June 21/22 - July 23/24
Cardinal Water: Wellspring of Emotion
Objectively: Summer arrives. Sun stands at its northern zenith, then begins to move south. Day turns towards night. The light of self-consciousness illuminates the depths of its instinctual origins. Personality turns within, seeking its source.
Subjectively: The high noon of feeling. Spring's exploratory outreach consolidates into a unique psychological sensibility. Ego infused by imagination, enriched by nuances of memory and sensitivity.
Cancer: The mother of personality. Emotion. Roots. Psyche: sub-conscious temperament; an instinctual mood.
Cancer immerses mind into psyche. It begins at the summer solstice, a year's longest day. Reason (Gemini) has come to term, attained its full measure of intellectual maturity. Data acquisition and processing have reached their limits. In Cancer thought turns back in on itself, to plumb the depths of its own nature. Detached observation gives way to emotional involvement.
Here life giving rain falls from the skies of mind, baptizing dormant seeds to flower in feeling. Freewheeling cerebral consciousness commits to a sense of identity. Clarity of thought becomes tenderness of empathy. Calculation opens into caring. Perceptions melt into sensitivities. Lucid intellect gives way to subtle responsiveness.
In Cancer day begins to wane. The exfoliating potentials of will (Aries), desire (Taurus) and mind (Gemini) now precipitate into subtleties of sentiment. Think of a new continent that has been discovered (Aries), its resources claimed and extracted (Taurus), its lands divided into political units (Gemini). Cancer begins a new phase: that of actual settlement. Extensive exploration is replaced by intensive cultivation. Discovery becomes development. The adventurous search for greener pastures over the hill turns into a loving labor of building a home and raising a family right here and now.
Cancer integrates the possibilities that blossomed during day's lengthening cycle. The different qualities sequentially emphasized during ego's growth now coalesce into a distinct temperament. Cancer describes the magic of personality, an emergent property greater than the sum of its parts. It summarizes attributes (will, wish, mind) into a subjective quality. Action, love and thought fuse into character.
Cancer dissolves primary forces into a living flow of psychological experience. Discrete sensations, sympathies and opinions coalesce into a general temperament. Cancer digests specific elements into an organic whole, an indefinable essence, making one instantly distinguishable from all others. It demonstrates the peculiarity making each person a unique representative of the entire universe.
Genetic information, instinctual drives and learned behaviors contribute to the self. But its fundamental nature transcends all of these inputs. It cannot be made by will, owned by desire, understood by intellect. It is a subtle symphony of those vibrations, the general tone of a living human being.
Sensual stimulations, survival imperatives, inherited abilities consolidate into a subconscious current. This feeds and supports the relatively small area of conscious choice. Cancer forms the background out of which an ego emerges.
Everybody has the same needs and wants, prioritized differently. Their arrangement, ranking and relative strengths combine to produce a singular synthesis. Cancer emphasizes the individuality of their distribution. In the same way, all DNA coils are made of the same chemicals, but each self-organizes in a specific way, giving rise to various biological forms. DNA recombines ancestral biochemical factors (genes) into a novel configuration. So too each person internally mixes common psychic energies into an original statement of the human condition.
We are all bonded by the same essential makeup. We each exhibit a slightly different pattern of its various features. Cancer underlies our recognition of this universality, the basis of empathy. Thus one resonates with others. Cancer acknowledges a familial sense that we each personify a shared humanity.
Beginning at the farthest frontier of mental awareness (summer solstice) Cancer integrates our rational and irrational sides into a special sensitivity. It absorbs impressions and blends them as an unprecedented and unrepeatable personality. This then assimilates social contents in preparation for collective participation.
In Cancer ego begins to turn from self-actualization to tribal belonging. Cancer reorients individual evolution towards social cooperation. It describes the most intimate level of this change in direction with basic training in family life. It develops rapport with others and learns about relationship dynamics in a small unit: first the family, later the classroom, platoon, work team. Any larger grouping necessarily defaults into a hierarchy of rank (Cancer's polarity: Capricorn. Authority exists within the family and similar units, but is modified by strong affections.)
We have an innate preference for a social universe of about thirty people, the typical size of the hunter-gatherer bands in which we evolved for thousands of generations. This provides space for a personal role with face-to-face interaction on a comprehensible scale. Such emotionally intense bonding generates social skills, and a more inclusive vision, that frees one from mere subjectivity.
We are mammals, born helpless and dependent on the love and feeding of others. We mature slowly, over decades, nourished and nurtured by a cultural environment. We are partly defined by membership in clan and tribe. We belong to beloved groups. We are neither herd animals nor solitary beings. We are psychically responsive individuals who are carried along with the social narratives within which we are embedded.
