Aquarius Evolutionary, Developmental Stages and Themes
This article is part of the series investigating the illusions that we must identify and overcome to tap the powers and gifts of the 12 zodiac archetypes. As discussed in issue #190, Neptune in Pisces for the next 14 years presents us with the dual themes of (1) denial and illusions, and (2) truth and reality. In this issue we look at the seven developmental stages and evolutionary themes in relation to the Aquarian archetype.
Those with Sun, Moon, Rising, and other planets in Aquarius and any planets in the eleventh house will relate in a very intimate way to the following discussion. However, everyone is being touched by an inner awakening of personal identity and role in community. The Aquarius archetype — its energy, lessons, and higher expressions — help us understand our soul desire to individualize and contribute to building a new world in a new age.
The Aquarian Age
This issue reflects on themes, challenges, and basic nature of the Aquarian archetype. The date 12 21 12 marked what many consider to be the transition into the Aquarian Age. Whether this date represents the ‘official’ transition or not, Aquarian energy and issues are definitely more prevalent than in the past. As individuals and as a collective we must understand the Aquarian context within which we are now living.
There is a tendency to be relieved that we are leaving the Piscean Age and to glorify the possibilities of the Aquarian Age. But we are not automatically released from the past if we have not adequately dealt with it. In fact, upgrading our relationship to Piscean energy is part of making a successful transition to the Aquarian Age. We need an authentic relationship with Divine/Infinite energies to be able to deal with the illusions and tests of Aquarius.
Individually, many are experiencing the peaceful energy that seems to be available since 12 12 12. I asked my dentist the other day if he felt any different since mid/end of December 2012. He reflected and then responded, “Actually yes, more calm and less stressed.” My observation is that the peaceful energy is affecting people everywhere, and this is great news. However, globally it is going to take committed effort and consciousness to adapt to and constructively use Aquarian energy. The old military industrial complex, fundamentalist, greedy, fear-based, ego-driven power structure is fighting to maintain control. Honesty, in many ways, we face rough turf ahead.
The Aquarian evolutionary intent is to create a collective spirit where everyone feels included and motivated to join forces and work together to serve the best interests of everyone in the community. The guiding principle is to make progress towards the implementation the higher goals of equality, liberty, justice, freedom, and peace. Ideally the economic, political, and social structures encourage and support every individual to offer their specific gifts and expertise. The overall spirit is one of cooperation, camaraderie, and friendship.
The reality is that the above is never the case. Therefore, Aquarius is about creating and engaging in a process of working towards these ideals. Aquarius is about community building. The Aquarian challenge is to include everyone from diverse orientations and to make everyone feel that they are a valuable member of the collective and inspired to contribute in their unique way.
Aquarius is the third and final air sign of the zodiac and the eleventh phase of our soul’s twelve part journey. We need to have learned our Capricorn lessons of maturity and self-mastery to deal with the Aquarian world. Freedom is a dominant Aquarian impulse, which manifests as defiance of the status quo, an audacious spirit of experimentation, and enjoying being eccentric, controversial, and unpredictable. Aquarius does not aspire to anything conventional. On the contrary, it is drawn to the unconventional, fascinated by the unusual, and is motivated by the urge to challenge limitations.
 Innocence and Naiveté – ILLUSIONS
Aquarius feels at home and its creativity is stimulated when it is part of a group that actively engages in progressive projects and interesting adventures. The Water Bearer’s comfort zone is in community, where equality, diversity, and innovation are the accepted norm, or at least shared goals.
The Water Bearer likes the intellectual exchange and mental stimulation that is available when relating to people of different cultures and interests. Mature Aquarius transcends selfishness, jealousy, competition, different values, religions, and ideologies. Everyone is considered a friend and part of our common humanity.
Innocent Aquarius assumes that everyone shares the higher vision of justice and a good life for all and that people of diverse origins and beliefs will cooperate toward this common goal.
