The Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, initiates the month of Cancer - June 20th through July 21st. The pendulum has swung as far toward the light as it can. It hesitates, caught in a moment of stillness before beginning the plunge back toward darkness.
The sign Cancer is the first of the water signs. The water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) are associated with emotions and feelings. Cancer natives are sensitive, compassionate, sentimental and nurturing. This sign is ruled by the Moon and associated with the archetype of the mother. Cancers, whether male or female, place great importance on the emotional context of their associations. Most important to them is what others are feeling - not what they think.
Cancer individuals often work as cooks, counselors, psychologists, child care workers and teachers - but excel in many other areas of life as well. Whatever profession they choose they lead with their emotions. They must feel in harmony with the emotional environment around them.
Sensitivity to the immediate environment is a major aspect of the Cancer personality. All of the water signs are in some way psychic. Cancer individuals intuitively pick up on the emotions of those around them, and internalize other people's emotional expression. They literally experience an upswing in their own mood when surrounded by happy people and a down turn when around troubled or unhappy people. This sensitivity to the mood of those around them, and the tendency to internalize others' feelings, contributes to the reputation Cancer has for moodiness.
Cancer individuals also have a reputation for being defensive. They are easily hurt and are affected deeply by the barbs of others, both real and imagined. They are sometimes fearful of change, with an overwhelming need for security and stability. When in this mode, the Cancer native peers fearfully out at the world behind a wall of defensive behavior, imagining danger and rejection around every corner.
Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac. This is the point on the zodiacal wheel where the first three signs are merged. The fiery, instinctive "desire to be" of Aries, the grounding of that energy in the body in Taurus, and the mental awakening of Gemini, are integrated together to create an individual - Leo. Cancer is the process of that integration - not the individual. Cancer is a very active sign. It is, along with Aries, Libra and Capricorn, a cardinal sign. The cardinal signs move from one stage of development to another. They are not about the destination. They are about the movement - the transition - from one stage to the next. Cancer - the sign that so wants security and stability and wants to avoid change - is always in movement. The process is never completed.
The symbol for Cancer is the crab - the sea creature who carries his home on his back. This symbol carries great meaning for these individuals. They must learn to be at home within themselves. If they look for their sense of safety and security within themselves, rather than without in the world, then they will be safe and secure. Change is, after all, inevitable. Finding the center within oneself makes it possible to weather any of life's storms. This is the challenge of Cancer.