From that springs a consciousness of heritage: familial, cultural, biological. An appreciation that all one is rests upon deep foundations laid down by countless forgotten ancestors. Ego is rooted in past eons. It blooms as a single yet special flower on the tree of life. Cancer embodies a remembrance of, and respect for, the power of the past.
History shapes character, memories sculpt the now. Their specific content is mostly forgotten. They leave behind an orientation, a set of expectations, a habitual response. These can become automated, as in inherited instincts. Or imprinted with a charge based on early or powerful events. Thus the paranoid sees every smile as a betrayal, the caregiver interprets every rip-off as a cry for help. Each acts inappropriately when response becomes a conditioned reflex rather than an unconditional openness. Cancer can let a bygone past suffocate the living present. It must learn to let history flow into the future rather than congeal in the abyss of time.
Cancer means memory: our capacity to store information in a personally relevant way. Cancer digests transitory episodes into enduring feelings. Any planet in Cancer reveals sensitivity to the sources of that planetary function.
Consider the deep roots of molecular memory in our biological cells, the fundamental unit of life. Single celled bacteria, the earliest and most common life form, have no nucleus. Their DNA information strands float loosely in the cellular body, which remains undifferentiated from others of its kind. They are clones, replicates, twins (Gemini).
The diversified cells of multi-cellular organisms centralize their DNA within a nucleus, an enclosed genetic data bank. There it can be more efficiently organized to express a specific function in a protective environment. The Cancer function internalizes a genetic heritage to shield its delicate configuration from the busy metabolism of its host substrate. That allows it to concentrate its energy on a specialized activity in concert with a lineage or community of sister cells. It becomes an intensified part of a larger whole.
In that safe space it can dissolve and recombine its given DNA message into another design. There it creates the template of a new identity. That will fuse with another organism's also reformed inheritance in the revitalizing miracle of sexual reproduction. Thus the cell loses independence and gains interdependence. It participates in a more sophisticated life. If this goes awry, and it reverts to single cell agency, then a cancer disease erupts.
Psychologically Cancer symbolizes the same process. It funnels Gemini's extensive mental network of thoughts and perceptions into an intensive core focus. Synthesizes a spectrum of subliminal signals and informational stimuli into a coherent wavelength of sensibility. Amplifies a bundle of generic instincts into one self-consciousness. Distills the visceral heat of our warm blood into the visible glow of a unique character. And nurtures its emerging illumination on whatever level of evolution one has achieved. Cancer lights up life from within.
Cancer's conservative, defensive posture masks an exquisitely sensitive inner quest. It seeks to recover soul's deepest longings in life's sea of sensations. To connect with a fundamental fantasy, recall the dream behind outer doings. Thus it is the most private, secluded and subjective of all signs.
Cancer embodies the principle of subjectivity: that an interior self-reflective space mirrors the universe. Life recreated as a psychic reality. Within it objective facts generate an emotional statement of what they mean. Memory reimagines truth as the psychological coloration of experience.
The fourth house, Cancer's subjective correlate, and any planets in it, portrays a defining dream; the unconscious source of awareness and agency. The house cusp that the sign of Cancer occupies points to a private area, the home of one's deepest, most intimate feelings. It indicates their origin and general nature. The position, phase and aspects of Cancer's ruling planet, Moon, provide insight into cherished memories and inner history.
Cancer does not refer to the past as an inert collection of done deeds. Rather it consolidates previous stages into a more inclusive dynamic of growth. This fusion is made possible because Cancer also represents an openness to emergent possibilities, a future-oriented sense of imagination. Its dream script integrates ever accumulating prior moments into an evolving synthesis.
Cancer unites dead past and pregnant future in the mystery of genesis: the miracle of an ever-present birthing. This pours forth as the wellspring of temperament, the intuitive base from which creativity, relationship and achievement issue.
Every organism focuses receptivity to outer circumstance and awareness of its own inner condition into basic sentience. It remembers behavioral repertoires and encodes them into instincts. Instincts can acquire enough energy to concentrate into feelings. Feelings organize into fantasies, visions of what could be. They create imagination, a sense of nonexistent possibility that then makes it possible. Each of these unfoldings gestates its unborn potentials through an introspective creativity symbolized by the Cancer energy field.
Cancer brings inner dimensions to life. It describes private sensation, the psychological feel of incidents and situations. It reflects events into emotions. It registers external stimuli as an internal attitude. Cancer melts acts and perceptions into memories, colored and prioritized by the mystery of personality. From memory it generates imagination: a distinctive story of what life and the world mean.
