Can the sky god tip the scales toward justice?
(c) Julie Loar 2016
September 2016 – October 2017
“Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.” Mahatma Gandhi
Jupiter enters the cardinal air sign of Libra on September 9, 2016, at the midpoint of two powerful eclipses. A solar eclipse occurs at the new moon of September 1, and a lunar eclipse follows on September 18, just a few days before the Autumn Equinox. Jupiter will then form a conjunction with the Sun at about four degrees of Libra on September 25, offering a powerful synergy of optimism and expansion. Such alignments seem more powerful at the cardinal points of the year.
According to R. H. Allen, Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, the constellation first appeared as Libra in classical times in the Julian calendar created by Caesar as Pontifus Maximus. He was aided in this effort by Flavius and Sosigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer. Although the Romans claim to have introduced Libra, the Scales, as the twelfth sign, these stars have an enduring symbolic connection to ancient goddesses of justice such as Astraea, Themis, Dike, and the Egyptian Ma’at, rather than being the only inanimate object in the zodiac.
In millennia past the alpha and beta stars of Libra, which now form the pans of the balance, were the claws of the Scorpion and were perceived as a separate constellation. The stars still bear the earlier names of Northern and Southern Claws. In India this constellation was a kneeling man, holding a pair of scales. In the early zodiac of China this group of stars was a dragon, the national emblem. Later, following the Romans, the constellation became Tien Ching, the Celestial Balance. Libra’s theme of weight and measure extends back to Egypt where the constellation was depicted as a scale beam, representing the Nilometer, which tracked the level of the Nile. This scale was also central in the Egyptian Weighing of the Heart ceremony, where the heart of the deceased was balanced against the feather of the goddess of justice, Ma’at. Well before the time of the Romans this part of the sky was associated with the idea of light, or a lamp, representing the Assyrian god Bir. Similar to Jupiter, Bir was a father god of fire and great light and was believed to inhabit these stars.
Libra is ruled by the planet Venus, mythical goddess of love and beauty. The name Venus comes from the Latin venustus, which means “graceful.” This ancient Italian goddess was seen as the growth and beauty inherent in nature’s bounty and spring’s rejuvenation that is related to Taurus, the other sign under her rulership. Venus was worshipped in Rome where Julius Caesar claimed to be her direct descendant. He dedicated a temple to her, expressing his gratefulness for granting him victory in war. Although Venus was equated with the Greek Aphrodite, she is more appropriately related to the goddess Charis (charity), who was the Greek goddess of grace and embodied the concept of human love.
Aphrodite, the earlier Greek goddess, derives from aphros, meaning “foam.” Aphrodite was born of the foam which bubbled up from the ocean after Cronus (Saturn) castrated his father Uranus, causing his phallus to fall into the sea. The blood gave Aphrodite’s hair its coppery color. This hints at the profound and symbiotic relationship between earth and sky, sea and clouds. Aphrodite herself emerged from a much older goddess with more profound mythic significance. The earlier goddess contained the triple aspect of Mother-Maiden-Crone and held sway over issues of life and death.
In myth Aphrodite was married to the lame god Hephaestus, the Blacksmith (Vulcan), but had a long-standing affair with Ares (Mars). Mars is the ruler of the first sign Aries, opposite to Venus-ruled Libra on the zodiacal wheel. Through their mythic exploits, these two famous lovers are trying to balance the scales of the extremes of gender. That Venus was married to the Olympian Blacksmith suggests the fires of transmutation, tempering us through the experiences of relationships.
The stereotype of Libra is someone who constantly weighs matters in the balance, taking forever to choose, and perhaps never making a decision at all. This is due to a deep and abiding desire to be fair and a keen sense of justice. There is a risk of too much compromise on the part of Libra which builds up resentment. The important thing to realize about the scales of Libra, as they operate in the human psyche, is that they are never at rest. The experience of Libra is a continual shifting rather than the actual experience of equilibrium. As the seventh zodiac sign Libra marks a turning point in the evolutionary process. Here the idea of cooperation is born, and we are challenged to move toward increasing group consciousness through the experience of the remaining signs.
As king of heaven Zeus/Jupiter ruled supreme over the Olympian gods, wielding his thunderbolts. In one of his aspects he was seen to bring rain and to oversee sowing of the crops. Jupiter’s positive qualities include a jovial expansiveness, a sporting approach to life, and an unquenchable optimism. His influence is generally fortunate, benevolent, and generous. Exaggerated, or used unwisely, these same characteristics can become extremist in viewpoint, wasteful, and trusting too much to luck, which brings misfortune. This side of Jupiter can be too fond of a good joke and fail to see when matters are serious. Because Jupiter expands the area he visits, and always wants to take the larger view, there is a risk of dismissing details as insignificant, leading to misfortune.
