In the United States, we have this curious tradition of recognizing a girl’s sixteenth birthday as especially important. Where does this come from? It certainly has stuck around as a tradition for some time. It is defined by Wikipedia as “…a coming of age party celebrating a girl’s sixteenth birthday in North America, primarily in the United States and Canada.”
The traditions vary according to different families, but sometimes a tiara is given by the Mother to the Daughter to celebrate her becoming a woman. It also implies that she is eligible for marriage. What interests me about this is that it is only important for a girl, and for boys there is no special cultural significance given to turning 16 years old.
This seems to reflect an astrological truth. It has to do with the different ages at which the planets are said to “mature” in ones life. Each planet has a different maturation age, and when this age comes about, the person is able to use that planet to a more effective level, if such a promise is shown in the birth chart to begin with. If not, then the person may start to experience more problems associated with the planet as it is not maturing properly. The person is not as developed in the area of consciousness associated with said planet, and it shows.
The maturation ages are as follows:
As can be seen above, Jupiter is the first planet to mature, and it matures at the age of 16. Jupiter represents a great many things in a horoscope, including wisdom or philosophy, guiding principles and the ability to appreciate the wholeness of life. His placement in a chart can also give great understanding of what makes you happy, and what your “dharma”, or purpose in life is. If you are a Woman, or someone who likes Men, then Jupiter actually plays a slightly different role in the chart as compared to a Male, or someone who likes women mostly. This has to do with Jupiter being the producer, or “karaka” of the husband in a Womans chart. He is also the significator of children in the horoscope, for both males and females. So for the average female, the planet Jupiter “produces” (in the astrological sense) and is responsible for, her children, and her husband in life. Those are very important parts of life for most people. And when Jupiter matures at 16, all these things under Jupiter’s domain begin to mature and become prominent in a person’s life as well. Also, Jupiter rules our creativity in general, and children are the most important creative process for most humans, and at this age a woman is physically mature enough to take on this creative process. Also, the hormones and endocrine system is ruled by Jupiter, and this matures around the age of 16 as well.
This is what is so interesting about the tradition of the Sweet Sixteen, and how it is only significant for a lady. Before the age of 16, the average girl’s physical body, hormones and consciousness are not cultivated enough to maturely know what is in her own heart, and what type of Husband (if any) she should choose. The same goes for children. She may not want to have kids, or not really think about it until after the age of 16. After that point, if it is in her Dharma to have kids in this life, she may begin to have more of her own thoughts and feelings about the matter. This is because she is now physically mature enough for this process, but not necessarily mature enough on all levels.
For a girl that has a strong Jupiter in her chart, this means that in past lives she lived dharmically enough to gain the “good karma” (good merit) to have a happy and fortunate married life with pleasing children. In most cultures this is the general ideal thing to have for most women, (as well as with men, but with a happy wife as opposed to husband) although everyone is different. This has long been one of the best uses of Jyotish, to determine if one should pursue marriage in this life or if they should save themselves a lot of time and energy and focus on something else they care about. At the age of 16, Jupiter matures, which means that (for either sex) the individual’s consciousness of their “dharma” has matured, leaving them to pursue their own unique purpose in the world. If this purpose involves marriage or having kids, then the time is ripe at 16 to pave the way for those events to occur when they are meant to. Because marriage and children are such important factors in life, it makes sense that families at some point decided to have a big celebration to commemorate this.
Regardless of their sex, at 16 the person is going to begin to think more about their purpose, and more about what they want to do with their own life. At 16 a person may think more about what is really right and wrong, versus what they have been told to think by others. They may think more about what they themselves believe to be true from their experience. They may develop a belief system of their own naturally or start to follow a belief system. This is because Jupiter rules ones belief systems, and wisdom, and ones understanding of the big picture in life. And how this plays out depends on the way Jupiter is situated in the horoscope.
Also, I have heard, but cannot confirm, that some studies have shown that women actually bear children with the least amount of accidents or health issues at the age of 16. The likelihood of health complications during childbearing is thought to increase with age gradually. I could not find a study to confirm this, but found a lot of information online about how accidents and birth complications are increased gradually with age. Here is one article. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-maternal-age/
For men, it is different, because Venus rules the wife or mate in a chart of someone who likes females, and as you can see above, Venus does not mature until the age of 25. This means that for men, they may not be fully mature enough in their consciousness to choose the right marriage partner or commit to their chosen path in life until the age of 25. Venus is the consciousness that helps us love ourselves and seek the best quality of life for ourselves, therefore representing our decision making capacity. The strong Venusian weighs out the choices they are given in life wisely (like Venus’s sign Libra, the balancing scales, “weighing ones options”. Libras tend to get the best deals and be good traders and businessmen) and thus his life leads to greater satisfaction and well being because of the good choices they made to get there. A person with a weaker Venus will typically not inherently appreciate themselves as much, and will make decisions that reflect that, and choose bad partners and bad relationships, therefore inviting difficulty and hardship into their lives as a result.
Boys typically do not mature sexually as fast as women, and who knows, perhaps that has to do with males not being truly ripe for marriage until the age of 25, as opposed to girls at 16, according to this line of thinking. Also, it is usually considered more normal for a woman to marry an older man, than it is for a man to marry an older woman. This makes sense when we see that a woman is mature enough (or close to it) for a spouse at the age of 16, compared with a man not being that mature until almost ten years later at 25!
It can be nice to reflect back and see how ones own beliefs or philosophies (as well as other jupiter-ruled things) may have developed during that very formative time.