 Wake up and Pain – CIRCUMSTANCES
The following circumstances are related not only those with strong Aquarian energy, but to everyone who lives in the Aquarian Age.
The Aquarian archetype is associated with bizarre behavior. What may seem OK to Aquarius, may appear to others as weird mannerisms, eccentric modes of living, inappropriate responses, and strange ways of expressing oneself. Whether one is acting out of a distorted view of reality, or simply doing things in an alternative way that varies from the norm, the individual can be considered abnormal or different and feels alienated. When feelings of victimization are exaggerated, one feels justified to counteract with negative responses. In extreme cases, perverted thoughts and mental scenarios lead to criminal, dangerous, and destructive actions.
A major lesson for Aquarius is learning to know and be comfortable being one’s unique self. Recognizing the reality of individuality and observing that everyone is in their own way doing their own thing, helps to get a workable perspective.
As an air sign, Aquarius has a natural tendency to disconnect from its emotions and body. On the positive side, its psychic attunement makes it possible to connect with the wisdom and inspiration of non-physical dimensions of reality. In extreme cases it is psychotically detached. Examples of this are mass murders.
The nervous and erratic nature of Aquarian energy can cause mental, emotional, and physical problems. The mind may compute too fast to synchronize with the slower pace of physical reality. The frenetic mental energy may throw off one’s physical rhythm, making it difficult to stay in the body and to emotionally assimilate energetic stimuli. This energetic disconnect can create imbalance, nervous disorders, nervous breakdowns, mental illness, schizophrenia, and autism.
When electrical brain impulses and chemical messages are not coherent, the individual can experience brain overload and the inability to process information. Those who are unable to adapt to the fast pace of life, accelerating changes, and the higher energy frequencies, succumb to disorientation in a chaotic world. Everyone is, at least periodically, impacted by the erratic nature of Aquarian energy, which can subject one to unexpected reactions to buried wounds from shocking events including post traumatic stress syndrome. Our common challenge is the learn how to deal with these higher frequencies and unpredictable inner and outer occurrences.
Events related to the individual/group dynamic are a major source of Aquarian wake up calls.
If the Aquarian soul’s need to be part of a group is not supported by emotional maturity and the ability to discriminate, its desire for acceptance and inclusion at any price can cause it to blindly submit to group norms and to lose (or not develop) its personal values, preferences, and sense of self.
Aquarius can suffer from social expectations and peer pressure. The Aquarian need for a group to feel fulfilled can set it up to be ostracized, excluded, harassed, tormented, and emotionally abused. Its worst fear of being alone with no friends can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
When Aquarius is too absorbed in and identified with its social life. it can suffer deep anguish when the group disperses (friends go off to college, get married, or move out of town) and the supportive environment is no longer available to meet one’s social and emotional needs. The Leo polarity is always present to remind the groupie to have a life of one’s own.
Over identification with a group can cause one to succumb to pressure to conform in ways that don’t align with one’s own values and nature. In the worse cases, one allows oneself to be sucked into gangs and other groups that oblige one to participate in antisocial, unhealthy, and illegal behavior.
Social Challenges and Psychological Abuse
Being left out, abused, or punished by a group that one gives allegiance to is a sign that one has become too engulfed and is losing one’s self. These are wake up calls directing us to reclaim our individuality, to find our self-worth inside ourselves, and to free ourselves from dependence upon group and social involvement.
Other Aquarian life challenges result from being treated like a replaceable number in situations like a factory, prison, or oppressive political/social system. These challenges emerge when the collective identity is glorified at the expense of the individuals of which the collective is comprised. When the individuals do not get their needs met and are not motivated through self-interest to contribute, they will undermine, instead of build, the collective spirit and sabotage the collective goals. A collective spirit cannot be ideologically and politically imposed. It is built, not through anonymity and unrewarded self-sacrifice, but by meeting the needs and rewarding the creativity of its members.
