Jupiter and the Seat of Consciousness

Green Spiral

We have previously discussed Jupiter both as the benefic of common astrology and Jupiter in his Janus guise as guardian of the threshold. (For the two part article, click HERE.) We have also tackled Jupiter as the co-ruler of Pisces, with his inherent ability to cause loss, disillusion and deflation (not always Neptune’s territory).

But there is an element of the Jupiterian archetype that is little-mentioned, and that is Jupiter as the seat of consciousness (or, as I prefer to put it, conscious awareness). At a core level, Jupiter is not only the teacher and guru, but the student striving ever-forward, expanding horizons via both experience and the subsequent heightened perception.  Mercury describes how we take information and communicate it once it is processed, but Jupiter represents the process of understanding itself.  Our process determines our experience , and our experience determines our awareness, the way in which we view the world. Thus, the greater lengths we travel (Jupiter), the more we are capable of becoming, and the more we are capable of seeing.

If we use Mercury without Jupiter, we ‘have the experience but miss (sic) the meaning,’ to borrow from T.S. Eliot (The Four Quartets).  Mercury without Jupiter is information without understanding.  When one really understands something, not just knows it, it becomes part of one’s being.  One sees the world through a different lens—or perhaps, the lens is taken away, and we are closer to experiencing the truth of something as we are capable of defining it.

In our Alchemy class, we have been exploring the close alchemical ties between Mercury and the Moon.  In alchemical terms, they are bound together, each reflecting the silvery, and perhaps unknowable, shadow-light of the universe. It brings me back to the idea, going back to Buddhism and beyond, that the world is, in essence, changeable and un-knowable.  As Plato said, we may only see the world as shadows projected on a cave wall.  We can only experience a thing as reflective of a concept of that thing.  If we see a cup, we understand it only as a representative of ‘cup-ness.’  If we see a horse, we can only understand it via an a priori concept behind ‘horse-ness.’ During the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant, one of the first, if not the first, Western philosophers of the transcendent, divided the world into our experience of the world via the senses (The Moon/Mercury) and the world that actually is. The appearance of things as we perceive them he called phenomena. The actual world he called the noumena, or the “thing in itself.” Kant said we cannot know the noumena directly, but we can apprehend it, based on the way we perceive the phenomenal world.   What allows us to understand are a priori concepts, which exist beyond our sensate ‘reality.’

From The Idiot’s Guide to Philosophy, by Jay Stephenson:  (C 2002, DK Publishing)

A priori concepts, according to Kant, are concepts that “come before” experience, making it possible for us to understand things. An example is the concept of substance. Categories of understanding are a priori concepts that refer to the way the understanding makes judgments about such things as quality, quantity, time, and space…

…People in Kant’s time were having trouble explaining how we get knowledge from experience, since that knowledge seems unreliable. Kant said that what actually happens is that we get experience from knowledge. That is, our ability to know makes it possible for us to have and to understand our experience.[Italics mine.] In this way, like Copernicus, Kant started looking at things from a whole new perspective…

[Kant’s] work suggested that there is a unified reality based on categories of human understanding, and that this human understanding is something that is built into reality itself. The human mind, in other words, has a lot to do with the way reality takes shape… Kant suggested that the mind and the rest of reality are part of the same unified picture, a ‘transcendent unity.’


Experience coming from knowledge—where have we, as astrologers, heard that before?  We know it as a result of the march of mutable signs, two belonging to Mercury, two to Jupiter.  We have discussed this before, yet it is an important concept and can be repeated:  the information and rationalism of  the Air Mercury, Gemini,  turns into the ‘proof in the testing’ of the Earth Mercury, Virgo.  In Virgo, it becomes knowledge.  When this knowledge is processed via the Fire of Sag/Jupiter/and the 9th house, it becomes understanding, it becomes conceptual.  It becomes the higher order of the thing it once was (Sag as polar opposite to Gemini).  The conceptual world, the world of higher thought, and of higher order, belongs to the best of Jupiter.  It becomes part of our awareness, our being.  It allows us to have vision, to make a plan of higher order. This is where we begin to deal with a moral universe, with concepts of fairness and balance.  Of faith.

Jupiter is considered lucky not because it’s a big, optimistic airbag, but because it makes connections of a higher order.  (Okay, perhaps the optimistic airbag represents a mind/matter positive reinforcement.) Jupiter can work on us without our effort.  Things happen with ‘good’ Jupiter.  (Things happen with ‘bad’ Jupiter, too, but that is for another day.) The higher forces, the forces beyond the sensate world, are looking after us, because we become closer to them via our understanding.

Jupiter is about intuitive perception; intuitive perception goes beyond the sensate.  It knows what is ‘right’ and ‘true’ according to the way it frames experience.  Our experience of the world would seem to be entirely individual, with each of us locked into a personal bubble of reality, if it weren’t for the second phase of Jupiter, which links it to Pisces and the 12th house.  In moving from the 9th house to the 12th house, our conceptual/experiential universe becomes universal.  We are not alone.  The ‘transcendent unity’ of Kant has grown into the ‘morphic field’ of Rupert Sheldrake and beyond.  Jupiter is not only about our highest thought and vision, but about how that vision is shared and experienced among us.  The Piscean expression of Jupiter is  where we connect on a universal level.

Anyone with planets in the 12th house has some direct experience of this.  It goes double if you have the Sun or Jupiter there. [ Well, we can have direct experience of the universal if we stop thinking of our lives in terms of personal gain.  Not that you can’t have personal gain, but it shouldn’t be the purpose of the exercise.]  Planets in the 12th are forced to go through this universalizing process of the mutable houses (no matter what signs are on the cusp—signs only give you the flavour of the experience).  All planets in the 12th have a duty to focus on the universalizing forces in life.  Call them ‘higher powers’ or whatever you will, these forces focus the planetary energy to experience the world as a unified whole.

Jung found the model of his psychology while examining the dreams of patients.  The patients all began to experience alchemical symbolism in their dreams, even though none of them had ever had any knowledge of or exposure to alchemical symbols.  This coincided with Jung’s own study of alchemy. If alchemical symbolism could be shared like this, then what else is possible?  How unconscious is the collective unconscious?

Astrological truth states that, the more we become aware of ourselves, our processes and our perceptions, the less will ‘happen’ to us from the outside.  This is because the more aware we are, the more we are at one with the world.  Of course, sometimes we are part of happenings that involve us on a group or collective level, and are not part of our individual awareness.  Why some of us get involved in collective issues and some do not is one of the great mysteries astrology cannot explain.  However, when it comes to individual consciousness and growth, we need to look at the Moon, Mercury and Jupiter as part of a process.  Jupiter, by house and sign, points us to a way of deriving meaning from experience.  More on this next time in the newsletter, The Widening Gyre.  If you want more on Jupiter, please subscribe (lower right on the site).





About this entry