“Uranus is the awakener, whose job is to keep us faithful to what keeps us unique, fascinating and weird.” Montufar
In the ancient wisdom tradition astrology, Saturn was long considered to be the ruling planet of Aquarius, but the discovery of Uranus in 1781 led to this unusual planet being assigned the role.
Uranus is unique as the only planet in our solar system that rotates on its horizontal axis. He literally rolls through the universe, and at an amazing speed – for while the planet is 47 times the size of the earth, a day lasts only 10 earth hours. Mythologically, Uranus was the original male principle, the Sky God, who was castrated by his son Chronos (Saturn), after which his sexual energies were channelled into the creation of art and beauty. The first Uranian moons that were discovered were named after the faeries of Midsummer Nights Dream – Titania, Oberon, Umbriel, Miranda, and Puck.
Ganymede was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus’ wine-pourer, for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.— Homer, Iliad, Book XX, lines 233–235
The mythology of Aquarius is the story of Zeus, king of the gods, falling for the beautiful Ganymede, son of Tros, the founder of Troy – the God transforming himself into an eagle to swoop down and whisk the young man to the heavens from the fields where he was tending sheep, a humble pursuit often characteristic of a hero’s boyhood before his privileged status is revealed. In Heaven Ganymede replaced Zeus’ daughter as cup bearer to the Gods, when she went to marry Herakles. In some versions she stays around and Ganymede is the personal cupbearer to Zeus. The God compensates his father with some fine horses and the reassurance that Ganymede will hold the fine distinction of being his cup-bearer and will become immortal, which the King was happy with. When the goddess Hera became jealous however, Ganymede was forced to move on, and Zeus placed him in the sky forever as the water bearer constellation Aquarius.
“The mythological traditions about Ganymede beautifully evoke the numinous dimension of same-sex love. The myth persuades that to love a youth with the passion, tenderness, and fidelity exhibited by Zeus is divine. It also expresses the sense in which the beloved is eternally young and beautiful, how what is literally true at the beginning of a relationship may for the soul, the psyche, remain true ‘forever’.” MYTHS AND MYSTERIES OF SAME-SEX LOVE, Christine Downing. Published 1989
Planet Earth is currently on the zodiacal cusp transitioning from the AGE OF PISCES to the AGE OF AQUARIUS, from a age of WATER (characterised by FAITH) to one of AIR (the element of KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING). The rise in the late 20th century of the great causes of human rights, racial and gender equality, gay liberation, plus the advances in communication through digital technology are all signs of this shift occurring.
GAY RIGHTS AND URANUS
Uranus is regarded in astrology as the REVOLUTIONARY, the AWAKENER. This fits well with the role as ruler of Aquarius in bringing human equality to the fore and taking queerness to its rightful place in the human story. Same sex love and non-binary gender variance have been the most repressed of humanity’s many diverse traits.
By tracing the passage of Uranus, the ruling planet of Aquarius, through the zodiac over the last century it is possible to detect how the r-evolutionary Uranian energy is influencing the progress of lgbtq+ rights.
When the first group campaigning for gay rights in the USA, the Mattachine Society, was formed in the USA in 1950. Uranus had just begun its journey through the sign of the Divine Mother energy, Cancer. This was the moment, I suggest, when some significant number of the gay people of the world started to listen to her call to us to come home to ourselves, to believe strongly that we could claim our place in and enjoy the respect of society after so many centuries of it being denied us. (The very first gay rights group in the world was in fact in Germany, formed in 1897 the Wissenschaftlich-humanitares Komitee (WhK or “Scientific-humanitarian Committee”) sent petitions to parliament signed by 200 professional men. Uranus was in Scorpio at the time, a water element sign just like Cancer, and the sign of rebirth and transformation),
The practical work of legislation relating to gay rights happened in the UK in the 1960s, leading to the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, while Uranus was in Virgo, a sign that works to improve the world.
The spark moment for gay rights, however, came with the Stonewall Riots, June 28- July 1st, 1969. Uranus had just completed its journey through Virgo four days earlier and was settling into its long stay in Libra, the sign that most believes in justice. The rise of gay rights is part of the evolutionary drive towards balancing the overbearing patriarchal energies,still dominant in the modern world. The revolutionary Uranian energy burst forth, anger manifesting. The conciliatory, assimilationist, approach of the Mattachine Society was not producing results, but from 1969 onwards gay visibility, activism and pride spread through the western world.
During the incubation years of the HIV virus spreading quietly among gay men, the late 70s, Uranus was in the mysterious darkness of Scorpio, with the first case later recognised as AIDS coming in 1980. While Uranus was in Sagittarius (1981-88) the search for ways to treat HIV was underway, as was the rise of a politicised and self-conscious queer community, and the early growth of the now global pagan, essentialist group the Radical Faeries, that embraces and explores spiritual and communal depth of connection as core traits of queerness. Those of us coming out in the 1980s entered a gay scene in which a sense of community, of the need to work together for our very survival, was strong. This community sense was catalysed through adversity – AIDS deaths and political apathy or outright hostility. The UK Conservative government’s introduction of Clause 28 in 1988, outlawing the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in education, galvanised us in the UK further. Gay Pride events swelled in numbers and determination.
