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The Magical Properties of Jupiter

Jupiter is considered by many to be a celestial object worthy of awe. Many Muggle cultures have worshipped the planet as the King of the Gods, as in ancient Greece; as the ruler of the movements of planets, as in Vedic Astronomy; or as a God of those in high-office, as in ancient Rome. Although the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter’s grand nature throughout the ages is not linked to its size as ancient astronomers would only have been able to observe its brightness. At its peak, Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky (after the Moon and Venus), cementing the planet as one of great importance in many belief systems. In modern astronomy, Jupiter is linked to poisons, creativity, and governance.

Liver and Poisons

Historically, the planets have been associated with parts of the body. Astronomers have tested the impact of the planets on the function of organs and body parts with varying degrees of success. Traditionally, Jupiter is associated with the liver. It was thought a nearby Jupiter (Jupiter at opposition) would encourage the liver to work more efficiently. In the Middle Ages, one Father Sollup used the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the blood, to test this hypothesis. Draught of Living Death, a sleeping draught, was brewed and administered (in non-lethal doses, obviously) to volunteers who were paid in food for their cooperation. They fell asleep, and would awaken only when the liver had removed enough of the toxins associated with the potion. The time they slept was recorded, and Sollup found a correlation between the time it took for the liver to remove the toxins from the patient and the proximity of Jupiter.

However, when this experiment was repeated in the 1700s, no pattern was found. After much debate and repetition it was understood the potion in the first experiment must have been brewed as needed, whilst in the second the potion was produced in one big batch. Astronomers concluded that far from having a direct effect on the functions of people’s livers, Jupiter had the ability to make magical poisons more potent.

Curiosity and Creativity, Luck and Fortune

Jupiter traditionally has been known as a lucky planet, bestowing great fortune on individuals and their endeavours. If this superstition holds, should one wait until Jupiter is close-by to undertake a risky venture? Not necessarily. Research undertaken over the past few decades has shown that, instead of causing sporadic lucky events (such as winning a prize in a raffle) Jupiter in fact encourages ingenuity, creativity, and curiosity. Problems that have been playing on the minds of Wizards can seemingly be solved with ease when Jupiter is at opposition. Poets, musicians, and writers find themselves inspired and in a tumble of ideas at these times.

Astronomers are uncertain of the mechanism behind this influence, as inspiration is a rather nebulous concept. Nevertheless, astronomers recording their research in diaries over the years have looked back over their “Eureka!” moments and found a correlation between their frequency and Jupiter’s proximity to Earth (with Jupiter’s closest approach coming once every 1.1 Earth years). Whether this is true, or a form of confirmation bias from hopeful researchers remains to be seen as to date no concrete data have been published from this field of research. The validity of this superstition therefore remains controversial.

Greater efforts are underway to test the hypothesis of a lucky Jupiter, to quantify the effect Jupiter may have on Felix Felicis or “Liquid Luck” – a potion that helps the drinker succeed in his or her endeavours for good or for ill. Researchers from are requesting information from anyone who has taken the potion to ascertain how they obtained it, when and how much they drank, and how successful their time was under the influence. They were also calling for volunteers to take this potion in a controlled environment, although at the time of writing, the experiment has become so well-known researchers are holding auditions to select volunteers. One wonders whether the research team will be conducting the analysis under a favourable position of Jupiter.

Typical Compounding Effects.

Jupiter has an axial tilt of about three degrees, meaning its orbital and rotational axes are in close alignment. As discussed in previous chapters, we find the orbit of a planet a secondary effect on the nature of the planetary magic felt on Earth. Jupiter is an outer planet, however, and as a consequence, moves more slowly than Earth around the Sun. This means when Jupiter seems to be further ahead in its orbit and moving away, Earth is in fact gaining. From Earth’s point of view then Jupiter is approaching and thus positive influences of the planet (e.g more effective antidote brewing) are enhanced. When Jupiter is behind and the Earth pulling ahead, the more negative or passive aspects of the planet’s magic (e.g. more effective toxin brewing) is emphasised.

When estimating the effects of other planets’ orbits on Earth, one must therefore ensure one is considering the relative motion of the planet to Earth, rather than the absolute motion to subvert unintended consequences.

Extent of Influence

As discussed at length in the previous chapter, Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System. As such, one might presume Jupiter would exert a stronger magical influence than any other planet. This has never been proven to be the case. Sometime in the late 1800s, research was conducted to determine whether the size of a planet was important to the magnitude of its magical influence. A controversial experiment performed by an unknown potions master tested Mercury’s effect on healing potions for the nervous system against Jupiter’s effect on poisons. If the size of a planet were important, Jupiter would have had a greater effect on the experiment than Mercury. Over the course of four years, it is speculated that the potions master gave at least a thousand rats a toxin or potion that, according to his notes, “travelled in the blood, irritated the muscles, and upset the sensibilities of the nerves, causing the rats to run in clockwise circles.” His notes describe how some rats were given an antidote, whilst others had to wait for their bodies to break down the toxin. The time during which they ran in circles was recorded. By brewing the toxin and antidote at varying times over the years, the potions master was able to determine that Mercury’s and Jupiter’s influences were of comparable amounts, neither one dominating the amount of time the rats ran in circles. He concluded that the size of the planet did not affect the level of magical influence the planet possessed. The lab in which this experiment was performed was discovered years later, in 1875, in the basement of a house in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is thought the rats had eaten the potions master shortly after he wrote his conclusion.

We do not recommend recreating this study.

Law and Governance

In astrology, Jupiter is thought to influence law-making and government success. To test whether this is true in astronomy, one first needs to define what counts as an “effective” law or government. One voice on the matter, Tao Xing II, stated in 1982, “Of course, an effective government is one that is not opposed by the people, who carry out their business without protest; flames of dissent are what mark an ineffective government and political system, and thus a lack of protest can be seen as success.” This definition has not gone unopposed, however. Nicolasa Annes, in 1991, addressed Tao’s concerns in her essay, “How the States Control the Planets.” Annes wrote, “One can argue the raison d’être of a political system is to develop a society that eventually will be self-sustaining and not need guidance from above to ensure health, education, security, and equality for all. A lack of dissenting voices does not by any means indicate that this utopia has been achieved, sometimes the opposite, which we must remember when recalling the state-endorsed explanation from Tao. A better measure of a successful governing system would be the level of interference the government makes in the running of affairs – the less entangled the better.”

These are not the only two opinions on the matter, and what would count as good governance still is debated. Regardless of the chosen definition, further difficulty lies in quantifying it over time, and then comparing this to information about the position and movement of Jupiter to find any significant correlation.

In recent years, world events such as the second Rise of the Dark Lord, and the failure of the British Ministry of Magic to counteract the coup d’etat, have proved a sticking point for advocates of Jupiter’s influence over governance. Whilst the fall of the Ministry happened on the 1st August, 1997, a week before Jupiter was at opposition and began to move away from us relatively (which traditionally would evoke a negative effect on governance), the defeat of Lord Voldemort on 2nd May, 1998, did not happen when Earth began approaching Jupiter again, but a few months after. This example often is cited as damning evidence that Jupiter does not have a noteworthy effect on governance and law, as such a significant event would require an equally significant event on Jupiter. Other subtle alternatives, such as the effectiveness of laws created at favourable dates, are being explored. This may be an active field of research and analysis for years to come.

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