Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? This month it’s the turn of Aquarius, the cloud, the rain-maker of the Zodiac; and therefore an Air sign despite the ‘aqua’ in its name…
Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the southern constellation of Aquarius, recorded by the Greek astronomer mathematician Ptolemy in the 2nd Century AD.
Dates: 20 Jan- 19 Feb
Element: Air (Air of Water)
Ruling planets: Saturn and Uranus
Body: The circulatory system, shins, and ankles.
Tarot Card: The Star (Hope, Vision, Recovery, Equilibrium, Bridging, Searching)
See ‘the bucket’ pouring out water? In the Turkish and Persian languages, the word for the constellation of Aquarius meant ‘bucket.’
The large, faint, southern constellation of Aquarius lies in a dark region of the sky known as the Sea, which contains other constellations with water-themed names and stories: Pisces (the fish), Eridanus (the river), Cetus (the whale), Capricornus (the Sea-goat), Delphinus (the Dolphin), and Hydra (the Water serpent).
The brightest stars in Aquarius are two yellow super-giants, several times more massive than the Sun; Alpha Aquarii (Sadalmelik) and Beta Aquarii (Sadalsuud) which is 537 light-years distant. Other deep-sky objects include the Aquarius Dwarf Galaxy and the Atoms for Peace Galaxy.
Aquarius contains the Saturn Nebula and the Helix Nebula. These are the remnants of dying stars and are the closest planetary nebulae to Earth, 400 light-years away.
Aquarius is home to at least 3 meteor showers. The Eta Aquariids, 5th and 6th of May, are the strongest with up to 35 meteors per hour, coming from materials shed by Comet Halley as it travels through the solar system. The less active Delta Aquariids peak twice: on the 29th of July and again on the 6th of August. The weakest of the three is the Iota Aquariids, peaking on August 6th each year.
The constellation of Aquarius, though large, is faint, complicated and not easy to spot, but is visible from nearly the entire planet. The best time to see it is 9-10 PM in October, but you will need a dark sky to pick it out.
History and Mythology
Aquarius symbolised the bringing of water to the land, meaning life itself. The water carrier is a benefactor of life but can also be an agent of death, destruction, flood and disease, and the oldest flood stories underpinning the zodiac story of Aquarius arose in the Middle East.
For the Sumerians, Aquarius was a frightening figure. He held the vessel from which a great flood flowed from the heavens onto the earth to ravage the entire planet, while the Babylonians called Aquarius’ appearance in the night sky as ‘the curse of rain’. The Sumerian epic poem of Gilgamesh, dating 21000-2000 BC features a great flood of Noah’s Ark proportions.
The hero of this story, the Sumerian equivalent of Noah, was likewise tipped off by a friendly god as to what the other gods were plotting, and duly built an ark, 6 decks high and loaded it with all his loved ones and every beast he could round up.
The ancient Greeks believed Aquarius caused a great flood which inundated the Earth, of which only Deucalion, son of Prometheus and his wife Pyrrha survived by building a great boat stocked with provisions, just as in the later Old Testament, Noah built his Ark.
The geological record suggests there actually was once such a catastrophic flood, perhaps around 5000 BC and that once again, myth has its roots in a reality of epic proportions.
Article: ABC News: Dec. 10, 2012
“The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood is one of the most famous from the Bible, and now an acclaimed underwater archaeologist thinks he has found proof that the biblical flood was actually based on real events.
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News, Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, talked about his findings. His team is probing the depths of the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey in search of traces of an ancient civilization hidden underwater since the time of Noah.
Ballard’s track record for finding the impossible is well known. In 1985, using a robotic submersible equipped with remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew hunted down the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.
Now Ballard is using even more advanced robotic technology to travel farther back in time. He is on a marine archeological mission that might support the story of Noah. He said some 12,000 years ago, much of the world was covered in ice.
“Where I live in Connecticut was ice a mile above my house, all the way back to the North Pole, about 15 million kilometers, that’s a big ice cube,” he said. “But then it started to melt. We’re talking about the floods of our living history.”
The water from the melting glaciers began to rush toward the world’s oceans, Ballard said, causing floods all around the world.
“The question is, was there a mother of all floods,” Ballard said.
