Aquarius has always been linked with Ganymede, who was the first mortal to become immortal. He was taken to Mount Olympus to become ‘Cup Bearer’ for the gods. This was a privilege that had never been given to a mortal before. When we see a symbol for the Sign of Aquarius, we see a ‘water bearer’. This is in fact Ganymede, pouring nectar for the gods. So what exulted deed did Ganymede perform, that earned him such an honour? He did nothing, it was his beauty. Ganymede was the son of Tros, King of Troy. He was said to be the most beautiful youth in the world and even Zeus, the most heterosexual of all the gods, fell for his charms. Some say that Zeus took Ganymede to Olympus as an eagle for sexual reasons, others that all the Gods were smitten with his looks. In any case, he upsurged the previous cup bearer Hebe, daughter of Hera, Zeus’ long suffering wife. They fought about this until Zeus ended the argument by taking Ganymede up into the heavens, where he stayed.
In modern astrology, Aquarius rules the 11th House, which is said to be that of ‘Hopes and Wishes’ and also ‘Ideals and Aspirations’. Where that comes from is that the glyph for Aquarius, which looks like two squiggly lines, is the Egyptian Sign for ‘water above and below’. Therefore, Aquarius is said to symbolise the realm where the invisible waters of heaven pour down onto mankind, in the same way that a soul is poured into a human body. What is ‘above’ is immortal and what comes from ‘below’ is mortal and the water of Aquarius are said to transcend both, just as Ganymede did. When we tap into this flow our ideals, thoughts, hopes and wishes flow up into the heavens where the Gods can look on them favourably.
Because Ganymede was the first mortal to gain immortality, he was the first man to understand the waters above and bring them down to Earth, for us to understand. This is the modern notion of ‘ideals’. The Constellation of Aquarius lays West of Pisces, is one of the oldest of the constellations and ever since ancient Babylonian times has been depicted as a man or boy carrying a jug or urn, from which he pours water or liquid of some kind. Water carrying was an important occupation in ancient times. When visitors arrived they were offered water to refresh themselves. It was done, not in servitude, but out of respect and hospitality. Water carriers or cup bearers also waited on banquet tables on Earth and in the celestial realm. They had to be trustworthy, as they were often privy to confidential information. In the case of Ganymedes, he was privy to the conversations taking place between the gods and goddesses, as they discussed their plans for mankind. He was often called on to carry information and instructions from one god to another or to fly down over the Earth in the form of an Eagle and bring back information.
Some say that the Aquarian urn is the cauldron of Cerridwen, a Celtic goddess. One sip from this cauldron was said to provide you with infinite knowledge and the power of prophecy. The Egyptians associated their god Nut with this constellation and saw it as milk pouring from her breasts and the waters from her womb. In Hebrew, it was Delilah (Her Water pitcher). Aquarius and Ganymede have been seen as one in the same entity and together, they are seen to bring life giving rain to the earth. Aquarius is the central figure in a part of the sky that the ancients called ‘The Sea’, in fact it was said that Aquarius ruled this sea. In this great celestial ocean we find Capricornus the ‘Sea Goat’, Cetus ‘The Whale’, Delphinus the ‘Dolphin’, Eridanus, the ‘Great River’, Hydra the ‘Water Snake’, Pisces ‘the Fishes’ and the ‘Southern Fish’ – all members of the Water element. Along with others, these make up a part of the sky that is called the ‘Upper Waters’, which is said to be the source of all life. It is through this region that the Sun passes through during in the rainy season of each year.
The Babylonians also called this ‘the Sea’ and saw it as populated by ocean creatures such as the Dolphin, Water Goat and the Fishes. Again they saw Aquarius as being in control. In another link to the number ‘11’, the 11th month of each year was called ‘Shabatu’ or ‘Curse Rain’ (January/February each year in ancient northern hemisphere times). Even in the bible the epic account of the great Deluge (which features in the myths of every civilisation) is in the 11th Book. In fact, each of the books of the old bible relate numerically to the zodiac Signs, Aquarius being the 11th Sign of the zodiac. February, the month that the Sun spends most of its time in Aquarius, comes from the word ‘februare’, which means ‘to cleanse’. In ancient times this was the time of year that people cleaned their houses, farms and barns after the long, dark winter, in what we now refer to as spring cleaning.
