Cancer (astrology)

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Zodiac symbol Crab
Duration (tropical, western) 20 June – 22 July (2016, UTC)
Constellation Cancer
Zodiac element Water
Zodiac quality Cardinal
Sign ruler Moon
Detriment Saturn
Exaltation Jupiter
Fall Mars

Cancer (♋️) (Greek: Καρκίνος, Latin: Cancer) is the fourth astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Cancer. It spans the 90-120th degree of the zodiac, between 90 and 125.25 degree 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 9 and August 15. The symbol of the crab is based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra.[1]


Along with Scorpio and Pisces, Cancer forms the Watery Trigon.[2] The Watery Trigon is one of four elemental trigons, fiery, earthy, airy, and watery.[3] When a trigon is influential, it affects changes on earth.[3] Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter, both astronomical bodies having influence over those born under Cancer.[4][5]


The sign of Cancer is said to be associated with the characteristics: watery, phlegmatic, eloquent, cardinal, northern, commanding, nocturnal, tenacious, intuitive, and fruitful.[4] Those who are born from June 22 to July 22 are born under Cancer.[6][7] Cancer is a northern sign and its opposite Southern sign is Capricorn.[4][5] Places that Cancer is associated with are the sea, rivers, brooks, wells, wash-houses, marsh grounds, and trenches.[5] The areas of the body that Cancer governs are the breast and the stomach.[4] Cancerians are said to be people of sensation and feeling. They tend to go by their own intuition as opposed to reasonable advice.


Cancer, or al-Saraṭān, as depicted in the 14th/15th century Arabic astrological text Book of Wonders

Greek mythology[edit]

The story of Cancer the Crab is said to be connected to Hercules. Some storytellers say that during Hercules' fight with Lernaean Hydra, Hera, sent a crab to snap at Hercules' toes because Hera had sworn to kill Hercules.[8] Hercules was able to kill the crab by smashing its shell with his foot.[9] As a reward for its efforts serving her, Hera placed the crab in the sky and it became Cancer.[9]

Chinese mythology[edit]

In Chinese star lore, Cancer is in the 23rd of the 28 mansions or xiu.[10] This mansion is called Gui which roughly translates to "ghosts".[10] 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.[10]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Allen, Richard Hinckley (1899). Star-names and Their Meanings. G.E. Stechert. p. 107. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Harkness, Deborah E. (1999). John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature. Cambridge University Press. p. 70. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Smith, Robert Cross (1828). A manual of astrology, by Raphael. Oxford University. p. 64. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Lilly, William (1835). An introduction to astrology, rules for the practice of horary astrology [an abstract of Christian astrology]: to which are added, numerous emendations, by Zadkiel. Oxford University. pp. 14, 60. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Shoemaker, Mrs. Mabel (McGeorge) (1904). Astrology. Penn Publishing Company. p. 27. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Cancer". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  8. ^ French, Sue (March 2001). "What a Crab!". Sky & Telescope 101 (3): 93. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Cancer". Windows to the Universe. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Ridpath, Ian. "Charting the Chinese Sky". Ian Ridpath. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of Cancer at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Cancer at Wikimedia Commons