With the initiation of Cancer season, we reach our half-way point for the year, the solstices that transition us into the high point of summer or the low point of winter on the wheel of the year, the moments of reflecting on the light and dark. On the day of the solstice, we are reminded that this moment of longest light is also the tipping point before we move into shorter and shorter days, a little bit more darkness coming in, leading us back again towards winter as we move forward along the wheel. The summer solstice is the start of Cancer season, and this helps us to understand the sign of the crab even more deeply. Cancer is the second cardinal sign of the zodiac, coming after the initiatory sign of Aries. By being a cardinal sign, it is full of initiatory energy, bringing us fully into the next season, filling us with the decisive energy of summer. These aren’t the lazy, sultry days of fixed fire Leo season. There is summer fun and excitement, and there is also some contemplative aspects as well, given the watery slightly insular nature of Cancer as well, which is what I’m going to dive into now!
Cancer is the first water sign of the zodiac, and so in this way it introduces us into the individual, personal world of water. What lies beneath, where our vulnerabilities are, what’s hidden in the waters or under the seaweed of our lives, what we carry within. Reminding us that the waves and the never-ending blue waters of the ocean surface hide so much life and diversity and possibility beneath it. In this way too, can be our emotions; it can be easy to assume that a person is feeling a certain way because of what you see on the outside, but in order to know the truth, the depths, the realities, you need to delve into the depths, be willing to see past the surface waves to find the coral reefs and deep ocean trenches within.
C A N C E R S E A S O N S U B. B OX
This is why the crab is such apt symbol for this sign. A crab is an extremely vulnerable, soft, squishy creature within a hard, protective suit and a pretty strong pair of pinchers. Both the softness and the hardness are key to understanding Cancer. The softness, the crab’s innate physical form, represents all the emotions, all the vulnerabilities, all the feelings, all the squishy parts of ourselves that let us feel life deeply, experience, connect with others, gain a deep awareness of our emotions. Who are we really, what is our innermost self, our most true self, our softest self, our self that perhaps is so open and available that without any protection, it is so easily wounded or torn apart or battered. That’s, then, where the shell comes in. The shell cradles the soft part, cushions the vulnerability, prevents the waves and seagulls from getting easily at our most delicate inner areas, creates a wall that the rocks can bounce off of throughout life. And the pincers? They are how we defend ourselves when it seems like someone wants to rip that shell right off, when we sense that the protections we’ve built just might not be enough to withstand the onslaught, when others don’t listen to our boundaries and we have to do something to show that we really do mean business.
A crab is also so interesting in that it sheds its shell and has to molt every so often as it grows. Some crabs do that in large groups, protecting themselves all together, the family or community as a whole given greater security in numbers. If a crab didn’t shed it’s shell, didn’t experience a moment of contracting, frightening, overwhelming vulnerability, then it wouldn’t be able to grow bigger, stronger, more capable of forming its own crab family, able to get better food, to withstand the things that life can throw at it.
This is something I feel is also reflected so beautifully in the card of the Chariot, the card that represents Cancer, something I first learned about through the teachings of Lindsay Mack. While the Chariot can definitely seem like a beautiful emblem of victory, she teaches that it also is important to consider how the vehicles that we need as we move through life can sometimes need to change. That’s where I think the Cancer-Capricorn polarity comes through so strongly when we think about Cancer and what it can mean in our charts and our lives. We can learn how to best express our Cancer-ness through looking across the polarity to Capricorn and learning from the highest vibration of that sign. One of the main lessons for Capricorn is how to create and maintain boundaries that are beneficial, where to put limits, how to use structure in a positive way that does not trap them and instead protects them. If we always kept our shells the same size, or always moved through life with the same chariot, then we could never grow, never expand, never learn how to integrate things, never adapt to the new situations that present. Instead of being safely held within our shell or our chariot, we could instead become imprisoned by it, stuck, brittle. And if we are too stiff, then it becomes almost impossible to truly access our vulnerabilities, to feel all that we want to feel, to be connected to our emotions, because our nervous system turns on and we get jumpy, activated, aggressive, attacking with our claws at even the slightest provocation.
This metaphor then explains what is the beautiful journey for Cancer. How do you learn how to feel and revel in all the squishiness, all the vulnerability, and through this process learn how to create the boundaries and lines in the sand that protect you and help you stay open and empathetic instead of hardened or embittered by life; all without being so open that you get overrun by everything else, or give so much of yourself away, and have enough flexibility so that you can continue to grow. This journey impacts each of us differently, depending on where Cancer falls in our charts or what planets are operating within Cancer’s sphere of influence. As a Cancer Sun, this journey may be about exploring how your sense of self and ego are impacted by your need to feel safe in order to be open, how essential it is for you to have your retreat where you can process and molt without being afraid of how you may be attacked. As a Cancer Moon, you may be innately a very nurturing person (especially as the Moon rules Cancer!), maybe it takes you a bit to open up about your true emotions instead of only presenting the surface ones to the outside because first you need to feel cared for emotionally. With a Cancer Ascendant, others may feel like you are someone they can innately trust to create a sense of security and home, you may feel a great need to help provide shelter for others to weather the storms of their lives. And the areas of life in which these may feel particularly salient is based on the house that Cancer rules in your own chart.
Throughout Cancer season, we all get extra activation on that area of our chart, and, as the Sun moves through the zodiac, it also will also make transit angles with planets you have in the other cardinal signs or water signs particularly. For me, Cancer rules my 9th house, so I will be getting extra activation of awareness and energy in that area of my life - what is my worldview, how have I learned to understand and process and relate with the world via my lived experiences, what are the connections I have made between what I’ve seen and what is the meaning I find. Bringing in some of the willingness to be vulnerable, to feel all the emotions and also create a safe home, a safe harbor, where I can experience these. As I write this, Mercury has just entered into Cancer, where it will be until just the first few days of Cancer season, then it will come back into Cancer for its retrograde in July; Juno will leave Cancer right when the Sun transitions; Mars is in Cancer through that first week of Cancer season; Venus will enter Cancer right after the New Moon total eclipse in Cancer (I didn’t even get to how Cancer season is right now eclipse season with the current Nodal axis in Cancer-Capricorn - it will bring lots of activation!).
Wishing a beautiful, sweet, nourishing, contemplative, magical Cancer season to all the Unicorn babes, and a special Happy Birthday to all the Cancer Suns!
About me: I’m Victoria, and I’m a part-time intern for Chasin’ Unicorns and full-time medical student interested in psychiatry, especially working with children and in global mental health. I’m a Capricorn Sun, Pisces Moon, Libra Rising. I stumbled into the world of crystals during my Saturn Return, and quickly became immersed in the realms of mystical and spiritual tools for self-empowerment, including astrology, tarot, and Ayurveda. And I’m always ready to learn and explore more! You can find me on instagram @thescalesofthegoat for astro and tarot fun!