The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 359, titled:
With Chris Brennan, Steph Koyfman, and Acyuta-bava Das
Episode originally released on July 12, 2022
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released July 18, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking about a deep dive into the meaning of the zodiac sign Cancer. And joining me today are astrologers Steph Koyfman and Acyuta-bava Das. Welcome both of you.
STEPH KOYFMAN: Thank you so much.
ACYUTA-BAVA DAS: Thanks for having me.
CB: So this is the fourth entry in my series on the signs of the zodiac, where I’ve been going through each of the signs and doing a full two-hour discussion where we really plumb the depths of the meaning and the symbolism of each of the signs. And in this series I’ve been getting astrologers that have placements in those signs, that way they can speak to them a little bit more directly from their own experience a little bit or draw on some their own experience with that archetype. So both of you have some placements in Cancer, right? What are yours, Steph?
SK: I have Sun and Midheaven
CB: Sun and Midheaven, that’s pretty good, and it’s a day chart, right?
CB: Okay. And what about you, Acyuta?
AD: Yeah, I’ve got the Sun and Mercury together in Cancer.
CB: Sun and Mercury, all right. That’s also pretty good. So we got two Sun sign Cancers. Well, so those are both of your resumes for this episode which I think is pretty strong. All right. Well, let’s jump right into it. So the first thing is I wanted to show just a diagram for those watching the video version of this of the signs of the zodiac and how Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac. We’ve already gone through Aries, the first sign in the tropical zodiac that follows after the spring equinox. Then we have the second sign Taurus, then Gemini, and then finally Cancer. So in terms of the stats for Cancer, this is the symbol for Cancer. The animal totem for Cancer is a crab traditionally, and that’s actually what the word Cancer means. It comes from a Latin term which comes from a Greek term which means the crab. So Cancer is a feminine or a nocturnal sign because it’s an even sign in terms of odd versus even. It’s a water sign in terms of the elemental triplicities of earth, air, fire, and water. And it’s also a cardinal sign because it falls right at the very beginning of the summer season. So the sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon or it’s said to be the domicile of the Moon. It’s the exaltation sign of the planet Jupiter. It’s the sign of the detriment or antithesis of the planet Saturn, because it’s opposite to Saturn’s ruling sign of Capricorn. And then it’s also the sign of the fall or the depression of Mars, because Cancer is opposite to the exaltation of Mars which is the sign of Capricorn. So those are some of the basic stats. I think the only other basic stat is from ancient astrology is in terms of the parts of the body, Cancer is usually said to rule the chest and the stomach, I think, are the primary assignments, right?
CB: All right, cool. So those are some of the basics. Where should we get started or what’s your usual starting points or some of the first things that come to mind when you think of the sign Cancer?
SK: I mean, I guess we could start just by kind of going through modality, but sometimes I like to just kind of start by thinking about the symbol of crabs, and they kind of live in these tidal waters. They don’t live in like the deep sea, they live where there’s a lot of changeability. They live where they’re kind of pushed and pulled by the water, which is actually being acted on by the Moon, which is the planetary ruler of Cancer. So I just kind of like this image of crabs being in this extremely changeable temperamental environment, and they have this hard outer shell that’s meant to protect a vulnerable interior because they’re constantly being preyed upon. But symbolically, I like to think of it as these waters of human consciousness, of just the psychic and energetic input, the memories, the impressions, just being very kind of prone to being, I guess, receptive to that, to being tossed around on those waves.
CB: Yeah, I like that because Cancer is the very first water sign. So it’s actually our first introduction in terms of the signs of the zodiac to the element of water and some of the qualities, especially the emotional qualities and emotional depth that the element of water brings with it, which is true of all three of the water signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, but this is really the first time that we encounter that. And so thinking of things like the ocean and water and some of the things that live in it is a really good starting point.
AD: It’s a good starting point for life. I think about it that way too. There’s so many associations, of course, with the Moon and with the womb. And if you think going back to the Thema Mundi in ancient astrology, this kind of chart of the cosmos, this sort of mythical teaching tool that’s used to help astrologers understand a lot of the basic, the fundamentals of astrology, and Cancer’s on the Ascendant. The sign of Cancer is rising in that Thema Mundi chart. And one of the parallels to that as far as I’ve understood in ancient philosophy would be that at the summer solstice, well, what’s happening is the Sun, which the arc of the Sun’s path or the ecliptic in the sky is sort of closest up to that pole star, it’s like most Northern, it’s sort of the highest the arc will get in the sky. But then it’s starting descend, on the light half of the year, the light is now starting to come down as it were, that days are going to start getting shorter from that point on. And the Moon’s rulership of that sign is interesting because in a lot of ancient cosmology and philosophy, there’s an association with the Moon and this realm of incarnation that the soul comes into. It takes a body, it comes into the mother’s womb. And in a sense you have almost like a visual metaphor of the spirit descending into matter, the light is starting to come down into the sublunary kind of like the sphere of the Moon, the Earth, where we all live. And so I always thought that was kind of a cool visual metaphor that the light is descending and there’s this idea of the spirit entering the transient world of matter and taking a form or something like that.
SK: I love that a lot. And also just I feel like you kind of always circle back with Cancer to this idea of vulnerable interior protected by an exterior. And I feel like that’s just the form that all bodies take in one way or another. There’s the organs and then there’s the skin or the skeleton or the exoskeleton. And so it just kind of seems like it’s kind of the vessel in a way. That’s kind of the form that it takes almost no matter the species.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. So with the association of the rulership of the Moon and just notions of being tied in with the body and the notion of the physical incarnation of a person and what it feels like to be embodied in different ways, which can have a number of different implications in terms of… We saw some of that actually, the very first sign where we saw some of that which was already in the sign of Taurus, which was an earth sign where the Moon has her exaltation. But here in Cancer we find the sign of the actual home of the Moon, and some of those themes become even more prominent and get tied in with other notions also of what does it take in order to maintain the physical body and to have health and vitality and nourishment, including simple things like food and things like that, which is connected with the Moon’s rulership of the stomach or Cancer’s rulership of the stomach.
AD: Yeah, I think it’s interesting that one of the phrases that was used to describe Cancer in the ancient world was the gateway of man, the gateway of mankind. And then, again, you have it on the Ascendant of the Thema Mundi and of course the rulership of the Moon, it makes sense that the Moon is connected to the body and the world of coming to be and passing away, the world of matter and form and shape. But also that that world would be associated with the nurturing qualities of the mother as though to be in this world and to be healthy in this world you have to be nurtured, you have to be cared for, you have to care for things. And I always thought it was interesting that there’s this parallel with Cancer and that same quality of nurturing and memory. As a father with a couple of kids now, my wife’s a Cancer rising, but watching her mothering and then being a parent myself, so much of it is just about remembering things, remembering what they need or their schedules, so I’ve just been impressed by that and how the… If you think of the Moon as this reflective light, it’s reflecting the light of the Sun. And in that reflective light, there’s a copy in a sense of an original. It’s like a parallel with the light quality of the Moon and what a memory is, which is sort of a copy of an original. But if you think of the copy of the original, the face of the Moon, also as a memory of the spirit or the soul that’s in a body, then you are remembering to care for that spirit soul is going to translate into your daily activities. When I’m remembering my kids, it’s not just, “Well, I know that they need to get their diaper changed or something,” I’m remembering their soul and their needs as a being. And then sort of as a result, I have to do all these physical things to care for them, but the caring is really about caring for their soul. So there’s this weird way in which the memory of the Moon is both a physical thing, but it’s also remembering their inner light, remembering that spirit that lives within them or something like that.
CB: Yeah. That makes me think of something I’ve been talking about during the course of this series, which is the corrective function of each sign of the zodiac that follows after the sign that came before it. And one of the things that we saw in the sign of Gemini is communication and information and being able to remember the facts about something or report on something like a reporter would sort of impassionately, I think, is something that Gemini is really good at. But I think the corrective function that Cancer brings is an emotional element to remembering something, not just in the facts of something, but how it made you feel. And that sometimes you can completely forget the facts and the details behind something, but you can remember very vividly the emotional impact that it had on you. And I think that’s one of the major things that Cancer really brings to the zodiac that’s new and fresh at this point in our journey just four signs into it.
SK: Yeah. And actually, I mean, I don’t know, we’re not really getting into like the dignity scheme, but it makes me think about how Jupiter is in detriment in Gemini but exalted in Cancer. And so I know that the Jupiter in Cancer exaltation is often kind of conceived as everyone at the table gets fed, there’s enough for everyone. But I think in terms of Cancer being a good memory keeper and a historian, there’s that kind of association with nostalgia, with things of the past, with history, with memory, and it just makes me think about how a body of knowledge is more complete when it’s well documented, there’s a history, there’s a track record. And so I think that’s also kind of part of Jupiter doing so well in Cancer, is that we have a more complete understanding when we remember what came before.
CB: Yeah, so notions of also like ancestry and roots and origins in some ways through that connection with the Moon also and Jupiter having its exaltation there. I know Rhetorius in the seventh century, he talks about Jupiter having its exaltation in Cancer because of associations of light and life and sort of vitality with that sign, and the opposite being Mars having its exaltation in the coldest and the darkest sign that follows after the winter solstice, which is Capricorn, and notions of both Saturn and Mars being there and darkness and the absence of life or death being opposed to what Cancer represents when the light is sort of at the height of its potency at the beginning of the summer.
AD: Yeah. It makes me think of James Hillman, who’s an archetypal psychologist. He was kind of colleagues with Liz Greene, for example, they were both studying under Jung and so forth. And one of the things that he said, and his chart has been debated a little bit if I’m remembering correctly, but I think one of his versions of his chart is a Cancer rising.
CB: He has different versions of his chart?
AD: Yeah, I think there’s like two different versions that are debated.
CB: Okay, sounds like a Scorpio rising.
AD: Yeah. I mean, I wrote an article a while ago for The Mountain Astrologer, and I remember talking to his son and some other people, and there was some debate about his birth time. But anyway, he said, “Real history is soul history.” I’m paraphrasing, but to the point that you guys were just making, which was that he didn’t like any kind of historical narration of something that didn’t get into the lived soulful experience of the people or the time that was being reported on. So he was a big proponent of making sure that history is not a stream of facts and information, because the privileging of facts and information privileges only a certain kind of experience. And so he was always wanting to dig in that way. I think he might have had some placements in Cancer in planets if not by Ascendant. I can’t remember, but yeah.
SK: It also kind of makes me think about just with the Moon, the Moon representing the body and how there’s that book, The Body Keeps the Score, which kind of launched this whole kind of sort of subtopic in psychology, where there’s this kind of idea that trauma and emotional memories can be physically stored in the body. And so I feel like that’s just kind of another facet of lunar things, Cancer things, having a long memory, and also what you were kind of talking about Acyuta, the soulful embodied history. I think about how the Moon translates light between planets, and in its own way it’s kind of keeping an oral tradition, it’s kind of telling a story as it kind of pings different things in the sky.
AD: Yeah. Speaking of that, I think that’s really interesting, Steph, because one of the things I was doing as I was looking back on some of my notes on Cancer is that the word crab is from the Indo-European route, and I’m going to mispronounce it, gerbh it looks like. But it’s to scratch, which also a derivative of that would be to carve. I don’t know exactly where this comes from or if it’s just kind of an interesting association, but the idea of the crab’s pincers or whatever being associated with writing and glyphs and with the scratching or carving of language. There’s a website that I like to look up things, it’s called Constellation of Words. I don’t know if you guys ever heard of that, it’s kind of a cool website. Anyway, I was reviewing some notes that they have on the constellation of Cancer, and they were making that association between the crab and writing, which I thought was as a Cancerian who went to school for writing, of course, I have my Mercury and Sun in the third house, but I thought that was interesting. I think you’re definitely onto something with the idea of memory and storytelling and keeping of memories and things like that, that there’s almost like an association with scribes or writers or something like that. And of course the Moon rejoices in the third house too which is interesting.
SK: Yeah. It kind of makes me think about how the Moon was traditionally kind of associated with messengers.
