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Aquarius (əkwârˈēəs) [Lat.,=water carrier], large constellation located on the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Capricornus and Pisces; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Aquarius is sometimes represented as a man pouring water from a jar. Although it contains no stars of first or second magnitude, it does contain a recurrent nova observed in 1907 and again in 1962. Aquarius reaches its highest point in the evening sky in October.
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(ă-kwair-ee-ŭs) (Water Bearer) An extensive zodiac constellation in the southern hemisphere near Pegasus, the brightest stars being of 3rd magnitude. It contains the planetary nebulae NGC 7293 (the Helix nebula) and NGC 7009 (the Saturn nebula), and the globular clusters M2 (NGC 7089) and M72 (NGC 6981). Abbrev.: Aqr; genitive form: Aquarii; approx. position: RA 22h, dec –10°; area: 980 sq deg.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
Enlarge picture
Aquarius and Capricornus from an 18th-century engraving by Montignot. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Aquarius (from the Latin word Aquarii, meaning “water carrier”), the eleventh sign of the zodiac, is a fixed air sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Uranus (before the outer planets were discovered, it was said to be ruled by Saturn). Its symbol is the water bearer, and its glyph is a pair of wavy lines representing water (resulting in a frequent confusion about Aquarius’s element, which is air rather than water). Aquarius is associated with the shins, ankles, and the circulatory system, and individuals with an Aquarius sun sign are susceptible to sprained ankles, hardening of the arteries, and varicose veins. The key phrase for Aquarius is “I know.”

Like certain other zodiacal signs, Aquarius has been associated with more than one mythical figure. It is most often identified with Ganymede (“cup bearer of the gods”), a beautiful young man who, after being abducted by an eagle sent by Zeus, served as Zeus’s cupbearer. Ganymede was also Zeus’s lover, and was said to have been transformed into the constellation Aquarius.

Cecrops is another mythical figure sometimes associated with Aquarius. Cecrops, half human and half serpent, was a culture hero who, as king of Attica, put an end to human sacrifice (by offering cakes instead of flesh to the gods) and founded a court. He also taught his people writing, the proper manner of burying the dead, and census taking. He is particularly remembered for deciding a contest between Athena and Poseidon in favor of Athena. In anger, Poseidon responded by flooding Attica.

Despite the myth of Ganymede, there is no special connection between Aquarius and homosexuality (Neptune, ruler of Pisces, was the ancient patron of homosexuals). However, Aquarians tend to be eccentric individuals who enjoy working with other people. In line with the story of Cecrops, natives of this sign tend to be humanistic social reformers, with a special aptitude for intellectual pursuits like writing. Also in line with the Cecrops myth, census taking reflects the mathematical and scientific inclinations of Aquarius. While Aquarians are known for being open-minded, they are also unusually argumentative. They tend to avoid emotions by intellectualizing them—symbolically choosing Athena (goddess of intellect) over Poseidon (ruler of water, the symbol of emotion) until they are overwhelmed (flooded).

The sign that the Sun was in at birth is usually the single most important influence on a native’s personality. Thus, when people say they are a certain sign, they are almost always referring to their sun sign. There is a wealth of information available on the characteristics of the zodiacal signs—so much that one book would not be able to contain it all. Sun-sign astrology, which is the kind of astrology found in newspaper columns and popular magazines, has the advantage of simplicity. But this simplicity is purchased at the price of ignoring other astrological influences, such as one’s Moon sign, rising sign, etc. These other influences can substantially modify a person’s basic sun-sign traits. As a consequence, it is the rare individual who is completely typical of her or his sign. The reader should bear this caveat in mind when perusing the following series of sun-sign interpretations.

One traditional way in which astrologers condense information is by summarizing sign and planet traits in lists of words and short phrases called key words or key phrases. The following Aquarius key words are drawn from Manly P. Hall’s Astrological Keywords:

Emotional key words: “The emotional nature is very active but in negative types not very profound; vivacious, excitable, kindly in disposition, well-liked, gentle, altruistic, domestic but changeable, unconventional, temperamental, worrying.”

Mental key words: “Inventive, intellectual, fond of literature and science, diplomatic, tolerant, reasonable, independent, discreet, optimistic, humanitarian, fixed in opinion.”

