Uranus is our solar system's seventh planet, orbiting between Saturn and Neptune at an average distance of about 1.75 billion miles from the Sun. Since it is 20 times further away from the Sun than Earth, it takes Uranus 84 Earth years to travel around the Sun. The blue-green planet also has a day of a little more than 17 hours, 7 hours shorter than an Earth day. The way in which this planet travels is unusual and even eccentric. Rather than rotating on an axis that is perpendicular to the plane of its orbit, Uranus spins on its side with its south pole facing the sun. It also rotates from east to west, the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets.
The third largest planet in our solar system, Uranus is about four times the size of Earth. It is 30,000 miles in diameter, compared to Jupiter's 85,000-mile diameter. As with all gas planets, Uranus has very faint rings around it made up of large chunks of rocky material. Since the rocks are dark in color, the rings cannot be viewed well from Earth. Uranus also has more than 20 moons. The five largest were named for characters in the plays of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope: Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon.
Uranus was the first planet to be discovered by an astronomer. Earlier sightings had been made—John Flamsteed first recorded it in 1690—but it had been cataloged as a star. William Herschel spotted Uranus on March 13, 1781, and named the planet Georgium Sidus for George III, the king of England at that time. Many simply called the planet Herschel, after its discoverer. By the mid-1800s the agreed-upon name of Uranus came into common usage, which Bode had proposed as more consistent with the mythological names of the other planets.
The Greek god of the heavens, Uranus was an early supreme god who was the son and mate of Gaia, the creation goddess. An unpredictable, creative, and tyrannical god, he ate his children so they could not usurp his power in the future. He was father of the Titans, of which Cronus (Saturn) was one, and predecessor to the Olympian gods. On Gaia's bequest Cronus castrated Uranus and forced him to release the other children from his stomach, thus usurping his father's power after all.
As the first known planet beyond Saturn, the discovery of Uranus caused something of an upheaval in traditional astronomy and astrology circles. In addition, the timing of Uranus's discovery coincided with the independence revolutions of America and France and the industrial revolution in England. These disruptions of intellectual and political circles gave astrologers reason to believe that Uranus represented rebelliousness, disruptive influences, breaking away from traditional patterns or rules, as well as concern for humanity and brotherhood, progress, and inventiveness. Hence, it was suggested that Uranus ruled or coruled the zodiac sign of Aquarius.
In twentieth-century western astrology Uranus was given rulership of Aquarius, though traditionally and that role belonged to Saturn. Uranus is classified as an outer planet (outside of Saturn's orbit) and stays in each sign of the zodiac for seven years, and is thus considered to have a generational effect. Therefore, assigning rulership of a sign exclusively to an outer planet, including Uranus, is not as simple or appropriate as twentieth-century astrologers had hoped it might be. In light of discoveries from cross-cultural astrological studies and ancient texts, recently translated into English, which make apparent the logic behind Saturn's rulership of Aquarius, it appears more reasonable to continue using the traditional seven planet rulerships of the zodiac signs. However, it can be generally agreed upon that the newly discovered planets can add additional meaning as corulers of signs. Hence, Uranus is the coruler of Aquarius, along with Saturn as its main indicator.
In the Saturn world of the material and the structured, Uranus represents the rejection of rules that no longer serve us and the installation of a new paradigm that sees through the illusion of Saturn's limits. It is the crack in the cosmic view and it is the leap forward into the unknown led by intuition and inspired ideas. Uranus brings the sudden force that tears down unneeded walls so that something newer and better can be built from its foundations. Uranus is associated with humanity, ideals, eccentricity, philanthropy, originality, creative inspiration and genius, but also with chaos, accidents, disasters, antisocial behavior and radical individualism. It is a planet of personal and global transformation, but the way it brings this about is through sudden, swift, unexpected change. Uranus is like lightning—it seemingly comes from nowhere and illuminates with a brilliant flash. It is said to rule astrology, science, electricity, and technology, and is symbolized by inventors, scientists, humanitarians and revolutionaries.
Although the various planets are connected with a wide range of activities and objects, they also, when found in a natal chart, represent different parts of the psyche. Uranus represents the creative, innovative, freedom-seeking part of the self and its placement by sign and house shows much about how and where a person can best express his creative genius and originality, as well as where to anticipate sudden, dramatic change. If the natal chart shows that Uranus was retrograde at birth, and Uranus retrogrades every year for five months, then the urge for freedom may be directed internally, leading to progressive ideas and advanced thinking. A retrograde Uranus afflicted by house placement or hard aspect, however, may indicate a native that is merely erratic or eccentric. In either case, interest in the occult may occur as well. A natal Uranus that is stationary points to a native that is very concerned with humanitarian issues, who may become an instrument of change.
Physically, Uranus is connected to the body's nervous system because of its association with electricity and electrical impulses. Those natives with a prominent Uranus in their chart, particularly if the planet is connected to the first house, can be high strung, oversensitive, and prone to nervous tension and exhaustion. Uranus-type illnesses come on suddenly and disappear just as mysteriously.
Bloch, Douglas, and Demetra George. Astrology for Yourself. Oakland, CA: Wingbow Press, 1987. Burk, Kevin. Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2001. Campion, Nicholas. The Practical Astrologer. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1987. Lineman, Rose, and Jan Popelka. Compendium of Astrology. Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1984.
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