CB: Yeah, because it’s actually the fastest of the astronomical bodies that we use in astrology in terms of the traditional planets, even including some of the modern planets, which are much slower like generational outer planets, but the Moon cruises around the signs of the zodiac within a month, just spending two to three days each sign. And it also regularly goes through its cycle of waxing and waning and increasing in light and getting brighter and brighter and brighter until it hits the Full Moon, and then getting darker and darker until it hits the next New Moon. And with that, we get some of the associations also with Cancer of sort of changeability and of notions of a little bit of the fickleness of moods and how moods can be this passing or this changing thing that can change from day to day. One day you can be in a really good mood or the next day you can be in a really bad mood and that some of that is a little bit environmental and transitory or can pass and change. And I think there is probably also a connection with Cancer being a cardinal sign, and all of the cardinal signs have this tendency to initiate change and to be the initial push that sort of changes or pivots something and doesn’t necessarily follow through or bring that to completion, but just acts as the starting point of something that’s changeable or moveable.
SK: Yeah. It kind of makes me think about how there’s this sort of prevailing stereotype of Cancer being kind of a cry baby. And I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know if it’s necessarily that Cancers are sadder than everyone, I think that it’s more about having more comfort with emotions and with the full range of an emotional experience and just kind of a willingness to go through that complete cycle, to experience like the full range of, I guess, what it means to be a living being with feelings. And so some of that can be sadness, but I think maybe if you kind of exist in a cultural environment that sort of prioritizes one set of emotional experiences over another, then it does kind of feel… I think that sometimes people are like, “Oh no, it’s Cancer season, I’m going to be sad.” And I think that if you’re someone who kind of has that natively, then you’re kind of like, “Well, that’s okay, I’m going to be sad and then I’m going to feel a different way.” And so it’s kind of like if you’re standing in the ocean and there’s a wave coming, it’s actually safer to just dive straight into the middle of that wave versus just trying to run away from it and getting knocked over by it.
AD: That’s a great point. I’m laughing just because of just the familiarity of the stereotypes. I’m like, “Yep, I’ve heard those before.” And some of them are kind of true sometimes too. I would say that I can definitely be a very moody person, but I think that’s probably why in my spiritual life I was drawn to Bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is sometimes called the yoga of devotion or the emotional yoga or something like that. And at its core, for example, there’s a very famous Bhakti text in the English translation of its title is the nectar of devotion, and the different sections of the text are called different waves like this wave, that wave, they’re divided into different types of waves. And this is like hundreds of years old. And one of the things that’s pretty Cancerian about Bhakti yoga I would say or are sort of lunar about it is that sometimes in yoga you’ll hear people say things like, “You are not your emotions, so have this reflective distance so that you can experience them from a distance and not get sort of taken over by them.” And in Bhakti yoga, in many ways it’s more about recognizing that they change and sort of identifying them as different moods of the divine, and so you’re kind of learning to ride and incorporate all states of being, especially moods of experience as aspects of the divine nature or something like that. So it’s a very Cancerian form of yoga. And once I started understanding more about what this yoga was about compared to others, because I’ve been into yoga for a long time, my wife and I owned a yoga studio together and so forth and in our home at first, by the way, which is very Cancerian. But as I started understanding more about Bhakti, I was like, “Oh, this fits my personality,” my religious psychology and my birth chart is reflected in the kind of yoga that I’m doing, which is all about what you were saying, just kind of like, “Oh, sadness is from this perspective. If you can appreciate and stay curious about any emotional state, it’s really beautiful.” And I think that’s something that I’ve noticed about some of my close Cancerian friends that I’ve had over the years too or people with strong Cancerian placements, is that there’s this like almost like an artist can appreciate all the different colors or the negative space in a painting is just as important as something else, that Cancerians are often just really appreciative of the different fluctuations. It’s like a mood ring. “Oh, look it, it’s beautiful how it’s changing and things like that.”
SK: Yeah. Oh, I was just going to say, I think another kind of key word we can kind of use is maybe that it’s rhythmic, because the Moon has many faces kind of as you’re saying, and there’s this kind of speed and just sort of changeability, but there’s also a constancy and a predictability to its motions. And so it’s kind of like yeah, it’s the fastest moving planet and it’s always changing, but then if you kind of zoom out a little bit, there’s this kind of stillness to the way that it’s always kind of orbiting in the same predictable speed and motion. It kind of makes me think about the repetitive motions of caretaking, the rhythms of feeding someone like a child. It’s like, “Okay, well, if you have a baby, then you’re going to have to feed that baby every two hours.”
AD: Oh yeah, the rhythms. And you know what goes along with that that it just brought to my mind, Steph, is first of all, one of the things that’s interesting about Bhakti to borrow some more helpful metaphors from that practice is that a lot of Bhakti in India there’s different… You could be a Bhakta and be a follower of Shiva or any number of gods or goddesses or whatever. In Krishna Bhakti, which is the path that I follow, [unintelligible] has kind of like this divine dyad, but the planet associated with Krishna is the Moon. So it’s interesting that this figure in Bhakti is also associated with the Moon, that’s one thing. And then the other thing that I thought of when you were just saying that, Steph, is that one of the main practices, not just in Bhakti yoga, but in many different forms of yoga in India is mantra meditation. And a Mala is going to be used, when you practice Japa, you use a Mala. And the number of beads on a Mala is 108, which is a sacred number associated with the Moon as well, which is just interesting. I’ve heard a lot of different explanations as to why 108 is associated with the Moon, but I don’t know which one is necessarily a part of the original rationale. But what’s so interesting about that idea of the rhythm is that, for example, at the heart of most mantra meditation practices in India is the idea of remembrance again, so memory. That you’re remembering God or you’re remembering your deity if it’s Krishna or you’re remembering that you’re a spirit soul or whatever it is, because we tend to forget the things that really matter, and that we could translate that into anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious. But because we tend to forget things that are of eternal value that we practice this recitation of mantras. And it’s interesting that we’re doing so in a big circular set of beads, a big circular set of beads whose number was associated with the Moon. And even in the Buddhist practice, I used to go to this Buddhist temple that was near where we lived in Potomac, Maryland, and we’d go out there and there would be people circumambulating like a shrine with beads as well, like a mindful walking in a circle. And Thích Nhất Hạnh would do that as well. So I think there’s this connection between whether it’s remembrance of a child and it’s feeding schedule or it’s even some exotic metaphysical spiritual practice like walking in a circle around a shrine with your circular beads and stuff like that.
CB: Yeah. One of the things this is making me think of also is one of you mentioned Capricorn, the opposition between Cancer and Capricorn, it makes me think of the essential dignity system. And with Cancer, there’s embracing of emotion and sometimes a giving into emotion and sentimentality, whereas in Capricorn we have more of a coldness and sort of a rejection of that and a focus maybe on the cold, hard facts or the objectiveness of time or other things like that, the limitations of things. And I think that’s why you have that dignity structure where the Moon is said to have its domicile in Cancer where it embraces that fully, but might in Capricorn in the sign opposite to itself subvert that expectation in some way in that it’s sort of a rejection or an attempt to control one’s emotions, which might be hard or might be a little unsettling for the Moon initially at first or the opposite if you put Saturn in Cancer, which is the sign of its detriment. Saturn, which is usually so controlled of a planet, has to sort of let go and give into emotionality, and that can be sort of difficult combination for that planet.
SK: Yeah, actually I feel like that might just be something that’s kind of common amongst the two luminaries both kind of opposing Saturn in the dignity scheme. The Moon and Sun both have to do with subjectivity in a way, and then Saturn has to do with objectivity and kind of a removal from your own kind of personal lens from where you’re sitting. And I think that’s kind of where maybe one of the other stereotypes comes in, that Cancers take things personally. I think maybe you could say Leo’s do too and it’s a little different, but sort of similar.
AD: That’s a great point.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. One of the things connected with that I was thinking about recently is how part of the rationale for the domicile assignment scheme is putting the Sun at 15 degrees of Leo because that’s the very height, the very middle of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere where the Western, the tropical zodiac originated and where that scheme originated, and the Moon is assigned to Cancer just after the summer solstice. And one of the things that’s interesting in the summertime is that while the days can sometimes get oppressively hot when the Sun is out and is just like beating down on you, at night time in the middle of the summer, the weather can be actually very warm and very enjoyable. It’s like you go outside and do stuff at night during the summer because that’s when it cools down enough that you have this sort of reassuring or sort of helpful warmth at night during the darkness, when everything is dark out, versus the opposite of that is the middle of winter during Capricorn season, where at night time that’s when the cold gets the most extreme and the cold suddenly becomes the thing that is the most oppressive and the most sort of harmful to life because it’s lacking in temperateness. And there’s something about that notion of a helpful or a supportive warmth, nighttime warmth, that I think is very key to understanding Cancer’s archetype as well.
AD: Yeah, that’s a great point. I was thinking about that just the other night, because we were going to have, my kids were like, “Oh, can we have a bonfire in the fire pit?” And I was like, “Well, it’s really hot.” And then I realized, “Well, actually it’s going to get down to like 70 by the time it’s dark.” And I thought, “Well, yeah, once it’s dark it’ll actually be really nice out for a fire,” and so we did that. So I was just thinking about that. It’s so nice and tempered out once it gets a little darker.
CB: Yeah, there’s something there about both of those, Cancer and Capricorn, being nocturnal signs or feminine signs or whatever you want to call it. But having that difference between a sort of temperateness and a supportive warmth versus an excessively cold one which harms life in some way or is sort of the absence of it in some sense. So I think that might be really key as we talk about and think about some of these things as well.
AD: There’s a parallel that comes to my mind which I had a while ago. Did you guys ever read the Narnia Chronicles? So the book The Silver Chair in that series, I had this CS Lewis scholar from Oxford come and speak on my YouTube channel one time. His name’s Michael Ward, and he wrote this book called Planet Narnia. I think the subtitles like the seven planets or The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis. And his whole thesis is that people were looking for some kind of hidden allegorical key to the Narnia Chronicles. It seems like there’s allegories built into them, but no one could really identify what they were. And his thesis was that because Lewis was a huge fan of, he was a medievalist in terms of his literary scholarly background, and he was really interested in the seven planets in this kind of Renaissance picture of the cosmos, which he felt like was a more enlightened view than the sort of modern model, which was devoid of any kind of divinity in the cosmos. So he was interested in the planets and the thesis of his book was that he imbued each one of the seven Narnia Chronicles with the symbolism of one of the planets. And he outlines it in his book, and it’s a really fun, interesting presentation, especially if you’ve read the books as a kid. And The Silver Chair, according to his thesis, was the Moon’s book. For obvious reasons, The Silver Chair being a reference to the Moon itself as the metal associated with the Moon. But in that story, the interesting structure of the story, which he argued was lunar and has a real parallel to what we’re saying about the dichotomy between Sun and Saturn or Moon and Saturn, the beginning of the story, first of all, the story is with a heroine rather than a boy, Jill is her name. And she starts off the story in Aslan’s Country talking to Aslan the lion, which is this parallel for almost like a spiritual or almost like a platonic realm, some kind of perfect heavenly place. And she’s talking to Aslan and Aslan’s like, “You’re going to go down into Narnia to have this adventure. But the air is thicker down there and denser than it is up here. And I’m going to give you these instructions to successfully complete this mission. But you’re going to be prone to forgetting the instructions.” He gives her mantras to repeat, and he says, “You have to keep repeating them down there because you’re going to forget because it’s so pleasant and so lovely, but also the air is thicker and you’ll be prone to forgetting or almost like falling asleep. And so you have to keep repeating these instructions to remember the steps to the adventure to get through it.” And so she goes down, and every step of the way when there’s a critical moment where one of the signs that Aslan gives her to remember the next step in the adventure comes across, she’s forgetting. And then I won’t give it away in case you haven’t read it, but it’s this epic adventure where she’s constantly having to remember and try to stay objective in remembering the mission because there’s this tendency because everything is so pleasant in the air to fall asleep. And that plays a huge role in this mission which goes on and on and eventually takes her down into caves down below the earth. And the first thing she sees when she comes out of the cave having remembered the final instructions and so forth, the first thing she sees is the Moon. It’s really interesting. But the parallel that I’m seeing in this story, and Michael Ward lays out all of the lunar symbolism so nicely, is that there’s this dichotomy throughout the whole story between this healthy form of remembering which we’ve been talking about and also needing to stay objective because the potential in this sort of sublunary Narnian sphere is that the air is so dense and lovely that you’ll fall asleep and potentially forget something that matters that’s this bigger overarching objective thing. That strikes me as a really maybe slightly more positive way of looking at what Saturn also provides in contrast to say the Moon or Capricorn versus Cancer. As someone who is born with… I have the Moon in Cap, so I’ve got a Full Moon with Sun in Cancer, Moon in Cap, and it kind of nicely describes it. It’s like, “If you don’t have some emotional sense of investment, you’re not going to really enjoy life. You’re going to be detached and sort of devoid of emotion or something. But if you get too invested, you can fall asleep because of the lovely nocturnal breeze or whatever. And then you can kind of forget some of the things that are really important and maybe big picture that you’d lose track of.”
