Goat overlooking valley

Capricorn the Goat shows how you embrace and respond to authority, responsibility, maturity. Ruled by Saturn, this part of you reflects your role in society, goals and career, and your ability to be practical and realistic.

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. ~ Margot Fonteyn (dancer)
Okay, it's time to get serious! If this thing is going to work, we've got to get a few things straight. FIRST: Everyone has got to follow the rules. If we just do our own thing, we'll be going in all directions at once and nothing will ever get done! SECOND: We've got to get organized I'm going to be the boss and you will be second in command and you can be third, and so on. THIRD: There is a manual for each of you that lists all of your duties and outlines exactly what is expected of you. FOURTH: Here is a flowchart of our goals, detailing the projected achievements over the next 29 years. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: This is a list of the things we're all going to have to give up in order to manifest this plan of action. Yes, it sounds difficult, but the payoff will be worth it! This is Capricorn and you might as well get used to it.
This Is Reality!

Capricorn glyphFor 4 weeks in December and January (during the New Moon cycles in Capricorn; see the table in upper-right for dates) we are all marched through a process where we reassess our goals, do closure with old activities, manifest our hard worked plans, and come to terms with the limitations that are imposed on our lives. But first things first: let's start by building the structure of the archetype of the zodiac sign Capricorn.

Capricorn, Saturn (its planetary ruler) and the 10th house (Capricorn's natural house) are associated with:

  • structure, plans, step by step, priorities
  • fact, reality, the right answer, results, consequences
  • limitations, stagnation, pruning, endings, boundaries
  • struggle, ordeals, exertion, effort; being serious, severe
  • ambition, career, profession, work, goals, skills
  • public standing, public image, social roles
  • depression, sadness, deprivation
  • strength, endurance, fortitude
  • commitment, discipline, responsibility, accountability
  • bones, skin, teeth, hair
  • pragmatism, humility, realism
  • inhibition, caution, skepticism
  • repression, oppression, obedience
  • necessity, duty, obligation, expectations
  • tradition, posterity, age, maturity
  • karma, punishment, guilt, regret
  • authority, conformity, authoritative parent, government

To most of us, this is a rather dour list Limitation? Guilt? Depression? Inhibition? Capricorn, as a force in our lives, has a reputation for being demanding and lacking in humour, but few of us appreciate Capricorn for being a teacher of valuable lessons which enable us to achieve and progress.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Without our skeleton, we would not be able to stand or walk. Without our skin, we would have nothing to delineate where we end and the rest of the world begins. Capricorn may limit us but it is for the purpose of creation, advancement and manifestation. How does Capricorn limit us? It often forces us to make do with less than we'd like to; it may compel us to make sacrifices for a greater purpose; it can render us humourless, dour and stern, as we concentrate on achieving our goals.

However, limitations, sacrifices and seriousness are necessary "evils" in order to achieve manifestation and results. Capricorn and Saturn are hardly glamorous or fun Capricorn's idea of fun is to get elbow deep in some difficult project, and Saturn's idea of glamour is the authority or status one might attain by doing that project.

It's helpful to compare Capricorn and Sagittarius. There are many ways in which they are total opposites: Jupiter and Sagittarius are about possibilities; Capricorn is about actualities. Sag loves speculation; Cap prefers facts and results. Jupiter expands and grows; Saturn prunes back and conserves. Jupiter's jovial and optimistic; Saturn's serious and heavy.

On the other hand, they are also similar in many ways, seeming to be opposite sides of the same coin: Jupiter may be self-important and dogmatic; Saturn can be authoritarian and demanding. Sagittarius wants growth and expansion (if lavishly); Capricorn wants to achieve goals and progress (albeit cautiously). Sag aims for moral betterment; Cap strives for maturation and results. Sag launches a pilgrimage for the Truth; Cap marches steadily toward facts and realism.


The Scheme of Things

Saturn glyphSaturn was the outermost, and therefore the slowest moving, planet in our solar system until Uranus was discovered in 1781. Saturn is viewed as the bringer of endings, final results and maturation. Although the transpersonal planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) show us a much more complex picture of maturity and personal evolution, Saturn remains the primary representative of the basic human developmental process.

By transit, Saturn is associated with certain rites of passage which flag important crossroads in our lives. For instance, at the first Saturn opposition (see Notes For Novices, at right), we are around puberty age certainly a powerful, turbulent time of maturation in our lives. At the first Saturn return, we are about age 29 a time when we must let go of our capricious youth and commit to a direction to carry us through adulthood. At the second Saturn opposition, we are in our mid-40s. Like adolescence, we are typically trying to figure out who we are, what we really want and trying to balance the pursuit of diversion with the demands of reality. The second Saturn return comes in our late 50s, when we must again come to terms with our aging passage, this time from midlife to our senior years.

Saturn has an agenda: to lead us into the experiences that force us to reckon with the necessities and realities of life. His purpose is to challenge us to grow, reinforce and etch out a space inside ourselves that will enable us to contain and endure the crises and climaxes of life. If we resist Saturn's stern lessons, we can become increasingly rigid and autocratic to compensate for the lack of authentic strength and solidity.

Saturn also has a cumulative effect later lessons are built upon the foundation of previous ones. If we have not done our homework, we can become lost or mislead when faced with the tests of later learning. We cannot understand calculus if we're still struggling with simple mathematics; by the same token, we will find it extremely difficult to redirect, prune back and rebalance our identity at midlife if we have not built a solid adult identity in our 30s.

