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Three Cancerian Exemplars

Here’s a vignette on three exemplars of the sign Cancer, the anti-guru U.G. Krishnamurti, Princess Di and Elizabeth Kubler Ross, excerpted from my book Signs of the Zodiac: Clothing of the Self
The tough minded Indian ‘anti-guru’ U. G. Krishnamurti [no relation to the more well known J.Krishnamurti], is a revealing example of a Cancerian who is apparently the very opposite of the familiar stereotype of a sensitive, caring, paternal figure. In fact, he resolutely refuses to play the role of benevolent spiritual father, and caustically criticizes J. Krishnamurti for allegedly doing so whilst professing to be against the whole notion. Here are two quotes to give the tone of his criticism: “All gurus are welfare organizations providing petty experiences to their followers” and “You have to be saved from the very idea you have to be saved. You must be saved from the saviours, redeemed from the redeemers”. Yet the very vehemence of his opposition to the type betrays its power over him I feel. Why be so savage about it otherwise? 
Princess Diana exemplified many Cancerian traits and themes in her tragic life and character. Cancer rules the stomach in the body, making it a potential area for Cancerians to manifest dis-ease, and sure enough, Diana suffered from bulimia, a metaphor one would think for her inability to stomach the political machinations of the royal family she married into. On a different note, devotion to her own children and to those in especial need of care, such as the victims of landmines, exemplified her care and compassion, a higher expression of the Cancerian need to be needed.
Care and compassion as an imperative of soul also found expression in the life and work of conscious dying advocate, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who devoted her whole life to caring for the sick and dying. I am moved by the words from her last book, her autobiography, The Wheel Of Life quoted as the leading epigraph of this chapter: ” .. Everyday someone new cries out for understanding and compassion. Listen to the sound. Hear the call as if it was beautiful music. I can assure you that the greatest rewards in your whole life will come from opening your heart to those in need. The greatest blessings always come from helping.”
How the wheel of life turns. As she reiterates constantly, there are no accidents. Carl Jung expressed it so: “What happens to a person is characteristic of him. He represents a pattern and all the pieces fit. One by one as his life proceeds they fall into place according to some predestined design.” And so it came to pass that Kubler Ross suffered a series of strokes that left her totally dependent on others for the most basic care. She writes: “I suppose it is appropriate that after counselling so many dying patients I should have time to reflect on death now that the one I face is my own. There is a poetry to it, a slight tension, like a pause in a courtroom drama where the defendant is given the chance to confess. Fortunately, I have nothing new to admit. My death will come to me like a warm embrace.”


In a way that never fails to fill me with awe, the pattern of Kubler Ross’ life is clearly indicated by her birth chart, for she was born with the Sun closely conjoined to Pluto, the planet associated with death and rebirth. This planetary daimon expressed itself throughout her life, from the fulfillment of her vocational quest to bring death out of the closet of fear in which it was enclosed by Western culture, to the circumstances of her own dying process, and constantly informs the words of her inspiring last testament, as in this excerpt from a letter she wrote to a child dying with cancer: “When we have done all the work we were sent to earth to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly. And when the time is right, we can let go of it and we will be free of pain, free of fears and worries – free as a very beautiful butterfly returning home to God.”

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