SK: Yeah. And it kind of makes me think about how in stable or more peaceful conditions, there’s this kind of urgency from maybe older generations who have experienced war or famine or hardship to kind of keep that historical memory alive so that people don’t get complacent and repeat history in a harmful way.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point, the passing on of ancestral or family, or even country sort of heritage in some way and that idea of tradition and heritage in passing things along,
AD: It reminds me of what James Hillman said in his really famous book, The Soul’s Code. I’m a big Hillman geek, so excuse me for referencing him every two minutes. Well, he wrote in many different places, he would also say that in life, in the way that we live, if we’re living a soulful life, one of the odd things is that we’re always remembering death. We’re remembering people who have lived and already died or we’re remembering the fact that we will die some day. And that remembrance of death or that sort of awareness of it, he identified it as something that is close or close in the awareness of people who live really soulful lives like artists or philosophers. That was sort of his thesis, was that you have to keep the memory of death or the sense that you will die sort of close by so that the presence is really closely connected to that. Being present in the moment and making soulful choices, you have to have death in closeness to you.
CB: That’s a good point. I mean, that’s kind of an internal characteristic of all living beings is the notion of self-preservation and what it takes to preserve one’s self as well as to preserve others and those that are important to you, which I think takes us back a little bit to something you said, Steph, with the connection and a little bit of the difference between Cancer and Leo, where for Cancer sometimes there can be a focus on taking care of others and taking care of those around you and those that are important to you or that you have some kind of emotional connection with, whereas part of the corrective function once we go to Leo is more of a focus on taking care of yourself and putting yourself first and doing what’s most important to you. But in doing that, maybe that gives us more insight into Cancer as well and where sometimes Cancer has a tendency, especially as a water sign and as a nocturnal sign to make way for others and not just take care of others, but to center or adapt to others in some way, which is one of the characteristics of water is that it’s one of the most adaptable signs in terms of water taking on the shape of whatever is around it rather than the water itself like other elements sometimes force their own shape onto others, but water is the one where it’ll just adapt to its surroundings.
SK: Yeah. I think another way you can kind of understand the Cancer to the Leo progression is that Cancer, I think, is about focusing on the interiority of your experience, and Leo is very much about the exteriority. And so I kind of think about how it’s the difference between receiving an impression and expressing. So the Moon takes in light, the Sun emits it. And so I think maybe in Gemini you were going out there and kind of just having conversations, having little bits of inspiration come to you, and then… I almost think about The Little Mermaid and her cove. She gathered all these things, and now she’s inside of her cave being like, “Ooh, what does this thing do? Maybe it’s a brush for my hair.” You’re just kind of inside your own little world. I think there’s a lot of imagination that actually gets supported by this too. I think that’s kind of an underrated aspect of Cancer is just how imaginative and creative it is too. But then in Leo you’re kind of like, “Okay, well, how do I express this? How do I just put it out there?” Maybe Virgo then refines it and it’s like, “Okay, well, maybe you can edit this down a little bit.”
CB: Right. So you bring up imagination, which is a really good keyword for Cancer, and then also connects to another one which is dreams and the necessary healing or restorative necessity of the dream world as being another sort of lunar and Cancerian place that we access at this point in the zodiac where you have to go into the dream state each night, both in order to rest your body, but also in order to recharge your brain. And that there’s something about that that’s crucial to the maintaining of life.
SK: Yeah. Another thing that I feel like doesn’t get talked enough about with Cancer is just the strangeness of Cancer. And I think it kind of goes to what you were saying to Acyuta before about how you’re receiving a copy. And it makes me think about how sometimes when you’re looking at things in the night, shadows can take on strange form. And it’s sort of about how dreams themselves are kind of surreal and strange and ineffable in a way. I was thinking, “Okay, David Lynch is a famous surrealist, he has the Moon right on the Midheaven.” And then I was like, “I wonder what Salvador Dalí has.” He’s actually a Cancer rising with a Moon right on the Midheaven. So I think that there’s something to that about just the kind of surreal quality of the Moon and the imagination and just the parsing of the subjective experience. It comes to you in these kinds of strange visions that are a little strange. It’s definitely Cancer is the one who’s going to go and wake up and tell all their friends about the dream they just had, and it’s like sometimes people don’t care, but I don’t know, I think it’s interesting.
CB: Right. Well, and what’s funny about that is it’s incredibly hard to express to another individual this subjective impact that a dream had on you. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can never convey the emotional intensity or impact that that had on you with words because you’re trying to convey something that was emotional and internal through something that’s logical and analytical, which is putting it into words, and there’s something that’s not transferable about those two things.
AD: There’s a state in alchemy called the silvering stage. You think about alchemy in terms of let’s consider it like psychological metaphors, which may or may not have been intended by ancient alchemists. But you imagine that these different states that they talked about in alchemy can be transferred like Jung did into like the individuation process or psychological journey of life. And the silvering stage, which again would be the metal of the Moon, it was also considered kind of a lunar stage of refinement of consciousness has to do with being able to identify within the world of experience and forms the reflection of something eternal. And I think dreams for many people are almost like a gateway into starting to see your experience life as symbolic or archetypal in nature. I mean, if I think about the precursor to getting into astrology in my life early on, probably one of the earliest things would be I was fascinated by dreams. I had a dream journal and stuff like that. But as we’re going around the world and I reflect often on like, what is astrology accomplishing for people in their lives psychologically or spiritually or whatever? And every day you take in a couple of your favorite astrologers on YouTube or Instagram or wherever you follow them, and they’re reflecting on the transits every month or week or whatever. And it’s that reflection, it’s that act of reflecting upon something that is happening. We’re looking at say a Mars, Pluto transit we just had last week or whatever. And my daughter over the weekend burnt her finger pretty bad, and because of astrology I was able to silver that moment, to borrow the alchemical language and psychologize it, I was able to see reflected in the burn on her finger, her actual flesh in the moment of caring for her and everything, this planetary combination that I’d been talking about and anticipating and reflecting upon for like a week. And for the Alchemist, that would mean that there’s something of our experience that we’re now able to see, not only in terms of its literal physical or material manifestation, but it allows us to reflect upon it as something other, something else. And in that way, the world starts to be this very magical lunar medium through which we’re experiencing things. And for a lot of people I think that’s one of the reasons that astrology keeps us coming back for more, is that it just makes your experiences very dream-like, it makes your life very magical. And not that you always have to come to an interpretive meaning of it all, I don’t know why she burned her finger exactly or whatever, but for me as a parent, there was the literal level of concern and then there was this very like, “Whoa, there it is, there’s the planet.” And so to me, all of that, the whole act of reflecting on the daily movements of the planets, feels like this very lunar sort of alchemical project.
SK: Yeah, definitely. And beyond just also being kind of just a gateway to dreams, I think that Cancer, the Moon is also very psychic and intuitive. And so it’s not just literally being able to kind of parse these symbols and these kinds of dream states, but also sometimes being very kind of attuned to something beyond just your own, I guess, your own process, your own experience. I mean, there was a brief time a couple years ago when I had a devotional practice to the Moon and it was for a completely different reason. But one of the kind of unintended side effects is that I started having these strangely psychic dreams and in the weirdest ways, just super random. I can’t even just explain. I had a dream and then something happened like that same day or I had a dream about someone doing a magic trick and he had a specific name in the dream, and then I woke up and I Googled and there was a YouTube magician who was doing the same magic trick in a video that I saw in my dream. And I was just like, “What is going on?”
CB: Yeah, that makes me think of how astrologers tend to associate the planet Saturn with time and Saturn having one of its domiciles in Capricorn opposite to Cancer, and maybe part of the connection there, the contrast and the tension between the two is that when you go into the dream state, you’re tapping into a realm that is sort of timeless and some part of the universe that’s like timeless in some sense, which in the one hand can connect you with the past and allow you to reexperience old memories or old connections with people that might be gone from the past as if you were experiencing that in the present. But on the other hand, sometimes maybe that gets projected into the future and you get that sense of having a prophetic dream.
AD: Yeah, that’s a great point.
SK: Yeah. And also people love to talk about how Cancers they just know, they just know things.
CB: Yeah, what is that? Intuition, what do we call that? Because there’s different types of intuition. There’s like a natural almost like physical intuition or emotional intuition kind of emotional intelligence of anticipating the needs of another person, but also maybe being able to anticipate something else that’s almost like a sixth sense in some ways. I don’t know if that’s connected or if that’s separate from what we would classify as a psychic connection or something.
SK: Yeah, I think for me it kind of goes back to that body level of awareness with the Moon having to do with the body. And I don’t know if it’s a gut instinct thing because I guess that I would almost associate more with Virgo, Mercury and the intestines. But yeah, I don’t know.
CB: Maybe it’s just being attuned to the subtle and sensitive. Maybe sensitivity is the right term to use here. That Cancers as well as Scorpio and Pisces as water signs are more sensitive in some ways compared to the other signs. And therefore, maybe that sensitivity allows them to pick up on things that others might overlook and maybe even sensitivities to clues or things that are happening that are not just sort of analytical things, something they’ve seen with their eyes, but maybe there’s other ways that they can be sensitive to things.
AD: I think about time too like Plato’s famous statement, “Time is the moving image of eternity.” Well, it’s a translation of what he wrote. And I think of the Moon, sort of the lunar consciousness in general, if you want to put it that way, in its experience of time is very cyclical. So insofar as time and experience are moving in these familiar rhythms and circles, something that looks or feels prophetic is almost tapping into this very instinctual knowledge of cycles and time being experienced as different kinds of circles interacting with one another. I had a friend when I lived in DC who wrote a book. I’m trying to remember the name of it, I think it was called Time Loops or something like that. But anyway, he was really interested in the idea that there are time circles, and I always found that to be a really Cancerian idea. And I have to look at his chart, I bet you he’s probably got some Cancer planets too. But anyway, maybe there’s something about time being experienced as loops and circles that gives Cancer some kind of weird intuition about it.
SK: Yeah. So it’s not necessarily that you’re receiving new information, it’s almost like a familiarity.
AD: Yeah. I mean, I think it was Jung who talked about the difference between intuition and instinct as almost like it’s two different forms of psychic receptivity. And in this sense, I think it would fall into the way that he described instinct, which is this familiarity with rhythms and cycles, I think. I’m pretty sure that’s how he described it as well.
CB: So going back, one of the things I always meant to do with this series is to give positive keyword and then the other side of the same coin. So one of the things that can be a good thing is being sensitive and therefore being like sensitive to the needs of others, caring about the other people in the room and what they’re feelings are or what sort of feelings they’re giving off and adapting to that. But the other side of that coin sometimes can maybe be being overly sensitive or impressionistic.
SK: Yeah, definitely. I think Cancer is sensitive in every sense of the word, sensitive to just kind of these intuitive hits, sensitive to other people’s feelings, and also kind of sensitive to perceived rejection. And I think it kind of goes back to how some of us might be born more intuitive than others, we all have an intuition, but it also takes some time to kind of develop your intuitive muscle and be able to understand the difference between what’s a genuine sense and what is just a projection. Because I think if we’re kind of going to do a diss track on Cancer, I think Cancers are good at hurting their own feelings sometimes.
AD: That’s a good way of putting it.
CB: Being too much in one’s feelings, too much in one’s feels.
SK: Yeah, just kind of perceiving the energy of someone else as being… It’s kind of taking it personally or just creating a whole situation in your head or having a conversation in your head with someone that isn’t really happening.
AD: Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned that. My wife is an herbalist, and she’s around a lot of herbalists. And I heard this one herbalist who knew something about astrology giving a talk about herbs and the associations with Cancer. And I don’t remember what the herbs were, but one thing he said about Cancer that I’ll never forget was he was like, “A lot of what you think you’re perceiving in other people, what they’re feeling or thinking, you’ll be right on, but there’s at least 30 to 40% where you’re actually making it up in your head. And then there’s another level at which you think that other people can know and see and feel exactly what you’re feeling and thinking like you’re so transparent, but actually half the time people have no idea what you’re feeling or thinking, and you have to always be aware of that, that gray spot where no, people can’t see what you’re thinking, and no, you don’t know what other people are thinking.
