Build with Integrity
Positive Archetypes for Capricorn
Hermit; Wizard; Mage; Authority/Elder; Patriarch/Matriarch; Prime Minister; Superior/Executive-Director/Administrator; Builder; Problem Solver; Strategist; Shrewd Bargainer/Business-person; Resolute One; “Father” Time
Negative Archetypes for Capricorn
Antisocial Recluse/Scrooge; Tyrant/Dictator; Curmudgeon; Wet Blanket/Party Pooper; Motivation Killer; Cynic; Bureaucrat/Politician; Ladder Climber;
Power Tripper; Type A Executive; Task Master; Puppet of Power
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou cans’t not then be false to any man[one].
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet
THE SHORTEST DAYS—AND LONGEST NIGHTS—OF THE YEAR
ARE HERE NOW
Capricorn people are born—in the Northern Hemisphere at least—at the darkest and coldest time of the year. We know that from now on the days will begin to get longer but that’s not going to happen instantly. We know that summer will return again but that doesn’t help us one bit right now if we walk out the front door without a warm coat on. This is the time when we have to summon our strength to make it through the winter.
Capricorn, the Winter Solstice—and Christmas—arrive on the heels of Sagittarius’ exit from the zodiac stage. The huge thrust of Sagittarius’ flying arrow finds its mark around the time we celebrate Christmas. How we handled the expansiveness of Sagittarius is sure to show up now. If we’ve over-done it, we might find our waistlines a little too expanded and our pocketbooks a little too slim. Presents strewn across the floor…did we get what we really wanted…needed? Maybe… Did we give from our true feelings toward others or out of guilt, obligation or to impress? Did the arrow find its mark? Reality check.
FACE TO FACE WITH THE SECOND STEP…
We once had a cartoon that stayed on our fridge door for a very long time. It showed a small man climbing a staircase. The first step of the staircase, where he was standing was very low; but the second step, which he now faced, was about two or three times as high as the first—and higher than the man himself who stood with a most forlorn look on its face. This is where commitment comes in…
It’s easy to feel forlorn in the time of Capricorn. It’s possible that Sagittarian leaps of faith have landed us in a predicament of some kind. We seem to have gotten into a bind. We’re out on a limb or have painted ourselves into a corner somehow. What to do now… We’re “Face to face with the second step…”
In order to finish what we’ve started we’re going to have to grow in a new and unfamiliar way. Yes, we instinctively knew that this could happen. Rats! That’s exactly why so many of us opt out when it comes to taking leaps of faith. We really don’t want anyone saying, “I told you so, yadah, yadah yadah…” But here it is and we are on our own… Maybe it’s time for a New Year’s resolution…or at any rate, some form of disciplined, committed approach will likely work well.
ENTER THE SEA-GOAT
The Sea-goat — unlikely creature! Can’t walk on land or swim in water. Either our ancestors were out of their ever-lovin’ minds when they devised this symbol or there’s something here to be unraveled.
Let’s try it—starting with the fish’s tail first.
Fishes live in water—the ocean being the primal waters—this suggests the idea of going down into the depths. In terms of conscious awareness, we think of the depths as being the subliminal part of ourselves. We usually think of penetrating its depths as a way to better understand ourselves, to gain self-knowledge, and wisdom.
Ok, so then there’s the goat’s front half…
hmm…Goats climb… They’re about the most sure-footed of all the animals on the highest, steepest mountain crags. So it seems that there’s something here about going from the deepest ocean depths to scaling the highest peaks. This implies, achievement and also becoming visible; maybe even putting to use and/or offering back what has been discovered and learned during time spent soul-searching and from experience.
MAKING PEACE WITH SOLITUDE
The Hermit is an important part of this archetype. When we come out of our Mother’s womb into this world, much as the bar code folks might want it, we don’t come with a label. There’s no tag on foot, arm or ear to tell us, “This one’s destined to be a great Doctor,” “This one’s going to fail miserably at being a lawyer,” or “This one is going to travel to other planets.” No, it’s up to us to decide for ourselves what path we’ll take in life. Parents are meant to be helpful and they can be, but they can also be just as unhelpful, loading us down with all kinds of expectations and unrealistic standards to live up to.
