Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system; eleven Earths could fit side by side across the face of the gas giant. Jupiter is fifth from the Sun, and its orbit is five times farther than Earth’s orbit. Jupiter spins on its axis in ten hours, less than half the time it takes Earth to rotate once. Jupiter’s atmosphere is composed mostly of hydrogen (86%) and helium (14%), and the atmosphere also has giant lightning storms in its upper clouds. The colorful cloud bands are actually layers. Darker clouds are deeper in Jupiter’s atmosphere, while the lighter clouds are higher.
The Great Red Spot is a gargantuan high pressure storm, similar to a hurricane on Earth, that rotates counterclockwise in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere in about six day’s time. The famous storm has swirled for at least 400 years that humans have been observing it through telescopes. Jupiter has sixty-three known moons, named for the mythical god’s romantic liaisons. The four largest moons, the so-called Galilean Moons, after Galileo who discovered them, are among the most studied objects in the Solar System.
Jupiter’s composition is more like a star than a planet, with an internal energy source and enormous magnetic fields, and if it has any solid surface it’s hidden deep at the center. Jupiter is twice as massive as all the other planets combined; and if it had been 100 times more massive at birth, it would have ignited. Our solar system would have become a double star system, and our planetary family might have evolved quite differently. Life as we know it on Earth might never have emerged.
The Roman Jupiter was the earlier Greek Zeus and the even earlier Egyptian Min-Amon. King of the gods, Zeus was the quintessential “sky father.” Zeus/Jupiter was considered to be a god of light and therefore wisdom. As a god of light, it’s intriguing to consider that he might have become a star if circumstances had been different in the early stages of our solar system. According to myth, the infant Jupiter was raised on the milk of a goat whose horns continually overflowed with food and drink. This is the origin of the cornucopia, the horn of plenty, and mythically encodes the symbolism that Jupiter embodies abundance.
Mythically, with the help of his mother Rhea, the Greek Zeus overthrew his Titan father, Cronus/Saturn, to become king of heaven and begin the phase of the Olympian gods, who followed the earlier and more powerful Titans. The war of the Titans, lasting 10 years, preceded the ultimate victory of Zeus and the new order of Olympian gods. After the war, Zeus apportioned the Olympian universe. Taking earth and sky for himself, he gave his brother Poseidon (Neptune), the sea, and he bequeathed the underworld, the realm of the dead, to his brother Hades (Pluto). Zeus ruled supreme over the Olympian gods, wielding three thunderbolts. The first bolt was a warning shot across the bow; the second, which required the approval of 12 gods known as comsentes, was hurled as a stronger warning. The third thunderbolt was thrown in punishment, but only after permission was granted from superior and hidden gods.
Aries, the Ram
Krios Khrysomallos was a mythical, flying golden ram. The cloud nymph Nephele (cloud in Greek) sent him to rescue her two children, Phrixos and Helle, as they were about to be sacrificed to the gods. The ram carried the children to Kolkhis, at the far end the Black Sea. He instructed the boy to sacrifice him to the gods in their place and take his fleece to the holy grove of Aries. Afterward, as a reward for his heroism, Khrysomallos was placed in the sky as the constellation of Aries, and his golden fleece became the prize in the subsequent quest of Jason and the Argonauts. This story provides a mythic clue about the potentially heroic nature of Aries that is often missing in descriptions of the astrological sign. It is, after all, Aries who begins the hero’s journey.
Aries, which means ram in Greek, is the first sign of the zodiac and the symbolic point of beginnings, represented as the cyclical resurgence of spring in the northern hemisphere. Aries is known as the pioneer of the zodiac, and true to his position in the wheel, Aries likes to be first. Aries is considered a fire sign and is one of four cardinal signs that coincide with the onset of the seasons, the cardinal points of the year.
Aries energy is characterized by openness, enthusiasm and individualism. Those born in this sign usually rush head first into endeavors that they find stimulating. They are fiercely independent, outspoken, alert and quick to act. They prefer to speak rather than listen, and they love having an audience. Aries also enjoys a good argument, and this can be perceived by less forceful signs as combativeness. Aries are ambitious, with lots of drive and a strong desire to lead; therefore Aries are generally not happy following someone else.
Aries is ruled by Mars in astrology and is a sign of impulsive action. There is little subtlety in the straightforward ram. Quick of mind, and just as quick to anger, Aries are direct and can be impatient. Aries natives have a strong self-image and evaluate most situations quickly. Aries energy likes the excitement of beginnings and startup ventures but would rather forego the tedium of the long haul.
