Planetary Ruler: Moon
In Cancer, consciousness has its first experience with the water element. This is the first moment in the evolution of the soul where we experience emotions. The key phrase for Cancer is "I feel." This is a sensitive sign whose nature is to nurture; this is archetypal mother energy. We see the mother correspondence in that of the cardinal water as the water is where all life on earth began. Water is life, and it also holds the memory of all of life. In this Cancer, as the initiator of water, is also sensitive, intuitive, instinctual, and even psychic. The sensitive nature of this sign can sometimes result on some crabbiness, and being closed off in order to protect its sensitive nature. From the perspective of Hellenistic astrology, Cancer is the rising sign for the chart of the birth of the universe. How this was calculated, I'm not sure. But I do appreciate the mythological thread that speaks to the emergence of life from the waters that is consistent among many ancient cosmologies from around the world.
In the body
As we continue to work our way down the body, we see the primary correspondences for Cancer being the breasts, stomach, lower lungs (& the rib cage that protects the internal organs), and mucous membranes.
Through the mucous membranes we see the connection to the waters of the body- but specifically the waters that act as a boundary between the inner and outer worlds of the body (protective nature of cancer).
The moon specifically corresponds to the receptive nature of brain, so that is why this secondary correspondence is included here. Due to the sensitive nature of this sign, and the connection to the stomach we can see digestive disturbances arise from emotional issues.
Due to the archetypal mother connection of this sign, we do see a correspondence to the womb. However this organ is primarily linked to Scorpio and Venus.
Astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic, demulcent, diaphoretic, galactagogue, emmenagogue, stimulant or nervine depending on other aspects of ones constitution.
Mugwort, Fennel, Marshmallow, Ginger, Lemon Balm
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris): Bitter tonic, choleretic, stomachic , orexigenic , carminative, antispasmodic, nervine tonic, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, anti-diabetic, nutritive, antiseptic, oneirogen. Mugwort is a classic lunar herb, and has become popular for its ability to promote more vivd dreams, even inducing lucid dreaming and astral travel for some. Through this, in addition to its silvery leaves, we see the correspondence to the moon. However, Mugwort has many other powerful effects in addition to helping us uncover the secrets of the subconscious mind. Before we get into the more physical effects of this plant, it should be mentioned that in a magical context, Mugwort is often used for spiritual protection, through a charm, mist, essential oil or smoke. This makes it helpful for the sensitive Cancer. Mugwort is incredibly bitter! As a bitter tonic it works wonderfully for digestive stimulation. It is also a potent emmenagogue- bringing on stuck, stagnant or delayed menses and can also be helpful in cases of painful menstruation. As a mild-sedative Mugwort helps to relieve depression and stress, and can be useful for those with insomnia. Lastly, it can be helpful in respiratory infections. Not to be used during pregnancy or for those with epilepsy.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Carminative, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, galactagogue, estrogen modulator, orexigenic, emmenagogue, antimicrobial, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, hepatic. With the strong connection to the mother archetype and the breasts in the body, the galactagogue action is important to the sign of Cancer. Fennel can increase the body's production of prolactin, the main hormone responsible for breast milk production. Fennel is also amazing for digestion, helping to relieve bloating, flatulence, and colic. This herb is useful for spasmodic dysmenorrhea and can also help with deficient menstrual flow. Not to be used during pregnancy, and prolonged used (especially in pre-adolescents) is discouraged due to its hormone-modulating effects.
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis): Root: demulcent, emollient, vulnerary, laxative, diuretic. Leaf: demulcent, expectorant, emollient, diuretic, antilithic. Marshmallow root is indicated for all inflamations of the digestive tract (including the stomach). The large amounts of mucilage in Althaea make it a great demulcent which coats the gastrointestinal mucosa, protecting them from local irritation, and it counters excess stomach acid. Useful for gastritis, peptic ulcer, enteritis and colitis ileitis, colitis, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), mouth ulcers and hiatus hernia. It is also mildly laxative. Generally, marshmallow is useful whenever a soothing effect is needed, as this herb will protect and soothes the mucous membranes.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Peripheral circulatory stimulant, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, carminative, antiemetic, digestive stimulant, aromatic, stomachic, expectorant, diaphoretic.Ginger is more of an antipathetic correspondence to Cancerian energy, but it can be extremely helpful for imbalances associated with this zodiac sign. If the Cancer person is more of a full moon type, they will likely be prone to more dampness in their system, in which case a warming herb like ginger can be extremely helpful. Ginger a classic herb in the western herbalists apothecary used for various upsets of the gastrointestinal tract. As a carminative and warming digestive and is used to treat dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea, vomiting and anorexia. Ginger is special because it is one of the few herbs that we know directly improves vagus nerve function. While this part of the nervous system is not directly associated with Cancer, it IS very connected to our psycho-somatic experiencing. In other words, when our vagus nerve is strong we are more able to process emotional experiences in a healthy way so that they don't get stuck in our system! So- if you are experiencing stomach issues that you suspect may have an emotional thread to them, ginger could be an incredible ally.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Nervine tonic, Thymoleptic, Relaxant, Anti-spasmodic, Carminative, Anti-microbial (particularly antiviral), Diaphoretic. The thing about Cancer is it has a tendency to "feel all the feels." And sometimes, this can bring on depression and anxiety so having an uplifting herb on hand can be very supportive. Lemon balm is a relaxing nerve tonic that can be helpful for sensitive cancer-types experiencing anxiety, mild depression, restlessness, nervousness and insomnia. It calms the central nervous system, and relieves melancholy and grief. This herb helps to relieve spasms in the digestive tract and is used in flatulent dyspepsia. Because of its mild anti-depressive properties, it is primarily indicated for nervous digestive complaints where dyspepsia is associated with anxiety or depression.