Saturn & Capricorn
There are two common stories about Capricorn, both relating to the symbol of Capricorn being a goat, often depicted as a sea-goat (a goat with a fish tail instead of hind legs). The most common story derives from Pan and one of his goat-footed buddies, Aegipan (Aigipan).* While running away from a giant, they all hid themselves in animal form, and Aegipan took on the sea-goat form as he jumped into the Nile. Aegipan is special because he later helped Zeus win a contest against with the Titans by restoring the sinews of his hands and feet to him. (Ick?)
However, another story, while it does not reference a goat with a fish tail, does speak of a goat, known as Amalthea (Amaltheia)** who was a foster-mother of Zeus, suckling him while he was hidden in the cave on Crete. The story further speaks of Zeus taking one of the horns of the goat, from which we get the idea of the cornucopia. It is said that Amalthea then changed into a unicorn since she had only one horn.* **
Saturn is commonly associated with the Greek God Kronos (Cronus). Kronos was the son of the sky and earth, Ouranos (Uranus) and Gaia (Earth). Gaia was angry with Ouranos for imprisoning some of their children and begged her sons to stop Ouranos. Kronos stepped forward to do it, so Gaia crafted a sickle for him and Kronos hid in wait for his father. When Ouranos appeared, Kronos castrated him. However, Kronos did not release the other Titans from their prison, but instead claimed Ouranos’ throne and ruled with Rhea, his sister and wife.
Kronos learned from Gaia that he was destined to be overthrown by one of his sons, just as he had done to his father, Ouranos. To prevent this from happening, Kronos swallowed all his children upon birth. However, Rhea hid the sixth child, Zeus (Jupiter) from Kronos, handing him a stone wrapped in blankets instead. Kronos swallowed this, thinking it was his child, and Zeus remained hidden, only to return later and fulfill that prophecy.****
Sheesh. Who needs daytime TV?
It can be said that it is a natural, healthy, and even desired outcome for one’s children to progress beyond oneself. Saturn’s fear of the future, and of this perhaps inevitable change, prompted him to make a decision to try and prevent a certain future. This decision not only failed to prevent that outcome, but brought it to fruition in a dramatic and probably more disturbing way than it may have otherwise been.
The astrological symbolism of Saturn reflects this story. Had Kronos not allowed his fear and desire to maintain his authority to overtake him, would the outcome have been the same? Saturn is the planet most associated with the passage of time, and the natural limits that living in a world ruled by time create for us. It is our limitations that often prompt us to action when fear might otherwise stall us. One of the greatest limitations can be said to be the looming end to our lives, and perhaps it is that knowledge that can help us face change and grow, living our lives to the fullest since we don’t have time to waste (Saturn is known as the planet that governs time). It is also that limitation that can keep us in fear of losing what we have, and therefore not growing, but attempting to live in stasis. As the old saying goes “The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.” Kronos found this out the hard way, but we can take this lesson and find a moral to live a better life.
I think we all know what the moral of this lesson is: don’t eat your children.
*Aigipan is sometimes said to actually be Pan himself, although some art and stories show him as separate, or even the father of Pan.
**Amalthea is thought to be an epithet, merely a term to represent the nurturing face of a goddess.
***In the book, The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, when the Unicorn is changed into a human woman, she goes by the name Amalthea.
****You’ll recall that Jupiter (Zeus), the son of Kronos, overthrew his father and freed his siblings. Kronos was that father and it turns out: ‘like son, like father!’