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Modern Views & Old Associations by Deborah Houlding

who gives to all a helping hand?
but bows his head to no command??
and higher laws doth understand???
inventor, genius, superman -
the Aquarian !!!



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Saturn the
Great Teacher



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Sun's Transit:
20 Jan - 18 Feb

(warm and moist)


Star lore

Aquarius the Waterbearer Aquarius symbol

Personality Traits | Dignified Planets | Typical Features | Traditional Rulerships | Traditional Definitions | Famous Aquarians


Personality Traits

The symbolic emblem of Aquarius is the water bearer, who kneels as he pours forth his offering of water in an act of modest service. Although classified as an air sign according to its elemental qualities, Aquarius is in many ways the forgotten 'water sign', with its name simply meaning 'related to water', and much of its symbolic signification emerging from the water bearer's act of libation. But the free flowing water-symbolism of Aquarius bears no relation to the heavily pregnant ocean of the psyche as portrayed by the signs of the water triplicity; for in libation the Aquarian seeks only to cleanse, illuminate and purify. The ancients envisioned the floods that accompanied the sign's culmination and seasonal passage as periods of refreshment, when the land, newly baptised, was cleansed of sin. The month of February is so-named in honour of the ceremonies of purification that were held during the Sun's passage through Aquarius (Latin: Februa = to purify + arius = pertaining to), with society's attention turned to ritualistic purification of the home, body and soul. In being cleansed, we are made new again, and classical symbolism also captures the element of youth and innocence by identifying the waterbearer as Ganymede, the young boy whose grace and beauty so captivated the heart of Zeus that he stole him away to replace Hebes, the goddess of youth, as his cup bearer.

Thus the imagery of Aquarius dwells upon the cleansing power of water to offer the representation of youth, innocence and purity. Since the elemental division of the zodiac attributes the four primary laws of physics - light, gravity, energy and motion - to the elements of air, earth, fire and water respectively, Aquarius, as an air sign, also signifies light and its natural extension, clarity, through which the sign emphasises leanings towards visibly reasoned logic and lucid expression. Although the act of offering the libation demonstrates the Aquarian need to be of service to others, it also illustrates the active condition of extending out to others what is contained within oneself - the principle of communication by which we identify Aquarians as the transmitters of knowledge. With the noble virtues of modesty and humility fundamental to this sign, Aquarians often appear unassuming and indifferent to attention, yet they are fiercely independent in matters of mind and spirit. They rarely have a hidden agenda and their tendency towards clear-thinking and independent analysis make it almost impossible to beguile them into a position of prejudice. Neither do they take kindly to attempts to pull the wool over their eyes, having no hesitation in speaking out against the common drift wherever belief and assumption tips the scales against logic and fact.

The tendency towards 'detachment' runs like a thread through many of this sign's notable characteristics. On the one hand it gives a remarkable capacity for self-recognition and a crystal-clear reception of universal intelligence. At a spiritual level, it allows pure vision and penetrating perception. On the other, such self-reliant understanding inclines the Aquarian away from the impressions of others, often making them often appear to be a little 'different' and apart from their community. The Aquarian spirit is often characterised by progressive thinking because of their ability to lie comfortably at odds with the norm. On a baser level however, it can lead to a stubborn and rigid maintenance of personal opinion that resists the benefits of learning from others. As a fixed sign, Aquarius offers stability and resistance, but problems can arise wherever wilfulness overrides the basic instinct towards humanitarian service, leading to inflexibility and repression of the spirit. When rightfully employed as a vehicle for free-flowing thought, the principle of fixity applied to air can result in marked powers of concentration and application, and an uncompromising response to mental challenge.

Saturn's traditional rulership of Aquarius further colours this sign with the qualities of detachment, objectivity and restraint. In astrological philosophy, the Sun and Saturn are conceived as enemies, neither able to express itself fully within the other's sign of dignity. The Sun craves attention and when the planetary energies are drawn though the Sun it centres them firmly upon the self. Hence the Sun is said to be 'in detriment' in Aquarius, where the personal ego is subjugated in favour of egalitarian concepts and far-ranging humanitarian concerns. The Aquarian perspective is drawn from a broad angle, and places the vision of the wider perspective above that which it sees from a position of self interest. The spirit of Aquarius is to look beyond the immediate and self-centred, to nurture the interests of progress for collective society and humanity as a whole.