What do we feel inside ourselves? Whom, in spite of what everyone else says, do we know ourselves to be? This is Capricorn’s first task. Capricorn can never come to terms with it’s feelings by listening only to what other people say. In reality nobody does because, to find ourselves and to stay in touch with ourselves, we need some time alone. We need to think and feel our own thoughts. Even if other people are right about us, we still have to live our own lives. Scary as it is to be alone, living life isn’t something that someone else can do for us even though they might try. Capricorn has to get to know itself. This is the foundation for everything that Capricorn is here to accomplish — and rest assured, Capricorn is here to accomplish something.
Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment.
— Maxwell Maltz
One of the ancient archetypes for Capricorn is the Wizard, Mage or Shaman. In times long gone by, it seems that communities relied on the wisdom and power of the Mage to lead them. But what exactly is it that Wizards do? Fly about on great eagles? Change the weather at will? Turn their enemies into frogs? Why would they want to—or need to? I think the word “Sorcerer” is a helpful one here.
Sorcerers, to put it very simply, know how to draw on the Source for wisdom and power, for how to live life.
If we don’t deny it, we’re born knowing who we are. We’re born knowing what we must do. We know we’ve come here for a purpose. To find the Source, we just have to turn inward and draw from the well of self-experience but we also have to apply our self-knowledge to the world we live in. Capricorn has to make its inner vision physical. Capricorn is not just kidding around. Capricorn is here to succeed—for better or for worse.
Capricorn is just as prone to pessimism as Sagittarius is prone to optimism. Sagittarius seems to have opportunities galore knocking on its door—all it needs to do is grab one; but stand in Capricorn’s shoes, and it can seem that all opportunity and support has vanished into thin air. It’s easier to feel optimistic about a possible outcome when a clear risk is involved and the outcome is uncertain than it is to know you have a long, difficult road ahead, that you just have to travel step by step.
Capricorn can so clearly see the problems involved trying to live its dream that it can be tempted to fall back on accepting whatever society has offered as the standard route through life and opt out its dreams; but that’s obviously not what’s really meant to happen.
Imagine trying to win a chess game with a “standard game plan…” Capi must learn adaptability in order to win its game. If you can’t climb Olympus Mons from one side, try another. (Olympus Mons, is a mountain on Mars, four times higher than Everest.) Approaching from the North face where an expedition landed revealed a sheer drop of of thousands of feet; but it turns out the South face has a smooth incline all the way to the top… (Reading this over, I have no idea now where I got this information. Sounds like I was channeling something from the future—or Star Trek, more likely! But it is a good example for taking the alternate route.)
Capricorn’s natural resource, among others, is an excellent reality testing ability. But what’s involved?
You can’t see reality clearly if you suppress your feelings, but you can’t see clearly if you’re swamped by them either. Capricorn naturally knows how to delay gratification and to use self-discipline. How is this done?
This has to be one of the most difficult things for human beings but, as any truly successful person can tell you, if we can use self-discipline correctly, we can accomplish just about anything we choose to. For Capricorn to lay its feelings aside, it does run the risk of suppressing feeling. That will, of course, only lead to the shadow side of the archetype, but one way or another, Capricorn will end up succeeding, for better or for worse because resolution is in its nature. Giving up is not an option for this sign.
Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
— Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
My Father was very fond of the saying,
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
In other words, “Genius” or “Wizardry,” if you will, is not what we often fantasize it to be. How to get exactly what we want out of life? For sure it takes hard work and discipline; but without the inspiration, albeit only one percent, ya ain’t gonna make it. The spark of knowing our true destiny, of being in touch with our Source has to be there. Capricorn is born knowing about these things. Knowing the delicate dance of power, of matching the inside and the outside so as to accomplish something great in the world. Capricorn has a dream that it must fulfill; however as Carolyn Myss says,
The gods never take out a room at the Ritz.
Myss here is referring to that very familiar icon for this time of year, the Babe in the Manger, which is, as she puts it, “a high voltage image.” She goes on to explain that things that have real power aren’t dependent on acclaim and praise from without. They run on that little spark of real inspiration from within. The gods ask us to be willing to do the ninety-nine percent hard work of doing whatever it is that has to be done to nurture that spark. Jealous Kings and conniving political figures can have center stage. The true work of following destiny is best done without pomp and fanfare; knowing that in the end, what has true power will always succeed.
