The Cancer Personality and Everything About This Sign

The Cancer Personality and Everything About This Sign

Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, is all about home. Those born under this horoscope sign are ‘roots’ kinds of people, and take great pleasure in the comforts of home and family.

Cancers are maternal, domestic, and love to nurture others. More than likely, their family will be large, too—the more, the merrier! Cancers will certainly be merry if their home life is serene and harmonious.

Traditions are upheld with great zest in a Cancer’s household, since, as the rulers of the fourth house of home and memory, this zodiac sign prizes family history and loves communal activities. They also tend to be patriotic, waving the flag whenever possible. A Cancer’s good memory is the basis for stories told around the dinner table, and don’t be surprised if these folks get emotional about things. Those born under this sign wear their heart on their sleeve, which is just fine by them.

Cancer Symbolism + Myth
The constellation known as Cancer has its roots in many ancient civilizations, where it has been identified as various hard-shelled mythological creatures. In Egyptian belief, it was associated with the scarab, the symbol of immortality. The connection with the afterlife continues into Babylonian culture, where Cancer was thought to be the god that was the guide to the passage through the underworld and death.

The Crab makes an appearance in Greek legend, with its notable part in the tale of Hercules battling the Hydra. Karkinos, the Crab, was sent by the goddess Hera, who was not a fan of Hercules, to distract him and give the Hydra an advantage. When Karkinos bites Hercules on the foot, he kills him by cracking his shell. As a reward for risking his life to do Hera’s bidding, Karkinos is placed in the heavens, to shine for eternity.

Cancer Element, Mode, and Season
Summer Solstice
In the western tropical zodiac, Cancer season begins on June 21, commencing the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the time of year when the sun’s heat and light are at its peak, with daylight outweighing the night hours. From this point, the days slowly begin to decrease toward the Autumn Equinox, representing the second seasonal pivot of the year.

Cancer’s connection with nurturance, sustenance, and rejuvenation is mirrored in the bounty of energy and resources in the Summer months.

Cardinal Mode
Cancer is the second of the four cardinal signs of the zodiac, who all hold elemental energy of initiation and leadership at the beginning of the four seasons. Cancer season is the beginning of Summer, where the light and energy are in abundance. This definitive, nourishing seasonal quality is the root of Cancer’s strong cardinal authority and nature as an archetype.

Water Element
Ruled by the moon, Cancer’s element is water, the second heaviest element, thought by ancient astrologers to be the fluid, adaptive, yet a tangible form of matter. Water represents the moistening and cohering principle that binds and connects all forms of nature.

Without it, nothing that takes a material form could “stick” together. Water fertilizes earth so that nature and creativity can incubate and bloom. Cancer’s affinity for nurturance, protection, and leadership in melding people into family units are all akin to the consolidating connectivity of the water element.

cancer zodiac sign
Cancer Planetary Rulership
Domicile of the moon
In classical astrology, the moon was assigned rulership of Cancer exclusively. The moon is the luminary of the night, a receptacle and reflector of the sun’s vital rays, guiding us in the darkness. Classically, the moon was thought to be the protector of the earth, interceding between us and the bold, active, and divine rays of the other powerful planets.

Like a mother bird breaking down food into a more palpable form, the moon filters the intensive cosmic rays for all life in her “sublunary realm” so that we are not overwhelmed or destroyed by their powers.
One wonders if the ancients saw the moon’s craters as evidence that she was shielding us from potential cosmic hits. These are where some of the maternal qualities of the moon were observed to be at work, giving the moon in Cancer a special potency and divinity while at home in the Crab’s sign.

In the watery and protective sign of cancer, the moon can be as nurturing, emotive, and as intuitive of a force on the psyche and in the cosmos, as she likes to be. Regardless of the gender they identify with, those with the moon in Cancer will have a strong maternal, protective, emotive, and psychic energy in their core nature.