Jupiter was considered to be a god of light, and therefore wisdom. Jupiter is said to deal with the realm of super-consciousness and therefore is a widener of horizons. In myth, the infant Jupiter was raised on the milk of the goat goddess Amalthea, 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. Jupiter orbits the Sun in twelve years, so looking back in time that far we can get a sense of the repeating pattern in how the planet affects our life. Every twelve years the king of the gods returns to the place he occupied at our birth, providing an infusion of growth and energy we can optimize. Those born with Jupiter in Libra will enjoy the benefits (or growing pains) of this transit.
Jupiter will transit through the Venus-ruled sign until the end of October 2017. This transit will focus on partnerships and relationships as that is Libra’s domain. In traditional astrology Jupiter and Venus are considered beneficial planetary archetypes. Expansive Jupiter, residing in the harmony-loving domain of Libra, augers a generally pleasant passage. The influence of Libra can tend to be too eager to please, leading to uncontrolled expansion in these combined areas. But Jupiter’s optimism relaxing with sensuous Libra can alter our vision with proverbial rose-colored glasses.
Jupiter in Libra adds a quality of refinement and idealism, engendering a love of beauty and harmony, art, good taste, desire for happy conditions, and pleasant relationships. Since Libra relates to the principle of harmony this transit could bring a round of unusual creativity in music and the arts and make people feel more generous with endowments. Concert halls and museums may get a boost. Jupiter in Libra should be good for business, especially those that deal with art, beauty, women, and partnerships. The flip side could signal potential trouble, or lawsuits in partnerships, if things haven’t been going well or issues haven’t been addressed fairly.
Astrologer Isabel Hickey remarked that there is a fist of iron beneath Libra’s velvet glove, so it’s a mistake to dismiss the mild-mannered exterior. One lesson of Libra is the importance of timing. At the right moment, evaluation must end and action ensue. Once Libra has decided the action can be as swift and as direct as the well-timed swoop of a falcon. Libras can be fierce when the cause is just. We see this aspect of Libra in the modern fictional character of Tauriel, the woodland elf archer in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. She was not present in the original book, but she is an embodiment of the warrior aspect of Libra. Likewise, the character Jaylah in the latest Star Trek movie, Beyond is another example. These characters are re-embodiments of ancient goddesses who wielded power in their own right and didn’t wait for the knight on the white horse to ride up and save them. Like many aspects of feminine power, Libra was reduced to an object. True justice, however, requires a formidable and discerning mind, like that of a goddess, which is most fitting for the sign of cardinal air.
When the energies of Jupiter and Libra come together we can hope for balanced abundance and the potential for wisdom in decision making and hopefully a generous dose of diplomacy in relationships. We’ll be encouraged to take a larger view, express fairness to all, but act decisively when it’s appropriate.
These archetypes together create a love of order and a desire to see justice done. Since Libra is ruled by feminine Venus, it is likely that the concerns of women in relationships will receive more attention during this transit. This could see improvement in child care, equal pay addressed in the court room, and a legislative focus on women’s rights. More legislation may be introduced that changes the way certain decisions are made relative to marriage and divorce. Women may be less likely to change their names when they marry, preferring instead the independent status of Venus’s ancient reputation. A woman will be a presidential candidate for the first time during Jupiter’s passage through Libra, and how voting decisions are made may be colored by Jupiter’s influence.
These two energies are similar in myth in that both Jupiter and Venus (which rules Libra), were known for numerous romantic liaisons. This further emphasizes lessons of relationship and the importance of discernment. Looking at the archetypes in the most positive light, the potential exists in this energetic combination for enlightened love. Jupiter’s wisdom can see the most sublime joining of god and goddess in an eternal dance of creation, spinning worlds into existence, similar to Krishna and Radha in Hindu myth. Also on the idealistic side of this combination Jupiter’s potentially lofty perspective can yield a profound social consciousness that grows out of an enhanced ability to interact with others.
The goal of Jupiter in Libra is to apply the faculty of discernment to gain a wiser perspective and more balance in relationships. While the scales sway and tip, searching for the balance point, relationships that are out of equilibrium will be tested. Jupiter in Libra offers an opportunity to see our relationships in a new light. To withdraw and isolate ourselves causes a withering of our psyche as we grow and learn through our relationships no matter how difficult. It’s also vital to our wellbeing to take time for our own creativity and express our artistic side. At heart Jupiter in Libra asks that we honor the principles of truth, love, and beauty, individually and collectively. For inspiration visit a museum, go to the symphony, or take a long walk in the woods with a loved one.
Originally published in Atlantis Rising Magazine