The Cancer Myth
We can sum up the Cancer myth in a word, Mother. And what a complex word! Mother is not only the woman who bore you, nurtured you, raised you. It is also what depth psychology calls an archetype - that is, a symbol of an innate life experience common to everybody. Mother means different things to different people. It can mean the safety and pleasure and warmth of a secure childhood. It can mean the devouring, possessing emotion which threatens to suffocate. It can be strong and sustaining. It can be destructive and dark. But we all have come from mothers. For Cancer, the experience of Mother in all its forms is rooted in his inner life. He never wholly escapes Mother, for he must learn to become Mother. At the beginning and the end of his life stands this powerful figure - representing the feelings, the past, the childhood, and the security he strives for so intensely. Mother is always an enigma for Cancer. You can find Cancers who seem to have no family feeling at all - 'family' is an embarrassment to them, not at all something they cling to. You can be pretty sure, in these cases, that childhood holds some memories that Cancer would rather forget. Many Cancers are perpetual wanderers, always seeking roots somewhere else. Often they are running away - from the past, from childhood, from Mother.
Let's look a little more closely at the ancient myth that deal with the Mother. Before there were ever gods on Mount Olympus, or heroes to fight the Trojan War, there was the Mother Goddess. The most ancient religions of the world begin with the worship of the Mother. To these archaic peoples, Mother meant Mother Earth. It meant the fruits of the harvest, and land itself from which men drew sustenance. Throughout all the countries of the Mediterranean, and the Near East, from which our western civilization has sprung, the worship of the Mother was the worship of the power of the earth to give and withhold life.
We tend now to be a little arrogant about the 'superstition' with which our ancestors worshipped the earth and prayed for rich crops and a good harvest. We have a vast and imposing array of modern technology with which we believe we control the earth. We no longer placate the Mother by elaborate mystery rites. Man believes he is supreme; the earth is there for the taking, and the heavens too. Yet think about childhood. Mother is as powerful to a child as Mother Earth once was to our ancestors. She is huge, vast, mysterious - the source of food and life, the giver or withholder of love and comfort. Nothing a man meets will ever be so big again as Mother was when he was a baby at the breast. Do you think we so easily forget? And if that child is a Cancer - sensitive, open, aware of all the secret currents of feeling that pass back and forth between himself and his family - he will certainly not forget. He may obliterate recall of it, because it frightens him that anything should have that much power. But deep down, Mother remains a mystery, as powerful as the mystery of the growing crops. There are things we cannot really tackle with our well-trained, rational minds.
Now there are some interesting sidelights to the myths about the Great Mother. First of all, she always had a consort. The consort was both her son and her lover. In ancient mythology, incest themes abound. If we take them symbolically, rather than literally, this means that the Goddess and her Lover stem from the same source, the same origin. And this son-lover is often represented in myths as the