The Cancer Archetype: Strength Through Sensitivity

A Cancer who is unafraid of their softness is able to live life live more fully, in a rich and nuanced way. And they can demonstrate for other people that it is okay to live this way too.

The Cancer Archetype: Strength Through Sensitivity
Photo by Ahmed Sobah / Unsplash (this is a hermit crab, not a "true" crab—the symbol of Cancer—but this lil guy is so cute it doesn't matter! also carrying your home on your back is pretty Cancerian, imho)

This is a transcript of The Shadow Femme Show podcast. Click here listen to this episode.


Welcome to the Shadow Femme show, a show about humans, our feelings, and the ways in which we make meaning.

I'm your host, Sarah, and I'm a psychic medium, healer, astrologer, and human design reader.

I'm here with another episode in our ongoing series in which we unpack the archetype of the current zodiac season.

Today I'm here to talk to you about the sign of Cancer.

And for this episode, I'm switching things up again. I took some time before recording to do some channeled writing and write out what my guides wanted to share with you, and I'm going to read that to you now.

So here is what they had to say about Cancer...

Cardinal Water

Hi Sarah's listeners, we're back again, here to share with you some insights into the water sign of Cancer.

The most important thing to bear in mind when talking about Cancer is to remember that this is primarily a sign that is dominated by the element of emotion. And at the same time, Cancer is also a sign that is cardinal in nature, meaning that it is in some ways initiatory. It pursues what it wants, though it can do so in a roundabout way.

Think of the crab, the symbol of Cancer: it scuttles side to side and never attacks straight-on.

The combination of initiatory emotion means that there is a thrusting forward of urgency that is coupled with a sensitive nature. This can make for a person who at once appears enthusiastic and reticent, shy and bold.

A Cancer Sun will see themselves as being complicated. And they are. They have layers and layers of emotion that are yet to be unpacked.

They usually want to find someone who will be willing to peel back and understand these complicated layers, in a way that still makes them feel safe and secure.

That is the rub: there is no such thing as emotional vulnerability without a bit of bravery. A bit of risk. And Cancer is sometimes risk averse in its feeling nature. Especially a Cancer Moon, and sometimes a Cancer Venus or Mars as well.

The Moon

Cancer is ruled by the Moon, the fastest-changing planet in all of the solar system. The Moon controls the tides, and so it controls the tides of emotion within those that have Cancer placements.

If you want to pay more attention to your Cancer placements, notice how they are affected by the cycle of the moon. Notice how you feel during different phases.

A Cancer's emotions can change as quickly as the moon changes signs, and yet a Cancer never forgets an emotion.

It is not like Aries, a sign that burns bright and hot and moves on almost immediately.

It is a sign that remembers, that retains a bodily imprint of the emotion experienced, more deeply than most other signs.

A Cancer will remember a hurt for years later. And it is the job of a Cancer to learn to continually cycle through the stages of healing in order to process their emotional backlog of hurts, pains, memories that they nurse.

This cyclical processing is productive and fortifying for them.

Through this processing, they learn to become soft and strong all at once.

They retain their softness by not holding on to the anger and the pain to the point that it harms them within. They earn their strength through brave vulnerability. Bravely facing the hurts that they would rather mull over and over in private, rather than pulling them out to be examined.

A Cancer at their best will be a shining example of how to live a life that is not free from emotional hurt, yet not cynical because of it. A Cancer who is unafraid of their softness is able to live life live more fully, in a rich and nuanced way. And they can demonstrate for other people that it is okay to live this way too.


Cancer detests being vulnerable, and yet it also craves to be seen. It is similar to Scorpio in this way. The difference is that Scorpio will have a bit of an exhibitionist streak or a penchant for trial by fire, and can challenge itself to reach new heights of catharsis and emotional processing.

Cancer wants to be cozy, safe, and comfortable, and it wants to be emotionally nurtured, not emotionally challenged.

With Mars as the traditional ruler of Scorpio, there is the spirit of the warrior in this sign, and with Pluto as its modern ruler, the cycles of death and rebirth that Scorpio experiences are big and dramatic and world-changing. Think of the Tower card, in tarot.

With the Moon as Cancer's ruler, its cycles of emotion are shorter, more frequent, more centered on the day-to-day. Think of the 6 of cups. There is an element of childhood nostalgia to Cancer, as it's a sign that's always reaching for the safety of the womb.

Cancer energy wants to be ensconced in total, all-accepting nurturance.


Cancer is an intuitive sign, one of the most highly intuitive in the zodiac. It is a sign that knows how to read the emotional currents of a room.

Its senses are like fine tripwires, spreading out to all the corners of the room and sensing whatever vibrations run along them.

Cancers can be called over-emotional or overly sensitive. That can be because they are picking up on things that other people simply can't sense or aren't willing to sense.

They can sense the emotions of those around them and end up reading these emotions better than the person reads them themselves. This can be disconcerting or feel overbearing to some, and it can provoke a reaction in others that the Cancer is trying to "mother" them too much or care for them too much.

A Cancer's dilemma is sometimes tied to the question: how much do I pay attention to what I sense in other people? How much do I reveal? When should I choose to use or act on this information?

There is a risk for Cancer of falling into codependent patterns where they anticipate what other people need and try to meet it before they ask for it. This is, in some ways, a superpower, but it also robs the other person of their agency because they do not get a chance to practice communicating their needs. And the Cancer, as well, does a disservice to themselves by expecting themselves to read the minds of other people in order to please them.

Cancer can break out of this cycle by focusing their deep emotional sensitivity on themselves and deciphering their own complicated needs and wants. There is a magic that happens when a Cancer is deeply in tune with themselves, and when they respect their own changing tides of emotions, their complexity, their need for nurturance, their sensitivity, their tendency to hold onto memories, and their continual need to process and metabolize and learn from these memories.


Okay, that's all I have for today's episode. I know this one was short and sweet. I just feel my guides summed everything up so nicely that I have nothing to add.

I just wanted to mention before I go that this episode made me think of one of my friends and mentors, Kwonyin. She is a Cancer and I wanted to wish her a happy birthday season. And I also just wanted to say that she's an incredible example of a Cancer Sun and Scorpio rising who bravely explores her own sensitivity and vulnerability, and her work has hugely inspired me. She was was one of the first people who taught me to treat my emotions as valid and worthy of nurturance and care, so I wanted to thank her and hold her up as a beautiful role model of the archetype of Cancer at work in the world.

Anyway thank you so much for joining me for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Cancer season, and I'll see you next time.