Aquarius: Your Ultimate Guide To Understanding The Zodiac Sign

The mysterious, enigmatic, and progressive personalities born between January 20 and February 18 belong to the Aquarius sign. The 11th sign of the zodiac, Aquarians are a complex mixture of quirky and elegant, aloof and curious, opinionated and analytical, open-minded and inflexible. This unique blend makes them one of the most frequently misunderstood astrological signs, and one of the most difficult to crack. However, once you really get to know an Aquarius, their fun conversation, brilliant advice, and selfless nature make them great friends to have by your side.

Aquarians also have a strong desire for social justice, humanitarian endeavors, and philanthropic pursuits. They consistently focus their attention on the bigger picture, dreaming of a perfect world where all are equal and included. However, these folks don't just dream of a better world, they roll up their sleeves and put in the work to make it happen. They possess an incredible intellect and have a clever, dry wit that surprises and delights the people around them. With all of their strengths and faults, there is much to know about the complex, interesting zodiac sign.

The myths of Aquarius

Aquarius is one of the oldest constellations in the current zodiac, located between Capricorn and Pisces. It is symbolized by the Water Bearer, pouring out blessings, creativity, and knowledge onto humanity.

According to Greek Mythology, in one Ancient Greek myth, Zeus grew angry with the mortals below and decided to send a great flood to destroy them. He sent his son Aquarius, a water bearer, to pour water from the heavens until all but two righteous people were left — Deucalion and Pyrrha. Another Greek myth associated with Aquarius tells the story of Ganymede. In this story, Zeus sent his eagle Aquila to kidnap the mortal Ganymede to become his cupbearer, serving him wine from a golden cup for eternity. The constellation, which can be seen best in the fall in the southern sky, resembles Ganymede and his cup.

Other cultures associate different myths with Aquarius, although most revolve around significant floods. The Egyptians associated the flooding of the Nile with the Water Bearer, an annual occurrence that corresponded with the beginning of spring. The Sumerians also believed that Aquarius was responsible for a world-ending flood (via Windows to the Universe).

Aquarius is a fixed air sign

Though this sign is symbolized by free-flowing water, Aquarius is an air sign. As a result, Aquarius is a communicative and free-spirited sign that gets things accomplished. Despite being highly intellectual, logical, and analytical, Aquarius often has their head in the clouds. They are cerebral creatures known to pursue their wild, idealistic dreams in an orderly, procedural manner.

Aquarius belongs to the fixed modality (fixed sign), or the group of astrological signs that preserve tradition, uphold their responsibilities, and cannot be easily distracted. Fixed signs are steady and stable, preferring to dive deeper into a project and see it through to the end rather than kickstarting a project or adapting to something new. As a result of their fixed natures, Aquarians are not particularly flexible. They like it when things go their way and stick rigidly to their preconceived ideas with an unemotional, objective perspective. When the world doesn't work the way they believe it should, Aquarians may find themselves supremely irritated and simultaneously motivated to demand that others adopt their point of view.

Aquarius is innovative, clever, eccentric, and imaginative

Aquarians are weird in the very best way. Not only are they creative, clever free spirits, but they possess a level of unpredictability that keeps people on their toes. Astrologer and life coach Natha Campanella tells Well+Good: "They're quite quirky and can be a little unpredictable. They're always cutting edge and can be a little bit ahead of the trend because they're change-making and taste-making and breaking up the boring. They're definitely eccentric and have a different way about them." Generally, Aquarians are well-liked people with an innate charm that draws others to them. They have a deeply rooted sense of compassion for others. 

The Aquarian archetype is also one that exists entirely outside of what is considered normal or mainstream, a badge they wear with pride. They often have opinions that are unpopular or share their unconventional, abstract thoughts — sometimes just to keep things interesting. They are true individuals that are unapologetically themselves. Aquarians are also highly inventive and innovative. Nothing makes them happier than taking creative risks and putting their natural inquisitiveness to work to unlock the secrets of the world.

