The Brightness of Aquarius Part I
Many years ago during the bleakness of winter and during a time in my young life when my future outlook looked equally grim, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy and vibrant baby boy. He was brightness in every way and my world became ablaze with new hope and light. His happy spirit and calm disposition made early motherhood easy for me and my first-born Aquarian son has continued to take me into new territories of life experience I wouldn’t have dreamed of by myself.
Qualities and Characteristics
The 11th sign of the zodiac, ‘The Water-Bearer’, begins around January 21st and leaves around February 19th. This sign represents winter at its fullest form in the Northern Hemisphere, a time when it is full-on cold and the new seeds of life are buried deep under the ground invisible to human perception, yet this is the point in time when the germination process is actually beginning. We can extrapolate this signature to humans born under this sign and say that they appear to be detached from the instinctual realm while resolutely seeking distant idealistic goals based on a complex array of imaginable thoughts that pour forth in a steady stream from their conceptual minds.
I will illustrate from my own life, once again. When Michael, my first-born Aquarian, was only 2 years of age he began to draw voraciously by the hour picture after picture of complex figures that defied the imagination. They appeared to be net-works of cubicles within cubicles forming intricate buildings and sometimes vehicles. They would often have little faces peering out from within their maze-like structures and there was humor in some of the crazy-quilt figures that emerged. His ability to focus and stay concentrated on these inventive drawings never ceased to amaze me or my friends. He was dubbed ‘The Doctor’. Later he did major in Physics and Artificial Intelligence, and he did work early-on for Apple Inc. The Aquarian propensity for inventiveness with resolute and persistent determination gave birth to the digital age which we now find ourselves immersed in, and Michael was born during that revolutionary time in the mid-sixties when Uranus joined forces with Pluto in Virgo to forever change our world.
The ‘brightness’ of Aquarius is that for them the image of the future is already trembling with new life. Their intuitive sense of what can become a reality defies the existent reality which surrounds them (i.e. the bleakness of winter) and they truly do often march to the tune of a distant drummer that calls them forth. This is the sign that most takes us into the future with a firm resolve.
Aquarius is a Fixed Air sign taking us from the avid curiosity of Gemini with its razzle-dazzle desire to know and name everything, to the searching need of Libra to connect and form partnerships, to the search to become part of a larger social unit. Aquarius has a deep need for social interaction in order to define itself. Their ideal is to be an individual in cooperation with the whole. Often the whole sees them as true leaders, however, and they take on that role quite easily such as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 30s with his ‘New Deal’ program for America caught in the mire of a Great Depression.
The psychology of Aquarius is full of contradictions and paradoxesHow is it that such a socially oriented sign can produce some of the most radical individualists and self-sufficient innovative thinkers who don’t appear to need the approval of society in the least? Is it the nature of Aquarians to be ahead of their times and therefore slightly out of sync with the world around them? It would appear that those born under this sign don’t like to be followers. They have decidedly strong minds and attitudes. They seek a lot of freedom to be creative yet they also tend to be motivated by social considerations such as inventing something that everyone will use like the electricity Edison, an Aquarian, brought to the world, or other new forms of technology, engineering, design, etc.
All Fixed signs tend to manifest in extremes. Aquarius holds an intuitive mind-set of a radical ideal for society as a whole. They desire the freedom to change the status quo to something they think it should be, yet they’re not always willing to allow for other points of view that may be diametrically opposed to their own view. They may think ‘they know it all’ and remain quite rigidly adamant that they do. Furthermore, once they have arrived at whatever their point of view is, they do not change easily from it, even in the face of new evidence that might repute it or render it obsolete. These strong social ideal mind-sets about how society-at-large ought to be create the propensity for Aquarians to form their own groups of like-minded people who they feel embody the true vision of a social order rather than the prevailing one, or even other collective ‘visions’ of social life.
You can see this even in the charts of countries, such as the United States of America with its Moon in Aquarius. Now a positive aspect of Moon in Aquarius is egalitarian feelings and the ability to connect with a broad spectrum of people. America is truly a ‘melting pot’ of peoples from every race and every walk of life. However, this Cancerian country is now truly obsessed with security bordering on paranoia, and its often unconscious Aquarian Moon (which rules the Cancer Sun) tends to feel its social order is the only way so that other points of view are dismissed as backwards, provincial, beside the point or non-existent. This has become the ‘know-it-all’ nation who dominates with military might every other nation that dares to have a differing point of view.
So how does Aquarius reinforce its strengths of a detached and fair-minded over-view, of a concern for the good of all, of a commitment to an ideal deeply felt and believed in, of a quest for freedom for all, not just the few? To find the answer we must delve into it’s polar opposite sign, Leo, and also study its paradoxical rulers, Saturn and Uranus.
