I'm a Swedish writer and astrologer. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. Here's my personal website: stenudd.com
Books by Stefan Stenudd:
This book presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, which is the most appropriate for the Tarot, consisting of symbolic images. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The philosophers of Ancient Greece and what they thought about cosmology, myth, religion and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
Qi (chi), prana, spirit, and all the other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
Try the old deck of Tarot cards for free divination online. How to use the Tarot and what each card means.
Try the ancient Chinese divination online for free. The 64 hexagrams of I Ching, The Book of Change, and what they mean in divination.
The Cancer Symbol
Its meaning and origin
The above image is the established symbol (also called glyph) for the Zodiac sign Cancer, the Crab. It's a simplified drawing of the crab's rounded shape and two big claws. Both the Zodiac sign and its symbol have been along for ages.
The Zodiac division of the ecliptic into twelve parts, each assigned a Zodiac sign, is probably of Babylonian (Mesopotamia) origin. They were very early with astrology, mapping the sky and noting planetary movements thousands of years ago. The Zodiac very much like the one we know today, might have emerged in Mesopotamia around 1000 BC, but Babylonian astrology is probably far older than that.
The Babylonians connected this Zodiac sign to a similar marine species. They called the sign The Crayfish. But already in Classical Greece, the Crab was established as the name of the sign and the constellation. Still, thorugh the centuries, this crab has been pictured in many different ways, more than a few of them looking more like a crayfish. On the other hand, antique images of animals were often far from photogtraphically exact or even aiming to be.
The small constellation of Cancer is not much like a crab. A crayfish with its long body and extended claws is more near at hand. Through history, this has also been a common image, but ther have been crabs as well. Several of the Zodiac constellations are equally vague or even more so. Here's the constellation Cancer:
Below is an antique illustration of the same constellation, where the figure of the crayfish has been added. It's from a 17th century book: Firmamentum sobiescianum, by Johannes Hevelius, 1690.
Anyway, here's that ink again, this time in the original black and white (click on the image to see a bigger version):
Cancer the SignAs for the picture commonly used to represent the Cancer Zodiac sign, it's been an image of a crayfish or a crab for as long as that has been its name - probably longer than the symbol described above has existed. Below is one typical example, where the stars of the constellation Cancer have also been marked. It's an illustration from Poeticon astronomicon, a 1482 book by Hyginus.