Jupiter’s been slowing down for the past week or so, preparing to turn retrograde on May 9th. (To correct a common astrological misunderstanding: the change from direct to retrograde motion isn’t instantaneous, like flipping a switch. It’s gradual. I always see people saying things like “Saturn just turned direct today and I feel so much better.” Okay, but it took its time getting there and it’s still moving extremely slowly, like trying to maneuver an 18-wheeler around a hairpin turn. You don’t just slam it into reverse while driving and hope for the best.)
The horary charts I’ve worked on lately all seem to pick up the Jupiter in Capricorn / Mars in Cancer opposition. It’s ugly. Jupiter is a very naughty Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign of its fall. Mars is just as mean in Cancer (and I’m still trying to understand whether and how its being in triplicity takes the edge off the fall). And they adore each other! Jupiter is in the exaltation of Mars, Mars is in the exaltation of Jupiter. So each one is a thug, palling around with another thug it thinks is the bee’s knees. The opposition shows that whatever they do won’t last, or will be utterly regrettable. For all they adore each other, their priorities, shown by the Cancer/Capricorn opposition, are completely at odds.
Just as Jupiter reaches its station around 22 Capricorn 22 on May 9th, Mars finally breaks the opposition/exaltation cycle a few hours later. Mars enters Leo sometime on May 9th. That’s when it finally drops its misguided hero worship of that nasty Jupiter. Mars will still be in Jupiter’s triplicity in night charts, so you will still see some charts where it’s friendly toward Jupiter, but it’s not that same sense of “ooh, my darling Jupiter can do no wrong (crash!).”
How might a Jupiter station in Capricorn feel? Jupiter, expansion. Capricorn, knees. Severely swollen joints, literally or metaphorically, would be my first guess. Richard Saunders in The Astrological Judgement and Practice of Physick states that “Jupiter in the last 18 degrees of Capricorn is [extremely] cold and dry… ingendring diseases of thin Melancholy, corrupting the blood, and Melancholy having the dominion, causing Diseases in the Throat, and swelling in the Jaws and Glandules.” (What’s a glandule? A gland, but smaller.)
Venus returns to her domicile, Taurus, later today. Her journey through this part of the zodiac every year takes a path of riches-to-rags-to-riches. In classical astrology, Venus is exalted in Pisces, in its detriment in Aries, and in its rulership in Taurus.
To understand what these dignities and debilities mean, imagine Venus as a queen in her travels. In Pisces, she is exalted: treated as the highly honored guest for whom no request is too difficult to carry out. She is placed on a pedestal and revered. But upon leaving this friendly realm, she falls into enemy territory: Aries. Worse than being peregrine – traveling unknown and unrecognized – she is in her detriment, her crown stripped, her essence defied. Venus cannot behave like the true benefic it is when in Aries. After Aries comes Taurus, showing her escape from the foe and return to the land of her rule. In Taurus, what Venus says goes: she does not need to ask anyone’s permission to do exactly as she pleases.
I’ve been listening to CDs of John Frawley’s lectures about the fixed stars from a workshop he gave in San Francisco in February 2006. (Thank you, AB!) In the course of his fascinating explanations of mythology and its astrological correlations, Frawley mentions in passing the roles of cardinal, fixed, and mutable modalities in the various elements. It’s given me yet more insight into Taurus and its role in the earth triangle.
In earth, we start with cardinal Capricorn, the initial earth impulse. It is the seed buried in the earth at the winter solstice, whose teleology is to grow and push upward. From there to fixed Taurus, where Venus finds herself starting this afternoon. In the fixed modality, we explore all the possibilities of that element, so Taurus is an exploration of all the possibilities of earth, the material world. Venus wants the comfy bed, the bonbons, the 401(k), and the diamonds. One way or another – or all ways, really – Venus in Taurus explores every aspect of the sensual world.
What about mutable signs? These show where we take what we have learned and carry it forward. Virgo, the discriminating one, is the sign of the harvest. From the crops we have gathered, we separate what we plan to use now from what we will set by for future use – or reserve as seed to sow in the new year.
It’s just this side of too-early-to-be-awake, but I got out of bed just to get a good look at Jupiter before the Sun comes up. It’s at about 21 Capricorn, just about square the Sun now at about 21 Aries, so I can see it high in the southern sky, a bit east of south, as the dawn approaches.
Jupiter’s not happy in Capricorn, in plain terms. Consult a Ptolemaic table of essential dignities and you’ll see that Jupiter is in its fall in Capricorn. The Greater Benefic typically cannot act as a benefic here. I suppose it’s because Jupiter, a hot, moist planet and naturally associated with generosity and abundance, can’t find the fertile soil it needs for expansion in Capricorn’s craggy, mountainous earth.
There are two small spans of Capricorn where Jupiter has some essential strength. From 0 Capricorn 00 to 9 Capricorn 59, Jupiter is in its face, the least of essential dignities. From 12 Capricorn 00 to 18 Capricorn 59, Jupiter is in its term, the next dignity up from face. Jupiter will revisit its term from the end of June until the beginning of September, during its retrograde period.
Speaking of that retrograde period, did you know that whenever Jupiter is stationing – direct or retrograde – it is trine the Sun? This is a smart shortcut to remember whether you’re a horary or a natal astrologer. If you see Jupiter trine the Sun in a chart, keep in mind that Jupiter is on the verge of changing directions (or has just done so), and that it is extremely slow compared to its usual speed. Obviously this doesn’t apply to transits to your natal chart.
Jupiter’s first station this spring is at 22 Capricorn 22 on May 9th. Jupiter retrogrades back to 12 Capricorn 32 and stations on September 8th. So summer in the Northern Hemisphere will be a great time for Jupiter-spotting.