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.
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.
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
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
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 / www.personal.psu.edu
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.
Natural House: Tenth
Energy: Yin (-) Feminine
Traditional Ruler: Saturn
Modern Ruler: Uranus
Detriment: The Moon
Key word: Ambition
Key phrase: I Use!
Part of the Body: The Knees and Lower Legs
Capricorn in the Sky
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
It is most visible in the northern hemisphere during early