There are three signs in astrology that have two ruling planets: Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio. I discussed this some during my chart ruler series, all while saying that the modern ruler of these three signs (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, respectively) were the true rulers. While that is quite accurate, I thought that it would be helpful for people to further understand how much power the secondary ruler has over these signs. They are very influential and to a degree that even I underestimated until recently.
Aquarius’ secondary ruler is Saturn, which served as its primary ruler until about a century and a half ago when Uranus was discovered. Saturn has a more potent influence over Aquarius than you would think. As an Aquarius Ascendant and North Node, I can see so much of its sway over my life. The famous sense of being different that defines Aquarius comes from the Uranus influence. But, the way this sign is so often portrayed, as the carefree eccentric who isn’t bothered by what other people think, downplays the difficulty and the pain that lead that person to be that way. Because there can be much loneliness or even sadness that lies underneath that free-spirited attitude. This is the Saturn effect, giving the individual with the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or whatever else in Aquarius many difficulties because they are so different which inevitably pays off later in life.
Saturn is expressed through Air with Aquarius. In its Earth expression through Capricorn, the difficulties are more so about hardships and setbacks. Aquarius’ difficulties come through a sense of alienation and even isolation that has to be worked through. Because of the “it gets better” element of Saturn, you may be surprised to know how much the socially savvy adult Aquarian in your life, who seems so outgoing and knows everyone, suffered through a painfully awkward upbringing or adolescence. I definitely fall into that category. While I have such an active social life now and make friends very easily and mingle with lots of different people, it definitely was not always like that for me. In fact, it was the total opposite.
It was easier for me in elementary school because kids aren’t judgmental then and just want to be your friend just because. But, once I hit middle school, things really changed for me. In fact, that’s when my best friend since second grade moved away. Losing a friend impacts an Aquarian’s sense of life or of their identity in a dramatic way. Once he wasn’t around, I was sort of adrift. I became a full-on outcast from sixth grade onward. I did have friends but I was mostly a loner, just breezing through my school days and going home to my own little detached life. I usually didn’t go to parties or hang out with people on the weekends. Part of that was because the students got meaner and I did not fit in at all and was kept at arm’s length or ridiculed. Another part of that was just by choice. I didn’t want to fit in. I felt so uneasy and uncomfortable with all of these social expectations. It made me either freeze up and not know what to say, being very aloof and reserved and keeping to myself, or it made whatever I thought come flying out of my mouth, often just alienating me even further.
So, I do think that, in many ways, the friendliness and social ease of Aquarius is hard-earned and not too evident in many people with this placement earlier in life. It’s due to this social awkwardness that is very challenging, as well as a significant amount of introversion that people don’t understand. The Aquarian may growing up feeling like they cannot win when it comes to dealing with people. If I was being very open and honest, then I was rude or a crank or a nutcase. If I kept my thoughts to myself, which I often felt like I had to do because people didn’t get me, then I was seen as too cold or quiet. Aquarius just does not fit the traditional social mold and with Saturn at work, this manifests in ways that can be quite excruciating while growing up.
However, the problem doesn’t lie with the Aquarian person but with other people. I didn’t have a problem with the way I was. It was other people who were making things difficult for me. My feelings of being misunderstood were not the emo complaints of a teenager. I was actually told that I was crazy or out of my mind on more than a few occasions, as if I needed to get my head examined. In line with the Air-driven expression of Saturn, communicating with other people often felt like an uphill battle. People sometimes just didn’t seem to hear or grasp what I was actually saying. My mind also just worked differently and sometimes too quickly for my mouth to catch up (a problem that I still have, at times, today). Also, the fact that my social patterns were not of the norm was also very problematic. I was treated as if I was mentally disturbed because I wasn’t with my friends in my spare time and just wanted to be in my room and write or watch movies.
At the same time, I was always an excellent friend to people; the first person who others would turn to for advice or help. Friendship was hugely important to me and I always really cherished and supported my friends. I had the ability to be friends with literally anyone, as long as they were respectful or a good person. Their race or social standing or any other judgments weren’t even considerations to me. And while I did have a certain reserve with people I didn’t know (or didn’t like), when I became comfortable with someone, I could make great conversation and be very fun, quick-witted, and talkative. So, I didn’t have any social issues growing up except for the fact that I refused to conform, which made things difficult, and that I liked my alone time. Lots of Aquarius people have stories similar to mine, where they have to stop and realize that, in spite of others’ opinions and views of them, there is nothing wrong with them. It’s others’ problem, not theirs.
This is what allows us to blossom with maturity and strength into people who exhibit that freedom of mind and spirit. It does take strength to go against the grain and face social disapproval. Saturn gives that to Aquarius individuals in spades, especially after an upbringing or adolescence that was maladjusted. But, there is an underlying amount of pain, sadness, and even anger that comes from these social experiences that gave us thick skin. It’s the raw energy that fuels the rebellious spirit of the sign. I know it’s why I’m so reactionary whenever I’m feeling pressured to behave or think a certain way. It’s one of the quickest ways to get me angry, especially if you’re trying to change me and I’m just being myself. And if it becomes a pattern, I’ll just go cold and will have little to nothing to do with you. Social pressure is a painful button to push for the Aquarius because it reminds us of the time when we struggled or suffered because we couldn’t live up to others’ expectations.
