10. A’qua’r’i-us- the curiosity of the zodiac

Written by probationideadlyi on February 24th, 2013. Posted in Constellations Legends

While by the Horse's head the Water-Pourer
Spreads his right hand
Aratos

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Water is necessary for life. In ancient times, when the constellations were originally depicted and named, the wet season began about the same time that the sun entered this constellation (in the Mediterranean, there are essentially two seasons: cool and wet, and hot and dry). Thus, it was natural that this group of stars should somehow be connected with water. You will find that Aquarius is surrounded by other water-related signs: Pisces the fish, Eridanus the river, Cetus the sea monster, Capricorn the sea goat, Delphinus the dolphin, and Pisces Australis, the southern fish. According to several authors, this entire region of the sky is referred to as “The Sea”.

 

The Water Bearer is often depicted as a man pouring water from an urn. However, this constellation is also sometimes referred to as the Cup Bearer, a person who waited upon important people and brought them water.

The astronomers of all nations, with the exception of the Arabians, have adopted the figure of a man pouring water from a jar or pitcher to express this constellation.
The Arabs, being forbidden by law to draw the human figure, have represented this sign by a saddled mule carrying on his back two barrels of water, and sometimes by only a water bucket. They called the constellation "Al-Dawl," the "Well Bucket," and not the "Water Bearer."
For some reason, all the ancients imagined that the part of the sky occupied by the Water Bearer and neighbouring constellations contained a great celestial sea. Here we find the Whale, the Fishes, the Dolphin, the Southern Fish, the Sea Goat, the Crane, (a wading bird), and even Eridanus, the River Po, is sometimes shown as having its source in the Waterman's Bucket. It also seems appropriate that
Pegasus is situated in this region of the sky, for the winged horse was the Phoenician emblem of navigation, and the star Markab, as Alpha Pegasi was called by the Arabs, signifies a ship or vehicle.
According to Ideler, the reason for this designation of " the Sea" for this region of the heavens is because the sun passes through this part of the sky during the rainy season of the year.

An Egyptian legend averred that the floods of the Nile were caused by the Water Bearer sinking his huge urn into the fountains of the river to refill it, and accordingly this constellation represented to the Egyptians the rainy period of the winter season. However, the Egyptians were probably indebted to some other people for their knowledge of this constellation, for Egypt is not a land subject to heavy
rains.
Aquarius is represented even on very early Babylonian stones as a man or boy pouring water from a bucket or urn ; around the waist is a scarf, part of which is held up by the left hand. For some reason, which is lost to us, his right arm is stretched backward to the fullest extent possible so as to reach over almost the entire length of the constellation Capricornus, which bounds Aquarius on the
west.
The significance of the pouring of the water from the urn into the mouth of the Southern Fish is also unaccounted for. The conception is such a singular and striking one that it was evidently the result of design rather than fancy.
Maunder referring to this peculiar figure says: "Strangely enough through all the long centuries that the starry symbols have come down to us, Aquarius has always been shown as pouring forth his stream of water into the mouth of a fish, surely the strangest and most bizarre of symbols."
According to Norse mythology, Aquarius was considered Wall's palace, and it was supposed to be covered with silver.
In the Indian zodiac, the name of the constellation is "Kumbha," meaning "Water Jar." Allen states that
Kumbha is from xo^jl^y), or Storm-god. Here again we find the constellation associated with rain and tempest. Brown tells us that Aquarius in the Hebrew zodiac represented the tribe of Reuben, "unstable as water." 
In Greek mythology, Aquarius represented Ganymede, the cup-bearer of the gods. Ganymede was a beautiful youth of Phrygia, and the son of Tros, King of Troy. He was taken up to heaven by Jupiter as he was tending his father's flocks on Mt. Ida, and became the cup-bearer of the gods in place of Hebe.
 

In a Roman zodiac, Aquarius was represented by a peacock, the symbol of Juno, the Greek Here, in whose month GameHon (Jan -Feb.) the sun was in this sign. Aquarius has also been represented as a goose, another bird sacred to the goddess.

In February, the Aquarius month, the sun entered the Peruvian sign known by the name "Mother of Waters" and "Eagle Bridge." The Water Mother was figured as a sacred lake located in the Southern Fish and the Crane.
The month of February marks the height of the rainy season in the Andes, and the rivers are then in flood so that the powers of the Mother of Waters are at this season most conspicuously displayed.
Allen  states that the New Testament Christians of the 16th and 17th centuries appropriately likened Aquarius to John the Baptist and to Judas Thaddaeus the Apostle.

