The activity of the outer planets is often said to be turbulent and disruptive. This is frequently apparent under the influence of Neptune, where an individual may be in the grip of addiction, denial or avoidance of reality, or in a state of unhealthy dependency. Ted, with Sun in his 5th house opposite Neptune in the 11th house, told me that his spiritual practice was to take cocaine and speed and go out dancing all night in clubs, where he claimed to have ecstatic experiences. Ted needed to come to grips with his addictions and to find healthier expressions of his desire for ecstasy and expanded consciousness.
When we feel the influence of Neptune, we experience the urge to experience transpersonal realities that transcend the boundaries and limitations of ordinary space and time. We begin to perceive the one Spirit that underlies the world of multiplicity and material forms. We may experience states of oneness and illumined mystic vision, spontaneously entering the stillness of pure Being without form.
A woman had transiting Neptune conjunct natal Sun for two years: She experienced deep meditation and said that she felt the presence of God. Simultaneously transiting Pluto was conjunct natal Neptune in the 11th house. She joined a spiritual community (11th house Neptune), where she meditated and entered the waters of silent contemplation, until she had experiences of samadhióthat state where the mind stops, the breath stops, and one merges into the ocean of Being.
While all of this sounds very glamorous, however, the actual experience of transition into expanded awareness is often confusing. Susan, a woman with a natal Sun-Neptune conjunction in Libra in the 4th house, was experiencing transiting Neptune conjunct her Descendant. She was in crisis because her marriage was “falling apart” the classic experience of Neptune. Susan also had solar arc Uranus conjunct natal Mars: She was intensely angry at her husband. A deeply spiritual woman who had practiced meditation for many years, she was learning that anger is okay, and that she doesn’t have to be pure and selfless all the time. There is a place for the expression of her will. She began having intense kundalini experiences, feeling intense heat in her body (Uranus conjunct Mars) and the rising serpent energy flowing through her body in powerful spirals.
Susan was concerned because during the time of this Neptune transit she had totally lost all sexual desire for her husband, and could not understand why. Part of her transformation was a profound transmutation of sexual energy. Her energy was turned inward and she experienced many visions in meditation (Neptune). She wondered if she should leave her husband. With transiting Neptune conjunct her Descendant and square her natal Sun in the 4th house in Libra, she realized that marriage and family are everything to her, so she felt she could not leave her husband. Yet she could feel Neptune uplifting her vibrationally to a new level of consciousness. The tide of her being was flowing directly into the light of Spirit. Rudhyar calls Neptune a planet of deconditioning. Susan’s attitudes toward marriage and love were being deconditioned. She could no longer be the embodiment of her husband’s fantasies, desires, and expectations. She could no longer mold herself to his needs, for her need now was to dissolve and be etheric. She experienced some disillusionment with her very earthly, needy, human beloved, yet gradually she began to meet him in a deeper place of unconditional acceptance. They had a number of powerful telepathic experiences during this period, and when they meditated together there was often a descent of peace and grace tangible to both of them. They experienced a shared awakening (Neptune conjunct Descendant). They were able to reconnect to the awareness of loving each other’s being or essence beyond form and beyond desire. Their marriage continued and reached a new level of commitment and devotion.
Neptune teaches us lessons of surrender and yielding. At first we think we’re using astrology to serve our purposes, to get rich and find love. But we gradually learn that astrology is training us and preparing us for who we are supposed to be. We begin to mold our intention to the intention of the universe, even if it doesn’t conform to what we think we want.
