Cancerian Totems and Archetypes

Happy Summer Solstice!  The Sun goes into Cancer today (21st) at 16.38 Hrs. in the U.K.  As the Geminian totems and archetypes were well-received, I intend to make this a regular feature and to look today at some of the animal totems and Archetypes for the sign of Cancer.  So this is the second in a series!

If you are not yourself Cancerian Sunsign, Ascendant or Moonsign, you very likely will know someone who is.  I myself have a Cancerian (Archetypal) mother.

Animal Totems


This is the traditional emblem of the sign of Cancer.  Cancer tends to rule creatures of the rock pools by the sea, rather than the deep sea creatures of Pisces or the lake monsters of Scorpio! There is some overlap with the water signs in their animal totems or sea creatures, as we shall see, but also a great deal of distinctiveness.

Nicholas Saunders in “Animal Spirits” points out the relation of Crab to the daily cycle and the tides: “Some scavenging species that search for washed-up detritus at low tide may evade predators by having internal clocks which allow them to emerge only when the low tide coincides with nightfall.”

The Crab portrays the sensitive, reclusive, protective nature of Cancerians.  The famous sideways movement in some cultures portrays deceptiveness.  But for a Cancerian, the ability to approach a subject from a different angle, is a strength – we all have strategies.  And Cancerian comedian Ricky Gervais, has immortalized their fun side in his crab dance in “The Office”.  Where’s the harm?


In some indigenous cultures Turtle came to symbolize Mother Earth.  Nicky Scully describes Turtle as:

“Comforting, maternal and soothing, she exemplifies compassion….

All beings struggle to bring forth new life, and turtles exemplify the tenacity and strength required to fulfil their exhausting reproductive function.  They accomplish this task without expectation of either success or failure.”


Possibly all baby animals (e.g. baby chicks) come under the sign of Cancer, but particularly cute kittens and baby chicks! Kittens represent frisky feline, female energy, and bring out the maternal instinct. [By way of clarification big cat Lions are Leo, dogs in general are Aries, and large dogs are Sagittarius]

Bird Totems

Birds are mostly associated with Air signs, and mostly with Gemini, but all signs have them, and Cancerian birds are very strong in their totemic force.


Nocturnal creatures can be considered Cancerian because of the association with the night and the Moon (Leo governs daylight through the Sun); there are exceptions, e.g. bats which are ruled by Scorpio.

My Cancerian mother, who celebrates her 87th birthday this week, does not subscribe to new age thinking, but notably had an insistent dream of an Owl at a very strategic point in her life.  And once joined in a group meditation, when she became distinctly aware of an Owl presenting as her animal totem.

Jamie Sams and David Carson introduce the Owl as meaning “deception” which echoes the crab’s reputation for deception.  Astrologically, deception comes under another water sign, Pisces, through its ruler Neptune.

However, Nicky Scully chooses to emphasize the talents of Owl, as being “Alchemy and Night Vision”.  Owl is also elevated by its association with Wisdom, having perched on the shoulder of the Greek Goddess Athene, Goddess of Wisdom.  Owl in this case represents the wisdom of the ancients, the grandmothers and the ancestors.

Shadow Side

 The Snowy Owl has a particular association with Cancerians, because of its white colour.  And other white creatures, such as the White Buffalo, may be associated with this sign.  But as in all things, there is a shadow side, showing up here as the negative feminine.  This is related to the dark night of the Soul, which is purely Scorpio/Pluto.  A bird which can be linked to this is the Great Grey Owl, a magnificent bird whose eyes, apparently, can be terrifying.  I would say that the Great Grey Owl is not merely Cancerian, but a combination of the shadow side of Cancer/Moon and Scorpio/Pluto.  [For clarification, the Vulture is an example of a purely Scorpio/Pluto bird].


 A list of Cancerian bird totems would be incomplete without the chicken.  What is more Cancerian than the image of a Mother Hen fussing over her chicks?  And eggs themselves are associated with this sign.

Water Birds

 Some water birds, such as seagulls and gulls in general, come under the sign of Cancer.  And you will often find Kingfishers appearing as totem birds to Cancerians, too.  It seems to appear with Cancerians especially when they are on a spiritual path, as with their brightly coloured feathers it brings out a bolder side.


 Last but not least, the Stork is associated with birth, a province of the sign of Cancer.  Andrea Wansbury says of the Stork:

 “Being creative literally means ‘bringing into being’.  We create our lives and everything in them, so when a stork appears, look at the different aspects of your life and ask yourself whether you like everything that is there…The stork may be telling you that you have a talent in the creative arts and now is the time to start using these abilities.  If you have good ideas in your mind, now is the time to give birth to them and bring them into physical reality.”


Inner Child

According to Caroline Myss, she sees four core Archetypes which are with each person, and one of these four is the Inner Child.  The Inner Child is a force which is very much a part of new age work, witness the popularity of the books by John Bradshaw on the subject.

