Image by Christian Bodhi
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.
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.
Let me tell you a personal story. This one occurred when Jupiter was transiting through an opposition to my natal Aries Moon many years ago. One of the fierce Twelfth House liberations that came to me then was that my first marriage broke up; I left it in a messy way. It was an ambivalent, complicated thing, with both joy and sorrow built into it. One of the upshots of the ending of my marriage was that my ex-wife got the car. So I needed a new car -- a new used car. I had fifteen hundred dollars saved up, and this was nearly two decades ago so I could actually get something that maybe ran for that kind of money.
Remember the little Volkswagen Karmann Ghia? All my life I had loved them, but never owned one. At the time I was walking pretty much every day, walking down this main street in Chapel Hill, which is a college town. I often walked by a gas station, and sure enough there was a Karmann Ghia sitting there with a big "For Sale" sign on it. I walked past that little Ghia almost every day for three weeks before it connected: "Duh ... I'm looking for a used car, and there's exactly the kind I want." Three weeks! Three weeks before I put two and two together!
Now, remember, this is with transiting Jupiter opposing my Moon. Feel how I was failing to claim what I really wanted? Inexplicably I walked by that car for another three days, thinking about whether I should go in there and ask about it. How irrational and crazy was that? I finally asked the guy who ran the gas station, "What do you want for that crappy old worthless Karmann Ghia, the one with all the dents?" Hey, I am a Capricorn, after all! And you already know the next line: the man said, "Fifteen hundred dollars." The Lord works in unmysterious ways sometimes.
But here's a mystery: I thought about it for another three days after that. Why? And then I finally bought it. And it was great. Jodie and I drove it all the way up to Quebec and back a year or two later. We loved it. I kept it for years.
What was going on there? What was wrong with me? Under this Jupiter transit, what was my soul learning? That I could have the car I wanted? Obviously, the lesson ran deeper than what car I would drive. What was it in me that had an image of settling for a boring car that I didn't actually want? What was it in me that was attached to that poverty of experience?
Now that's a complicated question for each of us, but what I want to emphasize is that something impoverished, empty, and afraid exists inside just about all of us. As we look at Jupiter from an evolutionary perspective, facing and resolving that attachment to self-limitation is the challenge. When Jupiter reaches a sensitive place in your chart, that's what you're up against -- this part of you that wants to sleep in the ashes, downcast, resigned to sorrow and afraid to hope. Jupiter is the antithesis of all that.
Jupiter challenges us to accept bigness, greatness, wonder, positiveness -- and that is harder and deeper work than it sounds. Our first step in penetrating Jupiter's mysteries often lies in going through the illusion that of course everyone would like things to be better, if only "luck" would allow it. The truth is never that simple.
The New Age is in many ways the authentic worship of Jupiter, or of at least one dimension of Jupiter. It tends to miss the glory and joy of liberation through loss; the New Age isn't too good with loss. But the idea that you deserve abundance in your life, that God doesn't make junk, that you ought to cultivate prosperity consciousness, that you deserve to think well of yourself no matter what -- those New Age attitudes are pure Jupiter energy. When Jupiter triggers your chart, those attitudes and value-systems will serve you very well. It's a great time for affirmations, creative visualization, and practical magic.
One of the glories of astrology is how it teaches that for every spiritual practice or philosophy, there is a season -- and also a season in which it won't work. There are times when the Jupiter attitudes of risk, hope and faith will blow up in our faces -- Saturn times, for example. Then we're learning another set of lessons entirely, lessons that have to do with endurance and patience and character and determination.
I shudder to think what would've happened to me developmentally had I kept walking past that Karmann Ghia. In truth, I bought it, and very quickly, my first book, The Inner Sky, came out and started to sell and things sort of took off for me. My guts tell me that if I hadn't bought that car, a very significant integration would not have happened inside me.
Now, almost incidentally, we go back to the fact that the pop astrologers say Jupiter is "lucky." There's truth in that assertion, but we have to understand the laws of Jupiter fairly precisely for that luck to work. Here's an illustration of luck: how would you calculate the odds against a cool Karmann Ghia remaining for sale for a measly fifteen hundred dollars on the main street of a college town for a month? That's not a realistic possibility. A cheap, cute sports car? The strings the Lord had to pull to keep that Karmann Ghia for sale, while the evolutionary lesson slowly made it through my thick skull! Putting a shell of invisibility around it while I strolled past it every day for a month?
So a distinct element of "luck" was present for me during that Jupiter time, who could argue with that? But if I'd walked right past that car oblivious to it for a month, technically the "luck" would have still been there -- I just wouldn't have noticed it. Maybe after a while that "luck" would have run out and the car would have been sold. Then some astrologer might have told me, "You must have had some incredible luck last month. Jupiter was doing your Moon."
And I would have said, "I didn't have any luck at all. I've been looking for a car for weeks, and I can't find one." "Sometimes astrology doesn't work." Astrology always works, is the truth of it. The real question is, do we always see it working? Are we conscious enough to see it working? The key here is to escape the materialist paradigms that have infected modern astrological practice, just as they've infected the rest of this crazy world. When we look for astrological forces to correlate with material events, they do sometimes fail. But when we look to them to describe evolutionary questions and possibilities, that's a different story. They simply do not fail at that level, ever.