Uranus is the third largest planet in the solar system and the seventh planet out from the Sun. Although there is some indication that the ancients were aware of its existence, it wasn't officially discovered or named until the 13th March 1781, by William Herschel. Actually ‘discover’ is too strong a word. The more correct word would be ‘confirmed’. Almost a hundred years before, in 1690, after mapping and noting Uranus' movements, John Flamsteed catalogued it as ‘34 Tauri’. In fact, he even named it the ‘Georgium Sidus’ (Georgian Planet) after his patron, King George III of England. However, it was thought to be a star, not a planet. So although it had been observed, Uranus wasn’t recognised as a planet until 1781. Even then it took almost 70 years to give the planet a name. It was Bode, whose infamous ‘Bode's Law’ later led to the discovery of Pluto, who proposed that even though this was the first planet to be named since ancient times, its name should conform to classical mythology and be in keeping with the rest of the planets. So, in 1850 the first of the modern planets was was named Uranus and given rulership of Aquarius by Astrologers.
Aquarius, as a Sign, is known for its non conformity. Uranus itself shows the same traits. While most of the planets spin on an axis that is almost perpendicular, Uranus’ axis is almost parallel to the ecliptic. When ‘Voyager’ passed by Uranus, its south pole was pointed almost directly at the Sun. Where on Earth the Sun shines into the equatorial regions, or the equator, on Uranus it’s the other way round, with the poles getting more light and the equator less. Trust Uranus not to conform! Even then scientists can’t decide which is the North Pole and which is the South Pole.
Uranus is made up of mainly rock and ice. In contrast to Jupiter and Saturn that are comprised of mainly hydrogen gas, Uranus has only 15% hydrogen. Uranus and Neptune have huge liquid metallic hydrogen blankets, but they don't have the rocky core that Jupiter and Saturn have. Uranus has an unusual feature. It changes colour, depending on the season and the direction the Sun is shining from. By 2007 the Sun was be directly over Uranus’ equator, bringing out spectacular colours. Even in its every day colours it’s a beautiful blue planet. It gets its colour because the methane in the atmosphere absorbs all the red light, leaving just the blue. We can’t actually see Uranus’ surface, as it’s covered in methane cloud, but if we could, we would see coloured bands, much like Jupiter. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has rings, but unlike Saturn they’re not as visible. So far as we know there are at least 10 small and 5 large moons.
Uranus is sometimes visible to the naked eye as a small, unblinking light, on a very clear night. You’ll need to know where to look, but you can see it, even with a pair of binoculars. The discovery of Uranus was the first of the 'modern planets' and as such, it came to embody the spirit of the time that it was discovered, especially modern inventions and discoveries. Aquarius/Uranus energy is said to be forward looking, has a dislike of tradition and encourages originality, individuality and unorthodox ideas. It’s also associated with discoveries, technology, inventions and anything that is progressive. When Uranus was discovered these were all aspects of the time. In the 18th Century there was massive technological advancements and this was the age of the Industrial Revolution. Just prior to Uranus' discovery, unless you were upper class you had very few choices in life and you lived in servitude. That all changed during that time as literally ‘new worlds’ were being discovered. Colonisation was taking place around the globe and ordinary, everyday people people left the United Kingdom and Europe, all the old countries and left for the new countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was a time of individuality and revolution. We saw the French Revolution and the American Revolution as well as the Industrial Revolution during the time that Uranus was discovered. It was a time of discovery and enormous technological advancement. Even the invention of the telescope made Uranus’s discovery possible. These are all Aquarian qualities.
