Capricorn is the 10th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Earth, and is a cardinal sign ruled by Saturn. The Sun is in Capricorn from December 21 (Winter Solstice) through January 19. Cardinal signs always represent leadership and the purest expression of certain virtues; for Capricorn and all of the Earth signs this is symbolized by its arrival in the depths of Winter (in the Northern hemisphere) and Summer (in the Southern).

Sea Goat as Animal

by Sara Magnuson

What in the world is a Sea-Goat?! A mythical creature, like the Centaur we discussed in Sagittarius, the Sea-Goat is a combination of two very real animals – Goat and Fish – and we will visit the lives of both creatures as we continue with Capricorn. The combination of Goat and Fish initially speaks to us about adeptness on land and in water. The Sea-Goat will also show us its intelligence and ways of mischief, confidence, and creation.

Let’s begin on the land, with Goat. Closely related to Sheep, Goat is one of the oldest domesticated animals. They are herbivores, ruminant animals with a four-chambered stomach, and both sexes typically have two horns of varying sizes. Goat has excellent vision with the ability to detect a range of colors, levels of light and dark, and fantastic night vision. With eyes on either side of their head, they have a large field of view, but what stands out most about Goat’s eyes are their horizontal pupils. This makes their eyes look totally crazy to us, but many animals have pupils like this – sheep, horse, octopus, and toad for example. The difference is that Goats often have light colored eyes, so the shape of the pupil stands out more than, say, the dark eyes of Horse. The advantage of horizontal pupils adds many degrees to their field of view and, as prey animals, they need to be able to see as much as possible.

As we perceive Goats, however, their crazy looking eyes often bring forth a negative connotation, but that isn’t the case at all. What seems to others as something weird and different and possibly bad actually serves a great purpose for Goat and its survival. Goat goes about its business not caring that it looks all crazy because what it has going for it is working. As Capricorn, this exemplifies the ways you may appear to others that aren’t necessarily true and asks you to listen to the inner part of yourself that doesn’t care what other people think.

There is a myth that Goats will eat anything and everything, which is plainly false. Goat is not a grazer as many think, but rather a forager and browser. They are extraordinarily curious creatures and, since they don’t have hands, they “touch” things with their lips. It may appear that Goat is eating a box or a tin can, but it’s really just checking it out – like a baby that puts everything in its mouth to not only feel it, but to taste and smell it, feel its texture. As far as what they actually eat, it turns out they are quite picky, preferring woody bits from specific vines, shrubs, and low-growing trees.

Goat’s curiosity combined with their finicky food choices speaks to Capricorn’s ability to outwardly seem as if they are easy going, while in reality they have very specific preferences. The mastery of Goat’s influence here comes with investigating everything first and knowing when to be aggressive about your desires. It is only after sampling all the options that Goat can decide what is worth its effort.

This brings us to the next aspect of Goat – agility meets curiosity. Goat is so nimble that they can climb trees! Their agility combined with intense curiosity can find Goat in some wacky places. They want to see, smell, and taste everything and they will jump, climb, and chew their way to wherever they want to go. This natural curiosity is not bumbling, though, and comes with great intelligence. Goats will watch other Goats (and other animals, even humans, as we will see later) to learn from what they do and where they go.

The agile curiosity of Goat gives Capricorn an ability to explore without fear. Curiosity outweighs guidelines and rules every time in the world of Goat. This adventurous nature means that Capricorn can do things that others don’t expect you to be able to do and your unseen talents can give an advantage in many situations.

The world of Goat is ruled by the seasons and their time of breeding is determined by the length of daylight. Most Goats breed in the Spring and Summer, but in equatorial areas, where there are long and consistent hours of daylight, they can breed year round. Male Goats are called bucks, females are called does, and both exhibit distinct behaviors when it’s breeding season. The does wag their tails constantly and stay near the bucks, while the males will curl their lips and show an obsessive interest in the females. Births are almost always twins and the mother often eats the placenta afterwards. For Goat, and many animals, this is an instinct that avoids attracting predators with the scent of birth and provides much needed nutrients after all the energy expended.

The sexual and birthing behaviors of Goat bring out the creator aspect of Capricorn. For the Sea-Goat, creating is a sensual experience felt with the mind, body, and emotions. This inclination means you can become obsessive in romance and in things/projects you love. Be mindful of how much you are trying to control or how much energy you are expending. As Goat’s breeding season is related to the duration of light, so does Capricorn work best in the liminal times and spaces, like the winter solstice it begins with.

