What is the Jupiter Cycle?

The Jupiter Cycles

Optimistic, expansive and meaning-seeking Jupiter is now in the sign of Leo, where it will remain until 11th August 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 two-part article, I will first of all introduce the Jupiter cycle in general. In the second part, we will look in some detail at the Jupiter cycle in relation to its  traverse of the sign of Leo. It’s important to colour theory with some lively examples of what actually happens to real people when those shifts take place. I already have some interesting material to share. Let’s go!

Part One: 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 which 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 offers us all the famous Saturn Return, returning to the place it occupied at our birth when we are 29/30 years of age – 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 which 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, 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 though their lives, measuring the Jupiter cycles: Jupiter returns to its location in your birth horoscope at 11/12 years of age, 23/4, 35/6, 47/8, 59/60, 71/2, 83/4 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, new learning – all kinds of travelling within both inner and outer life. 

Real life flesh on symbolic bones…

These experiences may and do vary hugely from one person to another, taking their flavour from the zodiacal sign and house in which Jupiter was located when you were born.

 At 23/24 (Jupiter in Sagittarius in 9th house) you might take off to Australia to do a postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education. Your friend (Jupiter in Capricorn in 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 5th house) might marry at 23/4 and have three children in rapid succession before the age of 30. In a real-life example, Alexa said: “My second Jupiter return, aged 24, coincided with me buying a house – natal Jupiter is 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, Jupiter in differing signs and houses of the zodiac at birth: but the same underlying principle of expansion and growth of experience, understanding, and (hopefully!) some wisdom, shines through them all.

You can also detect the archetypal lifelong themes provided via Jupiter’s placing by sign and house in your personal horoscope, as you follow the Jupiter cycle’s unfolding throughout your lifetime. For example, I have Jupiter in Scorpio in the third house of my natal horoscope. 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 and placing it in contexts which 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 23-4, I completed a post-graduate Diploma in Education, having already been an adult education teacher for two years. At 35-6, 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 47-8, 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 cyber-space via “Writing from the Twelfth House” my main blog. 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 a few of 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. It remains unresolved. However, as an astrologer it is important to have a view. Decades of astrological practice; much reading especially in recent years including what I can grasp of probability theory and chaos theory; my own efforts to become a more conscious person: these have all 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, 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 can become of what our motivations and drives are, and how they impact on our inner and external life, the wider becomes the range of possible avenues of expression to which we can have access in 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 at looking at a gnat, a human, or a galaxy, go through the same process: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, 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, first quarter, things are taking shape. At 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, 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 a year or so 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 become dissatisfied and critical (last quarter phase, Jupiter now in Virgo). She is becoming 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 you unfold their major cycles with them, as well as finding it 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 Jupiter natally. 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 third 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 forty-six or forty-seven. 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 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 are 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 impetus to action!

Part Two: Jupiter in Leo.

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



2000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page



25 responses to “What is the Jupiter Cycle?

  1. from Maureen Genatempo-LoCascio: 21.7.2014: via Facebook:
    Love this Anne. Great article.


  2. Very interesting. In the context of your explanation of Jupiter cycles, you’ve touched on what I see as one of the basic tensions of human life: that which exists between longing and limits. We’re born as little bundles of pure longing, and every limit is an insult. We die facing the ultimate limit of physical life, but still long for something more. Etc.

    If nothing else, such a paradigm is useful when it comes to dealing with people who base their careers on assuring us that we can “have it all.”
    Not only that, read through a longing/limits paradigm, even the tale of Adam, Eve, and that dreadful snake makes sense.

    As for the Jupiter cycle, I just did some arithmetic. At age 35, I just had finished my master’s degree and was embarking on a new career in a different field. By 47, I’d left that career and begun my own business. I actually started the business when I was 44, but 47 was the first year I turned a profit — just before the savings ran out!

    As for 59? That’s the year I began my first blog — not on WordPress, but at WeatherUnderground. It was a tiny little endeavor, and sputtered for a bit, but it was what led directly to The Task at Hand.