It also highlights the fact that the notorious aloofness and coldness of this sign is usually not some expression of cruelty or lack of humanity. Those with Aquarius placements remain haunted by that inability to be what people want us to be. So, the coolness becomes a defense to prevent you from having some sort of control over us. The command that the Aquarius individual has over himself or herself should not be underestimated. Although we can be clumsy, chaotic, erratic, or all-over-the-place, there is also an amazing self-control to this sign that comes from the Saturn influence. It’s just another reason why Aquarius is such a contradiction! We know how to restrain ourselves or control ourselves because we innately do not want anyone else to have authority (Saturn) over us. So, a sense of being one’s own authority, making up one’s own rules, is very pronounced. And anytime you try to impose your own rules on to the Aquarian, you’ll see the Saturn rigidity come out, turning the laidback, laissez faire person into someone who is not so warm and fuzzy. At the end of the day, it’s protective because we just do not like people getting into our heads in any way, even if this means others putting their ideas into our heads.
This is why issues with authority is such a lifelong theme or pattern with Aquarius individuals, in some way or another. Growing up, there are usually certain adults in this person’s life who are seen as very repressive, ignorant, unethical, or not to be taken seriously at all. It’s common for those with the Sun, Moon, Rising, etc. in Aquarius to struggle a lot at school or in the classroom because of problems with authority figures or the rules that are set. But, this can also happen in the form of a particularly strict or very traditional household. However, Saturn’s influence works very much in the reverse through Aquarius. Instead of the Capricorn’s reverence and adherence to the authority figure’s guidelines, the Aquarius takes the opposite route. This child or teenager sees all of the flaws in this authority figure, keeps track of all of the holes in their logic, and resists following in their footsteps. If they don’t openly rebel, they feel quietly contemptuous of this adult and do whatever they can to go against their programming.
So, Aquarius people grow up having challenging relationships with authority figures, whether this means just paying them no mind and doing their own thing or seriously butting heads with such adults. However, this leads to liberation. For me, the fact that I didn’t really have any role models meant that I was free to be myself and go down my own original path. And the path for Aquarius is so original and freewheeling that it can be downright puzzling to most people, in many cases. It’s the Sun in Aquarius person who suddenly leaves his steady job to go join the Peace Corps or it’s the Aquarius Moon who goes from being a straight-A student in college to working odd jobs for years, with no direction, before starting her own successful business. With me, an Aquarius Rising, I went from majoring in journalism in college, on a scholarship, to switching to being a theatre major to dropping out of college to being adrift for a few years before becoming a full-time astrologer, while still doing creative writing on the side.
The fact that this unpredictable or inconsistent path may not make sense to everyone else only brings up that Saturnian pain of being misunderstood or alienated in the world. But, the strength the Aquarius person gains from that is being able to be aware of the big picture. I think this “big picture” line of thought has much more to do than with changing the world or being humanitarian, as Aquarius is regularly described. It also has to do with being truly confident in your future, even when no one else is, and knowing that all of the random events that are happening are all happening for a reason. This allows those with this influence to move forward into the future with persistence and dedication (Saturn keywords) in spite of how chaotic and nonsensical their life seems. The Saturnian accomplishment and respect is then gained, later in life, once people realize how brilliant the Aquarius person is and how they were just ahead of their time, not “crazy.”
So many innovators, brilliant thinkers, iconoclasts, and mold-breakers were born with Aquarius placements, gaining so much esteem for their ideas, their fresh perspective, and their ability to defy convention. It also betrays the amazing wisdom that this sign has to offer. Capricorn is seen so much as the wise sign and the old soul. But, Capricorn’s wisdom is usually internalized and for personal gain; in order for them to get ahead and make it in society. Aquarius’ wisdom is meant to be communicated and shared with others, a la Air. It’s why Aquarius individuals often give the best advice and are seen as being so insightful and wise beyond their years. Living strictly by our own unique or unconventional rules, we can provide strength for others or inject other people with a sense of purpose by sharing these ideas. And since we can be so in our heads and so focused on our thoughts (Fixed Air), there is something very solid and substantial about whatever we have to say. It’s of good use to others and sometimes because it’s not conventional wisdom.
I see that in how much energy I’ve put into astrology and I know that it’s why Aquarius is so associated with astrology; a form of wisdom and insight (Saturn) that is not traditional or mainstream. I can also see how my unusual life path has led me to this point, as someone who grew up not thinking in a traditional way. So, in the end, it’s all paid off. Aquarius does feel gifted, in some way or another, but it’s definitely about sharing that gift with other people. This is how the friendliness of the sign develops and gets expressed. There is this sense within the Aquarius person that they have something unique to share with others or to utilize in order to understand others. An eagerness to use that gift leads to an eagerness to connect with people. A lot of my own friendliness is a real curiosity about what makes people tick and an awareness of my ability to understand people. It’s also a form of strength, as Saturn has given us so many hard knocks in terms of not fitting in that, as adults, very little fazes us in terms of dealing with people. So, I’m a lot more open with people I don’t know now, having already survived the tests of being harshly judged and knowing that none of that is important.
Saturn also adds an underlying seriousness to Aquarius that is often hidden beneath a cavalier or nonchalant exterior. But, there are usually grave concerns with what’s happening in the world and the state of the future, especially since we are so able to move into the future positively and constructively. Why can’t the world catch up? Getting depressed over current events or that people don’t care enough about what’s going on is a very common Aquarius trait, as is feeling this existential feeling of dread or angst. This is usually a side that comes out behind closed doors, when no one else is around. But, if you get a person with Aquarius placements talking about this sort of stuff, you may be surprised at how cynical or nihilistic they can be. It’s the source of the “exhausted by people” side of the sign. There is so much stupidity, ignorance, and madness in the world and amongst humanity and Aquarius is all too aware of it.
However, this is also why there is a strong sense of responsibility to Aquarius in terms of making a difference, whether that’s through being politically active or being an example of someone who is really open-minded or resists conforming and stereotyping themselves. It’s something I’ve always taken very seriously because I don’t want to contribute to the ignorance in the world. I want to be the change I want to see. In the end, Saturn’s social responsibility allows Aquarius people to achieve a lot in the long term and carve out a place of permanence in society in a highly original way.