Sign of the Goat Fish
This ancient symbol of Capricorn has roots in many civilizations: the Babylonians called it Suhur.mas or ‘goat-fish’, the Greeks named it Aigokeros or ‘goat-horned’, to the Indians it was Makura or ‘sea-monster’, to the Romans it was caper (goat) cornu (horn). The Chinese evolved ‘The Ox’ into MoKi, the Goat-fish, after being introduced to the Western constellation by the Jesuits, and the Jews called it Azazel, the scape-goat.
Ea was also known as ‘the antelope of the subterranean ocean’. Goats generally speaking, and antelopes in particular, were often depicted in Mesopotamian art as feeding on the leaves of the ‘Tree of Life’. Thus, Ea, also as antelope, brought great knowledge and wisdom on how to become more civilized to these early peoples.
While many Capricorns remain quite earth bound their entire lifetime, there certainly is a more spiritual and mystical side to their nature as symbolized by this sea-goat. Within the sea imagery is the infinite potential of the spirit, which if applied to Capricorns natural ambition can lead to great spiritual development of character strength. Having a plan and executing it with great patience and perseverance is what is needed for the gradual ascent towards spiritual authority and leadership.
Accomplishing Rather Than Just Doing
Capricorn is both the final Cardinal sign and Earth sign of the Zodiac. Cardinal signs are action oriented, while Earth signs like to be pragmatic, thus Capricorn doesn’t just ike to do to keep busy, but rather does to accomplish a tangible, and often socially-oriented goal. The roster of Capricorn-born souls is formidable in terms of what these people have accomplished during one lifetime; not that the accomplishments are always of the highest and purest of spiritual motives, mind you. There are plenty of people in this list who have achieved much that was questionable in terms of ethics and true social service for the highest good, for example: Joseph Stalin, Al Capone, F. Batista, and Richard M. Nixon. Nonetheless, the roster certainly includes more souls of high-minded motives who made their contribution to society in a positive and substantial way such as Clara Barton, Louis Pasteur, Joan of Arc, and Martin Luther King,
My own files are loaded with accomplished clients from all walks of life including psychologists, teachers, CEOs, nurse-practitioners, authors, landlords and real estate agents, producers, etc. Those not necessarily involved in professional careers can be multi-talented and accomplished in the home, on the ranch, and involved with civic and socially-involved organizations.
Qualities and Characteristics
Whether born under the Sun sign of Capricorn, or having Moon, Ascendant, or a Stellium in Capricorn, or a strongly placed Saturn, the following characteristics can be a part of the natives nature. There is often a compelling sense of responsibility at an early age that pushes the Capricorn type into action by taking on a great deal. I’ll use our youngest daughter as a perfect example: with her Moon in Capricorn, from a wee age, she had a need to take care of animals, and I don’t mean just a few pets. Our home, over the course of her childhood, was filled with cats, dogs, birds, reptiles including turtles, lizards, and snakes, hamsters, rats, geese (well, they had to stay outside!), and even a wolf. She gave each pet a name and loved them all with a passion. Later, as a teenager, this penchant for taking on a lot got transferred to other peers who often came from broken, troubled homes, and needed more nourishment. One morning I counted 15 kids on the living-room floor asleep in sleeping bags or bedrolls. She was a veritable taxi for the community-gang, transporting them in her old Jeep, and she was always asking if this friend or that could live with us for a bit until their family ‘tragedy’ got sorted out. Today, as a young and highly productive adult, she has transformed this need to be responsible for much more than just herself into a professional life which involves groups of people.
Work is often ‘play’ for a Capricorn. They are Saturn-ruled. Mars is exalted in this sign. Known for their seriousness, methodology, and determination to reach their personal best, they can be accused of being workaholics. It is perhaps better that they acknowledge this trait and just say, “I enjoy working!”
