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Ancient Mythology
The Tarot


Jupiter in Myth & Occult Philosophy
     By David McCann

Ancient Mythology

Zeus In Mesopotamia, the planet Jupiter was known as Neberu and associated with the god Marduk. He was the patron god of Babylon, and considered equivalent to the older Sumerian god Enlil. The Assyrians in turn equated Enlil to their state god, Ashur. All were often just referred to as Lord, and this title is preserved in Biblical references to Baal or Bel. Enlil was described as the king of the gods, and hence associated with rulership and wisdom. Those with Jupiter rising or culminating often display an imperious nature, self-will, or at the least confidence in their own judgement. The wisdom of Jupiter is the practical wisdom of everyday affairs, not the philosophy which belongs to Mercury. Contemporary astrologers who associate the planet with ninth-house concerns are confusing Jupiter with Sagittarius and the ninth sign with the ninth house. There is no real evidence to associate Jupiter with the law; indeed, he is often prominent in the charts of criminals, who equate law to their own will.

The Greeks considered Marduk to be the same as Zeus, the king of their own gods. He was said to be the son of the Titans Cronos and Rhea: in that way the Hellenic invaders grafted their chief god onto the divine family of the indigenous Pelasgians. To this mixture they added ingredients from Asia: Marduk defeated a race of monsters, so Zeus made war on the Titans; the Hurrian sky god Teshub overthrew his father Kumarbi, so Zeus supplanted Cronos. When the three sons of Cronos - Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades - divided the world, Zeus took the sky, appropriately for the myrthologcal ruler of a planet with an airy nature.

The most notable feature of Jupiter is the number of his mistresses and children. These relationships symbolise the heavens fertilising the earth, the various nymphs each having been the goddess of a particular area - diverse landscapes demand a multiplicity of goddesses, compared with the featureless sky. Jupiter often features in the charts of the promiscuous: e.g. squaring the Moon with Casanova and Louis XIV, configured with a fifth-house planet in the charts of Anais Nin and J.F. Kennedy. This, however, is not because he is a particularly sensual planet, but rather a manifestation of the Jovian inability to concede that enough is as good as a feast.

Roman Jupiter was much the same as Zeus, and shared the same name: Jupiter was originally Deus Pater, corresponding to the Greek Zeus Pater and the Sanskrit Dyaus Pitar, all derived from a prehistoric dyeus pater 'bright father'. The Romans considered that the equivalent Germanic god was Thunor (the Norse Thor), since both Jupiter and he were associated with thunder: this is why Thursday (Old English:. Thunresdaeg) corresponds to the Italian giovedi (Latin: jovis dies). Actually, Thor was closer to Mars in his nature: it was Tiw (the Norse Tyr) whose name corresponded to Zeus, and who originally had the same functions.


In the Jewish cabbala, Jupiter is the fourth sphere, Mercy (Chesed). This forms the moral triad with Geburah (Mars) and Tiphereth (Sun). Here the benefic Jupiter and malefic Mars symbolise the constructive and destructive principles in the universe, which are transcended in the Sun. This contrast is reflected in the opposition between their exaltations (Cancer-Capricorn); according to Antiochus of Athens, this is because they are life and death, a comment which takes us back to Babylon where Jupiter (Marduk) was the creator and Mars (Nergal) was Lord of the Underworld. Chesed also lies on the pillar of creation between Chokmah (pure creative power) and Netzach (individualised images), representing archetypal ideas. This is reflected at a human level in Jupiter's rule of the eleventh house.


Tarot cards depicting JupiterIn the major arcana of the tarot, the Golden Dawn associated Jupiter with the Wheel of Fortune. This card is now used to symbolise luck, though it may originally have represented prudence - either meaning would be appropriate.

Other attributions are also possible, particularly the Emperor, the Pope and Justice.

In the lesser arcana, Jupiter, planet of the fourth sphere, is given to the fours. Because Jupiter is a diurnal planet, the fire and air suits are favourable: the Four of Wands is called Perfected Work and the Four of Swords, Rest from Strife. The earth and water suits, however, manifest the less agreeable side of Jupiter: the Four of Coins is called Earthly Power, and sometimes indicates greed or arrogance; the Four of Cups is Blended Pleasure, where success has led to satiety or world-weariness.

David McCann, who lives in London, is an expert on the history and philosophy of astrology. His articles have been published in many international journals of astrology and he was a regular contributor to the Traditional Astrologer magazine, where this article first appeared.

© David McCann, 1998
This article was first published in The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, issue 17, September 1998

More on Jupiter
Jupiter glypth More articles by David McCann

Other planets featured in this series:

See also:
Mercury's Orbit & Phases
Birth of the Outer Planets