According to Western astrology originating in the Babylonian era, the ecliptic in the sky can be divided into twelve equal 30° parts, starting from the point of intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial equator. This point of intersection is called the First Point of Aries, making Aries the first zodiac sign in the wheel. Each of these 30° degree sections have a constellation within them, from which each zodiac sign derives its name. There are twelve zodiac signs corresponding to the twelve cosmic sections: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
Each of these zodiac signs has a symbol attached to them to make representation and interpretation easier. Since this article talks about the sign of Aquarius, we shall delve a little deeper into this particular sign and its symbols.The first Aquarius symbol is that of a water-bearer. A water-bearer is a person whose occupation is to collect water from a natural source and drop it off for use to consumers. It was considered a selfless occupation, a 'humanitarian' one as their duty was to fulfil a basic human need. Much like the Aquarius symbol, Aquarians are known for their altruistic nature.
There are four elements with which each sign is associated. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire signs; Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are earth signs; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are air signs and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are water signs. It is clear as day just after some quick research that Aquarius is an air sign and people who know astrology well are well aware why Aquarius falls into this category. However, due to their symbol being the water-bearer, they are often mistaken as a water sign. Although easy to understand how it can be a little complicated for beginner-astrologers to differentiate between Aquarius being an air or a water sign, Aquarius is firmly entrenched in the air sign tradition. We can think about it this way, since Aquarians are the 'humanitarian' sign, they are the harbingers of change and radical thinking, they provide people with intellectual novelty and nourishment, much like the person in the symbol acting as a vessel for the nourishment of others. The focus is on the vessel, not the element that is in it. The idea that water represents emotions is also being taken into account, but the water represented in the Aquarius symbol is one of water that has been contained. It's water with restricted movement, not waves free to flow. Similarly, the idea that air signs rule intellect and logic and 'contain' their emotions from spilling over, unlike water signs, further deepens Aquarius into the air sign group. Like other air signs, Aquarius lets their head rule their heart and rely more on perception than on intuition.
The second symbol for Aquarius is a pair of parallel lines in a zigzag pattern. In Egyptian language primarily consisting of hieroglyphics, these two lines symbolise water being blown by the wind, once again, the emphasis is on the air element. It also represents the sharing of cosmic wisdom that Aquarians seek to do. The Aquarian motif is "I know" and they are more than willing to discuss their knowledge with other human beings. It is part of their soul's journey to help other people reach their highest intellectual potential. They are a social sign, the parallel lines also symbolize their fixed nature. Being a sign of the fixed modality, Aquarians can be stubborn about their beliefs and ideas but unlike another fixed sign Taurus,they would be more willing to reconsider when presented with alternative, more accurate information.
The third Aquarius symbol is the constellation of Aquarius itself. The water bearer in Ancient Greece was a Titan called Deucalion who was favorably disposed towards humans. After Zeus's threat to demolish humanity through a deluge, Deucalion and his wife survived and helped the human race rebuild themselves into a better and more wise version of themselves as opposed to the savagery they had earlier displayed. This almost 'life-giving' quality to humans precipitated the idea of Deucalion being a water-bearer. Aquarians too, are all about networking and establishing soul connections and finding their 'soul tribe' through dissemination of wisdom and compassion for the human race as a general.