A woman named Beth had transiting Saturn conjunct natal Venus in Aries, opposite natal Neptune. She was in love with a man who lives across the country and is married. It was a classic love tragedy. He promised to divorce his wife, someday, so he and Beth could be together. But for the moment she was left alone, waiting, longing, with everything up in the air. She was quite sad. I asked Beth to consider that the purpose of their meeting was to connect her to an experience of love transcending place and time. I asked her to connect to a love transcending needs or expectations, a pure love for all beings. That love was already shining brightly from her heart; and the connection she felt with this man reminded her that this is her true nature–to be love. That this was her task and her path to awakeningóto be unconditional love (Venus-Neptune). I asked her to meditate on how her own suffering could awaken in her boundless compassion for all beings. I asked her to let the small vessel of personal love and attachment burst so that she could expand her heart to encompass all. When I said these words she began to breath deeply through her heart. Beth lit up and her eyes brightened. We sat together for a while speaking softly and looking around at all the people at the fair with unconditional love. She began to laugh and said, “I’m feeling strangely ecstatic, which I found hard to understand since I feel like I’m supposed to be feeling miserable and torn up about this relationship.” The words I spoke came forth from me quite spontaneously as I meditated upon her chart symbolism. I had never met her or seen her chart before. I could have just as easily focused on the tragedy of unrequited love or gently chided her for her romantic illusions. Instead, I chose to try to evoke the highest possible meaning of the transit and of her natal Venus-Neptune. I wanted her to perceive that there was a hidden cause or intention of these events. Everything happens for a reason. This interpretation of her chart helped Beth transform her perception of her situation so that she might fulfill the purpose of this transit.
In The Astrology of Transformation (1980), Rudhyar wrote:
In transpersonal living, an individual should not be concerned with “success” and especially with what from the socio-cultural point of view would be called a constructive achievement. . . . An individual on the transpersonal path should realize in what way a present occurrence is an effect of the past, and at the same time, understand the purpose of the event in generating power to move ahead in the process of transformation. . . . [T]he real issue is whether [one remains] as unaware as before of the inherent transformative purpose of the events, or whether the individual will be able to meet these happenings as tools for the cutting and grinding of the coarse and dull stone of personality into a clear and translucent jewel. (pp. 1512)
Nowhere else could Beth find this type of understanding except through astrology. All her friends could perceive, and all she herself had perceived until now, was a failure, a love affair that didn’t work out. Now she could see that through this painful experience, her heart was being transformed. On an emotional level she felt sadness and abandonment. Yet she felt much more connected to everyone and began to perceive beauty everywhere. Neptune was washing her eyes and heart clean. As Hazrat Inayat Khan once said, “A worldly loss often turns into a spiritual gain.”
Beth learned the neptunian lesson that sometimes we have to yield our desires. She recognized that this was a time for awakening universal love and inner communion with the light in everyone, more than it was a time for a romantic relationship to take hold in form. Indeed, a deeper personal entanglement in this relationship might have even been a diversion from what really needed to occur for her. Her deeper essence knew that life was asking her to be absorbed in that state of being that transcends longing and loneliness. Several weeks later she called to tell me that after the fair she had an experience of divine love and felt her boundaries dissolving as she perceived the light of Spirit everywhere in everything. This is the power of astrology–the power to transform how we view our circumstances and our suffering.
Indeed, a crucial gift of Neptune is compassionate response to the suffering that is everywhere around us, which connects us to the experience of all humanity. Neptune washes our hardened hearts with the wine of concern, and awakens in us the intention to relieve suffering. It teaches us to surrender and live with a calm acceptance of whatever may come, yet with a clear intention to heal whatever portions of this universe we can.
Neptune may temporarily weaken our will and sense of self-determination. We often have to grapple with self-pity, discouragement, or loss of focus. Yet this is our moment of greatest potential access to the Sacred, the living Spirit. We feel it seeping into our bodies. Now is not a time for solidity. Instead we feel porous, liquid, fluid, yielding. We may feel that we do not know what is happening to us.
Personally, I use this Neptune checklist: Am I coping adequately with material reality? With my emotions? Is there anything I am really in denial about? If I am satisfied that I am fulfilling my responsibilities (Saturn), then I sense that it is safe to let go to Neptune’s tides, to rest in a state of tranquility, trusting that everything is unfolding as it should. This offering of our trust to the universe brings peace to our hearts, and is one of Neptune’s greatest gifts. At such times we are aware that it is clearly out of our hands what happens. Our job now is to seek greater vision, and to experience wholeness by dissolving our boundaries as we merge into the great ocean.