Depression and deep emotional ennui result from feeing used, unimportant, and manipulated. Seemingly unexplained anger erupts when the human spirit, which desires to be free, can no longer tolerate the dark shadow of systemic abuse, denial, and anonymity. The relentless Aquarian impulse, guarantees that both subtle and flagrant systemic abuse and human rights violations will eventually destroy an impersonal, heartless system.
Aquarian life challenges also emerge when individuals are not given the chance to develop themselves fully, and when natural creativity and curiosity are suppressed. When material means and social support are absent and when opportunities are seriously restricted, the individual may fail to advance in life and not develop a sense of individual will and self-worth. Serious challenges result from growing up in underprivileged environments, and being subject to racism, sexism, and classism. Defeatist attitudes that condemn the individual from succeeding in life must be acknowledged and overcome.
When one is considered inferior (or superior) and excluded because of social, economic, intellectual, and material gaps, the feeling of separation must be addressed. When one is a victim of the lack of equality and systemic inequality, disappointment and rage often cause one to react inappropriately to the situation. The motivation and consequences of one’s actions must be addressed.
Alternative Groups and Experiences
It is an Aquarian phenomenon that innocent, gullible individuals join alternative groups, which sometimes turn out to be unhealthy or even dangerous ‘cults.’ (like Jim Jones) The individuals naively believe the idealistic concepts and way to salvation, as set out by a leader who appears to be a prophetic guru/genius. Being part of a special group meets the needs of the individual who likes feeling like a chosen one in a progressive organization that can set the example of how to improve the world. The initial high of finding a group that is worth being a part of is often subsequently followed by deception, which can include emotional abuse and financial robbery. One’s initial fantasies are replaced by the fact that one has been duped and taken advantage of. The illusive safe refuge becomes a terrifying world when one’s questioning is counter attacked with threats, belittlement, and humiliation.
The wake-up calls in this type of situation require one to recognize that it was our need for community that drew us in. We must be willing to be on our own until we can develop our discrimination faculties and make more intelligent choices. The individualistic drive for freedom motivates Aquarius to extricate itself from freedom-threatening associations. We realize that the ‘radical, progressive’ approach was in fact an illusion.
For the individual who grows up in a privileged socio-economic milieu with elitist ways of living, the desire may arise to leave the sheltered bubble and experience the realities of the less fortunate. Aquarius may wish to experience for oneself the struggles associated with poverty and discrimination. The ultimate goal is to play a role is changing unjust and inequitable situations and systems.
Disillusionment and discontent are motivating factors in the Aquarius awaking process. There are many real life situations that call Aquarius to action. The negative effects of technological innovation are great motivators. They include environmental destruction, pollution of drinking water, global warming, and the unhealthy affects of genetically modified food.
 Accepting the Evolutionary Nature of the Human Journey – EFFORT AND LESSONS
In some way Aquarius feels estranged from society. Whatever the reason, be it social, educational, economic, educational, or political, it is part of the Aquarian path to bridge the gap between self and society. It is up to Aquarius to figure out how to productively integrate him or herself into the collective.
Much to my amazement, I have seen Aquarians who feel alone and left out in loving, inclusive, and supportive groups. Witnessing the ‘I feel excluded’ phenomenon made me realize that the rejection that Aquarius feels is intrinsic to the Aquarian psyche and internally generated. It is part of the Aquarian path to attract situations that generate dissatisfaction and aloneness. We use these situations to grow. We learn how to forge connections that make it possible to build community and create an atmosphere where everyone can effectively participate in making the world a better place.
Stagnation is an anathema to Aquarius. Ironically Aquarius is a fixed sign, which means that taking the initiative and making changes are often difficult and even resisted. The positive side of fixity is that it creates great inner strength and physical stamina. I have observed Aquarians with nervous systems that seem to be forged of steel. Their ability to emotionally disconnect gives them the capacity to take on projects with demanding social dynamics, rise above the fray, and stay focused on achieving their goals.