Detriment of Saturn
Ruled by the moon, Cancer is in polarity with the cardinal earth sign Capricorn. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn is cool, reserved, and strongly pragmatic. Being innately practical, at times stern, and mistrustful of vulnerability, Saturn-ruled Capricorn is a contrast to moon-ruled Cancer, whose insular and emotive instincts wire this archetype to be innately maternal and intuitive.

Imagine a stern and unyielding Saturn in Cancer’s soft, sentimental, and somewhat dreamy world. Saturn in the moon’s sign would have to somewhat compensate for this “detriment,” being somewhat out of their element in this fluid environment.

This may simply mean that natives born with this placement may either tend to have protective barriers around their emotions, or they may blend Saturn’s judgement with Cancer’s emotiveness, to be inordinately defensive and self-protective. It can have a Saturnian effect on the moods of these natives, making them prone to bouts of sadness and depression.

This placement could also cause the native to place many rules and restrictions around themselves when it comes to their emotional engagements with others, and they may be prone to holding long grudges if they are hurt or crossed. Saturn compensating in Cancer may also present a strong instinct to protect others who are vulnerable, in their communities, or their societies at large.

Exaltation of Jupiter
Jupiter, the planet of belief, benevolence, and opportunity, has a specially exalted place in Cancer. Here, the Jupiterian powers of mentorship and affirmation blend uniquely well with Cancer’s nurturing and protective qualities.

This placement can combine to produce great teachers, parents, spiritual guides, and may amplify the Cancerian psychic abilities. Depending on how or where Jupiter in the moon’s sign is placed in a person’s birth chart, it can be a very lucky placement that offers prosperity and privileges to the native, that in their generosity they will no doubt share with others.


Fall of Mars 

Mars was said to be exalted in Capricorn by classical astrologers, where he can uniquely and constructively express his tenacious martial powers.
When in the opposite sign of Cancer, Mars was said to be in his fall, which may not pose as strong of an adaptive challenge as a detriment might, yet still puts the planetary force somewhat out of its comfort zone. It points to ways that Mars’ typically aggressive and divisive energies present as somewhat volatile, in that they often vacillate between being over or underutilized in the life of the native.

As a sign, Cancer promotes soothing, nurturing, and healing, where Mars promotes inflaming, confronting, and competing, so the watery influence of Cancer may squelch the abilities to be assertive and take initiative.
In the interest of not hurting others, Mars in Cancer natives may suppress, or deny their anger, causing it to fester and come out in untimely ways. The insight that natives with this placement gain in melding these very different energies are found in how they create balance and set appropriate boundaries when dealing with anger. They may have to find activities to vent their frustrations so that they do not become inordinately defensive, or overly protective of those that they love.

This placement can also be seen as the use of martial talents in Cancerian ways. For example, Mars’ affinity with fire and sharp knives blended with Cancer’s love of nurturing, could produce passionate cooks and chefs.

Cancer House Rulership
The Fourth House
In the modern astrology system of the Twelve Letter Alphabet, each zodiac sign rules one of the twelve houses in the birth chart. This innovation was created by psychological astrologers to match sign affinities to related house topics.

Cancer was assigned the fourth house of ancestry, roots, and home since Cancer’s watery, emotive, and protective expressions are aligned with the concerns of this house. Since Cancer is ruled by the receptive and reflective moon, it invites a nurturing sub-signature to the fourth house.

The Third House
In classical astrology, Cancer’s planetary ruler of the moon was said to find her “joy” in the third house of siblings, neighbors, and short-term travel in the birth chart. The third house was also called the house of “the goddess” by classical astrologers, meaning it was connected to the nocturnal passage into the mysteries of sleep, dreaming, and regeneration that the moon ruled over.

The third house is in polarity with the ninth, where the sun was said to find its joy, being connected to longer, yearly solar perambulations and travels. By contrast, the moon, with its swift movement around the zodiac every month, was associated with shorter, more local travel, around one’s village or neighborhood. The moon, as a result, has some special potency or “dignity” in the third house of the birth chart.

