astromythology

The War For Weirdness: Why Uranus Doesn’t Deserve Aquarius | Astromythology Vol. 1

I’m often asked for recommendations on getting started with astrology. What are my favourite books, authors, websites, apps? And I have a go-to list that I recommend to anyone looking to really dive in–books by Isabella Hickey, Noel Tyl, a handful of podcasts and YouTube lectures. It can be a dense field at best (and complete fluff at worst), and I know it can be tricky to sift through resources. But if we’re being honest, it’s not how I got started.

Human beings learn best through narrative. We remember best through narrative as well, and creating stories around the systems in our lives helps us remember all the moving parts. Astrology is no different. It comes with a wealth of stories to help us unravel many of the complex meanings within. And it’s entirely what introduced me to astrology in the first place, as part of my third grade literature curriculum.

I’m talking about mythology.

You’ve probably already realized that most astral bodies are named after mythological figures. The traditional planets of astrology–Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn–are all named for Roman gods, giving a good indication of their roles. But the real magic comes in when you apply this narrative system to the relationships between each planet and other objects in your chart. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to explore some of these relationships with you. I’d like to excavate some of these stories and examine them under the modern astrological lens to illuminate the narratives these bodies help us weave.

And I’d like to start with Uranus.

I always felt Uranus was a strange figure to name a planet after–he wasn’t a god so much as a primordial being, a proto-god if you will. Ouranos was Father Sky to Mother Earth, the husband of Gaia and father of the Titans among several other pre-Olympian races. But he wasn’t exactly keen on the title: Ouranus had a habit of sealing his children inside the earth. These were very literal beings, the actual sky and land, so this was an act of violence not only against his children but his wife as well–the pain caused her to seek help from Kronos, her youngest Titanic son, who castrated his father with the scythe that would become his most iconic symbol.

Discovery charts are a sort of modern astrological mythology, the second layer of narrative we can use to examine a body’s influence: appropriately, when Uranus was discovered in March of 1781, it was in tight opposition to Saturn which at the time was conjunct Mars, the God of War, drawing this myth forever into its own astrological makeup. If Uranus is known for one thing, it’s the ability to turn anything on its head and destabilize whatever it touches. Its discovery chart confirms this: it squared the Sun in Pisces, completely ready to revolutionize the spiritual current of the time–the Age of Enlightenment is generally accepted to have ended that same year and Uranus (itself in discovery- and communication-oriented Gemini) scatters our focus like never before. If we look at the Sabian Symbolism for 24 Degrees of Gemini, we see an emphasis on multidimensionality and elevated awareness. We’re given a new lens through which to view the past and move forward with into the future. And Uranus is indeed a new lens: in 1883, Robert Cross published a new book on Horary Astrology and was the first to list the new planet as ruler of Aquarius, as we know it today.

But traditionally, Aquarius was considered Saturnian territory. And to replace Saturn with Uranus here not only casts the elder planet in a very different light, but it perpetuates the mythological war between Kronos and his father and turns the opposition of its discovery into a very literal conflict. Personally, I don’t love the idea of Uranus as anything’s ruler–it’s incredibly destabilizing, erratic, and while I think it’s a valuable indicator of other astrological concepts, I don’t really feel like it finds a comfortable home anywhere in the zodiac. In fact, A.J. Pearce referred to Uranus as a “houseless wanderer” in his 1879 text, a title linking it much more comfortably with the energy of the tarot’s Fool–the dawning understanding of something larger, the spark of discovery, but wholly preoccupied with the journey.

All of this is important to consider when we look at the role of Uranus in today’s astrological climate.

In 2019, Uranus moved into Taurus for the first time since 1934. We could examine this under a historical lens, talk about the state of financial wellness and all the ways our attitudes around comfort and resources changed during that time, but that’s a different blog post. We’re here to talk about mythology, and while Taurus has its own mythological origins, it can absolutely be viewed as the embodiment of the Earth Mother archetype. And considering the infamous maltreatment of his earth goddess wife, it’s safe to say Uranus doesn’t have the best relationship with Earth. Taurus is a sign that nurtures slow, sustainable growth. It rules all the comforts of the sensual world. It is not a sign that appreciates the static-electric shakeup that Uranus delivers, nor does it have any appreciation for the ominous, prophetic nature of the Starman, and it’s worth noting that Robert Cross, 19th Century astrologer, assigned Uranus’ essential dignities that would make the sign of Taurus its fall. Its stay in the sign was destined to be tense as it requires us to reevaluate concepts we’ve always counted on without question: finance, consumption, sex, beauty–but this tension is amplified because of aspects to other planets in the current skies.

Vasari’s “The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn”

2020 highlights the familial tension between Uranus and Saturn as Saturn moves out of Capricorn and comes to reclaim its territory in Aquarius. In Capricorn, we saw Saturn as his own version of the Devouring Father (clearly paternal instinct does not run in the family), an archetype amplified by the presence of Pluto and Jupiter also in the sign. However, there is a very different side of Saturn in mythology that tends to be overlooked, probably because it’s less dramatic and makes for less ghoulish art. In the Pre-Roman era, Saturn was King. He was a god of agriculture, bringing wealth, abundance, and rebirth to the land. The transition from process-oriented Capricorn into intellectual Aquarius can be viewed as the transition of the culture from agricultural necessity into philosophical revolution: having acquired the resources needed to thrive, the culture can turn its attentions to the kind of intellectual pursuits that were impossible before the hard-fought battle of cultivation. And Saturn, as the Father of the Gods, easily rules over both. He may be a harsh master in Capricorn, “a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone” to quote Dickens (himself ruled by the other end of the Saturnian spectrum), but he’s also the guest of honor at Saturnalia, one of the most infamously bacchanalian festivals of the ancient world. Saturnalia was a public feast unlike any other, a time of gift giving, role play, and caprice. Roman born citizens would dress themselves in the drag of slavery while their slaves gambled in the streets. The sexes mingled equally, mixing titles and names that turned social norms on their heads. Could anything possibly sound more Aquarian?

And so, in 2020, while Uranus remains locked away in Taurus creating its own kind of chaos in a realm quite averse to Uranian shenanigans, Saturn moves out of its structured, orderly home in Capricorn to turn things on their head and bring new understanding to the roles we play in Aquarius. And by the end of its stay in this sign, Capricorn will be an empty nest: Jupiter moves into Aquarius in December of 2020, and Pluto follows in 2023. There’s a mess of disagreement over the length of a zodaical age, but if we look at energy over dates, it certainly seems as if this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

And where will Uranus be?

Well, he’ll be locked inside Mother Earth until 2026, at which point he’ll end up back where he started–the origin point of modern Uranian myth, the point of his discovery, in Gemini.