CB: Right, I like that. And maybe part of that or the part where Cancer can be off is that sometimes it can be drawing on past hurts or past traumas and letting that sometimes inform its perception of what people are doing to them in the present. And sometimes that can throw things off and can lead to a tendency to maybe retreat or to want to protect oneself. But what we were just saying, it also makes me think of, because it’s like Scorpio also has that same tendency, but there it gets amped up into full-blown paranoia of having a wall that has 10 different pieces of paper with strings attached to it of that meme of people just coming up with full-blown scenarios in their head. So yeah, but that’s a really important point. Are there other pieces of that that we can extract from that sort of line of thought?
SK: Yeah. I mean, I think with sensitivity also comes irritability, it’s kind of going to that moodiness of just being like literally everything just feels louder, the volume is kind of turned up on just a lot of sensations and experiences. And so that irritability and that sensitivity are kind of two sides of the same coin, I think. And it also just makes me think about the crustacean metaphor of a clam that gets irritated by a grain of sand, but then it makes a pearl around it. And then it’s like in our vernacular, what’s one of those common phrases? We say pearls of wisdom, which is Jupiter, I think.
AD: Oh, that’s a great one.
CB: That makes me think of one famous Cancer Sun sign which is Frida Kahlo. And she had Leo rising with the Sun in Cancer in the 12th house conjunct Neptune and widely conjunct Jupiter, but also opposite to a kind of tight Mars-Uranus conjunction in Capricorn in her sixth house. You using that clam analogy made me think of that just because she went through and suffered some pretty serious hardship and tragedy in her life, especially in terms of injuries and struggles with her health. But then out of that, she was able to draw and have tremendous creative potential in order to create really beautiful works of art.
AD: Yeah, that’s a great example.
CB: Yeah. So all right, so that’s a good line of thought. I like that. Sometimes I compare the signs to other signs of either the same modality or the same triplicity, and we started comparing a little bit to the same triplicity with Cancer and Scorpio. Are there other things that come to mind for each of you that are similarities but differences when it comes to comparing Cancer and Scorpio?
SK: I think Cancer is more defensive and Scorpio is a little bit more offensive. It’ll attack, whereas Cancer will kind of retreat unless really kind of pushed into a corner or defending its young or defending people it cares about.
CB: Right. So Cancer has a tendency to protect, whereas Scorpio’s tendency is to protect by going on the offensive first if it sees a threat.
AD: When I was in DC, I did quite a few readings for people who worked in the government obviously in the DC area. And I worked with a lot of people who were in the military, cyber security, and the defense department who were Scorpios or had really strong Scorpio placements. So I feel like there’s this real protectiveness to both signs as well, though it’s different. I’m having a hard time. It’s like a different quality of defensiveness, and I’m trying to figure out how to describe it, but I’m struggling.
SK: Scorpio is like spying on the enemy, and Cancer is building a bunker to keep everyone safe.
AD: [laughs] That’s nice.
CB: That’s perfect. Yeah, I like that. And then the other water sign, of course, is Pisces. And I’m trying to think of some other contrasts in terms of similarities between Cancer and Pisces. They can both do a pretty good job of just vibing and just vibing out with each other. And I think that can be one of the similarities between Cancer and Pisces as water signs.
SK: One of my jokes is that Cancers are basically just Pisces with better boundaries. [laughs] I’m joking. I’m joking. But yeah, I think maybe the key difference with Cancer and Pisces is that Pisces is truly welcoming to all. You know what I mean? It’s like love without boundaries. And Cancer directs its love to an inner circle. It’s like that idea of there are people on the inside and people on the outside.
AD: That’s a good point.
CB: Yeah, its immediate circle, inner circle.
AD: There’s a little bit of a clicker clannishness to Cancer.
SK: Definitely, yeah. It kind of makes me think of– have you heard of that Danish word ‘hygge’? It’s spelled h y g g e. It’s part of the Danish mentality just like this idea of closeness and coziness and togetherness and spending Friday night around a fire, drinking hot cocoa with a few of your favorite people.
AD: Speaking my language, that sounds good.
SK: Yes. But then there’s also if you kind of start reading about it, people have written these op-eds about how there’s kind of a dark side to hygge, too, because sometimes that concept gets co-opted by people on the far right who want to keep out the unfamiliar people like foreigners, you know what I mean? It’s like a nationalistic… It can be co-opted in these kinds of harmful or just violent ways.
AD: That’s really interesting, Steph, because as someone who grew up in Minnesota, which I feel like Minnesota has gotta have some Cancer in its history, but Minnesota is described as- There’s this funny saying that people will give you which is like, “You can ask directions to get somewhere from absolutely anyone and they will be the kindest, sweetest person you’ve ever met help you get directions. They just won’t give you directions to their house.” And I feel like Minnesota is like that, where it’s very parochial, you know? And it’s hard to develop tight-knit bonds because they’re already really long-standing and formed in the Midwest. I don’t think maybe it’s just the Midwest in general, but it’s very warm and inviting but can be also really clannish. It’s interesting that we’re like a blue state in Minnesota but if you go outside of the metro area, it’s completely red. So it’s this very weird breakdown of the way that people vote in Minnesota in that regard too. It strikes me as sort of like that. Yeah.
SK: Yeah. I actually lived in Minnesota for four years when I was a kid. That was probably the only time I really lived outside of the East Coast. And I don’t know where you grew up, I guess I was living in like a suburb of Minneapolis and my memory of that time is just having tonnes of friends who are neighborhood kids. And then moving to the east coast, I actually had the opposite experience where people were way more to themselves.
AD: Oh, interesting.
CB: Maybe we’re picking up on a theme there that goes back to the notion of like sentimentality but there’s another term, but just Cancer going back to and really having a tendency to cling to bonds and the things that connected it through some sort of ancestral lineage. And that being a really important thing to Cancer to find some sort of past connection and then to gravitate towards that which seems similar or that which is this the same in some way that it perceives as the same or that it perceives as having some sort of affinity with.
AD: That really triggered a spark in my mind when you said that, Chris, because I just started thinking about the third house, which we maybe haven’t talked about a whole lot yet, but that’s the place. The third house was called The Joy of the Moon, in case people don’t know. And in modern astrology, a lot of people think of the third house in relation to like Gemini or Mercury. In ancient astrology, there’s a consideration of the Moon in that house actually. It’s kind of different. I think there’s some interesting similarities, actually too between Moon and Mercury and so forth. But one of the things that’s really interesting about that people will say, “Well, what does the Moon have to do with the third house?” And if you think about the third house as this place that’s sort of adjoining the fourth, and let’s say the fourth is like the roots, it’s home, its land, it’s your living room, it’s everything that’s that deep familiar home place. But then the third place that’s adjoining it, there’s almost this idea of everything that circumambulates around the roots, everything that sort of joined to the roots in close proximity to it like your neighbors. Or, like if you grow up with siblings, you all are part of the same roots. But you all kind of disperse outward around the roots, you know? I’m imagining in the ancient world, you know, like my sister lives in North Carolina, I live in Minnesota, but probably in the ancient world if you’re thinking about how your siblings disperse outward from the home, you’re probably all still relatively close. Like, I don’t know, my family in Michigan– my grandpa’s generation– all of the siblings were all within maybe 50 minutes of each other. They were all relatively close. So, think of the third house as everything that kind of adheres to, like the third house is sort of adhering to the fourth, that sort of adheres to or circumambulates around the roots. There’s something really lunar about that if I think about it in that way, you know?
SK: Yeah. And then it’s also like the association of the third house with one’s neighborhood and the surrounding area. It’s like all of your habitual stomping ground, it’s like the walk to the work, it’s like the walk to the Subway, it’s your favorite coffee shop. Also, the third house being associated with daily ritual and practice. And so, again, you’re kind of going back to repetitive motion.
AD: Devotion, that quality of like… Yeah. Yeah, that’s great.
CB: One of the keywords– I put out a poll just asking people what keywords they associate with Cancer on Twitter, and one of them that people mentioned was soft, and also shy. And I thought those are really interesting keywords because in the Yavanajataka in the early Indian tradition, instead of assigning the odd and the even signs to gender saying masculine or feminine, or instead of saying diurnal and nocturnal, they said that the odd signs were hard, and the even signs were soft. And it’s kind of an interesting distinction here when it comes to Cancer because Cancer as a nocturnal sign and a water sign does have this soft quality to it that can be applied on many different levels of the idea of what is soft in your life and the way that that comes off, as opposed to those things in your life that are kind of abrasive in some way.
AD: Yeah, that’s a good point. It goes back to that visual metaphor I think Steph said earlier, which was– I can’t remember who said it now– but if you think about the nocturnal space and the quality of light, you’re thinking about… Like when the Moon is out oftentimes depending on how bright it is, you’re getting a mixture of starlight and Moonlight. So there’s this feeling of the sky being like a village of lights or a community or a city. It’s many, though. It’s many. And the light quality is very much more There’s much more fluidity between things, like the difference between the tree and the rock is more fluid in the daytime. It’s like, “That tree. That rock.” There’s something about that nocturnal space where everything sort of swims together, and I think that’s probably where some of the idea of the softness comes from. It’s interesting to note that the Moon would also be related with like the voters, or the city or the village or things that have to do with something more of a collection or something like that. Anyway, I’m starting to go off but yeah, the softness comes to mind with the nocturnal light quality.
SK: I love that metaphor of the village of lights, it’s so good.
CB: Yeah, I like that notion of softness because you’re right. In the day if you go out at noon and stand outside, the Sun when it’s hitting you has this really abrasive, intense quality. Versus if you go out at night during a full Moon and the Moon is in the middle of the sky, you’re still getting that light, which is important because that’s just like the center of the solar system and light, it plays such an important role for life in general and all plants grow as a result of life. But at night, it is this softer light that’s more supportive while still providing some light in a sort of indirect way?
CB: All right. So, other keywords. I’m pulling up other things. Is shy a good keyword, would you say for Cancer as a tendency?
SK: I feel like that might be like a first decan of Cancer thing but I know we’re not really going to get into the weeds of that. I guess it depends. Sometimes.
AD: I feel like it goes back to that solar-lunar distinction we were just talking about and that we brought up earlier as well, which is if you think about Leo and the Sun being the ruler of Leo, and this idea that as an individual, I’m select. I’m unique. How do I stand out? How do I carve out my role or my legacy? How do I become masterful at something or maybe even famous or whatever? The idea of standing alone, standing apart. It’s very solar, like the one object in the sky that creates all these very clear distinctions between things. You think of the Moon and you think of your life as an ecology, right? My life is about an environment that I’m just one part of. It’s my family, or it’s my friends, or it’s my community, or it’s my relationships. Like the Moon is one of the signifiers, potentially of marriage, or it could be a symbol for home or land or something like that. But I think the reason that shyness gets tucked in there is again because of that light quality is like quieter, and it’s more like, “I’m just a part of something here, I’m just a part of something bigger than me.” And maybe there’s a sense of receding back in into something more collective, and that could be shyness, but I think it becomes a stereotype when we don’t recognize that for some people, being a part of something is not necessarily the same as being shy. Like, being a part of some kind of fabric socially, or culturally, or something like that, which they could be like really strongly identified with maybe like more of a group identification or something, maybe it decreases the sense of being a standout individual or like super extroverted. But I don’t think it necessarily means that a person would be shy.
SK: Yeah, it’s the difference between being a nucleus and being sort of a satellite?
AD: Yeah, that’s it. Yeah.
CB: Right. And being in a support role almost rather than wanting to take center stage. I mean, what is the core underlying shyness, just as a concept in general? It would be almost an emotional fear of putting oneself out there as opposed to, let’s say more of a Leo-type thing of really wanting to sort of thrust oneself into the center stage in the middle of a crowd.
AD: Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good way of defining. I feel like there’s a sense of like, “How am I different from a collective or group?” And then there’s the need to have groups that we identify with. In a similar sense, I’ve never liked yoga, for example. Sometimes yoga teachings will go along the lines of, “You’re not your body, you’re not any kind of category that you become identified within this lifetime. You’re this eternal spirit soul, don’t get attached blah, blah, blah.” And I’m always like, “Yeah. I mean, I can see the benefit or utility of not getting so overly identified with any aspect of our personhood that we are riding a roller coaster all the time.” But at the same time, I think that we also are all of the things that make us up; from the kind of family we grew up in, to the wounds that we’ve experienced, to the things that make us unique… There’s some way in which we’re utterly, totally unique, infinitely individual. But then there’s this other sense in which we’re always going to be identified as what we’re a part of. I feel like that’s kind of also the Sun-Moon dynamic at play.
