In his book, Astrology published 1964, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but a poet and scholar, gathered together much of interest from a variety of sources, ancient and modern. On zodiac sign Cancer, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from a variety of professional astrologers. This extract was not copied and pasted from elsewhere, but copy-typed by my own fair fingers, by the way, with illustrations added.
Cancer by ErtéIn spite of its name, Cancer is a homey, motherly sign, but also perhaps the most vulnerable. It is the sign of the summer solstice, from which it will be nine months before Aries comes around again; it can therefore be regarded as a symbol of fecundation and conception. As with the other signs, Barbault makes much of its position in the year, forgetting that many other countries have their spring and summer at different times from his. But on the symbolism of this sign and the psychology of Cancer people, he is at his most eloquent and suggestive. Because it is a cardinal sign and the first of the watery signs, he treats it as symbolizing the primal water - les eaux-mères - in the same way that Aries symbolizes the primal fire. It therefore stands for our ancestral origins, all organic life being assumed to have begun in the waters. It also stands, like the sea, for both intuition and introversion. It is the one and only sign ruled by the Moon, so Cancerian qualities are very much the same as the lunar qualities. The Moon, it will be remembered, is Our Lady of the Waters.Astrologers mentioned:
In accordance with this watery character, Barbault says that the Cancer type tends to be un végétatif. [Huh?] And the Cancer man (it is easier to be a Cancer woman and work it out in motherhood and the home) is often unduly feminine; as Pearce puts it, "effeminate in constitution and disposition". Cancer people can easily become "drowned in their own insecurity": They are over-emotional and sub-active. But there is another side to the picture. In its earlier pictorial representations Cancer was drawn as a crayfish, a creature that can give one a terrible nip. And even crabs, however soft inside, have a very hard shell and are difficult to dislodge from their chosen crannies. So throughout the centuries this sign has stood for tenacity. Not only of purpose but also for tenacity of memory - especially memory of childhood. Which brings us around to the home again. "Cherchez la mère", writes Barbault "et vous trouverez le Cancer!"
From illustration by Ronald Searle
This sign, however, stands for not only motherly people but mother-fixated people. Being extremely sensitive, it is in fact a sign of many colors and moods. Many astrologers consider that it makes excellent teachers (or actresses) and in it Barbault distinguishes what appear on the surface to be two quite different types: the stay-at-home, sufficient-unto-the-day type and the explorative, castles-in-the-air type. (Actually, he would not claim that these are more than subtypes.)
Earlier astrologers laid less stress on the profundities and sensitivities of this sign and more on its crab nature. According to Varley, Cancer tends to give "a crabbed, short-nosed class of persons, greatly resembling a crab in features, when viewed in front; these people resemble crabs, also, in the energy and tenacity with which they attack any object." And in spite of his shy and retiring nature a Cancer friend can be a social asset. Gleadow advises anyone about to give a dinner party: "If you want to know about food or wine ask Cancer." (He adds unkindly: "And if you want someone who will not object to whatever you do choose Pisces.")
So there is Cancer, the only sign ruled by the Moon. Water, water. everywhere - but also tenacity and patience, maternal love, understanding of others, extreme sensitivity, and introversion. And next door to it, with the usual dramatic juxtaposition, what should we find but the only sign ruled by the Sun?
Morrish (L. Furze-Morrish?)