Wise Jupiter
by Margaret Jonas

November 2014

Who has not felt a warm comforting glow on beholding Jupiter shining brightly in the evening sky? Even in London skies his radiance can be enjoyed and it is not difficult then to realise why he is labelled the 'Greater Benefic' and is the origin of 'jovial'. As the largest visible planet he is often depicted by astrologers as being like a jolly and benevolent uncle or a genuine Santa Claus with beaming red face, a bottle in one hand and a pile of presents in the other. His transits are frequently anticipated in the mood of children on Christmas Eve.

Some astrologers encourage wildly epicurean fantasies until the appearance of miserly Saturn puts anend to the fun. But others may remember that Jupiter is not only about 'expansion', feasting, dancing and merriment, but is the planetary source of wisdom, intelligence, religion, prophecy, learning and law. Jove had his thunderbolts as Thor's Day / Jeudi / Donnerstag reminds us. "Thursday's child has far to go", and Holst's most memorable melody for Jupiter in "The Planets" became the setting for "I vow to thee my country". (1)

Taking as our starting point the lecture by Rudolf Steiner that appeared in the March/April 1987 issue of the Astrological Association Journal on how man is formed from out of the cosmos; Jupiter is there mentioned as working chiefly on thinking. It may help to understand this by looking first at Jupiter's connection with the element of AIR - also called LIGHT familiar to astrologers and tarot students as the element most connected with thinking. We have already spoken of Jupiter's visible radiant brightness. Occult science describes the formation of the sphere of Jupiter during the evolutionary period when the ancestor of our present sun was created, and light and air developed from the preceding stage of warmth? (2). In the Judeo-Christian tradition this is the sphere of activity of the Dominions or Kyriotetes, the Spirits of Wisdom. In the Qabalah they are connected to the sephirah of 'Chesed' or 'Mercy', also called 'Cohesive or Receptive Intelligence'. It has rulership over the world of forms, the processes of mind and thus is also creative intelligence. These 'forms' are the spiritual archetypes - the creative ideas behind all forms whether plant, mineral or animal. Chesed carries the image of a mighty crowned and throned king with orb and sceptre. The 'Emperor' Arcanum of the Tarot is sometimes linked to Jupiter. The 'creative intelligence' or 'thinking' of Jupiter is a consciously directed activity that engenders a coherent form or idea. It is distinct from the coordinative thought processes of Mercury which are often automatic responses to impressions and tend to be brain bound. The brain is the instrument for thinking, not the origin of it. Thinking is the activity of the Ego - the part of us which is conscious of our own self and which struggles to be 'in charge' and direct our functions. The Sun is usually regarded, astrologically speaking, as the origin of the Ego, but the Sun also represents the heart - the seat of the whole self as spiritual entity. The Ego as thinking-director has a kind of 'centre' in the head, not within it physically, but in the underlying astral and etheric system of 'bodies'. This centre is in the region between the eyebrows. It is sometimes called the Third Eye, for when developed by spiritual training it gives the faculty of clairvoyance.

It is one of the seven 'chakras' or 'lotus flowers' of the etheric and astral bodies, the 'ajna'.

Just as the planetary spheres correspondto the sephiroth of the Tree of Life so do they correspond to the chakrasystem. (3) The ajna chakra or two-petalled lotus flower is therefore related to the sphere of Jupiter and is the planet's own special spiritual 'centre' in the human being. When developed by occult training this two-petalled lotus flower appears clairvoyantly to revolve,and two ray-like forms radiate from the forehead, see for example onthe figure of Moses and Joshua in Botticelli's painting "The Punishmentof Corah". This has sometimes led other artists to portray spiritual leaders with what appear to be 'horns', such as Michaelangelo's sculpture of Moses. This naturally puzzles peopletoday, unless they understand the 'horns' to represent the developed two-petalled lotus flower. The connection can be traced further in thatMoses was the first law-giver to the Israelites, inspired by the Jehovah-Elohim (Jove). Jupiter, traditionally, is associated with bothreligion and law. The developed two-petalled lotus flower or Jupiterfaculties impart not only clear-seeing - the vision of archetypal 'ideas',but far-seeing - prophecy - and the ability to think clearly and make correct judgements based on spiritual sight, not on custom or prejudicedopinion.

Thus light - Jupiter - the Third Eye - Thinking - and Clairvoyance -form a cohesive pattern. We can now look at an example of a personality who had these faculties well developed."My whole being is concentrated between my eyebrows .... " This saying is attributed to Goethe who, we learn from Steiner, was particularly imbued with wisdom gained from his pre-earthly experienceamong the spiritual beings of the Jupiter sphere. (4) Not only hismarvellous literary output but his philosophical and scientific insights bear testimony to this. He had the inner vision of the 'archetypalplant' - the creative idea behind all plant forms. That he had thefaculty to 'see' both clearly and far and make correct judgements is evident from the account by Eckermann, who describes a report byGoethe's valet who found him lying in bed one evening gazing at thesky. "'Listen' said he (Goethe), 'This is an important moment: there isnow an earthquake, or one is just going to take place,' then he mademe sit down on the bed, and showed me by what signs he knew this."A few weeks later they learned that a part of Messina had been destroyed by an earthquake that night. (5) It is interesting that Schopenhauer described how Goethe lookedat him "with his Jupiter eyes" when speaking to him of light. (6)

