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by Gary Brand - written June 15, 2006,
published in the July 2006 edition of Echo* newspaper

False-color composite of the Moon created from 53 images
taken by the Galileo spacecraft on December 7, 1992 This false-color composite was created from 53 images taken by Galileo as the spacecraft flew over the northern hemisphere of the Moon on December 7, 1992.  Pink areas are highlands; blue and orange colors indicate volcanic lava flows; light blue areas are mineral-rich soils associated with relatively recent impacts - the youngest craters have blue rays emanating from them; and the dark blue Mare Tranquillitatis is richer in Titanium than the green and orange areas.  Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

This is a 1491 woodcut of the Renaissance representation
of Cancer as a crayfish. This is a 1491 woodcut of the Renaissance representation of Cancer as a crayfish rather than the usual depiction as a crab.  Like the crab, the crayfish has a large pair of pinchers for capturing its prey and for defense.  From the 1491 edition of Bonatti
(G.B. (c. 1282/1491)).
his is one of a series of articles about the metaphysical meanings of the signs.  Metaphysical astrology is the study of first principles and the esoteric or hidden meanings of the signs and planets.  This article addresses the first principles of Cancer and the Moon (ruler of Cancer), which we all have somewhere in our birth chart.  The meaning or energy of each sign of the zodiac manifests in some area of life symbolized in the birth chart of each of us, whether we have planets in a particular sign or not.  The entire visible Universe is based on the 12-fold manifestation of God we call the zodiac (E.H., p. 244 (1974)).  At the end of this article is a segment on the current Jupiter-Saturn square.

My parents were crabbing enthusiasts.  They lived in Daytona Beach, Florida and in that area there are many marshy, tidal mudflats where they caught crabs.  One day my dad was reaching down to grab a crab and the crab instead grabbed his finger (crab karma?).  He immediately cut off the claw with a pair of wire cutters but the detached claw did not release its viselike grip on his finger.  My mom was unable to pry the claw apart with a pair of pliers so she drove my dad to the house of a friend who finally managed to pry the claw off but only by using two pairs of pliers!  My dad later lost the blackened nail on that finger.

One way of understanding first principles of a zodiacal sign is to examine the features and behaviors of the creature portrayed by the sign and constellation in the sky.  The moral of the above story is that if you get close to a strong Cancer type (Sun, Moon, or several planets in Cancer), they may latch unto you and hang on for dear life.  Crabs and Cancer type people (Cancer is the name of a genus of crabs) can have a "crabby" disposition and pinch in defense as my dad discovered.  The females of many species of crabs carry their eggs on their bodies until they hatch, which is emblematic of the protective and nurturing nature of the sign of Cancer.  Crabs are one of the few animals that can literally run fast in any direction - even sideways - so Cancers can easily sidestep a question or back step on an issue.  Crabs veraciously defend their homes (always near the watermark) and retreat there when threatened, just like the Cancer part of us.  Here is an example of how this symbolism can be applied in a person's birth chart.  Although I don't have any planets in Cancer, this sign is associated with my sixth house (the setting of my work, my office, coworkers).  When I was working for the State of Florida more than two decades ago, I always tried to arrange my office in such a way that my desk either faced the door or was next to and "guarded" the door.  A number of my coworkers came to me for support but when I felt vulnerable or unappreciated I retreated to my office and closed the door (like a crab retreating into its burrow).

Cancer is the first of the water signs (the others are Scorpio and Pisces) and water is the quintessential medium in which life in the embryonic state is nourished and grows, whether in the shell of an egg or in utero.  This sign, more than any other, represents the "earth mother" from which all life is born and sustained.  Cancer types are usually very connected to their mother and family in general, which is representative of the importance of the Moon in our birth charts and our emotional connections with and memories of the past.  At the most basic level, Cancer is the most feminine of the signs and is symbolic of fertility, nurturance, the womb, receptivity, and the act of containing, holding and protecting.

The mythology of Cancer and even of the Moon is scant.  The Moon represented the Greek goddess Selene, sister of Helios (the Sun) and daughter of two Titans.  Selene, with her bright crown, illuminated the night sky after Helios sank below the horizon.  The best-known myth about her is her love for Endymion, a mortal whom she kissed while he slept.  Endymion asked Zeus (Jupiter) for immortality to be with Selene, which was granted but on the condition that Endymion remain asleep for eternity.  Every night Selene visited him, thus the rays of the Moon caress us mere mortals as we sleep (except when she is too near her brother to be seen).  Other Greek goddesses like Artemis (Diana to the Romans), Hecate and Circe were also associated with the Moon.

To the truth-seeking soul, Cancer is symbolic of our consciousness finding spiritual nourishment in the form of impressions collected in the outside world and our ability to digest, analyze, clarify and transform them into experiences from which we can draw strength to sustain ourselves and to support others in their spiritual growth.

Now a change of topics to the Jupiter-Saturn cycle, which lasts 20 years and every 10 years Jupiter forms a square or 90 degree angle with Saturn.  This square was in effect during December 2005 and is again June - November 2006.  These two planets symbolize many pairs of opposites: optimism vs. pessimism, expansion vs. contraction, enthusiasm vs. caution, open vs. closed, arrogant vs. humble, revealing vs. withholding, carefree vs. responsible, uninhibited vs. inhibited, up vs. down, success vs. failure, careless vs. careful, starting vs. stopping, and exaggeration vs. underestimation to name a few.  Squares symbolize tension and conflict so the square between the two largest planets means that each trait of the above pairs of opposites is vying for dominance over the other trait of the pair in our lives and in the world.  One manifestation is extremes of all sorts and the challenges of this period particularly have to do with our job/career, finances, and issues of freedom versus responsibilities.  It is a period of evaluating our happiness and success and a testing of our principles and philosophy.  A price will be paid for reckless or intemperate risk taking because an economic downturn is likely.  The wisest course of action at this time is to expand some areas of our lives while contracting other areas because we can't keep everything going and growing without suffering setbacks.

*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

© copyright 2006-2013 Gary Brand.  All Rights Reserved.