The Jupiter-Mercury Function
and its Problems
In the preceding chapters I have defined the meaning of the four basic functions, needs, urges or drives upon which the many processes of organic living rest: the urge to be a particular being, the urge to sustain against all disrupting influences the characteristic form or temperament of this particular being, the urge to reproduce it, the urge to transform it according to some kind of purpose. These basic functions are to be found in every living organism at the level of unconscious and compulsive instinct. In the fully developed human person of our epoch, they operate not only at the biological and instinctual level, but more significantly still at the psychological level where they constitute the primary substance of personal feelings and thoughts, where also they condition the responses of the individual to his life-experience, his environment (inner as well as outer) and to the social-cultural patterns or traditions in the midst of which he grows into more or less advanced maturity.
No psychology makes sense which does not recognize the essential interdependence between the psychological and the biological realms of expression of these basic functions. The great trouble with so-called classical or academic psychology is that when it speaks of will, thought, attention, love and hate it deals with abstract entities which are not seen as related to the basic functions of the human organism. The true organism of a man, however, is both physical and psychological; and the same functions operate at both levels, in different ways, yet in interconnected ways. Man's personality is an organic whole, a "psycho-somatic" whole — that is, psyche and body (soma) as two interdependent and interacting expressions of the one basic life-power differentiated into four primary urges or functions.
It may be well to stress here that none of these functions in man is in itself "spiritual" or "material." They are manifestations of life. The spirit in man can use these functions and thus invest them with a spiritual character and purpose; or else they may be used against the purpose of the spirit (i.e. of human and individual evolution), in which case they acquire a spiritually destructive or frustrating character, even if this use is conducive to so-called success and prosperity.
This is an important point, as there has been among astrologers the unfortunate tendency to think of planets as good or evil; whereas every planet, as symbol of a basic functional activity of the human personality, can be interpreted as being either constructive and destructive according to the type of use to which the function is put. The "urge to be a particular being," which we have seen to be related to the Saturn-Moon pair, is neither good nor bad in itself. It simply is. Yet, if it is used to the point at which the individual stands utterly isolated and insulated against all other individuals, then it is an evil force, which in turn poisons the other functions — particularly the Jupiter-Mercury function which is closely associated with it. Jupiter, worshipped by medieval astrologers as the Great Benefic, will also in such a case become a power for evil. It can of itself be a force of self-destruction, if the function of self-preservation and self-sustainment turns into an uncontrolled desire for self-aggrandizement at any cost.
As we study this second of the four basic life-functions we should first realize-if we are to understand well the various types of complexes to which it can give rise when frustrated or distorted — that it operates in many and varied directions. In one sense Jupiter is a symbol of health and sanity, of inner integration and successful living. It makes the life whole and counterbalances the over-individualistic and separative trend of the ego and its tool, the analytical mind. But man cannot be truly whole by living alone in the world. No organism can be healthy without a constant ebb and flow of exchange with the entities and substances surrounding it. Life implies interchange; thus, in the broadest sense of the term, commerce — and all forms of commerce and commingling are represented in astrology by Mercury, the servant (or shakti) of Jupiter-Zeus. Jupiter and Mercury are the two poles of one single basic organic function; and the interplay between these two poles constitutes one of the most profound subjects for study, in astrology and in psychology. This interplay refers to the fact, stressed by modern psychologists, that any true psychology of personal integration must go hand in hand with a psychology of social adaptation. Health is bound to "commerce" at all levels. Sanity implies a sound sense of social relationship.
The Jupiter function is so involved in social participation that Jupiter can be interpreted as the basic social function. It expresses the ineradicable need there is for any man to feel himself associated, and to act in effective and harmonic association, with his fellow men — and as well with all living organisms around him. Saturn, at the level of social activity, defines, consolidates and precisely establishes the individual's participation in the life of his environment and his society; but Saturn, in this sense, must act upon what Jupiter at first makes real as a feeling of participation with, and of dependence upon, the environment. There is dependence because any organism must breathe and assimilate food in order to maintain itself. Jupiter, the sustainer of individual being, rules therefore over all aspects of the function of assimilation.
