Hard-Asses Rule


And I'm not talking about overworked gluteus maximus muscles either.

I'm referring to those folks who mean serious business. They don't shy away from confronting difficult challenges on the road to getting where they want to be, and they aren't afraid to ream those (including themselves) who fall short of such expectations. They are the enforcers and the disciplinarians, and we need them on our side, to force our eyes to stay on the prize, even when it's not much fun.

This week, I pay homage to the archetype of Capricorn, the zodiac's most tenacious goal-achiever and biggest hard-ass—a sign I feel is often misunderstood and/or underappreciated in the world of astrology. When we think about Capricorn, I don't want us to limit our mental picture to only those certain individuals we know who have their Suns in the sign of hard-ass-ity. This highly constructive and strategically sharp Cap energy is currently in the air for all of us to draw from, as needed. Though the Sun will be moving out of earthy Cap and into airy-fairy Aquarius on Wednesday, both Venus and Mercury remain in its zone for another couple weeks and Mars will spend a good part of February and March there. That said, are you ready to hold yourself to steep stiff standards? You'd better be. Trust me, it's good for you.

So many astrologers use the keyword 'ambitious' as one of the hallmarks for describing the Capricorn vibe… and then get it wrong in the translation, automatically assuming ambition will play out in a greedy grab for wealth and power. Sure, plenty of Capricorn types call the shots and boss people around and luxuriate in the bathtubs full of cash they've accumulated by running successful businesses. (Or they desperately hope that, one day, they will). But plenty don't. Ambition has wider applications than professional and/or material success—it is the desire to stretch vision past a given moment, to set appealing goals of excellence for the future, and to labor persistently over an extended period until the goals are reached. Capricorns, my friends, are shrewd masters of that game.

Capricorn gets its determination from Saturn, its ruling planet and the guy who teaches us to willingly accept limitations on our behavior or face resultant repercussions. We like to remind ourselves that anything is possible, that we can accomplish anything we want if we set our minds to it. That, of course, is true… at the same time that it's not. Perhaps we can achieve anything, but we most certainly cannot achieve everything. Saturn is the arbiter of consequences to actions, the traditional 'Lord of Karma', and he reminds us that we often must choose one thing over another—have cake or eat it, not both.

Each of us has Saturn somewhere in our natal charts, its location denoting where we'd do best to face constrictions on our actions and meet the responsibilities maturity deems necessary. And each of us also contends with transiting Saturn continually whipping different points in our charts (and thus parts of our personalities) into shape, leading us to set boundaries and insisting we hold to them—unless we'd prefer the boundaries to 'assert themselves' from the outside in, through external events that force us to let go and submit to cosmic discipline. Most of us are unenthused about dealing with Saturn, though we inevitably do. Capricorns, however, are used to it; they handle Saturn's nagging, looming authority every day of their lives.

But while such hard-ass authority can be quite useful when applied to meeting worldly goals and achieving an ever more esteemed reputation, it's not always so nurturing to the tenderer, quieter, more sensitive and irrational parts of ourselves. Here's where Capricorn needs our help. The Moon is the soul's caregiver, the mother-figure luminary who governs our instinctive, reactive emotions, and the Moon rules Cancer, the sign opposing Capricorn—which means that the emotional self is most ill at ease when the Moon is in Capricorn.

To the Capricorn spirit, feelings are difficult to handle because they seem an inconvenient impediment to accomplishment. Capricorn, the architect of enduring success, has trouble building the watery changeability of emotion into his master plan; it is, after all, anathema to a sturdy structure (or so he imagines). Therefore, he tries to beat the feelings into submission, applying discipline to emotion as he would to physical efforts or ideas. When (obviously) it doesn't work, he turns the beatings on himself. 'Damn you,' he privately admonishes, 'for letting these *$^!% feelings distract me from what I need to get done!' All the while, outwardly, he tells us, 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.' And from our view, he is. But is he really?

In the spinning of the seasonal wheel, Capricorn coincides with the New Year, a fitting influence for the time when we form resolutions for improving our lives over the coming twelve months. Capricorn is nothing, if not resolute. But this time of year also comes on the heels of Sagittarian holiday-season excess. By the time Christmas actually rolls around at the beginning of Capricorn-time, a pressing sense of obligation within the 'celebration' has already developed. Many sun-sign Capricorns find it uncomfortable to even bother celebrating their birthdays, considering everyone in their lives has already been crammed full of turkey and spent all their extra cash on stocking-stuffers for the kids. They let the celebration of self go uncelebrated, in homage to some other 'more important' duties, as if to say, yet again, 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.'

For all of us, the lesson of Capricorn is to wisely deploy its strategic insights and disciplined determination—but without repressing our feelings or mercilessly whipping ourselves when we discover we can't. Calculated strategy, applied with indiscriminate ambition toward the realization of earthly aspirations, can easily result in heartless emotional frigidity. Chiron's transit through Capricorn (rising, in opposition to Saturn in Cancer, in the chart of the Dec 26 04 earthquake/tsunami) has hopefully helped us see where the hard-ass approach to administering authority—in government, big bu