Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sun enters Aquarius

Celebrating the Sun entering the zodiac sign of Aquarius for the fifty billionth time. 

Alchemical iconography often includes avian imagery, including the depiction of 'deities' standing upon the wings of birds, while the conjunction of the opposites is frequently represented as a Royal Pair in alchemical imagery. Sometimes alluded to in the form of the Greek gods Apollo and Diana, or the Chemical Marriage of Sol et Luna, the conjunctio of alchemy also symbolizes the completion of the alchemist's endeavour. 

Returning to the theme of Aquarius, the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek archetype of Aquarius the Water-Bearer in the Biblical tradition is John the Baptist, who, uniquely is both a Judaic prophet and the first Christian prophet. Aquarius with its symbolism of the spirit of self-sacrifice and service to others is exemplary of Christian morality.

It was the pioneering study of comparative religion by the Swiss psychologist C.G.Jung which first revealed and discussed Christianity's relationship to the western esoteric tradition in depth. Late in his life C.G.Jung devoted several years study on the symbolism of Pisces the Fish and its relationship to Christianity [1]. Not only can the sign of Pisces, but also the Zodiac signs of Taurus, Leo and Scorpio can be interpreted as representing Christian virtues. 

Originally the components of the Fixed Cross of astrology, the three animal signs of Leo the Lion, Taurus the Bull, and the Scorpion (substituted with an Eagle, perhaps because the insect was unknown outside of Europe)  along with angelic human form were adopted by Christianity, perhaps as early as 400 CE by Saint Jerome as emblems of the four evangelists and of Christ's sacrificial role (Taurus) Royalty (Leo), all-encompassing view of humanity from a great height (Eagle/Scorpio) and the combined human and angelic form of Aquarius. The Christian tetramorph is a superb example of how symbols can drastically change over long stretches of time. 

In an essay on the seminal Renaissance alchemist Paracelsus, C.G. Jung sketched the psychological element of the Zodiac thus-

He beholds the darksome psyche as a star-strewn night sky, whose planets and fixed constellations represent the archetypes in all their luminosity and numinosity. The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection, in which are reflected the mythologems i.e. the archetypes. In this vision alchemy and astrology the two classical functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands.[2]

Jung was a learned and erudite scholar of comparative religion who, far from debunking astrology observed- 

The sought-for Mercurius is the spiritus vegetavius , a living planet, whose nature it is to run through all the houses of the planets i.e., the Zodiac. We could just as well say through the entire horoscope, or, since the horoscope is the chronometric equivalent of individual character, through all the characterological components of the personality. [3]

A final illustration of how Jung interpreted the human psyche's relationship to nature-

All the mythologized processes of nature, such as summer and winter, the phases of the moon, the rainy season, and so forth, are in no sense allegories of these objective occurrences; rather they are symbolic expressions of the inner, unconscious drama of the psyche which becomes accessible to man's consciousness by way of projection - that is, mirrored in the events of nature. [4]

The water-bearing cloud and the magical transformation of water into frost, snow and ice can be considered as representing Aquarius in nature. 

In the arts, numerous writers, often with a humanitarian and social reforming agenda, such as Charles Dickens for example, are represented by the sign, as well as the downright eccentric, such as Lewis Carroll, also exhibit Aquarian traits. The music of the composers Mozart, Schubert and Delius, along with Philip Glass and Frank Zappa all have strong Aquarian traits, as do the curious triumvirate, all of whom were born on January 27th, possess strong positive and negative Aquarian psychological traits, namely, Lewis Carroll, Mozart and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. 

Due to its ethereal nature, Aquarius is said to be as much prone to mental illness as experiencing flashes of inspirational genius. Aquarian interests may be said to include anything unusual or odd, such as electronic music, for example. Humanitarian and secret societies are also said to be under the domain of Aquarius, as is the central nervous system, along with the realm of psychic phenomena and the esoteric in general.

One dictionary of symbols defines Aquarius as follows-

All Eastern and Western traditions relate this archetype to the symbolic flood which stands not only for the end of a formal universe but also for the completion of any cycle by the destruction of the power which held the components together.....Consequently, Aquarius symbolizes the dissolution and decomposition of the forms existing within any process, cycle or period; the loosening of bonds; the imminence of liberation through the destruction of the world of phenomena. [5]

Another source defines Aquarius thus-

The inner substance of this zodiac type is fluid, light. ethereal,volatile, limpid, transparently spiritual and, so to say, angelic. It comprises the gift of indifference to self together with serenity and self-sacrifice, friendship and concern for others. [6]

In world political affairs it is also often when the sun is in the zodiac-sign of Aquarius that the Presidential Inauguration of the American President, as well as the delivery of the President's State of the Union Address occurs, along with World Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th.

The archetype of Aquarius is that of the herald who proclaims a new world order based upon the principle of a united humanity. The best and worst aspects of Soviet communism can be seen in introducing and implementing such an idealized society. In modern times the archetype of Aquarius continues to exert a living influence upon the human psyche in new forms of communication in mass society. Television and the computer-age are good examples of Aquarian developments of science and technology. Nuclear and Atomic energy may also be interpreted as resultant of the Aquarian archetype.

A fine example of religious symbolism and the study of comparative religion, in conjunction with a description of the glyph for Aquarius, occurs in Sir Thomas Browne's highly-compressed essay of hermetic phantasmagoria, The Garden of Cyrus.

he that considereth the plain cross upon the head of the Owl in the Lateran Obelisk, or the cross erected upon a pitcher diffusing streams of water into two basins, with sprinkling branches in them, and all described upon a two-footed Altar, as in the Hieroglyphics of the brazen Table of Bembus;will hardly decline all thought of Christian signality in them.[7]

It is of course impossible to definitively list all the psychological traits and characteristics associated with each of 12 quite distinct zodiac archetypes of the human personality. Perhaps in the future, the zodiac sign of Aquarius will revert to a mundane, rather than an esoteric meaning. If, or more likely when, the world's resources are even less secure than at present, maybe the simple act of freely sharing the life-giving element of water, without discrimination towards unknown others, viewing all life-forms as complete equals, may come to characterize this archetype.  

[1] Aion : Researches into the phenomenology of the self - C.G.Jung  Vol. 9 i pub. 1959 RKP  includes-
VI.    The Sign of the fishes p. 72 -95
VIII.  The Historical Significance of the Fish p.103
XI.    The Ambivalence of the Fish Symbol p.118
X.     The Fish in Alchemy p. 126
XI.    The Alchemical  Interpretation of the Fish  p.154
[2]    Essay on Paracelsus CW 15
[3]   CW 14: 298
[4]   CW 9  i  7 
[5]  A Dictionary of symbols   J.E. Cirlot
[6]  Dictionary of symbols Penguin  ed. Chevalier
[7] Athanasius Kircher's Oedipus Egypticus 3 vols. 1652-56 includes an engraving of the Bembine Tablet of Isis is alluded to twice in The Garden of Cyrus  pub. 1658 .

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