In order to make clear the relationship between Jupiter and Saturn we have to see these planets operating at several levels. Saturn, as symbol (together with the Moon) of the roots of individualized existence, comes first as establishing the primary structural character of the individual organism — its skeleton, then the rudiments of the ego — before any really social contact is experienced. Then, as the child finds himself related to the external world, the Jupiter function of social adaptation and participation develops, which in turn leads to a further consolidation of the ego (and of the skeleton) around the theoretical "seventh year" (growth of permanent teeth).
We should not forget, however, that before the earliest rudiments of skeleton and organic individuality took form in the mother's womb and in the act of the "first breath," the Jupiter function was already active in the prenatal development of the embryo, through the assimilation of maternal substance. Thus the process of life can be seen as a constant oscillation between the Jupiter and the Saturn polarities, leading from level to level of organic and personal development.
In order to be whole, man, whether as a mere body or as a complex psychosomatic personality, must assimilate products from his biological, psychological, social-cultural (and eventually "spiritual") environment. But assimilation, if it is to be a steady, reliable and expanding operation, implies participation and a give-and-take process. At the earliest historical level, it means not only the gathering of fruits and hunting, but the cultivation of plants and the breeding of animals. At more developed social levels, it means that personal growth implies human interchange, commerce, discussion of ideas and the sharing of spiritual values — including the form of sharing called "sacrifice."
Assimilative processes of themselves are Jupiterian; but, if the Mercurian function of interchange and the sense of mutuality or sharing do not operate in the closest manner with these Jupiterian processes, negative or evil results follow. They follow, for the same reasons that parental complexes are formed which poison or construct the personality if either the Saturn or the Moon function overdevelops at the expense of its polar opposite. If, symbolically speaking, Jupiter overpowers Mercury, or vice versa, new types of complexes are bound to appear: complexes which can affect both the psychological and the physiological health of the individual person. They belong essentially to two categories: one which deals with selfhood and assimilation, the other with participation and sharing.
The Jupiter-Mercury function deals, we said, with the urge to sustain in health and sanity the characteristic form and temperament of the individual psychosomatic organism. If, however, the Saturn-Moon function defining originally this form of individual being has operated weakly, a situation is created in which, either the Jupiterian power of sustainment, finding nothing very definite to sustain, loses interest (as it were) in a seemingly hopeless task, and seeks a compensatory field of activity in a transcendent realm — or else, this Jupiterian function, challenged by the Saturnian deficiency, strains itself insistently and aggressively, dominating the field of personality.
In the first case, we see developing some kind of deep and poignant religious sense. The individual whose structural outlines are as yet indefinite, or are blurred through hereditary weakness and perhaps disease, feels instinctively (and, in time, consciously and perhaps tragically) that he can only sustain his individuality by attaching it to a greater unit of being, within which he may be more secure, and from which he can draw strength by osmosis, as an embryo draws sustenance from the mother's body. In other words, the person born structurally weak (in body or in rudiments of ego) seeks a new and transcendent "mother." The Jupiter function is dedicated to such a quest, which may take a great variety of forms. The primary attitude is always rooted in a realization of structural weakness and thus in a more or less intense or desperate attempt to find encouragement and protection, either from a transcendent "father" or an enfolding supernal, "mother," Church or Party. This may be called the feudal attitude, based on complete personal allegiance to a "strong man" (socially or spiritually strong), or to a fraternal or mystical organization.
In the second case above mentioned, the Jupiter function is aroused to determined action and tries strenuously to mask and compensate for the Saturnian inefficiency. This can be done in a number of ways, depending on the family and social environment and its characteristic pressures or challenges. It is done always by a close cooperation between the Jupiter and Mercury poles of the function. Jupiter, generally speaking, builds up personal glamor through a keen and avid assimilation of whatever can cover up and disguise the weak points in the Saturnian armor; while Mercury produces intellectual cunning and sophistry in order to turn any environmental setup to the individual's advantage.