At present, there are various astrology report programs that contain interpretations of each of the 12 sun signs. A selection of these for Sun in Aquarius has been excerpted below:

You get bored with the status quo and are generally open to whatever is new. An individualist and a free spirit, you find that your friends are important to you—as long as they do not try to tie you down by making too many emotional demands. Remarkably fair-minded when dealing with large groups or broad issues, you are at the same time not always emotionally sensitive to the needs of individuals. Your thoughts are offbeat, and though you’re a bit eccentric, you’re not very changeable. As a matter of fact, you can be quite stubborn at times. Extremely objective, with good powers of observation, you would be qualified to study complicated technical subjects such as science, computers or maybe even astrology. (From “Professional Natal Report.” Courtesy of Astrolabe [].)

You are a freedom-loving, strong-willed, and independent-minded individual, and you insist upon living your own life as you see fit, even if that means ignoring convention and tradition. In personal relationships you cannot be owned or possessed, and while you are willing to share yourself with another, you do not always adjust easily to the emotional give and take of a close relationship. Though intellectually open, you can be enormously stubborn, opinionated, and inflexible on a one-to-one level. You have strong convictions and feelings about fairness and equality, and you try to live by your ideals, but your ideals about how people SHOULD treat one another don’t always take into account human weaknesses, differences, and needs. You probably dislike sentimentality and traditional gender roles and “games.”

You are fair, intelligent, objective, rational and often let your head rule rather than your heart. You seem rather self-sufficient and detached emotionally because you are capable of putting aside your personal feelings and viewing things dispassionately. But once you make up your mind on an issue, you are difficult to sway and can be rather dogmatic.

You think in broad terms and are concerned with the world beyond your own personal sphere—your town, nation, or even planet. You are likely to become involved in community affairs, social organizations, and groups of all kinds, or to have a keen interest in such. You enjoy being part of a group endeavor and often find yourself organizing, managing, or supervising group activities.

Forward-looking and progressive, you harbor great hopes for the future. You stay current and up to date, and respond to contemporary cultural trends, both in terms of personal style and in terms of ideas. When young you were very influenced by your peers and by group pressures and by all the “latest crazes.” You have an experimental mind and are attracted by the novel.

Your strong points include your concern for human welfare and social betterment, your sense of fairness and democratic spirit, and your vision. Your faults are your stubbornness and inflexibility, and a tendency to be very obtuse and insensitive when it comes to personal feelings and human needs. (From “Merlin,” by Gina Ronco and Agnes Nightingale. Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [].)

Aquarius is the sign of geniuses—and criminals. It represents individuation, which is a five-dollar word meaning the process of being yourself. Set against your individuation are all the social forces of conformity. Buy a necktie! Shave your legs! Get hungry at noon! Outwardly, they show up as peer pressures. Inwardly, those forces are more subtle but even more formidable: all the internalized scripts that go with having once been a very little kid learning how to be human from mom, dad, and the television set.

The Aquarian part of you is odd somehow. It doesn’t fit into the social environment, at least not without betraying itself. In this part of your life, the more centered you get, the weirder you’ll seem—to Ann Landers and her crowd. Go for it, and pay the price of alienation or ostracism. It’s high … but not as high as the price of living a life that’s not your own.

With your Sun in Aquarius, the experiences that feed your solar vitality happen to be ones that most people will think are strange. There’s nothing spiritually dead about “normalcy”; it just happens that you’ve come to a point in the soul’s journey in which the path wanders through the cultural and social fringes. Don’t let that stop you! Be yourself, even if doing that annoys every figure of authority for miles around.

Society will try to coerce you into living a life that’s more mainstream than what’s good for you. It will bribe, threaten, cajole, and intimidate you. As though that weren’t enough, it will send spies inside your fortress-walls: people who love you saying, “Please compromise on this! It tears me up to think what’ll happen to you if you don’t!” They’re sincere, but don’t let them sway you. Be yourself. You’re sailing in the thin, high atmosphere of true individuality. And one of the prices you pay is that, sadly, you’ll have to hurt some people to do it. (From “The Sky Within,” by Steven Forrest. Courtesy of Matrix Software ( and Steven Forrest (

Among its several natal programs, Matrix Software created a unique report based on the published works of the early-twentieth-century astrologer Grant Lewi (1901–1952). Lewi’s highly original delineations were recognized as creative and insightful by his contemporaries. One measure of the appeal of his work is that his books Astrology for the Millions and Heaven Knows What are still in print. The following is excerpted from the report program “Heaven Knows What”:

“God must have loved the common people; he made so many of them.”

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.” (Abraham Lincoln, born in Aquarius, February 12, 1809.)

“We face the arduous days that lie ahead in the warm courage of national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the keen satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by young and old alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life. We do not distrust the future of essential Democracy.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, born in Aquarius, January 30, 1882.)

