December 30, 2009
Astrology is a double-edged art.
It bestows the inestimably joyful gift of awareness that we are all woven into some vast, meaningful pattern – in which the tiniest of individual threads ( you, me….) is a key part of the weave. It contributes a significant lens to the many through which we limited humans attempt to expand our vision and comprehension of both the collective and individual patterns of life on this tiny, precious planet of ours.
Astrology can also raise fear and apprehension: it provides very accurate timings so that we can know exactly when certain energy patterns are coming to their peak. But our attempts at predicting precisely how those energies will manifest – both collectively and individually – have ranged historically from considerable accuracy to being way off the mark. As a critic wryly observed not long ago, if astrologers could consistently predict accurately they would all be millionaires by now.
The myth of Prometheus, who stole the gods’ fire in order to use it for humanity’s enlightenment and was savagely punished for his hubris, is a salutary one to contemplate as we think of astrology’s double edge. Fire warms us, lights up the dark, protects us – but it can also burn the hand that bears it. All illuminating knowledge, everything which takes humans a step forward into the light, also casts a dark shadow.
And here we are, as another year and decade end, contemplating one of the astrological calendar’s most dynamic and exciting cycles. The fourteen-year cycle of Jupiter and Uranus, which last took place at 5-6 degrees of Aquarius in February 1997, is coming to an end. The new one zaps zero degrees Aries with its lightning bolt in June 2010.
And the myth of Prometheus, powerfully connected to the planet Uranus, becomes once again startlingly relevant.
In my new book “Jupiter meets Uranus: from erotic bathing to star gazing” published by the American Federation of Astrologers, (April 2009) the results of my extensive research project conducted during the 1997 Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Aquarius are revealed.
The research includes both mundane events and the conjunction’s effects in individual lives, as I explain in AFA Interview: Jupiter, Uranus and the Purple People from Planet Zog first published in May 2009 by the AFA Newsletter.
I also offer insights into the upcoming Jupiter-Uranus conjunctions in Pisces and Aries in 2010/11, an extract from that interview.
It has been terrific to see the amount of interest generated to date, both by the book and by the above articles which appeared recently as posts on this site.
Next year, I will take some time to reflect on what the upcoming conjunction may mean in essence for individuals “plugged in” to the dramatic energy field of zero degrees of Aries/Libra/Cancer/Capricorn – the cardinal cross triggered by the upcoming Jupiter/Uranus conjunction.
Now, though, I feel it is time to return to first principles, to address those thoughtful individuals who understand that grasping the core meaning of any combination of planetary energies is a fruitful way to proceed – prior to indulging in speculation regarding what branches may grow from that core!
The following is an edited series of extracts from Chapter One: Introducing Jupiter and Uranus, taken from “Jupiter meets Uranus: from erotic bathing to star gazing”
” ……Jupiter and Uranus form a conjunction in the heavens every fourteen years. Why should the prospect of such a meeting generate excitement, and anticipation of “fresh woods and pastures new” ? How did astrological Jupiter and Uranus acquire their individual names and meanings? Why are their energies in combination regarded as being so dynamic,unusual, disruptive?……
Planets’ symbolic meanings to date have been derived over time from the astronomy of the planet which is linked to the name, from the mythology associated with the name of the relevant god or goddess, and from empirical observation of the links between planets’ movements by transit and corresponding manifestations at both an individual and collective level of earthly life.
Thus, from a weave of the above factors, astrological Jupiter came to be known as “the great benefic”, the planet bringing opportunity: personal wealth, political prominence, high social position, professional success – “kingship”of various kinds as befitted mythological Jupiter’s role as king of the Olympian gods…..
Psychologically, all forms of over-confidence, inflated sense of one’s own importance, arrogance and hubris were assigned also to the realm of Jupiter. These represent the shadow side of Jupiter’s undoubted blessings of robust faith in life’s essential value and goodness, the longing to know and to grow in wisdom, and the ability to have fun and inspire other people.
Just as Jupiter the king in Roman myth ( Zeus in Greek myth) was the law giver, so Jupiter the planetary symbol came to relate to those laws, principles, perspectives and ethics which set a context for a larger vision of life than one would have without the prompting of this powerful, fiery force of nature. In its shadow face, those dimensions become distorted into that within human nature which imagines itself to be above the law, able to annexe God to its own side, always able to justify action no matter how dire and inhumane.
The restless drive to grow, to expand, to live a life rich in meaning, to push the boundaries of knowledge and experience as far as possible, lies at the core of astrological Jupiter. So does its shadow; restlessness which cannot and will not accept the limits set by age and time, the domain of Saturn….
Uranus appeared in 1781, seriously upsetting the orderly cosmic structure upon which astrology was predicated. William Herschel had not expected his exhaustive telescopic sweep of the heavens to yield another planet, but it did: the first to be discovered since prehistoric peoples began to scan the heavens….. The name finally settled for from Roman myth was Uranus, following the same mytho-logic which had named Jupiter, then Saturn…..
Astrologers also adopted Uranus as the new name, but there is just one problem. Empirical observation, as already noted, is the third strand in the weave of confirming a planet’s symbolic meaning. However, as Richard Tarnas points out in his masterly essay Prometheus the Awakener.…there is a consensus amongst modern astrologers, based on empirical observation since its discovery, regarding the core principles associated with the planet Uranus. However, the mythical figure most clearly evoked by those principles is not Uranus/Ouranos!
