Jupiter, Abduction Myths, Swallowing Asteroids & Faithfulness
Today (13th March 2023) Jupiter is conjunct with Chiron (the wounded healer) at 14 degrees in Aries so it seems apt to talk about some themes where the two overlap regarding Aries (self/identity) - I will discuss Chiron specifically a bit further down in the blog. The journey of self-realisation requires willpower and self-mastery and various virtues are needed along the way to overcome 'downward' forces such as seduction and other consequences of 'sexual freedom' in more recent times - we will look at the virtues of loyalty to the divine and faithfulness in particular and examine the old myths and what they reveal regarding these themes.
Jupiter in astrology is a very benevolent planet - bringing growth, expansion, good fortune and blessings wherever he appears in a birth-chart. It is the largest planet in our solar system and therefore 'king of the planets' and protects us by slinging comets of ice from outside the solar system away from the direction of earth due to its gravity.
Yet Jupiter in Roman mythology is slightly different and is a harder character to understand - although he was the king of the gods, his behaviour was not always benevolent and he was responsible for a large amount of suffering caused by his infidelity to his wife Juno and devious antics to deceive her while engaging in his affairs. Jupiter's Greek counterpart was Zeus who was exactly the same in his behaviour with his wife Hera, who was the Greek version of Juno. Many times they metamorphosed into other forms to abduct or rape human mortals and produce offspring, creating discord with their jealous wives who often took revenge.
A Roman wall painting of Jupiter with eagle and globe from Pompeii, 62–79 AD
What is interesting though is that our largest planet Jupiter has 'abducted' many moons - Jupiter is currently thought to have around 95 moons with orbits and many of the moons have been named after the lovers or descendants of Jupiter or Zeus! It's thought that the outer moons were asteroids which were captured from their solar orbits by Jupiter and then collided with other smaller bodies forming smaller fragments of similar orbits. These 'collisional families' seem to reflect the mythology in a strange way! Jupiter has four large moons known as the Galilean moons and they are called Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto in order of their distance from Jupiter with Io being the closest. Closest yet are the four smaller inner moons known as Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea and Thebe.
It is not known but it is thought that the larger moons were formed by slow 'accretion' in a disc of gas and dust which existed around Jupiter after its formation and Io, Europa and Ganymede are in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with each other; it is thought that Callisto will be captured into the resonance in 1.5 billion years time, forming a 1:2:4:8 chain. It is believed that several generations of moons may have already formed and eventually were swallowed up into Jupiter from its drag, with new generations of moons forming from collected gas and dust collected in the ring or disk.
Roman and Greek Mythology of Jupiter/Zeus
Metis is Jupiter's first moon and ironically, in the mythology, Metis was Zeus's first wife in Greek mythology! After discovering that Metis would give birth to a son that would be mightier than Zeus, he tricked his pregnant wife who turned into a fly and he swallowed her up; their child Athena stayed in his mind, giving him a head-ache - his head was cut open, with Athena emerging, fully clad in armour her mother had given to her.
The second moon, Adrasteia, was named after a nymph who was given the task of raising the infant Zeus to protect him from his father Cronus (Saturn) who had also learned that he was destined to be overthrown by his children, just as he had overthrown his father Uranus. This is interesting because the planet Jupiter is followed by the planets Saturn and Uranus in that order. Her name was thought to mean 'inescapable.' Adrasteia fed Zeus with the milk from the goat Amalthea and Amalthea is the name of Jupiter's third moon - here we can see the divine mother aspect of the moon which nurtured Zeus/Jupiter. The fourth moon, Thebe, was named after a nymph who consorted with Zeus.
Myths of the Galilean Moons
The four largest Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto were named after four lovers of Zeus. Io was a priestess of Hera yet Zeus lusted for her and she rejected his advances - eventually Zeus covered the lands with clouds and feeling hidden he made love with Io - the cloud analogy is interesting here. Yet Hera grew suspicious of the cloud cover - in some myths Zeus changed Io into a cow to keep her hidden from his jealous wife, while in other stories it was Hera who turned Io into a cow. Various adventures unfolded which involved Io being caught up and needing to be freed. Feeling humiliated, Hera sent a gadfly to sting the cow which tormented her, yet eventually Io reached Egypt and Zeus gave her back her human form and she gave birth to two of his children.