During this time each year is when the Dying God of Paganism (Jesus in Christianity) is reborn from the womb of the Great Goddess (Mother Mary in Christianity). The seed with the germ of life in it always begins small and then grows. One seed—one spark—is all that’s needed; and just like the light gradually returning to the world after the winter darkness, Capricorn will be visible soon enough…
Among musicians there’s a joke about having to work for fifteen or twenty years (longer for many) to become “an overnight success.” Musician, Bill Edwards, in his guitar instruction book, “Fretboard Logic II,” offers this advice:
As a performer, everyone strives for virtuosity. In the absence of this, we’ll settle for speed. …When learning a piece, only play it as fast as you can play it with absolutely no errors. When rehearsing or performing, only play it as fast as you can play it with absolutely no errors…
This is straight out of the book of Capricorn, so to speak. Capricorn is here to build or achieve something of the highest level of quality from a place of total integrity—step by step.
STRIKING A BARGAIN WITH REALITY—THE ALTERNATE ROUTE
Try not to become a man [person] of success
but rather to become a man [person] of value.
— Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Something that just seems to happen when dreams are being built, is that they reach a point at which they have to strike a bargain with reality. The kid who aspires to be a Pop star will have to do the work of getting there. Capricorn knows this well. Along the way, the original vision will not likely appear in the physical world exactly as it did in our imagination.
This is, once again, where Capi has to stay in touch with the spark. Outer form can change as long as the essence is there. Glorious dreams of standing on stage with hordes of wildly screaming fans could end up instead as teaching music and playing late night gigs on the side—and being fulfilled by that. Aspiring to paint a perfect photographic image may not produce what the artist actually feels and has led many an artist into the weird, unpredictable realm of expressing the feeling of the object instead.
This is when the dreamer is tested. Will s/he continue to follow the dream when reality seems to be against her/him? I’ve heard that something like ninety percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. Translating the dream into reality—getting past that second step—isn’t so easy.
Turning up your nose at a bowl of brown rice and vegies when you’re hungry just because filé mignon isn’t available is a sign of immaturity—but Capricorn is the sign of the Elder. Capricorn deals with—remember?—the second step, laying wishful thinking aside and doing whatever it is you need to do to continue in the direction of your dream. Accepting “what is,” can take the dreamer to the next phase of manifestation and the next and the next… Capricorn knows this and just quietly keeps going… Food is food.
Most of us have envied someone who has achieved the success that we want. I’ve watched the flocks of ducks during the winter, envying them their mastery of flight. But soon after Bald Eagles showed up and began to hunt them that I started understanding the exact reason for their success. If they’d never had any predators, they probably would never have bothered to leave the ground… Success comes at a price, a price that the Seagoat needs to be willing to pay. Some Evolutionary astrologers feel that with this sign there’s a haunting sense of having not having been successful in some way in a former/parallel incarnation and so they’re here to do that now.
FATHER TIME, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SUCCEED?
By perseverance the snail reached the ark.
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
In dreams, everything can be pictured in a moment. In reality, what was pictured in a moment can take years and years (maybe lifetimes?) to accomplish. Making the step—and continuing to make the steps from concept to manifestation—is what Capricorn is all about.
Although, in a way, Capricorn doesn’t care how long things take! Capricorn is resolute. It will do what it has to do. There’s a story about Russian seed savers that I once heard. They were in a city that was under siege (by the Germans perhaps?) They knew the value of that seed and they were resolutely dedicated to their purpose. Their bodies were eventually found frozen to death over the bags of grains that they could have chosen to eat.
Could you call this “failure?”
Or a profound success?
A fulfillment of destiny?
Success means using all of the time available to us in the most efficient way—and accepting the limits of time as well. Not giving up on being true to ourselves.
But at the same time, to translate a dream into the real world does involve working with time. Capi is naturally good at problem solving. What a formidable sign! It has a nose for sniffing out all the problem areas in a proposed idea or project. A lot of this is connected to time. I once heard an astrologer say, “Imagine a Capricorn who doesn’t know what time it is!”
Capricorn is here to efficiently and effectively achieve it goals. Time is a precious gift and Capricorn is definitely not here to waste it. The gift of time is the medium through which it can achieve what it wants. Perhaps no other sign knows better the importance of timing. It knows that, “Time and tide wait for no one.” It knows that if you don’t do what you came here to do, it probably won’t get done and it knows that if your timing is off, it may not happen either.