What are those core principles? Here I quote from Tarnas:
“The clear consensus….is that the planet Uranus is empirically associated with the principle of change, rebellion, freedom, liberation, reform and revolution, and the unexpected break-up of structures; with excitement, sudden surprises, lightning-like flashes of insight, revelations and awakenings; and with intellectual brilliance, invention, creativity, originality, and individualism. In addition to the occurrence of sudden breakthroughs and liberating events, Uranus transits are linked to unpredictable and disruptive changes…Uranus is regarded as signifying the individualist, the genius, and the rebel.”
Tarnas points out that these observed qualities bear little resemblance to the mythic Uranus/Ouranos, there being nothing in his character to suggest rebellion, genius or the impulse for change….“….the mythological Ouranos not only diverges from but contradicts the meaning of the astrological Uranus.”….
It would seem from this, that the logic which allocated to the new planet the name of the next god in the mythical pantheon, broke down when this particular planet’s behaviour was subjected to empirical observation. It seems rather apt, given its reputation for contrariness, that the planet should be Uranus!
Which mythic figure best expresses the core principles manifested by astrological Uranus ? Tarnas links the planet clearly with Prometheus, a towering, unforgettable character from Greek myth. Prometheus was a Titan, descended from Ouranos, who rebelled against the gods, helped to overthrow the despot Kronos, tricked Zeus, and stole the divine fire of ultimate knowledge from Olympus in order to liberate humanity from the power and domination of the gods…..
Astrological Jupiter and Uranus together – the dream team ?
A first reaction to the combination of those two ‘masculine’ energies, fire and air, rulers of Sagittarius and Aquarius, tends to be positive and enthusiastic. Exploration and innovation, the quest for meaning allied with the drive for revolutionary change, are attractive facets of the human journey. What harm could come from them?
We certainly need the enthusiasm and exuberance of fire, and air’s spirit of enquiry. We need fun, adventure, learning, information and dialogue: life without them would be desperately dull and stagnant.
But deeper investigation can lead to a degree of disquiet! Again, reflecting on the Greek mythology of …. Zeus and Prometheus can help to build a picture which has dark as well as bright shading….
Prometheus had been Zeus’ ally in the Titans’ uprising against Zeus’ father Kronos. But Zeus (Jupiter in Roman myth)had a short memory for a favour, and showed no mercy towards Prometheus when the theft was discovered. He had him chained to a rock for eternity whilst a griffin pecked out his liver each night. Zeus’ harsh behaviour showed him to be more interested in maintaining his superior position, than in sharing what the gods had for the benefit of both gods and humankind.
Prometheus at first glance appears the more enlightened and progressive of the two. Yet he displayed considerable arrogance in deciding what would benefit humanity without, presumably, consulting a few of their representatives to see what the general feeling was! In concentrating on what humanity could become, he was too far up in the airy realms of theory to think of what the repercussions of human beings having godlike powers might be. Compassion for the impact of mind-expanding theories on the lives of ordinary individual mortals was no concern of his.
There are other rather unsavoury aspects to Zeus and Prometheus which it is well to bear in mind…..
To put it bluntly, the mythology shows us that we are in the company of two archetypal figures who between them have a sweeping and bright vision of how humanity should conduct itself, and what it can achieve. At the same time, however, they are prepared to be ideologues, hypocrites and thieves who can be motivated by greed and opportunism as well as idealism in the pursuit of their vision.
Light and shadow : current times
In the West at least, we have all benefited from advances made possible by the restless brilliance of the human mind and spirit, that precious gift of divine fire symbolised in myth. The rapid development of our scientific and technological knowledge and expertise from the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century onwards has been particularly stunning. Interestingly, these advances greatly escalated from the appearance to our view of the planet named Uranus in the revolutionary decade of the 1780s,during a time known in Europe as the Enlightenment.
But the shadow side of that gift is becoming increasingly evident as our Earth becomes more and more obviously damaged by our drive to better ourselves. Further dangers now loom as our expertise in genetic engineering and cloning technology grows. We are increasingly able to take apart the very fabric of life, and weave it to a highly conjectural new pattern unknowable in its ultimate results…..“
I do hope that this edited extract has two effects!
One, to enable the reflective reader to gain a clearer core picture of the combined planetary energies involved as the Jupiter/Uranus energy field of 2010/11 takes form. (Using a wide 10 degree orb, the conjunction begins to apply in March 2010, finally separating in March 2011)
And two, to stimulate interest in
To buy “Jupiter meets Uranus: from erotic bathing to star gazing“, described in a five-star review by Leah Whitehorse as “a page-turner of the astrology world”, click HERE
UK buyers, click HERE
Any comments on this post are welcome
2000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
Anne Whitaker’s main blog is Writing from the Twelfth House, a lively and popular magazine-type site, set up in the summer of 2008 “….for those writers and readers – and fellow astrologers! – who share my preoccupation with questions of mystery, meaning, pattern and purpose….”
If you are looking for information, education, entertainment and inspiration, check it out !
To read John Townley’s – and The Mountain Astrologer’s – generous review of ‘Jupiter Meets Uranus’, click HERE