Aquarius has a rebellious streak and is often misunderstood

At heart, Aquarians are rebels who have an issue with authority. They think for themselves, are incredibly self-reliant, and despise being told what to do or how to do it. They fearlessly forge their own path, regardless of what others think. Sometimes, they have a substantial reason for rebelling, other times they simply enjoy the thrill of defying convention. "Aquarius is not beyond opposing you merely for the sake of opposing you," psychic reader and spiritual healer Emily Newman tells Best Life. "This air sign is constantly thinking, planning, plotting, and waiting for the right moment to strike." Although Aquarius has a rebellious streak a mile wide, they aren't anarchists. Rather, their goal is to challenge current societal conventions to ensure they are inclusive, modern, and effective for all.

Many Aquarians feel misunderstood simply because they embody seemingly conflicting ideals. For starters, Aquarians are social creatures who love to self-isolate. They love to share their thoughts and ideas with other people and enjoy volunteering and working with others to better their community. However, they prefer to spend their free time alone. Many people believe Aquarians to be emotionless and cold, and while they may have a stony exterior or struggle to express their feelings, beneath the surface they are caring individuals that long to be of service. These misunderstandings cause Aquarians to put up walls, making it extra tricky to get to know them.

Overthinking and stress get the better of Aquarius

While every individual is prone to bouts of overthinking and stress, Aquarians are extra sensitive to excessive worrying. They are so idealistic and analytical that it is easy for them to get stuck in their own heads. Oftentimes, Aquarius will let their powerful mind get the better of them, creating problems where there aren't any. Aquarians also tend to focus their attention on others' problems and needs, which can cause undue stress they don't make time to deal with properly. "Overthinking is a huge component of being an Aquarius, so they need to consistently practice awareness so that exhaustion doesn't creep up on them," astrologer Corina Crysler tells Well+Good.

Astrologist Sharita Star agrees, explaining to Women's Health: "Being that Aquarius is always trying to save the world, they need to schedule important time away in order to continue finding solutions for the betterment of humanity. Solitary ways to get away from it all are recommended for this innovative sign to recharge and regroup. Meditation works marvelously for them, and so does yoga." Exploring their unique hobbies and favorite pastimes are also great ways for this busy, stressed sign to relax.

Aquarius is ruled by two planets

Most zodiac signs have one planetary ruler. However, Aquarius is ruled by both Uranus and Saturn. While quite different, together these two powerful planets govern the unique characteristics that make Aquarius such a force to be reckoned with.

Uranus is the planet of vision, freedom, and revolutionary ideas. It is also associated with adaptability and radical disruption. Uranus' influence urges Aquarius to embrace new possibilities and pursue their inventive, innovative ideas, helping spur the sign towards meaningful and collective change. "Uranus is a planet of unexpected change," astrologer MaKayla McRae tells Bustle. "Uranus energy very much promotes the 'rebel without a cause' type of energy. But all in all, Uranus' rule is to question authority and to teach us that uniqueness and unconventionality can be a beautiful thing."

Saturn, the traditional planetary ruler of Aquarius, is responsible for the sign's penchant for responsibility and discipline. Aquarians' stoicism, rationality, and practicality are the result of Saturn as well. This masculine planet is also what allows these humanitarian-minded folks to look objectively at the big picture without being overwhelmed by messy emotions and subjective feelings.

The 11th house is associated with this air sign

The 11th house, also known as the house of friendship, is associated with Aquarius. This house rules groups and gatherings, social structures, communication with friendly people, community, and charity. In particular, it is connected to financial donations towards charitable organizations and, when present in a birth chart, speaks to areas in society where an individual most wants to create change. It is a house of hope and idealism, embodying themes of connection, justice, and freedom.

Different planets located within this house can clarify what a person values, how they act, and how they think. While this placement may affect people of all sun signs a bit differently, the 11th house has strong Aquarius energy. For example, the sun in the 11th house is associated with originality and eccentricity, something that Aquarians are known for. When the moon, a symbol of the subconscious, emotional energy in your life, is in the 11th house, this results in people who have strong connections to causes they believe in.

Aquarius is represented by The Star tarot card

Aquarius is also ruled by The Star card, one of the 22 major arcana cards found within a tarot deck. The card features a woman pouring water from two vessels, one into a body of water and the other into the earth. She has one foot in the water to represent intuition and her other foot firmly on land to represent stability. Above her head sits a giant yellow star that serves as a symbol of guidance, hope, balance, and inspiration.