Cancer Characteristics
Ruled by the moon, Cancer’s archetypal traits are derived from its receptive, feminine, or yin qualities, making this sign oriented toward contemplation, and engagement with inner awareness. Alive in both a Cancer woman or Cancer man, those born with the Crab as their rising, sun, or moon sign have a sensitive, intuitive, and protective awareness in the core of their personality; an echo of the life-supporting and sustaining energies of the Summer season.

As a cardinal sign, Cancer takes leadership in the roles of being a nurturer, host, protector, and caretaker. Those born with the sign of the Crab prominent in their charts are focused on forming and maintaining family ties. They are naturally empathic, sentimental, and home-loving by nature.


The primary Cancer strengths can be found in their kind, giving, and sympathetic natures. Always ready to host, and set a table, they can be counted on to feed and care for friends, family, and any weary traveler that stays in their home. With strong empathic powers and talents for healing, Cancer natives can sense what others need, often long before they have articulated it themselves.

The famous sideways walk of the Crab can be observed in the cautious way a Cancer native enters a space or social gathering. They tend to come in quietly, carefully surveying their surroundings, before they open and reveal their whole selves. This protective instinct makes Cancerians good at reading the emotional tone in a room, helping them anticipate danger or crisis early.

There is always something familiar about those born under the sign of the Crab, and those with this sign rising, especially, give people the uncanny feeling they have met them before. This quality has roots in this archetype’s connection to nurturing and building a home, often making people instantly feel at home with them.

The ease, familiarity, and trust they inspire allow those who meet them to open up in quickly, saying to the Cancerian “I feel like I could tell anything” or “It’s like I’ve known you my whole life.” This uncanny quality serves the Crab natives well in their roles and professions, which usually have some healing or nurturing aspect to them. Cancer natives are usually steadfast and loyal, and once you have been accepted into their hearts, and inner circle, they will be your friend for life.

No matter what gender Cancerians identify with, they often have a strong matriarchal presence in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Cancer natives have great sympathy for the underdog and the downtrodden, and though usually quiet and peaceable, their claws come out when protecting the vulnerable. They are also vigilant about protecting themselves, learning the importance of strong emotional and energetic boundaries from a young age.


Some potential weaknesses in the Cancer archetype are rooted in their great strengths. Though they love creating a comfortable home, they can become so emotionally and sentimentally connected to their space and their belongings, that it’s hard to let go and make changes when needed. Their natural giving tendencies, if unbalanced, can cause natives from this sign to over-identify with being needed. They could be vulnerable to projecting their neediness onto others, by enabling codependent relationships.

Cancerian emotional instincts can be protective, and helpful, but can also become overactive if they are not feeling healthy and grounded. This could lead them to become fearful, reclusive, and hyper-vigilant when exploring the outer world. Gentle Cancer naturally inspires trust in others; however, this can be taken advantage of, causing those born under the sign of the Crab to get caught doing too much emotional labor, and stuck holding other’s emotional baggage.

Like all water signs, Cancer is vulnerable to absorbing toxic energies, so if they are in healing or counseling work of some kind, they need to have cleansing practices. Breathing exercises, saunas, smudging, and protective aura visualizations are all ways the Cancer native can maintain a “psychic shell” to keep their energy clear.

Family, be that chosen or biological, are all important to Cancer, yet these natives need to beware of a tendency to be clannish, exclusive, and slow to trust outsiders. There may be good reasons for this caution, but it is still important for Cancer natives to keep this reflex in check so that they don’t hurt, reject, or alienate anyone who is feeling vulnerable.

The strong matriarchal tendencies of this archetype are a powerful asset but can be overdone, showing up in bossy, smothering, and even manipulative tendencies if the Cancer native is trying too hard to control their environment.

With the moon’s connection to the brain, Cancerians are famous for their long memories, making them prone to holding grudges. Others will feel the pinch of reactive, and sometimes hurtful words if they cross the Crab.
Shy and sensitive Cancer children will be well-nurtured if they are allowed to come out of their shells on their own time.

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