Lastly, we must acknowledge Goat’s long relationship with humans and the impact we have had on each other. Evidence suggests that Goats were domesticated over 9000 years ago and they also have a fairly long lifespan (up to 18 years). This means that Goat’s connection with humans has evolved over millennia of generations; so much so that domesticated Goats will seek out a human when faced with a problem they cannot solve, much as a Dog would do. Goats are loosely-based herd animals, in that they prefer the company of other creatures. When out on their own, however (and much like humans), they tend to act more independently of each other and only stay close enough to communicate danger. To most peoples of the world, Goat is seen as a renewable resource. They are used to clear land of weeds and undergrowth; as farm labor to pull things; as a sacrifice to Gods and Spirits; as a source of meat, milk, hair, hide, and horns; even their dung, bones, and muscle sinew have been used throughout history for fuel, tools, and clothing, respectively. Every part of Goat is used for something and in this way it is seen as a “clean” animal in many cultures and religions. Although there is a deep and strong relationship with humans, Goat’s curiosity is constantly calling back to its wild nature. Goat is one of few domesticated animals that, if given the chance, will easily revert to a feral life.

The relationship between Goat and people evokes its mysterious nature. The Sea-Goat is smart, can follow directions, and make decisions based on witnessed or personal experience, while also maintaining a wild, instinctual, freedom-oriented attitude.

We cannot end our discussion here without, of course, addressing Fish, the other half of Capricorn. It is the tail part of the Sea-Goat that is represented by Fish and speaks to the part of Capricorn that is adept in the realm of emotions and undercurrents.

First of all, what is a Fish? In the most basic sense, they are animals that live in the water, have gills, a skull, and lack limbs with digits (fingers and toes). We’ll talk about Fish in much more detail when we get to Pisces, but for now let’s talk tails. The sole purpose of a Fish’s tail is to help it swim. It is an appendage that has become uniquely adapted to its life in the realm of water, providing propulsion, mobility, and directionality.

Fish as the tail portion of the Sea-Goat reminds us of the relationship between water and earth and is what keeps Capricorn from getting swept away by its curiosity. The tail provides the power needed not only to move in a particular direction, but in a purposeful way. There is also a sexual aspect to water, as it arouses the idea of creativity and reminds us that life formed from water and earth. Water can be tamed and fenced in, but can also eventually overpower and go where it wants to go. Thus Capricorn is not about aggression, but rather diligence, being unrelenting, pushing at the edges until it breaks way.

The tail of Capricorn in the water speaks about our base, our history, where we come from. In melding with Goat on the land, Capricorn represents the evolution of imagination, practical desire, and ingenuity from the primordial waters to the vibrant, leaping terrain.

Sea Goat as Capricorn

by Briana Saussy

Represented by the Sea Goat – a mythic creature depicted as having the torso and upper body of a goat and from the waist down the tail of a fish – Capricorn borrows its iconic form from very old Gods with very old stories, appropriate for the sign that is ruled by Saturn also known as the Lord of Time.

Unlike other modern star signs, the tale of Capricorn begins not in Ancient Greece but much earlier in the Middle Bronze age. Although it is one of the smallest and dimmest constellations it has been consistently observed and honored throughout the Middle East and it was only later that its lore and significance moved into Greece and after that Rome. We know this in part because this sign was recorded in the Babylonian star catalogues as the “goat fish” before 1000 BCE in connection with the great Sumerian God Enki, known as Ea in Babylon.

Enki is the God who brought magic, culture, art, healing, and fertility to all of the land and was likened to a rushing river or spring gushing out from the earth – both images that researchers believe speak to his sexual virility and procreative instincts. As a major God, Enki had many symbols and images attached to his name but one of the oldest is the half goat and half fish symbol that has long been associated with Capricorn.

In this, Capricorn mirrors the sign before it, Sagittarius, where the two animals that are fused together are man and horse in the form of the Centaur. There is a mystery to this oldest of old fusion of goat and fish that scholars and experts in the fields of ancient Sumer and Babylon still do not fully understand. The best guess is that the goat and fish are both animals that have long been associated with sexuality, fertility, and mystery.