The motivating force behind Aquarius is some form of the gregarious, or herd, instinct. He likes folks. He is sociable. In a higher manifestation, he is social. In a lower manifestation, he thinks that the world— the folks—owe him a living. Any way you look at the Aquarian, and whatever Aquarian you look at, you will find folks at the censor of his attitude. Either he depends on them or they depend on him. The sign can go either way. Whether he is a social reformer, or a hobo, people will be around him; he will be holding them up, or they will be holding him up. He thinks himself a great individualist, and he may be, but you’ll rarely find him alone. Rich or poor, great or small, deep or shallow, he is the life of the party. He may put his mind on the woes of humanity, solve their problems, give his life for theirs in a figurative or literal sense. Or he may fritter away his time in pool halls. But he will always be where there are people, in the flesh or in theory.

His best expression comes when he has hitched his wagon to a star of social work or one of the social professions: invention, medicine, law, politics, architecture, literature, science, music or art with some social application. His worst expression is going places and doing things to no purpose. Some prime examples of wasted talents come in this sign—as well as some of the greatest martyrs and benefactors of the human race. Aquarius is generally misunderstood even when he has achieved greatness—and always thinks he is misunderstood when he is wasting himself. In love, Aquarius is noble but not necessarily conventional; loyal, if not faithful; affectionate, if independent, and resentful of intrusion on his private studies, which may irk the spouse because they never seem to produce anything except big electric light bills. Aquarius the social or sociable can be anything or nothing, but the one thing he will almost never be is lonesome. He may think his spirit yearns for understanding, but he will never be far from someone to listen while he attempts to explain himself. (Courtesy of Matrix Software [the].)

The following excerpt comes not from a natal report program, but from David Cochrane’s recent book, Astrology for the 21st Century. Based on lessons for astrology students, it approaches the signs of the zodiac from a somewhat different perspective than the other short delineations cited here:

A common interpretation of Aquarius would be something like this: Aquarius is associated with inventions, discoveries, innovations, eccentricity, progressiveness, science, humanitarianism, and organizations. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus and shares many traits with Uranus. Aquarius is friendly but not intensely emotional.

Of all zodiac signs, Aquarius is the one that the commonly accepted characteristics have been least easy for me to understand. I have not found eccentricity or even progressiveness to be consistent traits of Aquarius! Very often when I share this observation with other astrologers (including those whom I greatly respect and whose work I admire), they look at me in disbelief, and cannot imagine how I can fail to see these traits of Aquarius. My view of Aquarius may be completely misguided, but I will share it any way as an example of one astrologer’s attempt to understand how Aquarius affects us.

I see Aquarius as the sign of networking people and ideas. Aquarius relates ideas of different people to each other. Aquarians are social animals that typically prefer living in an urban area rather than a rural area because they prefer having access to the greater number of ideas and group activities. A person with strong Aquarian emphasis can find fulfillment in a rural setting too. Church clubs, school activities and community affairs are important in rural areas, but often Aquarius enjoys the greater number of options in an urban setting.

The Aquarian inclination to network people together gives it access to many points of view and very often more ideas and information than others have. As a consequence, Aquarius does tend to have a liberal and progressive view, but Aquarius also dearly wants to preserve the organizations rather than tear them down. Aquarius joins groups, and very often participates as an employee of a large corporation. Aquarians very often like to think of themselves as great innovators, inventors, or eccentrics because they are not provincial in perspective. They are cosmopolitan and enthusiastic about modern progressive advancements. They do not cling to the past and they do not fear progress, partly because they are better acquainted with the progressive developments generated by corporations and universities, and partly because they are not sentimental or deeply emotional so the replacement of traditional methods with new ones is not offensive. However, Aquarius is a fixed sign, and like all fixed signs it is steady and consistent and not unstable and erratic like Uranus. Aquarius preserves the group activities and works to enhance and grow organizations, clubs, corporations, and groups because it needs them and values them. Aquarians may like to think of themselves as progressive, but they do not want to radically disturb the status quo; they want to preserve it. (Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [] and David Cochrane [kepler@].)

Many specialized report programs have been developed that offer useful supplements to the generic delineations of general reports. The following sun-sign interpretation has been drawn from a program written by Gloria Star (originally part of her book, Astrology: Woman to Woman), that generates a specialized report for women:

With your Sun in Aquarius you are a woman whose spirit forges into the realm of the unusual. As an individual you are unique, and you may pride yourself on the things that make you different from everyone else. But you also have a strong desire to connect to those who are like minded, and may count your friends as your most significant blessings. Since your Sun speaks of “who you think you are,” you need to realize that your powerful mind, which can be strongly focused, is your link to your future, and that you are the creator of that future.