In Babylonia this constellation was associated with the  11th month (Jan.-Feb.), called "Shabatu," meaning "the Curse of Rain," and the Epic of Creation has an account of the Deluge in its IInd book, corresponding to this the nth constellation, each of its other books numerically coinciding with the other zodiacal signs. In that country an urn seems to have been known as "Gu," meaning a water-jar overflowing. Plunket tells us that "Gu" is possibly an abbreviation of "Gula," the name of a goddess.

This goddess under another name was a personification of the dark water or chaos, hence the identification of the goddess Gula with the constellation Aquarius, In the cuneiform inscriptions of western Asia we read: "The planet Jupiter in the asterism of the Urn lingers."

Considering the imagined aqueous nature of this region of the sky it is not difficult, as Plunket says, to understand how the Vedic Rishis, who appear to have combined the characteristics of poets, scientists, and observers of the heavens, should have in 3000 B.C., when the sun was in conjunction with Aquarius at the time of the winter solstice, have described the fire of the solstitial sun as "hiding in, being born in, and rising out of the celestial waters of the constellation Aquarius."

Some suppose Aquarius represents Deucalion, who was placed among the stars after the celebrated deluge of Thessaly in 1500 B.C., and the creation legend connected with this constellation identifies it with the Flood. It maybe that Noah, desiring to perpetuate the record of the Deluge, found in the scroll of night a parchment that never fades, and in the stars characters that time cannot efface.

Aquarius has also been identified with Cecrops, the Egyptian who journeyed to Greece and founded Athens. Proctor in his Myths and Marvels of Astronomy tells us that Aquarius astrologically speaking is in the house of Saturn. Its natives, those born between Jan. 20th and Feb. 19th, are robust, steady, strong, and healthy, and of middle stature, delicate complexion, clear but not pale, sandy hair, hazel eyes, and generally of honest disposition. 
It governs the legs and ankles, and reigns over Arabia, Petraea, Tartary, Russia, Denmark, Lower Sweden, Westphalia, Hamburg, and Bremen. It is masculine and fortunate, and an aqueous blue colour is attributed to it. 
The Anglo-Saxons called Aquarius "se Waeter-Gyt," the "Water Pourer," and it was also known by the queer title "Skinker," which signifies a tapster or pourer out of liquor.

The astronomical symbol of the sign ………, representing undulating lines of waves, is said to have been the hieroglyph for water. The faint stars that seem to trail southward from the water-jar are many of them in pairs and triples, thus bearing out a stellar resemblance to a flowing stream.

In this region of the sky the 25th Hindu lunar station was situated. The Hindu name for it signified "having a hundred physicians," and it included a hundred stars, the Aquarius, the Water Bearer 
brightest being X Aquarii.

The regent of the asterism was Varuna, the god of the waters.
The Arab lunar station or manzil known as "the felicity of tents" was also located in this region of the heavens, and the early Christians saw in this constellation the figure of St. Jude.

Aquarius, in spite of the importance attached to it by the ancients, is an inconspicuous constellation. It is characterised by a "Y "-shaped figure representing the water-jar, composed of the stars…….. Aquarii. This figure was called Situla or Uma by the Latins. A rough map of South America and a rude dipper are also to be traced out in the stars of this constellation.

Alpha Aquarii is but one degree south of the celestial equator. It was called "Sadalmelik" by the Arabs, which means "the fortunate star of the king." This star marks the Chinese lunar station or Sieu, which they knew as "Goei."

The star Beta Aquarii was called by the Arabs "Sadal Sud," "the luckiest of the lucky," a title supposed to refer to the good fortune attending the passing of winter. This star and …. Aquarii constituted the Persian lunar station  known as "Bunda." On the Euphrates Beta Aquarii was known as the "star of mighty destiny."
The star Delta Aquarii marks the radiant point of the meteors known as the Delta Aquarids which appear from the 27th to the 29th of July, and in this vicinity Mayer, in 1756, noted as a fixed star the object that was later identified by Sir William Herschel as the planet Uranus.
….. Aquarii is a double, the two suns revolving in 1624 years.

 

How to remember Aquarius: The asterism of four stars near the top reminds one of the water faucet handle on those old-fashioned bathtubs or sinks. The group of stars below makes a fine bucket to pour in the water.

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