When one thinks of huge, the planet Jupiter invariably comes to mind. By far the largest body in our solar system, Jupiter is unique in having beautiful bands, lots of moons, and an orbit of 12 years. All this, and a mobile red spot too! Named after the mythological king of the gods, in astrology it represents the principle of expansion and assimilation, the urge to learn and grow beyond the confines and restrictions of everyday life. It also refers to participation in the social sphere of existence, and one's basic philosophy, belief system, goals and aspirations, and spiritual vision.

Jupiter is also associated with expansion of consciousness and the means to accomplish this, whether through education, travel, or exposure to new theories and experiences. Its shadow, though, is excess and overdoing. If more is good, then even more is better, and more than that best! So the impulse toward aggrandizement, pomp, and self-indulgence needs to be kept in check. By being paired with Saturn, representing limitation, consolidation, and focus, the Jupiterian urge toward diffusion and expansion is balanced and harmonized.

In the Qabalistic Tree of Life, Jupiter is linked with Chesed, the fourth sephirah. At this stage of awareness one works with the qualities of love, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. The opposite sephirah, or sphere of emanation, is called Geburah, and its planetary force is symbolized by Mars. Here the energies of will and purpose hold sway. Thus in planes four and five of the cycle of conscious growth and evolution are found the basic lessons of humanity ― the harmonizing and balancing of love and will.

The positive attributes of Jupiter include benevolence, faith, trust, cheerfulness, and joy. The negative manifestations are indulgence, self-aggrandizement, exaggeration, and gluttony. Perhaps the most famous Jupiterian character is Falstaff, who appears in several of Shakespeare's plays. Sir John is above all a braggart, given to great overstatement about his heroism and feats of bravery. He also is a drunkard, hoisting tankard after tankard at the local inn, celebrating his encounters with the enemy on the battlefield.

But he is loyal to a fault, and has a heart as big as all outdoors, and it is impossible not to forgive his pompousness and false bravado. He always maintains his cheerful disposition and optimistic outlook, and is a dear friend and companion to Prince Hal. In many ways he is the perfect foil to the Prince's Martian qualities of focused will, valor and bravery, and serious purpose.

In traditional astrology, Jupiter is most strongly linked with Sagittarius and the ninth house, and with Pisces and the twelfth house to a lesser degree. The inclusive and wide-ranging vision of our largest planet blends well with Sagittarian goals and idealism, philosophy and spirituality. The ninth house affiliation reveals itself in long-distance travel, matters of governance and law, the abstract mind, and higher education.

The Piscean contacts are suggestive of journeys into the realms of dreams and psychic phenomena, and the gleaning of new insights into spiritual dimensions. Twelfth house matters include isolation and sequesterment, and the need to come to terms with the collective experiences of humanity. The Jovian impulse toward expansion and assimilation can be imprisoned here, except for movement on the inner dimensions of consciousness. We can therefore understand why Neptune has in modern times been considered the ruler of these areas.

When we move into transpersonal astrology, the Jupiterian influence permeates Aquarius. The scientific, detached, and cool perspectives of the Water Bearer are warmed and nourished by the expansive and loving qualities of Jupiter. The Aquarian urge to collectivize experience and maintain distance and objectivity is given breadth and substance. The purely scientific method is enlarged to include humanitarian concerns and issues, and right application of knowledge and understanding is enhanced.

Eleventh house activities are now conditioned by the blue ray. Friends, group affiliations and endeavors, planetary service, and hopes, dreams, and goals are infused with deeper understanding and wider vision. In fact, whatever Jupiter touches is potentially uplifted and unfolded in a multi- dimensional way. Boundaries are broadened, perspectives enlarged, and consciousness expanded.

In the Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune corresponds with Jupiter. At this stage of the evolutionary journey one learns that everything moves in cycles of time and space, inbreath and outreach, involution and evolution. The Fool, whose lessons are depicted in this ancient symbol system, must respond with receptivity and openness to every situation, without judgment, guilt, or blame. Here the heart is opened, both to joy and pain, and the power of love is seen to be the most transforming energy of all.

Fortune is Key 10, the beginning of a new period of unfoldment, and an opportunity to test the knowledge gained in the previous phase. As one enters into situations with an awakened heart, doubt and resistance are overcome, and the healing force allows creative change to occur. As one digests and assimilates life's offerings, understanding and wisdom emerge, and the power of indwelling spirit comes forth.

Perhaps the key quality symbolized by our largest planet is that of abundance. This is a theme that is much overused by new-age types at present, and usually understood in a very limited way. A basic tenet of the laws of manifestation is that all needs are met fully in every moment and circumstance. Often wants and desires, and even greeds, are mistaken for needs. And in the rush toward manifesting these desires, the full implication of the process is overlooked.

How many Chinese workers were abused, crippled, or even committed suicide for the iPhone you so desperately crave and cannot live without? How much human effort and labor, and at what cost, goes into that BMW one wishes to grace the driveway? How was the capital needed for that long-cherished object of desire created? Who and what has been exploited in order for someone to have that dream house, with far more rooms and space than could ever be of practical use? Upon whose back, and by the sweat of how many brows, was the energy actualized for some petty want, or status symbol?

It takes strong conviction and great courage to face squarely the truth about abundance, and to look deeply into the desires and urges of the personality. Only within the context of planetary vision and the wholeness of life can this issue be truly addressed.

It seems that in these times, the only sin is poverty. And if one lives close to the earth, with a consciousness of need fulfilled rather than desire and greed, that person's spirituality is often called into question. Yet each of us is charged with the responsibility of living lightly upon the Earth, taking only what is necessary for the maintenance of our various bodies, and using resources wisely. Only in this way can life on this fragile sphere continue.

Ultimately, the Jupiterian urge toward never-ending expansion must be contained, and through this consolidation awareness grows steadily. The sacredness of existence is manifested in every action, and one lives in attunement with an ever-widening and more inclusive vision of the planet-as-a-whole, with a deep regard for all beings and levels of consciousness. Through faith, trust, and joyful participation the work of transforming and uplifting the material plane goes forward. With Jupiter as the way-shower, teacher, and educator, each of us is led toward the fulfillment of spiritual vision and purpose. In sharing our truths and experiences with others, the veil of ignorance and deception is lifted. The light shines forth, healing and nurturing, and together we cross the threshold into a brighter world.

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