It's Cancer season and the memes are coming in fast and hard, reminding us that those born under the sign of the gentle Crab are sensitive, nurturing, and, in many cases, the "mum" of the friend group. Of course, these memes are inspired by years of astrological rhetoric that defines Cancers as such — look up any traditional description of the sign and words like "maternal" and even "feminine" may appear. Although the astrological community has, for the most part, moved on from using gendered terms in its characterisation of the signs, Cancers still have this reputation hanging over their heads. We spoke with astrologer Luke Dani Blue about the origins of the Cancers-are-moms trope, and how we should really interpret their astrological identity.
Blue agrees that pop culture usually depicts Cancers as maternal and nothing more, but it's definitely more complicated than that. "IRL, Cancers can be nurturers, really mean, cold, or, more neutrally, self-contained," she says, adding that it's more accurate to say that Cancers use the archetype of mother-child relationships to understand the world around them. In other words, not all Cancers are interested in playing a motherly role, but most of them are concerned with the idea of care — who's giving it, who's receiving it, and how much of it they can show to themselves.
That's why, Blue explains, some Cancers can seem downright needy. They act that way because they feel a greater need to seek out care and kindness from others than they do to care for others. But when those same people, who at one moment felt comfortable playing the role of the "child," see that their friends are in need, they'll quickly assume the "mother" role instead. It might be tricky to classify all Cancers as maternal, but it's safe to assume that most of them have an empathetic streak. They recognise others' emotional needs because their own are so intense.
That said, you're not totally wrong if you've called your Cancerian friend the "mom" in your circle of friends. "It's not gender," Blue says. "[It's] just a cultural picture we are currently using to symbolise the energy [of the sign]." You could just as easily have called your friend the "caretaker" or "healer" of the group and you'd end up making roughly the same point about their astrological identity.
After all, Blue adds, Cancers of all gender identities go through life with this desire to give and receive care. "There's no inherent difference between Cancer men and Cancer women (or Cancer anyone else)," she says, with the caveat that societal constructs of gender may lead some Cancers to express their sign's traits differently. "A Cancer man has the same potential [to nurture] as a Cancer woman, but it's possible he will [identify more] with his love for his own mother or with protecting his family (another Cancer trait)," Blue explains.
So, for the rest of this year's Cancer season, be kind and caring to the Cancers in your life (even if they can tend to be the mean or cold type). After all, they're more complicated than we've been led to believe.