DECEMBER/JANUARY - It begins with the Winter Solstice. The sun dipping down into the sign of Capricorn heralds the beginning of the end, the start of the most difficult time of year. Now begins a season of short days and long nights, of cold and darkness, of starvation and sickness and the fight to survive. Snow descends in heavy sheets and settles into deep rifts, drowning the world in frigid white. Forests of lacey white branches and dark green evergreenes are silent, eery, yet beautiful in their severity. Riverbeds are dry and lakes are frozen many feet deep. Animals hibernate under the earth or scavenge for frostbitten meat. All the world is held under heavy blankets of grey clouds. Or, more beautiful still, lit under clear skies full of stars and the silver edge of the moon.
On farms in the past, this month was a quiet one. It was a time of rationing food and sleeping in front of the fireplace, of reading (if they could), weaving, crafting, and idle arts. Some chores could be done, like splitting logs and fixing up tools inside the barn. But they had to conserve their energy and focus only on what mattered. Food and supplies needed to be delegated carefully, as using up things that could not easily be replaced could be a matter of life or death. Most people huddled around the hearth indoors, cuddled under blankets, keeping themselves fat on meat and root vegetables saved for the winter months. It was a month of hardship and closeness, of coldness and warmth, and a tough one to get though every time.
The beginning of this month almost always coincided with gift-giving holidays, such as Yuletide, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, and Christmas, since after harvest everybody was as fat and wealthy as they would be all year. However, the month itself was more associated with the onset of winter. Many Germanic cultures associated this time of year with a diet of suet (animal fat), severe frost, ice, and snow. And the West Frisian Calendar called this “Fore Month”, because it was the first month of winter.
Capricorn is one of the oldest zodiac Signs, first appearing in Babylonian astrology as early as the Bronze Age. The Sea-Goat was a combination of symbols for the god Ea, who lived in the freshwater lake that fed the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. He was said to have flooded the rivers to allow for cultivation, giving them agriculture and eventually civilization, further emerging from the rivers to teach and dispense his wisdom. Later on, in Egyptian astrology, this Sign was referred to simply as "The Goat", with the fish component of the symbol removed. Greek and European astrology continued this tradition, later calling it by the Latin word “capricornius”, which means “horned goat”. Greek mythology includes the tale of the goat Amalthea, which suckled the infant Zeus after he was left on earth. However, like Sagittarius, the goat of this myth is not the goat featured in the constellation or Sign. Amalthea was placed as the star Capra (little goat), not the constellation Capricorn (sea-goat).
Before Christianity, the goat was a symbol of lust and fertility, similar to the ram. Think of the myths of satyrs, fauns, Baphomet, Dionysus, and Pan, who ran true to their half-bestial nature and indulged in drink, sex, food, and loud music. They were gods and demi-gods of nature, and were revelled as such. Once Christianity took hold of Europe, however, puritanical values that shamed sex, violence, and the more animalistic sides of human nature turned the goat into a symbol for the Devil. The Devil was depicted as Pan had been, as half goat with the animal's horns and hooves, and the goat became the animal for ritualistic satanic sacrifice, which was the epitome of evil in the Christian mind. However, there is also the fish-half of the Capricorn symbol to consider. Mostly associated with Jesus is the Ichthys fish, which is a symbol for baptism, spirituality, and the universality of God's love. Fish are also symbols of secrets, enlightenment, and unseen forces, but also of escapism, pessimism, and depression. The Capricorn symbol is fascinating, in that its two halves have come to have opposite cultural meanings, even though the original symbol came from an entirely different civilization!
The glyph for Capricorn is a straight line down that comes up and then swirls back down again, which is the body of the goat and its mermaid-like fish tail. In medical astrology, which has been around in some form since the middle ages, this Sign rules the knees, bones, and teeth. So this symbol, in turn, represents the knee and circular kneecap. An alternative symbol is of a straight horizontal line that curls and circles down, which symbolizes the horns and head of the goat. But both can be used interchangeably.
