Jupiter and Saturn: Nice or Nasty?
by John E. Greig

November 2014

Some time ago I attended a talk on the correspondences between the planets and metals, given by Nick Kollerstrom, at which the appearance, uses and properties of the various metals were compared with the attributes of the planets in the expectation that we might learn something about the nature of the planets from such a comparison. It was an interesting and stimulating talk, but what remained most in my memory was that nothing but the negative or harmful uses of lead, the metal traditionally allied to Saturn, were quoted by the speaker; the making of bullets that could kill, of coffins and tombs to contain decaying corpses and the lead content of petrol and its potentially deleterious effect.

I immediately thought of the many fine and decorative fountains, sundials, garden statues and utensils I had seen made of lead, as well as many ornaments which owed their ability to remain upright or stable from the lead concealed in the base. Lead was specifically used for these purposes because of its durability, weight and resistance to corrosion from wind and weather. I decided to investigate further and produced the following list of other beneficial and often necessary uses of lead: storage batteries, toothpaste tubes, lead foil on wine bottle tops, roof covering, printer's type, water pipes, stained glass, soldering, pewter, weights for many purposes (diving, hanging curtains, etc.), electric cable covering, radiation shielding. Even the use of lead in petrol was formerly essential to control the ignition of the fuel in combustion engines.

It was an exercise which illustrated two things. First that lead did indeed have many of the properties which astrologers have tended to associate with Saturn. The heaviness, durability, lack of lustre and resonance, its sealing qualities, its protective, anti-radioactive and anti-rust and damp properties, its low melting and boiling point and the fact that it is (for a metal) a poor conductor of heat and electricity parallel in many ways some of the attributes of Saturn; and by no means only the negative ones. Secondly, that although there were extraordinary parallels, it must not be assumed that all the properties, uses and effects of lead will relate symbolically to. Saturn as a planetary principle, neither should we attempt to 'evaluate' Saturn as a bad or good principle, based on our knowledge of something like lead.

The same situation exists when we try to discover or enlarge upon the meaning of the planets by reference to ancient myths and legends or to the opinions of past astrologers who have been weaned on these. Interesting correspondences do exist between myths and the planets, as in the case of lead, but these can tempt us into taking the sort of attitude which ascribes 'benefic' or 'malefic' influences to the planets; an attitude which has been discarded by many modem astrologers. Or our understanding of the meaning of the planets can be coloured or clouded by such considerations, particularly through the personification of the planets and the resultant conception of the planets as behaving like a type of human deity with a will and purpose of its own.

Without doubt, exciting insights into planetary attributes and the way a planet can work in particular charts can be gained through this approach, as in Liz Greene's book 'Saturn' which, despite its intention not to portray Saturn as a 'malefic', tends to concentrate on Saturn as "the representative of pain, restriction and discipline". Here we can see Saturn in the guise of Cronos rather than Saturnus, the mythical king of a Roman Golden Age and the god of sowing; who taught social order, the arts of civilisation and morality, who married Ops who represented plenty, and the inspirer of the Saturnalia in Rome which celebrated the winter sowing with gaiety and abandon. Not the familiar image of Saturn, but one from which we might obtain equally valid insights into the attributes and potential effect of Saturn in particular birth charts.

However, these images of Saturn under different 'guises' do not accurately reflect the basic essence of Saturn which does not change and has no guises.Another way of studying the planets is to observe and analyse how they are manifested in a number of charts of known individuals and to attempt to conclude whether their effect is 'good' or 'bad', or neutral or whatever. The difficulty is that here again one ends up with analysis of planetary attributes and their effect and not with the actual nature of the planets in themselves and the two are not necessarily synonymous. One is researching the symptoms that are possible rather than the cause, as it were.

To conclude that planets like Jupiter and Saturn are 'benefic' or 'malefic' as the result of such a study would be very misleading, and not only for the reason already given. Two other obstacles await the researcher into this area of enquiry.The first is that planets never work in isolation and the interaction between all the points in a birth chart is so complex and subtle that it is hazardous to draw conclusions from a consideration of one of these points alone. Even if aspects are fully considered, this may not provide a full picture of the potential effect of planets like Jupiter and Saturn.The signs and houses they are in, the 9th and l0th houses (perhaps also the 12th and 11th houses of which Jupiter and Saturn are the co-rulers respectively), the signs in which the Sun, Moon and Ascendantand M.C. are found, the relative strengths of Jupiter or Saturn in the chart, as well as the modifying effect of other planets, should be taken into account also.

