Every zodiac sign represents some sort of being, some more intuitive than others. The lion represents the zodiac sign, Leo. This makes total sense because Leos are fierce, loyal, often aggressive leaders who don’t apologize for anything. The Virgin represents Virgos, which makes phonetic sense and matches the Virgo’s practical, independent, and guarded nature. Some of the other representations, however, take a little more digging to really understand. One of the biggest question marks when looking at zodiac symbols is the Cancer crab.
Where Does the Crab Come From?
All zodiac names are derived from the Latin word for whatever their physical representation is. In Latin, “Capricornus” literally means “horned like a goat,” thus the goat represents Capricorns. The literal Latin translation of “cancer” is “crab.” But why did early astrologers choose a crab in the first place?
Cancer’s constellation fits into the mythological story of Hercules. Hercules was battling a multi-headed monster named Hydra, which was the second of twelve labors he had to perform as a form of self-punishment for killing his family. The story goes that the goddess Hera sent a giant crab down to distract Hercules. However, he immediately destroyed it as well as Hydra. Hera placed the crabs remains in the sky, which is supposedly what we see in the Cancer constellation today.
The entire Cancer constellation system is extremely difficult to see with the naked eye. In the Northern Hemisphere, it can be seen in early spring, while in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s visible during fall. It looks less like a crab and more like an upside-down “Y,” and you’ll only be able to locate it on the clearest night with the perfect conditions.
One of the most intriguing elements of the Cancer constellation is the planetary system 55 Cancri, which includes an exoplanet known as a “super-Earth” because it’s only a few times heavier than the planet we call home. It’s one of the lightest-weight planets ever discovered. In 2012, a study suggested that the planet had a graphite surface overlying a massive layer of diamond, subsequently nicknaming it “diamond world.” In 2013, a new study found that the planet was composed of less carbon than originally hypothesized, making the diamond layer less likely. Still, the name stuck.
What About the Cancer Glyph?
Each zodiac sign has a “glyph” that represents the sign rather than typing out the full-length name, which for signs like Sagittarius and Capricorn is rather necessary. The Cancer glyph looks like a sideways “69,” seemingly having nothing to do with the crab, but the glyph is typically likened to crab claws. It’s also often seen as a woman’s breasts because Cancer represents motherhood and maternal nurturing. The glyph above is a minimalist image of the sideways “69,” but you can find more artistic manifestations that more clearly depict a woman’s breasts or a pair of crab claws.
What Does the Crab Symbolize?
The origin story behind the Cancer’s crab representation is one of deceit and defeat, but the symbolism of the Cancer crab is anything but dishonest and weak. Cancers are soft, compassionate water signs with Cardinal orientation, making them the maternal, nurturing caretaker of the zodiac. We often associate them with the strength and sensitivity that goes hand-in-hand with femininity, and they gravitate towards things that make them feel comfortable and gives them a sense of home.
Crabs unsurprisingly represent themes of protection because of their identifying hard shell that keeps them safe from exterior elements. Cancers are soft and vulnerable on the inside but often are only willing to show that side of them to those who they believe to be worthy of coming into their homes.
The crab’s shell also makes it a perfect candidate to represent rebirth, as the crab periodically casts off its shell for a new one. Cancers have a habit of getting comfortable in a situation and forgetting that the only constant in life changes. They should harness their crab energy to remember the cyclical and ever-changing nature of their lives.
The crab personality
Though a few species are capable of moving directly forward, crabs are known for the way they walk sideways towards their destination. This serves as a reminder that obstacles are inevitable and sometimes the direct path towards a goal is not the only effective one.
Crab claws are extremely strong, and when the crustacean latches onto something, they’re not likely to let it go anytime soon. Cancers are similar in the way they find the people, places, and things that make them comfortable and they truly care about, and they do everything in their power to preserve it. This can serve as a positive aspect for Cancers, as they are extremely giving, loyal, and caring of the people they love. It can also have a negative side, as sometimes they are unwilling to let go of things that are not necessarily good for them.
Crabs are also tied to the Moon, which is Cancer’s ruling planet. The Moon is often seen as the guardian of the ocean and all that inhabit it, including the crab. They are both tied to protective and maternal themes.
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