The planet Saturn rules Capricorn (December 21 – January 20). In myth Saturn (called Cronos, Kronos, or sometime Chronos by the Greeks) is not one of the Olympian gods. He was one of the Titans, the earlier generation that ruled the universe before the Olympians. Saturn was the father of Jupiter (Zeus), Neptune (Poseidon), Pluto (Hades), Juno (Hera), Ceres (Demeter) and Vesta (Hestia) the six original Olympians. Fittingly, the planet Saturn rules the astrological sign Capricorn, which governs the father, the government, temporal power, authority, and the wish for hegemony.
According to the ancient tales it was prophesied that Saturn would be overthrown by his children just as he had deposed his own father, Uranus. In order to foil this prediction and to maintain his power, Saturn swallowed his children whole immediately after his wife, Rhea, gave birth to them. But before Saturn could devour his sixth child, Rhea hid young Jupiter (Zeus) and instead gave Saturn a rock to swallow.
Jupiter, like all the gods, grew to full development very quickly and soon devised a plan to trick his father into drinking an emetic that caused him to disgorge his children. Then Jupiter, along with his brothers and sisters, fought and defeated their father, and Saturn’s siblings, in the War of the Titans. After the 10 year battle, Jupiter, last conceived and first born, assumed rulership of the World and governed from his seat on Mount Olympus.
Apart from difficulties on the home front, we know very little about Saturn, but can deduce from clues found in ancient art (where he is usually depicted with a sickle and sprig of grain) that he is associated with agriculture and harvesting. His name in Greek, Chronos (which means time) broadens this agricultural notion hinting at: gathering at the time of full maturity. In accordance with the principles of AstroMythology (i.e. that the mythological god personifies the influence of a sign’s planet-ruler) Saturn’s astrological influence acts to mature us. This maturation experience requires us to overcome challenges associated with Saturn’s repressive influence (for example, a confining ‘parental’ relationship that inhibits complete development) or a prolonged struggle (as in the War of the Titans) to win one’s place in the world.
The planet Saturn is well known for the rings that surround it. This physical feature further suggests the restriction and limitation associated with Saturn’s astrological influence. The placement of Saturn in one’s astrological chart indicates the life area where there will be a major life lesson from which there is no escape. And because of the quality of Saturn’s influence astrologers sometimes call the planet the “Celestial School Master”.
Deeper insight into the Capricorn nature can be gained through considering the mythological tales associated with the goddess Juno (called Hera by the Greeks). Juno is also known as Saturnia* and can be understood as a female representation of Saturn. This is fitting because Capricorn is a feminine sign (as are the other earth signs, Taurus and Virgo); and the Capricorn temperament is well illustrated by Juno’s exploits.
A quid pro quo, or ‘something given for something received’ attitude is characteristic of Capricorns. They are usually open to helping others but they feel it is only fair to receive something in return for their efforts. Juno’s actions illustrate this when she refuses Jupiter physical intimacy unless he consents to marry her.
Irresistibly attracted to power, like Juno, people born under the sign of Capricorn are most likely to ‘marry the boss’s daughter’ or someone with social connections to something they want. In their career Capricorns frequently begin their ascent to importance by working as an assistant in the employ of a power possessor. Gradually, because they work hard and are so dependable, they make themselves indispensable. And in the full flowering of time (pun intended) they hope to step into a position of greater importance (or their employer’s position) once it becomes available. Ascending from one secure foothold to the next, like the mountain goat symbol associated with their sign, Capricorns often succeed because they never forget their goals, and are patient and diligent.
These strategies are reminiscent of Juno’s maneuvering for greater power in her position as Jupiter’s wife. In the classical tales, Jupiter and Juno have an unhappy marriage. Jupiter is unhappy because of Juno’s never-ending attempts to restrict his amorous activities. And Juno is unhappy because of Jupiter’s power over her and his infidelities. Juno worries that her husband’s profligate ways will make others lose respect for her. Because of Jupiter’s greater power Juno cannot punish him directly. But to squelch his unfaithfulness, she takes revenge on those he loves, causing him pain indirectly. For example, Juno turns Callisto, one of her husband’s paramours, into a bear whose son hunts and kills her. She also tries to cause the death of Hercules (Herakles in Greek), Jupiter’s son by Alcmene, persecuting him throughout his life.
Indirect maneuvering is a recurring theme in tales involving Juno, the beautiful Queen of the Heavens; it is also a favorite Capricorn strategy for influencing others. Capricorns prefer to contain and control situations indirectly rather than engaging in hostile confrontations, and they prefer to sway public opinion about their rivals rather than to face them openly.
In an important tale Jupiter loses patience with Juno’s persecution of Hercules and suspends her from heaven in chains with anvils tied to her feet (she is physically restricted as the planet Saturn appears to be restricted by its rings). In response, Juno attempts to incite other Olympians to overthrow Jupiter, but fails. Like Juno, Capricorns sometimes have hidden agendas which can include manipulating others in an effort to advance their personal and political goals. And naturally, things do not go well for them when their behind-the-scenes scheming is discovered.
Even though their relationship is difficult, Juno is still one of Jupiter’s most valued counselors. Similarly, Capricorns make wonderful advisors and mentors. They grasp the realities of human nature and are willing to share their insights with others.
It should be noted that although the vast majority of Capricorns feel most at home in the “main stream” there are some who are decidedly unconventional. But, no matter whether they tend toward orthodoxy or eccentricity, all Capricorns feel the need to express their individual nature within the framework of their culture. This is possibly the motivation for the Capricorn wish for power – power allows them to make sure they will be able to add their voice to the throng and be heard.
Though Capricorns tend to favor austerity in their personal lives, they do want the best possible life for themselves and for their “people”, which can include their family and friends, their country, or all of mankind, depending on the scope of their vision. They are capable of creating a good life, but have to be incorruptible in the face of their own drive for power in order to maintain it. Because of their broad and informed world view, political savvy, and their wry sense of humor, Capricorns make very interesting companions.
*See Metamorphoses by Ovid