Another new age leader who makes the Inner Child central to her work and vision is Chris Griscom of the Light Institute in Galisteo, New Mexico.  I could quote her all day, and frequently do, but will make do with one quote for now:

“A child is naturally a being of wonderment, a being that experiences lightness, who does not hold pain.  The child’s frequency is too high to hold those darker, heavier emotions, even when the external world begins to impinge upon the child with adult imprints that the child records as anxiety, fear, anger.  The natural state is to let go, to constantly let go, because the child lives in the brain patterning of the hologram.  The child does not have that left-brain imprint in glue.”

Caroline Myss details several varieties of Inner Child:

The Eternal Child

The Orphan

The Wounded Child

The Divine Child

The Nature Child

The Magical Child

She hints of many more, but says that “you can only have one in your support team”!

I have also spotted one, and that is the “Performing Child”, as encouraged by pushy parents, and that is a combination of a Cancerian and Leo Archetype.

Whatever your own Inner Child Archetype, it is essential to stay in touch with it.

The Mother

The Mother Goddess is central to the sign of Cancer.  Of all the Goddesses, Mother Mary is the most intrinsic.  But in her virginal side,  she has joint rulership with the sign of Virgo.

The Caregiver

In her 2013 book, Caroline Myss presents 10 new Archetypes for the modern age (look what you started, Carl Jung!).  One of these, the Caregiver, is related to the Mother, strongly associated with the sign of Cancer, but also has associations with the sign of Virgo.  Cancerians and Virgoans practically prop up the caring professions.

Myss advises that if this is one of your Archetypes, and you are compulsive about helping others, then your task is to learn self-care:

“Your challenge as a caregiver is to care enough about yourself to find out who you really are – to be willing to look closely and experience the deeper level of your inherent need and desire to care for others.”

Vishnu the Preserver

Caroline Myss points out that “Although the caregiver Archetype seems to be more prevalent in women…Many men who become teachers or coaches, or who enter rescuing professions such as firefighting and emergency medicine, have a genuine need to serve and care for others through their career choices.”

Cancerians have a special talent for cherishing the artifacts of antiquity, re-upholstering and upcycling, important in this throw-away age.  The male Hindu God, Vishnu the Preserver expresses this cherishing quality very well, a positive role model for Father’s Day!  In an early incarnation apparently, he appeared as a Turtle.


The enchanting mythological creature the Mermaid is particularly resonant with the sign of Cancer.  A more negative association is the Siren, a creature of Greek mythology who lured sailors to shipwreck with music and voice.


“Medicine Cards” by Jamie Sams and David Carson

“The Golden Cauldron” by Nicky Scully

“Birds Divine Messengers” by Andrea Wansbury

“Archetypes” by Caroline Myss

“Animal Spirits” by Nicholas J. Saunders

“Ecstasy is a New Frequency” by Chris Griscom



The Summer Solstice takes place today, this afternoon at 16.38 Hrs.  Hope you are finding a suitable way to celebrate, if you have not been able to get to Stonehenge at the crack of dawn.  People are still feeling this year that Summer has not quite arrived, that temperatures are below par for this time of year, that summer wardrobes are not able to be fully displayed, hot water bottles haven’t yet been put away, and central heating systems not quite switched off.  So let’s give Summer a warm welcome, and hope it reciprocates.

There should be a sense of excitement and anticipation today, because tomorrow Jupiter trines Uranus, one of the best aspects in human experience (in my view).  It combines the best features of Sagittarius (optimism and hope) and Aquarius (forward thinking and vision).  It appears in the natal charts of entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, who definitely has the lucky touch.  So, are you planning an adventure tomorrow (Monday 22nd)?  How are you launching your working week?  Whatever you are planning, know that the Universe is with you, providing the fuel for an enjoyable trip.

Tuesday (23rd) may raise some doubts and confusion.  If you had hoped for the momentum of the week to continue, you may need to slow down and smell the roses.  Divine the message in the madness of the world on Tuesday, and don’t take anything at face value.

On Wednesday (24th) Chiron turns retrograde, so healing practices may need to be reviewed.  This may involve a new alternative form of treatment, but more likely trailing through old remedies and analysing what worked, when and why – utilizing and recycling all your old wisdom.

Mars enters Cancer at lunchtime in the U.K., injecting some energy and warmth into home affairs and the family circle.  Crabs may come out of their shells, and dance.  There will be fierce protection of the underdog, so maybe more vocalizing of the need for an End to Austerity and benefit cuts, to drown out the government’s plans.

On Saturday (27th) the Sun squares the Nodal Axis, and issues of power come to the fore, especially in groups.  This may be especially noticeable in politics and international relations, but may also be flagged up in local groups or even in family circles.  Maybe one member wants to play the drama queen, and the minions may rise up and protest.  The attention, and the power distribution need to be equal, balanced, and in line with karmic justice.

Next Week – Wimbledon Week 1

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – celebrating the Summer
  • Tomorrow – go right ahead!
  • Tuesday – think things through carefully
  • Wednesday – a review of healing; energetic change, protectiveness
  • Saturday – karmic power issues