Aquarius is the Water Bearer, depicted with a jug of water, that he empties out by his feet. It swells into a river, the cosmic source of the River Nile. This mighty river was seen as the source of life itself. Each year it would flood the valley, bringing with it not only the refreshing waters of life but also the sediments full of nutrients that would nourish the earth.
In Greek mythology, the sign of the Water Bearer is associated with the beautiful youth Ganymede, a son of Troy. Ganymede was minding his own business, when out of the blue sky a mighty eagle descended on him, picked him up and carried him off to Olympus. It is not clear, whether Zeus, who was behind the plot, in fact, took on the shape of an eagle and personally abducted the youth, or whether he ordered one of his fleets to do the deed for him. Apparently, Zeus not only went after beautiful maidens but after handsome lads as well.
He fancied young Ganymede as his cupbearer, a high ranking position imbued with utmost trust. Ganymede not only poured the nectar for the Gods at their assemblies but tasted of this divine life-giving liquid as well. However, this could also be a risky job, for that jug may have been poisoned.
Psychologically, Aquarius signifies that part of the human spirit that is closest to our divine source. He tastes the life-giving nectar, and thus his eyes are opened to things that lie far outside the normal human range of vision.
As a mortal, he also want to help his fellow men and transfer some of those inspirations to mankind. Yet, these gifts from another realm are also dangerous. The waters that restored the life in the Nile delta could also bring death and destruction. The cup of enlightenment, could also bring madness.
Aquarius stands for that ‘in-between’ state – standing between the realm of the Gods and that of ordinary mortals. As such he is a visionary, and a reformer, always seeking for ways to improve the human condition.