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 again, the rain-maker of the Zodiac; the cloud bearer, and therefore an Air sign despite the ‘aqua’ in its name…
‘It never rains but it pours.’
As we enter Aquarius again, poised right on the cusp today, 19 January, flooding is on the news here in the UK, Storm Cristophe. I mentioned this possibility, among other things including the US Presidential Inauguration, in a piece written for Ask Astrology 27 December 2020, but that was hardly a great psychic hit, though some years are worse than others.
Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, named after the constellation of Aquarius, recorded by the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy in the 2nd Century AD.
Dates: Vary but typically January 19–February 18
Body: The circulatory system, shins, and ankles.
Tarot Card: The Star (Hope, Vision, Recovery, Equilibrium, Bridging, Searching, Exploration)
Minor Arcana cards the 5, 6 and 7 of Swords.
The figure is unclothed because The Star (Truth) has nothing to hide
From the Earth’s perspective, the Sun now actually passes in front of the constellation of Aquarius from February 17th to March 11th, a month later than the dates associated with its zodiac sign.
However, zodiac constellations are not to be confused with zodiac signs. The dates did used to coincide, but Western (Tropical) astrology is a fixed arithmetic system, and so the dates of the zodiac signs and the constellations after which they were first named have separated over time due to the ‘wobble’ of the Earth – an effect known as precession.
Astronomers who deride astrology on these grounds are not taking into account the basis and history of western (Tropical) astrology as a mathematical, not an astronomical model of the heavens.
Aquarius the Water-Carrier is one of the oldest identified constellations of the Zodiac (meaning that the sun, moon and planets all occasionally or regularly pass within its boundaries) It’s the tenth largest constellation, a big though faint constellation in the southern hemisphere, and it’s appearance is almost universally associated culturally and historically with sky, water and therefore rain.
Aquarius lies in the dark region of the sky called The Sea, containing other ‘watery’ constellations; Pisces (the fish), Eridanus (the river), Cetus (the whale), Capricornus (the Sea-goat), Delphinus (the Dolphin), and Hydra (the Water serpent).
Helped out here by those added lines, you can see the pitcher, pouring out water.
The brightest stars in Aquarius are two yellow super-giants, several times more massive than the Sun; Alpha Aquarii (Sadalmelik) and Beta Aquarii (Sadalsuud) 537 light-years distant.
Sadalsuud is the brightest star in Aquarius, with a mass six times that of the Sun. It’s 2,200 times more luminous than the Sun and its name comes from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-suud, meaning the “luck of lucks.”
Aquarius also contains the Saturn Nebula and the Helix Nebula, the remnants of dying stars, and these are the closest planetary nebulae to Earth, 400 light-years away.
(Talk about The Eye of Sauron)
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 is the Iota Aquariids, peaking August 6th each year.
The constellation of Aquarius is large but faint, complicated and not easy to spot, though it can be seen from almost anywhere on Earth. The best time to see is 9-10 PM in October but you will need a dark sky to pick it out.
History and Mythology
Throughout the whole of human history, arguably the number one danger to Man has been flood, knocking spots even off the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.
Aquarius overhead meant winter rain was coming to the lands of Mesop0tomia. and this meant life itself- but it wasn’t all good news.
The water carrier, the cloud, 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.
The story of Noah’s flood came much later.
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 ‘the curse of rain’.
Aquarius to the Babylonians was the god Ea, or GU.LA , ‘The Great One’ in the Babylonian star catalogues, often shown holding an overflowing vase. During the Early Bronze Age, the appearance of Aquarius or the ‘Way of Ea’, corresponded to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice, when the Babylonians regularly experienced destructive levels of flooding.
In Ancient Egypt, their versionof Aquarius, the god Hapi, God of The Nile, was associated with the annual flood of the Nile when Hapi put his jar into the river, and this marked the beginning of spring, replenishing their farming soil. But their flooding season was June.