Capricorn is the planner and organizer, and they are willing to endure short-term hardships for long-term gains and rewards. They have the qualities of endurance built in to their very bones! Sometimes I wonder why the camel wasn’t ascribed to this signs symbology. The qualities of the camel are such that they can travel long distances through arid and hostile terrains without fussing, fainting, or faltering because they have the ability to sustain themselves quite nicely for such harsh conditions. Their temperaments are also notorious for being no-nonsense and sometimes down-right nasty to anyone foolish enough to get in their orbit without due respect.
Capricorns like that which is time-honored, classic, and traditional. Quality, not quantity, would favor Capricorn’s taste, like good quality fabrics such as silk, cashmere, wool gabardine, and fine-gauged Egyptian cotton rather than hi-tech polymers or polyesters. Antique furnishings, heirlooms, traditional architecture may be a part of their life-style. A sense of lineage, history, and continuity of genealogy takes the Capricorn from the solid past towards establishing something more permanent and long-lasting in their own wake. They like to keep the threads of civilzation going rather than necessarily revolutionizing them. Unless a good dose of Aquarian energy is mixed with this sign, it is tradition that is to be honored. Capricorn wants, by nature, to build even more solid social structures and institutions. It is a sign meant to participate in the greater social order rather than defying it. Perhaps that is why so many public leaders and politicians, as well as prominent industrialists and heads of long-standing corporations have this sign prominent in their make-up such as Howard Hughes, Helena Rubenstein, Conrad HIlton, Aristotle Onassis, and David Lloyd George.
Saturn, as ruler, is not just the ‘grim reaper’ emphasizing the seriousness of the sign. To the Romans Saturn had an extremely sensual and sexual side to his nature, which their major event held every December, the ‘Saturnalia’, expressed most ardently. In this great time of festival all roles were reversed as master became slave, and slave became master. All sexual mores were put on hold and anything went with literally weeks of celebrations, feasts, and orgies, if so desired. This original ‘return of the Sun’ festival allowed for the greater collective release of pent-up primal earth energies to emerge in a socially-sanctioned container where absolute license and permissiveness prevailed.
In the evolution of a lifetime, the Capricorn should, by rights, get a bit younger with age and let out gradually all the stops of anything repressed or denied in their earthy nature. Like Merlin, coming in feeling older and wiser than need be, they may balance out their seriousness with greater frivolity as they mature. Perhaps ‘the lecherous old goat’ cliche comes frm this need for Capricorns to get more ribald and lusty with age. Developing a sense of humor is part of this journey; the kind of wry, tongue-in-cheek humor, which is often a gift of this sign.
Since Capricorn deals with structure and organization, the parts of the body ruled are the bones, skin, and the knees. The bones certainly give our bodies structure and form, and the skin keeps us intact and covered as a biological unit separate from anything else. The skin, as a boundary system, also allows the entrance and exit of elements both from within and without. Capricorn is said to rule all ‘boundaries and gateways’. The knees symbolically show the need for Capricorn to bend, and to learn humility in acknowledging a higher authority spiritually. Capricorn achieves by delegation of authority. They usually work their way up the ladder to success, unlike Leos who seem to feel they’ve been given the ‘Divine right’ of stature from the get-go. In the process of gaining status, Capricorn needs to learn flexibility and humility or suffer later in life from the rigidities and hubris of its shadow side. Public service is the key-note here with the emphasis on ‘serve’. The knees are linked to so much in the body. They certainly don’t function well by themselves. Capricorn is linked to something greater than itself, and does best by yielding to it.
This is the smallest of the 12 constellations, and the 40th in size of all listed constellations. There are only 31 visible stars of which Deneb Algedi is the most well known. This was a star used by both Greek and Arabic astronomer/astrologers. Ptolemy, of the 2nd Century AD, claimed that it shared both the qualities of Jupiter/Zeus and Saturn/Chronos. If the native was born with this star over-head at birth, it could bestow Jupiter’s benefits, but if born with it close to the Sun, Saturn’s difficulties might follow with later loss of property and postion in life. This star seems classic in describing all the myths and tales which told of individuals born into great advantage later sucumbing to hubris (pride, arrogance, and complacency) and thus falling from grace. Deneb Algedi seems to represent this cyclical rise and fall bearing the message of developing humility, caution, and devotion to a sense of duty if given the role of status and leadership in life.
