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Some thoughts on the Jupiter Cycle

Optimistic, expansive, and meaning-seeking Jupiter is now in the sign of Leo, where it will remain until August 11, 2015. Excitement is already high; try googling “Jupiter’s shift into Leo” and you’ll see what I mean. My impression from talking to people, and dipping into social media, is that we are all looking for a bit of light relief from what has been a pretty bad news year thus far.

So what is this shift likely to mean for you and me? In this article, I will introduce the Jupiter cycle.

What is the Jupiter Cycle?

As ever, it is important at the outset of a general article to stress that one can only really judge in detail what the essence of any planetary shift is likely to be from consideration of the whole horoscope or birth chart. However, it is certainly possible to sketch out a broad picture that can offer some perspective: both to readers with some astrological knowledge and to those of you with none who are curious to know more.

Each of the planets, travelling through the twelve signs of the zodiac as viewed from Earth, has a cycle of differing length. Pluto, currently in Capricorn, will take 248 years to traverse the 360 zodiacal degrees, returning to that sign long after we are all dead and gone! Saturn’s cycle, on the other hand, is a much shorter 29/30 years. Currently in Scorpio, dredging up all kinds of sexual scandal from its previous traverse of that sign in the 1980s, it is offering the collective the famous Saturn Return experience, when Saturn returns to the place it occupied at our birth when we are 29/30 years of age and again at 59/60, inviting us all to grow up.

Jupiter and Saturn together form a symbolic, complementary whole: as its cycle unfolds, Saturn helps us to be realistic and to set limits without which no maturation or growth can take place. Jupiter creates contrast and balance to this. It energises that optimistic, expansive part of us that reaches out to the pleasure of new experience, new learning and understanding. Its natural exuberance can make life a fun, joyful experience.

It can also cause us to over-reach our limits and expect more than life can realistically deliver. That facet needs to be watched carefully when Jupiter is very active in our lives.
Jupiter’s cycle is 11-12 years: 11.6 years to be exact. It’s an easy one to track, being accessible both to those of you who know some astrology and those of you who don’t. Everyone can track through their lives, measuring the Jupiter cycles: Jupiter returns to its location in your birth horoscope at 11/12 years of age, 23/24, 35/36, 47/48, 59/60, 71/72, 83/84 in a currently average lifetime.
What do we look for in the Jupiter cycle? In essence, the start of each cycle represents the opening out of a whole new learning period, whose archetypal purpose is to expose us to new experience and new learning, and to all kinds of travelling within both inner and outer life.

Real life flesh on symbolic bones….

These experiences vary hugely from one person to another, taking their flavour from the zodiacal sign and house in which Jupiter was located at birth.

At 23/24 (Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th house), you might take off to Australia to do a postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education. Your friend (Jupiter in Capricorn in the 6th house) might not travel anywhere, but concentrate on mastering a new skill like carpentry, which enables him, after a few years’ apprenticeship, to set up his own business. In the meantime, my neighbour down the street (Jupiter in Cancer in the 5th house) might marry at 23/24 and have three children in rapid succession before the age of 30. In a real-life example, Alexa said: “My second Jupiter return, at age 24. coincided with me buying a house. Natal Jupiter was in Cancer, which is appropriate, of course, and the house was bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

These are very different branches of experience based on Jupiter being in different signs and houses of the zodiac at birth, but they have the same underlying principle of expansion, and the growth of experience, understanding, and (hopefully!) some wisdom shines through them all.

You can also detect the archetypal lifelong themes provided via Jupiter’s placement by sign and house in your personal horoscope, as you follow the Jupiter cycle unfolding throughout your lifetime. For example, I have natal Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house. It’s not hard to work out from this (and Jupiter’s strong links to most of the planets in that horoscope!) that an intense preoccupation with gathering and sharing all kinds of information, while placing it in contexts that expand one’s understanding of life’s deeper meanings, might be rather important to me.

