Capricorn, the Cosmic Sea-Goat

An introduction to the astronomy, history and, mythology of the zodiac sign of Capricorn…

 Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? This month it’s the turn of Capricorn…

Common associations

Symbol:

Date of Birth: 21 Dec to 20 January

Ruling planet: Saturn

Lucky Day: Saturday    Lucky Numbers 2 and 8

Energy: Yin

Element: Earth

Quality: Cardinal (the start of the season of winter)

Key phrase:  I build, I use

Body:  Skin, knees, skeletal system

Birth Stone:  Red Garnet, Black Onyx

Herbs/Flowers: Wintergreen, Ivy, Carnation

Tarot card:  The Devil (Pan/Nature, Mystery, Fascination, Obsession, Entrapment)

The Devil card wiki.jpg
From The Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti

The Astronomy

Capricorn stars wiki 256px-CapricornusCC.jpg
Public Domain

The constellation of Capricornus is located in an area of sky known as The Sea or The Water, containing other water-related constellations including Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus.

Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “having horns like a goat’s”, and it is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half-fish, like Pricus, the son of Chronos (Time) king of the mer-goats of Greek myth. This seems to have been an evolution legend.  The children of Pricus left the sea to dwell on mountains, leaving him alone in the oceans with no-one to teach any more, and Pricus was a great teacher. Zeus placed him in the Sea of the Stars so that he could see his children again, and they could look up and see him.

Capricornus is the smallest constellation in the zodiac, with no first magnitude stars. Even so, the brightest star, Delta Capricorni A, is a white giant with a luminosity 8.5 times that of the Sun.

Capricornus has three stars with known planets and contains a Messier object, Messier 30, a globular cluster 28,000 light years distant,about 90 light years across in size.

The cluster is approaching us at the speed of 181.9 km/s. It was one of the first deep sky objects discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.

There are five meteor showers associated with Capricornus: the Alpha Capricornids, the Chi Capricornids, the Sigma Capricornids, the Tau Capricornids, and the Capricorniden-Sagittarids.

Like other constellations of the astrological zodiac, Capricorn was first catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.

The planet Neptune was discovered in the constellation Capricornus, near Deneb Algedi, the brightest star in the tail of the goat, on September 23, 1846.

This perhaps explains or illustrates a strong astral and psychic mythic connection between Capricorn and Pisces the Fishes.

History and Mythology

Though Capricornus is the second faintest constellation in the sky after Cancer, its imagery is very ancient indeed, associated with myths that go back to the 21st century BC and several of which centre on various sun gods nursed by a she-goat.

All myths of astrology have their roots in Earth’s seasons. Goats, and their relatives, ibex, were depicted in Ice Age paintings, and later immortalized in myth as Capricorn.

Male ibex started fighting and mating during early winter, December and January, coinciding with the later days ascribed to Capricorn.  In the early Bronze Age, Capricornus marked the winter solstice and, in modern astrology, as distinct from astronomy, Capricorn’s rule still begins on the first day of winter. The constellation itself is actually overhead nowadays during Aquarius, due to the wobble of the Earth, an effect known as precession, but the sun sign named after Capricornus retains the dates accorded to it by Ptolemy.

Before 1000 BC the Sumerians knew Capricorn as the goat-fish, or SUHUR-MASH-HA, but the constellation is nowadays more widely associated with two mythical creatures from Greek legends: the deity Pan, and the she-goat Amalthea who suckled baby Zeus, although these legends were based on far more ancient stories involving kindly she-goats and baby sun deities.

The forest deity Pan has the legs and horns of a goat, like Krotos, his son, who was a great archer and devotee of the Muses, and is identified with the neighbouring constellation Sagittarius.

Pan, so the legend said, was placed in the sky by Zeus in gratitude after he came to the rescue of other gods during a time the Olympian gods sought refuge in Egypt following their epic battle with the Titans, when the monster Typhon, son of the Titan Tartarus and Earth, sought revenge.

Typhon was a fearsome fire-breathing creature, higher than mountains and with dragons’ heads instead of fingers. The Olympian gods sought to escape his vengeance by adopting various disguises: Zeus, a ram – Hera, a white cow, Bacchus (another version of the myth suggests Pan) a goat.

Zeus was dismembered by Typhon, but was saved when Bacchus/Pan played a sound on his pipes, ‘panikos,’  from which we get the word ‘panic’ – and he panicked  the monster long enough for an agile Hermes to collect the supreme god’s limbs and carefully restore him. In gratitude, Zeus transferred Bacchus/Pan to the heavens as Capricornus.

Another legend says that while the souls of those about to be born descend to Earth through the constellation of Cancer, via the Beehive Cluster, the souls of the dead return to the cosmic sea, ascending through the gate of Capricorn.

Capricornus.jpg

Public Domain: Celestial Atlas 1822

The Astrology

Capricorn is the tenth sign in the Zodiac.

There is no such thing in reality as THE Capricorn personality and the same goes for all the zodiac sun signs. Your sun sign is an archetype, a keynote but of course it is not and never could be the whole story.

