The Moon rules Cancer, and Artemis rules the Moon. The ancient tales of Artemis (called Diana by the Romans) speak of the Cancerian nature. In myth, Artemis, the daughter of Zeus and Leto, helps her mother give birth to her twin brother, Apollo, only a day after she herself is born. Artemis is said to be the patroness of childbirth and of the young of every species. She also rules the mother and the home. Appropriately, Cancers are home-bodies. They are drawn to work in home-like environments, to early childhood education, to social work, and they frequently take care of other people’s children in some professional capacity.
Although Cancers have a strong caring, maternal side they can be emotionally closed at times. It is common for men with Sun in Cancer to project a”tough-guy” persona, while Cancer women cultivate a hard, no-nonsense affect. And more often than not, they are ‘crabby’ in response to physical discomfort. One might think of these behaviors as the kind of protective shell that contains the tender body and sensitive feelings of those born under the sign of Cancer the Crab (June 21 – July 22).
Cancer people, though often remarkably talented, seem almost completely free of the need for visibility and acclaim. They appear to prefer the freedom of a near-anonymous existence, doing what they must do and what they enjoy (though often not in this order). For Cancers, enjoyment usually includes family members, a wide circle of friends, and a very active social life.
Quintessential Cancer behaviors such as taking comfort in being one among many, the love of play, and the use of teasing and mockery to punish, are echoed in the tale of Artemis and Alpheius. In this story, the river god, Alpheius, falls in love with the eternal virgin Artemis and pursues her throughout Greece. After a long chase, Artemis finally arrests her flight and daubs her face and the faces of all her attendant maidens with white clay (like the Moon) so that she will be indistinguishable from the others. Thwarted, Alpheius gives up the pursuit and retreats, shamed by the Huntress and her company’s mocking laughter. Please note: the Moon is always associated with multiplicity, like its many phases / faces.
It might seem a contradiction that Artemis, Maiden of the Silver Bow (the new Moon), is the patroness of childbirth when she is also the goddess of the Hunt which involves killing. Perhaps the Moon’s waxing and waning each month was the basis for its association with the cycle of birth and death in so many cultures. The Aztecs of Mesoamerica and the Maori peoples of New Zealand believed the Moon traveled the night sky hunting for victims to slay and devour. The Aryans of ancient India believed the souls of the dead flew to the Moon and there awaited rebirth, while certain tribes of Central Asia called the Moon the Queen of Life and Death.
People born under the sign of Cancer display all the behaviors enacted by Artemis in myth. At times Cancers play the active, sporting youth, at other times they play the role of the strict, disciplining parent. Even as children Cancer people often play the part of a sympathetic elder helping others in their travail. They are moody like the other water signs (Scorpio and Pisces) and ever-aware of the dark movement of ancient impulses and images in their subconscious mind; because of this Cancers often seem like wistful players in a moonlit dream.