Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cancer the Crab

funky red crab from medieval text
This is an illustration from a medieval book of astrology. Yeah, it looks more like a lobster to me, too. But it's meant to be the crab, representing the astrological sign of Cancer.

It always confused me as a little girl, why one of the Zodiac signs was named for an awful disease. People got cancer and died. My sign was Leo and Leo the Lion was awesome, sunny and rampaging through the sky. Leo's inverted question mark constellation hung bright in my summer skies, always easy to pick out.

I didn't know any people who had the Cancer sign, but I felt sorry for them. My mom was a Pisces. My stepdad was a Libra, as was my best friend. No disease people.

It's odd, really that the very general syndrome of cancerous conditions - loosely defined as a disease in which the cells of a tissue undergo uncontrolled (and often rapid) proliferation - borrowed the word "cancer." The astrological term predated it, being the Latin word cancer that borrowed the Greek word for crab, καρκίνος or karkinos. The word was eventually applied to cancerous tumors because the enlarged veins resembled the legs of a crab.

Not the same thing at all.

The crab is the symbol for the astrological sign, because of the constellation. Wikipedia calls it "a relatively small constellation with mostly faint stars that lies in the northern hemisphere."

I think I can safely say I've never picked it out in real life, although it's predominant at the same time as the far brighter and more glamorous Leo.

But that's always Cancer's way.

Cancer is one month before my Leo and it's opposite in all ways. Cancer is the moon to Leo's sun; the water to Leo's fire. Where Leo is vain and needs petting, Cancer is nurturing.

Even the story from Greek mythology is kind of dull. Wikipedia (hey - it's easy to cut and paste :D) says: Cancer is identified with the crab that appeared while Hercules was fighting the many-headed Hydra. The crab bit Hercules on the foot, Hercules crushed it and then the goddess Hera, a sworn enemy of Hercules, placed the crab among the stars.


I mean, how unglamorous can you get?

Except, I finally met a Cancer person. The man who's become the moon of my particular universe. David, my July birthday man, is my opposite pole in so many ways. Where I am all impatient simmer, he's relaxed and laid back. I give him the kick to get going and he asks me if I really have to do that RIGHT NOW. He cools me down and I fire up him up. Together we make a powerful team - the sun and moon, joining forces.

Best of all, he pets me and tells me I'm beautiful. He cooks me food and gives me acupuncture, herbs and body work when I don't feel good.

Cancer people are awesome.


Oh! And also!

This week a group of us writer-types from SFWA (Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America) are staging a sale of sf/fantasy books. We’ll be nattering about this and cross-posting all over the Internet. This is an opportunity to pick up some good reading material at great prices. Read more here!


  1. Hmm... the Dutch much have looked at that picture, because here we call the Cancer zodiac sign Kreeft (=lobster)
    And I agree on Cancer people being awesome. The owner's OtherHalf is one as well.

    1. Ha - funny on both counts! Interesting that there's some lobster/crab crossover. I wonder why the confusion? And yay for OtherHalfs being Cancers!

  2. Replies
    1. You can pet me and nurture me anytime, Tammy. ;-)

  3. I'm a cancer and my husband is a Leo. We complement each other in every way.

    1. Isn't it cool, Heather? But according to astrology, we're supposed to be bad matches. WE KNOW!

    2. In older astrology posts, it always said cancer and Leo would be a bad match, but in more recent articles, the Cancer Leo match is considered a good team. Of course, I have always believed that opposites attract. It's way more interesting that way. To be honest, I really wouldn't want to be with someone like me. I revel in our differences which leads to wonderful experiences.

    3. Totally agree! Interesting that more recent articles have revised their take on it. :D