Cancer: Nurturing the Path Towards Soul Part II
ARCHETYPES AND MYTHS
This sign Cancer is so important right now. I feel it is pivotal as we live through these turbulent times of dissolution and change to understand the deeper levels of just what it means to connect with Soul. Cancer provides the archetypes for understanding this path in a way that no other sign quite exemplifies. I live in a country, the United States of America, which was born with Sun, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury all in Cancer. The profound effects of this nation upon the rest of the world are directly connected with how it has utterly failed to live up to its birth potential spiritually, but first we need to understand just what that potential is by understanding the sign Cancer itself.
Archetypal Mother and Child
The relationship between mother and child is paramount to understanding the archetypal meaning of Cancer. In the natural world, of which humans are a part, new life emerges from the female and it is primarily, but not always, her function to then nurture that new life. The human baby is extremely helpless and vulnerable during its first year of life and needs constant and immediate attention to all of its needs. This requires devotion and unconditional love on the part of whoever acts as ‘mother.’ If these needs are met, the infant can progress easily into the toddler stage where continued protection and safety measures are again provided by the nurturing parent as the growing child explores itself and its immediate surroundings by learning to crawl and then walk. Active nurturance and protection must still be provided right up to the point where the child is ready to enter the greater collective through school usually, though the growing competence and skills necessary to do that are increased in proportion to the quality of parenting and care provided.
Our human race would not have survived had not these instinctive urges been present in our pre-historic ancestors who then imprinted succeeding generations to continue the life-cycle of child to adult becoming parent to child again. The innocence of Cancer as child is fully intended to the caring and wise parent someday. The nurturing parent has learned to be nurturing by experiencing it first as a child.
What has traditionally broken this natural cycle are cataclysmic events which destroy the fabric of family life such as plagues, natural calamities, and even more so, wars. Wars tear families asunder and destroy the entire safety net that the home provides. Wars can also give other humans license to hurt, maim, and kill even innocent children. In our modern era wars and ‘cold wars’ are everywhere present creating a climate of fear and anxiety for many of the world’s children. In addition, since the Industrial Revolution and the aftermath of World War II the fabric of traditional family life and domesticity has been further eroded. The high level of free-floating anxiety that is in children today is often the result of a depersonalized world that feels hostile and unnatural. It is increasingly difficult for children from broken homes, homes where both parents have to work, single parent homes where one parent must play both father and mother roles, and a host of other mixed-up, strange and convoluted family dynamics where nurturing at the most basic of levels is often missing to grow with trust and innocence first in order to gain the confidence and caring qualities that will create naturally good parents in them someday.
Is it any wonder that so many therapists are now needed to help mend all these broken and fractured souls who are having a difficult time finding the inner foundation to build trust and self-esteem?
Every Cancerian or anyone having a preponderance of Cancer energy must face some of these issues during their lifetimes. This is the ‘Soul Work’ of Cancer. Have I been nurtured correctly based on my special needs? Can I nurture someone, or something else in a mature and loving way?
A key to where these issues lie for each Cancer is in the house where the Sun, Moon, or stellium of Cancer planets fall. For example: an 11th house placement would be much more in need of nurturing friends, members of the greater community, or even other people’s children, while a 9th house placement might find the nurturance need to be one of good teachers in higher education, and perhaps foreign service involving nurturance of others far from the original place of birth. A first house placement of Cancer energies would need to make sure they were nurtured properly as a unique individual, and then become that nurturing unique soul as a major part of their lifetime identity.
The Goddess and the Egg
The sign Cancer lends itself well to a number of mythic goddess stories. Some deal with actual creation myths introducing the ‘Cosmic Womb’ stories. The Age of Cancer is said to have been the era of Goddess Worship and cultures on this planet from approximately 8,000 B.C. to 6,000 B.C.
Two illustrations rendered by Benjamin Vierling show these archetypes in symbolic form. He has written about them in a most articulate way,
“Utilizing the conventional symbol for Cancer, I have embellished it with a few subtle elements to add depth to the myth. Most immediately, the back of the crab is adorned with a Goddess figure, inspired from ancient sculptures and cave paintings. The Goddess is a strong representation of those qualities in Cancer which seek to nurture and encourage the perpetuation of life.