A well-aspected Jupiter is fine, but if it is in the12th house in Capricorn, in a chart that has an Aquarian Ascendant, the Sun in Virgo conjunct Mars and the Moon square Saturn, the effect of that Jupiter will be modified or obscured accordingly and characteristics that may seem to stem from Jupiter may in fact be attributable to other factors in the chart.The other difficulty is to find an exact method of investigation.One method in use is that of using 'character traits' and endeavouring to relate these to what can be observed in the birth chart regarding the planet under consideration. The problem here is that the words used to describe character traits can have a subjective interpretation. Do we all mean the same things when we use words like 'shy', 'calm', 'generous'? Are words like 'honest', 'frank' and 'sincere' virtually synonymous or not?The problem is compounded when these words are then related to other or similar words culled from biographies, or friends and associates (or enemies and rivals?) or the personal assessment of the astrologer pursuing the research. The possibility of reaching wrong conclusions increases, as these words too will be subjective; dependent as they are onthe person whose chart is being considered being totally different.

These problems can be overcome to a great extent by the sheer weight of statistics, particularly when the intention is not to identify the basic nature of the planets so much as their effect in a chart with regard to their planetary position or their placement in the chart, as in the work of John Addey and Michel Gauquelin. As John Addey says in an article in the A.A. Journal (Summer 1979), "This is the value of statistics; even if some judgements are misleading they will be outweighed by those which are true."; but this applies to the type of research he was doing and not to research into what the planets are, using character traits as manifested in the birth chart. So far I may have given the impression that I am somewhat critical of the value of studies into the effect and attributes of the planets. Not at all. Such endeavours are necessary and enlightening, but I consider that it is of vital importance to distinguish between what planets like Jupiter and Saturn (or any other planets) are and what can result from their working in a natal chart and I have tried to indicate that what can result is due to the influence of other factors and not to the planet under consideration alone, when considered as a basic principle. Astrological textbooks often ignore or gloss over this distinction.

In The Encyclopedia of Astrology by Nicholas de Vore, it says of Jupiter "At its best Jupiter is generous, expansive, genial, temperate,vital, benevolent, respectful, self-controlled; but when frustrated it inclines to pride, dissipation, boastfulness, gambling, extravagance, procrastination, complacency, hypocrisy." What we have here is not a description of Jupiter but of what the author reports can result from the action of Jupiter 'at its best' or 'when frustrated' (whatever that may mean). Once again Jupiter is personified as a power which can be nice or nasty and we are left with an image of a rather decent chap who can go over the top at times. Saturn, on the other hand, is "normally fearful, secretive, cautious, defensive, binding, cold, hard, persevering, steadfast" .... not at all such a likeable chap! Willy-nilly, we are all conditioned to think of the planets in these kinds of terms.

The planets represent different principles or impulses within the individual. Mercury represents mental energy and Mars, physical energy,for example. These principles or impulses are in themselves neither negative nor positive, although they can be expressed in a negative or positive way. Just as we have hands that can caress, create a work of art, enjoy the softness of velvet and play a musical instrument, we also have hands that can strangle, maim, smash a work of art and make rude gestures ; but the fact that we have hands does not mean that we are likely to do all of the things that hands are capable of. Nor do we judge our hands to be 'good' or 'bad, because they are capable of these acts. It ought to be the same with the planets. Hands alone are not the cause of tweaking someone's nose or wielding a whip; Jupiter alone is not the cause of overeating or Saturn the cause of a bad cold. All this may be considered to be very obvious to some or not of very practical use in any case. I can only say that the realisation that we constantly confuse these two principles of cause and effect was a major one for me and has enabled me to interpret charts much more clearly and exactly. It occurred as a result of my work with planetary harmonic charts which forced me to regard the planets as fundamental principles and nothing more and to distinguish very clearly between these principles and what they implied.