For those with a sensitive nervous system, Aquarian energy obliges us to simplify life and to let go of activities and attitudes that produce too much stress. Aquarius must design a life style that incorporates alone time, where one is not under the scrutiny of the group politic and the public eye. Aquarius’s affinity for social gatherings and interactions must be balanced with private time, where we center ourselves, connect to our personal values, and nurture our bodies.
The Aquarian ability to connect with non-physical dimensions of reality may kept us out of the body and disconnected from the Earth, the body, and daily life. The Aquarian tendency to live in the head, creates the need to integrate the mundane and adapt to physical reality.
 Ego Definition, Separation and Individualization – EMPOWERING SELF
With its ace card detachment, Aquarius can remain free from group pressure, and at the same time maintain its relationship with the group. While working toward consensus, Aquarius is able to stand strong in its independence and hold on to its personal perspective.
Aquarius wants to identify with a group and feel like it belongs, but its actions and detached attitude (which some perceive as distant and cold) can create alienation. Integrating its Leo polarity and the qualities of passion and compassion is required for Aquarius to connect with others in an authentic heart space. It is only in the heart that Aquarius can overcome the haunting feeling of being excluded.
The question is, in what milieu does Aquarius feel it belongs? It is critical to understand that feeling odd, eccentric, and outside the normal group dynamic is part of the Aquarian package that allows it to be an innovator, iconoclast, and rebel. Aquarius can console itself by observing the pathetically unauthentic behavior that is considered normal. The vast majority of the human population indulges in behaviors with deleterious effects that defy common sense. Who is weird?
Like every archetype, Aquarius needs to identify and develop its strong suit. Aquarius is adept at (and enjoys) relating to others whose life styles and belief system differ significantly from its own. Aquarius can distance itself from personal attachments and simply enjoy (or profit from) our common humanity. Aquarius embodies the essence of community when it is working with others to achieve common goals.
In the challenging category, Aquarius has a tendency to get lost in ideals and projects. Aquarius must connect with and maintain royalty to Self to be able to effectively participate in social and political transformation. It is our relationship with our heart and our higher mind that makes it possible to come up with innovative ideas and creative visions.
Aquarian’s empowerment process also involves learning to make better choices concerning the groups we identify with and the ‘friends’ with whom we associate. If it is intimate friendship that Aquarius desires, we have to avoid superficiality and cold detachment and stay connected to our heart.
Aquarius is fascinated by intellectual concepts and easily disregards its emotional and nurturing needs. Aquarius needs to become aware of how it escapes into impersonal aloofness and when and how external focus diverts it from dealing with its own insecurities. Aquarius needs to learn how to process its emotions, instead of escaping into the head. Aquarius must become aware of when it distances itself from the emotional and spiritual components of existence. This impersonal disconnection is one cause of the misuse of scientific and technological knowledge, which can end up fostering dehumanization instead of achieving humanitarian goals.
 Developing Awareness and Consciousness – HIGHER PERSPECTIVE
Aquarian territory is the higher mind, where we are able to transcend superstitions, belief systems, and conditioning that enslaves us to the status quo. Aquarius reaches for higher logic and a transpersonal perspective, which eliminates the need for comforting, guilt-producing, and bogus belief systems. The higher mind demystifies ignorant concepts of reality.
Ideally, Aquarius lives where spirituality and science meet. The Aquarian vision of unity and community is founded in an expanded perspective of the relationship between cosmos, Earth and humans. Awake Aquarius experiences the connection between the human mind and universal mind and higher intelligence.
Progress in achieving idealistic goals is painfully slow. Assimilation of new ideas into the collective consciousness sometimes seems like an impossible task. When we are overcome by frustration and a sense of futility, it is easier to criticize than to take action. Aquarius can be cold, sarcastic and cynical. Its mental faculties are best used to understand what needs to be done and doing something about it. Aquarius definitely needs a higher perspective to stay sane in an insane world.
In the Aquarian Age, we have to learn how to deal with a conservative political and economic reality. We have to understand that we are witnessing an evolutionary battle between progress/freedom and fundamentalism/fanaticism. A new worldview is struggling to be defined and born against an obsolete worldview held in place by an elite that maintains power through systemic corruption and the ideological naiveté of masses.