The Jupiter cycle: unfolding in one lifetime

At 11-12, I passed the “Quali” (the long defunct Scottish entrance exam to determine one’s level of entry to secondary education). At 23-24, I completed a post-graduate Diploma in Education, having already been an adult education teacher for two years. At 35-36, I studied for and passed my first astrology qualification, the Certificate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (UK), prior to beginning a career as an astrologer.

At 47-48, I began the Diploma in Psychological Astrology, studying with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London. In completing this course, I commuted by plane for three years, earning myself the nickname of “The Flying Scot.” The year after the 59-60 Jupiter Return, I stepped into cyberspace via my main blog, “Writing from the Twelfth House.” My first book, a research study called “Jupiter Meets Uranus,” was published the following year.

Perhaps this personal account will encourage you to track through your Jupiter cycles and see that there is indeed a thematic unfolding of a specific kind of experience.

Fate, free will……or what?

The question of what the balance is between fate and free will has preoccupied humans for millennia and remains unresolved. However, as an astrologer, it is important to have a viewpoint regarding this ageless question. Decades of astrological practice, combined with much reading that has included what I can grasp of probability theory and chaos theory, and my own efforts to become a more conscious person have led me to the view (not original at all — many astrologers take this standpoint!) that there are certain givens in this life, as shown by the characters standing on a person’s life stage when the horoscope is drawn up. Those characters i.e, the planets, shown in the horoscope’s symbolic, archetypal patterns, are ours for life.

However, the evidence of observation and experience appears to suggest this vital point: the more conscious we become of our motivations and drives, and how they impact our inner and external life, the wider becomes the range of possible avenues of expression to which we can have access while choosing how to make our particular life’s drama as positive and creative as possible.

Bearing this in mind, let’s return to the Jupiter cycle and see how we might work creatively and consciously with its 11-12 year periods.

Working with cycles

All life cycles, whether we are looking at a gnat, a human, or a galaxy, go through the same process: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, and dying back in preparation for the new. So it is with the planetary cycles.

Think of the tiny monthly cycle of the Sun and Moon. The New Moon takes place in darkness. Only when that first magical waxing crescent appears after 2-3 days does the energy of the cycle begin to build. After a week, at the First Quarter Moon, things are taking shape. At the Full Moon, the cycle’s energy is in full light, at its most obvious. A week later, on the waning square, the Moon is shrinking, the month’s energy on the wane. Then the last, waning crescent precedes Moondark (i.e. balsamic), those 2-3 days in which the energy of the completed cycle sinks back into the Void, waiting for the energy of the next New Moon to arise.

Applying the same template to the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, it takes about a year or more for the initial upsurge of desire for new expansive challenges to stabilise and take definite form.

Jupiter in action: a real-life example

Let’s use the person with Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th House as our example. At the age of 23, off she goes to Australia, completes her Diploma, and obtains a good teaching job in Melbourne. She works there for a couple of years, then relocates to Sydney (first quarter phase, Jupiter now in Pisces), since she wants to take up sailing and she has a friend there who runs a sailing school.

Three years later (full moon phase, Jupiter in Gemini) she agrees to take on a teaching job at the sailing school where she has been a student. Another three years go by and she begins to feel dissatisfied and critical (last quarter phase, Jupiter now in Virgo). She has become bogged down in admin and paperwork. Not her style!

She puts less and less commitment into her job, and after over ten years in Australia, she has itchy feet again (Moondark). Nearly twelve years after arriving, full of enthusiasm, she is off to work in the Greek Islands. She has fallen in love with a Greek Australian and decides to return with him to his home island of Rhodes. She is nearly thirty-six years old. A new Jupiter cycle is about to begin.

