All About Cancer: Your Complete Guide to the Sun Sign

Everything you need to know about Cancer the Crab

Photographed by Ricky Michiels, Beauty Editor: Jade Taylor, Styled by Michael Kozak, Makeup by Lindsey Williams, Hair by Remy Moore, Model: Kayla at Zodiac Management

All About Cancer — June 21 to July 22
Symbol: The Crab
Ruling Planet: The Moon
Element: Water
Quality: Cardinal
Body part: The Chest (heart center), breasts, stomach, and gut
Personal Mantra:I feel, I seek safety
Crystal: Moonstone, ruby, pearl, rose quartz
Colors: Silver, white, pastels, orange hues
Luckiest Numbers:  2, 7, 11, 16, 20, 25

Positive Traits: Powerfully intuitive and empathic, maternal, kindhearted, loyal, selflessly generous

Negative Traits: Moody, overly suspicious, pessimistic, emotionally manipulative, depressive

Most Likely BFFs: Scorpio, Taurus, Pisces, Virgo, Cancer

Most Likely to be Bae: Taurus, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces

Most Likely to be Frenemies: Gemini, Leo, Aries, Libra

Famous Cancers:
Ariana Grande
Jaden Smith
Selena Gomez
Frida Kahlo
Robin Williams
Khloe Kardashian
Lana Del Rey
Lindsay Lohan
Will Ferrell
Chris Pratt
Cyndi Lauper
Lil’ Kim
Helen Keller
Nelson Mandela
Debbie Harry

Shrouded in the mysteries of the Moon, Cancer’s internal machinations set on preserving emotional and physical security run the show, making this the most guarded sign of the zodiac. Sure, it’s difficult to get to know Cancer the Crab, born roughly between June 21 and July 22, but most don’t realize how backbreaking and unyielding undertaking this task will be. After all, you’re quite literally prying a soft and tender creature from a hard, spiny shell—a contradictory, enigmatic composition of iron armor and silken, delicate flesh, symbolized perfectly by the Crab that dictates Cancer’s every move. But for those who are understanding and patient enough to succeed in befriending the Crab, their gift is everlasting loyalty and an incomprehensible, god-like capacity for kindness and hospitality.  

Cancers—the fourth sign of the 12—are absolutely brimming with parallel contradictions, but make no mistake, these tenacious personalities are consistent and never dabble, no matter which way their pendulum is swinging. Take their sense of independence: Crabs can range from resolutely self-contained and autonomous to terribly codependent and weak-willed sea bugs. The tipping point in the balance for Cancer’s self-reliance lies in their threshold for pain, emotional maturity, and intelligence acquired through life experience and developing resilience after sustaining repeated heartbreaks, which can often be very violent for these super-sensitive signs.

A very self-actualized Cancer who’s lived through many hurricanes of the heart, rebuilt, and refortified the leaky cracks in their shell, are most likely to be intensely independent and thrive in solitude. Immature Crabs who have not yet learned to harness the lessons of the rising and falling tides will latch onto the safest option in sight, becoming codependent and unable to fight for themselves. These are the Crabs with the weakest, most papery armor—over time, they must learn to strengthen their own shell and sense of self by choosing their battles. But the push and pull of contradiction dictate that even the toughest Cancers depend on love and emotional support as their sustaining lifeblood. 

Cancer the Crab’s ruling planet is the Moon, which in astronomy, of course, is not a planet at all, but Earth’s orbiting satellite. Ancient stargazers and astrologers looked to Luna, the Moon, as the Great Mother of the heavens and the feminine aspect balancing the Sun’s masculinity, so She is considered a planet still today in modern Western astrology. As the Moon is responsible for creating tides in our waters, She is also the empress and creatrix of all emotions. Cancers are by far the most emotionally feeling, sensitive of the signs, thanks largely to their unique lunar rulership.

As the ancient symbol of the Divine Feminine, the Moon also colors Cancer personalities with a powerful maternal instinct and parental drive. Because of this sixth sense for love and nurturance, Crabs do exceptionally well in careers involving children, from teaching kindergarten to pursuing complex child psychology. Even Cancerians who never wish to raise children or become a parent—or who can’t stand actual children—can’t resist an opportunity to flex their nurturing, maternal traits, making Cancers some of the best caregivers and guardians of the zodiac.  

