The four small terrestrial (Earthlike) planets closest to Sun describe the realm of personal psychology and its attributes: mind (Mercury), love (Venus), will (Mars) and memory (Moon). Earth itself is where they play out. Beyond the inner planets lies a shatter zone of asteroids, an apt symbol for the disintegration of ego at death. Beyond them lie two gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. They are of a different nature than the rocky terrestrial worlds anchoring personality. These are immense spheres of hydrogen, the lightest element, laced with a smidgen of other gases. They symbolize meaning (Jupiter) and destiny (Saturn) abstracted from ego: its spiritual quality, stripped of personal quirks. They also describe the larger social reality within which our individual lives pass. 'No man is an island'; we are each embedded in a collective historical reality. The slow dance of Jupiter and Saturn portrays its evolutionary unfolding.
Jupiter sublimates significance out of circumstance. It distills principles out of phenomena; presents the intangible essence of a situation. Jupiter depicts the soul: both of an individual person and of a collective society. On the group level this soul expresses through belief systems: philosophies, ideologies, religions. These systems are codified into law, whether as an implicit morality or as explicit legislation. Thus Jupiter describes the highest aspirations of a group, whether a nation, church or corporation.
Saturn depicts how those aspirations are institutionalized. It portrays the structure of a society. The nature of the social bond holding it together: the basis of authority. Saturn centralizes expansive aspiration into a focused application.
Saturn describes the explicit form and fundamental organizing principles of destiny. Jupiter expresses its spiritual quality and meaning. Saturn demonstrates the fate or consequences generated by Jupiterian beliefs as they intersect with reality. If those beliefs are healthy or appropriate Saturn provides an orderly grounding and evolutionary progression of them over time. If they are incongruent with human nature or natural law Saturn symbolizes the resistance that eventually forces a reevaluation.
Jupiter progressively unwraps Saturn's abstract law and grows it into an actual soul experience. This occurs on both the individual and collective levels. Jupiter describes the adventure of history; Saturn its results. Jupiter presents options and possibilities. Saturn makes choices and decisions. They can work together, reinforcing each other, like the alternating expansion and contraction of a heartbeat. Or Jupiter can inflate Saturn's Shadow and Saturn can suffocate Jupiter's Spirit.
The relationship between Jupiter and Saturn describes what kinds of issues are raised, not how they will be addressed. Their dynamic symbolizes a context of opportunity/challenge. Individuals and societies respond: partly in accordance with their inherent nature, partly through the exercise of free will.
At twenty-year intervals Jupiter and Saturn conjoin. A new cycle of applied aspiration begins. Its quality is suggested by the nature of the conjunction sign. The waxing first decade of this cycle tends to emphasize the Jupiterian side of the equation, for expansion is Jupiter's function. The waning second decade of the synod tends to be more Saturnine, for contraction and final definition is Saturn's function.
Jupiter, with its twelve-year orbit, exemplifies the twelve archetypal phases of personal and social development encoded in the zodiacal signs. Saturn, with a 29½ year orbit, articulates the inner structure of those archetypes, the specific unfolding of each sign, in its thirty-degree spectrum of expression (including an extra ½° of indeterminacy and freedom).*
The long cycles of fate (Saturn) and its meaning (Jupiter) are measured by the alignments of our system's two giant planets. Their intersecting movements manifest a rhythmic oscillation of intangible energies. We, on Earth, experience them as twenty-year generational periods beginning at the conjunctions. A spiritual wave pattern resonates through the solar system, charted in human history as a mutual interaction of necessary destiny (Saturn) and evolutionary freedom (Jupiter).
Aspects between the social planets, Jupiter and Saturn, have been studied for centuries as indices of historical development. Their generational conjunctions are called synods or mutations.
* This small extra space embeds an activating factor. One half degree is the size of the solar disc as seen from Earth. It symbolizes an opening to spirit that brings Saturn's structure to life.
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