Saturday, January 11, 2014


I was watching an interview with James Hillman, the archetypal psychologist. And he was saying how important it is to have a ‘wonky’ friend, the friend who can’t do normal, who can’t make his life work like everyone else can. This friend releases us from the pressure of being straight. He pointed out also how the ‘odd’ uncle can have this effect, he lodges in your mind as a kid.

Grayson Perry
This is a very Aquarian theme. Aquarius is classically someone who is both very involved with groups of people, yet is always on the outside looking in, having his or her own critical take on the group. The Aquarian wants to belong, yet does not want to follow the rules that belonging requires, may not even notice those rules.

Aquarians are the free spirits of the zodiac. Well, not the only ones, the Fire signs don’t do badly in their own way. But Aquarius has this thing about rules. At best it sees the necessity for them for an orderly society, but it also sees how people are often trapped by them: trapped into being straight, into feeling that unless they are like everyone else, they will be an inadequate person, not a person that other people will respect. And this is a big pressure.

Well, for some people it’s a pressure. Others don’t seem to mind so much either way. And one of the functions of Aquarius is to be an example of being free, and in so doing allow others to be free. Of course, some people will look down on you for being different, they will feel better about themselves because they perceive you as inferior, and you just have to live with that, it is one of the prices you pay for being free.

Aquarius grows out of Capricorn, the preceding sign. Adjacent signs do not aspect each other. A bit like signs that are 5 apart, they don’t have anything in common to challenge or flow with the other sign. And yet they do, adjacent signs grow out of each other, beginning with new-born Aries and ending with old-soul Pisces. In the case of Capricorn and Aquarius, there is both a lot in common, as well as mutual incomprehension.

They are both Saturn-ruled, though Aquarius also has its modern ruler Uranus. And being towards the end of the zodiac, their gaze is directed towards the collective. They are both leaders. Capricorn feels a responsibility towards society, to its smooth running and to its traditions and its success in relation to other collectives. Its responsibility is based on the past, on maintaining and building that which has been handed down. Aquarius also feels a responsibility to society, but the emphasis is based more on the future, how things might be, correcting the wrongs and limitations that have been handed down.

To an Aquarian, Capricorn can seem like a dusty old fogey. And to Capricorn, Aquarius can seem like an immature rebel.

I think Aquarius needs to find its peace with institutions without losing that outsider’s ability to critique.

And in finding peace with institutions, with convention, if you like, Aquarius also finds peace within him or herself. And this can take decades. It can be a lifelong task. With Leo being the sign most classically at ease with itself, the opposite sign of Aquarius has claims to be the sign least at ease with itself.

One of the Aquarian fears is that if they conform, they will lose their individuality, they will lose that spark of magic that makes life worth living. But they need to get over that. Because if you can’t also be part of the normal world, your insights are of no use, your benign desire to help the world will come to nothing. And we can see this tension in the 2 rulers of Aquarius, Uranus and Saturn. Uranus, if you like, is afraid that his son Saturn will come along and castrate him, just like he did in the myth.

Aquarians look outward to the world they want to change, and they also tend to live in a world of ideas, which can be held quite rigidly, Aquarius being a fixed sign. The freedom they seek is inner, it is essentially beyond conformity vs rebellion. Aquarius has a powerful feeling nature – they are, after all, the water bearers – but they are not always very aware of it.

Aquarians need to peer inside that urn of water and see their own reflection, the emotions they have that are the same as everybody else’s – it is easy to think of yourself as superior if you are Aquarian - and which therefore give them that sense of belonging. And which will also enable them to come from that inner place, that inner voice that makes you at ease with yourself and gives you the freedom you seek.

All signs of the zodiac are possessed by a god. Or in the case of Aquarius, 2 gods. Our lives are in this sense fated. There is a particular spirit that wants to live through us, and will create the conditions for that to be possible.

So an Aquarian who keeps finding him or herself on the outside, always in that rebellious place: well maybe there is some work to be done, maybe there are issues with authority that come from earlier in life that need a bit of looking at. But maybe that’s just half the story. Maybe that god of Aquarius (and I don’t find Uranus completely convincing in this role) needs us on the outside, rebelling, pissing people off, maybe sometimes with good cause, sometimes we get it wrong, but always stirring the pot, bringing in troublesome ideas from the outside. Who knows what larger purpose the god of Aquarius has in putting us in this awkward place? Who says that it is our purpose to become at ease with who we are? On the deepest level, we can only really be happy if we are serving the gods that have claimed us, and that may mean we spend our whole lives in that awkward Aquarian place, for reasons we might never understand, but would we want it any other way?


Anonymous said...

You helped me to understand my son so much better. He is Aquarius and I am Capricorn. Thank you. - JoAnne

Thomas Gazis said...

Great article Barry! Since you gave us your permission, we will pubblish it in our Greek magazine Astrologiki Pyxida" ("Astrological Compass" - we are striving to keep it orientated towards the cultured astrology) and it will definitely delight our greek readers!

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite post of yours. (Believe me, it's very difficult to choose just one!) As usual, I particularly appreciate the detailed nuances you include. Your explanation around the similarity between Cap & Aquarius (both concerned with responsibility
toward society) greatly deepened my understanding of these two signs. I've always had a difficult time bringing cohesion to their
seemingly drastic different expressions, often feeling like I was missing a major meaning in their expression. --anita

mataharifilms said...

This is all very well Barry old son, but with all this nobility and collective vision how the hell do we Aquarians make any MONEY?

Barry Goddard said...

That's the $64000 question. I think we Aquarians make great hypocrites (as do Virgos), and sometimes we just need to get our hands dirty. Not be above it all.

Moira said...

Barry ~ am linking your article at Google Astrology group, where I am moderating the growth of Uranian discussion about our art. Well-timed thoughts as we cross the Cap' to Aquarius threshold.

Twilight said...

Good thoughts on Aquarius, Mr Goddard. My natal Sun is in that sign, but I don't even care to belong to the Aquarian club - though I do like what it represents, and am not at all unhappy to have some of the signs traits in my nature. I prefer to leave plenty of space for other traits flowing from Moon, rising sign, Mercury, Venus and the rest of our planets. ;-) So, once again, I find myself the outside looking in. Ain't that just typical?

Anonymous said...

two, no three, comments:

first, you are such a wonderful writer as well as astrologer, it is always a pleasure to read you,

I've always associated Prometheus with Aquarius (I'm surrounded by Aquarians in my life...)

finally, PLEASE write about Scorpio as a sun sign... I could use your insight.

all the best, (and how goes the book?)