This eleventh sign of the zodiac has had the most complicated history of them all, undergoing everything from a make-over to an identity crisis. Being the modern shaker, Aquarius has gotten himself quite a strange reputation. Aquariuans are often considered to be humanitarians and looking out for their fellow man, however, they are also said to stand out from their fellow man. Often Aquarius is called eccentric and inventive, whereas others would call him crazy and his labors ridiculous. Having been associated with Uranus, Aquarius is considered the odd-ball of the Zodiac, doing things just because he can or just because he wants to, a rebel without a cause, rebelling against whatever strikes his fancy. The textbook Aquarius is the one with the oddly colored hair and refusal to “conform” to whatever it is they feel they are being forced to conform to do. Besides the negativity surrounding Aquarius as the rebel without a cause, there is also a stubbornness involved when it comes to the ideas they oppose. The difficult part about the Sign of Aquarius itself is that it is the living union of traditional and modern astrology, this has pretty much made it a tangled mess of a thing that is mostly indistinguishable from its original, Saturn ruled form.
Aquarius fails to excite by being a dim constellation in a dim part of the sky. However, Aquarius does have a few extra-solar planetary systems in it. Gliese 876 was the first planetary system discovered around a red star and Gliese 849b is the first Jupiter-like planet discovered that was as an appropriate distance from its parent star. 91 Aquarii b is another extra-solar planet discovered that is almost three times the size of Jupiter! Aside from these extra-solar planets, there are several deep sky objects, including three Messier objects (2, 72, and 73) and two planetary nebulae (Saturn and Helix).
Now, it would be impossible have an article about Aquarius and not mention the Age of Aquarius. An astrological age is judged to be when the vernal equinox point takes place within a certain constellation. It was the Age of Aries when the vernal point was in Aries, it is in Pisces now that the vernal point is in Pisces, it will be in Aquarius when the vernal point is in Aquarius, but when will that happen? This is a very good question and can’t really be answered very exactly considering that several experts disagree on the exact time period. For example, Aleister Crowley believes he brought about the Age of Aquarius himself in 1904, whereas astronomers have given proposals like 2060, 2150, 2638, and even others still. There has been a lot of hype that the Age of Aquarius will begin in 2012, it won’t. The vernal point will still be in Pisces at this time, so we will have to wait still longer for it to happen.
In Greek mythology, Aquarius is tied to the youth Ganymede who was so beautiful that Zeus made an executive decision for Ganymede to replace his daughter Hebe as cup-bearer to the gods. Later, Zeus put Ganymede into the sky as the constellation Aquarius under the wing of himself in eagle form as the constellation Aquila. Due to the homosexuality inherent in the myth, Christian writers later translated and amended the myth to reflect the identity of Ganymede – and by extension Aquarius – as being female instead of male. This is why the modern depiction of Aquarius is that of a woman holding the water jar instead of a beautiful young man.
Even though the Greek myth is what we usually think of when we think of Aquarius and Ganymede, there is a strong argument for an Egyptian origin wherein the god Hapi is often depicted as pouring water onto the earth through (you guessed it) a jar.
On the other side of the world, the Japanese have two names for this constellation the first being mizugameza (水瓶座) and the other hoheikyuu (宝瓶宮). I mention the Japanese names for one reason, that being that both names refer specifically to the jar, and not the one pouring it. Mizugameza literally translates to “water jar sign”, and hoheikyuu translates to “treasure jar sign”. It’s interesting to see the shift in focus of another culture, from the person and the service to the gift and container of it. In Chinese astrology, the part of the sky attributed to Aquarius is attributed to Xuan Wu, the Black Tortoise who is associated with the winter and water, among other things.
Concerning Aquarius, Lilly writes: “Is an aerial, hot and moist Sign, of the airy Triplicity, diurnal, sanguine, fixed, rational, human, masculine, the principle house of Saturn, and the house wherein he most rejoices; Western.”
Masculine Signs are characterized by their expression, and Aquarius is no different. Not afraid to speak their minds, Aquarius is very expressive and very much action oriented. The modern reputation of being off-beat and different is also an extreme form of masculine astrological expression, not only does Aquarius express himself, but he does so in a manner that is so easily apparent. However, a more traditional approach to this Signs masculine expression is simply in their will to help and do and the constructive, apparent things they do, as well as being outspoken about it and not afraid to stand up for what they believe in.