Generally speaking, The Star is a positive card. When pulled upright, this card may indicate healing, optimism, or a bright future, particularly after a period of darkness or difficulty. It is a sign that everything is going to be okay. If pulled in a reversed position, The Star indicates feelings of hopelessness, a loss of faith, anxiety, or a strong focus on the negative aspects of life. It may also show up in cases of extreme monotony or boredom, such as with a job or a creative hobby.

What makes an Aquarius happy?

As one of the more guarded and offbeat signs in the zodiac, it's sometimes difficult for people who love Aquarians to figure out what makes them happy. While they often appear cold, aloof, unpredictable, or just plain weird, deep down these airy, rebel unicorns just want to be happy and loved like everyone else.

First and foremost, Aquarians love giving back. They are generous, selfless people who are obsessed with the welfare of others. While they don't mind donating money to a cause, what really makes them happy is getting out into the world and connecting with others face-to-face. To an Aquarius, this is the most efficient and effective way to create change. Volunteering their time at an animal shelter, a food drive, or a soup kitchen are some of Aquarius' favorite pastimes.

Aquarius needs plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom. They are naturally curious and love to acquire new knowledge, which means they spend a lot of time reading, watching documentaries, and attending local lectures. They also love to take things apart to figure out how they work, partially so they can see if something better results from putting it back together. Creative pursuits that keep their minds busy, such as painting or writing, also tend to make them happy. The art they create is always a little off-base and focuses on changing the world.

The best professions for Aquarius

When it comes to their career, Aquarians are capable of making a living doing just about anything they put their minds to. However, positions where they can exercise their minds, problem solve, and get a sense of purpose are ideal. They make excellent employees and leaders in education, research, politics, and STEM fields. Naturally, radical Aquarians are also born to be activists that love to be on the front line. Astrologer Imani Quinn shares with Bustle that "Aquarius are free-thinkers, visionaries, and our biggest hope for humanity. Those ruled by Aquarius tend to have a purpose-filled life in serving people through their activism. Aquarius makes great social activists for movements and causes meant to uplift the marginalized."

Solo work appeals to these freedom-focused individuals. However, in traditional work settings, Aquarius is a helpful, sociable, and thoughtful coworker. They are always there to lend a helping hand on a project and may go out of their way to ensure none of their co-workers feel overwhelmed or burnt out. Not only do they bring loads of creative, original ideas to the table, but they are great at encouraging the people they work with to follow their dreams and pursue their passions.

How do Aquarius men and women differ?

Men born under the sign of Aquarius are generally popular, well-liked people who dazzle others with their cleverness and intriguing conversation. These gentlemen refuse to conform to the status quo, which means they can be a bit stubborn at times. They are responsible and committed to seeing their projects through to the end, no matter how long it takes. Aquarius men prefer their romantic lives to be a bit offbeat as well. In lieu of traditional dates, they may take their partners volunteering or pitch a spontaneous road trip to far-flung destinations. Although they love deeply, it can take a while for these men to feel ready for commitment because they value their freedom and independence so highly. They need a partner with a quick wit and self-reliance for love to last.

Aquarius women also prefer to live their lives a bit off-center, showing off their originality and authenticity in everything they do, say, and wear. Aquarius women are tenacious, hardworking, and competitive. But that doesn't make them boring. On the contrary, Aquarius women are great conversationalists and jokesters that can be the life of any party. They also give great advice. In a romantic partner, these women want someone who is flexible and willing to try new things. Furthermore, they need someone who can keep up with their adventurous spirit and big ideas but also help them slow down and take care of themselves.

Aquarians are selfless but emotionally distant friends

Aquarians are friendly, honest, and loyal people who make excellent acquaintances. They are always helpful and attentive, but not necessarily to people they consider their closest friends. Instead, they keep their distance in order to maintain their personal sense of individuality while simultaneously protecting themselves from feeling emotions they don't know how to process. Aquarians are also hard to keep up with, possessing a level of spontaneity that their friends sometimes struggle to appreciate. Despite this, if you are ever in need of a friend to give solid, objective advice and who has your best interests at heart, an Aquarius is the friend to seek out.