SK: Yeah, and I also think that maybe some shyness– like what can be seen as shyness– might just be the tendency to want to sort of sense your environment and read the room as people say. And so you’re not going into a new situation immediately trying to make an entrance, you’re going in and just kind of like, “All right, what’s the vibe over here? Who seems cool to talk to you over there?” You know? Like, “Does this person seem like they want to talk to me? Okay. Maybe we have something in common, we can kind of get along.”
CB: Right. And maybe once that’s established then Cancer is able to fully come out or fully show itself once the sort of boundaries or maybe even in private perhaps, you know, in a circle of friends, any pretense of shyness is dropped because the vibe of the crowd in the room and the feeling of comfort is there so it can have more confidence to be itself.
AD: That’s funny. I was thinking of my wife and I and our dynamic, she’s got a bunch of planets in Aries, right? And she’s Cancer rising, but if we’re in situations that require a lot of care and nuanced feeling out of things, she’ll always look at me like, “You handle this one.” And if there’s ever a situation where it’s like, “Man, I am overwhelmed,” and something needs to get done quickly, I’ll just be like, “Okay, you’ve got this one.” Because she’ll just go in and she doesn’t care what they’re thinking or feeling or whatever, she’ll just say stuff or do stuff. And I’m always like, “Oh, my God. I would be so scared to do that.” And so we’re always looking at each other trying to figure out like, “Okay, you got this one? I got this one.”
CB: I like that. That’s a good connection between Cancer and Aries. Because Aries, that was one of the keywords that we came up with that I thought was so good in that episode was speed and quickness, because those are such core things to Mars and to Aries as a cardinal sign. So that’s really interesting to you bring that up.
AD: Yeah. And I guess the Sun is exalted in Aries, too, so it gets a little bit of a Sun Moon distinction as well maybe.
CB: All right, other keywords that came up on Twitter and I’ll just run these by you to see what you both think are humbleness, generous, understanding, kind-hearted, compassionate, and concern. How do you feel about those keywords, or does that spark any thoughts about the overarching archetype?
SK: [crosstalk] I was just gonna say I think most of those track I’m not sure if I necessarily see where the humility part is coming from. Yeah, I guess I could entertain that. But…
CB: Yeah, I guess again it just goes back to that thing of maybe in contrast with Leo, where with Leo is often considered to be like, I don’t know, the least humble sign in some ways, or the tendency to center oneself the most. If the contrast with that is like centering somebody else or or acting as a support or sort of satellite to something else, then that could be conceptualized as a sort of variety of humbleness in some way.
AD: There’s such an interesting dynamic around generosity in Leo and Cancer. Because both sides I think could be fairly described as generous.
AD: Sometimes I think that there’s a covert selfishness with the generosity that could be there in both signs. At least I recognize that in myself as a Cancer. I’m like, “Yeah, you know, sometimes I’m generous.” But it’s because I’m hoping for something in return. [laughs]
SK: Well, Cancer wants to feel needed and Leo wants to feel appreciated.
AD: Yes, exactly.
CB: It’s really good. Needed. So, needed, what does that mean? Or what are some related keywords for that of Cancer, or where that comes from to feel needed?
SK: I guess that kind of goes back to what some people might consider like a nurturing or a mothering instinct, right? I think that sometimes people focus overly on the maternal qualities of Cancer, and not everyone has that instinct necessarily but I think that the lunar archetype is kind of just responsive to what it senses people need, and it wants to provide. I’m just thinking about people who kind of sense that– maybe I’m at work and I can sense that my team needs me to do this and I’m just going to do it. It’s this kind of tendency to be supportive and to provide what people need.
CB: Yeah, to give sustenance to something, maybe is part of the overarching thing. And there can be kind of a similarity between Cancer and Virgo, which is the next nocturnal sign after Leo where Virgos can also be really helpful especially in terms of doing day-to-day things or mechanical things that they feel like, or playing some sort of support role for another person. And we see something similar here with a lot of the nourishing and giving sustenance keywords for Cancer.
AD: Yeah. Think of hexagram number 48 in the ‘I Ching’. This was coming to mind as you guys were just talking, and that hexagram is called The Well. If you people don’t know what the I Ching is, it’s one of the ancient Chinese classics. It’s like a philosophical text and later was also used almost like a [rat killer or Mantic device]. Anyway, it’s comprised of these different hexagrams that are six-lined figures of yin and yang lines interacting. They cradle these different archetypal stages of life. And the 48th hexagram called The Well says, “Basically, the village can’t do without the well. Everything in the village has to be centered around that the well, this common thing that everyone needs, you know, water.” And I feel like the thing about Cancerians is that– at least I recognize this in myself and so forth– is that you’re constantly trying to place yourself in a position such that people couldn’t do without you. Like, you’re vital somehow to the village, to the family, to the clan, to the community… It goes back to that sense of being a part of an ecology. Sometimes the generosity is truly because there’s something well-liked about what Cancers provide and it’s an overflowing sense of something that everyone needs, and I think other times it’s about making sure that you, you know, it’s like, “Well, if that’s the role I play then I have to make sure I’m always in a central position so the village can’t exist without me, I’m the well.” I can notice myself taking that on sometimes.
CB: Yeah, I love that because of the life-giving quality and necessity of water in order to give and support life, and how in ancient times you did have cities that would need to have like a well for drinkable water. Or how you had some great civilizations that grew up around these major rivers like the Tigris and the Euphrates and Mesopotamia, or in India the Indus Valley Civilization, and other major civilizations that sort of came up in different parts of the world that tended to focus on rivers because of the need of water for sustenance and just growing crops and life and everything else.
AD: There’s something about water that’s humble in the sense that waters always running downhill toward like a reservoir. I was just thinking about the well and humility, and maybe there’s some association there somehow with the fact that water sort of runs down to the lowest point and sort of gathers somehow.
CB: Right. And yet still conforms too because it’s like on the Aristotelian or sort of platonic notion of fire rises up to the top, air rises up as well but it settles just below fire, then you have Earth that falls down to the lowest part of the cosmos, to the center of the cosmos in Aristotelian cosmology. And then you have water that settles right on top of and takes the shape of Earth right on top of it. So there’s your adaptability or your humbleness in some ways as well, in terms of just taking on the shape of something else rather than imposing its own form or its own shape on something else.
AD: Right. That seems to go into the third house association with like… I’m trying to remember. I remember taking Demetra’s class on the third house a couple of years ago, I think it was at this point and her talking about how the third house would be associated with the queen, and the rules that would be customary and how you treat people… Almost like the folk traditions or rules that would be common for a city or a village or the way you treat guests who come into your home or something like that. The idea of the water collecting down at the roots and forming with the Earth has this connection to things that are folky. And who was it? I’m trying to think of- Was it Joan Baez who had the Sun or Moon and Cancer in the third house, I think it was, I might be messing that up. But she has a third house Sun or Moon. She’s often attributed with being one of the pivotal figures at the folk roots revival, I think it was called. It was like a folk music revival that she was part of.
CB: Okay. Let’s see other keywords, just going back to my whole Twitter list. We’ve talked about a lot of the positive ones and one of the ones I always just want to keep it balanced without trashing any one sign, but I’m looking for some of the more challenging keywords that people submitted. One of them that they mentioned was avoidant, defensive and sometimes clingy was another keyword that people submitted. And I’m not always saying that the keywords from Twitter are the best and final word on the subject of astrology and significations, because sometimes the general ideas that people have floating around of certain signs are not very good in pop astrology. But how do you feel about those three? Or does that raise any thoughts in you?
SK: I think this might be most true for the Cancer Rising experience, but just thinking about how derivative houses work and the sign relationships, Cancer Rising has Saturn ruling the seventh and the eighth house. And so my take on that is it’s sort of like till death do us part, you know? It’s like you kind of take the loyalty to an extreme, and so it’s like forever bonds. So I think that could be interpreted as being kind of clingy because I think… I don’t know, it depends. Because I think on one hand Cancers do take their intimate relationships very seriously and they kind of want to maintain them over time. There’s also something that I’ve personally observed with Cancer energy, I guess, where I think when a Cancer is done with someone they’re really done. I’ve heard that kind of referred to as like a door slam.
CB: So the emotions can be really intense if they’re in the relationship, but then if that shifts then that can go really intensely in the opposite direction as well.
SK: Yeah, the wall goes up, the shell. And so I think that’s what the other keyword was. What was it again?
CB: Let’s see; avoidant and defensive, and I think clingy were the three that I just said.
SK: Yeah. I guess it’s like, are you in the inner circle or the outer circle? Like, that’s going to define your experience with Cancer.
CB: Right. And it may be hard, if not impossible, to get back in the inner circle if you’ve been shut out?
SK: Possibly. Yeah.
AD: There’s something sort of if you think about the sublunary sphere in the in a Platonic sense, like the Allegory of the Cave and the prisoner being enamored by the shadows on the wall. And then let’s say this prisoner in the Platonic Allegory of the Cave, gets out of their bonds and leaves the cave and sees the light of the eternal forms and so forth. He goes back in the cave and he’s trying to tell the other people, “Hey, did you know that there’s this place outside of the cave?” Plato says that the freed person has to be careful going back into the cave because the prisoners being disturbed could kill him. And you think about the very platonic movie like The Matrix, it’s kind of a similar almost platonic type of movie. So I think there’s something just from the ancient philosophical platonic sense of being… We’re attached to bodies, you know? Like the spirit soul, if you think about it in that way, is attached to a body. And we don’t like things that disturb our attachments in physical sense. Whether it’s your morning routine and something as simple as that, or the bonds you have, or whatever, there’s something about this world that it works and it’s enjoyable in some ways because you form all these bonds and attachments. But then there’s something inherently about bondedness itself that clings. It’s something clinging to something else. Or just like the light of the Sun is sort of clinging to the Moon somehow. There’s something about that level of attachment that’s sort of fundamental so it makes sense that the shadow of it would be this inability to let go or this… It’s trouble with detaching.
SK: Yeah. Also maybe like romanticizing the past, you know?
CB: Yeah. That makes sense. A bondedness really would be a core keyword because that then ties together several different of our archetypal trees that we’re branching off from our overarching archetype. I like that. So, bondedness. And then the downside of that could be having an over bondedness when it’s too much, and trying to hold on too tightly to something when somebody else is like– maybe it’s the first date and you’re professing your undying love for somebody. Maybe it’s a little bit too quick.
SK: Yeah, I don’t know. I think that a lot of the kind of negative stereotypes of Cancer, you can trace that back to… One of the unique things about Cancer is that it’s the only sign where both malefics suffer a condition of detrimental fall. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Cancer as a whole prefers to cuddle, it doesn’t want to deal with things being harsh or unpleasant or tough. It wants to create a soft environment. But then you think about how planets in fall can also just be chaotic and unpredictable and then planets in detriment have a tendency to distort themselves to get by in a strange environment, I guess. And so, you think about Mars and that ferocity that Cancer can sometimes be associated with. And then Saturn and the coldness when Cancer has the shell up, that boundary can have this warped quality to it in a way. It’s like you think about a Cancer when it’s like a mother bear protecting its young or a Cancer when they crawl inside their shell. It’s like you’re getting that Mars and Saturn doing a weird dance.
AD: But Cancer doesn’t- If you think about Mars in its fall depressed in Cancer, it’s like- Well, I always think of the example of life includes the severing of the umbilical cord. I remember cutting with the scissors when both of my kids were born. I got to clip the umbilical cord and I remember just being a little scared like, oh my God. So I just think that it’s like that severing action of Mars that naturally severs bonds, that’s a good visual image of the umbilical cord being cut. It’s totally natural. It’s okay. But it’s like life involves union and separation, union and separation coming in and out of one another. One way of looking at Mars is durability and Cancer might be like it’s hard for a place that so much about boundedness to deal with things that sever.