Io (left) watched by Argus Panoptes (right) on Hera/Juno's orders - Roman fresco from Pompeii
The name Europa of the second Galilean moon, comes from another abduction myth! In this story, Zeus fell in love with Europa and transformed into a white bull and hid in her father's herd - Europa saw the bull and climbed on its back and Zeus took this opportunity to abduct her by running and swimming to the island of Crete where he revealed his identity. There he made her his queen and re-created the shape of the bull in the sky which became known as Taurus. Eruopa gave birth to three sons with Zeus before marrying king Asterios.
Europa on the back of Zeus/Jupiter as a bull - Roman wall painting in Pompeii.
Ganymede, the third Galilean moon also took its name from another abduction story. In this myth, it was said that Zeus fell in love with a handsome man tending sheep and sent an eagle to abduct him to serve as a cup-bearer in Mount Olympus. In some myths, it is thought that Zeus turned Ganymede into the constellation Aquarius as the cup-bearer, near the constellation Aquila (the eagle.)
Zeus carrying Ganymede away, terracotta, 480-470 BC
The forth Galilean moon, Callisto, was named after a nymph who was a follower of Artemis (Diana) who was a moon goddess. According to the Roman writer Ovid, Jupiter transformed himself with the appearance of Diana and seduced the virgin Callisto who realised the deception too late and he raped her. The pregnant Callisto was expelled from Diana's group and Jupiter's jealous wife Juno took her revenge by transforming Callisto into a bear after she had given birth to Arcas. Years later, just as Arcas was about to kill his mother as a bear in the woods, Jupiter changed them both into the constellations Ursa Major (Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear) in the sky.
Jupiter and Callisto by François Boucher, 1759. Here Jupiter takes the form of Diana and wears a crescent moon headpiece.
In one myth, Zeus transformed himself into a satyr and raped the beautiful princess Antiope who became pregnant; fearing the anger of her father, she fled to Sicyon and married Epopeus. Antiope is now the name of a double asteroid moving in the outer asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
In another story, while Alcmene's husband Amphitryon was away on a military expedition, Zeus stole his form and spent three nights with the deceived Alcmene who eventually gave birth to his son, the hero Hercules. Later after Amphitryon had died, Alcmene married the son of Zeus, Rhadamanthys, and moved into exile with him in Boeotia. Alkmene is now the name of an asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Aegina, the daughter of the river-god Asopus was abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle and carried away to the island Oenone, which later became known as Aegina. Asopus tried to retrieve his daughter but Zeus repelled him with thunder. Aegina gave birth to Zeus's son who became the king of the island. Aegina is also the name of a large asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
These are three examples of asteroids which touch close to Jupiter, but also move far away!
Montage of Jupiter's Galilean moons from top to bottom: Io, Europa, Ganymede & Callisto.
Vacuum Cleaner of the Solar System
It's not easy to find an 'empowering narrative' in a rape or abduction myth, but it's interesting to note the symbols and patterns of these encounters: capturing eagles, thunder, clouds, being 'swallowed,' transformation and creation (birth.) The abduction quality of Jupiter does have some truth to it and there are benevolent outcomes for this - it gives us a degree of protection here on earth from asteroids or comets and Jupiter has often been termed the "vacuum cleaner of the solar system." Perhaps if we can tune into these protective qualities and the way in which the captured asteroids or comets become moons and move into resonance with each other and our solar system, we can see a more enlightened aspect of these ancient abduction myths. These myths also show how Zeus created some of the constellations such as Taurus and Aquarius - he was associated with a powerful, creative force.
Jupiter/Zeus abducted comets, or asteroids, in these myths and the discord of jealous Juno/Hera who often took revenge on Jupiter's lovers or children, perhaps represented the 'collisional force' which 'tormented' and broke apart the comets and asteroids, creating smaller pieces as they moved as divine feminine moons into their orbits and into resonance with each other.
It could be argued that this huge planet with so much electrifying yang energy required a lot of (magnetising) motherly yin moon energy to balance it all out. The intelligence in nature always seeks for systems of harmony and equilibrium. The storms on Jupiter are massive and include many cyclones - the 'great red spot' is the largest storm in our solar system and it's thought that it produces wind-speeds up to 432 km/h (268 mph) and it's believed that lightning occurs on this planet. In the myths, Jupiter and Zeus were known to be gods of the sky and thunder and their symbols included the lightning-bolt.