Working with our Jupiter cycles

I’ve always found that astrology students and clients are fascinated when I unfold their major cycles with them; they find it so helpful in understanding the unfolding pattern of their lives. The Jupiter cycle is a particularly easy one to which to connect. The rhythm of the cycle, looking back, can usually be tracked. In the last year or two before a new 11-12 year period begins, one can generally perceive a certain dissatisfaction, boredom, loss of any great interest, and desire for a new challenge in the sphere of life indicated by the sign and house placement of natal Jupiter. (If Jupiter is a very strongly placed and emphasised “character on the stage,” the overall effect is, of course, amplified.) With Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house, I clearly recall my boredom, restlessness, and desire for a new educational project towards the end of my fourth Jupiter cycle when I was 46 or 47. Alexa, with her Jupiter in Cancer, bought a house at the start of the second Jupiter cycle when she was twenty-four, “…. bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

Are you a year or two into a new Jupiter cycle? Or three years into it? After five or six years, the cycle is at its Full Moon phase, its peak of energy. By nine years, impetus generally is on the wane, and restlessness is setting in. By the Moondark phase of the cycle, it really feels like time for a new project, a new venture. But you know — if you become familiar with this cycle’s rhythm — that it will probably be another couple of years before the new idea has taken shape and translated itself into a fresh, exciting direction.

One of the great gifts of astrological knowledge is the help it offers in setting our sails, metaphorically speaking, to the prevailing winds of our lives. It is useful to get to know your Jupiter cycle, in planning those times in life when your Spirit is calling you to open up your life to new experience. I do hope this introductory article has given you some useful food for reflection and an impetus to action!

It would be helpful if readers feel like sharing their experiences of Jupiter cycles. In this way, we all expand our understanding. Thanks!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK. Anne blogs at Writing from the Twelfth House at Anne-Whitaker and Astrology Questions and Answers. Her ebook, “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” — an open-minded take on paranormal experience — is available from her blog, price $10.


  1. me gustan articulos de astrologia, gracias,por enviar.-

    • Hello Lidia

      thank you, you are welcome. I would say that in Spanish, if I knew any! Have a good day.

  2. Great post Anne -thank you.. Such a simple technique so beautifully explained and so thought provoking..

  3. Many thanks, Kate!

    yes, it’s good not just to work with symbolism which astrologers can understand, but also interested members of the public and beginning astrology students, as well as clients who know no astrology. I find the Jupiter 11-12 year cycle brilliant to work with in this way – and of course the 29-30 year Saturn cycle with its strong 7-8 year markers as our lives unfold. And Mary’s recent taking us of a tour of the Sun’s cycle with what the Sun reveals as it crosses our Angles throughout the year, is another simple but clear marker, easily accessible yet profound.

  4. Your article on Jupiter cycles is interesting. My own experience, however, particularly in my own case, is that the Saturn cycles pack much more ‘clout’ than the Jupiter ones. I have Saturn conjunct Uranus on the Taurus/Gemini cusp in the 12th house, and I find that transiting Saturn always seems to trigger some kind of crisis or transition whenever it conjuncts or makes a ‘hard’ angle (square or opposition) to this position.

    • Hello Anthony

      yes, I entirely agree with you regarding the importance of the Saturn cycle as a powerful challenger, and marker of important stages in our maturation process throughout life. To work with our own and our clients’ horoscopes effectively, of course, we need to work with both the Jupiter AND the Saturn cycles.

      However,the Saturn cycle gets a lot of attention in its own right, and I wanted to right the balance! That’s why this article is purely about the Jupiter cycle.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Thanks for this information, Anne.

    My Jupiter is also in Saturn and the 3rd house. Is there any other place in my chart I should be mindful of to make the most of my lifes prevailing winds?