CB: That’s perfect. I love that. Also, I was thinking with what you were just saying, Steph, that one of the issues with Cancer is it’s actually an aversion to two of the fire signs. It’s an aversion to Leo and it’s an aversion also to Sagittarius because it has no major aspect with those signs because it shows no affinity with them. One of the things that fire signs really like is freedom and freedom of movement. I think that’s one of the issues also when it comes to that is it’s not that Cancer doesn’t like freedom but once bonds are created, that notion of clinginess can sometimes be felt by especially like fire signs that like to be able to go off and talk to and build other bonds with other people and keep things light and not super heavy, whereas Cancer maybe wants to create that bond and then do whatever it takes to maintain it and to have some regularity with it.
AD: Yeah, one of my best friends in graduate school was an Aries and another one of my best friends now is an Aries and I’m a Cancer. I find that I’m always like, “Oh, I’m so envious of how free you are.” But on the same note, my two buddies, they both say, “I just feel like the family, the things that,” because they’re both bachelors, they’re both like utterly free-spirited, traveling the world, living abroad and there’s this like, “Oh, I like and I’m interested in what your MO is like.” I think there’s weird interesting attraction between Aries and Cancer as well that I’ve noticed in some of my close friendships.
CB: Yeah, I love that. Because that can be really hard to then, because they just don’t have a similar MO in terms of how they would approach things in that way and that’s interesting though that on each side there can be almost like, because it’s so foreign from what you gravitate towards, almost like an exoticness to that of like, oh, that would be interesting to experience because it’s so different than what my life is like.
SK: I think Cancer also has this ability to create a sense of home wherever it goes, so even if it’s not the traditional expression of like having firm roots and a hometown that you’re three generations deep in, it’s like you think about someone like Anthony Bourdain who his Cancerian-ness is that he was able to go all over the place and just create intimacy with strangers over a meal.
AD: Yeah, that’s a great one.
CB: Yeah, over food. He did a travel show, for those that are not familiar, did a travel show on Food Network. He had Leo rising in the Sun in Cancer. Food is an important discussion topic for the Moon and the connection between Cancer and the stomach as well as a major component and that was something that first came up in Taurus, but I feel like we’ve got a repeating theme there in Cancer as well. Why is that? It’s because I mean, food is sustenance, it’s a way that you can actually support somebody else or support a guest. It’s interesting in a lot of cultures how people will offer guests food or how if you’re staying at somebody else’s house, that’s one of the things that you have to be provided by someone else. So maybe it’s through those themes of nurturing or supporting and giving sustenance to another.
SK: Yeah. Also, this idea of the well like a central gathering point around, but like a basic survival need.
CB: Yeah, and therefore also a commonality because it’s something that you can relate to somebody else through having a shared experience of food or sitting and eating together or even liking the same food and finding that you have an affinity for each other through some basic necessity that both of you happen to like.
SK: Yeah, definitely. It makes me think about how food is such a social experience. It’s like obviously something we need to do as a physical need, but then there’s so much culture and tradition and just custom that’s built around that. One of the easiest ways for someone to appreciate another culture that they’re not familiar with is to enjoy its food.
CB: Yeah, that’s really good. I like that. Are there any other major instances or people with Cancer placements or famous celebrity charts that either of you can think of that are examples that come to mind when you think of Cancer?
SK: I had Pablo Neruda. He is a mega Cancer, actually. He has six planets there. His chart is actually super interesting. I don’t know if you have the link in there where it’s saved in your database.
CB: Yeah, let me see if I can find it. But go ahead and explain or describe the chart for the audio listeners and I’ll see if I can find it.
SK: Yeah. So Pablo Neruda I believe he had a Pisces rising and just like a huge Cancer stellium in the fifth house. He’s most famous for being a poet. The quality of his poems, he had other things. He was involved in politics and communism at one point, but his legacy was really just in that the poetry and specifically loved poetry. I guess it’s like the fifth house quality. Some of those poems were erotic in nature. They also had this element of surrealism to them, again going back to the association with images and dreams. But a lot of his poems contained- It was like he was drawing on these memories of his love affairs and memories of his homeland. I found something he said one time, Neruda said that it was through metaphor, not rational analysis and argument, that the mysteries of the world could be revealed.
AD: That’s interesting. That would tie in very nicely to Hemingway as well often cited in relation to that idea that the beauty of the iceberg is that so much of it lies beneath the surface submerged. A lot of his prose stories were very common. A lot of his stories were about simple themes like I think of the old man in the sea and lots of others too. So much of his prose were very simple and simple, short sentences, but there was so much there as well that was suggestive or that… You read his prose and it’s like you’re reading short, simple sentences, but it doesn’t feel like it evokes a lot. I think there’s something very lunar about that as well.
CB: Here is that first chart that you were just talking about a minute ago, Steph, of Pablo Neruda. He has Pisces rising and the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Neptune all in Cancer in the fifth whole sign house. That’s pretty impressive as far as Cancer stelliums go.
SK: Yeah, I feel like he’s a like mega Cancer.
CB: Right. Yeah, I don’t think I have any bigger Cancer stelliums than that in my database at this point. Then you just mentioned Hemingway and here’s Hemingway’s chart, which was Virgo rising and the Sun and Venus in Cancer in the 11th whole sign house.
AD: Interestingly, he also has the Moon in Capricorn.
CB: Yeah, so there’s a Full Moon. Full Moon chart or just before a Full Moon? Are there any other example charts that either of you wanted to share?
SK: Yeah, there was actually just a couple musicians that I thought were interesting examples of how a Mercury-Mars conjunction in Cancer can show up in very different genres. So, Lana Del Rey, she has Sun in Cancer and Mercury in Mars. I think that she’s an interesting representative of the archetype. A lot of her music is just very wistful and fragile. It has this vulnerability and love Lauren quality to it. But then as the Sun in Cancer with the Sun ruling her Midheaven, part of her brand I guess as a musician is this visual identification with old Hollywood and Americana, which I think is interesting because the US has a Cancer-Sun too. Also, one of her-
CB: We’re actually recording this on July 4th on the birthday of the United States.
SK: Yeah, that and one of her most famous songs is called Summertime Sadness, which like what is Cancer season, but Summertime Sadness. Then the other example I had was Kendrick Lamar who I think is most often thought of as like the Gemini because he has his Sun in Gemini, he has Mercury, Mars and his Midheaven in Cancer. I think it’s just interesting because there’s this rhythmic cadence to the way that he raps. It’s almost like staccato in like a buttery texture. It’s sharp, but it’s flowy. Then also his lyrics are very raw and emotionally effecting so it feels a little bit like confessional poetry. Again, it’s like that interiority, but with the Mercury-Mars conjunction, it feels a little provocative, too.
CB: Yeah, Kendrick has Libra rising with Mercury, Mars and the Midheaven all in Cancer in the 10th whole sign house. I like that connection also because he also has the Gemini placements in the interchange between those two with the Sun and Venus in Gemini and just being basically one of the most brilliant lyricists of his generation, or at least usually regarded as. All right. You said you had one other point to make about Anthony Bourdain as well?
SK: Oh, yeah. I mean I think he’s one of my favorite Cancers. I think the obvious association is like he’s someone who’s basically like a food travel personality. But I think that his Cancerian-ness really comes through in just how a lot of his show like the way that the camera lens was focused, it was almost like from the way that he was looking. It had this kind of subjective quality. I think what really comes through is his care and his respect for the humanity of his subjects. And so, he was someone who I think really stood out because he wasn’t afraid to show genuine emotion on camera and somehow it never felt gimmicky or scripted when he did it. You know how some people try to do that and it’s like, “Oh, look at what a good person I am.” But I think that there was something very authentic about that.
CB: And authenticity I think is a good word for Cancer because that was how he initially got famous is through his book Kitchen Confidential where it was like he wrote a book talking about the secret life of professional chefs and letting you into that world or letting you in on a secret in some sense and in that way just told it how it was and was much more authentic about things almost to the point of being blunt, but there was something that was really appealing about his authenticity in that way. Yeah.
So you mentioned Lana Del Rey’s song Summertime Sadness and I don’t know if we got into the sadness part as a keyword. I know we’ve talked about emotions and sentimentality and things like that, but sadness might be an important keyword for Cancer in being tied into some of those emotional keywords as a potential downside but also a positive side at the same time of the archetype.
AD: I think of speaking of charts and what comes to my mind is Robin Williams. Obviously, it’s tragic the way that he passed and dealing with depression throughout his life. I one time had a friend who worked with him. It was someone who did hair and makeup and worked in Hollywood and stuff like that and got to do his hair and makeup on a set one time and he said that he was one of the most empathetic human beings that he’d ever met in even just hanging out with him for like an hour getting him ready for the camera. When I think of the different roles he’s played, whether it’s like Patch Adams or, what was his name, Professor Keating from Dead Poets Society, I think that was his name, there’s this quality in him that it’s like a sad, sweet quality. There’s like this tender, empathetic. I think sometimes it’s not just sad, like sad is a good word, but I think it’s almost like your sadness is safe with me, or your sadness is appreciated, or your sadness is welcome here.
And so, there’s almost like a reservoir for other people’s emotions that Cancer is very welcoming in that respect. I think sometimes that might get confused; the empathy can get confused for sadness. I think Robin Williams is just a really interesting example of that quality of empathy. I’m always reminded of what my friend said about being with him in the same room, which is like he was just such an incredibly empathetic person.
CB: Yeah empathy, that’s a really important keyword for Cancer. It also connects it with the sign Pisces, as I was hearing you talk about that, and also looking at Robin Williams chart where he had Scorpio rising and then Mars, Uranus and the Sun in Cancer in the ninth whole sign house, but he also had a Pisces Moon in the fifth house. That’s similar too and makes me think of it as almost like an inversion of the birth chart of Kurt Cobain who had the Sun in Pisces and the Moon in Cancer. I know that was something that he really struggled with was his empathy and sometimes feelings of sadness and stuff and just being overwhelmed by that in some ways with having so much water in his chart.
AD: That reminds me, can you go back to Williams’ chart for just a second? Okay, so this is something that I also heard about him through my friend, which was that you see that Mars-Uranus conjunction in Cancer and Robin Williams would apparently get so emotionally worked up both before he went on stage and during and after that he would sweat uncontrollably. There was just this uncontrollable release of water from his body. You can actually see it in some of the original standups that he did. Like on stage, you’ll notice the just profuse amount of sweating. My friend who’s into astrology as well was like, “I just couldn’t help but notice the Mars-Uranus conjunction in his chart in Cancer.” He was not only empathetic but he was such a live wire on stage and relating to the emotions of the audience and stuff that he would sweat uncontrollably and I thought that is such a perfect Mars-Uranus in Cancer signature in his chart.
SK: Yeah, I guess it just makes you think about like, why do Cancers need to be so guarded in the first place, what is the origin point of the need to have energetic boundaries or like a self-protective forcefield? It’s that sensitivity. It’s the kind of porousness where you’re always just like a wash in this sea of energetic content or just feelings and memories from other people that can sometimes deplete you or bring you down. I think all water signs are like that and they have different ways of coping with it. I think that with Pisces, they might just dissociate when things get to be overwhelming.
CB: Right, or have a tendency towards escapism or other things like that.
AD: There’s also this- Oh, go ahead, Chris.
CB: It’s just making me think of, again back to Kurt Cobain’s chart, and just what he said in his suicide note where he actually talked about that and he talked about just overwhelming emotions and things like that. He said at one point I mean, he refers to himself famously as a sad, little Pisces, but there’s some other points in it where he just talks about how he feels too sad and he says, “I can’t get over the frustration, the guilt and the empathy that I have for everyone.” He says, “There’s good in all of us, and I think I simply love people too much so that makes me feel too fucking sad, the sad, little, sensitive, unappreciative Pisces.” Jesus, man, why don’t you just enjoy it? He says, “I don’t know.” And so, some of the ways that he expresses that obviously is coming through the Pisces placement, but it’s just doubled up by the Cancer placement of his Moon at the same time.
AD: Oh Chris, pull up that note one more time. I want to show you one thing that was right below where you just were. I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy. And she’s what? Cancer-Sun, isn’t she?
CB: Yeah, Sun and Moon. Courtney Love has the Sun and Moon and Cancer in the 10th house, I believe.
AD: I think it’s interesting that the sweating of empathy is mentioned after what I was just saying about Robin Williams and that his wife has Sun, Moon, Cancer as well. It’s just really struck me.