While Uranus was traversing Capricorn (1988-1996) many efforts were made to raise our game, the fight for equality and a treatment for AIDS were our top priority, then once our queer planet settled for the long haul through its home sign Aquarius in 1996, things really began to speed up for lgbtq visibility, rights and acceptance. This was the turning point in the AIDS struggle as effective treatments became available and the Uranus in Aquarius years saw an outpouring of spiritually themed writings by gay authors, including Andrew Ramer (Two Flutes Playing), Toby Johnson (Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective), Christian de la Huerta (Coming Out Spiritually), David Nimmons (Soul Beneath the Skin), John Stowe (Gay Spirit Warrior), Winston Leyland (Queer Dharma), Will Roscoe (Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love), Christopher Penczak (Gay Witchcraft), Michael Thomas Ford (The Path of the Green Man).
In the UK, an equal age of consent for gay men was finally enacted in 2000, while Uranus was in its home sign Aquarius. During this transit (1996 – 2003), in the post AIDS, millennial world, it might be said that acceptance of gay people finally arrived. Wikipedia reports that in the USA, “In four landmark rulings between the years 1996 and 2015, the Supreme Court invalidated a state law banning protected class recognition based upon homosexuality, struck down sodomy laws nationwide, struck down Section of the Defense of Marriage Act, and made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.” The moves to recognise same sex relationships, through civil partnerships and marriage, spread around the world while Uranus was in the emotional, universal, compassionate energy of Pisces 2003-2010.
Neptune joined Uranus in Aquarius in 1998 and stayed in the sign until 2011. The mystical God of the Oceans brought a powerful escapist energy into the picture, reflected in a vast expansion of drug use on the gay scene at that time. In fact for gay men, during that period sex became widely associated with heavy drug use, and with associated casualties lost to addiction or overdose. Neptune moved into its home sign Pisces in 2011, which energy is related to both intoxication and spirituality, and is traversing there until 2025. Drug use among gay men is not abating, despite the horror stories of dependency, delirium and death we’ve been hearing for some years now, but there has been a huge rise in spiritual or community gay groups, seeking more variety and depth of connection than the commercially driven gay scene generally offers, and many men are finding the path to self-healing and spirituality through the process of recovery. The message of Neptune in Pisces for gay men is that spirituality is the solution to addiction, and that in fact spirituality can lead us to all the heights and blissful experiences we seek through drug use. Spirituality is about opening the doors to bliss, and keeping them open – while drugs just give us a temporary, ultimately destructive, experience.
During the period of Uranus in Aries 2010 – 2018 we saw r-evolutionary developments in the form of the Arab Spring, Occupy movement, a reinvigorated women’s movement and the birth of Black Lives Matter, and also the huge disparity in rights and conditions for LGBTQ people around the world came very much into focus, leading more queers to think more deeply about who we really are. This period saw the rapid rise of genderqueer terminology, transgender people came much more into society’s awareness, identity itself was undergoing the radical revolutionary effect of Uranus in the sign of the Ram, the sign of the ‘I Am’, as the planet commences a new traversal of the zodiac from the first sign.
Uranus in Aries also saw the birth of QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL in the UK, a 5 day event bringing together a few hundred spiritually inclined queers from the whole LGBTQ spectrum, in a space where we dared to declare not only our love for each other but also our deep love for the planet, for nature, for humanity, to declare and demonstrate that queer people are in fact a Healing Tribe within the human race. We have always had a purpose – all beings have a purpose, there are no mistakes – but our role has been denied for so long that life itself is seriously out of balance. All forms of love, all forms of consensual adult sexuality, must be honoured to bring healing to the human race and thereby to the whole planet.
As Uranus moves through Taurus (2018-2026), the second sign of this new traversal of the zodiac, the energy is coming to bring the mystical awareness of who we are home to our bodies, to bring us into a deeper awareness that we belong here on this planet and that in our bodies sit the many fantastic energies we bring to the human show. Think Queers as Planetary Healers, Soul Doctors, Ecstatic Celebrants, Spirit Channels, and also Midwives to the Dying. When Uranus reaches communicative Gemini in 2026 it is more likely that the world will be ready to talk about this aspect of homo and transsexuality a lot more. Until then, Uranus in Taurus is about us queers embracing this reality in our own community, while also he is contributing to the rapid, unexpected changes the world is experiencing.
Astrologer Sarah Varcas points out that Uranus’ arrival in the first earth sign of the zodiac will remind us that the earth is a living goddess, our Great Mother, who is likely to push back like never before as humans continue to abuse and destroy her. To attempt to fix our mistakes is not enough, it is the very way that we think as a species that needs to evolve. She says that “By honoring an enduring commitment to caring for Our Mother and all her children of every form we dismantle, piece by piece, the patriarchal mind-set that equates aggression and domination with power, and love, compassion and generosity with weakness.”