According to a controversial theory proposed by two Columbia University scientists, there really was one in the Black Sea region. They believe that the now-salty Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland, until it was flooded by an enormous wall of water from the rising Mediterranean Sea. The force of the water was two hundred times that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away everything in its path.
Fascinated by the idea, Ballard and his team decided to investigate.
“We went in there to look for the flood,” he said. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.”
Four hundred feet below the surface, they unearthed an ancient shoreline, proof to Ballard that a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, Ballard said he believes they have established a timeline for that catastrophic event, which he estimates happened around 5,000 BC. Some experts believe this was around the time when Noah’s flood could have occurred.
“It probably was a bad day,” Ballard said. “At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under.”
The theory goes on to suggest that the story of this traumatic event, seared into the collective memory of the survivors, was passed down from generation to generation and inspired the biblical account of Noah.”
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The Egyptians associated Aquarius with the God of the Nile. They expected a rainy season this time of years, and welcomed the Nile’s annual floods at this time of year, replenishing their farming soil.
Another very different story, a Greek legend associated Aquarius with the beautiful Trojan boy Ganymede, carried away by that tireless sexual predator Zeus, this time disguised as an eagle, to become his lover and protégé, and the cup-bearer of the Gods. Like it or not.
The Aquarius Personality Archetype
The Fixed Air sign of Aquarius is the eleventh sign in the Zodiac.
There is no such thing in reality as THE Aquarius personality and the same goes for all the zodiac sun signs. Your sun sign is an archetype, dealing in keynotes, but of course it is not and never could be the whole story, and in serious astrology does not claim to be anything of the kind.
Aquarius is ruled by two planets, Saturn, known to the ancients, planet of duty and conformity but also the more recently discovered Uranus, the planet of upheaval and rebellion, and therefore, as you might imagine, this is a sign potentially containing acute paradoxes.
There is on the one hand the authoritarian Aquarian, and on the other the freewheeling Aquarian, but all are famously individualist, some might consider quirky or even eccentric, radically independent in their thinking, often in a good way, but not necessarily.
Aquarius is generally cool but kindly, humane, civilised and meticulous in personal dealings. They set great store on friendship and loyalty, and need to belong and be of service, just as their symbol is the water-bearer or cup-bearer, a person pouring water from an urn.
Although this symbol can be interpreted to imply a destiny to serve others, it may be leadership or dominance disguised as service. Aquarius also carries water to ‘cleanse’ the world of wrong-thinking and taken to extremes, this represents the potential for totalitarian thinking.
Aquarius represents cerebral thinking, dealing in abstracts, but they are not easy to get to know well, and do not necessarily see the reality of the individual in front of them. They may focus on what is owed to them or their rightful cause, rather on reciprocity. Where they make a false step it is because they trust their cerebral process at the expense of their instinct. Their forte is solitude or groups, and they see other’s blind spots, but may struggle to diagnose the source or cause of their own personal relationship difficulties.
Aquarius may be noticeably moody or prone to bouts of depression, or they may sparkle with the brilliance of diamonds, when their chart is grounded and warmed by the charm, courage and charisma of their opposite sign, the zodiac counterpart contained within Aquarius – Leo.
The ‘Age of Aquarius’
It has become synonymous with a mythical new Golden age of Mankind but when was it? Or when will it begin? There is no consensus and no definite answer.
In astrological terms, an age last roughly 2200 years and is identified by the name of the constellation in which the Sun appears in on the first day of spring (the vernal equinox).
Some but not all astrologers say the Age of Aquarius is already here and began in 2012, using the star Regulus, the heart of the Lion in the constellation of Leo as a marker. Regulus moved to within 30 degrees of the September equinox point in 2012. Working with the arithmetical model of constellations as calculated by Ptolemy in the second century AD, this places the border of the constellations Pisces and Aquarius at 150 degrees west of Regulus, or at the March equinox point.
By this reckoning, the Age of Aquarius is already here, and started in 2012.
Alternatively, according to the Belgian astronomer and mathematician Jean Meeus, the sun at the March equinox passed from being in front of the constellation Aries to being in front of the constellation Pisces in 68 B.C.
This would mean that the March equinox will cross over into the constellation Aquarius in 2597 but once again, these are the astronomical, not astrological dates.
Till next time 🙂