Capricorn is a combination of the Cardinal Quality and the Earth Element. This means that they lead and take initiative with Earthly matters, such as finances, business, materialism, the home, and the physical body. This combination creates a more masculine personality; one that is desiring of material wealth and financial success, one for whom the career and public image is very important. Male Capricorns are outright expected to take on a career and provide for their family, and so they do. But female Caps are divided. They want to have a fulfilling career, but they are also pressured by society and their family to settle down, become a mother, and run the home. Often, Capricorn women do settle down, start a family, and run the home, just like everybody says they should. But a Cap without prominence and purpose is destined to become bitter about it, so they usually throw their career goals into the mix and juggle all their responsibilities at once.
The Goat-half of their personality is akin to the paternal, protective father, who works days and nights and double-shifts to give his family the life they deserve. He is practical and responsible, always thinking about the long-term, always looking for the best quality for his hard-earned cash. In all things he is dedicated, ambitious, but also patient and willing to work and wait for years in order to get what he wants. He has all the coldness, detachment, and familiar sternness of a father. He grumbles on his way home, shoo the kids out of the living room, and parks himself in the recliner, ready to relax alone. He pours over bills and bank statements, his heart thumping from the numbers on the page, budgeting the family income down to the nickels and dimes to make himself feel better. He may never tell you he loves and respects you, and he may have already decided on what he wants you to grow up to be, but he does love you, and he shows it by giving you the best things life can offer.
However, as traditionally masculine as Capricorn may be, there is a marked vulnerability, a sensitivity that is distinctly feminine about them. This is the Fish-half of their symbol, the half which is mysterious, emotional, intuitive, compassionate, and sentimental. Truly, she believes in magic, but won't say it out loud, less it sound too irrational or offend her religious family. She loves her family. She sits on the windowsill of her grandparent's home, wearing her mother's jewelry, shoulder pressed to the windowpane on a rainy afternoon. She pours over the family heirlooms, her grandmother's cook books, her grandfather's workshop, pictures of her parents when they were kids. This is the Capricorn that feeds and loves, that throws plush blankets on the couch when company comes over, who has tea and coffee and snacks already laid out when they arrive. She is soft and sensuous, tied very much to the past, and feeling very much like she belongs in another era much more elegant than our own.
But being the amalgamation of ambitious Goat and emotional Fish is not as beautiful as it sounds. Moodiness, depression, hopelessness about their future, and anxiety over their performance and success, are everyday struggles. Their weak spots are their fear and their insecurity, the two things which undermine everything they do. As high as their hopes for their career, family, and future may be, they are crippled by doubt and pessimism. And if they are young and struggling financially (which they almost always are), it only gets worse. Their health declines due to stress and overwork: aching muscles, stomach cramps, indigestion, mental health flare-ups, fatigue, constant sickness from a weakened immune system. I have seen many Capricorns on antidepressants, or who use drugs and alcohol to loosen themselves up when they otherwise feel like turning to stone. All of it a result of the pressure they put on themselves to succeed - and be liked by the people around them.
On the surface, Capricorn may at first appear guarded, stingy, jealous, greedy, prissy, even temperamental. You might find them intimidating or feel hurt by their judgmental attitude. But get to know them a little better, and like their Earth sisters Taurus and Virgo, you will find warmth and kindness hidden behind their cold exterior. With friends and loved ones, they let down their walls to reveal a person who longs for glamour and excitement. They are dynamic, passionate, and highly sexed, sometimes even willing to (occasionally) forgo the plans and do something spur-of-the-moment. Get to know them and you get to see their great sense of humour and sarcastic wit they are known for. See that despite their hopeless realism, they are pushed forward by hopeful optimism. And regardless of all the hurdles they've fallen over and the pits they've been trapped in on their way up the mountain, their unyielding sense of purpose keeps them going. No matter what.
