We all know there are 12 zodiac signs and chances are you also know where your Sun is located. I’m a Cancer you say? Well, what type of Cancer are you? If you didn’t know that there are subdivisions within each of the zodiac signs, then welcome to the 36 decans.
Each of the 12 zodiac signs is divided into 3 distinct parts of 10 degrees each. So if your Sun is at 8 Cancer, it’s in the 1st decan of Cancer but if it’s at 26 Cancer it’s in the last. We can consider the decans as 3 distinct acts in a 3-act play, the overarching theme of which is the zodiac sign involved.
For example, Cancer is oft thought of as the nurturing mother keywords for Cancer include, clannish, possessive, doting, protective, covert. The inherent theme of the Cancer drama here is getting out of our heads and into our hearts.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (on Children)
But quite how that all unfolds in any given native of Cancer depends on the decan involved.
1st decan – In this decan of Cancer, ruled by the Moon and Venus, the native finds herself tested to bind herself with others through real and honest intimacy, This is a mutual game of give and take. This is well illustrated by the 2 of Cups, the tarot card associated with the decan. In this card, The Lord of Love, a young couple stare into each other’s eyes toasting their happy future together. United they stand, or so they think. Success in romance necessarily involves a certain vulnerability, which often brings as much sadness as happiness.
For example, healthy mutuality can quickly develop into unhealthy co-dependence. Likewise cooperation can morph (often unnoticed) into coercion and emotional manipulation. The astrological Moon, which has dignity here, relates to others through symbiosis and fusion; this makes separation from important others especially difficult. Nurturance can lead to the natured being unwittingly tied to the proverbial apron strings.
By contrast, astrological Venus operates through differentiation of self and others; “I’m better (prettier, smarter, richer) than you!” This is how Venus gains her self-esteem.
Obviously, these two planetary faces of the feminine don’t always work nicely together. Expect challenging natal planets, like Mars or Saturn, in this decan to be especially troublesome, often leaving the native feeling particularly vulnerable in her intimate relationship and/or low on important self-esteem.
2nd decan – With Mercury and Mars as the joint rulers, this is a complex decan. As the 3 of Cups, Lord of Abundance, demonstrates, the emphasis here often appears to celebration and having a good time. Mercury represents those comfortable conversations/communications/connections that you have with people with whom you feel comfortable. The merrier the mood, the more comfortable you feel, right? Think of those ‘drunken confessions’ that you might well have shared with friends during such times.
It felt good, didn’t it to let it all those pent-up emotions out of the bag? At the same time, however, in doing so you’ve opened yourself up to manipulation by others who might well be more interested in having what you have rather than in sharing in what you offer.
This brings Mars to the table, whose job to find a way to keep you and yours safe and secure whilst at the same time allowing Mercury to have his good time. Tricky? You bet!
3rd decan – In this decan, ruled by both the Moon and Jupiter, there is more than enough to go around for everyone and herein lies the problem. The tarot card associated with this decan is the 4 of Cups, also known as the Lord of Luxury. In the Rider Waite deck, this card shows a man sitting under a tree: having thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 cups he’s been offered, he shows little interest in the 4th.
Yet earlier images associated with this decan often featured noblemen hunting: their hunt, of course, was more for sport than for necessary food. Not surprisingly, natives with important planets in this decan often desire more and more (Jupiter) despite already having enough (the Moon). This decan is oft associated with privilege.
For example, Lord Byron had his natal planet in this decan; born to nobility, he didn’t need a job. Instead, he used his talents and resources to write wonderful poetry. Thus those with important planets in this decan may also find themselves confronted with key questions about what to do with their excess resources. Will you share or not?