In these two basic cases the Jupiter-Mercury function is put under abnormal pressure and compelled to operate under strain. A primary sense of inferiority is met in two opposite ways; and either way can lead to the development of strong complexes. The second way is, on the surface, more positive than the first; yet essentially both attitudes are rooted in fear. The feeling of inferiority may produce, by reaction, an aggressive superiority complex (especially if the Mars function is strongly aroused); and this may lead to great personal achievements.
Here, however, we are concerned primarily with the mechanics of operation through which one type of functional deficiency leads to the strained intensification of another function. The word to stress is "strained"; for any persistent strain leads sooner or later to rigidity — thus to stiffening, crystallization and alkalosis, auto-intoxication, and psychological complexes stopping the flow of the spirit. The free creativeness of spirit is replaced by the sharpness and ingenuity of mind. The ego weakened by parental complexes is bolstered up by intellectual cunning and sophistry, by mental brilliancy and clever rationalization. What seems to be a strong and aggressive ego is actually a weak sense of individual identity carefully concealed under an overactive and tyrannical Jupiter-Mercury setup, with the accent either on the Mercury mind or on the social ability to manage people through the deliberate use of personal charm and glamor (with Venus' help), or through intimidation (with Mars' help).
Where the Jupiter-Mercury function does not try to compensate at the social-environmental level for a sense of structural inferiority, physiological or psychological, but instead transforms itself into devotion for the greater self or group able to provide protection and a new incentive to life, Jupiter is usually the dominant pole. Then the Jupiterian function glorifies itself as the "Soul" and rationalizes (with Mercury's help) its position of supremacy over the weak Saturn by philosophizing on the evils of egoism and the need for self-surrender to God or the Church. Hindu culture offers a remarkable example of this psychological play of forces, especially during the Middle Ages which saw an incredible display of devotional self-surrender and utter emotional subservience to the Spiritual Guide (guru). The Hindu bhakta (devotee) considers himself the "slave" of his "Master," and places his entire psychic energy at the service of the exalted being who has become father and mother in one. The Saturn-Moon function abdicates completely. The Jupiter function is exalted to the state of godhead. Even Mercury, as mind, is regarded with complete disfavor, except insofar as it serves the dictates of the Jupiter function.
Historically speaking, the entire spiritual revolution which began during the first century B.C. — in India through Northern Buddhism (Mahayana School) and in the Mediterranean world through popular Christianity (especially via St. Paul) — represents a collective psychological reaction in which the Jupiter function received the main "life-accent" after a period of emphasis of the trend toward ego-development. The latter had begun in the West around the time of the Egyptian reformer, Akh-na-ton, (1360 B.C.) and of Moses — the middle of the so-called "Arian" Age. The stress had been put, in one way or another, upon the Saturn function-whether as the disc of the Sun in Egypt, or as Jehovah-Saturn with the Hebrews.
With the Greeks, we find Mercury — intellect developing as the servant of Saturn, and as a result the emphasis was placed upon rationalism and logic — and also, at first, upon Moira, Fate or Karma (a Saturnian factor). Later, Greek mythology reveals an attempt to strengthen the Jupiter against the Saturn function, with a corresponding growth of a new social sense and of a feeling of universalism in social organization. Western man, through such collective efforts, accomplished a tentative transition from one level of activity to another; yet failed. The Greek social sense led to anarchy; the Greek intellectuality to sophistry and formalism in thought. And the reaction came in a repolarization of the Jupiter function following the collapse of Greek individualism.
Christianity, in a chaotic and disintegrating Mediterranean world (but temporarily given a semblance of integration by the original Fascism of the Roman Empire) compensated for the debacle of Saturnian individualism by transforming the Jupiter function into a devotional and religious force. The Piscean Age had begun, theoretically ruled by a Jupiter overshadowed by a mystic Neptune (one of the two poles of the "transforming function" which constitutes the fourth of the basic life-functions, according to our classification).
The original Jupiterian Christianity of the Gospel was based on Jesus' injunction to heal men and nations. But by bringing to the fore the Jewish feeling of sinfulness and guilt, the yearning for redemption through sacrifice, and all the old Jewish complexes based on a chaotic sense of ego and inferiority (parental Saturn-Moon complexes), Paul deviated the positive Christ-impulse into channels of psychological escape and emotional devotionalism.
