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1. Astrology
a. the tenth sign of the zodiac, symbol ♑, having a cardinal earth classification and ruled by the planet Saturn. The sun is in this sign between about Dec. 22 and Jan. 19
b. a person born during the period when the sun is in this sign
2. Astronomy another name for Capricornus
3. tropic of Capricorn See tropic
4. Astrology born under or characteristic of Capricorn
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
Enlarge picture
A sixteenth-century woodcut of the constellation Capricorn the goat. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal earth sign. It is a negative (in the value-neutral sense of being negatively charged), feminine sign ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is a goat with a fish tail, and its glyph is said to reflect this symbol. It takes its name from the Latin Capricornus, which means “goat horn.” Capricorn is associated with the bones and especially with the knees, and individuals with a Capricorn sun sign are susceptible to bone and joint problems, particularly knee problems. The key phrase for Capricorn is “I use.”

Capricorn has a confused association with two distinct mythological figures. Aegipan, son of Zeus and the nymph Aex, assisted Hermes with the recovery of Zeus’s sinews from Typhon and then transformed himself into a goat-fish in order to escape. In gratitude, Zeus is said to have turned him into the constellation Capricorn. A more complex mythological association is the goat who suckled the newborn Zeus—usually said to be owned by the nymph Amalthea, though in other versions identified as her—and was later transformed into the star Capella. Zeus broke off the horn of the goat and gave it to Amalthea, promising her that she would be able to obtain anything she wished from the horn. This is the origin of the famous cornucopia, or horn of plenty. It was later given to the river god Achelous, who used it to replace his broken horn. Hence, Achelous became, in a sense, a blended goat and marine creature, the very image of Capricorn.

Of all the signs of the zodiac, Capricorn has the most distant relationship with its mythology. Through its association with big business, Capricorn has a certain natural connection with wealth, but it is wealth gained through work and wisdom rather than the “instant” wealth of the horn of plenty. Like the mountain goat, Capricorn’s sometime symbol, Capricorns strive to climb to the top of mountains, but in a practical, cautious, self-sufficient, step-by-step manner. Capricorns are known as planners and organizers, capable of infinite patience. They tend to be reserved, conservative, sober, and highly motivated. Typically, they view pleasure-seeking as an idle waste of time. Capricorns can be intensely loyal and will go out of their way to repay a kindness. Few astrologers have pointed out that this sign’s fish tail (indicating water, the symbol of emotion) indicates that there is a highly sensitive side to Capricorns, which is hidden underneath their reserved exterior.

The sign that the Sun was in at birth is usually the single most important influence on a native’s personality. Thus, when people say they are a certain sign, they are almost always referring to their sun sign. There is a wealth of information available on the characteristics of the zodiacal signs—so much that one book would not be able to contain it all. Sun-sign astrology, which is the kind of astrology found in newspaper columns and popular magazines, has the advantage of simplicity. But this simplicity is purchased at the price of ignoring other astrological influences, such as one’s Moon sign, rising sign, etc. These other influences can substantially modify a person’s basic sun sign traits. As a consequence, it is the rare individual who is completely typical of her or his sign. The reader should bear this caveat in mind when perusing the following series of sun sign interpretations.

One traditional way in which astrologers condense information is by summarizing sign and planet traits in lists of words and short phrases called keywords or key phrases. The following Capricorn key words are drawn from Manly P. Hall’s Astrological Keywords:

Emotional key words: “Inhibited, feelings are often turned upon native himself resulting in self-pity, unforgiving, cold, irritable, timid in action, the mind rules the heart too completely.”

Mental key words: “Powerful, concentrative, laborious, forceful, cautious, economical, conservative, thrifty, scrupulous, trustworthy, detailed thinkers, fatalistic, stubborn, domineering, good friends and bad enemies, brooding, egotistic.”