Let’s pause here and take stock of some of the themes we see emerging already in the earliest stories of this sign. As noted, there is an ancient quality to Capricorn and often people who have a strong Capricorn presence in their chart are described as “old souls.” At the very least Capricorns often look older than they really are (especially as children) and they have a mature presence from an earlier point in their lives. Because it is Saturn-ruled (Chronos in the Greek stories), Capricorn is very aware of the passing of time. This awareness can lead to intense pressure to do/be more – especially in the areas of work and career – but/and what it is really focused on is legacy-building; Capricorn speaks to the part of us that wants to create something that can last through time.

Although some astrologers incorrectly identify Capricorn as only a goat instead of a sea goat, or present it as though one has a choice: to be a goat or a sea goat, the mythic tales surrounding the zodiac sign are very clear that Capricorn has always been the sea goat. This mysterious symbol and fusion of two unlikely animals speaks to another essential aspect of Capricorn: what you see on the surface is often not the best indication of what is going on inside. The inner life of Capricorn (like the inner life of all of the Earth signs) is often more vivid, dreamlike, and magical than their outer, practically directed actions would let on.

The most well-known attributes of Capricorn deal with its ability to go through struggle or competition and come out a winner, endure through tough times, and find incredible success in their work and professional lives; to understand where these qualities come from we need to learn the stories from a different set of characters.

Turning to the Greek version of the tale, it is like most of our star stories, one born out of immortal struggle. In this case the struggle is between a great beast known as Typhon and the God Pan. Typhon was a monster born from the union of Gaia (Earth) and Tartarus (the Underworld) according to Hesiod. Later tales claim that Typhon was born from Hera as a result of a rage she felt towards Zeus when he gave birth to Athena by himself. Both versions agree that Typhon was a creature born to wreak havoc on the younger Olympian Gods with a specific eye towards destroying Zeus. Typhon’s birth therefore can be interpreted as the vengeance of Chronos, Father Time, who devoured all of his children but Zeus and was later overthrown by his lone surviving son.

Typhon is described in ancient sources as having the body of a man but having hundreds of snakes emerging from his head and in some cases his thighs and/or feet as well. The snakes were all poisonous vipers, of course, who not only could kill by striking but actually spit their venom out onto their victims. Typhon was said to be able to breathe fire and also possess wings that allowed for flight. He was incredibly strong and powerful and had God-like powers over various elements.

As the story goes, Typhon challenged Zeus for power over the entire Cosmos and the struggle was epic. During that struggle Zeus enlisted the aid of the God Pan to play his panpipes (or in some versions have one of his devotees play his pipes) and lull Typhon to calmness. Pan did this and Typhon was so pleased that he offered Pan any Goddess he might want (besides Hera) for a wife. Pan tricked Typhon into returning the leg sinews he had taken from Zeus (thus crippling the God) by telling him that he would play even sweeter music on the lyre if only he could string it with said sinews. Once Typhon brought the sinews to Pan, Pan gave them back to Zeus, restoring him to health and allowing Zeus to ultimately defeat Typhon. In a rage Typhon attacked Pan who was able to transform the lower half of his body into a fish and swim away from the ravening beast, becoming the constellation Capricorn as he did so.

In the Greek story we see the elements of struggle, competition, and victory that are so commonly attributed to this sign. While the struggle for Capricorn is often described as one of “getting ahead,” looking at the tale we see something different: the struggle is against a foe that would bring death and destruction to the entire natural world; the struggle is against a chaotic disorder. Capricorn is willing to engage in struggle and competition, with Saturn/Chronos as their ruling planet they have no expectations that things are going to be easy but that they have to work for whatever it is that they want. The loss and then return of Zeus’ leg ligaments is interesting because Capricorn has long been associated with the legs and specifically knees of the physical body with the mythic understanding that they utilize this part of the body to climb up their proverbial mountain.

Goats stand their ground, they do not go with the herd nearly as easily as say, sheep, they are notorious for being stubborn, and they are decidedly masculine in mythic representation. Goats are also one of the first animals that humans domesticated and yet they will revert back to a feral state more easily and quickly than any other modern domesticated animal — this may be where the wild attributes that are given to goats and the goat-god Pan come from. Fish, on the other hand are mysterious, dwelling in a world apart from our own, they are most often aligned with the feminine, and stories from ancient India to Wales give fishes a starring role when it comes to acquiring wisdom. The goat fish combination we see with Capricorn gives tell to the sign’s ability to win victories in unexpected and unpredictable ways, to transcend by bringing the most unlikely parts of themselves together in unison. The goat-fish is Capricorn as the wise visionary who sees far beyond and ahead what is usually expected; it is the brilliant strategist who knows not just how to win but why winning matters.