Whie many myths are allocated to Capricorn, including Hestia, Ea, Rhea, and The House of Atreu, the Myth of Pan yields some interesting insights into a side of Capricorn less publicized.
Aleister Crowley, the great occultist and originator of the ‘Crowley Tarot Deck’, assigned Pan, rather than the traditional Devil, to represent Capricorn in major arcana. Pan is one of many from the family of Satyrs written about in Greek and Roman myths especially. As a primal deity, he is full of lusty and wild natural urges that, shall we way, sometimes border on the obsessive, however if we stop to think about how nature works, and what lurks beneath the wintry surface during the Capricorn time of year, we can see that a raw primal force is needed to build from underground the energy needed to rush forth unbridled in the spring with Aries and the Spring Equinox. Capricorns need to acknowledge this more primal aspect at root in their own natures, which if kept unconscious can lead to all manner of excesses and eccentricities such as visible in people like Edgar Allen Poe, Rush Limbaugh, and Howard Stern.
In one version of Pen’s myth we find him leaping into the Nile in order to escape the wrath of the giant Typhon. While mid-air his head, which has remained above the water, turns into the head of a goat, while his lower body turns into the tail of a fish, and the goat-fish is born. Some say that within this Greek myth is the Christian over-lay seen during the Age of Pisces where Pan’s sexuality is repressed or controlled for 2060 years. In fact, what we’ve seen during this Age are Christian myths, and edifices super-imposed and replacing the pagan myths as well as power centers of Pan. Pantheism means ‘God in everything’ basically. Monotheism could never tolerate such a concept, and thus the more primal forces of life have been ‘sublimated’ and/or pushed down into the Collective Unconscious.
In Capricorn we have this civilized need to control often turning highly repressive and even diabolical when the cold austerity and materialism of church and state attempt to crush out the primal qualities that Pan represents. A good movie on this theme is Fanny and Alexander,
In the ’80s Pan began to have a revival in such far flung places as Scotland with the community of Findhorn. One of the founders called ‘Roc’ communed with Pan during his daily walks in the woods. He describes these remarkable encounters in the book The Story of the Findhorn Garden. Findhorn created a way to dialogue between the angelic kingdoms and the devic kingdoms of Pan with humans acting as the bridge to build and create a community based on co-creation with these other realms.
What is the lesson that Pan is teaching Capricorns? Pan, as a sexual and primal archetype needs to be honored and brought more fully into consciousness so that the earthly drive of Capricorn can honor the Earth and ancient ways while still performing a role in creating social structures that build civilization. Nature and the natural world must become an intrinsic part of the human drive to excel and accomplish, rather than what has often been the drive to control and conquer what can never be totally controlled. Pan is alive and far more powerful than ever. Cooperation with the natural world is the only viable way humans can now go in order to survive as a species. If you desire to study further this fascinating archetype read some of the classics like The Golden Ass by Apuleus or Homer’s Ode to Pan
There are so many to choose from! I have chosen three that I found interesting; one was the wife of a former USA President who eventually made her own mark in the world, another is a famous actor who continues to practice his craft at 71 years, and the final is one of the great ‘fathers’ of astrology—surprise, surprise.
Let’s start with ‘ladies first’:
When you look at her portraits and photographs you just know she was a ‘lady’, but what an accomplished woman she truly was. Her famous or infamous (depending on your politics) husband, Lyndon, was thrust into the Presidency following John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination, Perhaps few people realize just how instrumental Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Jonson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007) was in getting her husband to that pivotal point in time.