At present, there are various astrology report programs that contain interpretations of each of the 12 sun signs. A selection of these for Sun in Capricorn has been excerpted below:

Extremely serious and mature, you are capable of accepting responsibilities and do so willingly. Others expect you to be dutiful as a matter of course. You may get angry when people are rewarded after not having worked nearly as hard as you have. Goal-oriented and an achiever, you are justifiably proud of the tangible results of your efforts. You are not a fast worker, but you are thorough, and you are known for being unusually persistent, tireless and tenacious in reaching your goals. When you’re working, you tend to have a kind of tunnel vision that allows you to block out extraneous matters that would distract others. Your power to concentrate totally on the matter at hand enables you to be practical and efficient at managing and structuring complex, ongoing projects. (From “Professional Natal Report.” Courtesy of Astrolabe [].)

Serious, disciplined, and quietly ambitious, you are driven to prove yourself and to achieve material accomplishments and success. Your work, your position in the world, and your contributions to society are very important to you. You will persevere through enormous hardship and frustration in order to reach a goal you have set for yourself, and you often sacrifice much in the area of personal relationships and home life in order to do so.

You have a thoughtful, quiet, and self-contained disposition and do not readily show your inner feelings and needs. You seem to be always in control, capable, efficient, and strong. You are often the person in the family or group who is given more responsibility (and more work) than the others. You are highly conscientious and even as a child you possessed great maturity, soberness, and worldly wisdom.

You are basically a pragmatic realist, and though you may have all sorts of dreams, ideals and colorful theories, you feel that the ultimate test of a concept is its practical usefulness. You have an innate shrewdness and business sense, and there is a bit of the cynic in you as well.

You are clear-headed, detached and objective, and are not swayed by emotional dramatics. Often you are authoritarian—strictly fair, but without mercy. You have a great respect for tradition and even if you do not agree with certain laws, you will abide by them or work to change them, but never flagrantly disregard them. Careful and conservative, you play by the rules.

You are subtle, understated, quiet, deep, not easy to know intimately, and never superficial. You are a modest person and sometimes overly self-critical. Giving yourself (and others) permission to feel, to play, to be spontaneous and silly, and to be weak and vulnerable sometimes, isn’t easy for you.

Your strong points are your depth and thoroughness, patience, tenacity, and faithfulness. Your faults are a tendency to be rigid and inflexible, and too serious. (From “Merlin,” by Gina Ronco and Agnes Nightingale. Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [].)

Tell the truth about Capricorn and you start sounding like a voice out of the Boy Scout Handbook. Here are the key concepts: integrity, character, morality, a sense of personal honor. Those are the Sea-Goat’s evolutionary themes. They all boil down to the capacity of will to dominate every other aspect of our natures, including emotion.

The Capricornian part of you needs to begin by asking itself one critical question: In the part of my life touched by the Sea-Goat, what is the highest truth I know? The rest is simple … at least simple to understand. Just live it. Keep a stiff upper lip, and do what’s right. But be careful. There’s nothing wrong with expressing feelings as long as they’re not doing your decision-making for you. If you’re tempted to do something wicked, don’t be afraid to mention it. Otherwise, half the world will think you’re a saint while the other half thinks you’re a pompous ass. And neither half will get within a light-year of your human heart.

With your Sun in Capricorn, you feed your elemental vitality through one all-consuming activity: the accomplishment of Great Works. They may be public—like building a career that reflects the best of what you are—or they may be private, like quietly doing what’s right for yourself regardless of social or practical pressures.

Capricorn is the sign of the Hermit, and accordingly, there is a theme of solitude in your life. That doesn’t mean loneliness. The Sea-goat’s solitude has more to do with self-sufficiency and privacy. It’s certainly healthy for you to love; it’s neediness on your part that leads inevitably toward frustrating emotional isolation. You’re a survivor, an endurer. Those are fine qualities, and when life is hard, you’ll shine. Careful you don’t use them inappropriately: when you’re sad or frightened, express it. Otherwise, you put yourself in pointless emotional exile. (From “The Sky Within,” by Steven Forrest. Courtesy of Matrix Software []) and Steven Forrest [].)

Among its several natal programs, Matrix Software created a unique report based on the published works of the early-twentieth-century astrologer Grant Lewi (1901–1952). Lewi’s highly original delineations were recognized as creative and insightful by his contemporaries. One measure of the appeal of his work is that his books Astrology for the Millions and Heaven Knows What are still in print. The following is excerpted from the report program “Heaven Knows What”:

“Let’s look at the record.” (Al Smith, born in Capricorn, December 30, 1873).

