Right now, the Sun is moving through the zodiacal sign of Cancer. For most of us, growing up in a culture steeped in scientific materialism can make the energies of this sign difficult to recognize and discuss. The keywords of mothering, nurturing, and protection are often used to describe Cancerian energy, but a closer examination may help to clarify its true nature.
Cancer is a feminine, cardinal water sign, and is associated with the crab, a creature that is always at home since it carries it around on its back. In its more challenging
manifestations, Cancer energy can correlate with issues around safety and imbalances of power. In its more pleasant forms, it can show up as the mothers, teachers, and leaders who support and nourish us, especially the non-physical aspects of ourselves.
As a feminine energy, Cancer energy may not be readily apparent in the way that strong masculine energy often is. Feminine energy tugs like a magnetic pull, working behind the scenes and in hidden ways that may seem effortless. As a cardinal energy, it provides the push necessary to get processes started and initiate new types of growth and expansion, and then knows when to back off and let things take on a life of their own. Often when Cancerian challenges arise, it is a result of this energy not functioning in a feminine, cardinal way.
THE REAL DARK MOTHER
When Cancer energy becomes more masculine and extreme, things can go very wrong. The exchange of energies within the Cancer dynamic always involves vulnerability, where a stronger individual facilitates the growth of a younger or weaker individual. While this imbalance of strength may be physical, it is often psychological, emotional, spiritual, or mental. And whenever this imbalance exists, there always comes with it the potential for the creation not of a safe space for learning and growth, but of a prison designed to constrict and control. These scenarios can be especially insidious given their hard-to-spot and often hidden nature.
The HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest provides an example of this sort of Cancerian imbalance. It tells the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a young girl whose mother could be diagnosed with Factitious disorder imposed on another (formerly known as Munchausen by Proxy). Gypsy's mother, Dee Dee, convinced everyone that Gypsy was extremely ill with a variety of health problems. Dee Dee shaved her daughter's head to mimic the effects of chemotherapy, made her use a wheelchair, made a fake birth certificate to make it seem that Gypsy was younger than she actually was, carried around an oxygen tank and feeding tube when they went out of the house, injected Gypsy's gums with anesthetic to make her drool during doctor visits- the long list of grotesque actions goes on. Doctors performed many invasive interventions on Gypsy based on Dee Dee's incessant demands.
Gypsy Rose was born with the Sun in Cancer, which supports the idea that the themes of nurturing and being cared for are central to her identity. Gypsy also has a Sun- Neptune opposition, which speaks to the fact that she had trouble recognizing the extent to which she was controlled and manipulated by her mother. Dee Dee has Jupiter in Cancer, forming a trine to Neptune in Scorpio. While we will never know Dee Dee's conscious and unconscious motivations, this Jupiter placement clearly shows an overabundance of the mothering Cancer energy, with a dash of Neptunian delusions most likely thrown in. Dee Dee's Jupiter also rests right on top of Gypsy's Chiron placement, clearly showing the connection between Dee Dee's mothering and Gypsy's wounding.
Gypsy's story is difficult to think about, but it offers a gift if we are willing to receive it. While most of us will never become entangled in a relationship as toxic as this one, we will all encounter this energy at some point in some form or another. You may encounter a couple with a weird vibe, where one partner may be gaslighting the other. You might notice a parent who seems too quick to speak for their child and answer questions addressed to the younger party. You might encounter someone who attempts to engage you in this type of psychic warfare. Do you know someone that you are careful not to say certain things around, because you know they will blow up and make a scene? If so, this person is using their anger to control you. Alternatively, you may at some point find yourself playing the victim to try to get control of a situation. There is an energetic signature that presents itself in all of these scenarios. If you can learn to perceive this energy, you will be able to recognize it if you encounter it out in the world. If one of the many healthcare workers who encountered Gypsy and her mother had noticed this energy and been willing to trust themselves enough to take steps to follow up on it, their difficult story might have ended differently.
OTHER TOXIC NURTURERS
In theory, the role of religious and spiritual leaders is to guide us in expanding our consciousness, integrating our shadow to establish greater individuation, and help us establish meaning in our lives. The subtle process of leading by example can become distorted when followers are more interested in giving their power over to another, instead of choosing to be empowered by them.
Like Dee Dee Blanchard, the Rev. Jim Jones had a Jupiter in Cancer placement. Both of these individuals convinced their victims that they needed to be taken care of, keeping them locked in an infantile mindset where they believed they could not survive without protection. Other group leaders with Cancer placements include David Koresh (Midheaven in Cancer), Osho (Pluto in Cancer), Charles Manson (Pluto in Cancer), Sai Baba (Pluto in Cancer), Saddam Hussein (Pluto in Cancer), John of God (Sun and Jupiter in Cancer), and Pol Pot (Pluto in Cancer). This list is a clear reminder that bad things can happen when people choose to relinquish their personal power and trust another more than they trust themselves.
Being connected with the element of water, Cancerian energy does its best nourishing when it offers itself passively and gently. While Dee Dee Blanchard and Jim Jones functioned more like psychic tsunamis, healthy nurturers feel more like a Spring rain shower. In this form, water floats down from the clouds and quietly soaks into the soil, making itself available to the roots of plants. The plants, the receivers of the water, can then soak up as much as they require.
Like the plants, the emotional nourishment that a mother provides for her baby occurs naturally- without the mother having to control it or force it to happen. Simply by loving and attending to her child, she teaches the baby how to do the same. The mother envelops the child in a space of supportive feelings and emotions and allows the child the opportunity to learn how to receive these energies, imprinting patterns that will resonate within all of the child's future relationships.
Effective spiritual leaders create a similar space that nurtures those around them, hence the notion of "sitting at the feet of the guru". As one's consciousness expands, the electric fields around their body also expand, change, and become stronger. When another person gets close to this expanded field, their own body's vibrations begin to resonate with the stronger field, and it pulls the person's consciousness into an expanded state, as well. This is not a process that can occur through effort; it requires relaxing into the vulnerable space of receiving.
In its healthiest forms, Cancer energy facilitates growth and expansion as one being invites another to become more like them. As a feminine energy, it may act in a way that seems to require no effort, or its presence may be hardly noticeable. But the willingness to examine both the healthy and disturbing manifestations of this energy makes it easier for us to recognize when it is showing up in our own lives. It is a great opportunity to become aware
of how we may be using this energy against ourselves and others, presenting the opportunity for growth and change. This awareness also allows us to recognize the people and things in our lives that really do support and nourish us, which allows us to choose more of that. The crab offers us the reminder to be more like the spring showers, not the tsunamis.