Capricorns are said to born as little old ladies and little old men, and to get younger as they get older, like metaphorical Benjamin Buttons. When they are young they are saddened and stressed, overworked and underpaid, set in their ways and adamant about what it takes to succeed. As they get older and achieve more, and as they put less pressure on themselves, they begin to soften up. Middle-age is when they are their happiest, their most carefree, their most outgoing and relaxed. And in old age they finally reached childhood whimsy along with their grand kids, much to their adult children's frustration (who ask, "Where was that person when I was a kid?").
As kids, Capricorns are fascinated by their family history. I never met a Cap who didn't know their entire genetic and cultural background in extensive detail, or who wasn't rightfully proud of where their family came from. They want to pass down stories and customs through the family line, or even to reconnect with the traditions of their ancestors and reintroduce them to their family. They want to inherit their mother's handmade Christmas decorations, bake their grandmother's signature desserts, take snippets of plants from their parent's house to plant in their garden at home. They create a beautiful portrait in their mind and get very attached to it. If there is ugliness in their family history (poverty, divorce, or abuse, for example) they feel ashamed, even dirty, by association. That isn't the image they want reflecting on themselves. They want a nuclear family in the right, white-picket-fence neighbourhood, married parents with lots of money, and feel like they've failed if they give their own children anything less than that.
While they may be nurturing, family-oriented, and utterly domestic in one way or another, growing up they inherently have more respect for men and for more masculine qualities of strength, power, and dry rationality. They want to dive into the male-driven world of money, career, power, finance, fame, and success. They want to be just like their father, and probably end up in the same line of work in an effort to impress him. Yet, no matter how hard they work at it, they always feel like they just fall short of his approval. It's not necessarily that they do. That is just how Capricorns are. Always climbing, and never reaching the top.
That need for other people's approval (and never getting it) spills out of the family and into their social life as well. Capricorn children try desperately to be liked by their classmates. They wear the right clothes, like all the right things, talk how they should talk. They are well-behaved and do exactly what they are supposed to do. Yet, more often than not, they end up badly bullied, and take it especially hard. That feeling of isolation, of not belonging or not being loved, starts in a Capricorn's childhood, and stays with them for a very long time. It doesn't go away until a string of failed relationships and friendships forces them to reevaluate their priorities and conclude that they cannot, in fact, make everybody happy all the time. But until then, Capricorn continues to do all they can to be impressive, all while building higher and higher walls between themselves and other people.
Aside from knowing, quite rightly, all the things which are right and wrong, good and bad, young Capricorns are burdened with the knowledge of what it takes to be successful in our modern capitalistic economy. That includes nothing less than a nice car, several beautiful homes, a master's degree, fame, wealth, enviable vacations abroad, the perfect body, and the perfect spouse to start the perfect family with. Quite realistically, starting from childhood, they put enormous pressures on themselves to achieve all of this right-away, before they get too old and it is too late to start. But while they make think they are being realistic about it take to make it big, they are very unrealistic about having it all by the time they turn 30.
I have had a lot of Capricorn friends. This is the most underrated Sign in the zodiac, in my opinion. You should be so lucky to have a Capricorn in your life. Most of us don't deserve them. They are amazing friends to have because they actually try. They understand that relationships take time and effort and that you have to show people you care about them. Capricorns are the ones to plan weekend adventures, camping trips, shopping days, dinners out Friday night or brunch on Sunday morning. They call, message, and text on a regular basis just to say hi and see if you want to meet up for coffee later. They show up on time (or ten minutes early) when you are hosting something, and they stay late to help clean up. Sure, they are also reclusive, and prone to bouts of loneliness, isolation, shyness, and introversion, especially when they are stressed out. But they put on a brave face and show up anyway, because they do not want to disappoint somebody they care about.