  6. Hello Jey

    you are welcome! I’m assuming you mean that Jupiter is conjunct Saturn in the 3rd House of your natal horoscope. This raises a whole other discussion which needs another article at least, just to introduce, since you were born on the 20-year Jupiter/Saturn cycle which is one of the most important formative cycles there are, both in terms of collective and individual life.
    I suggest you get hold of “New Insights in Modern Astrology” by Stephen Arroyo and Liz Greene, republished and updated in 1991. This wonderful book originally appeared under the title “The Jupiter/Saturn Conference Lectures” following a seven-day conference given during the Jupiter/Saturn conference in 1981. It will give you a broad and deep perspective on this important planetary combination, both in collective and in personal life.
    Meanwhile, a brief word on Jupiter returning to your natal 3rd house, meeting Saturn together with Jupiter. As you will have seen from my own example in the article, each Jupiter return to a 3rd house natal Jupiter was accompanied by embarking on a serious bout of education! I was born under a waxing ( opening out, taking form) Jupiter/Saturn square, so each Jupiter return has been coloured by the serious, grounding dimension which Saturn brings to the can-do optimism of Jupiter: this is a good thing, since it keeps Jupiter reasonably realistic!

    In your case, with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in your 3rd house, I would expect something similar to be the case on each of your Jupiter returns too…

    I can’t really comment on the rest of your chart without knowing any thing about it! So if you’d like to continue the discussion, please email me – address on my website.

  7. Very interesting Anne. I have Jupiter in Virgo in the 9th house and went travelling! I have Saturn in Cancer in the 7th house and at each Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions (Libra 1981 and Taurus 2000) I became involved in serious romantic episodes. Note both conjunctions occurred in Venus ruled signs! The first one in 1981 (marriage) the second a significant 7 year relationship which ended in my partner’s demise. As you rightly state the period prior to the next Jupiter return is a time of stasis, boredom, waiting for the new impetus which will surely arrive when Jupiter enters the 9th house once more – can’t wait!!

  8. Well, Barbara, what can I say? Feedback on two cycles in one comment. Thanks so much for this very personal sharing. It helps us all to learn how those cycles work.

    Maybe the new impetus of your Virgo/9th house Jupiter return will see you travelling again – if you fetch up in Scotland, look me up!

  9. Hi Anne,

    May thanks for this very useful article.

    I have Jupiter in the 6th house at 11 degrees in Pisces. Trine, pluto in taurus at 13 degrees in the 9th and mars in cancer at 8 degrees in the 10th house.

    I turned 40 on 4th may this year and after losing my job in october 2011 I have spent several years feeling lost and listless and learning to go with the flow. Just as I started to feel alot happier at the end of January/beginning of February this year my house flooded and I separated from my husband and became a single parent.

    Six months on, I am working on my marriage, I moved from Surrey to Somerset in March, we are selling the house and in 2015 we will buy in Somerset.

    I still have no idea what my ‘purpose’ is and I have definitely had to ‘grow up’ this year. Learning to go with the flow and expressing my feelings, sometimes in anger (unusual for me) has been a painful process that involved shedding my old house, name and friends.

    I wait with anticipation to see where the Jupiter cycle leads me. Unless you can give me a clue 😉

    My birth data is 4/5/74 2.58pm Chertsey, England.

    Bright blessings, Grace 🙂

    • Dear Grace

      thank you for dropping by – glad you found the article useful. Just a correction, though. In May 1974 Pluto was in 4 degrees of Libra.

      Your third Jupiter Return began in 2010 and the challenging events you describe began a year into the new cycle, in 2011. Given what you say here, ie “Learning to go with the flow and expressing my feelings, sometimes in anger (unusual for me) has been a painful process that involved shedding my old house, name and friends…” it sounds to me as though you are going through a powerful ( tough!) process of growth and learning, and as though life is taking on a new shape as you move towards the Full Moon phase of your third Jupiter Cycle, in 2015/6 and hopefully settle into a new home in a new area.

      This sounds like a great deal of development and learning to me, hard though it surely has been!

      More than this I cannot say in a public space like this. It may well be that when you move would be a good time to consult a qualified and experienced astrologer in your area. If you wish to follow this up, do email me and I can send you a recommendation.

      All good wishes for the future!

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