A friend of mine told me a story. He was flying home from somewhere in Asia and got bumped from the flight. He had to spend the night in a hotel in some airport in the Third World. Turns out the hotel had a gambling casino downstairs, so he purchased his five-dollar chip and sat down at a gaming table. The only seat open was next to a gent who appeared to be an oil sheik-clearly an Arabic man, with diamonds on every finger and his hair slicked back and an Armani suit. Think Jupiter: this Arabic man displayed all the Jupiter iconography, right down to a big stack of chips in front of him. My friend put down his miserable five-dollar chip. Instantly the Arab begins to berate him, playfully. "You call that a bet? If you're going to sit here, bet like a man!"
My friend shrugs his shoulders, mumbles something about being bumped from his flight, and says that's all he has. The Arab says, "Well, if you're going to sit here, you need to bet," and he pushes a big stack of chips over to my friend. Two hundred bucks or something -- a fair pile of money.
Everybody gets to this part of the story and says "I'd have taken the money and run." There's a natural desire to go cash in the chips. But who would really do that? Santa Claus -- and that's another Jupiter god -- gives you the chips, and it's your job to bet, to play. So my friend puts down a substantial bet with the Arab's money. And the Arab is shaking his head and laughing and saying, "You still don't get it. Bet." He makes him bet the whole stack. And my friend wins a big pile of money.
Jupiter and that oil sheik merged for a while. While the man was overshadowed by this archetype, he showed us something fundamental about the planet -- Jupiter has contempt for little bets! Jupiter doesn't want to see any lousy five-dollar bets. You bet the house or you don't play. Anything less than that kind of faith, confidence and audacity bores this god, and he offers no blessing.
During a major transit or progression involving Jupiter, to trigger the planet's magic in your life, you must believe in yourself -- and you must prime the cosmic pump with some risk. Remember the Ninth House connection: you've got to risk extending into new territory, and face the insecurity that true risk engenders. Remember the Twelfth House linkage too -- you've got to integrate the spiritual place in yourself that is prepared to lose everything and not look back. Think of that ancient gamblers' wisdom: you've got to see yourself winning, but at the same time, not want it too desperately.
Is there a down side to Jupiter? Sure. Most modern astrologers will correctly point out the twin perils of overextension and pride. We've got a lot of cautionary folklore about Jupiter. "Be careful what you pray for, you might get it." "Pride goeth before a fall." "All that glitters is not gold."
But the lesson also lies in being wise enough to know what you want, because under Jupiter energy you're probably going to get what you ask for. Sometimes the idea that "when God is angry, He answers your prayers" becomes very relevant. In a Jupiter time, creative visualization, affirmations, and positive thinking become very powerful, as we've seen. You'll simply have better luck with that kind of practical magic during Jupiter times. But whether that's good news or bad news depends on how wise your wanting is. If your wanting is dumb, you're going to learn that lesson the hard way.
Part of the Jupiter lesson lies in sorting out what our souls actually want from all the glitz and glitter we've been tricked into imagining we want. There's a lot of "coyote wisdom" in Jupiter. It gives us plenty of opportunities to con ourselves. It will offer us illusions every bit as surely as Neptune will -- yet again, note that Twelfth House correlation with Jupiter. Another trick of Jupiter's is to offer real gifts that might have actually made us happy ten years earlier -- only to teach us that we are still running an old desire script that no longer has true meaning for us.
Finally, if we pass all those Jupiter tests, we still face the hardest one of all: dealing with the part of ourselves that is simply afraid of happiness and success. We must wrestle with the self-sabotaging, numbed, orphan-in-the-ashes inside us.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Seven Paws Press.
Measuring the Night : Evolutionary Astrology and the Keys to the Soul, Volume Two
by Jeffrey Wolf Green and Steven Forrest.
Astrology, sacred psychology and reincarnation come together seamlessly in the hands of two of the world's premier metaphysical astrologers. Jeffrey Green's work 'mirrors the eternal realities of the soul', according to the leading Danish astrology magazine St Jernerne. Sting calls Steven Forrest's work 'as intelligent and cogent as it is poetic'.
Based on the transcripts of a series of workshops that Green and Forrest gave together, this book pushes the ancient symbols of astrology to new heights of insight, lucidly and compellingly showing us how the soul's long history is reflected in the birth chart. Beneath the seeming randomness of life, there is a clear and meaningful order. This book provides the Rosetta Stone for unravelling it. The lecture format is warm, personal and informal, with lots of audience interaction. Forrest and Green team up to analyse the chart of a workshop participant volunteer, just as they would that of a client who had come for a reading.
About the Authors
Steven Forrest is the author of eight bestselling bookson evolutionary astrology, including the classic, The Inner Sky. His work has been translated into many languages. He travels widely, preaching the gospel of a spiritually-oriented astrology that is focused on choice, imagination and freedom. His latest book, co-authored with his wife and partner of twenty years, Jodie Forrest, is Skymates, a handbook on the astrology of relationships. HOROSCOPE magazine recently described Steven as "not only a premier astrologer, but also a wise man". Visit his website at www.stevenforrest.com.
Jeffrey Wolf Green has spent over 24 years as a professional astrologer. He has counseled over twenty thousand clients and maintains an extremely busy practice. Besides co-authoring the Measuring the Night series with Steven Forrest, Wolf is the author of the bestselling Llewellyn astrology books Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul; Pluto: The Soul's Evolution through Relationships; and also of Uranus: Freedom from the Known. Wolf founded the Evolutionary School of Astrology, with branches in the United States, Germany, Israel, India, Denmark, Holland, and England, and by video correspondence.