    So there you have it. Coincidence? Hmmmmmm……


    • Of course not! We are all woven into the cosmos, and have our tiny bit of the unfolding pattern to live out. Thanks so much for this great feedback, Linda, which illustrates the unfolding of the Jupiter cycle very well.

      Lots of people out there read my posts – I’d like more of them to leave feedback, since that’s what helps everyone to learn, by putting the flesh of real life on the bones of symbolism.

      Are you listening, people?!!


  3. Pingback: Jupiter’s 12-year cycle: tracking the Great Benefic | Writing from the Twelfth House

  4. ..Some feedback from a friend I ran into this afternoon: he is 47, and coming to the end of a successful career path which started in 2003, with early steps into an organisation initially as a volunteer, when he was 35-6. He is well aware now that a change is calling….”I have plans…”


  5. Very interesting detective work Anne 🙂 I myself did travel overseas on two of my Jupiter returns (without realising that I was having a Jupiter return). Your ponderings on fate and free will are interesting also. Another question might be, what is the difference between fate and destiny? I’m sure you can alter your destiny, but can you alter your fate?

    I have been doing a lot of online research on Jupiter moving into Leo also. Yes, Leo is certainly a very creative sign. However, a realisation that I reached (which I haven’t seen written down anywhere) is that Leo’s have a great sense of humour and that it is easy to make them laugh (which is something I really like about Leo’s) so one of the best uses of that creativity (now that Jupiter is in Leo) is to make people around us laugh by using creative humour! We could certainly use some of that, considering the string of serious events that seem to be following one another on the international scene.

    I know a couple of people who have Jupiter in (late) Leo natally in their charts, so it will be interesting to observe what happens to them on their Jupiter returns!

    I’m looking forward to Part Two of your article.


  6. Many thanks for your feedback, Wizron! One of the fascinations for me (and I am sure for many other people as they gradually become fluent in astrology) was that of going back through my life before encountering and learning any astrology, and discovering how accurately the essence of that life’s unfolding pattern (including Jupiter cycles) was described by the symbolism of transits and progressions at key points of challenge and change.

    And yes, I agree with you about Leos and laughter – but then I would say that, wouldn’t I, given my embarrassing number of planets in Leo ( fortunately, tucked away in the 12th House…)


  7. I really love the concrete examples of life changes that you give in this article, as well as the correlation with the phases of the moon as applied to the Jupiter cycle. As a self-taught astrology student (at this point…!), I’m very glad to have found your blog, and looking forward to reading more of your posts!


    • Thanks for the affirmation, jhowell. Much appreciated! I set up the blog both for astrology students of differing levels, and for interested members of the public who wanted to find out more about this great subject.

      DO go for a reputable study course when you feel ready. As you will have seen from my feedback, I did one course at the outset of my career, and a more intensive one when I was established as an astrologer and teacher – 12 years later, of course…good old Jupiter! I found both courses very, very valuable at those very different stages of my career.

      Keep following the blog – and feel free to throw in a question from time to time!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jhowell1221

        Thank you for your openness and sharing what you know! I do intend to study formally somehow, or to have an apprenticeship, and would love to do it now (although my next Jupiter return is a good four or five years out! And since you’re so kind to offer to answer an occasional question, I’ll go ahead with one!).

        My dilemma is partly that there doesn’t seem to be a cohesive certification path for astrologers since so many are self-taught, and have considered apprenticeships too, but again, not sure of the most solid options. If you happen to have any suggestions for reputable options in the US, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much again, and many blessings!


      • Hi there again, jhowell. Here is a useful link from astrologer Donna Woodwell’s site, which lists a selection of reputable schools and organisations which people looking for reputable astrologers should contact – this selection should be enough to point you as a prospective student in the right direction! Good luck, and let me know how you get on.



      • Thank you so much for the information, Anne! I’ll keep you posted!