Capricorns do no fall in love quickly or easily. They are selective about who they spend time with, and usually choose a small gathering over a large party any day. In love, it is the same way. Just like in everything else, they are fearful and cautious when undertaking any new responsibility. They instinctively know that they are committed, devoted, monogamous people (not one for flings or casual sex) and that once they pick a partner they intend on settling down with them pretty much right away. So they want to make sure the relationship is a good investment of their time, money, love, and energy. They want benefits and a profitable future together, with a concrete guarantee that it will last for the rest of their lives. They usually attracted to partners who are safe bets - conventionally good-looking, older spouses who resemble their own mother or father, who have money, a house of their own, a family with a good name, education, and a promising career ahead of them. Very early into the relationship Capricorns start mentally planning a wedding, raising a family, and living together. But they probably won't marry right away, if only because they want to save up some money first!
In love, you almost couldn't ask for a better partner. When they love you, there isn't anything a Capricorn won't do to make you happy. Whether it is sending you thoughtful reminders or gifts (Caps are the best gift-givers, hands-down), cooking you all your favourite foods, recreating your childhood joys, or fulfilling your fantasies in the bedroom, they try really hard to be the best lover they can be for you. They will be involved with your family in dinners, birthdays, and holidays; Capricorn girls always end up being your mother's best friend, and Capricorn boys contort themselves all different ways to impress your dad. Whether they are date nights, get-togethers, nights out with your friends, or days spent curled up next to each other, you will know and feel that they care for you in everything that they do.
Yet...there is this nagging feeling. You know they love you, because they show it everyday. But they feel so far away at times you wonder if they've suddenly changed their mind. Despite all their selfless devotion to your happiness and the relationship, they remain very much guarded the entire time. There is that Goat/Fish duality again. On the one hand they hide cautiously behind huge emotional walls, eyeing their partner suspiciously from a safe distance. But on the other, they become completely immersed in love and emotion, wanting to lose all boundaries and become one with their lover. Most Capricorns live in that place where the waves crash the stone, being totally loyal and involved, while also being emotionally distant and withdrawn. It isn't you. It is the same battle they been waging since their childhood - the battle between their need to protect themselves, and their need to be loved. And it is acted out in every relationship they get into.
Their dual nature is evident in how they fluctuate between different types of partners, too. In their youth, shaky with fears over their financial futures, their Goat-half forces them to forgo their emotional needs in favour of a partner who is successful, driven, wealthy, and dutiful...but also boring, cold, bitchy, and an abuser who aggravates the negative voices in their head. So then they flip to their Fish-half, and pick a partner who is artistic, sensitive, charming, and romantic...but also immature, manipulative, parasitic, and a loser who needs to be constantly taken care of. At some point, Capricorn might just give up and goes for casual sex with someone young and sexy. But that isn't faithful to who they are either! So what do they do?
With some trial and error, eventually they find someone who completes both sides, who is neither their superior or their inferior. What Capricorn realizes as they get older is that they really are capable, self-sufficient, and set on attaining their personal goals in this lifetime, despite what their insecurity and pessimism had them thinking before. They don't need a sugar-daddy to support them or a trophy wife who makes them look good by association. They don't need somebody who drains their resources or stomps out their fires. They need an equal who compliments their life as they climb corporate ladders, run their own business, and fulfill their own dreams, in their own time and on their own dime. When they find equality, they can finally be happy. It just takes time!
I worked with a few Capricorn ladies at the spa. They were nail technicians, drawn to that line of work because it was flexible, allowing for future changes in their lifestyle down the road. For now, they could work in a spa, collect clients, and earn a steady income. But down the line if they wanted to have children, move, or if something bad happened, they could start their own business and be a self-employed professional working from home. Capricorns always think like that. They don't just have a plan for the next year - they have plans for the next five, ten, or fifteen years, and backup plans on top of that. What if they became unemployed? What if they got pregnant? What if their spouse left them? What would they do for money? How would they pay their bills? Where would they live? Look into a Capricorn's brain, and you see a million little men at work, concocting little worst-case "what if" scenarios and all the ways to remedy them should they ever happen. It's no wonder that they are so prepared - and so stressed out!