Transiting Saturn forms the backbone of the human maturation process. It is the framework around which all other rites of passage and transition occur. When we undergo a Pluto transit, leading us through a Dark Night of the Soul, it is experienced through the filter of our Saturnian level of development. A child who is pre-Saturn opposition may experience a Pluto transit as profound change in the external circumstances of his/her life, whereas a mid-life adult may experience the same Pluto transit as an arduous, soul searching time when s/he must confront his/her role in a wrenching situation. Our level of awareness, understanding and maturity will greatly affect how we experience transits.

Saturn and Capricorn also provide the structure, stamina and endurance that enable us to pursue a dream to its manifest conclusion, but this ability is acquired piece by piece, layer by layer. Our ambition requires our full commitment and skill to reach its goal without this, we will forever flounder in half begun projects, false starts and pie in the sky flightiness. In turn, our ability to commit and achieve is rooted in our capacity to take life and our aspirations seriously; to set aside the frivolity of youth and make the sacrifices necessary to make it all happen. Capricorn forms a hierarchical puzzle each brick of achievement is balanced upon the layers below it. If any of the bricks in the preceding layers are missing, the strength of the entire wall will be jeopardized.

Responsibility as Obligation

Another ingredient in our Capricorn recipe for achievement is responsibility. This is another Saturnian word that evokes groans from many people who expect boring, unbending demands to be imposed with little reward in return. The fact is, when we think of responsibility, we mostly think of being responsible toward another person. This usually evokes images of having to place others as the top priority, while stowing ourselves away in a corner somewhere.

The word "responsibility" has sometimes been reframed as response ability if we are to consider others' priorities and needs to be important, we must have the ability to respond to that person. But if we're constantly putting others first, can we realistically go on disregarding our own needs? What about us? Each of us has needs, priorities and requirements, too. The fact is that none of us is capable of being there for somebody else if we're not also there for ourselves, ensuring that our needs are taken care of.

Unfortunately, many of us attempt to do this all the time. We place ourselves far down on the priority list and then wonder why we're run down, depressed, burnt out and generally grouchy (all negative manifestations of Saturn). We're often taught, by family, media, school, etc., that other people are important, and authority figures, especially, are paramount; but we're rarely instructed to treat ourselves as being equally important.

Learning our own value and importance is an exercise in understanding boundaries how to say no. If it comes down to helping a friend move a piano or taking a day of rest after 6 exhausting days of working overtime, we probably need to say no to our friend. However, too often we'll try to do the impossible anyway. The consequences of never saying no, or not saying it enough, is spiritual-emotional-psychological bankruptcy, burnout and depression. If we don't feed ourselves, we won't have the strength to feed anyone else.

Responsibility as Integrity

Responsibility in its highest form is not about obligation or duty, but integrity and fidelity doing something not because we have to, but because to do otherwise is to deny and degrade the best of who we are. Staying true to our beliefs and priorities requires that we're consistent between our actions and principles. This means we do something because it is what we believe in, not because someone else sanctions it and we feel obliged to obey.

This is the goal of Saturn's developmental process to build an independent sense of self, to establish one's own authority and formulate a set of principles. It's not enough to have an identity from which to enter the world; we must behave consistently with our values, principles and integrity. Saturn demands that we become integrated beings, bridging the gap between the internal and the external; between who we are as visionary spirits and who we must be to function and survive in the world.

Unfortunately, while North American culture professes to value honesty and integrity, we too often accept, condone and even reward those who are adept at putting the blame on others, side stepping accountability and rationalizing excuses that tell us what we want to hear.

How many politicians and public figures have wormed their way out of sticky situations by insisting they knew nothing about the incident in question, that the public or media has misinterpreted their now broken promises, or that someone else (e.g., an underling) was actually responsible. How many TV shows and movies glamorize those who get away with immoral or questionable deeds, especially if it serves a "worthy" cause? How often do those in authority flout the policies or mandate of their office, while those they serve look the other way because they might benefit, or don't want to get involved, or just lack the spirit to pursue the issue?

In truth, western culture seems to believe that a noble end justifies an otherwise crooked means, and that those who are clever enough to get away with misdeeds have earned their freedom particularly if the person is attractive, charming, witty and/or has the support of powerful people. As long as we are not adversely affected, then transgressions become acceptable or non-existent. When we exist within a system that devalues honesty, integrity and responsibility, its constituents can wind up adopting that same disregard, be it passively or actively. In order to evolve and mature, it would seem that societies and groups, as well as individuals, can benefit from a healthy dose of Saturn!


When Less Is More

The maturation process requires that we have enough of what we need to progress, but sometimes the experience of doing without for a time can strengthen us. We see this when a pruned back tree springs back with stronger, fuller re-growth, or when we build up our muscles through vigorous exercise.

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. ~ Coco Chanel

Saturn can force us to work harder than usual at something so that we become stronger in that area. The natal house where Saturn resides is often the area where we feel the weakest yet it's often where we excel the farthest because we've worked so hard to compensate. When Saturn transits a natal planet or house, we're often required to exert ourselves in order to build up our "muscles" in that area.

However, just like a fitness program, if we exercise too hard or too long, we risk doing damage to ourselves. We can rip the fabric of our spirit if we don't pace ourselves by balancing labour with rest. This means we must make time for self-care and leisure.

It's important not to avoid this or give up. We almost always think we've had enough when Saturn says, "Just one more." Ironically, Saturn limits and pushes us so that we may reach beyond our limitations. It's never easy, but the payoff is always there if we do the work.


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