Cancer demonstrates identity as known from within. It forms a sense of individuality: not what I do, want or know but who I am. Cancer expresses the essence of a hidden soul. Soul is not a thing but the magic of a quality.
Cancer = birth. Any newborn is relatively undifferentiated, a standard issue specimen of its kind. Indeed, Cancer's delicate responsiveness can be compared to that of an infant. A baby seems cute but incompetent. Yet it absorbs information and acquires skills at a faster rate than at any other stage of life. For example, while an adult can spend years struggling to mangle a foreign language every young child becomes fluent in its mother tongue by osmosis. Cancer nourishes tender sensibilities and developing abilities until they have time to mature. It midwifes conscious psychology out of generic instinct. Its outer passivity masks intense inner activity.
Cancer = home: a safe refuge from the world. And its associated nesting urge to create a sheltered space for self and kin. The sense of belonging, rooted in shared participation. This will later universalize into compassion for strangers, loyalty to a nation or cause, love and worship of an all embracing God or ethic.
One's first home was the womb. None can love God who has not loved, and been loved by, a mother. She is our first and deepest love, the primary agent of socialization. She provides our initial and deepest image of the world, and of relationship to others. The bond with her stretches from the most physically intimate womb-bliss to defining infantile impressions. Nothing and nobody can ever displace her. Cancer holds her subliminal image at the center of consciousness, shaping a primal response to all others.
Yet mother also constitutes the most profound threat to subjective autonomy. One must psychologically break from her to become an individual, just as one had to give her physical agony, perhaps even death, in childbirth. One must leave her womb, the family and ultimately life itself.
Yet we always remain embedded in a Great Mother of passing time and material space, the medium of spirit's embodiment. Cancer's maternal nature unites abstract forces of spirit and concrete facts of matter into organic life. Cancer synchronizes its innate pattern of maturation with larger cycles of becoming.
Cancer, itself a turning of the yearly round, indicates the fundamental principle of cyclicity. Expansive/contractive pulsations of the heart, yin/yang permutations of the Tao, ebb and flow of sympathy constitute its truth. Life's alternating stages wash away eternal laws of mind into the fluid dynamics of sympathetic resonance with fleeting moments. Its lunar tides of mood add new dimensions of spontaneity to iron will. Cancer's universal solvent of constant emotional transformation melts rigid determinism into flexible freedom, solid facts into fluctuating feelings, linear logic into open possibilities. Its powerful currents of subconscious sentiment generate our more ephemeral brainwaves of consciousness.
Cancer's moodiness reflects the changing phases of its ruler, Moon, racing through the zodiac faster than any other planet, shifting shape every day. It feels the poignancy of life's brevity, a wistful sense of just how short and precious our life on Earth really is. It tenderly remembers the shadowy forbears who shaped us, and the halcyon days of our own lives, so soon passed and lost. 'Who knows where the time goes?'
Cancer registers the flood and ebb of biorhythms, the pulse of interior seasons. It also reaches farther back to their cosmic generation by the waxing/waning pull of our Moon. Moon complements Earthly vitality from a different center of subconscious gravity. It guides all other factors of our cosmic environment into manifestation by a subtle attraction (see 'Moon'). Cancer dissolves them into a stream of consciousness. And even more so of unconscious wish and will. Cancer melts the diversity of Moon's planetary reflections into a flow of psychological phases.
Like water these have no definite shape. They act as the medium of deep psychic movements. And as waves of immediate impulse. Cancer embodies a responsive vehicle for astral signals beyond the reach of rational understanding. It condenses the intangible vibrations of an extraterrestrial lunar soul into individual awareness. It unites the potentials of timeless unconscious and eternal spirit into the reality of temporal expression. Cancer receives rather than sends; absorbs celestial frequencies into its own microcosmic rhythms.
Cancer births the full circle of time into an immediate point of origin. Origins are inaccessible to mind and memory. Who remembers their own birth? Yet what moment could be more important? Only the Now, if truly embraced.
Yet Cancer's conservative posture also shields a fragile persona from such overwhelming realities. Its ghostly echoes of the past and faint premonitions of the future come to term slowly and cautiously. It requires a long gestation and generations of development. Nine months in the womb, and a lifetime incarnate on Earth, express but a drop in its ocean of the collective unconscious. Yet that tiny drop can become the seed of a larger life.
Cancer assimilates universal energies into a personal quality. It transmutes instincts into sensibilities, grows common drives into individual dreams. It melds inner experience and outer sensation into a singular soul, a unique representation of the world.
Cancer manifests the subjective organizing principle that guides psychological evolution. The next sign, Leo, will radiate this forth as its creative statement.