What, according to Steven Forrest’s The Book of Air, is an Aquarian’s evolutionary path? Collectively, the air signs indicate what we must do to bridge the gap between our subjective sense of self and the objective world around us. How do we grow in understanding so that we can better negotiate the work we have to do in the world and the relationships we are here to form? Gemini uses curiosity, questions, experiences to gain an ever-expanding body of information. Libra makes connections with the others, building a multi-layered perception of life itself by embracing the paradoxes found within it.
Aquarius, though, a fixed air sign, knows the beliefs, thoughts, philosophies, world-views of the collective it is raised in. Its job is to exercise the free-thinking skills innate to its character to rise above the dogma and form its own beliefs and world view. Any planets in Aquarius indicate what Forrest considers “doubting, questioning attitudes.” Culture often marginalizes those who do not fall in line with its mores, and its primary intent is to conserve itself. Aquarians are sometimes considered outliers because they challenge prevailing beliefs. Without Aquarius, Forrest tells us, there would be no human progress.
The Aquarius effect can be demonstrated by studying three Aquarian US Presidents. In the late 1970’s, the US was at low ebb. After losing the Viet Nam war mid-decade, the country was plunged into an economic crisis as oil prices skyrocketed, long lines formed at gas stations, and inflation raged out of control. Just 30 years earlier after the end of World War II, the US had emerged as a major military power with a brilliant shiny economy. Now that was gone, and to add to the collective hopelessness, terrorists in Iran seized members of the US Embassy and held them hostage for well over a year. An attempt to rescue them had fizzled out with an embarrassing display of ineffectual military might.
President Jimmy Carter, very hard-working, earnest, and dedicated, decried a “malaise” sweeping the country, and promised to continue to grimly plow ahead to solve America’s crises if elected for a second term. His unlikely opponent in the 1980 election was Aquarian Ronald Reagan, a former movie star with a kind of hokey cowboy-like persona. And to make his election even more of a long shot, he conducted a campaign of upbeat optimism, refusing to give in to the prevailing view that America’s best days were in the past. And, yes, he did promise to “make America great again.”
And, slowly, people began to shift their perspective. The candidates ran neck-in-neck leading up to the week before the election. And then Ronald Reagan won in a landslide victory. Leaving aside, as always when I discuss politicians, any analysis of how good or bad this was for the country, we can see that a willingness to step outside of prevailing wisdom to form one’s own perspective is very much an Aquarian move.
Aquarian President Franklin Roosevelt also found himself running counter to prevailing opinion as fascism and Nazism were sweeping across Europe in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. People in the US well remembered the ravages caused by “the Great War” and were resolute in refusing to engage in another European war – and they elected a Congress bound by their wishes. From his unique perspective, Roosevelt understood that Great Britain was the last bastion of hope against Hitler, and they were nearly tapped out. He knew that if dictatorships dominated our once close allies, our freedom as well was in danger. His hands tied to offer any aid to Great Britain, he spent a weekend on the presidential yacht contemplating this desperate situation.
Roosevelt emerged with a new perspective – and a plan. If you live in the country and your neighbor’s house is on fire, he told the American people, you will lend him your buckets and your hose. And once the fire is put out, you get your buckets and hose back. This was the beginning of the Lend Lease Act of 1941, when the US sent its tanks, planes, guns, bullets, and other badly needed weapons to the British troops fighting the Nazis – with the understanding they would be returned when the war ended. Roosevelt was able to satisfy Congress that the US involvement would end here, and the fight against fascism was empowered. Of course, Pearl Harbor months later would alter American’s position on the war, but the brilliance in thinking “outside the box” adds to our appreciation of this brilliant Aquarian President.
The most pivotal of our Aquarian Presidents was Abraham Lincoln. He ran a bitterly contested campaign in 1860 to win the Republican nomination. His sophisticated opponents looked down on Lincoln as an untried backwoodsman. It would be the conventional path that once Lincoln won the presidency, he would enjoy the triumph of besting those who had disparaged his ability to lead. Instead, he asked his rivals, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates, to join him in his administration and serve the nation, Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general. These men came to respect Lincoln, and together, they became a “team of rivals” which led the nation through its dark chapter of the Civil War.
Not following the conventional path and leading others to grow and evolve away from hide-bound beliefs is very much the evolutionary path of Aquarius. But at its heart is a deep belief in the freedom of each individual to decide his or her own path. When he stepped onto the battlefield at Gettysburg in 1863 to honor the thousands of lives lost four months earlier, Lincoln in a few simple sentences summed up the high stakes in the struggle to save the Union. Eighty-seven years earlier, four score and seven years ago, a small nation was formed based on the idea that we are all equal – something never before accomplished in the long history of the world. People would not be governed by those who dominated them, but through consensus and agreement among themselves. The spark uniting them was the belief in the innate dignity and the right to freedom of every human being. If we lose this Union, Lincoln believed, this precious ideal would be lost. By his words, Lincoln gave hope to a nation wearied of war and heartbroken with loss, that by continuing this struggle, we “shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”