O Jove much-honor’d, Jove supremely great, To thee our holy rites we consecrate,Our pray’rs and expiations, king divine, For all things round thy head exalted shine … Source of abundance, purifying king, O various-form’d from whom all natures spring; Propitious hear my pray’r, give blameless health, With peace divine, and necessary wealth.1
Is Jupiter really the ‘Greater Benefic’, as we learn when we’re astrology students? Does it automatically bestow prosperity and good luck, or do we have to earn it in some way? How does it relate to belief in ourselves, that attitude of faith in the future that makes such a difference to our future successes? What about its downsides, like arrogance and wastefulness? Let us put the whole thing in context.
Firstly, the main keyword for Jupiter one discovers in astrological texts is ‘expansion’. This refers to an individual’s attempts to expand their horizons and get more out of life, but what Jupiter really signifies is the psychological urge to expand one’s consciousness. It is, essentially, the psyche’s reaching out to incorporate more and more of the world. We’re brought up to think that we, as individuals, are separate from the world we experience – the universe is ‘out there; whilst we are ‘in here’. Orthodox science reinforces this – we are distinct from the objective reality we observe, thus is fostered much of our sense of alienation from (and fear of) the world we inhabit. This awareness of the split between subject and object, spirit and matter, human and environment is reinforced in our culture every day. However, it’s an illusion.
In some mystical philosophies (and some aspects of modern physics) we actually find that the world is really One, an undivided living Being moving through eternity. Plus, we are a creative element within it; that is – we are not separate from it, at all. (The word ‘universe’ actually means ‘the one turning’). Astrology knows this and Jupiter is that part of us which wants to heal the division we feel between ‘in here’ and ‘out there’ by connecting us to a much larger Reality, whether psychological, social or spiritual. Hence also, Jupiter’s association with religion (both as spiritual belief and a community). The word itself comes from the Latin root ligare (meaning ‘to bind’) and so re-ligare (whence we derive ‘religion’) means to re-bind, or ‘bind back’ (i.e. reconnect) to our spiritual source.
All of our common ‘cookbook’ meanings for Jupiter flow from this motivation on the part of the larger psyche: wherever there is expanded awareness of the world (and other people) and real understanding ensues, there is wisdom and a philosophical attitude results. This wisdom aspect is also connected to the fact that Jupiter (like the sign it ‘rules’, Sagittarius) is mostly a fiery planet – the element of Fire in astrology provides an intuitive sense of life’s greater Meaning and sense of possibilities. In other words, the Big Picture. Also, wherever a sense of oneness exists, there is a real feeling of meaning and connectivity to the world – one simply feels good about life. Consequently, one tends to share this good feeling with others – one becomes more generous, big-hearted and tolerant. These are all recognisably Jupiterian traits.
So what about its connection to so-called good fortune? Astrologers are well acquainted with the notion of Jupiter as the ‘greater benefic’ – that which affords boons and rewards (sometimes financial, even) in an individual life. (This contrasts with Venus, the ‘lesser benefic’ – which has a reputation by transit for coinciding with social/romantic gains and opportunities.) If we stick with the psychology we can say Jupiter is that part of us which (metaphorically) wants to become bigger. (This can happen literally, too – Jupiter is associated with indulgence and weight-gain.)
This desire to be more than we are can translate as the desire for material increase, growth, promising opportunities and success, which Jupiter often does indeed bring. But growth or gain can exceed the original target – and we end up with more than we really need. When this happens we become careless about our acquisitions and the way we came by them, which is why Jupiter can result in wastefulness.
This principle can also work in a psychological sense – our sense of self importance may grow out of proportion to our achievements or our true station in life. The result is arrogance and a bloated ego – I have seen this Jupiterian hauteur in some Sagittarian subjects (and those with strong Jupiter) and pretty it ain’t. It isn’t the defensive Saturnian arrogance (born of feelings of inferiority) but a lordly, taking oneself for granted (worse than any Leo!) that infects their behaviour in most areas of life.
And, of course, the ‘growth’ can be literally physical – putting on weight is Jupiterian, usually a result of the excesses of eating and drinking. But it is still Jupiter’s inner meaning (the psyche ‘reaching out’ to encompass the world) which brings what we call ‘good luck’. I mentioned earlier that Jupiter (because it is essentially a Fire planet) stimulates powerful intuitions about life, a ‘sixth sense’ that enables us to act successfully.
When someone can ‘see’ or intuit the larger possibilities (even if only subconsciously) they are going to be more successful in their objectives. Also, Jupiter’s reaching out to embrace the world, as it were, fosters a sense of faith in the bigger picture – it doesn’t matter what problems lie ahead because something will come along to make things turn out right. This is Jupiter, too – and this sense of ‘anything is possible’ is often experienced at times when the planet is active on a birth chart by transit or progression. (Those who have used Positive Thinking techniques know that the mysterious quality of faith and belief are prerequisites to success.)
So, wherever you find Jupiter on your chart is where, psychologically, you are driven to expand and include more of the world. You can be generous and tolerant with others, here and – like a good Positive Thinker – approach issues with a healthy amount of faith that the future will turn out as planned. You expect the best in life and mysteriously attract it! In the 10th? A career path that seems to bring new opportunities and support from authority figures; in the 2nd – a life not having to worry about money (since you seem to have plenty of it!); in the 3rd – benefits and boons through all matters to do with communication: the media, writing or transport. My partner (a Tarot reader and psychic) has a phrase she uses to reassure her clients: trust in the force and it will provide. This just about sums up nicely the unconscious attitude we have to the Jupiter area on our chart – by sign and aspect. Unlike Saturn’s placement, you tend not to be bogged down in detail here, worrying over how things will turn out, or criticising yourself when things don’t go well.
Jupiter only becomes a problem when (in hard aspect, for instance) it is exaggerating some quality or viewpoint – making it bigger than it should be. Then we lose our sense of proportion, our sense of our real limitations. Usually, because you instinctively go with the flow, trust in things (and probably expect that life will vindicate you) then your Jupiter area is likely to feel quite rewarding and beneficial. Possibility, opportunity and incorporation – these are the keywords for Jupiter. But the main, very optimistic message Jupiter provides is that we are a part something bigger. Feeling at one with the World – this is what Jupiter is really about.
1. Orphic Hymn 14 to Zeus, trans. Thomas Taylor (1758-1835), The Hymns of Orpheus, 1792