I once watched an Osprey from the shores of Russian Lake in Northern California. It spent many hours perched on certain tree branches that gave it prime visibility of what went on in the water below. It would wait and wait… until the exact moment a fish rose to the surface when it would plunge downward, talons extended. It had to make a lot of unsuccessful dives too. A local fisherman told us, “When the Osprey catches a fish, I know it’s a good day for me too.” Capricorn’s patient self-discipline, reality-testing ability and resolute nature give it an awesome and spectacular sense of timing like the Osprey’s.
The Seagoat has a natural respect for, and ability to manage, physical resources too. Physical resources, including money, of course, are the medium for the creation of its dreams and for building the structure that allows its precious intention to prosper. It abhors inefficiency and naturally focuses toward being effective. And unless it has fallen prey to cynicism, Capricorn will push its dream to full manifestation, no matter what. If opportunities aren’t available, Seagoat will find or create them or wait until they come.
We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.
— Tobias Wolf, In Pharaoh’s Army
Capricorn has a hilarious sense of humour too—a very dry, ironical and understated way of just pointing out what’s not working—very saturnine, you could say. (Saturn being the planet associated with Capricorn, that makes sense…) When you’re so good at seeing how to do things effectively, I guess a lot of the world must look pretty funny to you trying to do things up-side-down.
POWER WITH OR POWER OVER?
Taking a break from a seminar in Las Vegas one broiling afternoon in June, I sat out under a palm tree across from a gargantuan statue of Elvis. A plaque commemorated him by telling how many of his recordings have been sold. According to the Guiness World Record Book, “In the year 2000, 23 years after he died of a heart attack, Elvis Presley earned $35 million (Ł25 million.) Since he first launched his recording career, Elvis has sold more than one billion albums.” But I couldn’t help wondering, “How could someone so successful end up being so unhappy?”
In her book The Spiral Dance, Starhawk, so intelligently introduces the twin concepts of “power with” and “power over.”
What does this mean? Well, to me in terms of the sign of Capricorn, it has to do with whether or not a Capricorn really does, in fact, go back to the source to find its spark or not. Capricorn is programmed for success either way but the question is, will Capricorn try to hang on to the power or will the power flow through Capricorn? Will Capricorn be playing for the crowd or for her/himself? Ideally, it should be both but sometimes, on the bleakest possible end of things, as in the case of Capricorns like Elvis Presley or Richard Nixon (“Nobody wants a crooked Dick”) or Joseph Stalin, they end up just playing for power.
Power is like water, meant to flow freely. It’s not meant to get stuck—and stagnant—in one place with one person or group. It should be for the benefit of all.
Paganism understood this well. It’s Dying God didn’t represent actual death, but non-attachment to power. When Capricorn chooses to have “power with (the whole)” then power can flow through it unimpeded and on out to others who need it too. In this case society is properly organized along lines through which everyone benefits. Capricorn is meant to be the trustee of power for the good of the whole (self included); and, obviously, without integrity, this just won’t go right.
When Capricorn lives for outer achievement alone, it winds up spiritually bankrupt, even though it might have billions in the bank and acclaim from every direction. In this case, isolated and the puppet of public opinion and special interests, Capricorn can end up to be the loneliest and bitterest of creatures. Success that is enslaved to outer approval and without inner connection has to be the emptiest, most disappointing experience of all. When this happens, Capricorn falls back on those closest to it demanding dogged loyalty and abject submission; but the inner void cannot be filled this way either. Healing solitude or bitter loneliness—there’s a big difference.
What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning
and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
—Bob Dylan (1941 - )
My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.
—Helen Hayes (1900 - 1933)
I’ll end with an example of Capricornian success—a woman you know of, Michelle Obama, who has been a great inspiration to me.
Michelle was born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. I wasn’t able to find a birth time but nevertheless she’s a great positive example of the best traits of Capricorn.
This is a woman who, through the outrageous intensity of what it must be to live and be a wife in the White House, has kept her focus on real values. And I feel it’s her focus on the basic issues of being human that have helped shepherd her family (and the nation which so much affects the entire world) in a positive direction during these past eight years.
Back in September of 2008 I wrote an analysis of Barack Obama’s chart in my newsletter. From studying his chart it seemed obvious to me that his success or failure as a President, would be based on his relationship to his wife and family.
Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote at that time:
…I’m looking at Barack’s chart, criss-crossed with lots of aspect lines. A lot of them
seem to be connected to the Moon in ways that stand out. So…?