  8. Will get back to you on this shortly!


  9. Pingback: Questing fire meets creative fire: exploring Jupiter in Leo | Astrology: Questions and Answers

  10. Hmmmm….. You got my response to your other comment to my blog, so you know what I’ve just begun…. again….. New expansion in learning indeed. Mostly to kick my butt into gear and do what I do, instead of ignoring it. I had to laugh at the comment about humor….. it so echoed what I had planned to warm my fingers up with. I’ll try to get pictures of what I do and put them on my blog so you can see them.
    Always Love reading your stuff.


    • Hi Ellen great to hear from you over here! Yes,get that butt into gear-Jupiter should help…
      Glad you enjoy my stuff. I only aim to please! And good luck with your new phase. Look forward to seeing what you’re up to.


  11. Pingback: More about Cycles: planning your autumn with the Sun/Moon cycle | Astrology: Questions and Answers

  12. Pingback: Jupiter in Leo 2014 -15: what will it bring ? | Astrology: Questions and Answers

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  14. Helen Glazier

    I’ve been thinking about my Jupiter cycles for the past two months. I also assigned this as homework for a friend and she recently said, “I have no clue … I can’t remember my life.” But I think I’ve finally got it, by Jove!
    My natal Jupiter is retrograde in Capricorn in the 11th house. I didn’t appreciate my Jupiter when I first studied astrology. I thought it should tell me what work I would do. But now I have a better idea of what a retrograde Jupiter does. I see four themes running through my life: (1) attempts to prove that I am smart enough/ able to fit into a group, (2) the study of philosophy/astrology, (3) music, and (4) botany/gardening. In my case, it was major transits that disrupted the cycles, i.e. Uranus square Uranus (twice), Neptune on the MC (I literally went fishing for a decade), Pluto on the MC. But when the dust settled the themes reappeared.
    (1)& (2) I was a stellar student in grade school, but had to test into the honors programs in junior high – math, science and English. I got early acceptance at the best private school in the state. Uranus square Uranus happened and I was jolted home to begin again. Started at community college, transferred to university, studied astrology, botany, philosophy, pharmacy (to prove I was smart enough), then went fishing; back to school to earn a teaching degree with masters in education (Curriculum Design as a Collaborative Process), Pluto on MC, became an administrative assistant.
    (3) I have always been surrounded by music. My parents were founders of a square dance club, I took lessons in accordion, piano, flute and guitar; had a major eclectic set of albums, trained to be a mobile disc jockey, did musical theater with my daughter.
    (4) I earned a Botany degree because of my love of taxonomy and did extensive personal gardening, mostly growing food.
    I just recently discovered that my natal Jupiter has turned stationary direct … actually in December 2010. It is interesting to see what has been happening with my themes since then. I have more confidence in general; I’ve started writing blog responses; I’m going to start volunteering at a mission; I continued musical theater after my daughter dropped out, I recently did some karaoke and I’m going to explore other creative musical outlets; I had a one-person farmer’s market at my garden and connected people in the neighborhood, was a greenhouse manager for a project to raise produce for the food banks and plan to work in that garden


    • Many thanks for this great feedback, Helen, which will give other readers such a good perspective on how Jupiter works in a particular sign and house. Interesting also to see what has happened since natal Jupiter turned direct – I am very interested in retro and direct stations and their power to signify major shifts linked to the nature of the planet concerned, and have found this to be the case both with regard to transits AND progressions, even of the slower-moving progressions from Jupiter through PLuto.


  15. Helen Glazier

    Thanks Anne. I have another question that may concern Jupiter cycles. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder; my previous episode was 12 years ago so I checked the ephemeris and both times Jupiter was conjunct my Venus/Pluto conjunction in the sixth, sextile Neptune. And, of course, there are other factors but I was struck by the coincidence. I haven’t been able to find much on-line and was wondering if you had any experience in your practice.


    • Hi Helen

      I appreciate the feedback you have given regarding how the 11-12 year Jupiter cycle can co-incide with recurring conditions in life, but as you will I hope understand, I am reluctant to enter into any discussion of deeply personal issues in a public context. I do hope you are now well on the way to recovery!


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