Aquarians are often recognised as social idealists, locked into a quest to pursue their guiding principles of truth, justice, democracy, universal harmony and brotherhood of man. Calm objectivity combined with idealistic vision results in a genuine interest for scientific ingenuity and a natural instinct for fair-mindedness. Known for being one of the most rational and humane signs of the zodiac, Aquarius, in its positive expression, is the archetype for civility, tact, reasoned logic, moderate behaviour and all-round good manners. Traditional sources refer to it as a 'sanguine sign', as all the air signs are, indicating that it is underwritten by healthy attributes of grace, charm and attractiveness, and has no leanings towards crude, violent or unpleasant extremes. Since they tend towards a position of balance, Aquarians are generally seen as popular, polite and sociable members of society. They offer harmonising influences upon groups, especially with their penchant for bringing cool reason to heated debates and thus steering attention away from personal and emotional trysts to communal and intellectual problems that concern and unite us all.

Like all air signs, Aquarians carry the double-edged gift of being able to detach their reason from their emotions, allowing them to rationalise their feelings and override base instincts or lustful passions. This sign has a natural disposition towards assessing everything through reason, so that even where there is an understanding of emotional drives, it is a reasoned understanding, such as one derived from a study of emotional behaviour. An Aquarian may lack the empathetic understanding of those who draw from painful personal experience, but their viewpoint is reliably impartial and unbiased, motivated along a course of action that seeks to be fair and logical.

The problematic side to this quality is that Aquarians often remain slightly detached from deeply emotional experiences, feeling ill-at-ease with intimacy and embarrassed or uncomfortable when they are expected to demonstrate enthused familiarity. In close personal relationships they can seem aloof, dispassionate and stand-offish, particularly to those whose expectations are towards ardent infatuations requiring heavy emotional investment. New lovers are often disappointed to find that the freely expressed charm that radiates in social settings and early acquaintance remains static in intimacy and doesn't develop into passionate expressions of romantic obsession for a love that transcends all reason and boundaries. Thus the Aquarian is often berated for being emotionally 'cool'.

Ancient sources alluded to this element of frigidity by categorising the sign as 'slightly barren' in matters of fertility, and drawing pre-pubescent youth or sexless beings into its symbolic expression. Recent astrologers have made much of 'brotherhood of man' issues to suggest that the sign is relevant in portraying homosexuality, noting that the Ganymede myth is the first insinuation to homosexual love in Greek literature. The suggestion, however, is poorly supported by traditional astrological texts and appears to be a modern contortion of a more reliable Aquarian principle, which is simply that innocence, purity, idealistic love, discretion and moderation are valued above the release of unrestrained passion and unbridled desire; and that the perceived boundaries of gender, race and religion mean very little to an Aquarian, who instinctively responds to intellectual compatibility and searches for soul mates in a place where minds can meet.

The natural inclination towards logic and progressive ideas sets the Aquarian apart for potential to excel in the worlds of teaching, media, philosophy, science and law. The sign is often, very fairly, described as the mark of the scientific innovator, though this should not be taken as suggesting there is any lack of respect for the stability of tradition. Even the most pioneering Aquarian requires a structured framework to support the development of their ideas and draws cohesion from established principles. Aquarius demonstrates a balanced appreciation between the old and the new, a rare paradoxical virtue that allows them to span social and intellectual divisions with ease. Any career path that lies within fields of communication, the engineering of structures (social, personal, scientific, architectural or design), or offers scope for objective re-evaluation, assessment and research is ideal. Aquarians can excel within the arts, but do so best where their imagination is channelled into structure and definition.

