Aquarius sign floating in water

The Aquarian Contradiction

By Jeff Jawer

I was watching a reality TV show the other night that traded in the sentimentality common to the genre. We love the heart-wrenching stories of people in trouble. It's standard practice to express compassion for these individuals. Yet this is really sentimental gloss rather than a commitment to help anyone. This made me think of the Aquarius Moon in the chart of the United States (born July 4, 1776). The lunar placement in a national chart represents the collective mood, and independent Aquarius reflects the U.S.'s anti-royalist roots and technologically driven culture. But there is a shadow side to this sign as well.

Aquarius is complex. Its name is the Water-bearer, but it is not an emotional water sign; it is an intellectual air sign. Aquarius is associated with collective goals and ideals, as well a group consciousness and cooperation. Yet it is also highly individualistic and often unwilling to operate within the same rules or systems that govern everyone else. Aquarius is friendly, but often aloof. When you meet a person with strong Aquarius in her or his chart we frequently have an immediate sense of connection, yet over time that relationship may not deepen. This isn't to say that individual Aquarians can't be warm or deep; it's just that the abstract idea of friendliness is often unmatched by the emotional depth that we expect to follow.

Traditionally, the sign Aquarius was ruled by or associated with Saturn. However, the planet Uranus, discovered just after the American Revolution, eventually displaced Saturn as Aquarius' ruler. Modern astrologers' use of this unconventional planet contributed to a more radical and freedom loving interpretation of this sign. It's clear, though, that serious Saturn's significance has not entirely disappeared. Conservatives Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney were born with the Sun in Aquarius. Perhaps this reflects the anti-government individualism of this sign. Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the other hand, is an apt expression of the community-oriented aspect of Aquarius.

Yet right or left, Aquarius is associated with ideas rather than feelings. The sentimentality often portrayed on television is a low level of emotion because it is a superficial expression of caring. It evokes a response but requires no action. The concern shown for our fellow citizens may occasionally be addressed on an individual level but institutional compassion is going out of style. Programs like Social Security are characterized as government hand-outs that drain the economy and undermine the culture. The idea that competition is a stronger engine for economic well being than cooperation has been growing in the U.S. since 1980, and the notion that financial considerations come first has grown with it.

My point is neither to bash the sign Aquarius or any particular political belief. It is simply to remind us all (me included) of the difference between ideals and expression of caring on the one hand, and the willingness to do something about it on the other. This isn't really an Aquarius issue, it's a human issue as most of us have a gap between our ideals and our actions and that filling the gap with sentimental statements about the troops, the poor or victims of any kind might sound good but changes nothing. Words are cheap but real acts of compassion are precious.

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