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Cancer (astrology)

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Supplément turc. 242, fol. 14v - Osman, Cancer 1582 crop.png
Zodiac symbol Crab
Duration (tropical, western) June 21 – July 22 (2017, UT1)[1]
Constellation Cancer
Zodiac element Water
Zodiac quality Cardinal
Sign ruler Moon
Detriment Saturn
Exaltation Jupiter, Neptune
Fall Mars

Cancer( ♋️ ) /ˈkænsər/ (Greek: Καρκίνος, Karkinos; Latin: Cancer) is the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Cancer. It spans the 90° to 120° of the zodiac, between 90° and 120° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between June 22 and July 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately July 16 and August 15.[2]

In astrology, Cancer is the Cardinal sign of the Water Trigon, which is made up of Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio.[3] It is considered a negative sign, whose domicile, or ruling planet, is the Moon. Though some depictions of Cancer feature a lobster, the sign is most often represented by the crab, based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra.[4]


Those who are born from June 22 to July 22 are born under Cancer.[5][6] Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called "Cancerians."[7] Cancer is a northern sign and its opposite southern sign is Capricorn.[8][9][10]

Along with Scorpio and Pisces, Cancer forms the Water Trigon.[11] The Water Trigon is one of four elemental trigons, fire, earth, air, and water.[12] When a trigon is influential, it affects changes on earth.[12] Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter, both astronomical bodies having influence over those born under Cancer.[8][9] In Vedic astrology the sign is named Karka and its Lord is Moon.[13]

In ancient times, Cancer was known as the "dark sign" because of the obscured visibility of its constellation in the night sky.[14]


The sign of Cancer is said to be associated with the characteristics: introspective, phlegmatic, cardinal, nocturnal, tenacious, intuitive, emotional, indolent, domestic, eloquent,[14] refined, empathic, and clairvoyant.[8][15][16][17] Geographical locations that Cancer is associated with are the sea, rivers, lakes, brooks, wells, wash-houses, marsh grounds, trenches, sinks, cellars, and other locations marked by a presence of water.[9][18] The areas of the body that Cancer governs are the breast[19] and the stomach.[8]

Cancerians are said to be people of sensation and feeling, and are considered by many astrologers to be the most sensitive sign of the zodiac.[20] They tend to judge the world through intuition as opposed to logic.[21] They are highly spiritual but are also characterized by emotional tension and heightened ambition.[22] Cancer is considered one of the most enigmatic signs of the zodiac, an association largely attributed to its ruling planet being that of the Moon.[23][24]


Greek mythology

The story of Cancer the Crab is said to be connected to Hercules.[25] Some storytellers say that during Hercules' fight with Lernaean Hydra, Hera, sent a crab from a swamp to snap at Hercules' toes because Hera had sworn to kill Hercules.[26][27] Hercules was able to kill the crab by smashing its shell with his foot.[28] As a reward for its efforts serving her, Hera placed the crab in the sky and it became Cancer.[28]

Chinese mythology

In Chinese star lore, Cancer (as it is known in Western constellations) is in the 23rd of the 28 mansions or xiu.[29] This mansion is called Gui which roughly translates to "ghosts".[29] The Chinese divided the sky into four quarters, each with its own direction, season, and mythical creature. Cancer exists in the Red (Vermillion) Bird of the south. It is associated with summer.[29]

In the arts

In Dante's Paradiso, he makes reference to Cancer, writing:

Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
Winter would have a month of one sole day.

— Dante, Paradiso[30]

Cancer is figured in Giovanni Maria Falconetto's 1517 painting, Cancer, as the guardian of the city of Verona.[31] The Cancer symbol is also depicted in Agostino di Duccio's sculpture View of Rimini Under the Sign of Cancer (1450).[16]


Cultural and historical depictions of Cancer
In the 14th c. Arabic manuscript, Book of Wonders 
In Llyfr Llyfr Oriau 'De Grey (The Book of Hours), ca. 1390 
In Jacob Jordaens's Les Signes du Zodiaque, ca. 1640 




Web sources

  • Atsma, Aaron J. (c. 2015). "CARCINUS : Giant crab of Lerna". Theoi Project. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  • "Cancer". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  • "Cancer". Windows to the Universe. n.d. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  • "Cancerian". Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  • Ridpath, Ian (n.d.). "Charting the Chinese Sky". Ian Ridpath. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 

External links