Cancer is a feeling type… instinctual, empathic, emotionally complex, and hard to comprehend. Pry into their private lives and watch them retreat into their shells. Cancers hide their most vulnerable selves beneath a facade of nurturing actions. Cautious and vulnerable, Cancers avoid emotional confrontation wherever and whenever possible, although, they prefer being frank and direct over tactful and diplomatic. Their feelings can swing from loving, devoted, and nurturing, to secretive, obsessive, and fearful of the future. Their smartest option is always choosing satisfying over safe. Cancers can become dark and moody when they feel controlled or confined. They must feel protected and secure before they can fully trust. Once trust is earned, loyalties run deep. Cancer needs to cultivate intimacy wherever and whenever they can. Healthy families, close friendships, and satisfying work nourish and support them. Creating structure, organization, and detail also helps them feel stable and secure.
Healthy Cancers are loving, compassionate, and devoted. They’re compatible with other feeling types (Scorpio & Pisces). They feel safe with practical types (Taurus ~ Virgo ~ Capricorn) who are reliable, responsible, and dependable. They’re challenged by thinking types (Gemini ~ Libra ~ Aquarius) who compartmentalize, rationalize, and analyze their feelings. They’re cautious around intuitive types (Aries ~ Leo ~ Sagittarius) who are passionate, spontaneous, and impatient, and afraid they’ll be left holding the psychic garbage bag (they are) and scared of dealing with the collateral damage when idealism, optimism, enthusiasm, and logic wane (and they do). Cancers are acutely consciousness of everyone else’s emotional needs. When they feel insecure, they can become internally secretive and externally aggressive at the same time. Cancer works hardest when income matches output. Motivated by good food, emotional security, and cozy surroundings, their mission is to nurture family, home, and creative imagination.
The impudent young guy on the left in this picture is me, captured forty-four years ago in a photo booth at Kennywood Amusement Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. Lloyd and I met while working part time at a model making shop where we fabricated preschool children’s learning devices for the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning, Research, and Development Center. We made toys for ourselves and our loved ones on our own time. About to graduate from different colleges, I was to become an industrial designer. Lloyd would continue being an artist. We were a couple of Peter Pans on our way to Neverland.
Lloyd didn’t get much nurturing as a child. He developed his quick wit and sense of humor while trying to avoid extreme physical abuse. When his mother was happy, Lloyd was safe. When she was unhappy, she’d incite Lloyd’s rage filled father to beat him up. Lloyd tried hard to fix his broken parents, but they were too sick to support his efforts. Instead, they judged, criticized, and abused him. Lloyd’s mother finally abandoned him by killing herself; his father was committed to a mental institution, and years later, his lovely sister who I had met in Florida (two beautiful children, great husband, and an apparently idyllic life), suddenly and unexpectedly blew her head off with a shotgun.
Lloyd’s slender rectangular palms and long fingers embody his Cancer sun, which is conjunct my Mercury. His Gemini ascendant and my Gemini sun harmonize with one another. Lloyd’s head and life lines tightly intertwine at their beginnings. That reveals his need to feel appreciated and his tendency to take things too personally, even when they aren’t. A sensitive child, Lloyd desperately craved love and support, but didn’t get any.
Lloyd survived childhood without much approval. Meanwhile, he thrives on love and appreciation. Lloyd will give you the shirt off his back if you need it, but you had better never take him for granted. I know because Lloyd has literally given me the shirt off his back in my moment of need. I was on my way to an important meeting and got a nasty stain on the front of my shirt. Before I could blink, Lloyd took off his shirt and traded with me. What I love about him is that it never occurred to him not to do that.
Cancers are collectors. Some stockpile food in case of shortage or emergency. Lloyd collects art books, literature (most well-read person I know), religious art, art supplies, tools, raw materials, and clothing. When wealthy people die, their families donate their wardrobe to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Lloyd has a keen eye for the finest designer clothing. He skillfully sorts through the merchandise for great finds. I call him my personal dresser. We wear the same sizes. Lloyd chooses suits, coats, and jackets with me in mind and has gifted me with outfits worth thousands of dollars that he paid ten or fifteen dollars for. Many had never been worn. He’s a master bargain hunter.
Lloyd’s very flexible thumbs symbolize his ability to adapt to the most horrible of circumstances. They also embody his frequent generosity of heart and spirit. It’s very hard for Lloyd to say “NO”. The gold ring on the bottom phalange of his middle (Saturn) finger on his unconscious hand symbolizes his need to have clear boundaries, be frugal, and learn how to be less available so that he won’t be taken for granted. Of course, Lloyd knows that, but it’s still fun to see his character, motivations, and challenges embodied in the morphology and topography of his hands.
Lloyd would say to me, “People who tell the truth don’t need to have good memories”. I’d reply, “We may be bastards, but at least we’re honest”. Over fifty years of friendship have witnessed many challenging lessons in humility for us. We delayed finding balance between our outer and inner worlds by always choosing to learn the hard way. We had to let go of our need to be more than we were. We learned there are no shortcuts.
Lloyd Wilson is Pittsburgh’s best kept secret because he loves his anonymity. His artwork reveals a magical spirit, but few will truly get to know it. Lloyd personifies Cancer’s best qualities. He’s supportive, sympathetic, receptive, reflective, intuitive, imaginative, extremely devoted to friends and family, and my best friend (male).