In the Northern Hemisphere, the New Moon in Capricorn falls during the season when the Sun’s midday zenith is at its lowest point in the sky. As astrologers, we often describe those born with the Sun in this sign as natural executives, built of grit, integrity, and ambition. But something we don’t often mention is the source of Capricorn’s ambition – the uncomfortable feeling that we, like the winter sun, are a vast distance from the heights we wish to reach.
To crack open a new wall calendar or desk planner on January 1 is to delight in the feeling of endless possibilities. You may begin the year unemployed, unhappy in relationship, uncomfortable with your body; but by year’s end, who knows? You could be ecstatic in your work, blissful in your relationships, trim and healthy.
The popular joke is that by the end of each year, our lives usually look pretty much as they did at its beginning. Victims of our own weakness, or of some psychological blockage we haven’t yet fully unraveled, we find ourselves back at the beginning – the lowest point in our personal sky – by December’s end. Perhaps we’re too often guilty of envisioning the desired outcome, but not the process of achieving it.
The cold Capricorn season reminds us how far we are from where we’d like to be. But if we listen closely, it also provides a formula for reaching the promised land: Choose your objective, break it down into bite-sized chunks, and work away at it steadily, diligently, and honestly. Most of us understand this. Why, then, do we so seldom end the year differently than we began?
Maybe it’s because we don’t listen carefully enough to Capricorn’s tone of voice. It’s a tone that means business and does not allow for any excuses, any softness. The world is your oyster, Capricorn intones; but it is also harsh and impersonal, and you are low and small. If you wish to claim your oyster, there can be no screwing around. You have to make it happen. Instead of looking for shortcuts to your goal–fad diets, easy money, plastic surgery–you have to do the work. You have to do it. And if you try to fake it, you may reach great heights–but the fall from grace will hurt that much more.
Allow me to share a humiliating personal anecdote to illustrate my point. As a child, I was a girl scout. I don’t know what those girls get up to these days, but when I was one of them we used to earn merit badges that demonstrated skill in a particular area. You fulfilled a page full of requirements and got your badge, which you then got to sew on your girl scout sash for all to see.
Oh, I loved those badges. I can still remember how they looked, their embroidered depictions of campfires and sewing bobbins. I wanted all of them. I ended up with lots and lots of them, probably more than anyone else in my troop.
Because I cheated to get them.
Sigh. Also, :: facepalm ::. With my untamed Saturn in Capricorn, I was a budding, pint-sized Richard Nixon.
Luckily, I had a mother who had enough insight into my character and, miraculously, enough love for me that she gently but firmly brought me into compliance with the better angels of my nature. She didn’t make me give the badges back, but she personally saw to it that I performed every requirement on each badge’s list. (Except the one for sewing, which I gave back. I never could get the hang of sewing.)
A friend with several Capricorn planets of her own complains that today’s parents are too gentle with their children for fear of injuring their self-esteem with a harsh word. “You know how you build self-esteem?” she’s fond of saying. “You do things, and you do them the right way. That’s how you build self-esteem.” That’s how my mother built my self-esteem, all right. Badge by stinking badge.
Since my failed career as a girl scout, I’ve done plenty of things that I’m proud of. Every one of them was almost impossibly difficult. If something isn’t difficult, I’m afraid it holds little appeal for me. That’s why I’m an astrologer – an absurdly difficult profession for me – and not a musician, which came as easily as breathing. It’s why my poor clients hear more about the squares and oppositions in their charts than about the trines and sextiles. Because for me, succeeding against impossible odds offers an exhilarating payoff that an easy life simply can’t offer. When you’ve done something you really aren’t sure you can do… well, that’s one of the best feelings there is, and you can’t cheat your way into it. I thank Saturn in Capricorn, and my marvelous parents, for teaching me that.
Here’s a modest suggestion as this new year gets underway: don’t draft a whole list of resolutions. Choose just one really important one. Make a list of twelve requirements – one for each month of the year – that you must complete in order to fulfill this resolution. Check them off, one by one, month by month; don’t skip any of them. And on December 31, 2017, you’ll have earned that merit badge.
Just don’t ask me to sew it on for you.
© 2013, 2016 April Elliott Kent