Air Signs signify clarity and thought, this is seen in Aquarius by their reasoned logical approach to things. Clarity also speaks of a lack of confusion, and no one likes to be made a fool of or tricked, especially not Aquarius. Nor is he likely to let belief and faith trump logic and fact and history, choosing to judge by precedent as opposed to feeling out a situation. All air signs are warm and moist, and as these are the perfect conditions for growth, so too are air signs considered to be beneficial when it comes to social relations and graces, Aquarius is poplar at parties, and shuns vulgarity and other unpleasant activities and mannerisms. Aquarius also has the ability to distance themselves from their emotions. On the one hand it gives them the ability to go through a logical process uninterrupted by the fallacies of emotion which leads them into an unbiased and fair reasoning, but they also seem to lack that emotion and often come off as cold and unfeeling. This can also be said about Aquarius in love, who is often likely to appear aloof and dispassionate much to their partner’s dismay.
Somewhat echoing the signification of the air sign, Aquarius is also classified as a human sign as it’s one of the few signs of the zodiac that are shown as a human figure. Aquarius is a social idealist and is very heavy on the idea of the brotherhood of man. An all-inclusive group of support and discussion based on social virtues is something of an Aquarian utopia. Combining his objectivity with a sincere interest in humanity, Aquarius makes a great scientist gifted with ingenuity. Perhaps the most rational and humane signs of the zodiac he is the archetype of the social expressions of civility, tact, and logic. Aquarius is popular and polite and is generally the one who cools down the fray after the argument has been heated and turned personal.
Aquarius’s significations also pay homage to a couple of planets. Saturn, the ruler of Aquarius, plays a heavy part in making Aquarius what he is. Saturn’s tendency to run towards detachment runs through the grand majority of Aquarius’s significations. There is also a sort of separation and self-reliance that Saturn puts on Aquarius, which tends to make them seem different or separated from everyone else. This can be good and bad as it leads Aquarius to be who he is free from impressions. Separation from others also runs the risk of being separated from the good people can do for him such as learning from them. Sol being in detriment in this sign is an extremely important point to make as the individual ego is overlooked in favor of the greater good. Aquarius considers the broad vision of others and reaching a goal more important than his own needs and thus shuns unnecessary attention and focus on himself.
Following right on the heels of Sol’s detriment in this sign, the constellation figure is considered a symbol of servitude. The constellation of Aquarius is depicting a young man pouring a large jug of water, this is symbolic of the rainy season which nurtures the land which in turn gives foods to eat. This self-less servitude of a young man carrying a large burden and performing a service necessary to the survival of humanity is ingrained into the symbolism of the selfless, compromising, diplomatic Aquarian. Almost paradoxically, Aquarius is considered a strong sign – one that gives a strong, athletic body and a strength and fortitude of character – due to Saturn being the ruler of the sign.
Aquarius is a fixed sign due to Sol’s tropical passage through this sign taking place in the dead of winter where the coldness and moisture of the season is at its peak. This fixed assignment makes Aquarius steady, resistant, and persistent with amazing powers of focus and concentration. The negative side of a fixed sign is that they are stubborn and willful, unyielding even in the face of fact.
There is, though, sort of an inconsistency in astrological literature regarding the fertility of Aquarius and this has sectioned off into other assumptions. Recently, astrologers who have taken the importance of the metaphorical “brotherhood of man” to Aquarius out of context and coupling it with the homosexual love in the Ganymede myth they have asserted that Aquarius must be a sign inclining towards homosexuality. The better way to see Aquarius would be as an asexual entity as it stresses more on innocence and purity (think aversion to bias) and less on crazy passionate experiences (think Saturnine separation and retention). Aquarius is more likely to find his life’s mate through intellectual compatibility regardless of whatever gender, race, or age that mate may physically be. That’s the lesson of Aquarius.
Moving back on to the subject of fertility Lilly says Aquarius is “without doubt more fruitful than barren”. Regardless of the certainty in Lilly’s voice there is some doubt as both Manilius and Ptolemy (who Lilly is heavily based on) disagree with the English Merlin. Doubtless Lilly is more focused on the fortunate starlore of the constellation and the constellation figure itself, wherein the figure pours water from his urn, bringing forth the rains and promoting growth. On the other hand, Ptolemy and Manilius were more focused on the sign itself and its classifications, as well as the ruler. Obviously, Saturn – the greater malefic – ruling the sign makes for an obvious argument for barrenness, and in truth, this is usually what Lilly uses in his logic for terming a sign fertile or barren (one other exception being Scorpio who is deemed fertile as being a water sign, even if it is ruled by the malefic Mars). Added to it, Manilius says that it’s barren since “men cannot hold seed, or quickly spill it” which I’m sure you all know just what Manilius is suggesting (I always find it funny when the ancients make jokes).