Jupiter in Aries
Jupiter entered the astrological sign of Aries in June for a period of three months, giving us a preview of this transit, and then moved back into Pisces by retrograde motion. Jupiter reenters Aries in mid-January 2011 and will remain direct in motion until entering Taurus in June 2011. This relatively short and speedy passage through Aries is in character with the combination of planet and sign.
Jupiter in Aries is an exciting, inspiring and enthusiastic blend of energies. The natural expansiveness of Jupiter is happy to experience the adventurous nature of Aries, resulting in dynamic and vigorous expression. Jupiter expands whatever area he visits, so while he moves through Aries we might see a growth of pioneering ideas. Jupiter wants more and bigger of everything, embodying the principles of inspiration, abundance, optimism and philosophy, so Jupiter has plenty of room to move in Aries. This compatible combination can generate abundant ideas on a big scale, and there is energy and enthusiasm to carry them out. Especially if those annoying details can be delegated to Virgos.
There can be a sense of destiny in this combination of influences that gives an intense courage of conviction that borders on a crusader’s intensity. The pioneering quality of Aries is infused with the optimism and growth of Jupiter, signaling an almost gold rush mentality with the potential for enhanced gain in chosen endeavors. Aries rules the head, and Jupiter’s god-of-light aspect can be seen as a positive influence, perhaps contributing the element of foresight to counteract Aries impulsive fire-first-aim-later tendency. Jupiter likewise adds a somewhat scientific and philosophical bent to Aries headstrong qualities.
The Jupiter in Aries blend contains the kind of confidence that attracts abundance. This expansive combination desires to broaden horizons, reaching out to explore the larger world. This mindset could aid global diplomacy as Jupiter in Aries might engender a curious and tolerant open-mindedness about other cultures.
Jupiter in Aries will blaze a trail into the unknown if a path hasn’t already been cleared. The downside is an unwarranted level of optimism that tends toward rash action and overconfidence. Jupiter in Aries loves new challenges and is willing to take on situations that others think are impossible. However, it can be difficult to live up to the magnanimous promises that were made in a moment of well-intended largesse. On its own, this combination nobly, and with the best of intentions, believes that anything is possible. But Jupiter in Aries becomes easily bored and wants to move on to the next new, stimulating idea, so it’s vital to choose a qualified second-in-command well in advance.
Since Jupiter is seen as a god of light, who might have become a star, we can hope that his capacity to “see the light” will be increased in the first six months of 2011. Jupiter in Aries may prompt the quest for truth and meaning so evident in his own sign Sagittarius. It’s tempting to imagine that Jupiter’s inability to catch fire left a tremendous void in his planetary psyche, making him a more powerful prod in the quest for illumination.
In late February, Jupiter, at 6 degrees of Aries, will form a square aspect to Pluto in Capricorn. This is an intense cardinal friction that might bring new insights into old forms that need to change. As a nation, the focus might be the ongoing revelations of corruption in financial sectors and corporate campaign financing. Jupiter in Aries could provide an impetus for real change, but the confrontations could be tumultuous. For individuals, it’s a chance to examine where we might have compromised ourselves for the sake of perceived power or security. If we find ourselves in an ethical dilemma, it’s time to take stock.
Jupiter will then oppose Saturn in Libra at the end of March 2011 at 14 degrees. Old patterns of relationships and partnerships demand to be reevaluated. This is true individually and collectively, and the dramatic political climate is evidence of these tug-of-war energies. This also sets up a powerful dynamic in the chart of the U.S. Saturn in the sky conjoins Saturn in America’s birth chart, and that conjunction opposes Jupiter moving through Aries, In addition, the opposition forms a T-square with the U.S Sun at 13 Cancer.
At issue, I believe, is who we are as a nation abroad, and what we stand for at home. Both can seem to be at odds with how the country acts out relationships and partnerships. This intense configuration will also mark the second pass of the country’s Saturn return at 14 Libra. What’s at stake, I believe, is profoundly influencing our future destiny as a nation. Will we become an increasingly corrupt plutocracy, or will there be enough collective will to realign with our founding ideals of a true democratic republic?
Even though dwarf planet Eris is larger than Pluto, she hasn’t yet made her way into mainstream astrological interpretation, and it’s too soon in the game to know how aspects to these newly identified solar system objects will express astrologically. Coming after the aspects of February and March, Jupiter will conjoin dwarf planet Eris in April and May of 2011, at 21 and 22 degrees of Aries. Eris may dramatically upset some apple carts in the status quo, asking some hard questions. Where do we need to examine situations from a completely different perspective, and how might a complete reversal of thinking change things for the better? This conjunction triggers the U.S. Mars and could provide some helpful energy to make needed changes.
Jupiter’s transit of Aries will make issues and opportunities seem larger in scale, and perhaps this will create a sense of pressure to find solutions and seize the moment to make changes that will lead toward positive growth.