Greek mythology describes three floods, the flood of Ogyges, the flood of Deucalion, and the flood of Dardanus. The Ogygian Deluge, they said ended the Silver Age, and the flood of Deucalion ended the First Bronze Age, ‘parting the mountains of Thessaly’.
The ancient Greeks naturally feared fire, and the ever present threat of earthquakes ‘convulsions’ and recorded events where fire and water they happened together (tsunamis)
They believed Aquarius caused a great flood which inundated the Earth during the Bronze Age, of which only Deucalion, son of Prometheus and his wife Pyrrha survived by variously, climbing in a chest and toughing it out, or building a great boat stocked with provisions, just as later in the Old Testament, Noah built his Ark.
Ancient Greeks avoided living near lakes and rivers, it’s thought, for hygiene reasons as well as protection from floods. There are apparently, impressive remains of hydraulic anti-flooding works; dams, walls, and channels in cities and other settlements in the Minoan era, and the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Another very different Greek legend, associated Aquarius with the beautiful Trojan prince, Ganymede, carried off by that arch-sexual predator Zeus (aka The Nonce. Did he never give it a rest?) This time, he disguised himself as an eagle, and Ganymede, like it or not, became his lover and protégé, and the cup-bearer of the Gods.
The ‘Age of Aquarius’
Is it here? What does it mean? What might it portend? There has been a lot of discussion about this, and much excitement surrounding the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius that occurred 21 December 2020.
The Age of Aquarius has become synonymous with a mythical new Golden age of Mankind, but is it? And when was it? Or when will it begin? There is no consensus and no definite answer.
In astrological terms, an age lasts 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).
To know when the age of Aquarius begins, we would need to agree the start date for the previous/present Age of Pisces- but Astronomy and astrology don’t agree on this, even among themselves.
Some, but not all astrologers say the Age of Aquarius is already here, and began in 2012. To arrive at this, they are using the star Regulus, the heart of the Lion in the constellation of Leo as the marker of the ancient border between the constellations Leo and Cancer.
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 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.
The Age of Aquarius denotes or predicts on the one hand the space age, the age of super-technology, and on the other, the age of the human collective, The Brotherhood of Man as opposed to the age of the individual (as in the current Age of Pisces which is associated with the rise of the monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.)
On the horizon in 2021 Space Technology
Saturn and Jupiter conjunct in sci-fi star sign Aquarius on 21 December 2020 prefigured hi-tech space adventures to come during 2021.
Mars is having visitors -us. Oh yes. Put the kettle on, Mars peeps. And we don’t suppose you’ve got any biccies? Sarnies? Cake? No? OK, OK, well, we know we weren’t invited, but you could have just…
Well, never mind. For a month or so, Earth and Mars line up in a way that makes it viable to land a probe. Miss that window, and it would mean waiting two years for the next opportunity.
The United Arab Emirates, China and the United States all launched in July 2020, all three due to arrive during well…soon, starting with NASA’a mission, scheduled to land Thursday 18 February 2021.
NASA is proposing to land its rover, Perseverance in the Jezero crater, an ancient river delta.
China and the United Arab Emirates are sending their own exploration missions to Mars…all due to arrive at the Red Planet in February 2021.
China is sending the Tianwen-1 Rover. After sending a rover to the far side of the moon, this mission is called Tianwen-1, ‘quest for heavenly truth,’ and aims to be the first Mars mission to drop a landing platform, deploy a rover, and send a spacecraft into the planet’s orbit all at once. The rover will be equipped with a radar system that can detect underground pockets of water. It will also help China prepare for its own mission to return a sample from Mars to Earth in the 2030s.
The UAE is sending The Hope Orbiter, the Arab world’s first mission to another planet. The satellite will study the Martian atmosphere.
Russia was planning to send a mission to Mars, as was The European Space Agency, but the Covid pandemic demanded a postponement, and the European Space Agency likewise had to delay the launch of its new Ariane 6 launcher which has since been rescheduled to launch during the second half of 2021.
