The Allegorical Teacher

Character Type in Astrology

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 from 1902 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.

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.

Zodiac Archetypes

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 claimed that there is a number of archetypes 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. He also meant that the archetypes as inner clues to self-realization.

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 sort of completely. The twelve characters can be seen as separate individuals making up the variety that mankind offers, or they can represent the different aspects and potentials of any one single person.

The Zodiac Star Constellations, by Albrecht Dürer.

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