Today the Sun enters a new sign: Aquarius. We’ve reached the middle sign of the winter season here in the Northern Hemisphere, one day before the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.
Does that event feel like a fresh, revolutionary beginning to you? Or more like the crystallization of questionable (or disturbing) cultural and political trends from the past year? Interestingly, either sensation could be an accurate illustration of Aquarius.
This is a reflection of Aquarius having two rulers: its traditional ruler is Saturn, and its modern ruler is Uranus. Saturn signifies the force that concretizes and limits. Uranus represents the force that surprises and shatters old forms.
It would be easy to cast one as the "bad guy" and the other as the "good guy." How often have you heard people speak of Saturn transits as ‘hard’, or you’ve had difficulties with authority figures and restrictions? How often have you longed for freedom, or wished that something would come along to shake up systems that no longer work?
Yet neither of these planetary energies is "just bad" or "just good." In fact, we need both forces working together in proportion to live in balance—to grow, to establish clear structures, and then to open them up and grow some more.
Notable astrologer Isabel Hickey published her classic book Astrology: A Cosmic Science back in the early 1970s—when the culturally tumultuous events of the ‘60s were still reverberating, and their impact just becoming clearer. In the section on Aquarius, she says of the dynamic relationship between Uranus and Saturn:
“If we can understand these two energies we will understand what is happening in the world today. Without the responsibility inherent in Saturn the force of Uranus can cause destruction and chaos. Without discipline (Saturn) there can be no real freedom. Freedom without responsibility is license and not liberty.”
“When the Saturn form is shattered it sets the spirit free to function in a greater expanse of consciousness if it will. On the unevolved [person], Uranus can act destructively, for they break out into irresponsible destructive actions and they need a strong sense of the Saturnian common sense to steady them. The unevolved of today are sweeping away old forms of control and of government without possessing the necessary inner self-control to see them safely through this time of transition.”
Does anything in that description seem to apply to cultural trends and governmental events today, despite it originally applying to a time 40 years ago or more? If you’ve been reading Chronogram’s astrology columns for the last few years, you’ve probably seen our current time called “the anti-Sixties” by Eric Francis Copppolino. In many ways, we’re witnessing something like an inversion of some of the cultural revolution of that earlier era.
Astrologically, this is related to the ongoing cycle of Uranus and Pluto. The Sixties were marked by a conjunction of Uranus and Pluto; 2011-2015 featured a square aspect between those two planets. Our current phase of this cycle has brought in another planetary player: Eris. Eris in Aries has been combining with Uranus for the past year-plus to ramp up the surprise factor, the chaos factor, the sense of license rather than liberty, and also the role that digital technology is playing in all of it. So what do we have here, on the eve of the inauguration of a president-elect nobody seems to have seen coming? How you see it will depend on your political leanings -- which really means it depends on your personal view of the world, your understanding of your role in it, and perhaps how you embody responsibility and authority in your life (or don’t).
It also depends on your relationship with compassion, empathy and the greater good. If you’ve heard that song from the musical "Hair"—you know, “The Age of Aquarius”—you know there’s something about this sign that’s supposed to usher in a time of great spiritual unity and humanitarianism. Aquarius has that reputation for a good reason. But like most higher potentials described by astrology, that of Aquarius needs to be consciously activated by the individual in order to manifest in day-to-day actions.
We all have Aquarius somewhere in our chart. We all grapple with the energies of Saturn and Uranus, in both their creative and destructive forms. And when the Sun enters Aquarius at 4:24 pm EST today, you might start to notice that your awareness of these potentials increases.
What you do with those potentials, however, is your choice—tomorrow, and every single day after that.