CB: Yeah. Well, and it’s interesting that that’s one of the qualities that he exalts about his wife is that she has so much empathy. And then when he goes on in the same paragraph to talk about his daughter, he says, “And I have a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. That terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive death rocker that I’ve become.” So, it’s like he sees the qualities of himself and having that openness and empathy that water quality in his daughter at such a young age, but he worries for her and he fears for her because he knows that that openness sometimes is going to get her into trouble or there will be people that take advantage of that or don’t return it in a positive way and that’s something that he worries about on some very core level.
AD: He said there, “Thank you from the pit of my burning nauseous stomach.” I thought that was interesting, very Cancerian line as well.
SK: Yeah, and then just thinking about like the nature of his Cancer planets, he has the Moon and Jupiter there which are both very dignified, but then I think that combination expresses itself as just this abundance of care for every single thing and every single sorrow that’s going on in the world. And a lot of people just tap out at like, well, there’s all this stuff going on and it’s just like I can’t bring myself to care about every single little thing and every single little- A lot of people just can only focus on a couple things at a time. But then I think with Moon and Jupiter and Cancer, it’s like there’s enough care to go around and also that can be very subjectively difficult for the person who’s always tapping into that limitless world.
CB: Right, because there’s both a care in this local community or local family unit of Cancer, but then also with Pisces on the more collective or universal level as well.
AD: There’s the Venus, the Exalted Venus conjoined Saturn feels very Shakespearean too both in terms of describing some of the nature of his relationship with Courtney Love and also, I think some of that sense of like I care about people too much. Then there’s another part in that letter where he says he doesn’t like human beings and I just feel like the extreme of loving everyone, but also there’s this Shakespeare… When I think of people with Venus-Saturn combinations in their chart, I sometimes think of that Shakespearean quality and love, but I also think of sometimes people have very finely tuned sense of what they both like but also what they reject will be really strong. I don’t like that. That’s not beautiful or something. So, yeah, that Venus-Saturn strikes me as a part of what we’re talking about right now too, anyway.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Here’s Courtney Love’s birth chart, his wife who has the Sun at 17 Cancer and the Moon at 23 Cancer in the 10th house. So that means that he had his Moon in Cancer on her Sun or near her Sun as well as her Moon and so that was part of the synastry connection that they shared and probably part of the connection between the two of them and him identifying that that sense of empathy is being shared quality between them.
AD: It’s funny that you mentioned the ‘till death do us part’ thing, Steph, where you were talking about Cancer risings and I think it was like you said the seventh and eighth being ruled by Saturn and so forth. I think it’s interesting that, I’m not saying I believe this, but there’s someone at my gym the other day who was adamant, absolutely adamant that Courtney Love killed Cobain. Don’t you know? So there’s this conspiracy. There’s people who still really, really believe that she killed him. And I thought, “Well, it’s like as we were talking, I thought, “Regardless of if that’s true or not, it plays into the whole Cancerian dynamic of the marriage, which was at times really complicated by drug addiction, clinging and attachment.” Then even if she had nothing to do with that, and it’s a horrible thing to even think, nonetheless, people have somehow projected that on to her perhaps and it seems fitting somehow for a Sun, Moon and Cancer that you would be-
And it’s comparable which is, again I’m not a believer in that particular conspiracy theory, I don’t really even know what it consists of. But it’s interesting that OJ Simpson who’s also of course his whole life story is embedded in the death of his wife and being charged for the murder of his wife. He’s acquitted in the criminal trial but convicted in a civil trial, if I remember. I don’t remember exactly. There’s one that he got off and then there’s another one where he was charged or he was guilty. I don’t remember which one was which. But either way, it’s interesting that he has a Cancerian chart as well. Then you’re looking at some similar themes in terms of like someone who was really possessive.
I remember I watched the OJ: Made in America documentary that came out some years ago and it was just this description of someone who was intensely possessive of their spouse. So whether that’s true of Courtney or not, it’s interesting that drug addiction and clinging and some elements of codependency were really reported in Kurt Cobain’s documentary that I watched called the Montage of Heck. That documentary talked a lot about some of the issues around codependency in that relationship with drugs. So there’s some interesting parallels there is all I’m trying to say I guess without sounding like too much of a jerk.
CB: Yeah, it’s really tricky. Because of that tendency sometimes for Pisces to have a tendency towards escapism and sometimes that can be through things like drug or alcohol or sometimes more constructive things like even like movies or music or something like that, but having that tendency to want to be able to escape to another realm or to another world in some sense and be taken away from the immediacy of the overwhelming sense of feelings and empathy and everything else in the material world. Cancer has that to some extent as well, but I’m not sure what is Cancer’s form of escapism if Cancer was to want to escape from things by- Is it similar to Taurus like sometimes the things that make you feel good physically like eating your favorite food or something like that?
SK: Yeah, I think it’s withdrawing and staying inside your home and staying inside, watching TV, not going out, canceling your plans.
AD: That’s sounds very familiar.
CB: Maybe it’s the friend that needs to be dragged out of their house by their more extroverted friends because otherwise maybe their default tendency might be to have like a quiet night in.
AD: Cling to the familiar.
SK: Listen to a sad song on repeat.
CB: Right. All right. Are there any other example charts that we meant to go through or share in this section?
AD: The only other one I was going to mention was Tom Hanks, but there’s not much to say that we haven’t already said thematically about him other than… I think one of the interesting things about that I’ve always found as an interesting parallel is that he’s a Cancer son, I believe. I’m trying to remember. He’s a Cancer son, I think.
CB: Yeah, Sun and Mercury and Cancer in the 11th whole sign house.
AD: So, Cancer son. And one of the things that Cancerian men deal with, I think– and this is just my own reflections and in my clientele– is, like the movie Big, he plays a little boy in a grown man’s body. [laughs] You guys have seen that movie? I’m sure you have. It’s classic. So to me, that’s like it’s such a quintessential Cancer son- He plays a lot of things in his career that reflect his Cancer son like Castaway. Is it castaway? I think that was what it was called. And Polar Express, you know, he’s Santa Claus. There’s a lot of very childlike elements. But one of the things that I think is also really interesting is just, you know, the way that… Like I was joking, I had a couple of friends a while ago and we were like, “We need to start a Cancer sons’ dads club or something like this” Because there’s a feeling that I feel in many ways very childlike, even though I’m a grown man, you know? And I think that dichotomy of the child and the adult, regardless of gender or sex distinctions, just the child and the adult dichotomy. If you want to look at the movie Big in that way, too, is really interesting. It’s as though there’s something that’s sort of eternally childlike within Cancerians even if they become adults.
SK: I Am Baby.
AD: [laughs] That’s worth mentioning.
CB: Yeah. So there’s an earnestness and that’s really important. And even in- I think his most famous role was Forrest Gump. That’s kind of one of the recurring themes, is just his earnestness or almost like childlike demeanor in encountering all these experiences through history as part of the charm of it in some sense.
AD: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. There’s this weird… I feel like a lot of my childhood remains really, really… I went to school, I did an MFA in Creative Writing, and what I wrote my book about were mostly childhood memories. And I feel like there’s something about childhood that remains important for almost every Cancerian I know, no matter how old they are.
CB: Maybe it has to do with just the importance, like impressionability of childhood and how they say that within– what is it? The first seven years or something that most of the childhood experiences you have will imprint on you major things in terms of your personality and how you’ll later grow and develop the rest of your life.
AD: You know what that makes me think of, Chris, is the teaching of the important lunar days after birth. There’s this doctrine that you would look at, you know, what was happening on– I’m trying to remember. Basically that if you think of the progressed lunar cycle you’re following, how the first or maybe first one or two Moon cycles after your birth play out as a symbolic progression of your life. Or that you might like the pre-natal lunation. Or that you might look at– I’m trying to remember what days it was. It was like seven, eleventh and 40 or- Do you know what I’m talking about?
CB: Yeah, it’s the third, seventh and 40th day of the Moon, I think.
AD: That’s what it is. Yeah. That seems like exactly what you’re saying.
CB: Yeah, definitely. So just in terms of that, and then those memories sort of stay with you and stay residual even into later years. And the important role that that plays in informing your personality. Which kind of makes me think of the debate between how much of our personalities come in fully formed versus how much of it is conditioned by early childhood experiences and conditioning? You know, how much do we have a blank slate versus how much is there already? And clearly, some of those early childhood experiences do make a major difference and can alter a person’s trajectory for better or worse.
AD: Yeah, and that brings back up the idea of writing almost like a blank slate that you’re inscribing something on or that something has already been inscribed upon, or something like that. Sorry to interrupt, Steph.
SK: Oh, no. I was just gonna say when I was in high school and I was going through teenage teen depression, I had a phase where I wanted to find my old childhood friends. And, you know, this was before Facebook existed. So I tried to reconnect with all these people that were important to me in my childhood because I felt like there was something in that that I needed to kind of like reconnect with maybe the core essence of who I was or… Yeah, I don’t know. That’s been something that I’ve kind of- That’s kind of how I am. Like, I’m interested in maintaining those connections, some people aren’t.
AD: Facebook. [laughs] I just had to say that word. Facebook. Everything it was meant to be, everything it became
SK: Oh, God. No, I had to go through a phone book to find my old elementary school friend.
CB: You’re gonna have to explain what a phonebook is to our younger listeners.
SK: Oh, my God. I’m like really dating myself.
CB: Yeah, yeah. So, nostalgia. That’s really important, like nostalgia and a yearning to connect with one’s younger self, which sometimes maybe feels like one’s authentic self before all sorts of other life experiences built up on top of it and colored and changed things. And maybe what was the blank paper of your life and your personality early on got so many different marks and scratches and illustrations imprinted on it. But thinking back to that, that earlier version may be in a sort of idealization of the earlier times.
SK: Yeah, definitely. And also just kind of going back to Cancers remembering everything, that was one of the things that I think realizing that not everyone is having the same kinds of experiences on the inside and it’s just always being the one to be like, “Oh, my God, do you remember when this happened 20 years ago?” And everyone’s like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Are you like that, too?
AD: Oh, that just reminded me. This is the way my brain works. So, people will be saying something and it just triggers some other idea or thought that’s related. Yeah, Steph. I just was remembering and so I just looked it up while you were talking. And Garrison Keillor who’s very famous for creating this very nostalgic sense of sort of Lake Wobegon. You guys know Lake Wobegon? Okay, so he’s this radio personality. He was on NPR for a long time. And he’s from Minnesota, he has Jupiter and Venus in Cancer, and he had this show called The Prairie Home Companion. And part of the slogan of Prairie Home Companion– I’ll read it to you guys because you can’t believe how Cancerian it is. Anyway, he was a radio personality who had this fictional show about a fictional town called Lake Wobegon. “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” It’s this funny caricature of rural Minnesota and how, you know, there’s these nostalgic sentimental bonds of how great small town life is and yet the whole show is about how absurd and ridiculous it is at the same time.
Anyway, I was in a creative writing program and he came as a visiting teacher. I was writing a memoir at the time, and a lot of it contained stories about growing up in a small town in Minnesota. So I asked him, I said, “Well, what would you recommend when it comes to writing about small town Minnesota? How should I write it?” And he said, there’s this really interesting story about the town (I told him I grew up in Cambridge, Minnesota,) and he ended up telling a story about one of the owners of a newspaper in that town who was a diehard Republican his whole life. But I think it was his last year of life, right before he died he ended up voting for Al Gore because he was really, really concerned with the environment and he felt like Al Gore was a good advocate for environmentalism to the point where he was willing to kind of set aside all of his Republican values, too, because he loved the environment more than he loved the Republican Party. That was sort of this really interesting twist that the story took at the end. And so Garrison Keillor said, “In your memories, everything remains the same. In your memories, it’s this idyllic thing. But the truth is that people and things are always changing, and so your memory always has to take into account the fact that nothing remains static, nothing remains as perfect as your memory will try to hold it to be.” And I always thought that was such a really insightful thing that sort of reflected the wisdom of his Venus, Jupiter in Cancer and the way that he told stories about folk life in Minnesota.
CB: I love that. Yeah, that’s perfect. One of the last things that was mentioned that you were talking about, Steph, reminded me of something that movie production studios over the past decade keep doing remakes because people love the nostalgia from when they were younger. And so it’s safe for movie studios to remake an old movie that they know sold because it plays to people’s emotions and idealization of the past, and like loving something that already familiar in some sense. So you get all of these rebooted movies or soft reboots and things like that.
AD: Top Gun. That was the most successful movies I think in recent history or maybe set records or something. And it was a total reboot of a beloved movie. Or like Stranger Things, which is all so much 80s nostalgia, that Netflix series.
