The Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year - ushers in the sign Capricorn, December 22 through January 19. The pendulum has swung toward darkness as far as it can go and is ready to begin the long journey back to the light.
Capricorn is an earth sign. All the earth signs are concerned with the issues and problems related to existence. While Taurus is involved with money and possessions and Virgo with the process of organization, Capricorn deals with the rules of society.
Capricorn comes at the point on the wheel of the zodiac at which the ideas about how a society is to be run - discussed and explored in Sagittarius - are implemented. This sign concerns itself with the governments and bureaucracies of the world and the regulations and laws which accompany these institutions.
Capricorn individuals are reliable, responsible, and acutely aware of the rules and standards that apply to all endeavors. They are methodical and capable of following through on a project to its completion. They are respectful of authority, and often become authority-figures themselves. They can be controlling and over-bearing, mainly because they have such an elevated sense of perfection and the "right" way things should be done. While they can at times be rigid and inflexible, the mature Capricorn understands that the world doesn't always measure up to his/her high standards.
Saturn, the planet that represents the process of contraction, rules Capricorn. Saturn represents the concept that we grow as individuals when we focus on a particular area with discipline and concentration. Saturn also represents the passage of time, and the fact that we humans grow wiser with experience. The Capricorn child seems mature beyond his/her years and often takes on responsibilities at an early age. Serious and introverted, these children naturally view life as business not to be taken lightly. These natives often become younger with age. As they take on more and more responsibility the aging process is reversed, at least on an emotional level, and these serious young beings become more playful and fun loving as they grow older.
This movement from an intense awareness of the burdens of life to the mature and easy confidence of the elder is key to the learning process for Capricorn. In an archetypal sense Capricorn represents the authority of the loving father. The ideal father protects and guides his family, but never smothers. He is flexible and acknowledges that rules and regulations must evolve over time to meet the changing needs of those they govern. The ultimate test for Capricorn is to remain ever flexible to the needs of those around them. Rules do not exist on their own, but rather as guides for society. They must therefore change as the society changes. The wise Capricorn knows this, and is flexible as the need requires.