zodiac seasons

Your Guide to Capricorn Season

Capricorn women, clockwise from left to right: Janis Joplin, Zora Neale Hurston, Dolly Parton, Barbara Hepworth, and Michelle Obama. Photo-Illustration: Photo Illustration by Preeti Kinha; Photos Getty, Everett Collection

We’ve almost reached the end of the calendar year. The Christmas songs playing in the supermarket or the drugstore say this is the season of hope and love, but for many people it’s also stress season. This is the season of families asking, for the hundredth time, why you’re still single, or still childless, or still working on your so-called novel. It’s the season of year-end lists and taking stock of all you’ve done over the past year — hopefully to be proud of everything you’ve accomplished, but maybe also to wonder if you should somehow have more to show for yourself.

This is Capricorn season: the period when the sun is in Capricorn, usually from about December 21 to January 20, when the very atmosphere seems to fill with the sign’s energy of discipline, resourcefulness, and practical ambition. With this energy, you might find yourself caring more deeply than you usually do about concrete success in the real world, rather than ethereal feelings or hypothetical futures.

Capricorn is an earth sign, along with Taurus and Virgo; these are the signs that are typically most practical, most reliable, most connected to the physical world. Capricorn is also ruled by Saturn, the planet of structure, limits, and authority, and Saturn’s influence infuses the earth sign energy with a focus on advancement through the world, and on climbing the metaphorical ladder of success. Capricorn energy isn’t about dreaminess or wandering curiosity, but about getting things done in the world as it actually exists.

Depending on what’s going on in your own astrological chart, this might sound less than thrilling. Even if you are a Capricorn, you might be bristling a little bit — it’s Capricorns, more than anyone else, who most often tell me they don’t really recognize themselves in descriptions of their sign. And honestly, it’s hard to blame them. Earth signs in general often aren’t written about in ways that inspire excitement; the focus on groundedness and reliability can leave very little room for strangeness or confusion or creativity. And Capricorn, even more than the other earth signs, so often gets written about like the absolute stick-in-the-mud of the zodiac, the striving middle manager of the zodiac, astrology’s boomer dad who can’t understand why you won’t just apply yourself and find a nice, well-paying job.

Focusing too much on work and achievement, though, can limit understanding of what Capricorn is actually all about. So for now, I want you to put suits and briefcases out of your head, and to stop reducing Capricorn to this one little sliver of what its energy can be. I’m giving you permission to get excited for Capricorn season, which doesn’t have to be stodgy or buttoned-up or conventional. Capricorn is motivated by a desire for tangible, real-world achievement and success, but this is not, crucially, always synonymous with a desire for money, or success in the business world.

Capricorn energy is about dedication, accomplishment, and mastery, but that doesn’t need to have anything to do with toiling in an office building. There’s space for fun and wildness here, too; Capricorn has a sensual side, lustful and hungry for pleasure or power or sweetness — an energy that’s deeply attuned to the body’s desires, but focused on learning to harness those desires, not be overpowered by them. It’s Capricorn’s discipline and tenacity that can help the wildest, most beautiful ideas take shape and become real. Capricorn season is great. Capricorn’s energy is a gift not to be underestimated.

Capricorn energy is Dolly Parton telling Vanity Fair that the thing she dislikes most is laziness, and the trait she most deplores in others is “dishonesty and being late for appointments.” But Capricorn energy is also Dolly Parton’s glitz and big hair and total unashamed honesty — it’s the notion that if you really put in the work, you can do whatever you want, because you’ve earned it. Capricorn energy is Shonda Rhimes building a successful TV empire, but it’s also Shonda Rhimes writing some truly fun, truly bananas plotlines on Scandal. It’s Michelle Obama grinding her way through the hostile environments of the Ivy League and the White House with her feet on the ground and her ambition intact. It’s also Joanna Newsom grinding her way through years of harp (!) practice, writing songs and studying polyrhythms, focused on doing the work to make exactly the weird music she wants, exactly the way she wants to.

The best way to celebrate Capricorn season is to get down to business and make yourself useful, as long as you can remember that usefulness doesn’t have to be bound up in ideas of hustle and productivity and making money. You don’t stop being imaginative and weird; this is just a chance to do the work to make your wild dreams real.

Your Guide to Capricorn Season