Cancer Symbol: Zodiac Sign Glyphs & Meanings

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cancer symbol

Each sign in the zodiac has a neat little symbol called a glyph that represents the mythology behind it. The Cancer symbol is a crab, and its glyph looks like two six’s placed in a circle. 

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Astrological glyphs are symbols that have been around for centuries. They are a system of shorthand to easily recognize the zodiac sign without having to write it out. 

According to AstroWiki, the earliest recording of glyphs dates back to ancient Egypt. They were originally simple abbreviations used for the roman gods, such as the Roman god Mercury’s symbol was a stylized caduceus and the symbol for the god Mars combined the shield and spear used by the god.

Why is the Cancer symbol a crab?

"Cancer" means "crab" in Latin. As a water sign, the crustacean fits the Cancer zodiac sign well. 

Cancers are known for their maternal instincts, which make them natural-born protectors but with an air of compassion. Likewise, a crab has a hard outer shell for protection but is soft on the inside. 

Furthermore, just as a crab latches on to things with their powerful claws, those born under the Cancer zodiac sign are known to get comfortable in specific situations and do everything they can to keep things that way. But just as a crab can walk sideways, Cancers should remember that in the face of obstacles, it's okay to take a different path forward.

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Meaning of the Cancer Glyph

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The glyph for Cancer is made up of what looks like two opposing 6’s on their sides. 

Some people say the glyph looks like the numbers 69, but that is not the case. One of the depictions of the glyph is that it is meant to represent the claws of a crab. Another, according to astrologer Annie Heese, says it might resemble breasts, as Cancers are known for their maternal instincts.

Mythology of Cancer and its Constellation

Cancer is a water sign and is one of the four cardinal signs, meaning they indicate a change of the seasons. Cancer is sometimes depicted as a lobster or a crayfish. 

The Latin word for “crab,” Cancer comes from the Greek mythology story of Hercules and the Twelve Labors. While fighting with the Lernaean Hydra, the goddess Hera sent a giant crab to distract the hero. In one version of the story, Hercules was able to kick the crab high into the stars. In another version, the crab was crushed by Hercules after biting his ankle, and to honor the crab, Hera placed it in a part of the sky where there were not that many bright stars, as it was not able to carry out its task.

In Egyptian mythology, the sign for Cancer was said to be a scarab beetle. The beetle represents "pushing" the sun across the heavens to initiate the summer solstice. 

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Isabell Tenorio is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, love and relationship topics.