Aquarius and its polar opposite, Le
In the physical body, Leo rules the heart, and what we now know, even from scientific evidence, to be an organ of intelligence and perception. The ‘heart knows its reasons’ takes on new meaning with this affirmed knowledge. Aquarius rules the circulation of the blood which is pumped by the heart, and when this circulatory system malfunctions our vital signs weaken because we are not getting enough blood to the heart, or to the brain, or to the extremities. Dysfunctional Aquarian energy can show up in the body as blood clots, hardening of the arteries, brain tumors, strokes, etc. This transmission, diffusion, and circulation of the life-imparting blood stream in the physical body correlates with Aquarians need to work with the heart in cooperation to pass on to the greater body-at-large the seminal ideas that are infused with heart energy. Usually when we think of heart, we also think of love. It is the love of others and their individual differences which lends balance and harmony to the great new sparks of inventive ideas that stream through Aquarians. Leo with its heart forms the centralizing fire out of which Aquarius can diffuse its myriad thought-forms into a complex whole which is ever re-newing itself in the dance of life. When an Aquarian individual or nation is coming from its heart its ideas will automatically allow for differences and thus cooperation will result with others in a harmonious whole where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Without the heart element, coldness detaches the ideas from feelings and polarization ensues in an ‘I am right, you are wrong, and right gives me license to might’ kind of mind-set.
Co-rulers Saturn and Uranus
The paradoxical nature of Aquarius is readily understood when you delve more deeply into the meaning of the two ruling planets of the sign, Uranus and Saturn. Uranus, or Oeuranos, the ‘Sky-God’ was conceived and birthed by Gaia, the Earth Mother herself. This view of creation is held by many cultures through-out the world. Out of the enormous mystery of the life-force comes the world of ideas, of mind, rather than the other way around. Uranus, in his great desire to advance his multitude of ideas, creatively impregnated his mother again and again ‘by making a fertile rain to fall upon her genitals’. The many children resulting from these unions became the Cyclops and the Titans. The Cyclops were highly primitive with raw instincts, while the Titans were full of ambition. Uranus didn’t particularly like either broods of children once they took form, so he exiled the Cyclops and deprived the Titans of their power.
One of the Titans birthed was Saturn, actually considered the classic ruler of Aquarius. Saturn was aligned with his Earth mother and not too fond of abstractions, so he plotted against his father and eventually managed to cut off his testicles with his Scythe. What a messy conflict between father and son!
Yet we can see this conflict emerge in both the individual Aquarian and in the collective issues of Aquarius as well. In the individual it can manifest initially as high idealism with a multitude of ideas that seek embodiment. Once they take greater ‘form’ such as a system of philosophy or the formulation of a career path they can become like Saturn and castrate any further creative sparks from entering the field. But this could be said of the aging process in general that it tends to rigidify the youthful aspirations once so free and experimental into a fixed pattern of habits and mind-sets in the elder mind.
In the collective we see this conflict in the radical new youthful movements that seek change and are ‘father’ to the next social wave, but are often squashed or cut-off by the status quo, the very elders who were once themselves rebellious youth. Both Uranus and Saturn will hold tightly to their positions of power, for without these positions they both feel useless and inadequate. With the discovery of Uranus in 1781 we have seen the rapid acceleration of collective change as one form after another gets shattered, yet we also have seen the Saturnian entrenchment of power get more ruthless in its efforts to render impotent any new wave of change that would upset the status quo politically or economically, which are earth-related forms.
Within this sign is a fierce battle between radical change and social conformity. Some Aquarians definitely fit the more Uranian model. These are the individuals who are the inventors, the ideologists, and the artists with radical new ideas that shake up and attempt to revolutionize the old ways and patterns. These strong individualists remain highly fixed in their stand against the status quo in order that change may occur.
Other Aquarians fall into the more Saturnian model. They may take highly conservative stands, yet hold Uranian charisma over the population such as Ronald Reagan did. He even used astrology to further his career and hold his own whilst maintaining a strict allegiance to the status quo. Abraham Lincoln was more of a free-thinker and desired greater social reform while bearing a highly Saturnian persona and melancholic attitude.
In order to ascertain what type of Aquarian you are, or those you are in relationship with, it’s important to look at the strength of the planets Uranus and Saturn in the Aquarian’s birth map. Which one is stronger?
Sometimes you’ll find a chart with Saturn squaring Uranus or opposing it. This symbolizes a real war within the person who bears it between ‘law and order’ and complete, radical change, and/or the desire for freedom. In the myth, it was Aphrodite that arose from the sea out of the severed genitals of Oeuranos. Only through love can this conflict really be resolved it would seem, for change doesn’t always bring a ‘better form’, and forms are constantly giving way to change. Learning to accept the form of an idea as less than perfect, and learning to embrace new ideas and change comes when one values them both.
