Illustration: Snow White in the Forest, by Gustaf Tenggren for The Walt Disney Company, 1937

{Image description: Illustration of Snow White in a dark and scary forest. She has short black hair and is wearing a blue blouse with puffed short sleeves, a yellow skirt down to the ground and a blue and red cape. She looks scared and is running away. The forest has menacing looking trees, with branches that look like arms trying to grab Snow White.}

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A little girl is rejected by those who were supposed to protect her, and deep in the forest she knows what a family and a home are, thus learning how to best express the energy of the sign of Cancer.

Snow White is one of the most popular and most adapted fairy tales ever. The version best known today is probably that of Walt Disney's animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, from 1937. There are variants of this story all over the world, however, the Brothers Grimm were the first to publish this tale, gathered directly from the oral tradition.

Like so many others, Snow White has undergone social and cultural adaptations. For example, in the last two movie versions, in 2012, she becomes an action heroine, but in the Grimm Brothers' original story there were somewhat sordid details that we would hardly tell our children today.

The story begins with a queen who wishes very much to have a daughter. While sewing at the window, she pricks herself and three drops of blood fall into the snow, and the queen thinks to herself that she would like to have a daughter "white as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony."

Motherhood is a Cancer theme, family and children are so important to them, but a deeper meaning is implied in these words, the cycle of the ages of a woman. These three colors evoke the Triple Goddess, the three visible phases of the Moon, ruler of this sign. White symbolizes the crescent moon, the maiden; red the full moon, the mature woman, who menstruates, and is ready to conceive and to give birth; and black the waning quarter, the old woman.

Months later a girl is born with skin as white as snow, cheeks as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony, who is given the name Snow White. In the last revision of the tale by the Grimm brothers, in 1854, the mother dies in childbirth and is replaced by a stepmother. But in the first edition, of 1812, closer to the oral tradition, this does not happen, and it is the mother herself who assumes the role of antagonist.

The truth is that the concept of unconditional love is a myth that no mother can live up to all the time, and there are always moments when the best of mothers becomes the worst of stepmothers. The Moon, the ruler of Cancer, does not always shine full and round in the night sky. There are nights when she closes in and hides from us. Cancer natives are deeply connected to the lunar cycles, and their moods also fluctuate. They can be both the loving and nourishing mother, and the needy baby crying for the attention from the absent mother.

We soon realize that motherhood is not a vocation of Snow White's mother (and much less of her stepmother). More concerned with her vanity, she constantly validates her beauty with a magic mirror, which assures her that she is still in her prime. Mirrors are doors to the unconscious, a lunar domain known to Cancer, an intuitive sign that knows our internal waters.

But one day the mirror answers the queen that Snow White surpasses her in charm and beauty. Realizing that she is entering the waning phase of her cycle, the Queen blames Snow White for her decline and sends a hunter to kill her and bring back her heart (in some versions it is her lungs and liver), which she then has cooked and eats it. In some cannibalistic cultures, warriors believe that by ingesting the enemy's organs they will integrate his qualities. This is the ultimate point of the denial of motherhood, this mother has not only stopped feeding her daughter, but is also demanding that it is her daughter who feeds her.

But the hunter took pity on the girl and let her live, bringing the queen the heart of a boar. Snow White is left to wander through the forest, where for the first time she faces her fears and the reality of her loneliness, without the support, however illusory, of her mother. Cancer is very attached to their family and roots, and leaving the nest can be quite difficult, sometimes creating situations of interdependence that are not beneficial to anyone, neither to the child nor to the mother.

Just before night falls, Snow White finds a little house and decides to go inside to rest. After quenching her hunger and thirst, she lays down to sleep in one of the seven little beds. This is home to the seven dwarfs, who, when they arrive home after a day's work, are quite surprised by the unexpected visitor.

In Walt Disney's version, the dwarves are portrayed as some "messy children" and the girl spontaneously assumes her role as the fairy of the home. In the Grimm's version she is thrust into this role by the dwarves who allow her to stay with them as long as she takes care of their home and keeps everything clean, learning to play the role of their mother.

In both cases the dwarves - in some variants of the tale these are replaced by thieves - end up introducing Snow White to the concept of family and home, giving her the opportunity to be the caring and devoted mother she did not have. Cancer is a cardinal water sign, it creates the emotional bonds where we anchor our roots and where we can grow strong and secure.

The young princess settles in to her new family, but her mother, realizing that she still lives, tries to seduce her in different ways until, at the third attempt, with a poisoned apple, she manages to kill her. To remain forever young, this mother wants to stop the cycle of life, even if for that her offspring has to die. Some Cancer mothers (and fathers) end up doing the same and try to stop the natural course of growth, stifling their children's individuality and autonomy, killing their will and self-expression.

When the dwarves see Snow White dead, they become very sad and cry for three long days. Since she is still as beautiful as before, they decide to make a glass coffin, so that her beauty can continue to be admired. Cancer and the 4th house of an astrological chart have a special connection with the past, as if the past, being the place from which the present grows, never ceases to exist. Thus, people with this energy strong in their charts may have an interest in historical themes, or a special taste for vintage objects, or they may even value heritage and their family or cultural roots, preserving, in some way, the individual, family or collective memory.

A passing prince was so enchanted by Snow White's beauty that he asked the dwarves to offer him her coffin. They consent, and while the servants are carrying the coffin, one of them trips over a log. With the shock, the piece of apple lodged in the princess' throat jumps out, and she wakes up, falls in love with the prince, and marries him.

This ending, apparently inglorious for our heroine and replaced in Disney's film by a kiss of true love, shows us the simplicity, but also the indirect and lateral way of Cancer’s actions. This is not a sign of great gestures, like Leo, that follows, nor of great intensity, like Scorpio, the next water sign. Cancer is an inconspicuous and unassuming sign, that often uses indirect, but no less effective tactics to get where it wants to go.

They know the cycles of the moon and the rhythm of life, they like domestic and protected environments and can easily go unnoticed, but it is precisely in their vulnerability and sensitivity that lies their tenacity and their greatest light.

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2014