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Sign Characteristics
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The Signs
Capricorn Glyph

Capricorn - The Sea Goat

December 22 - January 19

  1. The Myth
  2. The Astrology
  3. The Sky

The Story of Capricorn

Like the other constellations, there are many myths and stories associated with Capricorn.  In pre-Babylonian times there was the story of the Ea,  the god of wisdom.  Ea appeared on the earth wearing a cloak and the tail of a fish in order to educate mortals on how to be civilized.

Classical Greek mythology mostly associates Capricorn with the god Pan.   Pan was the god of shepherds and their flocks, of fields and woodlands, hunting, and music.  He is associated with the fertility of humans and fields and with spring time.

Pan, God of Shepherds and Flocks
Mosaic  of Pan

By some accounts, Pan is the son of Aegipan, who came to the aid of Zeus during the war of the Titans.  Zeus had been defeated by the monster Typhos, who cut out the tendons of Zeus' hands and feet, rendering him powerless.  All of the gods who supported Zeus fled into the woods, changing themselves into various animals.  In terror, Aegipan ran to hide in the river. He was already waist deep in the water before he thought of turning himself into a goat.  So, he became a goat, but only from the waist up.  From the waist down, he turned into a fish.  Aegipan, along with Hermes, is credited with restoring the tendons to Zeus and was rewarded by being placed among the stars as the constellation Capricorn.

Horse-Tailed Satyr
Horse-tailed Satyr
Black-figure plate, Vulci, c520–500 BCE

By other accounts, Pan and Aegipan are one and the same. Both were creatures with the body of a man but tails like that of a goat or horse, pointed ears, and small hornlike protuberances on their foreheads.  These creatures were known as Satyrs, who were said to be hot-blooded good-for-nothings who roamed the woods and mountains looking for a good party.  They spent their time drinking, dancing, playing the flute, and engaging in promiscuous behavior with the sea nymphs.  Because of their association with the sex drive they are often portrayed in ancient art with permanent erections.  They are also sometimes depicted with the bottom half of their bodies as that of a goat.

Another story related to Capricorn involves Zeus and the special goat, Amalthea.  She is said to have nursed him in his childhood, when he lived with the sea-nymphs while in hiding from his father, Cronus.  When he had grown older, one day he accidentally broke off one of Amalthea's horns.


Zeus took this as a sign that it was time to go and defeat his father.  He gave the horn back to Amalthea and the nymphs, declaring that this horn was now a magic horn that would always provide all the food and drink that they needed.  To this day, the goat's horn is used to symbolize an abundance of food and drink.  After defeating Cronus, Zeus placed the constellation of Capricorn in the heavens in honor of Amalthea and the sea nymphs.

Capricorn is also referred to as the "Gateway of the Gods", in both Greek and Roman mythology.  This is the portal through which ascending souls free themselves from earthly trappings and pass into the life hereafter.

Capricorn in Astrology

The energy of Capricorn is heavy and serious, steeped in a sense of masculine authority.  As the tenth sign of the zodiac, it is associated with our standing in the society.  When planets move through the sign of Capricorn, we know we have to work hard to get where we want to go.  And we do want to go places...up the social ladder, especially.  We feel that we have an innate right to a better position in life and we're willing to go after it.

Image Credit: Chris Aghazarian /

Obligations and responsibilities weight heavily upon us while Capricorn energy is active.  No one has to force us to do what we know we have to do. 

We are self-disciplined and in control.  We know how to take command of situations and get things done, especially big, major things, like building the dams and bridges!

An overabundance of this energy can make us feel overly rigid and forceful.  The Capricorn energy is very protective, sometimes to the point of being inhibited and fearful of rejection or ridicule.  If we use these times to build defensive walls around ourselves, we only isolate ourselves from the recognition and appreciation that we crave.  And like the Berlin Wall, our defensive walls will have to come down sooner or later.  When they do, we may find that the grudges we've been harboring behind them are really not all that worthwhile.

Quality:  Cardinal
Element:  Earth

Natural House:  Tenth
Energy:  Yin (-) Feminine
Traditional Ruler:  Saturn
Modern Ruler:  Uranus

Exaltation:  Mars
Detriment:  The Moon
Fall:  Jupiter
Key word: Ambition
Key phrase:  I Use!  

Part of the Body:  The Knees and Lower Legs

Capricorn in the Sky

The Stars of Capricorn
Constellation Art from Stellarium

The constellation of Capricorn is a very dim constellation of the southern sky. Although it has no bright stars, it does have several binary stars.

Its brightest star, Algedi, can be seen to be a double star without a telescope.  With a telescope, however, it can be seen that both of these stars are themselves double stars.  The second brightest star of the constellation, Dahib, is also a double star.

Capricorn also has one globular cluster, known as M30, which can be seen with a telescope, as well as several meteor showers.

Each year, the Sun reaches its southernmost point on the ecliptic, known as the Winter Solstice, on about December 22.  Thereafter, the Sun appears higher and higher in the sky until it reaches its most northern point the following June.  In ancient times, about 2000 years ago, the Sun was just entering the constellation of Capricorn at the time of the winter solstice, and thus, the circle of latitude on the earth where this occurred was named the Tropic of Capricorn.  Today, the precession of the equinoxes has carried the winter solstice point into the neighboring sign of Sagittarius.

Throughout history, the stars of Capricorn have been associated with a mythical creature, half goat, half fish.  The Babylonians, Arabs, Persians, Turks, and Sumarians all knew this group of stars as a goat.

Capricornus, the Latin name for Capricorn, translates to English as Goat Horn.   It is most visible in the northern hemisphere during early autumn.