The most friendly path toward developing and expressing your willpower and personal drive may be that of education. As an Aquarian Woman, you appreciate a well-developed mentality, and may feel most confident when you are comfortable in your knowledge about a subject or situation. However, you may have felt as a young girl that the people who knew the most were men, and you certainly may not have questioned whether or not a man had the right to be different. Although you may have felt the impulse to be different, you’ve never been entirely comfortable with the idea of alienating yourself from the society of which you are a part. And as you’ve developed your own individual identity, you may have sensed that becoming who you are might not exactly fit the model your father had in mind for you. If you’re owning your personal power, you’re confident about expressing your uniqueness and meeting the world on your own terms. If you’ve not yet embraced this part of yourself, you may by trying to accomplish it through projecting these qualities upon your husband or partner. Let him be the genius in the family! Your own genius may not fully emerge until you’ve consciously determined that you, too, deserve to be seen for who you really are.

Even though you may have found your differences from others painful when you were a young girl, you’ve probably discovered that it is your uniqueness which will provide the impetus to achieving true success. Your Aquarius Sun adds a drive to attain a clear perception about yourself, and your need to make a difference in the world can give you cause to aim for something out of the ordinary. Your real goal may be to transcend the bounds of mere mortality and achieve something that will open a new pathway. Although this functions primarily at a spiritual level, it does have its implications on the physical plane. In your family, you can be the one who breaks the patterns. On the job you are the one whose vision and insight inspire new direction. (From “Woman to Woman,” by Gloria Star. Courtesy of Matrix Software [http://thenew] and Gloria Star [].)

Responding to the revival of interest in pre-twentieth-century astrology, J. Lee Lehman developed a report program embodying the interpretive approach of traditional astrology. The following is excerpted from her book Classical Astrology for Modern Living and her computer program “Classical Report”:

You are affable, courteous, unenvious, stubborn, merry and jocund, not given to quarrel, or a religious or spiritual nature, sober of speech, and strong. You can be ostentatious, but are free from maliciousness.

You are an Air Sign, which means that you are “hot” and “wet.” The “wet” component means, among other things, that you blur distinctions, and that you are more swayed by passion than by intellectual argument. At your worst, you see too many connections, becoming lost in conspiracies. At your best, you spot the connection that everyone else missed. Being “hot,” you react to things quickly: by expressing your anger strongly and immediately, you don’t tend to harbor a grudge. This is the temperament type that is considered the most ideal, because you are the most comfortable within a social situation. You appear warm and friendly to others, and don’t seem too eager to hold them to an impossible standard.

You are fixed, which means you are strong-willed and stubborn. You will want to hang onto people and things long after they have ceased to be useful to you. (Courtesy of J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D. (copyright 1998) [].)

Readers interested in examining interpretations for their Chinese astrological sign should refer to the relevant entry. A guide for determining one’s sign in the Chinese system is provided in the entry on the Chinese zodiac.


Cochrane, David. Astrology for the 21st Century. Gainesville, FL: Cosmic Patterns, 2002.
Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky: How to Make Wiser Choices for a More Fulfilling Life. 4th ed. San Diego: ACS Publications, 1989.
Green, Landis Knight. The Astrologer’s Manual: Modern Insights into an Ancient Art. Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1975.
Hall, Manly P. Astrological Keywords. New York, Philosophical Library, 1958. Reprint, Savage, MD: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks, 1975.
Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Astrology for Modern Living: From Ptolemy to Psychology & Back Again. Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1996.
Lewi, Grant. Astrology for the Millions. 5th rev. ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1978.
Lewi, Grant. Heaven Knows What. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1935. Reprint, St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1995.
Star, Gloria. Astrology: Woman to Woman. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1999.
Star, Gloria. Astrology & Your Child: A Handbook for Parents. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2001.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(the water bearer), a zodiacal constellation. The brightest star of the constellation has a visual stellar magnitude of 2.9. The best conditions for Aquarius’ visibility are in August and September. It is visible in the central and southern regions of the USSR.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A constellation with a right ascension of 23 hours and declination of 15°S. Abbreviated Aqr. Also known as Water Bearer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


water-bearer (Jan. 20–Feb. 18). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
See: Zodiac
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Astronomy a zodiacal constellation in the S hemisphere lying between Pisces and Capricorn on the ecliptic
2. Astrology
a. the eleventh sign of the zodiac, symbol ♒, having a fixed air classification and ruled by the planets Saturn and Uranus. The sun is in this sign between about Jan. 20 and Feb. 18
b. a person born during a period when the sun is in this sign
3. Astrology born under or characteristic of Aquarius
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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