In this second installment of Planet Spotlight, we move from the Greater Malefic, Saturn, to the Greater Benefic, Jupiter. In many ways Jupiter is Saturn’s opposite: generous, optimistic, and fun-loving. Mythologically, Jupiter is identified with the Greek god Zeus, chief of the Olympian gods. He is connected with many of the other sky-father gods in Indo-European culutre: the Sumerian Marduk, Hindu Varuna, and Semitic Yahweh can be thought of as Jupiters cousins, perhaps all descended from a single Indo-European deity of prehistory.
In classical astrology, Jupiter has certain associations by virtue of his role as celestial patriarch. Thus, we find him associated with the legal system, with organized religion, and other functions that help maintain the social order. The Romans valued piety as a civic virtue, and Jupiter was the natural symbol for this part of life. The stories the Greeks told of Zeus, though, paint a picture of him that departs from this “pillar of the community” ideal. Jupiter was a notorious philanderer, fathering a veritable menagerie of heroic offspring from his affairs with goddesses and mortal women alike. He had no reservations about playing favorites, either, showering his lovers and children with divine gifts of various sorts.
As an infant, Jupiter had been spirited away from his father Saturn (who had taken to devouring his children as a sort of proactive way of dealing with domestic conflict), and was raised in secret on the island of Crete. There he was fed by the magical goat Amalthea, who produced an endless supply of food and drink from her horns. (This was the original cornu copia or horn of plenty.) This is a significant tale for understanding Jupiter astrologically: he was raised with everything he needed flowing to him, without end and without effort on his part. When he grew to manhood and overthrew Saturn, he brought this spirit of easy optimism and boundless entitlement with him.
Astrologically, Jupiter is our “friend in high places”. I like to think of him as the rich playboy uncle, who seems to have an endless stream of income, but is never seen working. He delights in making generous gifts to all his nieces and nephews, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. (“Gee, Uncle Bob, thanks for the three-tiered marble fountain. It’ll be beautiful in my studio apartment.”) Jupiter is not known for his sense of proportion. Why measure? The horn of plenty is never empty.
The location of Jupiter in a birth chart shows how and where we receive gifts and blessings from life. The things Jupiter touches come easily to us. Often, his abundant gifts feel like luck. We may even feel unworthy of them, even while we enjoy them and use them.
Jupiter has a downside, though. While we revel in abundance, we may forget that others are struggling with the areas of life we find so easy. We can take our own blessings for granted, and not develop important skills. Jupiter can make us into spoiled children if we’re not careful. When discussing Saturn, I talked about how the outer planets are sometimes difficult for us to internalize and own. I think this truth is no less important for Jupiter than for Saturn. To use the gifts of Jupiter well, it is not enough to simply bask in them. We must come to a deeper understanding of how we draw those gifts to ourselves, and how we can take Jupiter into ourselves and bestow those blessings upon others.
To internalize Jupiter, we must find our own generosity, and see how giving and receiving work together. If you are given knowledge, teach. If you are given health, heal. If you are given courage, encourage others. This way of thinking also addresses another of the difficulties of Jupiter’s energy – receiving more than one can handle: the home that is more than we can care for, the creativity that has so many channels that it becomes scattered, the collection of trinkets that consumes so much shelf space it ceases to give pleasure. When we see receiving as part of a cycle of giving, then the blessings of the universe can flow through us without bottling up and becoming stagnant.