Planets in Astrology, Chapter 9. Neptune, the Cosmic Solvent

Poseidon holding a trident. Corinthian plaque, 550-525 BC. From Penteskouphia.
Poseidon holding a trident. Corinthian plaque, 550-525 BC. From Penteskouphia.

Probably the most elusive and ethereal force among the Astrological bodies, Neptune was the only planet to be mathematically predicted before being directly observed. Symbolizing a wisdom beyond reason, which defies the empirical notions of knowledge, Neptune is all about intuition, and the awareness of the Unity that permeates the world of manifestation. Its discovery happened in the wake of the Romantic movement, in 1846, after the cultural shift from faith in reason, to faith in feelings and imagination, profoundly transformed the intellectual scenario of the Western world.
Neptune is the ruler of Pisces and the Twelfth House; its whirl around the zodiac takes about 165 years to completion, with roughly 14 years spent in each sign. Both Neptune and Poseidon, the two deities (Roman, and Greek, respectively) that converge in this cosmic principle, were gods of water and the sea. C. G. Jung identified water as the commonest symbol of the Unconscious, a quality that is strong and defining in all Water planets and signs. The Neptunian non-conscious, however, eludes our subjective, human experience, our sense of separateness and differentiation. Neptune is the higher octave of Venus, which understands Love from a one-to-one perspective; with Neptune, the Cosmic Solvent, objectified Love is carried to a higher Spiritual level, where all boundaries dissolve, merging individual and Universal consciousness. For this reason, Neptune is the planet of mercy: tuning in into Oneness consciousness awakes our compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings.
Like water itself, Neptunian energy is fluid, changeable, amorphous – hard to pin down, and to understand, through our limited rational resources, as it’s radically removed from the concreteness of our tangible reality. If other planets are defined colours, Neptune is a nuance; it’s the pining and yearning for a pre-natal state of bliss and Divine fulfillment we unconsciously strive to replicate into day-to-day Life. But the absence of contours also means that the leaky, formless nature of Neptunian vibration can either shapeshift into the most accurate intuition, or the emptiest delusion. Neptune can create a hall-of-mirrors effect, that makes it difficult to tell actual non-mediated, heart-based awareness, from shallow illusion. Neptune challenges to differentiate between self-serving, tantalizing mirages (distorting reality), on one hand, and spiritual vision (sensing the Spirit beyond the world of matter) on the other. In an Era when the Sacred is nearly completely eradicated from our lives, or exploited by hierarchical structures of control at best, many, therefore, lack the necessary inner alignment to harness Neptune’s frequency in ways that are not detrimental. The shadow side of Neptune can be equally powerful as its promise of bliss and fulfillment: its passive, watery nature, can give way to escapism, addictions and the vain pursuit of artificial paradises. Neptune can either grant the gift of clairvoyance (according to Greek geographer Pausanias, Poseidon was prominent in worship at Delphi, and actually held the oracle before Apollo’s cult was established) or cloak issues with confusion and vagueness. Speaking of illusions and confusion, it’s interesting to note that Galileo is not credited with Neptune’s discovery because, although he was actually able to observe the planet, he seems to have mistaken it for a fixed star when it appeared close to Jupiter in the night sky. Dreams, mysticism, ideals, faith, inspiration, creativity, spirituality, precognition, but also alcohol, drugs, victimization, all equally fall under Neptune’s rulership. Holding sway over poetry, Music, Art, Neptune dissolves the Ego, opening us up to the most subtle and transcendental of impulses, informing our creations with a celestial sense of enchantment.

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