Jupiter with thunderbolt, eagle and sceptre in the clouds - Roman wall painting in Herculaneum, 1-37 AD
The myths also suggested that Jupiter may have grown tired of his lustful ways or that his purpose of creation could no longer be fulfilled. The Ancient Greek writer Diodorus Siculus wrote the following in Book IV of The Library of History:
"It appears, then, that Zeus began to beget human beings with the ancestors of Alcmenê and ceased with her; that is, he stopped with her his intercourse with mortal women since he had no hope that he would beget in after times one who would be worthy of his former children and was unwilling to have the better followed by the worse."
Alcmene, as mentioned, was the mother of the hero Hercules and is the name of an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. Jupiter's force of creation was in the realm of the 'mythic' - he created not just children, but stars and constellations so great that their stories live with us today - Hercules is the name of one of our constellations and the milky way was formed from splatters of Hera's breast milk in various myths with some relaying that the infant Hercules had been placed on a sleeping Hera and she awoke and cast him away. Hera tried to kill Hercules throughout his life and in one attempt she used a giant crab, which became the constellation Cancer. This is the divine 'creator' aspect within Jupiter/Zeus and Juno/Hera - these stories reflect movements of the stars, comets, asteroids and constellations.
The constellation Hercules
Jupiter also held an enlightened aspect known as Dius Fidius (god of oaths and loyalty) - this is another part of his mythology we can tune into - perhaps this is what he evolved towards in his emotional maturity as he grew through the layers of rather dark ages, which involved 'normalised' rape. Some believe he was a separate god associated with Jupiter, while others believe Dius Fidius, was an honourable, enlightened aspect of the god and its theonymn - the writer Dumézil noted their peculiar intertwining and overlap since both wielded lightning bolts and were wardens of oaths. It could be argued that Jupiter in this aspect is a protective part of our universe which honours his oaths and is loyal to Juno who was a goddess of marriage and childbirth. Juno also had many aspects and as Juno Lucina (from the Latin word lux or light) she stepped into her fertility and childbirth role and was connected with the cycles of the moon. Juno/Hera was also fiercely faithful to Jupiter/Zeus and she was a goddess of marriage.
The word dius was Latin for 'divine' and it was connected with the Proto-European word dyḗws meaning daytime sky which is apt since Jupiter was a sky god. Note the connection with dies which was 'day' in Latin. Fidius was the word for 'faithful' in Latin.
Semo Sancus Dius Fidius was another god (the god of trust) - some believe that they all were the same, as aspects of Jupiter. The shrines of Sancus had no roofs so that people could connect with the sky as a sky god. The German philologist Wissova believed that Semo Sancus was the 'genius' aspect of Jupiter.
A Roman wall painting of the wedding of Jupiter and Juno from Pompeii.
The Virtue of Faithfulness
Interestingly the faithful god of Greek mythology was Pluto, the brother of Zeus - he was the king of the underworld (subconscious) where he oversaw the dead and their judgement (karma.) Although he abducted Persephone initially, he honoured her as his wife and was faithful unlike the other gods such as Poseidon (Neptune) who also engaged in abduction and rape. Pluto has five moons which are named after aspects of the underworld - the largest moon Charon is named after the ferryman of the dead. Pluto (Hades) was thought to have had two lovers Minthe and Leuce but a timeline was not given and it is likely to have been before his marriage to Persephone. According to the writer Oppian, Minthe was thought to be jealous at his marriage to Persephone and boasted that she would win Hades back as a lover - yet Persephone's mother Demeter trampled on her and she sprang into a mint plant.
Persephone and Pluto on a pinax (tablet) in Locri, Italy.
Faithfulness & Divine Mystery Secrets
Persephone was honoured by women in the Eleusinian Mysteries - these teachings were kept secret but it's likely that she was seen as a nature goddess interlinked with the harmonious seasons - this abduction cycle represented Persephone’s descent (autumn,) Demeter’s search, (winter) and Persephone’s ascent and reunion with Demeter (spring/summer.) Perhaps this may explain the husband's deep honouring of his wife from the very beginnings and he was often portrayed holding a cornucopia bursting with grain. His name came from ploutos meaning wealth.
"And where do you think Pluto gets his name,
if not because he took the best portion?
How much better are things below than what Zeus possesses!"
From a play by Aristophanes
It is through this virtue of loyalty that they gained a very deep and profound understanding of each other and their cycles - these were closely guarded secrets passed down in the Eleusinian rites. They were seen as a divine couple in these rites, living in harmonious partnership and may have been connected with the earth's fertility. Here the love of the divine is first - being at one with the cycles of nature.