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin, born in Capricorn, January 17, 1706.)

“National debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.” (Alexander Hamilton, born in Capricorn, January 11, 1757.)

Self-preservation aggressively carried into ambition and aspiration is the key to Capricorn activity. Not content with keeping body and soul together, Capricorn must amount to something, must have some accomplishment to point to, some property to take care of, some obligation to fulfill. His mind is subtly balanced between defense and attack; he will rarely risk either, but will pyramid his life by stepping from one to the other. Since he will never voluntarily step backward, he first shoves his security a little above his ambition, and then his ambition a little ahead of his security, till finally he is top of the heap and has taken no risks at all. He is worldly and careful; selfish, but capable of great devotion if he thinks it is merited; a stickler for the proprieties. He drives a hard bargain, but not an unjust one, and he asks no mercy from anyone. He has plenty of suspicion, and figures that anyone who can “put one over” on him has earned what he gets.

Not the most ardent of signs in personal relations, Capricorn’s love is still a much-to-be-desired thing, stable and steady, able to put up with a good deal for the sake of loyalty if not indeed for affection. He will rarely marry beneath his station, and frequently marries above it. He understands “Thee shouldst marry for love, but thou canst just as well love where there is money.” He is an excellent executive and will not long remain subordinate. He rules by instinct and sometimes makes those he rules quite angry. He has little interest in seeing their point of view or answering their questions, and believes that “orders is orders”: he took ‘em once, and now it’s someone else’s turn.

When the main chance requires it, Capricorn can be mild and meek as a lamb, but he’ll snap off the foreman’s job if he gets a chance. Once arrived, however, he can be lavishly charitable. He loves the sense of importance it gives him, the feeling that he has made the world give to him, and now he can afford to give something back to it. Underlying all his virtues and faults is the primary instinct to vindicate himself with power, to preserve himself materially in the highest structure he can build; and if some affliction in the horoscope doesn’t undermine his judgment (which it often does) and cause him to overplay his hand at some critical point, he generally emerges with the world or some considerable portion of it at his feet. (Courtesy of Matrix Software [].)

The following excerpt comes not from a natal report program, but from David Cochrane’s recent book, Astrology for the 21st Century. Based on lessons for astrology students, it approaches the signs of the zodiac from a somewhat different perspective than the other aforementioned short delineations:

The image of the mountain goat steadily climbing to the top is a common image of Capricorn. Capricorn gives the ability to develop a plan and carefully execute it. Capricorn is serious and sometimes humorless. Capricorn is mature and responsible. Like most astrologers, I have found these descriptions of Capricorn to be accurate.

In searching for a specific trait that might be central to the Capricorn’s personality, I have one speculative idea: mental and emotional detachment. The most consistent feature of Capricorn seems to be its ability to look at everything objectively, as if through the lens of a camera, rather than colored by one’s personal tastes and interests. The objectivity and detachment of Capricorn gives the ability to develop strategies and plans that work. Objectivity and detachment are traits that we associate with older people and accounts for the maturity of Capricorn. Detachment and objectivity require one to emotionally separate oneself, which is completely opposite to Scorpio’s drive to fully involve itself and bond so strongly that it becomes one with the experience, or Cancer’s close attachment to loved ones. Capricorn can be too dry and impersonal. In relationships Capricorn tends to be responsible and loyal, but lacking in deep feelings, and tends not to bond as strongly as most other zodiac signs. (Cosmic Patterns [] and David Cochrane [].)

Many specialized report programs have been developed that offer useful supplements to the generic delineations of general reports. The following sun-sign interpretation has been drawn from a program written by Gloria Star (originally part of her book, Astrology: Woman to Woman) that generates a specialized report for women:

With your Sun in Capricorn you are a woman who needs to be in control of your own life. You’ve probably taken on responsibilities from a very early age, and may be strongly determined to achieve your goals and realize your aspirations. Your practical approach to life may assure that you’re equally at home in the work place or making necessary repairs on your blender. It’s easier for you when you can make the rules, or at the very least, enforce them!

