Books by Stefan Stenudd:
The Thinker. Sculpture by Auguste Rodin, 1902.
The Aquarius Archetype
The Zodiac sign Aquarius is about knowledge and learning, the thought process towards increased wisdom. Its archetype is that of the teacher - teaching oneself as well as one's students. Aquarius celebrates the human brain and all that it can accomplish.
All over the world and in every human culture, since thousands of years, few things receive higher praise than the tradition of one generation teaching the next. That's how we remain human beings and that's how civilization can progress. What could be more important? The archetype of Aquarius is precisely about this.
It's basically a celebration of the fabulous brain we're equipped with and what it can accomplish. Without it, nothing would set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The wonderful melting pot inside our skulls is where it all begins, and who knows where it will end?
That's why I chose the famous Rodin sculpture The Thinker to illustrate this archetype. The process of contemplation is what produces a teacher. Otherwise, what's there to teach?
The Aquarius archetype is that of human thought evolving from one generation to the next, through the lifetimes of meditations and inquiries by all individuals forming the chain from a distant past to a distant future. It's a beautiful thing.
Another image of this essential process is that of the Greek philosophers who were the European pioneers of it. Thales, Plato, Aristotle, and their many brilliant colleagues. Teachers, all of them, understanding fully the great importance of their mission. They were thinkers, constantly, primarily urging their students to be the same. I've written about them and their thoughts here: Cosmos of the Ancients.
The School of Athens. Fresco by Raphael, 1511.
On Raphael's fresco for the Vatican above, many of the Antique Greek philosophers parade. At the center, of course, are Plato and Aristotle. They all knew their task and the importance of it. That's the archetype of Aquarius: the Teacher.
Indeed, the character of Aquarius is the philosopher, and the mission of Aquarius is that of the teacher. None amounts to much without the other.
The element of Aquarius is air, which is the element representing thought, of course. The ruler of Aquarius is Uranus, which is the planet that stands for insight reached through contemplation. Aquarius is all about wisdom and passing it on.
Archetype is a concept familiar already to Ancient Greece, where it was called archetupon and meant "first-moulded" - like a prototype. Plato had theories about mental ideas - or forms - that were imprinted in the human mind before birth.
The psychoanalyst C. G. Jung picked up the idea and developed his own meaning to the word. He claimed that there is a set number of models or types that we all share, without necessarily having been taught them. They're part of what he called our collective unconscious and influence how we look at reality and what we expect from it. He also meant that we should see these archetypes as inner clues as to how we can grow into self-realization.
I've written more about C. G. Jung's theory on archetypes here: Jung's Archetypes
I don't altogether share Jung's view on the concept, but there is some truth to the idea that certain roles or characters, as well as some inanimate objects, seem to be somewhat familiar to all mankind, as if innate. They are probably results of what it is to be human and the life experiences we share, although in sort of dream versions, more or less.
Although Jung stated that there is a fixed number of archetypes, he never made a list or even mentioned the number. He certainly imagined more than twelve. Still, the twelve signs of the Zodiac can fruitfully be seen as a system of archetypes, making a complete world of sorts - let's say the cast of characters needed to make a play that represents human life kind of completely.
The twelve characters can be seen as separate individuals making up the variety that mankind offers, at least in a generalized way, or they can represent the different aspects and potentials of any one single person. Each of us does play different roles to different people around us - through time, of course, as we grow older, but also in any moment of that time. We are children, parents, lovers, friends, adversaries, strangers - all of us, at one point or other, and very often several of the roles simultaneously.
So, I find it interesting to speculate about the Zodiac signs as archetypes of sorts, each representing one of the characteristics that we all have and all meet, simply because we are the creatures we are.
The Zodiac Star Constellations, by Albrecht Dürer.
I'm a Swedish writer and astrologer. I've written several books about astrology. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. Google Profile. Here's my personal website: stenudd.com