19th century queer pioneers Karl Ulrichs of Germany and Edward Carpenter of the UK used the word Uranian to describe queer people, in the days before the psychological terms homosexual and heterosexual had been thought of. These terms, invented in the late 19th century, but only spreading widely in the 20th, limit gay people to being little more than our sexual expression. Ulrichs and Carpenter had a much grander vision of our nature, and chose Uranian as a suitable name because of the Goddess Aphrodite Urania, known in ancient Greece as the patron of same sex love.
These early pioneers saw great possibilities in the emancipation of the homosexual and transsexual spirit. Carpenter’s works include 1908’s ‘The Intermediate Sex’ in which he says,“The Uranian people may be destined to form the advance guard of that great movement which will one day transform the common life by substituting the bond of personal affection and compassion for the monetary, legal and other external ties which now control and confine society”.
In ‘Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk’, 1911, he identifies roles that many cultures reserve for homo- or transsexual people: “the priest, medicine-man or shaman, the prophet and the diviner, the artist and craftsperson and the true scientist, successor to the tribal observer of the stars and seasons, medicine and the herbs”.
Part of the Uranian revelation waiting to hit the world is that the religious hatred of homo- and trans-sexuality has its roots in the time when first Judaism, then later Christianity, were putting their efforts into eradicating the sex-positive, ecstatic earth-loving, goddess honouring religions of the ancient world. For example, the Old Testament tells of the presence, and attacks on, the Qedesha – the male sacred sex workers, labelled later ‘prostitutes’ by Christians, who worked in the goddess temples: the name means ‘The Anointed’ or ‘The Holy Ones’ but was translated in the St James Bible into English simply as ‘sodomites’ and is usually ‘male shrine prostitutes’ in modern versions. A principal rival to Christianity in its first centuries was the worship of Cybele, known in Rome as the Magna Mater (Great Mother), but whose worship went back more than 1000 years in Anatolia, in modern Turkey. She was served by trans priests, who were known as the Gallae. They travelled the land conducting ecstatic rituals, spreading their worship wherever the Romans spread their influence and were a prime target of Christian vitriol, who hated their flamboyant, loud, queer and sexual behaviour. A thousand years after the fall of the Empire and eradication of Cybele worship, when Europeans went out to conquer the world they found that indigenous cultures everywhere embraced people who embodied the traits of both genders. often they were highly regarded for their spiritual power, as they had been in ancient Europe also.
To the ancient peoples, homosexuality was just a fact of life – the myths of many cultures reveal this. The story of Zeus and Ganymede was not shocking in those times. The first attempts to control people’s sexuality came from the 6th century, once Christianity was well established as the official religion in Rome. After the Empire collapsed it would be several hundred years before aggressive religious and state sponsored homophobia directed at the general population took hold in Europe. The Christians developed during this time a belief that had previously only existed among the Jewish people – that sex was only for procreation. For pagans sex was a glorious gift and even a ritual practice. To impose this belief, non-productive sex had to be suppressed, though this was not enforced on the general population until the second millennium, when laws were introduced on continental Europe and the persecution of queers came under the remit of the Inquisition due to the general association at this time of same sex relations with both paganism and heresy. (Heretical groups tended to take a sex-positive attitude, in contrast to the Church). Henry VIII brought in the Buggery Act in England in 1533, though he mainly used it to target the Roman Catholic monasteries. Only in later centuries did it become used much more to persecute gay men. The death penalty for homosexuality stayed in place in England until 1861, only to be replaced by the Labouchere amendment, keeping gay sex illegal, and arrests common, until its partial decriminalisation in 1967. Only in 2000 was the age of consent for males in the UK set at 16, the same age as for heterosexuals.
In medieval law codes, sodomy is listed alongside other taboo practices such as divination and astrology because same sex activity was associated with magical practices of the goddess religions that the domineering energies of patriarchy sought to suppress. Those practices included communal danced rituals where people ‘lost their minds’, became filled with the ecstatic spirit of the gods and so had direct experience of themselves as part of an interconnected multiverse of many layers. The suppression of the feminine impulse, of the homo-erotic impulse and of ecstatic, communal celebration all went hand in hand. A glance at the deities most associated with ecstatic rituals (eg genderqueer Dionysus, virgin Diana), and the role that cross-dressing played in them, reveal that it was very much the queers who led the collective revelry and magic, who kept the people in touch with the spirit.
The control of the religious lives of the general population required the suppression of the rebellious, queer, ecstatic energies of sexuality. But Uranus is the awakener of what has been forgotten, and the link between sexuality, and particularly homo and trans sexuality, and the invisible spirit worlds is one of those crucial, central, vital, sacred things.
Uranus in Taurus brings this earth shattering, mind opening, spirit nurturing message: THE BODY IS HOLY. SEX IS SACRED. HOMOSEX IS HOLY. GENDER IS FLUID. HEAVEN IS FOUND WITHIN.