Uranus was named after the Greek god of the same name. Uranus features in Capricorn's story, as the father of Cronus, the god behind of Saturn and Capricorn. Uranus was the earliest male god, taking part in creation itself. Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth) mated and their children populated the Earth. Some ‘creation myths’ say that Gaia gave birth to Uranus while she slept, so Uranus is seen as both the husband and son of Gaia. Gaia, or Mother Earth, laid out all the land but it was barren until Uranus poured down his water upon the land and gave it life and everything began to grow. As his water continued to pour, it formed the rivers, lakes and oceans where all life began. To the ancients, Uranus was the Heaven, giver of all life and Supreme God. It was his offspring that all the races that follow, would come from. Uranus was the common ancestor of us all, the original 'Adam'. As each of Uranus and Gaia’s children was born, because they were made of flesh, they repulsed him. He couldn’t bear to look at them so he banished them to the Underworld. It was said that the Underworld was so deep; that a rock dropped would take 9 days to reach the bottom. By the time Gaia gave birth to her 7th child, Cronus, her anger and resentment had grown to such a point that she urged Cronus to take a flint blade that she had fashioned into a scythe and murder Uranus. He did this by cutting off his genitals and throwing them into the ocean. But in doing so, drops of blood fell on the land and even from those drops of blood, more offspring sprang, including the ‘Furies’. His children by Gaia, the Titans, ruled for thousands of years, in what was the Golden Age of Man.
Aquarius is the middle of the three Winter Signs, so is therefore a Fixed Sign. When the Sun moved through Aquarius in ancient northern hemisphere time it was the coldest time of the year. Cold winds and rain sweep the land, so people stayed indoors. However, as the earth reaches its darkest point, it holds the promise of future life. Underneath the ground, the roots are starting to prepare for new life. At this time of year everything in nature had to be self sufficient. Man, beast and nature itself had to focus on itself. Aquarius is a Sign of individuality and of looking to the future. The past has gone in exactly the same way as the old year has gone and Aquarian energy can only look to what is happening now and what will come in the future. With activity limited at the time of year Aquarius ruled in ancient times and with Aquarius being an Air Sign, it was a time to discuss ideas, plans and ideals for the future.
Nothing practical could be done, but it is a time to give birth to ideas. It was a time when innovations and inventions were devised. During the darkest part of winter, the light comes from within. Anything that didn’t serve them would show itself and would be noted for correction in the coming spring. One of the greatest qualities of Aquarian energy is independence and it’s during the middle month of the Winter triad that life itself is developing a real sense of independence.
In Aquarius we find an energy that is ‘above’ all the other Signs. This is an Air Sign, but unlike fellow Air Signs Gemini and Libra, this is energy that goes beyond the individual, to encompass humanity itself. Just as Ganymede was able to transcend the earthly realm and enter the domain of the Gods, so can Aquarian energy. The water Ganymede pours flows ‘above’ and ‘below’. In the form of Aquilia (Zeus’ eagle), he was able to fly above the earth and observe mankind from above, yet he was also mortal. Aquarian energy lifts above the mortal realm and the drudgery of daily life and taps into something higher. Therefore, Aquarius energy is always on the cutting edge, able to see further into the future and to greater heights, seeing above what's immediately in front and above the mundane.
Aquarius is a Sign that is forward thinking, it is non conformist, balks at tradition and celebrates originality and individuality. It will rebel against repression of the human spirit, just as the time in which Uranus was discovered did. As ‘Cup bearer’ to the gods Ganymedes role was also to pass on information. Zeus often sent him out in eagle form to bring back information. Thus Aquarius, as an Air Sign, is more exulted. Aquarian energy is often concerned about the plight of humanity. When people stage protests or speak out against oppression, they are tapping into Aquarian energy. Where other Signs may see what ‘is’, Aquarian energy sees what ‘can be’. As the middle of the three Winter Signs Aquarius is a sign that has to be independent. This is not a time of year for activity, but of discovering ideals and ideas for the future. Aquarius is always looking forward, but on a higher plane than mere survival. Uranus himself gave life to all mankind, life that continued long after he was gone. Aquarius energy wants to develop concepts that will create a better future and live on. Aquarian eyes are both on the future and on a higher realm.