Jupiter, everybody’s favorite planet, has a couple of months left in Gemini. During May 17-27 it will conjoin the US Mars, triggering the US Mars-Neptune square (discussed in an article on my website). The transit amplifies an intriguing piece of the national consciousness: our nervous mix of idealism and self-centeredness.
Jupiter enters Cancer on June 25, and through July and August it will be on top of the US Sun cluster. Everything the USA stands for will be writ large, as this transit is also a Jupiter Return. Like a magnifying glass held over a page of script, Jupiter makes everything bigger and more obvious. Whatever tale the country has to tell will be shouted out.
Jupiter conjunctions have traditionally been welcomed by one and all. Who doesn’t like the idea of growth and gain? But there’s more to Jupiter than its jolly lore suggests. Now that we have crossed the threshold into a whole new macro-cycle—one that has Jupiter’s name on it (see my article on The Age of Jupiter)—it’s a good time to update our understanding of the so-called planet of “luck.”
Modern sky watchers would do well to take with a grain of salt the benefic/malefic distinctions drawn by our medieval forebears. In this more psychologically attuned age, it’s odd that we still sometimes use value judgments for planetary archetypes. In the main, astrologers these days see the planets as neutral universal principles, which humanity can choose to express either for good or ill.
Jupiter’s job, as it cycles through the signs, is to present us with some form of increase, through which we can cultivate a sense of proportion. Jupiter transits tack additions and extensions onto something, so that it is stretched out, broadened or given scope. Its transits teach us how to—or how not to—deal with a lot of something. It symbolizes the concept of quantity.
Jupiter made a direct station on the last day of January. As it moves forward this month through the middle degrees of Gemini (mutable air), we may be feeling like a stalled sailboat picking up a gust of wind, or like an over-inflated balloon all puffed up and ready to pop.
The meaning of a Jupiter transit depends upon what house it’s passing through, what aspects it’s making, and how well we understand the lesson it’s trying to teach. Used without awareness, we get the non-benefic side of the “greater benefic.”
Where food is concerned, somewhere along the line Uncle Sam seems to have gotten the concepts of quality and quantity mixed up. Astrologically this is not surprising: the nation that gave the world super-sized soft drinks and buckets of popcorn as big as a hot tub has natal Jupiter conjunct the Sun. With a third of American children and more than 2/3 of adults overweight, we are a very visible example of unconscious growth.
Since 2008 Pluto has been within orb of opposing the US Jupiter cluster, pushing the issue of quantity to an unhealthy extreme. This is what Pluto is supposed to do: it exposes dysfunction in order to allow the trajectory to turn around, towards healing. Since Pluto began its passage across the US Ascendant in 2000, there has been a seventy percent increase in American obesity. We are told that US obesity and its associated chronic diseases will, unless we change our habits, break the bank on Medicare by 2024.
Obesity researchers have identified a pattern that can be instructively applied to any number of cases where growth turns against its host. The researchers found that the problem begins with simple over-indulgence, waxes into embarrassment, then into morbidity, and finally into catastrophe.
Food and Money
The Sun cluster in the US (Sibly) chart is in Cancer, the sign of sustenance and comfort. The presence in this conjunction of Jupiter helps us understand the American compulsion to acquire possessions and money as well as food.
In our era, the two archetypes—food and money—have become merged through the logic of capitalism. With monster business interests growing it and private networks distributing it, food has been reduced to a corporate portfolio item.
Behind the issue of American obesity is a broader theme: the fact that human sustenance is thought of in industrial terms, of size and market control (1). These collective assumptions will have to shift radically if we are to see any significant change.
And these are times of significant change. The transit I’ve called the Cardinal Crossroads, peaking on the Sibly chart, is nothing if not radical.
The obesity trajectory cited above—over-indulgence, embarrassment, morbidity, catastrophe—can as easily be applied to the acquisition of wealth and possessions. Is there such a thing as too much money?
With natal Pluto (taboos) in the second house of money, Uncle Sam has powerful, mixed feelings on this score (analyzed in this article.) No subject garners as much charge in American culture, and the Cardinal Cross is intensifying it still further.
Greed is Jupiter-gone-wrong. Throw in a Pluto opposition and we have Jupiter-gone-very-wrong. It was transiting Pluto’s revelation of our Jupiterian dysfunction that started the global financial meltdown. Per the trajectory outlined above: first came the traders’ over-indulgence, then the embarrassment of foreclosure and bankruptcy for millions of home and business owners, then the morbidity of whole industries. The result was financial catastrophe.
American politics has always been about money, of course, but recent years have brought income inequality and related issues into heated public discussion. Not just economists and activists but sociologists and psychologists are looking at the issue. A new book by Robert and Edward Skidelsky (Other Press), How much is enough?, makes the case that we’d all be happier and more comfortable if we had not made a veritable religion out of economic gain.2
Gospel of Wealth
The quasi-religious basis of American materialism can be understood as another expression of Uncle Sam’s Jupiter (creed, faith) conjunct the Sun. Especially noticeable in the last presidential campaign, a certain smugness seemed to emanate from the well-groomed, well-fed losing candidate; a testament perhaps to the unspoken national belief that rich people got that way by being good.
These and other core American assumptions are now being questioned. Inaugurated by Pluto’s entry into Capricorn in 2008 (corresponding with the Wall Street meltdown (3)) and crashing into global consciousness in 2011-12 with the Occupy movement, Uranus (populism) and Pluto (plutocracy) have broken the silence about the grotesque divide between rich and poor in the USA. The two planets’ have been forming a T-square to the US Venus (money) and Jupiter (religious values). Over 2014 and 2015, the US Saturn in Libra (justice) will join in, creating the fourth vertex of the square.
As Pluto makes its inexorable way towards its own natal position in the house of wealth in 2022, American materialism is no longer sacrosanct.
(1) Related to this issue is another Jupiterian concept, that of social class. Because of cheap, unhealthy fast food, ours is the only epoch in history where the poor are more likely to be overweight than the rich.
(2) The Skidelskys contend that over the course of the last several centuries, the traditional moral strictures that warned against mindless acquisition have been rationalized away by modern schools of thought. It is a historical constant that the indigent of the world – nearly half the total global population—toil around the clock for bare subsistence; but the fact that the rich spend more and more hours of their day, working even beyond what their standard of living requires, is a peculiarly modern phenomenon.
(3) As of yet, however, despite revelations of outrageous wrongdoing, no systemic changes have taken place in the financial industry. In March it was announced that, five and one-half years after trashing the world economy, Wall Street is in fat city again with the Dow Jones at an all-time high.