Cancer is one of the most misunderstood star signs in the zodiac in many circles.
With moods and emotions that shift and change like the tides, and with an outlook on life that shifts from optimism to pessimism and back like a clock pendulum, it can often feel confusing even for Cancer star sign folks themselves.
Yet much of the unfair rap Cancer people can get can be better appreciated if the time is taken to really get beneath that tough seashell exterior of these mysterious yet dependable people.
It’s about knowing how the Cancer symbol, the ruling planets and other factors all blend together.
Cancer zodiac signs are difficult to understand – here’s why.
The Cancer symbol – secrets of the deep
The Cancer zodiac symbol is one of balance and harmony, but also quite often inner turmoil.
The constellation, much like many arrangements of stars identified in ancient times to become the zodiac signs we know today, forms the shape of a deep sea creature.
Yet even from the outset, it’s easy to see why there can be confusion in knowing what the Cancer symbol is.
While commonly held today to represent the crab, the Cancer persona has also been characterised as a lobster or crayfish by many scholars of astrology too.
However, if you take a broader look at the common elements of these creatures, the Cancer symbol meaning begins to make more sense.
Each of these aquatic creatures hides their squishy bodies in a hard shell, and they have pincers to defend themselves and prefer shuffling along the sea or river bed where they can’t be disturbed.
If you’ve met a Cancer star sign individual or two in your lifetime, you’re likely already smiling at the similarities.
Cancer sun sign folks are those who prefer to live life in a way that isn’t interrupted, often feeling that by being out of sight they’re also out of mind.
They can be shy folks, meaning that much like a hermit crab, sometimes they need coaxing out of their shell.
And just like the vice-like grip of a crab or lobster’s claws, Cancer star sign people can hold onto a grudge, a passion or their money with tremendous inner strength.
The Cancer symbol meaning is of balance and care
If you look at the symbol for Cancer, or more specifically the glyph for the star sign as seen in artwork or a Cancer symbol tattoo, the idea of a crab is well represented from a certain point of view.
At first glance, it almost looks like someone has taken two commas and laid them one atop the other, head to tail.
This almost circular nature does much to distinguish the Cancer personality, but it also illustrates the idea of a crab’s claws.
The Cancer zodiac symbol also has a little in common with the yin-yang symbol of the Far East, and similarly, it is designed as such to represent harmony and balance.
Cancer star sign people don’t do well in disruptive or chaotic environments, and are certainly not fans of conflict or confrontation.
The idea of balance is also very important to Cancer people, but not in the same way you’d expect of someone born under the Libra star sign.
The Cancer symbol is one that shows how Cancer people are often trying to bring opposing ideas or points of view into harmony. They are often soothing people to be around, and therefore make excellent mediators.
However, that inner balance is also something they strive for in their own lives, looking to balance mind and heart, or love versus career, or the lighter and darker sides of their personality.
Cancer people don’t go looking for these kinds of conflicts of interest, but often sense them with their keen intuition regardless – such is the bittersweet gift of their sign.
Why the cancer symbol animal is a crab
Let’s dig a little deeper into why the crab, more even than the crayfish or lobster their constellation more accurately represents, has become such a signature Cancer symbol.
Cancer people are extremely reserved when you first meet them, and part of why this is so is that they are super sensitive.
Cancer folks get an unfair amount of criticism for this, being presumed to simply be unprepared for life’s school of hard knocks, but that isn’t a reasonable or accurate assertion.
In fact, Cancer people are extremely in tune with the emotional realm – not just in themselves, but in others.
If you’ve ever bumped into a friend in a coffee shop and they’ve said, without hesitation but in kind and hushed tones, “What’s wrong?” – without you even suggesting anything was! – you’ve likely met a compassion Cancer soul.
However, the Cancer symbol also takes its cues from the fact that a crab conceals its extremely vulnerable innards beneath a hard outer exoskeleton.
Many crabs go a step further, stubbornly dwelling in a beautiful spiral shell to further protect them.
This fondness crabs have for shells is what causes many astrologers to believe is a big reason why Cancer people are so house-proud, and deeply protective of their homes.
But the crab analogy goes even further in acting as the Cancer symbol animal.
Crabs have claws that can grasp tight, allowing the Cancer people to hold onto their money, love lives and friendships for a lifetime.
In fact, because of this, Cancer people have a hard time letting go even of people and events they know no longer serve their needs and interests.
But those same crab claws are a fantastic Cancer zodiac symbol because they can be used to defend loved ones and lash out in attack.
While a Cancer individual will seldom willingly seek out conflict, they are certainly not people prone to take any nonsense, and woe betide anyone mistaking their kindness and sensitivity for weakness.
In fact, a Cancer when riled can lash out with ferocity and some sore home truths that’d even give sinister Scorpio or prideful Leo pause for thought.