The early Apostles had received, at the Pentecost, the gifts of healing and of speech in all tongues; they had been made healers of a universal community. The Apostolic Brotherhood was not a Mother-Church, but a company of consecrated men. They did not preach a "religion" but a way of transfiguration, leading to the new Selfhood — the Jupiterian self transformed by the fire and leaven of the Uranus-Neptune function. The Christianity of Paul and of most of the Church Fathers, on the other hand, was a Jupiterian compensation for a Saturnian function thwarted by the sense of guilt, of sinfulness and remorse which has plagued men since they strove to overcome the pull of the earth-conditioned, tribalistic way of life and to repolarize their consciousness at the level of spirit-conditioned mental activity.
At this new level the Jupiter-Mercury function can operate without straining spiritually, instead of religiously as a psychological compensation for parental complexes. At this level also it can express itself socially in terms of a new type of relationship which constitutes real democracy - not to be confused with the merely political forms of parliamentarism, which were often inspired by an emotional collective reaction against the tyranny of the European Church and State. But before we come to study the social aspects of the Jupiter-Mercury function, we should consider its operation in terms of the process of "assimilation" which is essential to life.
The central organ of assimilation in the human body is the liver, over which Jupiter rules in astrology. For ages, wise men have said that man's soul resides in the liver; and priests have sought to read omens by studying the patterns revealed by cutting the liver of a sacrificed animal. These beliefs, very strange to modern minds, are rooted in the fact that no organism can sustain itself without absorbing chemical substances from its environment, and transforming these substances so as to make them its own — i.e. similar to its own substance (assimilation). This organic power of chemical transformation is not limited to the liver, but extends to various endocrine glands; however, being a very conspicuous organ (and probably for deeper reasons), the liver has been considered the controlling factor in the process of assimilation.
While the Saturnian ego differentiates the common generic life of man into individuality, the Jupiterian soul synthesizes individualized expressions of life into the common substance for man's life. At the level of the body, Jupiter (as liver) deals with foodstuffs; at the level of the feelings and mind, Jupiter (as Soul) deals with the various products of social-collective living which constitutes "culture." A culture is the synthesized mass of contributions made by many individual minds to their society, once these contributions have been blended, absorbed and assimilated by the new generations. Culture is like food in the digestive organs of the collective mentality and psyche of a people — and it is the Jupiter function's task, within a particular personality, to do the assimilating.
Mercury operates in adjunction as the factor of collective memory, as the recorder of tradition, as the distributor of energy impulses regulating the process of psychosomatic assimilation. In the body, it is the nervous system; in the psyche, the capacity to associate images, symbols and concepts which serve to relate new cultural data to a central stream of civilization, a web of primordial ideas characterizing the particular culture as a collective ideological whole. Where the Mercury function fails to do its work, or where the absorbing hunger of Jupiter overwhelms it, various kinds of unbalances develop. The body becomes fat. The mind fills up with unused data and unrelated information.
The inordinate craving for food, whether physical or intellectual-cultural, constitutes a complex. At the level of purely social activity, it becomes a craving for wealth or power. The passion for self-aggrandizement is a typical expression of an overactive Jupiter function. It can be a compensation for a weak Saturn; but it can also reveal a lack of balance between a tyrannical Jupiter and an ineffective evaluation of one's worth and of one's personal capacity. Assimilation causes, at one level the fat body, at another the scholar loaded with cultural materials yet unable to put them to any creative individual use.
When Mercury acts in a purely passive manner, it only memorizes, under the Jupiterian urge to intellectual aggrandizement; yet, in its more positive and essential nature Mercury is not only the servant of Jupiter, but the symbol of the vast sea of electrical energy which is the substance of all mental activity. As the Moon is the mother-aspect of "life," so Mercury is the mother-aspect of "mind." Organic health at all levels depends always upon the establishment of an effective dynamic and harmonic equilibrium between the two polarities of universal energy.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1966 and 1976 by Dane Rudhyar
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