The egg which hovers within the enclosed claws of the Crab is a particularly appropriate symbol for which I will give some background. In the preceding sign of Gemini the self fully became aware of the ‘other’. Now, in Cancer, the self seeks to establish a relationship with that other whilst maintaining the integrity of the self. The hard shell that has come to be associated with Cancer is the crystallization of ones boundaries. The archetype of Cancer is not only aware of the dangers of losing the self to the other, but has an innate understanding of the others instinctual needs as well, thus manifesting a paradox in its own right.
Because the Cancer energy is so receptive to the needs of others, it must guard against depletion. The concept of ‘Home’ is closely linked to this impulse due to the drive to manifest a ‘safe’ environment in which one can replenish the self. A ‘Home’ is also necessary to incubate the eggs. We think of Cancer as the nurturing mother that protects her young. In this case it is the incubation of the egg.
This next illustration depicts a nest filled with Eggs. Cancer is not only the Nest, but the process of protecting those eggs and insuring that the life within them births with optimum results.
In integrating the symbols of both Goddess and Egg, we can look as far back into history as the Paleolithic times. The egg of course contains the germinating essence of the universe. The world egg is said to have been born of the primordial sea; the womb of the Goddess. In many cave paintings in what is now France and Spain, the Mother Goddess is represented as a bird deity residing over the egg of her creation. As the symbol developed, the egg became a jar in which the soul awaits rebirth. What is most significant historically however, is that the Neolithic era saw tribes of hunter-gatherers evolve into crop cultivating settlements. In this environment the Goddess archetype took new forms. With the prosperity of Agriculture the Goddess evolved from a vessel of creation into a divinity of blessing whose grace was appealed to insure healthy crops. This era most astutely describes the role of Cancer. The value of protecting and nurturing is something beyond price.”
The complexities of the actual Goddess deities arise from the phasal quality of the Moon herself. I will illustrate with just three of these:
Artemis/Diana, Goddess of the Hunt
She correlates with the Waxing New Moon phase as she asked her father, Zeus, to allow her to remain a virgin forever. Why? She wanted to be free to remain wild, to run with wild things in nature, and be forever innocent of the ways ‘of men’. Nonetheless she was a great huntress and pursued her prey with her bow and arrow. She was said to be merciless in punishing adulterous women, yet she ardently protected pregnant women and was considered the goddess of childbirth to whom sacrifices and wild animals were offered by those who worshipped her.
The Artemis type of Cancerian can be one of two types: like the Crescent Moon pointing outwards, they can be quite nomadic, great nature lovers who enjoying roaming the wild places of the earth and becoming a part of the natural world. They can also, like the Crescent Moon pointing inwards, be actively engaged with their own inner world, pursuing zealously their own chimeras, beasts, and dark ideas within the subconscious as writers, playwrights, actors and actresses, or any other highly creative type.
Full Moon Selene Helen
This Full Moon deity comes from Greek mythology meaning ‘bright, shining one’. She traditionally was shown with the crescent moon diadem, yet she has come to represent the absolute fullness of life as Queen of the Starlit heavens. She fell in love with a mortal, Endymion, and made her descent to earth to be with him. Alas, the union for him pulled him into the unconscious forever, from which he never awakened. It must be that those caught in the rapture of the dreamworld find it extremely difficult to move back into their more logical left brain. The paradox is that Full Moon times are often intended for getting clear and having realizations. It always seems to be about maintaining the right balance.
Dark Moon Hecate
Goddess of the Dead and of Hades, Hecate holds the keys to the underworld because these are the places that prepare us for regeneration, just as the waning dark period of the moon transitions us to the next New Moon. In this journey through the shadow lands, Hecate appeared with her torch which gave off a very hazy, ghostly light.
Cancerians who bear this archetypal imprint are often the bearers of indirect knowledge, likened to a reflection of the Sun which can not be explained by logic alone. They work more intensely with the intuitive realms which must be felt, or indirectly seen. Many psychics, mediums, and intuitives bear this signature and act as guides to those who are stuck or lost in their own underworld where guilt, remorse, and shame have bound them. As guides they illuminate the way out, and back towards the light.
I will be writing one more Part III to this series on Cancer. The next article will include Cancer in Relationship, Cancer Men, and personality profiles, including the United States of America.