small Sun photo

Black Chancery text

small blue Moon glyph


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Cancer, by Johfra Bosschart

Cancer by Johfra Bosschart

Cancer by Johfra, page 96 in your handmade, fine art book You and the Universe




         Even though I’m a Sagittarius and happy to be one, after having spent decades with Johfra Bosschart’s 12 zodiac paintings his Cancer is still my favorite. The instinctual longing of the hermit crab for the mother of her instincts, the Moon—the nostalgia of it—is depicted so beautifully and so essentially that each time I look upon it I am again deeply moved to feel what Cancer is. And isn’t this what Cancer is? The longing, the past, nostalgia, instinct, habit, the home, the covering and the protective principle—all of which the hermit crab carries on its back and can retreat into when threatened? In his 1981 book Astrology Signs of the Zodiac, Johfra talks about his intent in creating the Zodiac Series of posters: “I knew that it would be pointless to add yet more examples to the many hundreds of representations that already existed...Therefore I decided to elevate as many sides of the signs as possible through a brief meditation and contemplation on the principle figure, who becomes the main point of concentration. The many different symbols related to a certain sign, gathered together into a harmonious composition, would give each painting more depth; they would offer the observer more possibilities for his own free associations.” He certainly succeeded with Cancer.

         Moon-ruled Cancer is cardinal water; its keyword is “I feel.” It is the most subconscious of all the signs, for nothing is clear and direct with it. Like the crab, Cancers step sideways around all issues, and slowly at that as symbolized by the two turtles in the lower right. Cancers love to collect things that nostalgically remind them of the past, and what better things to collect than the treasures of the past which are festooned all over the base of the painting and upon which the crab supports herself in her very longing.

         In the right border of the painting just below the center we see a pair of disembodied hands causing pomegranate seeds to fall into an open plant. The seeds famously remind us of the abduction and rape of the Earth’s (Demeter’s) daughter Persephone by Pluto/Hades. While she was in Hades, Persephone was cajoled and tricked by Pluto to eat 3 to 6 pomegranate seeds, and for each one she had eaten she was committed to spend a month in Hell with Pluto every year. So the pomegranate seeds in Johfra’s painting remind us of the past, ties that bind, commitments and promises, and having to leave our mother and our home.

         At the top of the painting is Diana/Artemis shooting her bow. Diana was the Roman virgin goddess of forests, hills, wild animals, child-bearing and the Moon; Artemis was her Greek counterpart. Her symbols were the moon, her hunting dog, the stag, and her golden bow and arrow. Myth has it that at the age of three she asked her father Zeus for six things: to always remain a virgin; to be the Light-Bringer or Phaesporia (perhaps because she represented the Moon which lights the night); to have many names so she could be distinguished from her bother Apollo; to have a bow and arrow and a short tunic so she could hunt; to have 60 nine-year-old daughters of Oceanus to be her choir; and to have 20 nymphs of the river Amnisus in Crete as handmaidens to guard her bow and tend to her hunting dogs while she rested.


Links to all 12 of Johfra Bosschart's Zodiac Series posters:







small Scorpio glyph in the Johfra Bosschart sign-links table










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Pages 2-3 from your astrology reading in a fine art, personalized astrology book: You and the Universe









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The personalized Fine Art Book You and the Universe.











© Carl Woebcke: Cancer, by Johfra Bosschart, 1991-2017. All rights reserved.