Like every archetype, the Aquarian archetype expresses in both progressive and regressive ways.
For example, when the lower classes have been excluded from the benefits of progress, they can sabotage progress that could be of great benefit. Those in power can take advantage of conservative values and encourage religious fanaticism to capture the allegiance of those who have been left behind. Ironically in some places in the world, the old guard is gaining support of the masses by claiming to address their needs and creating a sense of community within which they feel included. We live in a complex and crazy world.
 New Territory and an Expanded Reality – SPIRITUAL CONNECTION
As an air sign, Aquarian territory and comfort zone is the mind. Aquarius indulges in thinking, analysis, imagination, and what is beyond normal consciousness. It is interested in virtual realities, science fiction, altered states of awareness, trances, hypnosis, psychic phenomenon, and out of body experiences. All of the above can be entertaining and sometimes useful, but mind stimulation can also be used to avoid emotional involvement and spiritual connection. Focused on mental and intellectual pursuits and scientific and technological aspects of progress, we can be disillusioned when the technical solutions do not solve the world’s problems, and even make them worse.
Aquarius teaches us that it is imperative in the Aquarian Age to awaken and operate from the neutral mind. In the ego dualistic mind, individuals and the collective are apt to cling to conservative values and to serve evil forces.
The awakened Water Bearer is a vehicle for higher consciousness. For Aquarius to realize progressive goals, its neutral mind must be available receive its directives from the universal mind. The Aquarian spiritual goal is to seek higher guidance so that the human mind can serve as a channel for innovation, inventions, and inspiration. The Leo polarity teaches us that Love must be integrated into all political, economic, scientific, and technological equations.
 Work is Worship and Life Is Sacred – MISSION AND DESTINY
How can we simultaneously be a groupie and a radical doing our own thing? This is possible under idealistic conditions when the group honors and gives space to individual creativity and expression, and when the individuals respect and serve the collective. This combination is difficult when individuals see the need for upgrades and transformation, and those in power resist change and cling to the status quo. This is usually the case.
The Aquarian principle inspires us to not submit to mediocre consensus. However, we do have to give up extreme eccentricity that prevents us from relating in a meaningful way to our global family. Aquarius’s salvation is to choose and commit to an innovative project that serves humanity. Collaboration, altruism, and inclusiveness are our touchstones.
Aquarius and Leo teaches us that every innovative, humanitarian project and effort makes a difference. Our Aquarian persona exerts public influence. Every committed person impacts the whole.
Those with an Aquarian spirit dedicate their lives to the improvement of the quality of life for everyone. Aquarius often addresses the primitive/progressive dynamic – the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is concerned with issues related to modernization and survival, how to take advantage of technological developments and maintain cultural integrity — how to integrate, adapt, and profit from technological advances and take advantage of new opportunities, while respecting cultural differences.
The Aquarian spirit brings the future into the present with science fiction and prophetic cinema. It sets new trends in fashion, art, media, and technology. Aquarians may be involved in online business, virtual communities, mass communication, and bringing science and spirituality together.
Aquarius also carries out research that ‘designs’ the future, bringing in new knowledge in the fields of science, technology, physics, and medicine. Whatever field, the Aquarian spirit inspires us to solve problems and find new ways to uplift the human condition and deal with global challenges. Special areas of interest include human rights, socio-economic equality, and new approaches to mental and physical health. The overall goal is social progress in advancing society toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
It is not only what Aquarius does, but how it carries out its work. Since the economic and political structures are controlled by the status quo, Aquarians are gifted with higher intelligence and inventiveness, which they must use to outsmart opponents of change. The Aquarian spirit gives us hope.
Fernandez, Maurice, ‘Neptune, the 12th House and Pisces,’ Trafford Publishing, 2004.
Le Grice, Keiron, “The Archetypal Cosmos,” Floris Books, 2010.