The elemental symbol for Cancer – water
It is perhaps unsurprising that the water element is a Cancer symbol, a pleasure that these souls share with their zodiac cousins, Scorpio and Pisces.
Each of the twelve zodiac signs is distinguished by one of the four elements, but even those who share an element interpret it in their personalities in different ways.
In our reality, water is one of the most versatile elements in existence. It can be vapour, liquid or a frozen solid. It can nurture life gently, or destroy it with unstoppable certainty.
When stopped from flowing, it naturally flows to another path – and when it is still, it becomes mysterious, swallowing the great secrets of humanity over the ages.
This changing nature, every aspect just described, effortlessly captures Cancer’s symbol meaning, yet also brings with it the idea of why Cancer people are so very confusing at times.
One day you’ll talk to your Cancer friend, and he or she will be sunshine and lollipops, bristling with energy. The next, he or she will be tight-lipped, sullen and barely able to muster the strength to move.
While some are keen to simply dismiss Cancer people as moody and move on, it’s an unfair justification to throw out.
The adaptability shown by water is just as true of a Cancer individual, and you’ll rarely meet anyone so gifted at shifting their looks, mannerisms and way of life to accommodate those important to them.
Like wonderful shapeshifters, Cancer people can go from a fancy dinner to a dirty demolition derby night out, then straight to a nightclub to dance until dawn, and treat each of these very disparate environments like their natural surroundings.
And of course, water is the great healer and nurturer, qualities a Cancer individual possesses in abundance.
Understanding the Cancer symbol of the moon
Every star sign in the conventional zodiac has a planet known as their native ruler.
It is said that the characteristics of this planet shape the personality of each sign, and although some planets are shared between star signs, the symbol for Cancer means that theirs is the moon.
You might chuckle and remark that that’s technically not a planet, but once you understand the deeper meaning of the Cancer symbol and the aspects of the moon that speak to them, you’ll see why Cancer souls would have it no other way.
For one thing, here on Earth, the moon helps stem and flow the tides of the ocean. This beautiful rhythm is one of the great wonders of nature, and proves that however far humanity has come, the sea can never be truly tamed.
Much like the changing tides and the cycling faces of the moon, from full to waning to new to crescent to waxing, Cancer emotional and mental states shift fast.
The moon’s intrinsic Cancer symbol role is therefore well deserved.
In mysticism, a similar appreciation of the moon does much to endear it to the Cancer sign. In tarot, for instance, the Moon card represents hidden knowledge and mystery.
These ideas appeal a lot to the Cancer individual, and their capacity for dealing in secrets, hidden in their secret shells, is well regarded.
The Cancerian symbolic meaning of black and white
As far as precious stones go, Cancer star signs are often attributed pearls. It makes sense, thanks to them being beautiful objects from beneath the water, but also pale like the moon.
Pearls are made by taking something ugly and creating wonder from it – something a Cancer soul aspires to, through healing and intelligence.
Yet while that often means that astrologers recommend pale blues or ghostly whites as lucky colours for Cancer souls, more often than not you’ll see them naturally gravitate to white and black combined, mixing and matching in their clothing and home décor for striking combinations.
Taking that light and dark and bringing them into intrinsic, even beautiful harmony is a big part of why a Cancer acts as they do.
And often without intending to, they blend black and white as a way of expressing joy in that harmonious Cancer symbolism, bringing the dark and light together to play with and contrast one another.
And once again, it ties together the idea of the Cancer symbol, seen in the glyph that represents this star sign, and Eastern concepts like the great circular depiction of yin-yang energy.
The black and white found in that iconic image is a big part of how Cancer people see the world.
Of course, that also means that it’s often up to those around them to help them see that life isn’t always just extremes of black and white as well!
Understanding the Cancer symbol – depth, balance, harmony
People born under the Cancer star sign need not seem so deep as to be unfathomable, and similarly, they don’t necessarily live their lives as the shy, sensitive and emotionally insecure people they’re often portrayed as.
Next time you’re daunted by wrestling off a clingy Cancer lover, take a moment to consider why the symbol for Cancer may have a part to play in their behaviour.
In short, that clinginess comes from their uncertainty, and their need to know that even as much as the waters of the inner world may shift, your love for them does not.
Likewise, Cancer people themselves would do well to continue learning that life isn’t always about grabbing what you can, dragging it down to the deep and clutching into it out of worry that it’ll leave or be taken from you.
To understand the Cancer symbol’s meaning behind this kind of behaviour gets you one step closer to understanding the Cancer individual altogether.
Harmony and kindness, given and received, are really all that’s needed to help them come out of their shells.
- The Cancer symbol – secrets of the deep
- The Cancer symbol meaning is of balance and care
- Why the cancer symbol animal is a crab
- The elemental symbol for Cancer – water
- Understanding the Cancer symbol of the moon
- The Cancerian symbolic meaning of black and white
- Understanding the Cancer symbol – depth, balance, harmony