The Archetype of Cancer
by Jef Bartow
Moving forward from the high-flying Gemini connecting us to our soul and potential spiritual Self, we again descend to the earthly sphere and the highly creative feminine embodied by the archetype of Cancer. Through Cancer, we connect with the Mother Goddess and its nurturing, protective compassionate support of our creative efforts in the depths of matter. Aptly, this is why the archetype of Cancer is described as "the light within the form." The Divine Mother is a "symbol of the feminine, or receptive, aspect of the manifesting Spirit, which brings forth from latency within the forms the qualities and activities apparent in nature." This maternal relationship with humanity and nature "stands as a symbol of Divine watchfulness and guidance which directs the lower evolution." Mythologically, this divine feminine is represented by both Isis and Demeter. Demeter (i.e. Ceres) means "mother Earth." She was especially associated with corn. "Demeter possessed mysterious powers of growth and even resurrection." She became one of the 12 ruling Olympians and was "most often recognized as the goddess of the harvest, representing a time when women controlled the mysteries of agriculture." A higher aspect of this mother Goddess is represented by the Egyptian Isis. Isis was the sister and consort of Osiris. "Isis helped Osiris to civilize Egypt by teaching women to growing corn as well as how to spin and weave. She also taught people how to cure illness and instituted the right of marriage." She is usually depicted as a "woman seated on a throne." She became "so famous throughout Egypt, and beyond, that in time she absorbed the qualities of almost all the other goddesses."
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"The Goddess Isis is both wise, and a lover of wisdom, as her name appears to denote that more than any other." Intimately linked with the buddhic principle of higher wisdom, Isis relates to our internal Wisdom-nature which "confers Truth and Love upon the souls who have acquired the higher emotions." She is instrumental in bringing forth the "indwelling Self (Horus)." Let's see how the archetype of Cancer helps reconcile the diversity of the two Goddesses associated with the Divine Mother.
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Metaphysically, the first birth into manifestation occurs in Cancer, with Aries, Taurus and Gemini representing purely subjective influences. Our birth from our mother is reflected in that Cancer represents our mother complex. We move from the "protective, yearning, sustaining quality" of the womb into what we hope will be a emotionally secure sympathetic environment of a nurturing family life and domestic tranquility. This naïve expectation represents what we want and can gain from the archetype of Cancer. Cancer helps us to create roots and build emotional foundations from which to experience the outer world. The mother archetype represented by Cancer becomes the caring, cherishing and supportive center from which we can rely on as we move out to establish our own sense of self. The positive conditioning from Cancer includes intimate experiences of petting and pampering; great imagination, sensibility and attachment; a sympathetic, thrifty, industrious and social nature and an emotional and tender ability to be a sympathetic listener. From this we are able live with "active feelings" and give to others what we have already received in life. The archetype of Cancer also provides us a supportive bond with a feminine which can be expressed as affection, friendliness and openness to impressions and emotional sensitivity from others. This feminine described above provides us a lot of empathy and intuition. The archetype of Cancer instills in us a need for security, self-preservation, to feel nurtured by those around us and to appreciate the tradition, home and hearth of our past childhood, community and even homeland. The extreme femininity and emotional nature of Cancer can stimulate us to be overly self-indulgent, emotionally possessive and despondent. We could have difficulty in controlling our emotions and even become "psychic sponges, absorbing any atmosphere around us." The constant fluctuating and changeable moods of Cancer are metaphorically represented by the sea. At its most instinctual conditioning, we can be influenced to act with selfish desire, emotional blackmail, lack of sensitivities to others feelings while becoming a martyr withdrawing into our shell-home.
Living the Spiritual Life
By finding the Divine Feminine within, we have the opportunity to live the archetype of Cancer and its spiritual influence throughout our life. This life of selfless desire and "selflessly creating forms and structures for the betterment of humanity" helps us to achieve bliss, joy and peace. Our "sacrifice and service to lesser lives needing higher inspiration" will powerfully help us "root out all unconscious behavior patterns" that stand between us and our spiritual nature within. As "harbinger of the Christ Consciousness," we now exude "limitless compassion and tremendous inner resources of nurturing energy" and the "ability to breathe spirit into matter." Exhibiting the "transforming power of the goddess," we can embody the "conscious fluidity of the universal expression of love" as a "perfect instrument of service." Whether male or female, we complete half of the spiritual necessity to become the Divine Hermaphrodite, which is the unity of both the spiritual masculine and feminine.
Individuating the Self through Finding the Divine Feminine Within
Developing our spiritual nature involves separating ourselves from our early conditioning and those individuals and family members who have been part of that positive and now limiting part of our nature. Regarding our mother, this means we have to internalize the positive characteristics of the mother archetype and cease to be controlled or attached to the attitude and expectations that come from the various influences of the human and instinctual archetype of Cancer. The archetype of Cancer in this case becomes "learning to live in our own domestic emotional privacy." We need to become self-nurturing and able to pursue personal growth "by way of inner experience." Cancer helps us to "seek our own inner light" and become our own "light within the form." By finding the Gentle Mother within, like Kwan Yin, we can then give birth to the Divine Child within (our spiritual Self). Finding this Goddess within comes from seeking the place of "Inner Silence" or Stillness (i.e. womb) that leads us to illumination and revelation. Our inner place of gnosis (knowledge, inspiration and illumination) represented by Isis then becomes our "nurturing, sympathetic, understanding guide to the Self." From there we can begin to see the essential unity and wholeness of all. Now endowed with "psychic discrimination" and a highly intuitive perception, we establish an "ideally lighted house" where we can spiritually "therein dwell."