The Promethean Myth
Prometheus is considered a fitting archetype for Aquarius because he devoted himself in great service to humankind. He was a grandson of Uranus and a Titan, therefore archetypally an extension of Uranus. One version of the story is that he molded humans out of clay. The great and powerful Zeus didn’t really like these little humans, but begrudgingly allowed them to remain alive as long as they were kept ignorant. Prometheus must have been both mischievous and rebellious because he tried to secretly teach these humans a thing or two. When Zeus found out, he got angry and denied further fire to Prometheus. Prometheus was a lot like the ‘sorcerers apprentice’ in that he wanted to bestow the magic of light and knowledge upon humanity without fully learning his own lessons first, so he stole the fire, gave it to those ‘ignorant humans’ and then learned the full wrath of Zeus by getting chained to a rock on Mt. Caucasus where either an eagle or a vulture would descend daily to peck and eat his liver out only to have it healed during the night so that the next day the tortuous experience was repeated.
How often have we seen ‘Promethean’ inventors give us humans the ‘fire of the gods’ only to regret it immensely when the light and knowledge gets abused? The fire I’m thinking of is nuclear energy. I remember writing a paper for my physics class in college on Madame Currie and her husband. Their work with Uranium brought grave consequences to them both in the ensuing years of their lives. She ultimately died from the poisoning as have future generations from the destructive nature of the atomic bomb and subsequent weapons of mass destruction.
Pandora’s Box and the Shadow of Aquarius
Prometheus’ action in stealing the forbidden fire and giving it to humans not ready to know how to handle it, so incredibly angered Zeus that he gave Hephaestus, the smith-god, instructions to create Pandora and ‘her box’. Oh boy! She was told NOT to open the box. Of course Zeus was certain that she would disobey his command, and of course she did. Once she opened the box all sorts of vile and pestilent ills were unleashed on humankind. That Aquarian penchant to ‘know it all’, to seek total illumination and knowledge brought with it a lot of misery and pain, however there was one thing left in the box once everything nasty was loose. The one thing left was HOPE. When humanity works with the hope for a better world in its quest for knowledge and illumination it does have the ability to cast out darkness, fear, and ignorance.
Like all the fixed signs with their need for absolutes and absolute control, Aquarius must bring its own shadow of the desire for Omniscience into balance with a good healthy dose of humility in the presence of mysteries which it can not completely fathom. There is always more to know. The amazing discoveries since 1781 and the religion of science that has replaced alleged superstitions today are still often ill-equipped to deal with the emotional immaturity of humankind in handling the power of its inventions, and the ability to ‘play with fire’ has brought more misery and pain than ever imagined. Are humans really able to ‘be like the Gods’ or is the mystery of life still beyond our complete comprehension? These are Aquarian dilemmas that take on enormous shadow-like consequences when there is no awareness of something bigger and more all-powerful and knowing that is ‘non-human’.
The immortal god Chiron lends a note of salvation to Prometheus and his dilemma. Chiron, whose story has been told elsewhere on this blog, sought spiritual release from his own physical torment and was willing to trade places with Prometheus. In doing so he became mortal and Prometheus became ‘unbound’. Freedom of thought and speech should be a human right so long as they respect others rights as well, including non-sentient beings in my book. Chiron has also been said to be the rainbow bridge (Barbara Hand Clow) between the world of form, as represented by Saturn, and cosmic consciousness, as represented by Uranus. Now that we have Chiron, discovered in 1977, in our consciousness, we have a way of bridging different dimensions and healing further the splits in our consciousness that keep us chained to old destructive ways of being.
The Story of Ganymede
Another quite lovely Aquarian story brings us to a better place of harmony. Ganymede was a handsome Trojan shepherd boy who caught the eye of Zeus. Aquarians are often quite comely and exude certain innocence in their willingness to be of help and serve others.
Zeus swept down in the shape of an eagle and carried Ganymede away to Mt. Olympus to become the cupbearer of the gods. What a dream! To be swept away to such a high and lofty place is often what the Aquarian desires. The hydrokhoos or water-pot that Ganymede bore was filled with a divine substance, nectar of immortality which the gods drank. And by reason of his being allowed to serve, he too became an equal to the gods as well as a bringer of life to them. What was this substance that was so desirable and necessary? It was truth. This is the life-giving drink that Aquarius seeks, truth. Truth is good medicine indeed.
The Glyph of Aquarius
These two parallel wavy lines to the ancients represented the fecundating waters. To the Egyptians, Hapi, the god of the Nile, was depicted as pouring forth the water of life from 2 vases. This water-bearer symbol represented also the vital spiritual power which renews and fertilizes all life.
In modern-day astrology this glyph can also represent electro-magnetic waves as a vital source of cosmic energy. Such intoxicating energy has helped to bring into being our technological age where invention after invention in the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology has reshaped our world. We are now living what Aquarian science-fiction writers dreamed of in this man-plays god era. Aquarius and its symbolism illustrate how the archetypes of the collective unconscious do change.
In Aquarius Part II I’ll take a look at the Constellation of Aquarius, Aquarius in Relationships, and some famous Aquarians.