As mentioned before, Capricorns place enormous pressure on themselves to succeed. And they feel way too comfortable sacrificing their happiness and emotional health in order to get ahead in life. They usually start out with big dreams about a career that will make them rich so they can afford all the luxuries they've grown accustomed to. But those dreams get chipped away by failure, doubts, and insecurities. They eventually realize that they need to be happy doing the work that they do. A successful life is not the set stone path up the mountain that they thought it was, where you can only say you've made it when you are at the top. It is more like an ocean. There is no top. You can sail off in any direction - and sure, sudden changes in wind and waves can set you off your intended course. But you can change your plans a million times and still land somewhere that makes you happy!
If you have a Capricorn employee or coworker, you are at once the luckiest and the most threatened manager in the world. A Capricorn employee is happy to start at the bottom, making minimum wage, taking the shitty shifts, if they think there is some upward mobility in the company they work for. They work extremely hard, show up early, stay late, treat your customers with respect, dress and act professionally, and run the show in your absence. But make no mistake, they have no intention of staying at the bottom. Capricorns are born climbers, hellbent for positions of power and control. And from the day they set foot in your business, they fully intended on getting to the top, where they can get raises, promotions, paid vacations, union benefits, and retirement funds to support them when they are done.
As this is a Cardinal Sign, Capricorns do have issues with authority. They stubbornly believe that they know the best way to do everything, forcing you to explain your entire proposal before they decide whether or not it is the right thing to do. Like Aries, they have trouble taking orders from others, and so either usually climb to the top and become a manager or open up their own business. If you have a Capricorn boss, you can feel safe knowing that they are not risk-takers. They pick qualified employees and invest in their training, balance the books, keep expenses in order. You basically have more job security than anywhere else. The only thing is that they are the hardest boss to work for. Elsewhere in life Capricorn may show you their secret soft side, but not at work. On the job they are hard-hearted, strict, disciplined, selfish, easily stressed, and quick to cut their losses if it isn't working out. If you are happy doing things their way, you two can make a lot of money together. If not, just leave.
Capricorn's biggest weak spot, which gets in the way of their success, is their unrealistic expectations. Every Capricorn thinks they are entitled to a raise, a promotion, that nice corner office on the top floor, based solely on their work ethic and performance. Yes, Capricorn works very hard and produces top-quality results. But they fall into the trap of expecting too much to be given to them too early on, when they don't (surprise) actually deserve it. Whenever anyone starts out in a new career, they are bound to go through a difficult learning curve - customers aren't happy, their work is lazy and poorly done, their boss snaps the whip and everybody cracks down on them. But rather than push through it and get better, many Capricorns quit right on the verge of failure. Angry, frustrated with themselves, and deeply offended, they start out in a whole other direction, determined it will work out this time. As a result, they never become good enough at anything to deserve all the things they feel they are entitled to. Capricorn needs to push through those rough patches instead of caving in on themselves, and see those experiences as direction, not discouragement.
My friend Tylore is also an artist and astrologer (and a witch, and a psychic, and everything else). She has her Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune all in Capricorn, all intercepted in the 1st House. Here is a video we made together, and a bit she wrote about her Sign:
THE capricorn TRANSFORMATION
Somewhere past mid-life, into their older years, Capricorn finally begins to mature as they are supposed to. It might seem strange that a Capricorn should be told to mature any more than they already are. But they are not growing more responsible, dignified, conservative, or serious, as everyone else does. As Caps age they actually become less of those things. Capricorn is eventually supposed to transform into Aquarius. And as they do, they let go of many of the ties that bind them in favour of personal freedom and creative expression. They go through a goth phase, or a grunge phase, or a witchy phase. They begin to care less about what others think. They become more flexible, tolerant, open-minded, spontaneous. They become more comfortable with rebelling against the way things are "supposed to be", and grow more eccentric and unconventional in their style and appearance. Once they can finally look into the future without feeling tied up in the past, Capricorn has officially transformed into Aquarius. Which just-so-happens to be the next article in this series! See you there!