art from Stellarium
Cancer is a relatively small and dim constellation. It is best known
among sky watchers as the home of the Beehive Cluster.
The Beehive Cluster is also known by its Latin equivalent as Praesepe,
which means hive and also means crib or manger. There are over three
hundred stars in the Beehive. It is believed that over a hundred of
them are brighter than our own Sun.
To the naked eye, this cluster appears as a misty patch, but with the
of a telescope, the many yellow and green stars of Cancer can be seen.
Galileo was the first to study the stars of Cancer with a
telescope. He counted over forty stars and systems in this
constellation. Prior to his study, it was thought that Cancer only
contained nebulae and star clusters.
Cancer is the Latin word for
Crab. It lies between Gemini to the west, Leo to the east, Lynx
to the north, and Canis Minor and Hydra to the south. It is visible inn
the Northern Hemisphere in the spring and in the Southern Hemisphere in
the fall. In ancient times, the Sun passed through Cancer at the summer
solstice, the time when the Sun is at its most northern point.