It would appear from the lecture that was published here that it is important for the development of the creative thinking capacity that Jupiter is able to work upon a growing child during the period after birth. "It makes a difference whether a person stands at a given spot on earth and Jupiter, for instance, shines down on him from the sky, or whether he is in a location where Jupiter is covered by the earth. In the first case, Jupiter's effects on the Person are direct ones; in the second case, the earth is placed in between; this results in a significant difference. We have said that Jupiter is connected with thinking. Let us assume that a person receives the direct Jupiter influence during the period when his physical organ of thinking is in the stage of major development after birth. His brain will be formed into quite a special organ of thinking; the person receives a certain predisposition towards thinking. Assume that a person spends these years in a place where Jupiter is on the opposite side of the earth, thus hindering Jupiter's influence. Such a person's brain is less developed into an organ for thinking...." (7)

What does this rather puzzling passage mean? It would seem that Steiner is referring to something other than a daily rhythm - Jupiter rising or culminating - traditionally 'significant' positions at birth. Unless we are in extreme latitudes all planets rise and set each day and thus shine down directly from the sky even if not visible because it is daylight. But in winter the Sun is much lower in the sky and visible for a shorter length of time than in summer, because theearth's axis is inclined at an angle with respect to the ecliptic. Planets, likewise, have their 'seasons' in accordance with their owncycles.

Joachim Schultz describes Jupiter's cycle thus: "...The twelve year period of Jupiter's progress through the zodiac may be thought of as a 'Jovian year' by analogy to the solar year. During this period the arcs of Jupiter's daily motion rise and sink; and its direction of rising and setting change. During a solar year roughly the same metamorphosis takes place in Jupiter's diurnal arcs, as for those of the Sun in a month. Over a period of six years, when Jupiter is moving through the upper portion of the zodiac, it ascends to relatively high culminations, as for example, from 1987 to 1992, and again from 1999 to 2004. In addition there is a period of especially good visibility during the oppositions, at which time Jupiter, owing to its high position in the zodiac, is above the horizon for more than twelve hours. During the following six years we find Jupiter in the lower constellations of the zodiac. It remains close to the horizon in the southern sky. Its visibility is less favourable and of a shorter duration...."(8)

The regions of the zodiac wherein the highest culmination and greatest visibility of Jupiter take place are of course not the same as for the Sun. But it can be seen from the dates given that in northern latitudes the area of maximum visibility is when Jupiter is movingfrom sidereal Pisces through to Virgo, and the less favourable period is when it passes from Libra back to Pisces. So if Steiner is correct, it is significant for the development of the capacity for wisdom to beborn when Jupiter has still to move through the zodiac somewhere between Pisces and Virgo, the closer to Pisces the better. It is not easyto check such a statement in a statistical way, because it would be difficult for people to determine what is the maximum capacity for wisdom. The clever, quick-witted person, or one who 'does well' at university is not necessarily at all what is meant. The kind of person meant here may even seem slower or not obviously 'successful' but has, however, a truly creative and original approach. Only if this is matched with other skills will 'success' be apparent. The example of Goethe is thus not intended to be 'proof' but illustration. At his birth,Jupiter was near the beginning of sidereal Pisces and therefore during the six years following his birth it would have been in the optimum position. It appears that it was not 'necessary' for Jupiter to be actually rising or culminating at birth. (9)

We have only considered so far the positive side of Jupiter. What about the negative? Can one really have "Too much of a good thing"? If we think briefly of the liver, the organ traditionally associated with Jupiter, it is certainly affected adversely by too many good things. At birth it is much larger proportionately than the rest of the infant's body and has to grow more slowly than other organs. A mythological figure who went 'too far' was Prometheus who stole fire from Zeus and was punished by being bound to a rock and having to suffer the torment of an eagle or vulture gnawing at his liver. An excess of Jupiter often calls Saturn forth to control and limit after all. A powerfully developed thinking capacity may lead to a diminished feeling response or an inability to actually carry out actions. Too great an emphasis on 'wisdom' may bring about the tyranny of a philosophic system or religious fanaticism. Then, like Portia, we need to invoke Chesed, theSpirit of Mercy. Jupiter, God-Father, Zeus was both creator and destroyer.


(1) See the A.A. Journal for Winter 1979/80: Nick Kollerstrom's report on the Jupiter space probe which detected intense lightning storms on the planet.

(2) Ruldolf Steiner: The Spiritual Hierarchies and their Reflections in the Physical World.

10 Lectures, Dusseldorf, 12-18 April 1909, Anthroposophic Press Inc.

(3) Robert Powell: Hermetic Astrology, Vol. 1; Heremetika, Kinsau.

(4) Rudolph Steiner: Karmic Relationships, Vol. VI, Lecture VI; 1-6-24, Stuttgart,

Rudolf Steiner Press, London.

(5) Johann Peter Eckermann: Conversations with Goethe. Dent: Everyman.

(6) Schopenhauer: Uber das Sehen.

(7) Rudolf Steiner: How Man is formed out of the Cosmos, Part II, A.A. Journal March/April1987.

(8) Joachim Schultz: Movement and Rhythm of the Stars; Florida Books

(9) Sidereal and Tropical data for Goethe is given in Robert Powell's 'HermeticAstrology'. A tropical chart is also in Lois Rodden's "The American Book of Charts".

Rudolf Steiner: A Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity); Rudolf Steiner Press, London.

Gareth Knight: A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism; Helios Books, 1973.


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