Uranus is the first planet of modernity to be discovered beyond Saturn: the astronomer Wilhelm Herschel discovered Uranus on the 13th March 1781 with the help of a telescope and his sister Caroline Herschel, who became a respected astronomer in her own right. Uranus is four times the size of the Earth. It has an equatorial diameter of 51118 km and its average distance from the Sun is 2883 million km. It requires around 84 years to make one orbit of the Sun and has a maximum diurnal movement of 4 minutes of arc, although the average is just 42 seconds of arc.
One striking feature of Uranus is that its rotational axis is tilted at such an angle that it almost lies on its orbital plane.
Ouranos (Latin Uranus or Caelus) was the oldest god in antiquity. Gaia (Latin Terra or Tellus,) the Earth, gave birth to him: either without the involvement of another man, or with Aether, the god of the upper air and light of heaven. Greek authors understood Ouranos both as an ancient male deity, and also as the dome of the sky itself, or the heavens. Gaia, the original Mother Earth, had her counterpart in Ouranos, the Father Sky. Until the god Ouranos was deposed by Cronus (Saturn) and subsequently by Zeus (Jupiter,) Ouranos brought fertility to Gaia in the form of rainfall.
As a married couple Ouranos and Gaia had numerous children, among them the Titans and Cyclops. However, Ouranos hated some of his offspring so much that he pushed them back into the Earth which almost caused Gaia to suffocate. She therefore encouraged her son Cronus (Saturn), the most important of the Titans, to overthrow his father and to castrate him with a sickle.
Although Cronus was successful in overthrowing Ouranos, the deed had unforeseen consequences. Aphrodite (Latin Venus,) the goddess of love and beauty, rose up from the waters at the place where Cronus threw the castrated member and from his blood that touched the earth rose the Erinyes, terrifying female goddesses of revenge who always appeared to punish those who broke natural laws.
Some astrologers do not think that the qualities of the mythological Ouranos fit with those of the astrological planet Uranus. They believe instead that Prometheus (the foreseeing one), who brought the divine fire to humankind and rebelled against Zeus, the king of the gods, is a more fitting figure. When Ouranos is understood as the backdrop of the sky, with all of its heavenly bodies and weather systems, however, it seems like a fitting addition to astrology.
Uranus is associated with the human nervous system in its capacity to transmit information. Nerves carry physical stimulations of the sensory organs to the brain which in turn sends impulses to the body's muscles.
Uranus is the modern ruler of Aquarius. There is no agreement about its exaltation or fall, with some astrologers arguing that the modern planets do not fit into the traditional system of assigning modern planetary dignities.
Uranus is also the modern ruler of electronics, aviation, and most things technological that might be onsidered futuristic, or at least as truly modern at one time, such as automobiles. In a different manifestation of its futuristic qualities, Uranus is also associated with disruption of established social orders. Where Saturn seeks to structure and stabilize what it touches, Uranus tends to disrupt (some would say "liberate") it.
Mercury is the traditional ruler of astrology, but modern astrologers assign it to Uranus. This connection makes little sense in light of the god Uranus's troubling family history or the planet's association with radical change. Ouranos as the ancient Greeks' name for the starry heavens, however, offers a fitting association between Uranus and astrology.
The discovery of Uranus radically expanded the dimensions of the known solar system, as it is twice as far from the earth as Saturn, and this radical expansion fits with the quality of Uranian energy. Uranus symbolises radical changes, upheavals, and the penetration into previously unknown dimensions. If the discovery of Uranus is considered against the backdrop of events at the time of its discovery, it symbolizes many of the ideals of the American (1776) and French Revolutions, (1789); as well as the Enlightenment: freedom, equality, and fraternity.
The position of Uranus by sign in the natal chart is considered to be less important than its house position and aspects, because Uranus is a "generational planet." All the individuals born during the seven year period in which Uranus stays in one sign will have it in the same sign.
Uranus in a birth chart ideally expresses an individual's potential for liberation. Negatively Uranus may only signal the person's need to "act out" or where he most fears disruption. The house position of Uranus may show where an individual tends to be unconventional, spontaneous, original, freedom-loving and likely to break with convention. If it has difficult aspects a person might, under certain circumstances, feel compelled to act in an unconventional manner that is merely disruptive rather than liberating. Freedom and unconventionality were not prized personal qualities for most people prior to the discovery of Uranus. Therefore Uranus suggests a temporal moving beyond Saturn's sense of authority and hierarchy.
When Uranus aspects another planet or angle it tends to "electrify" the horoscope factor involved, which tends to express itself in original, different, and unexpected ways. Uranus aspects are also associated with sudden flashes of inspiration which can bring sudden and intuitive understanding of complex ideas.
The effects are similar when transiting Uranus forms aspects with planets in the natal chart. A Uranus transit revolutionises the existing order and can be accompanied by a sudden and intuitive understanding of complex ideas. Taken negatively, Uranus may only show when to expect sudden endings or beginnings; often unwanted. Difficult Uranus transits offer hope that the person can become more open to change and less set in her ways, however.
- List of articles on Uranus (Skyscript)
- One Is Never Too Old To Begin Again. (Dane Rudhyar on the 84-years-cycle of Uranus, 1967)
- Ouranos (Theoi project)
- Uranus sounds (Voyager recording; YouTube)
- Gustav Holst: Uranus (Audio)
- Negus Joan, 1996. The Book of Uranus, ACS Publications
- Richard Tarnas: Prometheus the Awakener: The Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus. Spring Publications, Inc., 1995 Review (Renn Butler)
- Liz Greene: The Art of Stealing Fire - Uranus in the Horoscope CPA Press, vol. 7 (London, 2004) ISBN 1-900869-29-4
- Explores the meaning of Uranus, in both its creative and destructive expressions. Part One: Uranus in the Birth Chart, Part Two: The Transits of Saturn and Uranus
Notes and References
- "Between 10 and 11 in the evening", Herschel according to Nicholas Campion
- With the help of his sister Caroline
- Decorated with zodiac signs. Sitting in front of him is the mother-earth goddess, Terra (the Roman counterpart of Gaia) with her four children