You’ve rarely felt satisfied unless you have a sense of accomplishment. Embracing the drive of your Capricorn Sun is a huge challenge, because once you’ve set your sights on something, stepping back or stopping your steady progress toward your goal is almost unthinkable. If you learned as a young girl that it was the man who could accomplish absolutely anything in the world, you may have resented that fact because you’ve always had a yearning to be recognized and respected. And if your relationships have seemed to support that theory, that it’s a “man’s world,” then you may not trust your own sense of who you are. It’s a question of learning about the nature of reasonable control. As a woman, you will express control differently from the way a man might. You may not care so much about submission of will. Instead, you may be most interested in asserting your will in a manner which will give you the ability to direct your own life and through which you can positively shape the lives of others.

The influence of your Sun in Capricorn adds a heightened business sense to your personality, and you may love the idea of cultivating a career path. As a teacher, school administrator, business executive, administrative assistant, merchant or accountant you can outdistance the competition. Positions which allow you to be in control will be best, although you can follow orders. You’d just prefer to give them. (From “Woman to Woman,” by Gloria Star. Courtesy of Matrix Software [] and Gloria Star [].)

Responding to the revival of interest in pre-twentieth-century astrology, J. Lee Lehman developed a report program embodying the interpretive approach of traditional astrology. The following is excerpted from her book Classical Astrology for Modern Living and her computer program “Classical Report”:

You are timid, inconstant, lecherous, and cruel. You are also just, discriminating, sometimes passionate, and you can be a good conversationalist if you put your mind to it. You are a traditionalist by temperament.

You are Cardinal, which means that you are better at starting new things than on finishing them.

You are an Earth Sign, which means that you are “cold” and “dry.” The “dry” component means, among other things, that you see distinctions easily, and that you are more swayed by intellectual argument than by passion. You are perceived as being “cold,” an outward appearance of unemotional. In the modern parlance, it fits better with “cold and dry” than with simply “cold.” However, a “cold” type is basically lethargic, or slow to react. The “problem” with “cold” is that it makes it hard for you to forget slights. Because you don’t tend to lash out immediately, it’s hard for you not to allow your anger to build up. Combine this with a tendency, being “dry,” to prefer the reasonable approach, and you can end up completely out of touch while your emotions run rampant.

Being a four-footed sign, you have a strong sex drive. This also means that you can be vicious or violent if angered. (Courtesy of J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D., copyright 1998, [] and J. Lee Lehman [].)

Readers interested in examining interpretations for their Chinese astrological sign should refer to the relevant entry. A guide for determining one’s sign in the Chinese system is provided in the entry on the Chinese zodiac.


Cochrane, David. Astrology for the 21st Century. Gainesville, FL: Cosmic Patterns, 2002.
Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky: How to Make Wiser Choices for a More Fulfilling Life. 4th ed. San Diego: ACS Publications, 1989.
Green, Landis Knight. The Astrologer’s Manual: Modern Insights into an Ancient Art. Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1975.
Hall, Manly P. Astrological Keywords. New York, Philosophical Library, 1958. Reprint, Savage, MD: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks, 1975.
Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Astrology for Modern Living: From Ptolemy to Psychology & Back Again. Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1996.
Lewi, Grant. Astrology for the Millions. 5th rev. ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1978.
Lewi, Grant. Heaven Knows What. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1969.
Star, Gloria. Astrology: Woman to Woman. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1999.
Star, Gloria. Astrology & Your Child: A Handbook for Parents. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2001.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a zodiacal constellation (seeZODIAC) in the southern hemisphere. The brightest star—δ Capricorni— has a visual magnitude of 2.8. Two thousand years ago, when the constellations were named in ancient Greece, the winter solstice was located in Capricorn; this explains the name of the southern tropic—the Tropic of Capricorn. The most favorable viewing conditions are in July and August. Capricorn is visible in the southern regions of the USSR. SeeSTELLAR SKY.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


goat (Dec. 22–Jan. 19). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
See: Zodiac
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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