MOON AS SYMBOL — THE DEEP INNER SELF
Moon symbolism in most astrological systems, represents soul or emotion. Just
like the Moon in the sky, it represents our ability to reflect; also to nurture and respond,
empathize and protect. These are parts of us that can’t be worn on our sleeve. They need to be safely contained just like water. And just like water too, if we’re not careful, we can drown in our feelings and get lost in our moods—or, worst of all, shut down to our feelings, numb out, and go through life like a zombie. Someone with a healthy Moon energy will have sparkling, effervescent emotions that flow in smooth mood changes. They’ll have clear boundaries, take good care of themselves and be nurturing and responsive to others. On a more mundane level, the Moon becomes a symbol of the Mother.
So then, Barack, with the Moon so prominent in his chart is likely a person working
to master emotion—but specifically, emotion as connected to issues of communication the area of the deep personal self and in regard to home life, his Mother, his family roots as well as extended family, be they blood ties or spiritual ties. With his Moon in Gemini, he’s very deeply connected emotionally—for better of for worse—to the issues of communication with and about those people.
Enter Pluto, god of the Underworld, stage right…
Barack’s Moon is in an aspect of direct, unavoidable conflict with this planet of destiny in his Seventh House of Marriage in the “get it right” sign of Virgo. Along with letting us know what our high destiny is, Pluto also tells us where and what is the cause of our most deeply hidden pain. Barack’s wounds are caused by a failure of those responsible for teaching him the skills of relationship. This is a very highly charged issue for him that’s impossible to avoid—and along with it, the call to a high destiny of service in resolving conflicts with family and establishing trust with a partner; also in acting as a mediator between individuals or groups of people involved in serious conflicts.
That can’t be too easy… And obviously, you can’t do that sort of thing if you aren’t dealing properly with your own inner conflicts…
One further note on Barack Obama’s chart: From the perspective of Evolutionary astrology, the symbols indicate that he already has had opportunities in a past/parallel life (however you see these things) to bring many diverse people and opinions together as he has done now, but there’s an implication that he may have failed due to not drawing enough support from his intimate relationships, so this is the challenge he faces in this incarnation.
I just finished watching the Obama’s Farewell Interview with People Magazine at the White House. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-plNQznMVw
Michelle’s opening sentence… “We survived, and our kids. We’re here!”
Michelle and Barack sat hand in hand for the entire interview, sharing the conversation in a most beautiful way. And I have to point out that there have been no scandals associated with this Presidency!
With her statuesque figure and stunning clothing, not to mention her poise and self confidence, Michelle certainly seems to be the woman who satisfies her Man! The focus of the interview for both of them was each other as well as their daughters, and Michelle’s Mother, rather than politics. (Michelle said she doesn’t follow “the [political] issues.”) Barack talked about how his family helped him keep his sanity through many intense moments of the past years. It’s obvious that their success is both/all of their success.
Michelle talked about her slogan for dealing with low blows from the opposition: "When they go low, we go high."
A strategy the has worked remarkably well, wouldn’t you say?
And as you probably know, following in a lineage of First Ladies’ gardens, Michelle started the largest White House garden planted yet on the South lawn. It was for her family of course, but included all of us in promoting healthy living and address the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The National Park Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the national park system, announced on Wednesday that it has received a $2.5 million donation from the Burpee Foundation and the W. Atlee Burpee Company, a leading seed and garden supply company, to help maintain and preserve the garden.
“The South Lawn vegetables, fruits, and herbs inspire people across the country to eat locally, mindfully and healthfully,” said George Ball, chairman and CEO of the W. Atlee Burpee Company.
"My husband will tell you one of the most frequent questions he gets from world leaders is, 'How's your wife's garden?'" Michelle Obama said Wednesday.
And as my Father might have said…
…the light that shines the farthest, shines the brightest from home.
My point here is not that we should all be gaga over Michelle Obama but that she is a great example of what we all can do. It’s very easy to leave ourselves out of the equation of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if we don’t truly value ourselves, it won’t be possible to love any other.
Michelle Obama is a shining example of the Seagoat’s positive message.
You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man’s [woman’s] real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.
—Ursula K. LeGuin, from A Wizard of Earthsea
SOME MORE WELL KNOWN CAPRICORNS
Martin Luther King Jr.
Zora Neal Hurston
Diane von Furstenberg
Ma Tse Tung
T. Woodrow Wilson