Capricorn--Father, Mother, or Gender-Neutral?
Capricorn has a broad range of meanings, one of which has to do with the parent or persons of authority. Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, plus the 10th house are often associated with the individual father. However, the whole issue of assigning a parental gender to planets and luminaries is problematic in modern culture, where shifting gender roles have made such designations outmoded. The Sun may be our Jungian animus, and the Moon our anima, but do they really represent the parental father and mother?
Many older astrology texts refer to Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, as representing the father. Saturn rules boundaries, authority, and rules — all qualities which are traditionally associated with the old-fashioned father. But don’t mothers also set boundaries, lay down rules, and become authority figures in their children’s lives?
I grew up in a traditional 1950’s suburban home. My father worked and supported the family, while my mother stayed home, raised four children, and became a local political activist. For me, yes, I can look at my Sun and Saturn and see my father in my horoscope. But my mother was an extremely powerful person in my life when I was a child and I can see her, too, in the placement of Saturn in my horoscope. Saturn is actually the ruler of my 10th house — that’s where I have Capricorn on the cusp — and it’s in my 5th house. I've worked a lot with young people, and my earliest ambition was to be an actor.
If one grows up in a single parent home — with no father present and no shared custody — what does that mean if you follow older astrology texts? Shouldn’t you have Neptune in Capricorn (you’d have to make sure you were born between 1984 and 1998) or Neptune on the Midheaven (which is associated with Capricorn), or Neptune aspecting Saturn or the Sun in the birth horoscope? All of those might show an absent father. But I’m sure there are plenty of children who grew up in fatherless homes who have no such “signature.”
And what about the increasing number of children being raised by grandparents?
This is not to slight older astrology texts. They were written in the context of an earlier culture in which gender roles were more partitioned. I think that if we just substitute the word parent for father in those texts, they still make sense in that respect.
Some older astrology texts do associate the father with the 4th house instead of the 10th. And there are astrologers, such as Isabel Hickey, who happen to associate Capricorn more with the mother. She writes (in Astrology, A Cosmic Science) that, “Tradition, home, mother, the past (often exemplified through their love of antiques); these are important to the people of Capricorn. While mother lives she is at the hub of his life.”
Many of the keywords for Capricorn — hard-working, diligent, responsible, organized, or (on the downside) meddlesome and controlling — can be applied to a parent (or, let us say, a parental figure) of either gender. To make Capricorn the “father” is very limiting. You can see a good list of gender-neutral Capricorn keywords here.
A number of modern astrologers have adjusted by broadening the meaning of Capricorn to include any primary parental figure that sets boundaries and exerts control, which makes a lot more sense.
I have been thinking about this because of three parents who were recently in the news: Alec Baldwin, David Hasselhoff, and Kathy Hilton. Alec Baldwin yelled at, and verbally demeaned, his daughter over the phone. A very drunk David Hasselhoff was video-taped by his daughter. And when Paris Hilton was sentenced to 45 days in jail, her mother laughed and berated the judge. All three parent-child tales, which can also be seen as part of the current Saturn-Neptune opposition (Saturn=parent and Neptune=erosion of boundaries), received wide press coverage.
Added to this is a news story about a study which linked childhood obesity to the parenting style of the father. The study showed that “…children whose fathers had permissive or disengaged [Neptune] parenting styles had a higher risk of being too heavy.”
Since we are preparing to go into Pluto in Capricorn in a few months, maybe the whole issue of parental boundaries is achieving increased prominence and will continue to generate debate for some time to come.