The archetype of Capricorn is shrewd, wise, and even Gnostic. They are profound thinkers, often deeply enquiring, and with a wry sense of humour, self-reliant, stoic in the face of adversity, hard-working, determined and resilient.

They have high standards, and expect much of themselves but also others which, depending on other aspects of their astrological portrait, can make them demanding or even overbearing task-masters,

They are known for a dry rather than a joyful wit, and if Saturn gets too prominent, they can be downbeat, cynical and suspicious, seeing traps and problems everywhere, viewing the enthusiasm of others as premature or naïve.

Capricorn is no-one’s fool, but Capricorn carries its own weight, and the weight of others too from time to time, and Capricorn climbs the mountain to see the world, not so that the world will see Capricorn.  

Marlene.jpg
Public Domain

“Duties are what make life most worth the living. Lacking them, you are not necessary to anyone. And this would be like living in an empty space. Or not being alive at all.”- Marlene Dietrich, born Dec 27, 1901

Season’s Greetings!

Tarot Says The ‘C’ Word (Tsk. No. Not THAT one).

I do not give medical advice. But it can’t be helped that sometimes I see illness in the cards, and then I will try to help, within professional and ethical limits.  That is what the person has come for, after all, and usually, people with a worry like this are already in medical care.  If not, I suggest and refer as appropriate.

What will be will be. Death comes to us all. Of what help can a Tarot reading possibly be faced with this finality? Well, in readying ourselves at every level possible.

I remember a man who came for a reading some years ago. He just wanted a general reading, he said. He had no particular question.

I hear this a lot, but few come for a reading without there being a question.  A reading costs time and money. Not a lot, considering the rare and unusual nature, and the scope of the work, but still,  people are investing resources, time, money and energy in coming to  see a reader like me.  They do not do so idly.

Maybe they sense a Question within themselves, but have not yet arrived at a point where they can articulate it.  Then it is my job to help identify the question and get it under the spotlight.

Sometimes people are simply holding back. They want to wait and see what will come through the tarot completely ‘off the cuff’. This is entirely natural and to be expected, and is absolutely fine, if my visitor will then engage with the feedback, and not stonewall me, which wastes time and energy.

To discover this gentleman’s ‘Question’, I laid eight cards out in a general Horseshoe Spread.  Click here to read more about Horsehoe Spreads.

The cards which particularly struck me were:

Temperance Reversed.  The Temperance card drawn upside down (reversed) suggests a major illness. Another of its meanings is Lack of Time.

The Queen of Cups. A woman, loved by the querent. Wife, partner, friend.

By Kind Permission of US Games: The Moon in Tarot signifies, dreams, creativity, psychism, also lies, infidelity and delusion, nightmare, danger, risks in travel, and certain illnesses, including cancer.

The 9 of Swords. A dark card of fear, grief, mourning.

The Moon card.  This tricky card has several meanings, but I have learned to be on alert for an incidence of cancer, particularly the ‘female’ cancers, if I see it in a reading.

The Page of Coins Reversed (a business under performing, folding a small business)

The Three of Coins. Workmanship. A small business. Community Nursing.

I put it to my visitor that he seemed greatly worried about the health of this lady.  I asked him if he had a business, selling objects, such as food, crafts, books, and was he wondering how to proceed with the business?

The lady was his wife, she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was a book seller, She helped in his business. she handled telephone queries and marketing. He thought she ought to stop, and he was thinking of selling the business.

‘I think you will continue with the business,’ I said, prompted by the Tarot.  ‘The Three of Coins is suggesting this.  Tarot is saying it is a good plan, and a helpful plan, and is what your wife will almost certainly want, if you ask her. The business affords routine, structure…normality. If you were to sell for the sake of her health, I see her being more frightened at that, than wearied by working. (Nine of Swotrds)  She needs to be busy and she wants you to be busy, not looking at her with fear in your eyes and a clock ticking.  I sense community care, now and later (6 of Coins) Is it a hospice I am sensing? It lookslike a good one. I don’t make predictions of death, but the fact of seeing you busy with nursing and books in six months, suggests your wife’s time is not yet imminent. People do often exceed doctor’s predictions. ‘

His response:  Tarot had answered his question before he asked. He had been debating with himself whether to close the business, but had not discussed it with his wife, being unsure of her reaction. They had recently been referred to a hospice, visited for a look round, and been pleased with what they had seen. It provided a sense of having a back-up, he said.

Recently, via a social and business networking site called Ecademy I became acquainted with an independent financial advisor, George Emsden, ‘The Cancer IFA’, who’s based in London. He specialises in financial advice for people diagnosed with life limiting or terminal illnesses and has experienced cancer himself.  Here is a link, with his service information and an accompanying blog which I hope will help someone reading this.

http://www.georgeemsden.co.uk/

If there is a God, he/it resides in the Tarot.

Never mind talk of the  ‘Devil’s PictureBook.’

Tarot is  an oracle for talking to The Human Spirit. For all that is wrong with Humankind,  the Human Spirit is a flame and a church.

Until next time 🙂