Much has been published recently about the great conjunction in Aquarius. I have read modern astrologers celebrate the “age of Aquarius”, the “new era” and the “call for freedom”, “change” and diversity”. As a traditional astrologer, I am interested in what the water bearer, this fixed air sign, which is ruled by the master of boundaries, Saturn, stands for. I am not going into the conjunction itself.
Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, the slowest planet who symbolizes on the positive side rules, responsibility, concentration, retainment, the essential, mastery, time, status quo. On the negative side there is a lack, dogmatism, need, dysfunction, coldness, prohibition, failure, closure and dissection.
Saturn’s nature is cold and dry, air is defined as “moist and warm”. Since Saturn is now transiting this sign, he is less dry, according to Abu Ma’shar (GI, p. 421). Furthermore, Aquarius, while being part of the air triplicity, is also associated to water, especially fountains.
But what about the fixed air, that Aquarius represents on an elemental level? What does, in the first place, “fixed air” actually mean?
Al Biruni assigns Gemini to “quiet air that produces and sustains life, Libra to that which causes trees to grow and fertilize and produces fruit” and Aquarius to “destructive storms.” (Instruction in the elements of art, §379) However, the assignment of the quadruplicities (fixed, mutable and moveable) does not seem to fit. The following are my own associations at this regard.
From the three air signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius we can say that Gemini is the one in which temperatures are most likely to change, with the tendency to warm up, it is a mutable sign and activated in the spring. Libra, an autumn sign, is warm but already declining in temperature. Aquarius is the coldest of the air triplicity. It is activated in the heart of the winter in the northern hemisphere. While the air is crisp, the typical winter is not dry, but wet. While we don’t expect it to rain in this season, we still wait for snow. Snow is still water, but simply colder and releases its benefit only with time to the ground. The snow also has the property to protect the soil, like an icy sheet, under which it is warmer for the plants than exposed to icy winds, like in an igloo.
When we think about air, the first association is about winds. While we cannot really “see” air, we know that air per definition, is anything but “fixed”. Winds change their direction. Air does seldomly stay in just one place. It does so only in “un-aired” places. Like in a house where windows are not opened for a long while. Try to enter a summer house after a year of absence. The stagnate air will smell bad. If you do not air a room regularly, besides the smell, mould is likely to form. So, fixed or stagnate air is associated with a bad smell and is an unhealthy condition. This is definitively Saturn’s realm.
However, fixed air is certainly not just about stagnate air.
It includes continuous, stable, and predictable kinds of air flow. Such as the breath. While the breath can variate with physical activity, it will always return to “normal” once these activities are finished. The breath is needed for the sustainment of the body and its absence indicates death, Saturn again.
Aquarius does not describe hurricanes, tornados, haboobs, or squalls which are rather rare and sudden events and thus best described by a cardinal sign. Instead, Aquarius describes relatively stable air currents, such as jet streams or trade winds. While these currents are not “fixed” like a cupboard on the wall, they are however, continuously present; more importantly, these major air streams strongly influence the earth’s weather and climate conditions, just as the Gulf Stream in the oceans.
Furthermore, Aquarius is not only about “air” and wind related energies. It is rather about energy in wave forms, that do not cause sparkles and flames, which are eventually described by the fire signs. Thoughts, for example, are a typical expression of the air element. Brain activity is indeed measurable, even though we are not able to detect its content.
The glyph of Aquarius symbolizes forms of energy that come in waves, for example the energy of the Sun, that stimulates the photosynthesis in plants or Magnetism which is caused by the spin of a particle such as an electron or proton.
But air also describes frequencies and their use. Each thing in the world has its proper frequency. It is well known that glass can be broken by a strong voice that reaches a specific frequency of this particular material. Frequencies are being studied in medicine for their correlation with the destruction of cancer cells.
Aquarius, as all air signs, is linked to communication and expression, in contrast to fire signs (action) water signs (emotions) or earth signs (practical approach and safety).
However, since Aquarius is fixed air, this sign is not about freedom and exchange but rather about dogma, the over and over repeated mantra of a “whatever believed is true” concept. Saturn is the ruler of bounds. These bounds can be very exclusive, in the sense of excluding all “the others”, who don’t accept the dogma. On the other hand, those who are accepting it, might feel like living in a sort of exclusive resort, protected from those who think differently. The dogma can be religious, ethical, racial, intellectual, sexual or anything else but those who dare to criticize it, will be punished. Saturn is the guardian, the lawmaker, and the hangman.
On the other hand, Aquarius’ fixed air is perfect for researching, in depth study and going to the bottom of things. Understanding processes, the rules of nature and fundamental concepts is part of the realm of Aquarius. Responsibility, simplicity, and righteousness will now be appreciated, but only after the hard work has been completed and mastered. There are no shortcuts, or nepotisms of any sort. Saturn is the drillmaster. We need to take responsibilities for our actions and inventions and ask the big question “do we really want this, with all of its consequences”? The severe teacher who does not care whether you like him or not, will have you redo the exercise one hundred times, until it is perfectly correct. You might hate it, but this training shapes you and helps you to become thee the best version of yourself.
The symbol of Aquarius is the water bearer. The figure pours water out of a jar. In other words, this sign unites air with water and blends them together. Saturn discerns and separates, which is his intrinsic nature (cold and dry). When we start to split a thing, a group, or a concept into several parts, we follow the rule of polarity: that what has simply been “skin colour”, is now black, yellow or white, that what has just been “a human” now becomes male and female, that what has been faith is now “Christian, Jew, or Muslim”. What follows is further and further splitting into groups that get smaller each time, excluding more and more other groups. This is devitalizing (dry and cold), until the acknowledgment, that the pieces must be brought back together because their unity makes them strong, not their pieces. I think that’s symbolized by the fish escaping from the jar. The assembling itself takes place in Pisces.