CB: Right. Yeah, Top Gun has gotten over a billion dollars already, it’s only been out for what, like a couple of weeks? So there’s something really important there as well about, you know, that which is familiar and that just feeling good to people as a default, and that being something that’s super important to Cancer maybe the familiar being more important to Cancer almost than any other sign.
AD: Summer blockbusters are like that, too, aren’t they? I feel like summer blockbusters are always sort of like, they’re not like Oscar-winning films that do something radically different or experimental. I feel like summer blockbusters sort of play on your emotions.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s probably true. That’s really crucial in terms of the centering of that. Taurus has something similar, except as a fixed Earth sign, it’s just the repetition of what feels good being a thing that Taurus does, of finding that thing that it likes and then just really leaning into it and doing it over and over again to the point where other signs might get bored with that thing. But Taurus actually finds joy in that, in the familiar, and in the repetition of it. There’s something like that with Cancer, except it’s the joy in that which is familiar.
SK: It kind of makes me think about how when you listen to a familiar song that doesn’t activate more dopamine or something, that could be wrong. It’s like your brain has a neurochemical response to something it recognizes so it’s kind of like, “Oh yeah, I know how this song goes.”
AD: That makes sense. Every time we get in a car, my daughter will ask for the exact same Miley Cyrus song. So maybe there’s something to that. [laughs]
CB: Right. I like that because that’s, again, a connection between- With Taurus, it’s the liking of something from a physical sensation like smell or taste or something like that. But with listening to a song, there’s a little bit of that since there’s this sense of hearing, but it’s also sometimes with music like also an appealing to an emotion or something, like a song that reminds you of somebody or a song that reminds you of some situation from the past or what have you.
SK: Yeah, you’re setting a vibe.
CB: Yeah. All right. Well, so we’ve been talking for about two hours so that’s pretty good. We’ve gone through most of the basic significations that I wanted to go through or a lot of the ones that I got from Twitter. Are there any major areas or things that we haven’t touched on but should have that we’re going to kick ourselves if we don’t mention before the end of this?
AD: I think there’s one interesting thing that can be mentioned about Saturn in Cancer. I feel like we tonne of touched on Mars in Cancer not as much on Saturn in Cancer aside from the Capricorn-Cancer distinction. But I have a client who’s allowed me to use their chart in teaching demos and stuff like that, who was born with Saturn in Cancer in the 10th house. And I thought it was interesting that the first time I talked to them, they described inheriting a family business that they felt obligated to run and take care of even though it wasn’t really what they wanted to do. And so I thought it’s one thing that I’ve seen in my practice over and over, it’s like a similar pattern with Saturn in Cancer of being emotionally bound up or obligated to things like a sense of emotional responsibility for things that sometimes feels really heavy or weighty. That seems to be part maybe of why Saturn is kind of more difficult in Cancer. I’ve had a lot of single moms, for example, who are really like, “Oh my gosh, I’m struggling to make ends meet. Father isn’t paying maybe child support or something,” and it’s like oh, Saturn in Cancer in the eighth house or something like that. That was just something that I thought of that might be interesting to talk about.
SK: That also kind of reminds me of how like, no one in the world will guilt trip you better than your mom, you know? [laughs] Also, I feel like there’s kind of a missed opportunity when we mentioned the Thema Mundi with Cancer Rising about- Have you heard about that weird trend where organisms keep evolving back into crabs?
SK: There’s this thing, I swear to God, I don’t know what the official name for it is. I think it’s like carcinisation or something or something like that. Carcinisation, where they keep finding that organisms just evolved back into crab-like forms. And I think that’s been a joke or an association people have made on Twitter before about how, you know, Cancer rising Thema Mundi, all life forms revert to crab.
AD: That’s interesting. Wow. I wonder if there’s any connection etymologically with the word incarceration and Cancer or the root word of Cancer.
CB: One last thing that I was to mentioned briefly but since we’re recording this on Independence Day on July 4th 2022, that the United States has a Cancer son in the Declaration of Independence chart. And it makes me think of some of the interesting themes that come up with the country. And it’s a little hard to stand outside of the country that we live in, but to whatever extent that that’s appropriate, where you have these debates about recently for example the Supreme Court of like, what does the Constitution say or what did the Founding Fathers intend? And this kind of idealisation of the past and of the people that created the country and on the part of some people, to stick with that or go back to that or stay with the past in some sense in this tension between past and future that’s like a recurring theme in the country.
AD: There’s a lot of like Hatfields versus McCoys vibe in our country, and I think a lot of that probably relates back to the Cancerian, at least the shadow tendency towards clannishness and like ‘my clan’ as opposed to ‘your clan’ whether it’s like a sports team that’s a part of like… I don’t know. I grew up in small town Midwest where the local high school sports team, the entire community would come out to see play on a Friday night. Which sounds crazy when I think about it now. That was this huge rallying point. But I think it’s kind of a microcosm for what I’ve come to see about our country in general, which is that people love to have these really intense emotional loyalties to things. And sometimes will even remain irrationally committed to them even when it’s maybe even against their own interest. I don’t know, some of that seems Cancerian to me.
CB: Let me pull up the US Sibley chart. Here’s the US Sibley chart, just one of the charts in the US and it has the Sun at 13 Cancer, as well as Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and possibly a lot of fortune in Cancer in the eighth whole sign house. If the Sibley’s chart is correct, and there’s a lot of debate about that, but at least we know that the Declaration of Independence chart does have a Cancer stellium. So it’s interesting about the idealization of the past, but then there’s another quality that can come up sometimes when it comes to that, which is there can be another flip side of that coin which is the excessively sweet or sentimental. And there’s a word for that, which is like saccharin? Is that the way you pronounce it?
AD: I think so.
CB: Like when something is overly sweet or overly sentimental, or is playing to one’s emotions and appeals to the past in a way that’s either going too far or is almost like playing it up in some sense.
AD: That perfectly describes the purposeful humour of Prairie Home Companion. And he has the Venus, Jupiter in Cancer combined. Garrison Keillor did. He shows a purposeful way of making fun of Minnesota nice, you know, which is oftentimes this exaggerated thing exactly like that.
SK: Yeah, I think there’s definitely this kind of modeling quality to the Cancer archetype.
CB: What do you mean by that? Could you expand on that?
SK: It’s basically what you said, just overbearingly sweet and sentimental. And just like, you know?
CB: Right. And some other signs like Capricorn for example, being the opposite sign could really be off-putting or they could either feel weird about that or feel… Yeah, just not buy into it in some way.
SK: Yeah, Capricorn is very dry and sarcastic, I think.
AD: You know, the character that perfectly represents the Capricorn archetype in relation to the family that I can think of recently is Jason Bateman’s character from the series Ozark. I think he is a Capricorn Sun or he is like a Capricorn stellium. But just that sense of my first thing is responsibility to the family, not emotional involvement. And of course in the show, his wife played by– was it Laura Linney? I can’t remember who plays his wife. Wendy Byrde. Anyway, she plays his wife and her complaint the whole show is, “Yes, you’re responsible, but you’re not here emotionally.” That’s the storyline of the whole show in a lot of ways between the two of them.
SK: Yeah, that’s like a Saturn issue. Right? It’s like, “Well, what are you complaining about? I was busy working and providing for the family. I didn’t have time to sit there and talk about your feelings.” Yeah.
CB: Right. Okay, one other just to do some quick fire comparison with the signs because sometimes that helps to draw the quality even more, but we’ve talked about Cancer versus Aries, but we haven’t talked at all about Cancer and Libra which is the other cardinal sign that we’ve kind of left out of the discussion. What are some things that you think of that come to mind when you compare Cancer versus Libra, either in ways that they get along or ways in which they don’t necessarily.
SK: I think they both might have tendencies around people-pleasing and around this kind of sense of kindness or niceness. But, you know, with the difference between the Moon and Venus, I guess is that the Moon is responding to a sense of what the other person is feeling or what the other person might need. Whereas I think Venus and an air sign is kind of abiding by a more abstract sense of the rules of engagement, you know? The rules of relationality and social etiquette.
CB: Social etiquette, yeah. That’s really good. And sometimes there can be the airiness of that, there can be a lack of depth to that whereas Cancer is more actually emotionally invested in asking like, “Are you okay?” Because they might mean it in a genuine sense, versus Libra might be asking that in a more social sense, sometimes because that’s what they’re supposed to say, let’s say, for example.
AD: Yeah, I think there’s sometimes a discomfort in the sign of Libra with making choices or judgments or being discerning within a situation, rooted in one’s desires or feelings. Whereas Cancer is pretty quick to include those things in its decision-making. But on the flip side… I’m thinking, for example, when I worked on my book I worked with an editor who is a Libra. And they were really helping me make rational choices about how I was writing the story, that I wasn’t capable of taking my own emotions out of. They were helping me be a little bit more clear like that, but then there were certain key moments where I had to interject and be like, “You’re being too rational. The emotional content is really what matters in this passage.” And we had to constantly negotiate about those two things. So I think there’s something about that that’s the exalted quality of Saturn and Libra that to a Cancer can feel sort of off-putting, but I suspect that the Venus-Moon dynamic is compatible. There’s a sympathy between Venus and the Moon in the relational sensibility that that works, but then the Saturn quality maybe is part of where the tension exists.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And that brings up I was looking at the Zodiac wheel. The only other sign that we haven’t mentioned at all in this episode especially in terms of its relation to Cancer is Aquarius, which is one of the other of the four signs that’s in aversion to Cancer and shares no major aspectual relationship or affinity with it. And a lot of the overlap there is very similar in that Aquarius as a Saturn-ruled sign traditionally so there’s some overlap in terms of some of those significations compared to Capricorn. But there’s a couple of other qualities there, one of them being that it’s a fixed sign and the other that it’s an air sign. And there’s a kind of continuation of a coldness and rigidity to Aquarius that I think is one of the things that sets it apart from Cancer and makes them not get along as well as signs.
SK: Yeah. I think with Aquarius, there’s like a detachment in almost all of its expressions. Whereas the Moon is very much like, you know? You know, you mentioned the image of the umbilical cord.
CB: Yeah. So, like a dispassionateness in Aquarius versus Cancer is much more passionate.
SK: Yeah, like very earnest, very in it. Just like, you know?
CB: Right. Whereas there’s almost like this objectivity in this standing outside, almost like the scientific quality to Aquarius versus this emotional engagement that Cancer wants to have.
AD: Cancer is going to put the urn of the relative on a stand in the middle of the room and the Libra is going to come in and be like, “You know, it doesn’t look quite balanced in here.” [laughs]
SK: Yes. “It’s kind of harshing the vibe in here.”
CB: Yeah. Doesn’t fit the decor.
CB: Yeah, I like that. All right. Well, I think that’s pretty good for this episode on Cancer. And as far as we can go in terms of plumbing the depths of the overarching archetype and then some of the many different significations that come from that, I think we’ve been able to get to some pretty high-level places in terms of that archetype tree that go pretty close to trying to describe that overarching concept, which itself by nature of it being an archetype is not describable in words. But we’ve been able to get pretty close to that through some of these overarching concepts, I feel like.
AD: In Cancerian form, we’ve circumambulated it.
SK: Yeah, we’ve gone sideways around it. [laughs]
CB: Right. We’ve walked sideways as the crab does. Awesome. Well, thank you both, my two crab Cancer friends.
SK: Thank you.
CB: What do both of you have coming up, and where can people find out more information? Steph, what’s your website and what do you have going on?
SK: You can find me at ladycazimi.com and that’s also my handle on Twitter and Instagram. Recently, I just launched… On my old website I used to have a free birth chart tool and I just put up a new and improved version of that. It gives you a circle chart, it gives you just a simplified table chart and then very basic, just plan it and sign descriptions. And then consultations are open, I am booking for August and September the moment. That’s what I have going on.
CB: Nice. Awesome. And what about you?
AD: Yeah, you can find me at nightlightastrology.com, that’s my website, and then the same for my handle on Instagram and YouTube. I do daily Monday through Friday planetary tracking and giving people content like that, and then I have readings and classes and stuff that you can find on the website. So yeah, I’d be glad to meet new people.
CB: Awesome. I’ll put links to both of your websites in the description below this video on YouTube or on the description page on the astrologypodcast.com website for this episode. Yeah, so thank you both for joining me.
SK: Thank you for having me.
AD: Thanks for having us.
CB: All right. And thanks, everybody for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast and we’ll see you again next time.
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