This is the second of two posts, in which I am examining how the meaning we attribute to the astrology signs has changed through time, and I am focusing on the sign Aquarius for my example. In the previous post, I looked at the meaning of Aquarius in various astrology writers, reaching up to around the 1920’s.
In the earlier meanings, going back to late 19th and early 20th century, the influence of Saturn as sign ruler dominated the characteristics, along with elements of meaning taken from the eleventh house. By the time you get to Charles Carter, there is an increase in Uranian overtones to the meaning given to Aquarius, with the shift of focus to Uranus as sign ruler rather than Saturn,
We will now examine some writing from a major astrology teacher from the mid twentieth century.
Margaret Hone’s main astrology text dates from the 1950’s. She was a student of Charles Carter, and she was a very influential astrology teacher in England in the mid 20th Century. Her main book, A Modern Textbook of Astrology, is a classic and is still worth reading.
Much of her description of the sign Aquarius is either a paraphrase or direct quote of Carter’s writing. However, in with that, we have these interesting statements.
He is freedom-loving and perverse and original and independent, as compared with the so-called normal individual…
The objectives will be out of the ordinary, studies will be of the unusual, frequently of the very old or very new.
Overstress or misuse of these traits will produce a rebel from everything, a person whose fixed idea is that the customary is wrong and that his ideas for drastic alteration are what the world should accept.
Notice how very much more Uranian this is! I am pretty sure Hone thought of her work as very much in line with her teacher Carter, and yet we have a whole new element being emphasized here, based on the continued association of Aquarius with its modern ruler Uranus. The 11th house influence is still there, but the Saturnine influence of the description is less consistent.
If you get used to thinking of Aquarius and Uranus together, their meanings will start to mix. Stop thinking of Saturn and Aquarius together, and that set of associations will fade.
With Steven Forrest we are looking at contemporary astrology. His classic beginner’s text, The Inner Sky, published in the 1970’s, set the basic framework of meaning for thousands of modern astrologers. It is humanistic, psychological, spiritual, and optimistic. He defines each planet in terms of a core idea or focus.
This is from his description of the sign Aquarius, describing the core or essence of the meaning of the sign. I emphasize the entire quote here.
Freedom – that is the Aquarian endpoint. What is it? Individuality. The ability to choose our own path.
And she must willingly accept her destiny: that of the exile, forever ordained to be out of synch with the values and motivations of her community.
Notice here that the Saturnine tone is completely gone, and the Uranian tone is now completely definitive. Notice also that the Uranian streak is so strong that it is set in tension with 11th house community values!
The meanings of 11th house and Aquarius are now in tension with each other, and one modern astrologer, Jeff Green, expressed this contradiction when he described an Aquarian as “a community of one” . That is the kind of mental strategy you need, to be able to take opposite meanings and view them as an identity.
I suspect that many modern astrologers are so used to this built-in contradiction between the meanings of Uranus and that of the 11th house that it is no longer noticed.
The primary meaning of Aquarius is now predominantly Uranian, with the mix of a fixed air sign, plus some of the heritage of the 11th house meanings. The Saturnine influence is nowhere to be seen since Saturn does not rule this sign in modern astrology.
Since modern astrologers no longer associate Saturn with Aquarius, the Saturnine meanings have fallen away. Since modern astrologers are used to associating or equating Uranus and Aquarius, the Uranian influence dominates.
Mark Jones is a modern practitioner of Evolutionary Astrology. In developing this material Jones credits the influence of an earlier book by his teacher, Jeffrey Wolf Green, titled Uranus: Freedom from the Known.
Jones’ main astrology text is titled Healing the Soul, and that identifies his primary metaphor. He is a psychoanalyst, and his astrology work is in that context.
Chapter 3 of his book is titled, Uranus: Identifying and Healing Trauma.
Again the emphasis is mine in the following quote.
This chapter “considers the critical importance of the Uranian archetype regarding the issues of trauma and liberation.”
Uranus is explored here as a signature of events within the mental body of the individual. As a higher octave of Mercury, Uranus refers to long-term memory that can contain detailed memories of childhood, intra-uterine and prior-life experiences.
The key to the identification of trauma in Evolutionary Astrology is found in the significance of Uranus, Aquarius and the 11th house.
We are beyond the point of Uranus influencing the meaning of Aquarius or of the 11th house. Here the three are merged in identity, to the point that the meaning of Aquarius and the 11th house has pretty much been swallowed up by the significance Jones gives to Uranus.
The position of Uranus in a chart is a marker for trauma – but so is any planet or house associated with Aquarius, and any planet or sign in the 11th house.
Prior to Evolutionary Astrology there is nothing in astrology tradition which associates trauma with the 11th house or with Aquarius. And yet, this association is a logical conclusion from the starting premises of Evolutionary Astrology, which states that the meaning of the planets, signs and houses are the same, and puts the meaning of astrology within a context of a multi-lifetime journey of spiritual growth and healing.
We have come a very, very long way from that initial description of Aquarius in the text by Raphael in the 1800’s!
I think I have demonstrated my point, that the meanings we associate with the signs of astrology follow logically from how we conceive of the sign rulers, from the signs being associated with corresponding houses, and from the psychological or philosophical framework we assume.
The Signs They Are A-Changin.
While I was working on putting this series of posts together, I found out about this excellent post by Joseph Crane on a similar topic. It is titled, Liberating Uranus and the 11th House – From Each Other. It is well worth reading.