Horns to the sky and hooves to the dirt, let’s talk about Capricorn.
The 10th sign of the zodiac and the last Earth sign, Capricorn reigns from Dec. 22 to Jan. 19. As the middle child between swashbuckling Sagittarius and charismatic cult leader Aquarius, Capricorn has a reputation for being shrewd, financially successful and personally punishing. Capricorn energy at its highest expression is strategic, driven and more than a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, exhibited by double Cap, singularly metal Lemmy Kilmeister.
As an Earth sign, Capricorn is associated with internal processing and a measured approach to progress, moving through the world with intention, motivated by the acquisition of the tangible, and drawn to the decadent. Easily the hardest working Earth sign, Capricorn doesn’t always do what it wants, but it always does what must be done. Relative to perception and reputation, Capricorns maintain a professional polish and an air of business at all times, exhibited by sea-goat national treasure Dolly Parton, who doesn’t even own sweatpants. Caps lock it up and keep it looking good, preferring to keep their relationships, weaknesses, net value, kinks, bad habits and emotional outbursts wholly private.
Ushered in by the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, Capricorn is a cardinal sign. Tied to the onset of a new season, cardinal signs are the team captains of the zodiac that push initiatives forward and easily galvanize others to support them in their efforts.
In relationships, Capricorn’s are loyal and generally willing to put in the work, though compromise is absolutely out of the question. For evidence, do yourself a favor and watch apex sea-goat Eartha Kitt in arguably the most Capricornian three minutes of interview footage ever recorded.
True to their goat totem, Capricorns are striving and hard scrabbling, never settling for low elevation or a ground view. They’re not so much selfish as self-interested, and all moves are made with a successful ascent in mind. In reaching for more, demanding better and expecting excellence, Capricorn makes good on the words of sage sea goat Ramana Maharshi: “If you approach the ocean with a cup, you can only take away a cupful; if you approach it with a bucket you can take away a bucketful.”
Planetary ruler: Saturn
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the planet of boundary lines, hard lessons, tough love and long-term commitments. In turn, Capricorns are imbued with an industrious and somewhat serious energy. The modality of this planet is steady climbing and the belief that there is no shortcut to the top or substitute for struggle.
Sound like drudgery? It is, but — like a base coat, strength training, cleaning the gutters, planting asparagus and maxing out a 401K — it’s the kind of drudgery that pays off a little further down the line or up the mountainside.
Saturn is associated with dealers of discipline, father and or authority figures. As children, the lessons and punishments we received from these figures were probably unpleasant but ultimately formative, Saturn distilled. As we age, Saturn reveals our own self-imposed barriers to success, showing us that our blockades are the midwives of breakthrough.
The symbol for Capricorn is the sea goat. In Greek myth, sea goats were intelligent, noble creatures, capable of consciousness and language. Highest among them was the immortal sea goat Pricus. When his children grew tired of their ocean confines they sought sun and solid ground on the shoreline. Eventually, their land-loving led to painful evolution; their fishtails became hind legs and they lost the ability to think cognitively or speak clearly — in effect becoming the goats we know and milk today. Devastated by the loss of his children, Pricus used his power of time reversal to return them to the sea and their original form.
Yet, even with foreknowledge and stern warnings, he could not save them from their fate and they all eventually made their way back to land and legs. Unable to bear the loneliness of being the only sea goat left swimming, Pricus asked Chronos, the god of time, to allow him to live out his immortality as the Capricorn constellation, where he could keep watch over his children as they roam the earth.
The lesson within this myth is that we cannot control destiny, dictate time or truly start over. We must move ever forward and honor what can be learned through loss.
Capricorn power can best be described using adjectives found in any Jeep commercial from the mid-1990s to today; tough, uncompromising, dedicated, capable, stronger than the obstacles in their way.
At its highest and holiest, Capricorn energy is aspirational and industrious. With the planetary influence of Saturn, Capricorn is the sign of limitations and boundaries; sea goats draw lines, toe lines and keep one unblinking eye always on the bottom line. They learn through direct, albeit often difficult experiences. Life is not breezy for this ilk but they wouldn’t want it that way because breezy doesn’t build character. There’s something of the Benjamin Button to the Capricorn trajectory, their lives marked by trying childhoods and joyful expansion in their later years. It gets better so long as they keep going.
Capricorns shine brightest when they are given direction, autonomy and a punishing goal to advance toward. They need a proverbial grindstone to sharpen themselves against and, when exalted, Capricorn is capable of serious empire building. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can bet your hooves it was made possible by a herd of enterprising Capricorns.
