The Origin of the Crab: The Cancer Constellation


The constellation of Cancer is a very unique constellation as it is the only constellation that represents two symbols at once. Its inherent water symbol and of course that of summer from the constellations positioning. However, where did the depictions of the crab originate? And how did the shape of the constellation of Cancer, an upside-down “Y” more or less, become to be anthropomorphized as a crab?

The Origins of the Constellation of Cancer
The earliest recordings of the recognition of the Cancer constellation belong to that of the ancient Acadians in very remote antiquity. Prior to the precession of the equinox the constellation of Cancer marked the Acadian Sun of the South from its position at the Summer Solstice. Soon this constellation became synonymous with this time of the year, or what we understand as June and July as the precession of the equinox moved into the constellation of Taurus marking Cancer as the Acadian Northern Gate of the Sun.

One of the most popular origin stories of the constellation of Cancer belongs to that of the ancient Greeks. First let’s understand that the Greek work Cancer actually translates to the English word Crab. Hera, a long time foe of Herakles, sent a multi-headed Hydra to kill Herakles with the assistance of a giant crab. Upon the battle, Herakles destroyed the crab by smashing its shell. For the crab’s attempt Hera commemorated it’s bravery amongst the starry sky. Later, the Romans too adopted this origin story but as Hercules and the Cancer Constellation.

Constellation Facts
The constellation of Cancer is positioned directly between the constellation of Leo and the constellation of Gemini. Although not commonly known, the Tropic of Cancer, also known as the Northern Tropic, was actually named after the constellation of Cancer as a navigational symbol. Many different cultures throughout the world actually associated the constellation of Cancer with that of a Lobster. It is very common to see different depictions of the constellation of Cancer as a creature with a shell.

Cancer People and the Cancer Personality
People born under the constellation of Cancer tend to be known as people with an emotional appeal. For example, individuals with the personality of a Cancer will display attributes such as shyness but will rise to the occasion if called upon or if necessary. These people are known to be hard on the surface but soft on the inside much like that of their crab counterparts. Leave it to an individual with the personality of a Cancer to always remain gentle and caring.


For a video presentation of the Cancer constellation please click here: The Origin of the Cancer Constellation



“Cancer Constellation”

“The Mythology of Cancer.”

“Cancer. The Crab.”

Alden Morris
Proprietor at All Done Marketing
Alden Morris is a freelance writer and producer of content aimed to create interest, inspire, and educate.