Chiron and Chariclo
Chiron, the centaur, was loyal to his wife the nymph Chariclo - he was described as a loving father to his children with her and was also a great teacher and channelled much of his energy into teaching - he was famous for his skill and knowledge with medicine and described as "wisest and justest of all the centaurs" by Homer. In astrology Chiron is interpreted as the 'wounded healer' and can offer insights regarding healing in a birth-chart reading. Chiron is a minor planet which orbits in a class of objects known as the 'centaurs' between the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt with Chiron moving between Saturn and Uranus. Chariklo is the name of the largest confirmed centaur, also orbiting between Saturn and Uranus.
It is through the virtues of loyalty and honouring that deeper truths can be revealed - the heart and soul can truly open and reveal the depth of its beauty. The divine intelligence of the heart can never be deceived - Hera could never be fooled. Our civilisation has experienced much discord, lust, dishonouring, separation and pain in these darkest of times we have witnessed. Often we may be bombarded with imagery or even people who may distract us or attempt to steal our attention - much of our programming is focused on having a lover, partner or sex and rarely do people share about the divine path of self-realisation. As we collectively evolve, may we come to remember these ancient virtues and the depths of beauty, divine secrets and the cornucopia of wisdom they may ignite within us, if we are willing to take that journey.
Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida by James Barry, 1773
Jupiter had passionate storms, yet there were consequences and the suffering involved for his deceptions. Jupiter has had to learn how to balance his size and greatness and become a benevolent protector in our solar system, bringing qualities of growth and expansion. His journey has involved a lot of creation myth unlike his brother Pluto who was the king of the dead and their judgement - the king of autumn/winter (ruler of Scorpio.) Jupiter has needed to learn how to channel his huge energies in a pure way as Dius Fidius, keeping his loyalty and becoming a trustworthy god of the skies. Jupiter is also Jove - from this word we have our word 'jovial' and we perhaps see this archetype most vividly in our red-cheeked jovial Father Christmas who appears every year in the fiery time of Sagittarius (December) which is ruled by Jupiter.
Yet there is great wisdom to learn from the quiet rhythms and cycles of Pluto and Persephone - a simple, grateful life, without over-stimulation - they have understood that they are not 'missing out,' but have found something deeper, richer. True riches (ploutos) can be found in faithfulness and this loyalty may be reflected in Jupiter and Juno as Dius Fidius. Life at all levels of consciousness is always evolving towards greater beauty, truth, purity and love. Being on our own is a form of loyalty - loyalty to the divine. It means we are willing to follow what is true and merge back with the divine cycles and not distract ourselves with false affairs which only provide impermanent feelings. We are patient and wait for what is true rather than distract ourselves or get lost in messy energy dynamics or drama which can drain our energy or distort our identity. In this patience, the yin and yang can come into respectful balance. As we ascend, the seductive tests may also get intense, ready to pull us downwards - this is a test of our willpower and self-mastery and loyalty to the divine in thought, soul and body. Our thoughts all carry a vibration and are known in the ether and it is wise to keep the subconscious as pure as we can in these times. A true lover or friend supports us return to the divine - not merging with a person which can entail entanglement, giving away pieces of ourselves, feeling drained by cords or a weakening of identity.
Tolkien's Manwë and Varda
Loyal, true and faithful relationships appeared in the mythopoeia of J.R.R. Tolkien and his King and Queen of the Gods (Valar) known as Manwë and Varda are now names of two asteroids in the Kuiper Belt. Manwë was a similar archetype to Zeus/Jupiter and was the king of the Valar and a similar god of the sky, being the Lord of air, wind, and clouds - he had the greatest power and authority- but he was humble about his power, compassionate and keen to serve the divine's plans. He was faithful to his spouse Varda and they were rarely parted - if Manwë was with her, Varda could hear voices around her more clearly. Varda was the queen of the Valar and therefore a similar archetype to Hera/Juno. She was a star goddess and was responsible for creating the stars in the sky as "signs in the heavens" and the motions of the sun and moon and therefore was deeply revered for her pure and beautiful creations. Both Zeus/Jupiter and Hera/Juno created many constellations in their mythology also and Tolkien used the Greek pantheon as inspiration for his own mythology.
