Wednesday 21 June 2017

Sidling into summer - Cancer the crab!

Three of Vessels (trimmed):
©Wildwood Tarot
Summer solstice. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sun has reached its zenith in the sky – its furthest boundary of power, if you like – and as such, its greatest potency.  For those of us below, it’s time to stop and look back at what we’ve achieved on our journey, since the Winter Solstice six months ago.  Now we can celebrate what we’ve created, as well as acknowledge what hasn’t worked.  It’s no surprise that this solstice (again, in the northern hemisphere) has been called the ‘Festival of Achievement’.  

There’s a shift associated with this point. Different traditions describe it in different ways – be it the Oak King giving way to the Holly King, the Sun King descending into the underworld and succumbing to the Queen of the Night – the Moon.  And of course, the Summer Solstice marks the ingress of the Sun – astrologically speaking – into Cancer, the sign of the crab, ruled by the Moon. 

‘Cancer’ © Alison Coals
Cancer is the first of the Water signs encountered in the zodiac. Through the Moon’s rulership, it takes us into the ebb and flow of feelings and emotions – what we need to feel safe and secure.  To be safe, we seek protection and nurturing.  

Through its affinity to the 4th house, the sign of Cancer is linked to ancestry, to roots, to tradition, to where we come from – and to the idea of sanctuary, what we’re drawn to...again, the idea of needing protection.  In Cancer this can come through family – through the emotional security and nurturing.  Think of the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’, and you might start to see the link to the crab, the image of Cancer.  The shell protects the vulnerable crab, in the same way that family (and it doesn’t have to be blood relatives) protects us in our vulnerability.  

In Greek mythology, Hera sends a crab to irritate Heracles while he’s attempting to slay the Hydra. He crushes the crab underfoot (you can see the crab in the image!), but Hera rewards the crab’s loyalty by placing it in the sky.  Loyal, caring, compassionate, wanting to help – all Cancerian qualities.

Cancer is one of the four Cardinal signs.  It will initiate whatever it needs to protect itself, its family, its loved ones.  Willing to take action to help and support others, Cancer doesn’t seek the limelight in the same way that Cardinal Aries might – but it’s just as imaginative!

Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

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