Unfortunately, the modern assignment of Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius has deviated from the traditional views of the sign. There’s an unbelievable amount of exaggeration surrounding his reputation. Uranus’s erratic nature has bled over into the supposed nature of Aquarius, making him emotionally unstable, unnecessarily rebellious, shallowly eccentric, and awkwardly disconnected. While many of the significations of the modern Aquarius do have their basis in the tradition, they are oddly exaggerated to make him seem different from the rest of the signs. Unfortunately, exaggerated hypes of a signs meanings doesn’t make it accurate.
Anatomically, Aquarius rules the legs, shins, and ankles, this includes all injuries and illnesses that afflict that part of the body like gout, sprains, lameness, and rheumatism. The circulation of blood and the purity of the blood supply is also under the Aquarian umbrella. Aquarius is also associated with cramps, bad blood, and varicose veins. As far as places go, Aquarius is rather contradictory. On the one hand, the rulership by Saturn holds sway over wells, quarries, mines, and all places below the ground. However, on the other hand Aquarius as an air sign is significant of places off the ground or higher up like hills, attics, and roofs. More depth is added to this sign, as the sign of the water bearer it is significant of water sources like the mouth of rivers and water faucets.
Before there’s a constellation, there are stars who have had influences and then carried their influences over into the general meaning of the sign. Ptolemy aligns the stars in the shoulders, hands, and face to the nature of Saturn and Mercury, while assigning the opposite set up for the stars in the lower body of the constellation by having their natures be primarily of Mercury and secondary of Saturn. However, the stars in the stream of water are said to be of the nature of Saturn and Jupiter.
Aquarius resides in a very dim part of the sky that has constellations that are ocean-centric, meaning that the constellations in that part of the sky are associated with water (Argo the Ship, Cetus the Whale, Pisces the Fish, etc) due to the wintery wetness that accumulates when the sun is in this part of the sky. The dimness of this area is shown in Aquarius very apparent as the main stars in the constellation have no higher than a 3 score in magnitude.
The two main stars in this constellation are Sadalmelik and Sadalsuud. Both of these stars are located in the shoulders of the waterbearer with Sadalmelik being on his right shoulder and Sadalsuud being on his left. Both of these stars are also significantly fortune stars with Sadalmelik translating to “The King’s Lucky One” and Sadalsuud meaning “Luckiest of the Lucky”. This is mostly due to the associations between this constellation and the water which it pours, refreshing the land.
According to Vivian Robson, the Lunar mansion that begins 2° Aquarius is favorable for medical treatment, freeing prisoners, and for starting voyages, however it is bad for marriage and borrowing and lending money. The second mansion begins at 14° and is favorable for marriage, medical treatment, planting and sowing, is good for beginning war, but hinders the action of the government. The final mansion in Aquarius begins at 27° and is favorable for building, sending messages, beginning lawsuits, traveling, forming friendships and marriages. Though, it is bad for physical exercise.
Dignities and Degree Influences
Saturn rules over this sign as it is farthest removed from Leo, the sign of the Sun. The sun and Saturn are considered enemies in classical astrology wherein one cannot express itself fully in the sign of the other, hence Sol’s detriment in this sign. No planet is exalted or depressed in Aquarius. As a member of the air triangle, Saturn holds dominion as triplicity ruler during the day, and Mercury takes over at night.
0° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Masculine, Deep
1° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Masculine
2° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Masculine
3° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Masculine, Smoky
4° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Masculine
5° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Feminine
6° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Mercury, Feminine, Increasing Fortune
7° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Venus, Feminine
8° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Venus, Feminine, Light
9° Aquarius: Face of Venus, Term of Venus, Feminine
10° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Venus, Feminine
11° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Venus, Feminine, Deep
12° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Venus, Feminine
13° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Feminine
14° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Feminine, Dark
15° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Increasing Fortune
16° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Deep, Increasing Fortune
17° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Lame
18° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Lame
19° Aquarius: Face of Mercury, Term of Jupiter, Masculine, Increasing Fortune
20° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Mars, Masculine, Light
21° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Mars, Feminine, Deep
22° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Mars, Feminine
23° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Mars, Feminine, Deep
24° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Mars, Feminine, Void
25° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Masculine
26° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Masculine
27° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Feminine
28° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Feminine, Deep
29° Aquarius: Face of Luna, Term of Saturn, Feminine, Light
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iVillage. Aquarius: Understanding Your Sun Sign.. <http://www.astrology.com/allaboutyou/sunsigns/aquarius.html>.
Lilly, William. Christian Astrology. : Astrology Classics, 2004.
Ptolemy, Cladius. Tetrabiblos. : Astrology Classics, 2005.
Robson, Vivian. Electional Astrology. : Astrology Classics, 2005.