Aquarius gets along well with most people, although they often keep the company of Libras and Geminis. Libras value intellectual pursuits and living a free life, while Geminis never get bored or intimidated by Aquarius. Aquarians don't let anyone know them deeply and may not be your most compatible friends in the zodiac, but they need friends who are tolerant of their quirks and unpredictable behaviors, as well as friends who appreciate their forward-thinking sensibilities if the friendship is to flourish.

Aries and Aquarius share a vibrant, lasting love

Aries and Aquarius are extremely compatible romantic partners. "Aquarius is a free-spirit who is drawn to Aries, who is a fire sign, as both are more prone to achieving their objectives with similar ambitions, vibrant energies, independence and overall a high level of compatibility," astrologer Emily Newman tells Well+Good. "In terms of connections and relationships, both zodiacs are highly mature."

Aries are wildly spontaneous people who bring some much-needed lightness and fun to their Aquarius partners. Their passion and zest for life match the progressive, rebellious energy of Aquarius, which means this relationship is never boring. Furthermore, this duo is excellent at communicating. They are comfortable sharing their thoughts and vulnerabilities with one another, even when it is uncomfortable. Disagreements and conflicts are bound to happen, especially because Aries is not known for being particularly patient, and Aquarius requires ample time to open up emotionally. Life may not always be sunshine and rainbows for an Aries dating an Aquarius, but with dedication, trust, honesty, and acceptance, these two signs are loyal lovers that will always fight for their relationship.

Sagittarius and Aquarius complement each other

When a Sagittarius and an Aquarius fall in love, magic happens. Normally, this pair starts as friends. Over time, their profound admiration and affection for one another slowly build into a love that is deep and genuine. Sagittarians are fair-minded, which complements an Aquarian's love of justice and equality. Sagittarians are also fun and sociable people, which encourages Aquarius to exercise that part of themselves more often. This couple's shared curiosity about life, progressive attitude, and optimism always keep them on the same page. Both parties value their independence and fear making commitments before they're ready, which means the relationship often progresses slowly.

This couple shares a rational, efficient way of problem-solving, which means any conflict that arises will be handled maturely. Jealousy normally isn't an issue because neither Sagittarius nor Aquarius is particularly emotional, preferring blunt honesty and open communication over grudges or messy drama.

Conservative Cancer clashes with rebellious Aquarius

When it comes to pursuing a romantic relationship with Cancer, Aquarius may find themselves feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Each sign wants drastically different things out of life and has needs that the other often struggles to meet, simply because it goes against their preferred way of living. For example, Cancers are homebodies that approach life with caution, respect, and tenacity. These tender, nurturing souls are extremely committed to their partner but need someone in touch with their emotions who wants to hang out around the house and build a life together. Aquarians hate the idea of being tied down to one spot and long for adventure and organized chaos. The sharp, aloof nature of an Aquarius will consistently, though unintentionally, rub Cancer the wrong way as well, making it difficult for these two to connect on a deeper level.

Of course, that doesn't mean this pairing can't work long-term given the right balance. Both are loyal to a fault and love helping others more than taking care of themselves. Their focus on making sure their partner is supported and gets what they need to feel loved is a helpful step towards lasting love. "Aquarius has to dip into their feelings, and Cancer has to dip into their logic in order for them to manage any kind of conflict, or for them to be able to overcome some of those hurdles that naturally occur in friendships," astrologer Rachel Lang tells Women's Health.

Famous Aquarians

There are a number of famous Aquarians, known for their incredible contributions to the world, their activism, and their unique talents. Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, Frederick Douglass, and Charles Darwin, were all born between January 21 and February 18. Famous entertainers and musical artists like Bob Marley, Laura Dern, Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, and Harry Styles are Aquarians.

True to form, many famous activists and philanthropists were born under the Aquarius zodiac sign. Famous civil rights activist Rosa Parks was an Aquarius, as was Susan B. Anthony, a key player in the women's suffrage movement. Oprah Winfrey, born January 29, is a media mogul known for her groundbreaking philanthropic work. Her charity, the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, focuses primarily on community outreach and leveling the economic playing field through quality education. Aquarian actor Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute of Gender and Media, an organization created to support women in sports and media, while English actor and activist Vanessa Redgrave has provided support for a number of charities, including UNICEF and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.