Saturn rules over Capricorn, which is an Earth sign, and over Aquarius, associated with the element Air. However these two signs have Water as part of their symbolism. How come?
The symbol for Capricorn is a Sea-Goat. The front is goat, the back is fishtail. This suggests a transition from fish to goat, from sea to mountain, from Water to Earth. It’s a story of becoming dry.
Everything is relative. The story may not be about becoming absolutely dry, but moving towards the dry end of the wet-dry spectrum.
Psychologically, this dryness is the dryness of the child growing up. In the beginning, in Cancer, the world is all emotional dependency, mother-child bond, the protection of the family. In the womb we were completely immersed in Water. When we were a baby, we were still swimming in very emotional waters… Growing up is somehow drying up! Like the goat we learn to climb our own mountain without being carried by mother and the flow. We learn to be self contained and pursue our own goals, in spite of the contrary moods…
Now, the rulership of Saturn over Aquarius, the Water Bearer, often representing Water pouring down, seems to contradict the idea of Saturn being dry, or drying. Aquarius is an Air sign.
Even without knowing Greek mythology it’s easy to connect the Air of Aquarius with the sky. In the air, the water bearers are the clouds. The ruler of the opposite sign, Leo, is the Sun – which, during daytime, can only be obscured by clouds. Uranus, the modern ruler of Aquarius, happens to be named after the God of the Sky.
Water in Air and pouring down is rain. Here, the action of Saturn is condensation. Saturn always increases density: with this energy, Water comes out of Air and Earth out of Water.
This is not modern physics! This is a language of symbols. Replace Air by “gaseous”, Water by “liquid” and Earth by “solid”, and think of Saturn as cold and pressure.
Rain is cold. Air is considered hot according to the traditional elemental qualities, this shows how relative these notions are: Air is definitely hotter than Water. Air has insulating properties. At the same temperature, we feel Water colder than Air. Air can be felt as cold, especially in Winter when it rains and winds, but by contrast with Earth and Water, Air is hot.
Air is a symbol of mental space. Fleeting thoughts and ideas are weightless and invisible like the wind. With Saturn, our mental life becomes consistent and coherent. Our ideas may become fixed or at least organised into systems – theories, plans or ideologies.
Saturn gives form, Saturn shapes: In Air, it is the wind blowing on the water, making waves, as the glyph of Aquarius represents. Waves are visible manifestations of the invisible wind’s action. Our ideas shape our realities.
The wave is a symbol of individuality. We are waves, and we are the ocean. We are made by the wind, and we are the wind (but we have forgotten).
Now you may wonder. Is Aquarius, the water bearer, a symbol of the clouds, or is it the wind that makes waves? The answer is: both.
Symbols do not obey the “either…or” demands of rational definitions of concepts. Symbols don’t separate, they unite. The wind carries clouds, clouds carry water, the context is the sky, the symbol is the whole picture.
I hope you enjoyed this Watery ballad through the lands of Saturn!
In October 2023, I’ll be leading an astrology retreat in Egypt, organised by Evy Leno. There will be guided tours in Luxor’s temples, a boat trip on the Nile, a Hot Balloon trip above… Check my website, find the menu, follow the link!..