Paulina Peñafiel – Capricorn – The Goat of Amalthea

*Article translated from spanish to english.


The iconography of Capricorn is related to the mountain goat that climbs to the highest rock and whose cult dates back to 3,000 BC. in the Mesopotamia region.

The Sign finds variants in the images of the male goat and the fish-tailed goat that personified the god Ea in Babylon, also known as Enki.

In Ancient Egypt it was associated with Anubis, the jackal-like god of the dead.

The Romans came to link it with the two-faced god Janus, who looked backwards and forwards, and from whose name the month of January (January) derives, when the Sun crosses Capricorn.

For the Greeks, the mountain goat had played a decisive role in the survival of Zeus, the highest deity of Olympus, in the face of the destructive desire of his father Cronos, the god of Time. The latter had been warned by an oracle that he would be overthrown and deposed by one of his sons. Forewarned, he decided to wipe out all progeny and as his wife Rhea gave birth, he snatched the creatures from her arms and swallowed them before they opened their eyes.

Until Rhea’s displeasure was such that before the sixth child was born she secretly fled to Arcadia and gave birth to Zeus in a cave on Mount Dicte. There, a goat belonging to the nymph Amalthea nursed the child in hiding and protected him from the devouring wrath of Kronos, who deceivedly swallowed a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Saved from death and with the support of Metis, divinity of wisdom, Zeus prepared a potion which, disguised as a cupbearer, he later gave his father to drink.

Cronos became seriously ill until he vomited the stone along with the other children he had devoured: Neptune, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Hestia. These allied themselves with Zeus and together they rebelled against the old king and established a new era.

Zeus became the Lord of the Universe and sovereign of gods and men. Grateful to Amalthea for her kindness, he placed the image of the goat with a fish tail in the constellation of Capricorn.

The Capricorn Life Pattern

The survival of Zeus against the destructive desire of Cronos describes the biography of survivors of many Capricorns, who – like the future Lord of Olympus – are saved by a goat that lives in the secrecy of a cave, a symbol of the innate resources of the deeper psyche.

The first part of their lives is often marked by limitation that takes the form of a restrictive education, hard work under the tutelage of the father, a forced marriage or any other type of obligation.

The symbolism of the child (the newborn Zeus) and the old man (the Cronos who will be deposed) are polarized in time and the individual must learn to dialogue with his self-castrating desire, product of fear, which expresses the image of the god engulfing to his progeny.

As his father does not live in heaven but on Earth (Cronus belonged to the race of the Titans), the father of Capricorn does not seem to have outstretched arms to welcome him. Instead, it usually offers a restrictive and conditioning guideline, which the representatives of the Sign internalize as a mixture of guilt, discipline and sin that leads them to act subject to an obligation or chained to a specific goal.

Life is taken seriously and the individual experiences the need to be good at something (if possible, something they can do better than others), while developing a sense of morality and law.

The myth teaches that the initial confrontation with the father is, in truth, an initiation at the deepest level of the Capricorn, since the goat of Amalthea and Cronus are two faces of the same force, like the two-faced god Janus of the Romans. The same principle that gives you your greatest suffering gives you the strength, determination and prudence necessary to battle with what chains you and experience self-sufficiency.

The risk occurs when an identification is built with the more rigid sides of the Sign and the individual seems to get stuck on the steep heights, in the manner of the mountain goat that seems unattainable to other animals by taking refuge in its lonely but safe rock. .

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