Cancer: Backwards Not Forwards

The sign of Cancer is associated with one’s initial explorations of their own emotional depths. The stage of growth during which our first feelings are stirred, during which our first attempts to seek out and receive affection, comfort, and safety are made. What happens to the rest of our close relationships is determined by the feelings that were returned. Cancer’s feelings have a tendency to regress towards the past. Virginia Wolfe argues that we can only feel wholeheartedly about the past, rather than the present. So, in this perspective, the past is the Full Moon. Staying in one phase of life for too long, though, might cause us to lose touch with the here and now. Or, it’s hard to plan for the future if we can’t stop dwelling on what has been and gone.

Been and Gone

Nothing from the past can ever be brought back, and so we are doomed to perpetual regret, nostalgia, and looking back. In astrology, we talk about planets that go into retrograde, but in Cancer, the sign of the crab, everything is constantly being reevaluated, re-thought, re-imagined, and revisited. The Cancerian is the archetype of introspection, turning inwards, not outwards, backwards not forwards, and subconscious rather than conscious thought. At times when life is really trying, we tend to retreat into the protective arms of Cancer. Cancer is ruled by the emotions and is regarded to be the point at which we first develop a strong bias towards certain things in life.

The Mood Swinger

That this sign’s moods (ruled by the Moon) swing so widely is logical, given that introspection can evoke a wide range of feelings. Emotional arousal often results in unexpected reactions. It’s easy to overreact to trivial matters while we’re feeling emotionally charged. In other words, the intensity of our responses tends to be disproportionate to the actual threat. All water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) are characterised by their strong, often irrational, blind emotions. Not only does the Moon control our ability to rewind time, return to the past, and recall past experiences, but this planet also controls how we respond to those events.

The Full Moon

The Moon goes through an entire cycle of birth and death, symbolising the rebirth of all things. The Moon is eternally in opposition to the forward-moving, life-giving Sun. Day and night, light and dark, awake and asleep—these polar opposites are reflected in the Sun and Moon. The concepts of “manifestation” and “non-manifestation” as applied to the Yin and Yang of our being.  Here today, gone tomorrow. Though knowing our previous selves provides some measure of comfort, tomorrow’s unknown circumstances leave us wondering if we will even recognise ourselves. This is the kind of unpredictability that the Moon and Cancer are afraid of.

You can be pretty sure, in these cases, that childhood holds some memories that Cancer would rather forget. Many Cancers are perpetual wanderers, always seeking roots somewhere else. Often they are running away — from the past, from childhood, from Mother. It is about an eternal waning and waxing of life – like the moon, which rules Cancer. Cancer is a sign of phases, of cycles. The Cancer individual experiences these ebbs and flows of life-force, of creativity, of joy and sorrow, perpetually through his life. He is closer to the natural processes of Mother Earth than any other sign; many Cancers are in fact extremely vulnerable to the changes in climate and season, and go into a kind of hibernation during the winter. They may be slightly depressed, or listless, or lacking energy. Then, when the spring comes, they come to life again. Cancer is a sign of great complexity and depth. On the surface, you may catch the Cancer playing any role — he is a born actor, and his sense of camouflage and self-protection always compels him to play a part in any social situation. He may be giddy, giggly, moody, whining, sullen and sulky, affectionate, passionate, withdrawn, ecstatic. You can never be sure how he’s going to wake up in the morning. But beneath the kaleidoscope of shifting feelings and moods, beneath the hard carapace shown to an unfriendly world, there is this perpetual cycle of death and rebirth, of winter and spring and summer and autumn. This is why it is important for Cancer to be creative, to express himself emotionally in some way. Astrology for Lovers