The History of Cancer
The sign of Cancer does not coincide with the Cancer constellation. In the zodiac, it takes the fourth 30 degrees of the circle and begins with the first day of summer. Cancer is a cardinal sign, which means it marks the start of a season in the same way as Aries marks the beginning of spring. In the ancient times, the constellation of Cancer was positioned at the same place as the most northerly location of the Sun, representing the summer solstice.
Its name is Latin for crab, but we can hardly recognize the looks of a constellation with a naked eye. It looks more like an upside-down letter “Y”. It is the dimmest of all zodiacal constellations, located between Gemini and Leo. It was often considered the “Dark Sign”, described as black and without eyes because of its dim appearance. Cancer (the crayfish or crab) is said to have been a place for the Mesopotamian Sun of the South and was afterwards associated with the fourth month Duzu that falls in June-July of the modern western calendar. It was also known as the Northern Gate of the Sun.
The myth of Cancer
The myth of Cancer is probably the shortest myth of all. It speaks about a family mess as a consequence of one of Zeus’ infidelities that resulted in birth of Heracles, one of the greatest Greek heroes. Hera, the wife of Zeus, hated Heracles out of jealousy and wanted him gone. While he was fighting the great Hydra, out of love for Hera, a crab sneaked in and pinched Heracles’ foot. As a result, he smashed the crab with one step, and that is mostly the end of it.
There is mention of another way to interpret Cancer, through the role of the giant crab that Poseidon, the god of the sea, put in charge to keep his nymphs safe. He was mostly successful in his endeavors, but got tricked by the “vampire squid” that he sent to save a couple of nymphs who got away. As a result of the fight with the squid, he was crippled and because of his immortality, in pain forever.
The connection between the Cancer myth and the Cancer zodiac sign
A myth of Cancer shows someone who is not aware of their true strength. People who are in connection with the sign or the constellation of Cancer, have to deal with a family mess and often have prejudice against those hated by their mother, their ruler or their wife. They can also be true patriots, loyal to their “queen”, as well as overly protective. They are easily convinced to go into battle, even if they are only to pose as collateral damage. This myth points to those who are overly sensitive, but ready to charge on a much bigger enemy because their emotions prevail over logic. If they take on more than they can handle, they could end up getting hurt and even be crippled for life.