Finally, Capricorn is the sign of the craftsman, it is the sign to call on wherever and whenever there is a need for mastery. Where is this depicted in the story? Think back to the way that Pan captured Typhon in the first place. He did so by applying his craft (music) in a most excellent way. Pan’s playing was so beautiful and entrancing that it stopped a force of chaos, disorder, and destruction right in its tracks. This gives us a final clue about the mystery of Capricorn: while struggle and competition are part of the story, the ultimate win comes from doing one’s work and calling upon one’s talent to create beauty and mastery that in turn lead to success.

Call on the Sea Goat when…

  • You want more mature, wise, insight into a situation.
  • You are working with the theme of legacy: what you will do now that outlasts you once you have died.
  • You need to focus on your career or professional path, including finding the right job and excelling in your profession.
  • You are looking to gain mastery in a specific area.
  • You need to develop a solid strategy for dealing with a difficult situation/person.
  • You are entering into any kind of competition – from sports to business to affairs of the heart.
  • You want to win.
  • You need to be 10-20 steps ahead of your competitors for a given project.
  • You are ready to get real and deal with reality.
  • You need to be able to keep going and endure through a difficult time.
  • You want more solid structure and organization.
  • You are ready to ascend to the heights of the mountain and dive into the depths of the sea.

Be wary of…

  • Bossiness – From one cardinal sign to another let’s just put it out there – Capricorn can be bossy and dominating AND intimidating.
  • Being a hammer – When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. The Capricorn version of this is that everything can start to look like a struggle, everything can start to look harder and difficult – even when its really not.
  • Being too competitive – When Capricorn’s competitive nature gets in the way of the ability to collaborate; when MY win becomes more important than OUR win, then it is time to reassess.
  • Being under pressure – Saturn-ruled Capricorn brings intensity to any situation but most especially to themselves, often putting themselves under immense pressure and usually more than is needed.
  • Work-a-holism – Work is a way of life for Capricorn and a Cappy who has work they love is happy; but it is very easy for this sign to work, work, and work some more and forget to have fun and play.

Questions to ponder for Sagittarius…

  • What ancient wisdom do I have immediate and natural access to?
  • What am I competing for?
  • What signifies victory to me?
  • Where in my life am I most seeking excellence and mastery?
  • What would happen if I struggled less?
  • What domesticated part of me would like to be wild once more?
  • What wild part of me needs a bit more domestication?
  • What am I willing to make time for?
  • What legacy am I creating?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.

Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing at the base of a great mountain.
Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Sea Goat.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Capricorn occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready, look straight up at the great peak before you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that a path of ascent has been illuminated for you and at the pinnacle of the peak is a dim but intense glow. This glow comes from the small but mighty constellation of Capricorn, which waits for you at the top of the peak. If you are ready to learn what it has to teach then begin your ascent.
Climb up.
Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.

You are ascending higher now and the air grows cooler and thinner and so you continue to climb.

Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.

At this point your legs and arms begin to tremble with effort and your knees are sore. And still, the glow is brighter now and the peak is within your grasp so you continue your ascent.

Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.

Up, higher and higher until you reach the peak of the mountain.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are now standing directly underneath the starry constellation and it covers the mountain top in a soft light. Standing up here, acknowledge that the wind is cold but your vision is sharper and you can see the lay of the land.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the lay of the land you look upon has a special message to give you regarding your legacy, the work you have created and are creating that will last once you have gone.

Witness what there is, listen and feel into what there could yet be.

As you are ready, turn around so that you are looking over the opposite side of the peak. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel a soft steam rising up from its crevices. Approach the steam and as you do affirm and acknowledge that you have actually found a hidden hot spring, one that would feel so good and soothing to your sore and tired muscles.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is a figure within the spring, one that at first appears to be a goat but, that, right underneath the bubbling waters has the opalescent fins of a fish. This guardian of Capricorn holds out a cornucopia to you filled with the sweetest fruits and savories.