Cancers are engulfed in the element of Water—the element of emotion, intuition, and feeling, magnified by the Moon’s reflective glow. Crabs find it easy to be sympathetic to others and are quick to show their affection. As Water signs, Cancer’s emotions ricochet like ripples and waves in the water and have the potential to stir up major tempests and tsunamis. These signs are one of the three “psychic sisters,” along with intense Scorpio and extraterrestrial Pisces, who tend to sense emotion and “see” underlying subconscious thought more than any other signs. Cancers, along with their watery siblings, possess an uncanny psychic nature that can be quite startling for their close friends and family. Absolutely nothing gets past these ultra-feelers, who are frequently natural empaths, mediums, clairvoyants, and intuitives, and make excellent healers, fortune tellers, medicine workers, researchers, and investigative detectives as well. Cancer’s sixth sense—a literal “gut reaction,” as these signs are ruled by the stomach and gut—is their guiding torch and a powerful aid, especially during times of uncertainty and extreme stress. 

Cancer is a Cardinal sign and belongs to a group called a “quadruplicity” consisting of four signs that occur at the very beginning of their season, such as Cancer in early summer, Libra in early fall, Capricorn in early winter, and Aries in early spring. As a Cardinal sign, Cancers like to stir the pot and get things going, especially when it comes to emotions. Cardinal signs like to be the first. Cancer the Crab is the first to laugh, cry and the first to express emotion. But these folks are stubborn, tenacious, can be very strong-willed and like to win. So, they won’t be coaxed out of a sulking session—they must take the first steps in resolution in order for it to be successful. Cancer-born people can be self-sufficient and bitterly tenacious in getting things done with little to no physical or human resources. Moon Babies’ creativity in times of strife and famine is uncanny—these signs are true survivors and can weather practically any storm with grit and heart.

Cancer’s intense capacity for emotion and tremendous empathy can mutate into something of a personal hindrance, causing these perceptive sea creatures to become overly sensitive, hyper-protective, easily hurt, and predisposed to brooding. Cancers are quick to tears, weeping rivers at minor indiscretions and gushy moments that pierce their tender hearts just so, almost on command, which can range from awkward to hilarious and endearing. Even so, Cancer doesn’t care in the heat of the moment—they can’t help but be themselves fully, and for all their guarded ways tend to let their initial emotional response hang out honestly on their sleeve for all to see. Cancers are legendary throwers of on-the-spot temper tantrums, but clam up when asked to share their innermost feelings. Vulnerability holds too great an injury for Cancer; they must be absolutely sure that you are friend and not foe before their secrets are revealed. This collection of traits can sometimes make Cancer paranoid and hyper-reactive to small emotional stimuli, thus making mountains out of cosmic molehills. Notorious for their vast and detailed memory, Cancer doesn’t let go of past hurts easily.

Thanks to Mother Moon, Cancers are typically abundantly fertile, capable of creating very large families—though “family” is defined very loosely by these Moon Babes. Despite their sometimes shy, introverted nature and need for regular solitude, Crab personalities are tremendously driven by community and value sturdy roots and reliable, dependable systems based in logic and compassion. Usually, Cancers will create families and personal tribes wherever they happen to be—work, school, and the like—to serve as an emotional support clique. Crustacean-born folks are drawn to tradition and anything tempered by a richness in history. They are extremely loyal friends and devotees of any cause that’s inspired true love in their hearts, and have the tendency to become overwhelmingly supportive and patriotic, happily waving their flag grasped in their clenched crab claw.  

Cancers are quick to help others and tend to avoid confrontation, but are also quick to retreat into their shells if it suits their mood (and they are typically very moody, especially when hiding). As symbolized by the Crab, who carries their home—a protective shell—on their back, Cancers fixate on their personal environment and take great pleasure in curating a beautiful and peaceful domestic life. Home, for Crab natives, must be serene, harmonious, and above all, secure. Cancers aren’t one to keep doors unlocked—ever—and certainly won’t stand for sitting in a vulnerable position, like with their back to an entrance. Personal safes and hidden nooks are Cancer’s design wildcard; no item, object, or tiny trinket of value is left unprotected. Cancer-born people are usually very talented in the kitchen, for the culinary arts cuts two carrots with one knife for Crabs, appealing to their parental urges to nurture and feed as well as their fixation on the domestic and the home.