When I returned to look at natal charts with this in mind, I discovered that I was able to consider the planets in them in the same way. By going back to basics and stripping away all I had learned about the attributes and potential effect of the planets I was able to regard them and their aspects and sign and house positions in a completely new way. Instead of looking at Saturn as hoary Old Father Time or The Great Teacher or the 'representative of pain, restriction and discipline' or as 'malefic' or fearful, secretive, cautious, cold, hard, etc., or even as a force for moderation, stability and self-enlightenment, I regarded it simply as the element of control in the chart. Everything else then fell into place quite naturally and I could perceive much more exactly the varied faces of Saturn which are not really faces at all, but control expressed through sign, house and aspect, etc.; and these factors then took on an extra dimension. Control expressed through Libra was not the same control expressed through Aries and Libran control square to Venus in Cancer was different to Arian control square to Venus in Cancer. The end result was that by discarding the trappings of Saturn and other planets I could see clearly where these trappings did indeed apply and where they did not, without assuming anything beforehand; where Saturn could be conceived of as 'the shadow' or as a threat or indicating a lack of something and where it could be conceived of as a benevolent and moral teacher ..or whatever.

The interpretation of progressions and transits also became easier and even more precise.What are Jupiter and Saturn, then? They are two different types of impulse which can be said to represent release and control, put very simply. In my book, Astrology and Planetary Harmonics, I suggest this interpretation and describe Jupiter and Saturn as the regulators of planetary energies, the on/off and hot and cold taps of the universe, rather a flamboyant description, but one that has clarified the meaning of these planets in my own mind. If it can be accepted that they express and represent the principles of release and control, we need not investigate any further into their basic nature as we know all we need to know in order to explain the effect they are capable of producing in a natal chart.

Finally, Jupiter and Saturn considered in isolation may not indicate fully the element of release or control within an individual, as I have attempted to indicate previously. The use of P.H. charts gets round this problem, as not only do they show a basic principle at work in detail and how it is affected by other factors but also they sum up the total effect of that principle, often very clearly and dramatically.

Let me give an example of what I mean. In the natal chart of Maria Montessori, Jupiter is in Gemini in the 11th house, opposition Saturn in Sagittarius, sextile Neptune in Aries and semi-sextile Mars conjunct Uranus in Cancer. A great deal about her can be gleaned from this information, which added to the other factors in the chart go a long way towards revealing much of her ability to teach and develop a new approach to teaching, her caring nature and the strength and warmth of her personality and conviction.

A look at her Jupiter P.H. chart should underline how she was able to release this potential and whether she was able to direct it positively or not. Her Jupiter P.H. chart at one glance reveals that it is a strong chart with the Sun in Aquarius dominating the chart and forming the focal point of a Grand Trine in Air signs With a Kite made by the M.C. in Leo. The Sun also makes a Fixed Grand Cross with Saturn, Mars, Uranus and the Ascendant. The Moon in Libra is conjunct Venus and Pluto and is well aspected, forming part of the Grand Trine. Jupiter itself is well aspected. On these observations alone, her ability to release her basic potential can be clearly seen; and to direct it in a determined and dedicated manner

A detailed interpretation of the chart is not possible here, but this shows how this ability is expressed in different ways and in differentareas of life; where and how she was able to use the Jupiter element inher personality in a 'positive' or a 'negative' way; where it could be expressed with ease and where not, etc.


Born: 3.30 a.m. August 31, 1870, Chiaravelle, Italy. Source: L.M. Rodden in 'Profiles of Women'. Data from Gauquelin.

The Jupiter P.H. chart of Evel Knievel has evidence of someone who does not handle his ability to release his energies in quite the same way! Described as a 'daredevil, he was a high school dropout and hell-raiser and is well-known for his ability to disregard risk and face almost impossible challenges in performing his motorcycle stunts.

EVEL KNIEVEL: JUPITER P.H. CHART Born: 2.40 p.m. October 17, 1938, Butte Montana, USA Source: L.M. Rodden in 'The American Book of Charts. Data from 'Contemporary Sidereal Horoscopes'.



Astrology and Planetary Harmonics, by John Greig; The Astrological Association & John Greig, 1980

Saturn, by Liz Greene. Samuel Weiser, Inc., New York, 1976

Encyclopedia of Astrology, by Nicholas de Vore. Littlefield, Adams Co., New Jersey, 1976.

Various articles on Jupiter and Saturn m the A.A. Journal.


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