A part of her original inheritance, $10K, helped launch Lyndon’s political career, and it was her own business acumen and skill that turned an additional $41K into more than $150 million for the LBJ Holding Company that she served as President of. It seems she was capable of doing everything well including running her husband’s congressional office after he enlisted in the Navy at the beginning of WWII. Later she campaigned for Kennedy, because Jackie was pregnant, with the stamina of a seasoned politician. This Capricorn penchant for planning, organizing, and persevering certainly took her and LBJ to the top.
Yet once at the top she accomplished something truly special. It wasn’t just her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, or in the Great Society’s War on Poverty, or the Headstart Program, for she was active in all of these programs. It was her co-creation with archetypal Pan best expressed in her own words, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
I have in front of me, as I write, her marvelous book Wildflowers Across America, co-written with Carlton B. Lees in 1988. This book is testament to her passion and sense of mission to beautify America. She worked hard to do this through the Highway Beautification Act, and she founded much later in life, with actress Helen Hayes, the National Wildflower Research Center, which has helped to preserve and reintroduce native plants into already planned landscapes.
Towards the end of her book she writes, “Saving our legacy of wildflowers is something I am convinced can be accomplished with the right combination of workable ideas and citzens with spirit. How much poorer our world would be without this bounty!”. Spoken like a true Capricorn.
Born the son of a baker in Wales on December 31, 1937, Hopkins, due to dyslexia, veered away from scholastics towards the arts and music in his youth. A fellow Welch peer, Richard Burton, encouraged him to become an actor, and so he did. Like a true Capricorn he rose in the ranks by first becoming the understudy for Sir Lawrence Olivier in 1965. Appropriately, this was the year of his first ‘Saturn Return’ called the coming of age year astrologically.
His long and illustrious career continues even though he is now 71 years. Does he continue to work hard? Probably. It is said that he spends vast amounts of time preparing for his roles privately until he can ‘do it without thinking’. Wikipedia lists 26 different roles playing famous historical and fictional characters from books including another infamous Capricorn, Richard Nixon (Nixon, 1995). The fact that Hopkins can portray actual character so incredibly well speaks also to the complexity of the sun sign he was born under.
Like Lady Bird Johnson, Hopkins has also given back some of his well-earned wealth to many charities including becoming President of the National Trust’s Snowdonia Appeal. If you’ve ever visited the wild and beautiful Snowdonia National Park in Wales you will realize how much Pan is alive in Mr. Hopkins. He, too, has written a book about his passion for nature entitled Anthony Hopkins’ Snowdonia
This great German mathematician, astronomer, and—yes—astrologer was born December 27, 1571. There is now an excellent astrological college named in his honor, Kepler College in Washington state. The world, of course, honors his scientific accomplishments, but to Kepler the two were intertwined. In his first book Mysterium Cosmographicum(The Cosmographic Mystery) he began to explore the concept of planetary orbs around the central star, our Sun, which to him was the ‘Great Father’ principle. He sought some kind of Capricorn elegance in his ‘harmony of the spheres’ and later attempted to refine his theories mathematically.
Joe Landwehr, one of the most scholarly and wisest of today’s contemporary philosopher-astrologers, writes this about Kepler, “Aristotle, Paracelsus Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and other pioneers at the cutting edge of science were all versed in astrology, and did not dismiss it categorically as their more arrogant descendants have, simply because it did not fit the paradigm they were articulating. On the contrary, in astrology they saw the possibility for reconciling the new causal order with the metaphysical underpinnings of the cosmos they were describing in scientific terms”.
Kepler figures strongly in both the history of astronomy and the history of astrology. Joe’s masterful, in-depth look at the history of both can be studied in his book The Seven Gates of Soul.
Today we astrologers honor Johannes Kepler for the steps he did take to understand our world in relation to the universe more fully. Because of souls like him, we all climb more easily the path towards the summit of wisdom. Capricorns’ achievements pave the way for those who follow to go even further up that mountain.
Genevieve A. Vierling C.A.P.