Cancers are very smart with money—sometimes even a little too thrifty and calculating, as this sign is often painted with a broad brush of being miserly or cheap when in truth this sign is the most hospitable and generous of all 12. You can’t blame this frugal breed of Crab, though; ultimately, their motivation is to protect themselves and those they love, along with securing the future of their hearth and home. Noble? Unquestionably. However, this can come off as smothering, clamping down their claws on the things (and people) they love the most.   

These Water signs are always looking for ways to make their shell’s interior feel more comfortable and loving. So like magpies, Cancer will pluck just about anything shiny that strikes an emotional chord from the streets to bring home to their nest. Sometimes, this is reflected as sentimentality, but this collector’s trait can easily sour into bitter possessiveness. This rule applies to more than just inanimate objects—Cancers are quick to take in strays of all kinds, even in their relationships. Cancers with tendencies for over-giving can easily deplete their core energy hub of strength and power with excessive generosity.

Cancers tend to view the world through rose-colored lenses, especially when it comes to forming bonds in friendship and love. Crabs are intensely romantic, intoxicated by the idea of love—they are devoted lovers and partners. These signs rely heavily on their strong intuition and gut reactions when playing the game. This quality becomes boldly apparent with when Cancer’s getting to know someone new, though their psychic tendencies never leave the relationship. Those born under this sign are quick to fall in love and hasty in pursuing friendship. Cancer’s openness and need to establish intimacy becomes particularly urgent with “wounded birds”—people who, for whatever reason, need “fixing,” parental nurturance, or nursing of some kind. Oftentimes, a being’s need for nursing trumps a normally incompatible personality or shady or abusive tendencies. At worst, emotionally immature Cancers will become trapped in self-destructive whirlpools of martyrdom and codependence, throwing the self-pity party of the season—and loving every sopping-wet drop of drama.

Because Cancers are natural empaths and intuitives, they accumulate all kinds of psychic debris in their “auras,” or energy fields, that can have a lasting negative effect. Tender Crabs should consider a routine outlet—a soothing, dependable constant they can rely on to process and expel lingering, superfluous emotional energy. A regular workout schedule or exercise regimen works wonders for Cancer-born folks, as well as creative hobbies in music and the visual arts. Cancers are not known as the star athletes of the zodiac; those born under this sign don’t respond to aggression or combative competition positively, but rather crumble under crushing anxiety and hurt. Still, Moon Babes thrive in playing team sports due to their emphasis on community and working together, especially if they’re played in or near water, like rowing and beach volleyball.

Physically, Cancerian-born people tend to have luminous complexions that seem to reflect light and glow. They often have round or heart-shaped faces and features, referred to appropriately as “moon faces,” with high cheekbones and delicate noses. Eyes possess depth and sparkle—their gaze is mysterious but soft and inviting, conveying security and warmth. Cancer’s hair tends to be soft and fine with a natural curl or wave with a fluid, flowing quality—like water. The mane can be dark or light-hued, tending to thin around the temples. Cancer men are known to have sparse facial hair—though others specifically grow unruly beards to hide their naturally youthful, childlike appearance. The Cancerian physique is sturdy and rooted, sometimes stout, with an average to short height. Their voices are typically soft and reassuring, but can become cold and monotone in under an instant when the company changes from family to stranger. Cancer is ruled by the breasts, stomach, and gut, so it’s not unusual for those born under this sign to be big-busted or boast a belly—many Crab people tend to walk with a trademark gait that’s lead by the chest or stomach.      

Cancers look best in light, incandescent hues and fabrics (think: ethereal white chiffons, pearlescent silks, and pastel everything). Though these signs hold comfort sacred, they are sartorial chameleons, changing their look as frequently as the Moon moves through Her phases. Neckties and gravity-defying, revealing necklines with plenty of cleavage tend to be Cancer’s go-to faves, since their sign is ruled by the chest and breasts. The Crab’s wardrobe is bound to be packed with a spectrum of color and a broad variety of styles—these personalities love to express their many moods outwardly through fashion and design with a personal style that oscillates from extremely messy to neat-and-tidy as a pin. Cancers aren’t materialistic in the traditional sense, but they do tend to hoard items they’ve developed an emotional attachment to (which is basically everything Cancer owns). Flea markets, vintage, and thrift stores and a Cancerian sartorialist’s treasure trove to pick through, and it’s likely that their closet will resemble one, as well.