Ruler: Saturn (traditional), Uranus (modern)


Detriment: the Sun


Polarity: Masculine/ Positive

Modality: Fixed

Element: Air

Body Parts: nerve impulses, lower leg, calves, ankles, blood & circulation, parathyroid, energy flow of the meridian system, auras & chakras

Nature: hot, moist, nervous, quick, impulsive, electrical

Aquarius represents patterns of energy flow and circulation.

Not that long ago, in a food hall in suburban Sydney, I heard the following conversation between three teenage girls. It went something like:

Girl 1: My boyfriend is an Aquarius and he’s, like, so sensitive.

Girl 2: That’s because Aquarius is a water sign. They’re so emotional.

Girl 3: But I thought it was an Air sign…or something.

Girl 2: Hello…the water bearer? Of course, it’s a water sign.

Girl 3: Oh that’s right. What’s your boyfriend?

Girl 2: He’s a Scorpio, and that’s a fire sign, you know…

What that conversation demonstrated, is just how misunderstood Aquarius is:

  • Aquarius is often mistaken for a water sign- indeed, the squiggly lines that form its glyph look like water- yet it is an Air sign: the squiggles are supposed to be representative of knowledge.
  • It’s archetype, the water-bearer, only adds to the confusion. The pouring of the water is representative of the dissemination of knowledge…or something like that.
  • Aquarius is associated with all that is free and laid-back and future orientated- yet, it is a fixed sign and, like all fixed signs can be known to resist change…especially a change of mind or view. (Did that come out loud?) Aquarius can be stubborn, holding onto an idea long after its sell-by date- just for the sake of “seeing it through”.
  • Aquarius is associated with Uranus and fresh ideas and innovation and rage against the machine- yet its’ traditional ruler is Saturn: the planet of structure, responsibility and conformity.
  • Aquarius has a reputation for seeming cold, detached, aloof and commitment-phobic, yet needs his social networks in order to feel complete
  • At the root of all Aquarian visions is the idea of personal freedom and individuality, yet it’s also representative of like-minded people coming together for a common purpose.

So what, or who is Aquarius?

Aquarius is an air sign, and like all air signs is motivated by ideas and the relationship between ideas and people.

As the opposite to Sun ruled Leo, Aquarius resolutely takes the crown off his head, throws it away and twists the spotlight away from himself to focus on what matters more than himself. We see this every day in freedom fighters, humanitarian aid programs. We see it every time a group of people come together and put their own personalities aside. It’s about more than personal ego.

And what of Aquarius’ rulers? How do they work together? Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, whilst Uranus is the modern ruler. Uranus the quirky, electrical, unpredictable bringer of things to shake us out of our lethargy, and Saturn the mature, responsible builder of structures and boundaries.  How can this be?

Uranus provides the zing, the impulse to think and theorise in a new and innovative, future driven way. Uranus provides the impulse to rebel outside of the conventional structures of society. Without the commitment, maturity and internal structure offered by Saturn, this simply results in anarchy- not revolution.

Anytime a cause or a common belief is able to galvanise a group of people towards action, a structure is needed in order to build real lasting change.

This is how change happens.

Although initially revolutionary, change is constant and evolutionary. Once implemented, it becomes part of the structure of society and conventional. Change for the greater good requires the ability to detach oneself from the ego and the emotions in order to see the bigger picture. It’s when you go too far with this that you meet the Aquarian shadow. Despite his wit, his surface lightness, his apparent sociability, it’s through detachment Aquarius can feel alienated. In order to feel complete, he must also recognise that others are not so able to compartmentalise their feelings or put aside their ego.

Also in the shadow is when you find rebellion for no real reason other than for its own sake. This isn’t progressive or forward thinking or belief orientated- it is destructive.

The challenge for Aquarius is to learn to recognise his own achievements for what they are and remember that although he is part of something bigger, all groups are essentially still comprised of individuals.