The modern association between Aquarius and Uranus has given this sign an exaggerated reputation for being rebellious, anti-social, perverse, eccentric and emotionally unstable. All of these negative forms of behaviour arise as extreme manifestations in individuals that have yet to find their centre. Anyone who is naturally inclined to care about the interests of social welfare will face their shadow in a world of political frustration where they are confronted with the mirror of their own anger and disappointment. Uranus sits comfortably within the theme of Aquarius in issues of detachment and mental separation, but the intrinsically destructive nature of that planet undermines the fact that Aquarius is regarded as a fortunate sign that rarely offers hostile conditions unless the planets within it are afflicted and heavily debilitated. Whilst some degree of separation from the group is a natural and healthy Aquarian trait, social isolation is not. Primarily this sign works best when supporting well-reasoned theoretical reform rather than violent civil disruption, leaving aggression aside in favour of its polished weapons of diplomacy, logic and tactful gathering of public support.

Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Aquarius:
Saturn   by sign and in diurnal charts as daytime triplicity ruler. (Modern astrologers have assigned the outer planet Uranus as a co-ruler for Aquarius but this is disregarded in traditional techniques that require use of the full dignity scheme).
Mercury  in nocturnal charts as night-time triplicity ruler.

Planets Debilitated in Aquarius:
Sun  by detriment

More on planetary dignities and debilities 

Typical Features

Aquarius gives a strong, sturdy and well composed body. Though lacking in height, the face is often long and the bone structure prominent. The complexion is generally fair and clear. Typically, it gives hazel eyes, an honest disposition and sandy or dark flaxen hair.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All air signs relate to the west. Aquarius relates to west by north.
Anatomy:  Aquarius governs the shins and ankles and through its rulership by Saturn, relates generally to the bones, teeth, joints and skeletal structure. As an air sign it has some rulership over circulation of the blood and breath.
Illnesses:  All injuries and diseases affecting the legs, shins and ankles including lameness, rheumatism and gout. Sprains and fractures affecting the joints. Aquarius is associated with the circulation of the blood and, where afflicted, can indicate problems that arise from poor circulation or an impure blood supply. It is particularly associated with cramps and varicose veins and may be significant in the contributory factors of heart disease.
Places:  Aquarius, like Capricorn has general rulership over deep wells, quarries, mines and places that are involved in the extraction of minerals from the earth. Under the traditional rulership of Saturn, it also has signification over land that has recently been dug.

As an air sign, Aquarius relates to places that are high off the ground or above the general eye line. Outside it signifies hills, or land that is uneven or with an eccentric skyline. In the 19th century it was given signification over aviation, aeronautic experiments and apparatus that relates that. In houses it signifies the roof, attic rooms, eaves, or places towards the upper part of the house or a specific room.

As the sign of the waterbearer, it is also descriptive of locations near natural or manmade sources of water supply, fountains or springs. It is traditionally said to signify vineyards 'or places near a little spring or conduit head'. Inside the house this would include taps, showers and may extend to places where all power supplies emerge.
Countries & cities:   Include Russia, Denmark, lower Sweden, modern Central Asia, Northern Iran, Arabia, Croatia, Southern Romania, Westphalia, Hamburg, Bremen and Ingolstadt in Germany, Pesario and Trent in Italy.
Colours  Associated with etherial blue, and sky colours.
Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its traditional association with Saturn, Aquarius has affinity with lead, diamonds, sapphires, lapis lazuli and all ordinary common stones that are not polished. It also has a particular relationship to marble.

Traditional Rulerships of Saturn 

Traditional Definitions:

Humane:  Humane signs are those represented by human figures. They are renown for their social graces and intellectual skills. They are also referred to as 'manly', 'rational' or 'courteous' signs. They include Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius.

Famous Aquarians:

Germaine Greer
Born: 19 Jan 1939
  View data, chart & notes
Abraham Lincoln
Born: 12 Feb 1809
  View data, chart & notes
Oprah Winfrey
Born: 29 Jan 1954
  View data, chart & notes
Bob Marley
Born: 6 Feb 1945
  View data, chart & notes
James Dean
Born: 8 Feb 1931
  View chart
Wolfgang Mozart
Born: 27 Jan 1756
  View chart
Evangeline Adams
Born: 8 Feb 1868
  View chart
Charles Darwin
Born: 12 Feb 1809
  View chart

Saturn the Great Teacher 

Constellation mythology and star lore of Aquarius 

© Deborah Houlding, January 2004.

The Zodiac
Aspect Meanings in the Birth Chart