The Sublime Possession of Jupiter in Scorpio

Article published in the Organization for Professional Astrology’s Career Astrologer Magazine | September 2017 Equinox Issue.

A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness – Jean Genet, natal Jupiter in Scorpio

It may seem in recent times that we’ve been plunged into a collective dream – or some may even call it a nightmare – yet rather than awaken from it, the summoning of Jupiter in Scorpio is an invitation to journey still deeper and explore our own hidden truths and lies. As wisdom-seeking Jupiter transits the deceptive territory of Scorpio from October 10, 2017 to November 8, 2018 our own shadow material can act as a catalyst in transcending the frontiers of wisdom.

Jupiter is the visionary planet whose perspective of the future is vast and expands the landscape of possibility. The blind faith and overconfidence of Jupiter may find itself tempered by the brutal realism of Scorpio themes. The Scorpio-Taurus axis is associated with biological survival and resourcefulness suggesting the Jupiter amplification of the relentless, focused pursuit of that which one becomes obsessed by.

Scorpio is the sign of confronting limitations in order to transcend them, transform and grow. Traditionally, it’s the sign of the occult and magic, where a mere mortal can merge with the power of the Gods to gain greater power and control. The French have a saying, “C’est plus fort que moi” translated as “it’s stronger than I am” often used to describe overwhelming emotions such as passion and falling in love. A Scorpionic tendency is to halt before the threshold of total surrender as the polarity of Taurus fears trigger a biological response. However, the influence of Jupiter can eliminate such caution, for better or for worse.

Jupiter symbolizes our experience of consensus reality and the morality that saturates our social nature. Jupiter is natural law, the karma that transcends man made laws and reflects the current state of human evolution. Scorpio is the taboo, that which is often considered immoral yet which natural law dictates is an essential part of the human experience such as sex, obsession, death and destruction.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Sublime Obsession

Robert Mapplethorpe was an American photographer celebrated for his controversial erotic artworks depicting the BDSM subculture of 1970’s New York City, homoeroticism and a variety of experimental sexually explicit motifs. A provocateur, his artwork doused obscene imagery with elegance. He was the embodiment of the Jupiter in Scorpio archetype as his natal chart reveals a Scorpio rising, Sun conjunct Jupiter in the 1st house of self as well as Mars the traditional ruler of Scorpio also in the 1st. Pluto, the modern ruler of Scorpio, is in Leo in the 10th house of public image, squaring his Sun-Jupiter.  

Mapplethorpe’s princely appearance smoldered with an enigmatic sensuality and magnetism. His work could be considered an excellent example of Jupiter in Scorpio as it transcends consensus beliefs on sexuality that’s considered obscene and perverse and elevating it into an artform that is mysterious, sacrosanct and mystical. Mapplethorpe once claimed, “When I have sex with someone I forget who I am. For a minute I even forget I’m human. It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist” which speaks to the desire to transcend the self through immersive experience of sexual bonding and creative absorption. The creative processes obsessed him and his singular focus became legendary.  

As a young man he suppressed his emerging homosexuality from his live-in girlfriend, the musician Patti Smith, covertly engaging with men for pleasure or for money. For a time, although Patti suspected he was involved sexualy with other men they had an unspoken agreement to not speak of what they did separately but when they were together, they were fully a couple. When eventually his sexual orientation was revealed on the dancefloor by a mutual friend, he confessed the truth of this sexality to Patti and wept. Such is often the shame surrounding Scorpio secrecy which often involves intense resistance to reveal one’s true self even if the truth is obvious to everyone else.

Jupiter rules Mapplethorpe’s 2nd house, Venus-Mercury and South Node so issues of survival, money, other people’s money are echoed here. His career was launched by the curator and collector Sam Wagstaff who became his champion, benefactor and lifelong partner. The evolutionary intentions of the 8th house North Node of harnessing another’s resources for greater power is expressed here.

Tragically, Mapplethorpe succumbed to the AID/HIV virus in 1989 at the age of 42 at his Pluto square as Pluto transited Scorpio and the world experienced the AIDs epidemic on a massive scale. Perhaps Mapplethorpe’s greatest legacy came shortly after his death, when his exhibition “The Perfect Moment” caused controversy involving several American museums and triggering the “culture wars” around public funding for art that was considered obscene and immoral versus First Amendment rights of free speech. Eventually, the arts and free speech won out and in what was a paradigm shift for the arts and the American culture at large.

Patti Smith, Beyond the Veil

Patti Smith on the contrary was not as overtly obsessed with sexuality in the same way as Mapplethorpe was, but nonetheless she possesses an intense magnetism that transcends gender. Hailed as the “the poet laureate of punk rock” she was obsessed with – and one could say even possessed by – great poets, especially those deviants aching with introspection such as Arthur Rimbaud, Bob Dylan and Jean Genet, going so far as to purchase Rimbaud’s childhood home in Ardennes, France.

A Sagittarius rising with Jupiter conjunct Venus in Scorpio in the 11th house, Smith’s love for wisdom through art and human bonding runs deep. In her award winning memoir, Just Kids (2010), a tender coming of age story of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, she described their early days as deeply romantic, yet fraught with drama (often over his sexual proclivities) and intensified by poverty. Together they shared a great love for the poetry of Jean Genet, also born under Jupiter in Scorpio, who once wrote, “Anyone who hasn’t experienced the ecstasy of betrayal knows nothing about ecstasy at all.”

Perhaps because her natal Jupiter is trine her Pisces Moon and Neptune is conjunct the Midheaven that the influence of the Pisces archetype is strong in Smith’s persona. Jupiter as the traditional ruler of Pisces bestows it with a spiritual nature, one that can extends beyond linear time and amplifies the Scorpionic urge to transcend the veil of life and death. Smith’s memoir of her relationship with Mapplethorpe was written 20 years after his passing yet the deep love they shared comes through vividly as eternal and palpable.

The wisdom of the cycle of life and death can be a gift of Jupiter in Scorpio. In a recent interview Smith revealed that she has lost numerous loved ones yet feels strongly that each one of them has become part of her. She still speaks with Robert about art and the future and sometimes has a sense of her mother scolding her, or her brother or father walking beside her or of her husband and his love for their children. She says “if we keep ourselves open, they will come. Pasolini said, ‘it isn’t that the dead don’t speak, it’s that we forget how to listen.’”

As Jupiter seeks enlightenment through the profound depths of Scorpio, the desires of deep self have an opportunity to become realized. Jupiter in Scorpio reminds us that forgiveness cannot exist without betrayal, nor compassion without pain, nor sacredness without gravitas. Jupiter in Scorpio is a sacred journey of cultivating faith and finding the wisdom that can only be nursed in the darkness.

Christina Caudill, Radiant Astrology