Sea goats are agents of distinct and distinguished style. These people are here to work and, thus, what they wear takes on the feeling of utility and uniform. Looking at you, Timothée “equestrian alien commander” Chalamet, John “buried in his leather jacket” DeLorean, LeBron “bespoke is my birthright” James, Jean-Michel “fashion as armor” Basquiat and supreme ruler of cool and ambassador of black Patti Smith.
Within every Capricorn beats the heart of an opportunist. At their most indulgent they use people to get what they want — and what they want, always, is to be ahead. There is a tendency among sea goats to guard their self-interests so closely that they lose sight of the effect this has on those around them. These patterns, gone unchecked, lead to feelings of isolation that make Capricorn a touch paranoid and more than a little melancholy. They may question why no one trusts them or invites them to a beach picnic. Capricorns are adept at amassing wealth à la Jeff Bezos, but when they prioritize money and the abuse of power over communion and construction, they are operating at their lowest, most dangerous vibrational level.
Capricorn symbolism relates to the proverbial scapegoat, a target for unjust punishment and the receptacle of other people’s guilt and inferiority. This dynamic exhibits itself within the sign as self-flagellation, a narrative of never feeling like they have, or are, enough. Yet, this fear, when channeled appropriately, is the ultimate fuel for success. After all, steps toward greatness are not taken by people that feel content with themselves.
In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, Capricorn is represented by the Devil. The card, like the sign, is deeply misunderstood. Even the name itself is a misnomer. The horned creature pictured on a throne with the symbol for Saturn etched into his palm is not, in fact, Satan, but Pan. The pagan version of a pastoral playboy, Pan was half-man and half-goat, famed for chasing nymphs, playing songs and generally reveling in his own base instincts. The card — and by extension, Capricorn — relates to the balance between indulgence and diligence. If we give into decadence full tilt, it will destroy us — but if we deny it utterly, what kind of life are we living? Pan is flanked by two nude figures who are chained by the neck to his throne. Their bondage, however, is voluntary, as closer inspection reveals that the chains that bind them are loose enough to be removed. This iconography suggests that we are personally responsible for our own liberation and that freedom, to paraphrase Nietzsche, is choosing your own chains.
In astrology, Capricorn rules the 10th House of public image. This house is tied to lineage and the long game, how we make or unmake our reputations, as well as our relationships with authority and authority figures. Within the birth chart, the cusp of the 10th House contains the MidHeaven, which represents our highest aspirations and greatest ambitions. Fittingly, the 10th House is the domain of our life’s work and how it — and we — are ultimately remembered.
In regard to the physical body, Capricorn rules the knees, joints, skeletal system and teeth. Capricorn is built for climbing, socially and professionally, making the knees an apropos distinction. Add to this mix that knee-knocking Elvis Presley was a sea goat.
The joints are relevant, practically and metaphorically, to Capricorns, as they often go too hard trying to test the limits of their bodies. They similarly run the risk of taking on too much responsibility, carrying the taxing weight of the world aloft their determined shoulders.
The architect of the zodiac, Capricorn is fittingly associated with the essential scaffolding of the skeleton, keeping things upright, coming correct with posture and inspiring others to stand a bit taller.
In astrology, compatibility is determined through synastry, the hallowed art of comparing birth charts to divine relationship potential. Synergy considers a mess of factors, but — for general purposes — it’s safe to assume the following signs have a fair shake at fortune with Capricorn.
Fellow Earth sign Virgo makes for a great match for Cap. They share priorities, dry humor and a commitment to staying the course even, and especially when, all signs point towards abandoning ship. Virgo Lauren Bacall and Capricorn husband Humphrey Bogart made manifest the enduring and iconic effect of two Earth signs in love.
Capricorn and Cancer are positioned directly opposite one another on the zodiac wheel, making them a surprisingly complementary pair. Capricorn provides the security Cancer craves, and Capricorn — ever the traditionalist — is drawn to the cozy, codependent nest Cancer can’t help but build around their object of affection. They share a commitment to keeping their love private (Capricorn) and protected (Cancer), a commonality made evident by Cancer Diane Kruger and Capricorn Norman Reedus’ decision to conceal the identity of their toddler daughter.
In Scorpio, Capricorn finds an equal, a sexual deviant driven by an unapologetic desire for power and control. Ambition is an aphrodisiac for these two, and while both harbor debilitating trust issues, as long as they support — rather than compete with — one another, this is a couple with the potential for world domination. Hope is found in Capricorn Orlando Bloom helping Scorpio wife Katy Perry adjust her corset in order to perform at Variety’s “Power of Women” event.
“Smooth Operator,” Sade
“Good News,” Mac Miller
“Champagne Taste,” Eartha Kitt
“Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
“9 to 5,” Dolly Parton
“Pillowtalk,” Zayn Malik
Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girls guide” to strip clubs and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.