Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

"Praise ye Him, O sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars and light''


The great Jesuit scholar, Athanasius Kircher (A.D. 1602-1680), a metaphorial and literal "Renaissance Man," wrote that this sign was first known, at least among those of Coptic Egypt, as Κλαρια, the Bestia seu Statio Typhonis -- "the Power of Darkness," a fact symbolized by the stars' that make up this constellation being very dim. But even the Greek understanding of this constellation is interesting: they saw it as a crab -- but not just any crab. They saw it as the crab that seized Hercules -- the third decan of Scorpius, and symbol of Christ -- by the foot. And Hercules crushes it underfoot (see picture at right). This so easily brings to mind the words of Genesis 3:15:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

Just after the marriage of the Lamb in the Apocalypse, foretold by Capricornus, and fulfilled with Gemini, the last constellation we looked at, we're told of the final battle between Christ and the powers of darkness. Apocalypse 20:7-15, 21:6-8

And when the thousand years shall be finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go forth, and seduce the nations, which are over the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, and shall gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they came upon the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city.

And there came down fire from God out of heaven, and devoured them; and the devil, who seduced them, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast And the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne, and one sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire...

...And He said to me: It is done. I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end. To him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely. He that shall overcome shall possess these things, and I will be his God; and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

With the Sign of Cancer, we're told that at the end of time, the powers of darkness are rendered harmless forever! Christ and His Bride are left to reign in perfect joy!

In pondering all of this, considering the crab as a creature is interesting, too, when thinking of them in relation to the powers of darkness. The phrase "like crabs in a barrel" refers to the propensity of crabs to prevent other crabs from escaping when they are trapped. Put crabs in barrel, and when one tries to escape, another will pull it back down inside. This shows the tenacity of demons and of humans under their influence. The former seethe with hatred for the Light Who is Christ and for all who follow Him; the latter will try to keep people from the Light as a psychological defense mechanism; those who escape the clutches of evil's claws show up those who refuse grace. They act as reminders of the evildoer's darkness, so those who are under the spell of the Evil One often do all they can to keep others in the dark and disrupt their journey on the path of holiness.

Decan One: Ursa Minor

The first and second decans of Cancer represent a Little Bear and a Great Bear, respectively. But it's the asterisms these costellations contain that are relevant here. In each is a wagon -- also known as the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper, also respectively. The former was seen as the "Women's Wagon," and the latter as the "Men's Wagon," and old tradition relates how those "wagons" were actually funeral biers. The "bowl" parts of these asterisms were seen as the biers themselves, and the stars that make up their handles were seen as mourners. The "second death" spoken of in the Apocalypse has come. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire."

These constellations are the ones typically treated as being referred to in Job. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

In the Book of Job — the most distinctively astronomical part of the Bible — mention is made, with other stars, of Ash and Ayish, almost certainly divergent forms of the same word. Its signification remains an enigma. The Vulgate and Septuagint inconsistently render it "Arcturus" and Hesperus". Abenezra (1092-1167), however, the learned Rabbi of Toledo, gave such strong reasons for Ash, or Ayish, to mean the Great Bear, that the opinion, though probably erroneous, is still prevalent. It was chiefly grounded on the resemblance between ash and the Arabic na 'ash, "a bier", applied to the four stars of the Wain, the three in front figuring as mourners, under the title of Benāt na 'ash, "daughters of the bier". But Job, too, speaks of the "children of Ayish", and the inference seems irresistible that the same star-group was similarly referred to in both cases.

Note: the star at the tip of the Little Dipper's handle, in Ursa Minor, is Polaris, the star that always points to true North.

Decan Two: Ursa Major

See above.

Decan Three: Argo

Argo, the ship, treated by the Greeks as the ship that bore Jason in his search for the golden fleece, can be seen as the Ark of the Church. While the first two decans represent the damned, this decan represents those whose names are written in the book of life, those who've escaped "the second death."

M. W. Ovenden, in an article called, "The Origin of Constellations," found in the July 1966 issue of The Philosophical Journal, writes that this constellation was "often shown in early representations as though atop a mountain. Coming from the ship is the Centaur, a man-animal, sacrificing a Beast upon the Altar. We see, too, the Water-snake (Hydra) with a Raven (Corvus) eating its flesh. There can be no doubt that here we have, in imagination pictured in the sky, a version of the story of Noah and the Flood. The picture is complete with the Milky Way seeming to rise as smoke from the Altar." And all Catholics know that the ark of Noe (Noah) is a type of the Church, the means of salvation.

We'll read about Hydra and Corvus as the first and third decans of Leo, our next Zodiacal sign.

To sum up, what we have with Cancer and its decans is the Last Judgment.

Cancer can be seen from December through June.


Cancer relative to other stars in the Spring sky:

Table of Contents

The Zodiac


A Tour of the Heavens

Envisioning the Celestial Sphere

The Constellations of the Zodiac












Summary and a Few Odds and Ends

The Traditional Catholic View of Astrology

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