Affirm and acknowledge that these gifts are here for you, partake in them and as you do so ask what they tell you of your legacy.
Give yourself time to truly listen and enjoy.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Capricorn was to and for you.

Now, choose three PRACTICAL actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

Altar and Ritual:

In this series, Animalia Stellarum, the active imagination journey/meditation and the altar/ritual work are not usually dependent on each other; that is, you could do one, or the other, or both, and in any order. For Capricorn, however, I advise that you do the above active imagination journey before beginning this altar and ritual work.

{You will need: 3 pieces of paper, a pen, a white candle, a small bowl of water, a small bowl of earth/dirt; optional – oils and herbs}

Visit with the Sea Goat first (see above).
Note what teachings Capricorn has for you.
Choose three practical actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

Immediately following this meditation, go bathe yourself. It can be a stand-up shower or a sit-down bath; whatever you prefer. You don’t need any special washes or ingredients. Just bathe yourself as you normally would.

As the steam fills the room and you feel the water on your skin, close your eyes and remember your visit with the Sea Goat. Imagine that you are in the same beautiful hot spring, bathing in its splendor. Reflect on all that you learned there. When you are done, dry off like you normally would and put on clean clothing.

Next, get three pieces of paper, whatever kind feels right to you. On each paper write down one of the practical actions you arrived at from the active imagination journey. Fold up each paper until you can’t fold it any more. If you use anointing oils or powders, now would be the time to dab each paper with the appropriate mixture. You can also fold herbs that support your goal into the center of each paper, creating a packet.

At your altar or sacred space, place a bowl of water, a bowl of earth/dirt, and a white candle. Arrange them however you see fit. Light the white candle and place the three folded papers around it. Close your eyes and remember your visit with Sea Goat. Honor its presence in your life and focus on achieving the three practical actions. Ask Sea Goat to help you see the way.

Take as long as you need. You can sit with the candle or you can leave when you feel ready, but let the candle burn completely. If you leave the candle alone, please observe common sense fire safety. After the candle has burned down, collect the papers, the bowls of earth and water, and any remnants of the candle. Wrap them in a cloth, put them in a box, but keep them all together.

As soon as you are able to after doing this altar work, bring the items from your altar and go to a place where the water meets the land. It should also be a body of water that is safe to step into. The ocean, a lake, a river, a creek, or a small stream.

Holding the items from your altar, sit on the edge or wade in a bit as you feel comfortable, not going deeper than your thighs. If it is absolutely impossible for you to get to a clean, natural body of water, go to a pool or fill your bathtub and sit on the edge with just your feet/legs in the water.

Make sure that you are comfortable. Make sure you feel stable standing in the water or sitting at its edge.

Feel your feet in the water and think about the ancient wisdom accessible to you through these currents. Think about where this water came from and where it may go next, creating life all along the way. (Even the water from a pool or bathtub has come from someplace and will flow to another.)

Feel your torso in the air or your rear end sitting on the surface, grounded by the land. Feel your connection to the sky, the mountains, and all that exists above the water.

Allow the soft and gentle movements of the water to ripple through your body. Allow the vibrations of the water to transform as they pass through your core and move up and out of your arms, hands, and head onto the land.

Focus on your three practical actions and allow the currents of water and land to become one within your spirit. When you feel ready, release the items from your altar into the water* – pour out the bowls of water and earth, let the papers float away, watch the candle remnants drift toward the bottom.

*if you have completed this water/land ritual at the edge of a pool or bathtub, take the items from your altar outside and bury them in the ground, just as you would let them go in the water.

Offer your deepest gratitude to the Spirit of the Sea Goat and head home feeling invigorated and inspired. Over the next several days or weeks, note your progress on the practical actions you set forth in this ritual.

About the authors:

Sara Magnuson is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Briana Saussy is a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor dedicated to the field of Sacred Arts and her community of Soulful Seekers. Raised in a family full of sacred arts teachings and traditions, Bri has worked with Tarot and Astrology since she was a young child.

Image credits:

Capricornus,” plate 25 in Urania’s Mirror, a set of celestial cards accompanied by A familiar treatise on astronomy … by Jehoshaphat Aspin. London. Astronomical chart, 1 print on layered paper board : etching, hand-colored. 1825.

Mountain Goat on Mount Massive” Colorado, US. 29 August 2009.

Credner, Till. Photography of the constellation Capricornus, the sea goat. 17 July 2004.