NASA is also working to return to the Moon – robotically. The Artemis Project is using commercial delivery services to send science investigations and technology demonstrations to the Moon twice per year beginning in 2021.
The Moon in The Space Age
The Moon is a goddess, sacred, mysterious. Humanity needs its mysteries for its happiness and sanity. It needs the inaccessible. This need cannot be measured except by an entire history of story-telling, which says we need stories, that we are hard-wired for this need, and that the effects of what we might call sacrilege, will only become known by its despoiling, negation or denial.
I hope therefore, that humanity is successful in these explorations, but not too successful, for the sake of its ultimate sanity, which is not a co-factor of reason or science, but the immeasurable spirit, which is the divine spark for which there can be no calculation, no formula, no equation.
We need to beware hubris and behave with respect. Or else. Hence, NASA’s Artemis Accords. Well, but who has not yet signed up? Will this be enough? Who gets to be the arbiter, and can anyone claim that right? To plunder the Moon, now garnished with two golf balls hit by Alan Shephard Apollo 14 and here is a partial list of the artificial objects now up there.
The Artemis Accords
With numerous countries and private sector players conducting missions and operations in cislunar space, it’s critical to establish a common set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space.
Via the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, heralding in a new era for space exploration and utilization.
While NASA is leading the Artemis program, international partnerships will play a key role in achieving a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon while preparing to conduct a historic human mission to Mars.
The Artemis Accords will describe a shared vision for principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.
Eight countries have signed up so far, The United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and the US . Other countries have not done so as yet for a variety of reasons, these including Russia, Germany, France and India.
The Moon Agreement of 1979 was an attempt to to prevent commercial exploitation of outer-space resources, but only a few states have ratified it – these have not included the US, China and Russia.
Read more HERE
In 2024, Artemis III will mark humanity’s return to the surface of the Moon – landing astronauts on the lunar South Pole, the next man and the first ever woman.
Meanwhile OSIRIS–REx is currently on a NASA asteroid-study and sample-return mission. The mission’s primary goal has been to obtain a sample of at least 60 g (2.1 oz) from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and it is due to land back on Earth in 2023 with its samples. Bennu is carbonaceous and large enough to be potentially hazardous to Earth. (It won’t hit, says Tarot)
Russia is planning to return to the Moon in 2021, the first moon mission since 1976. Russia’s Roscosmos space agency aims to launch its robotic Luna-25 moon landing craft in October 2021, and has drafted a deal with the U.S. space tourism company Space Adventures to fly two passengers to the International Space Station in 2021.
So. The Age of Aquarius, what will it bring? What is to be expected? Well, what is the story of humanity and what does that tell us? The happiness or otherwise of our collective future depends on the size of our future global population. It took over 2 million years of human history for the world’s population to reach 1 billion, and only another 200 years to reach 7 billion though it is slowing now
‘The world population growth rate declined from 2.2% per year 50 years ago to 1.05% per year’. See SOURCE
The Human Portrait: Aquarius Personality/ Archetype
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, a keynote, but of course it is not and never could be the whole story.
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, prone to dogma, and the freewheeling Aquarian archetype, but all are radically independent in their thinking, often for good, but not always, and even rebellion may become another dogma.
Aquarius is generally kindly, exceedingly humane, refined, civilized and meticulously honourable 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, Aquarius also carries water to cleanse the world of errant thinking and taken to extremes, this represents potential for fundamentalism.
Aquarius represents cerebral thinking, dealing in abstracts, but not necessarily seeing the reality of the individual in front of them. Where they make a false step it may be because they trust to their cerebral process at the expense of their instinct.
Aquarius may be moody or prone to bouts of depression, or sparkle with the brilliance of diamonds, when their chart is warmed by the courage warmth, honour and charisma of their opposite sign, the zodiac counterpart contained within Aquarius – Leo.
Famous Aquarius subjects
- Abraham Lincoln. Ferdinand Magellan. Galileo Galilei. Thomas Edison. Charles Darwin. Frederick Douglass. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Till next time 🙂