Manwë and Varda could represent Jupiter and Juno in a more evolved capacity or enlightenment, beyond the imposed layers of human conditioning which appeared in some of the Greek myths of the gods which partly reflected the consciousness of the times and included rape, jealousy, revenge, deceitfulness and sacrifice.
Myths and their Times
“As above, so below; as below, so above”– The Kybalion.
In Ancient Greece, the focus of marriage was on child-bearing and although a man was only allowed one wife, he was allowed many concubines, although this was usually for those of higher status. Women in Ancient Athens had very little rights - they were banned from political participation, could only engage in very small economic transactions and had a limited capacity to hold property. It is not really known how common it was for women to be unmarried - it is thought that they may have been reliant on a male family member, or may even have been forced into sex work. Yet women held a strong presence in religious life and had their own women's ceremonies and also held mixed-sex rituals.
In Ancient Rome, marriage was also monogamous and enabled strong political and economic ties to be built - there were financial incentives to produce offspring at certain times. It was permissible for married men to sleep with a woman if she was unmarried or a slave despite adultery laws. Free women also could not engage in politics or vote and their freedoms were limited. The father was the head of the household and when a daughter married, she passed into the manus (hands) of her husband and was under his control. This custom changed by the 1st century BC with the arrival of 'free marriage;' meaning the woman was still connected legally to her father's property rights. The word patriarch came from the Greek word patriarkhēs meaning 'father or head of the family' - from this word the Latin word patria (fatherland) was derived and pater meaning father.
The Benevolent Planet
It is therefore not surprising that many of the myths depicting the Greek and Roman gods portrayed figures who were not faithful and were focused on producing many offspring and dishonouring each other with tales of affairs, revenge and conflict. By contrast, Jupiter is thought to be the most benevolent planet in astrology, bringing blessings, expansion, growth and good fortune. It is good to keep this in mind, despite any turbulent past!
Zodiac with 12 animal signs at Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan
He is so key that the 12 (11.86) year orbit of Jupiter plays an important role in Chinese astrology and their twelve year cycle of animal signs was taken from their observation of this 12 year cycle of Jupiter - these animals represent differing aspects of the blessing-giving Jupiter as he moves through the zodiac. Their system is not solely dependent on this however and the major aspects incorporated are the lunisolar calendar (moon calendar and sun calendar,) the five phases (wuxing,) the 10 heavenly stems and the 12 earthly branches.
In Hindu mythology, Indra was the king of the gods and was a god of sky, lightning, weather, thunder and storms similar to Zeus, Jupiter and Manwë in archetype. In Vedic scriptures Brihaspati was known as the Guru of the gods who offered them counsel - he was associated with fire and Jupiter and his wife was Tara who personified the stars in the sky, similar to Varda, wife of Manwë. In Hindu astrology, it was Brihaspati who was assigned as the planet Jupiter which was considered to be auspicious and benevolent. The samvatsara refers to a 'jovian year' which is the time it takes for Jupiter to move through one zodiac sign which is approximately one solar year - it takes Jupiter 12 solar years to move through the whole zodiac and five of these 12-year orbits takes 60 years and is known as samvatsara chakra; it is significant since the cycle period of Saturn is (29) 30 earth years meaning their cycle reaches its same position every 60 years. This draws parallels to the sexagenary cycle of Chinese astrology which is 60 years for one cycle.
In Norse mythology, Thor was a hammer-wielding god of lightning, storms, strength, sacred groves and fertility and the Romans referred to him as Jupiter in their writings when describing the Germanic people. Thor's wife was Sif, a golden-haired earth goddess. In Norse mythology, a hawk was believed to sit between the eyes of an eagle on the great world tree, Yggdrasil. Zeus and Jupiter had similar symbols including the oak tree, lightning bolt and eagle.
Thor's Fight with the Giants, by Mårten Eskil Winge (1872).
I recently wrote about weather and astrology and the consciousness of storms - Jupiter plays a big role in this and can intensify, expand or exacerbate situations as a huge god of storms. Jupiter is thought to be a highly stormy planet and its great red spot is the largest storm in the solar system, so it is interesting to note the similarities in the description of the god across each culture or myth in this regard. He is a powerful, wise and evolved planet - the king of the planets and his force can be 'electrifying' at times - he contends with powerful forces. With the 'collisional' force of Juno he protects us from big asteroids and comets, breaking them down and bringing them into resonance and orbit as moons.
His intentions are good and there is a jovial, loyal and trustworthy aspect there ready to bestow blessings on all who are ready to receive.