The earth is hard and trees are bare, stripped of all but the essential. The sky is closed like the shutters and doors against the freezing cold. Nature has gone deep into the cavernous depths of the old earth. Beneath the surface, however, seeds are bursting with energy, ready to shoot upwards towards the light. The old shells fall away and life is born anew.

Ruled by Saturn or Cronos, the lord of Time, Capricorn represents the Old giving birth to the New. All things come to an end, but, within the very process of endings, lie the seeds of new beginnings.

Outwardly she may seem hard, severe, worn by the passing of time and the awareness of the limitations of earthly life. We meet her often in our fairy stories and myths as the hag. The old woman, the loathly lady, the witch. Sometimes she appears in her male form as the frog.

Hard and frightening though she may seem to us, it is she who transforms winter into spring. The hag becomes the beautiful young maiden and the frog turns into the handsome young prince. Her inner wealth is such that it can break out as the shoot from the protecting seed or the chick from the limitations of the egg.

Half fish, half goat, she unites the strength of earth with the fluid feelings of water, the goat's horn, the "capricornus" being the original horn of plenty or cornucopia. In Italy there is a custom where an old woman arrives on January 6th, bearing gifts for children. January 6th is the day of Epiphany, which means the revelation of Christ or the New Light.

The old fire glows warm in her belly though the earth is cold. From this old fire is born the new sun at the time of the winter solstice. The old sun is dying, his flames have burned low. From the embers will come the spark that ignites the cycle of life again.

This is a time of outer hardship. Nature has gone deep, the skies are closed and the toil of earth is heavy. And yet oh wait, for, just as the hard shell of the nut contains the life of the seed, so, through the mists of winter, come the first rays of light that will so inspire mankind to express his hope, his faith in life, through song and music; art of every kind is born, kindled by the touch of this Olympic flame deep in the winter recesses of the human soul.

Death: the death of the old year which dies to make place for the new. When the "Time" is right, the "Reaper" comes to cut away the old, not for self-gain of any kind, but for the renewal of life itself. She does what she has to do, what is necessary, but where she takes she gives in return, and her gifts are precious for they contain the magic of transformation. And so it is that, as the prince in the old stories overcomes his fear of death and embraces the hag, she transforms herself into the lovely young maid.

Capricorn, the wonderful old lady of winter, of the shadows, of endings and of beginnings. She lives within us all and the role she plays is essential to the natural movements of life itself. We need to know her and to learn to love her in order to become participants in the miracle that she alone can bring about. The miracle of beginnings that are born of endings, of new life that is born from the death of the old.

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