Astrological Tarot Lesson XI: A Mythological Origin Story of Capricorn, and How Baphomet Became the Devil
What every good magician needs to know.
As cardinal signs in the zodiac mark the inception of each season, the Earth sign Capricorn ushers in Winter, and the Sun transits this sign until January 19th. Capricorn and the sign which follows it – Aquarius, are both ruled by the planet Saturn, which slows things down and radiates the energy of restriction. Isn’t it interesting that this is the time of year that we use crock-pots in the kitchen? This is the time of year to let things steep and cook slowly, to savor and to make adjustments along the way.
The final New Moon of 2016 will take place on December 28th, with both the Sun and the Moon in the sign of the sea-goat. As with all mythological creatures, there are many origin stories. Here is one about Capricorn that I love:
The great Father-God Chronos (Saturn) created Pricus, the first sea-goat. Like his creator, Pricus was immortal, and had the ability to rule and manipulate time. Pricus fathered a race of sea-goats with the front half of a goat and the tail of a fish. Pricus’s children were intelligent creatures who could speak and reason, and they lived in the sea near the shore.
Pricus’ youngest children were drawn to the shore and they used their front legs to pull themselves from the sea and onto the beach. There they would lie in the sun, and in time, they stayed longer and longer out of the water. As they returned less frequently to the sea, they began to “evolve”: their fish tails changing into hind legs, and they began to lose their ability to speak and think.
Fearful that all of his children would become mindless animals who could never return to the sea, and that he would never see them again, Pricus was determined to undo what was happening. He decided to use his ability to reverse time, and force his children back into the water. Turning back time, he returned everything on Earth to the way that it was before his children had gone onto the land.
With everything back to normal, he gave the young ones a warning, and yet they still ended up drawn to the land and process began again.
Turning back time once more, he forbade them from exiting the sea, but to no avail. No matter what he said or tried, or how many times he reversed time, the sea-goats eventually found their way to land and became regular goats.
Finally Pricus came to the realization that he could not control the destiny of his children. No matter how many times he started over, the outcome was beyond his control. He decided to resign himself to his loneliness, and to no longer reverse time, allowing his children to live out their destiny.
The sad and alone Pricus begged Chronos to take away his immortality and let him die, as he could not bear being the only sea-goat left. Instead, Chronos allowed him to live out his immortality in the sky, as the constellation Capricorn. From here, he could see all of his children, even those on the highest mountain top, from his vantage point among the stars.
The lessons are layered in this myth. The idea of evolution from the sea to land being one which diminishes speech and thought is an interesting one.
In the Tarot, Capricorn corresponds to the 15th Major Arcana: THE DEVIL
Levi’s Goat-headed Baphomet is the inspiration used by both iconic tarotologists Arthur Waite and Oswalt Wirth in their depictions of the Devil, although his origin stems from the Pagan Horned-God archetype, such as Pan and Horus, not just from the Christian Devil. Levi’s hermaphroditic figure is laden with occult symbolism, from the Mercurial Caduceus to the waxing and waning crescent moons and pentagram, to the alchemical phrase Solve et Coagula. Notice that in Levi’s version, the Pentagram is upright, not reversed as it is in most modern interpretations, including Waite’s.
Baphomet was said to have been an important symbol for Knights Templar, as well as modern Freemasons. Outsiders who do not understand the symbolism have been accusatory finger-pointers yelling “Devil Worshippers!” and although the esoteric interpretation may suggest otherwise, the symbolism is now commonly associated with the Goat of Mendes – the adopted symbol of the Church of Satan. In the reversed pentagram we see the rejection of Spirit and the Trinity in favor of materialism and Duality (2 points upright). This card represents undue sacrifice and limitation.
Lets put together the myth of Capricorn, the Tree of Life and the symbol of the Goat-headed Devil. Perhaps there is a message here: Attaching yourself to the Earth (Material Concerns) only, and rejecting the Water (Binah – Wisdom, the Great Sea) leads to limitation and takes away your ability to speak and think. Use your voice and your mind to release yourself from addiction, oppression, and stagnancy.
Capricorn (THE DEVIL) – Cardinal Earth ruled by Saturn (THE WORLD)
“He who truly knows the Self, who has freed himself from the bonds of delusion which make the ignorant mistakenly apply the term “self” to the limited, transitory personality, such an one has found the goal. They who find it are sometimes called Lords of the Secret of Saturn, for they understand why Saturn is said to have devoured his children.”
– Paul Foster Case – Book of Tokens