In the American dream as it's currently dished up, we try to do two things: make money and lose weight. Is that the meaning of life? I always imagine someone just died and is standing before God in the Hall of Judgment -- let's enter Jerry Falwell's mythological coordinate system for a moment.
God asks, "What did you do with your life?"
And the guy says, "Well, God, I made fifty million bucks."
And God looks at him and says, "Fifty million, that's impressive. Could you maybe loan me twenty bucks 'til Friday?"
The fellow's a little taken aback by God's question, but it's God and everything so he says, "Sure, you name it." He reaches for his wallet, but it's gone. In fact his ass is gone. He's dead!
What does that million bucks do for any of us? How much meaning does it give to our life from that perspective, from the frighteningly clear perspective of death? Making money might give somebody a sense of meaning in life presently, and I don't want to simply disparage that. It could be part of a soul's journey, perhaps part of a larger, creative commitment to building a vision, building a business. But at the same time there is the inescapable realization that we need heavier fuel than money or weight loss to give sustainable significance to our lives. The Ninth House is where we seek that meaning. We seek something in which we can believe. We seek our place within the interlocking laws of nature and spirit.
Ninth House - Twelfth House
The process is endless. In the Ninth House context there's a sense of endlessly stretching. We have to be ready to risk everything forever. And the risk is real! We may really lose everything -- feel that little hint of the Twelfth House association. Through the joint rulership of Jupiter over both Houses, whenever we enter a Ninth House experience, there is that ghost of the Twelfth House energy built into it: you might lose everything! Set out for Europe, set out to become an astrologer, whatever it might be, and you might lose everything. If that "edge" is missing, if that possibility of absolute loss isn't there, we haven't fully entered the Ninth House.
There's a square aspect between the Ninth House and the Twelfth, although more properly we'd refer to the square between Sagittarius and Pisces. Archetypally, there is tension between them. We've been describing it -- that haunted Twelfth House feeling that we might lose everything exists in a state of friction with the Ninth House faith that we need in order to leap forth and take the risks. Feel how delicate this is? How poignant? Without faith, we live too safely ... but with faith, we live with the certain knowledge that someday everything we have and love will be gone.
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Jupiter: Planet of Faith, and Hope
In our books, Jupiter is so often represented in a shallow way, as if it's just the part of us that eats too much. Let's focus more precisely on Jupiter itself for a moment, particularly on the faith that it represents. As we've seen, Jupiter is very much the planet of faith and hope. Now, built into the words faith and hope is a sense of the future. We always hope for something in the future. Hope implies a desire for present conditions to change, down the time-line. Faith too -- maybe we have faith in something in the future. We can have faith in something in the present too, but faith always has a component of expectation, which is a future orientation. Jupiter represents a perceptual faculty in us that is oriented hopefully towards tomorrow. It embraces and contains the concept that tomorrow might be richer than today.
Built into the idea that tomorrow might be richer than today is a feeling of discontent with today. Just savor the nuances of the following phrase (said wistfully): "Things could be better... " It's not a phrase that conveys joy, even though it conveys faith in the possibility of improvement. Contrast it with this phrase: "Things could be even better!"
Feel the difference? Entirely different emotions are conveyed, but logically the two phrases convey similar realities: a tension between the present and a hoped-for future. Jupiter feels optimistic and positive, but there's also this underlying hunger in it.
Jupiter: Planet of Discontent
We come to another apparent astrological heresy: that Jupiter is a planet of discontent. "Discontent" is not a classic key word for Jupiter, but it's built into the actual human experience of Jupiter. When Jupiter touches us, something hungry and discontent stirs in us, and we want things to be better.
A woman experiences Jupiter transiting into her Seventh House. She's well married, pretty committed to her marriage, and things are basically okay in that department. When Jupiter enters the Seventh House, the fortuneteller might say it's going to be a great year for your marriage, your husband will get a pay raise, that kind of thing. Okay. Maybe. But here's what really happens -- a certain discontent with the marriage arises in the woman. This discontent is typically not terribly dangerous to a strong marriage. In fact, it's healthy for the marriage. But the woman begins to ponder how she and her husband are a little stagnant. "Things could be better." Isn't it time our marriage went to a new level, isn't it time we stretched a little? We need to liven things up here. Intensify things. Let's appreciate each other more. Let's create some reasons to appreciate our life together more. "Let's get a synastry reading! There's an astrologer around the corner." And maybe her mate grumbles, "Nothing's wrong with our relationship. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, that's my philosophy."
So maybe there's a little "process" in that marriage. A little discontent is harnessed and becomes the horse that pulls an expanding vision for the marriage. That's pure, high Jupiter. From a choice-centered, evolutionary astrological perspective, that woman is making straight As.
Okay, here's a little change of perspective. Here are some easy questions. How would you like to win a million dollars? Does anybody think, "No, I'd rather not"? Can we have a show of hands, people who'd prefer not to receive their million by Fed Ex tomorrow? No hands. Do you like to make money, lose weight, get the toys you want, travel where you want to go, have good sexual experiences, eat in cool restaurants?
These questions seem like rhetorical no-brainers, but watch where we take them. We have this kind of unchallenged, simpleminded notion that everybody would like to be happier, that everybody would like to possess whatever stuff or experience whatever realities that would make their lives happier. We have to understand the illusion built into that simplistic collective belief in order to understand Jupiter at a more sophisticated level.
If in fact everybody in this world -- or in this room -- unambivalently wants to be happier, why do we make so many decisions that keep us systematically limited? Decisions that keep us impoverished, that keep us lonely, that keep us in boring jobs? And let's recognize that saying "I would love to change, but I'm a victim of this or that" is many times only a veneer of rationalization over some deeper, darker waters. These are uncomfortable, taboo, Plutonian questions, but facing them is essential if we are to understand the challenges that Jupiter poses from an evolutionary, psychodynamic perspective.
My premise here is that there is something inside us all that is self-punitive and self-limiting, afraid of life -- something that doesn't want things to be better; is afraid of abundance and terrified of joy. Whatever that sad creature sleeping in the ashes may be, Jupiter is its natural antagonist.
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