We’ve been through a lot over the past few months – well, all year, and three years before that. It hasn’t been one long crisis for most of us, but rather a series of challenges that have pushed and shoved us forward, carried us along on a rushing river. In the short periods of calm in between, we’ve barely had a chance to catch our breath, let alone time to reflect on what it’s all about. This week, we get that chance.
A lot has been written about the Uranus-Pluto square, which since 2012 has been exact five times. The configuration is exact two more times between now and March 2015, so the cycle of blasting apart and tearing down isn’t finished yet. Attempts to rebuild solid, durable structures to replace those that have been crumbling are still meeting with tests and setbacks as the internal transformation process grinds away. These tests and the transformation process in general are themes associated with Scorpio and Pluto, while Uranus in Aries is about sudden change and liberation from self-limitations.
That’s enough to contemplate, but lately I’ve been thinking about another facet of the changes that have been taking place deep within ourselves and in the collective psyche, and that’s Neptune in Pisces. It’s a timely subject for this week, because three out of five major aspects involve the planet of dissolution. It’s a different way of breaking apart structures in order to rebuild. In addition, Neptune represents the imagination, the mysterious process whereby concepts bubble up from some unknown place and begin to take shape in our minds. A lot of you are in the creative arts, so you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In alchemy, there’s a maxim solve et coagula, which means to dissolve or separate, filter out the impurities, and put what’s left back together in a way that is stronger and more refined. In terms of spiritual growth, we’re talking about breaking down the ego’s defenses and separating out subconscious behaviors, thought patterns, and stubborn beliefs that hold us back from reaching our highest potential, our essence distilled to its purest form. It’s a delicate process, not to be forced. But it is more intentional than the spontaneous destruction of Uranus and Pluto, and in some ways, it is a more gentle process, even though being in a dissolved state can feel like temporary insanity.
I recently started reading Liz Greene’s book, The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption. The title sounded strange to me, as I’ve never considered Neptune to have anything to do with redemption. But there’s a good case to be made, starting with your definition of “redemption” and “sin.” We’re not talking here about sin as defined by the church, but as self-destructive behavioral patterns that we either don’t recognize or that we struggle in vain to overcome. Addictions are a good example. Anyone who ever has struggled with an addiction and felt powerless to overcome it knows the desire to be freed of it – essentially, to be redeemed. The idea that addictions are an unacknowledged desire for spiritual oneness is almost cliché anymore, but how to find what we’re looking for is not so obvious. Liz Greene does a good job of explaining the confusing nature of Neptune and the traps of illusion and self-delusion we can fall into on our quest for spiritual enlightenment.
The delusional side of Neptune is more dominant when there are conflicting aspects, but this week’s aspects are harmonious: trines from Venus to Neptune and the Sun to Neptune on Monday and Tuesday, and a sextile from Mars on Saturday. There are opportunities here for deeper understanding and compassion for our own “sins” and those of others. Looking at these aspects one at a time:
Under Monday’s trine to Neptune from Venus in Scorpio, there’s a window on understanding obsession with another person. Again, it’s cliché to write off this kind of addiction as a desire to replay unresolved mommy and daddy issues or to say it’s a disguise for a longing to “find God.” Although there might be some truth in those interpretations, it’s not the whole truth, which can be found only by the person experiencing it. But, as is often the case, the way around is through, and that can be tricky.
Tuesday’s Sun-Neptune trine focuses on the creative, imaginative side of Neptune. Creative expression, represented by the Sun, can be a solution to an addiction. I once read something to the effect that there’s nothing sadder than a writer who doesn’t write. Some people find redemption in expressing their unique voice in the world, in whatever form that might take. There are many ways of being creative.
Saturday’s sextile to Neptune from Mars in Capricorn is favorable for organizing volunteer work or at least in becoming actively involved. In world affairs, this is an especially good time to mobilize aid to refugees and victims of natural disasters. There’s a public discussion about whether quarantines and restricting travel are the best way to prevent the Ebola virus from becoming a pandemic, or whether it would be better to send a large contingent of health workers to contain the virus in the African countries where it is out of control.
Neptune, incidentally, is associated with epidemics in modern astrology, whereas Saturn traditionally was assigned that role. Some astrologers implicate both planets, either in conjunction or opposition, in the worst outbreaks of disease, such as the Spanish flu in 1918. I haven’t done enough research to confirm this, but it is interesting that Neptune was on the Ascendant in New York last Friday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on Ebola quarantines. Mercury was still retrograde, so I suspect they will have to backpedal under pressure from the White House.
Also worth mentioning is that Saturn was opposite Neptune in 2006, with Neptune and Uranus in mutual reception. There was an outbreak of bird flu that year, but it never reached anything close to an epidemic. If Saturn and Neptune are indeed linked to life-threatening epidemics, then we’ll want to keep an eye on the approaching square, which comes close in February 2015 but won’t be exact until later in the year.
Looking at Saturday’s Mars-Neptune sextile from an individual viewpoint, this is a good combination for spiritual discipline, whatever that means to you. Addictions can be addressed, although probably not resolved; that takes time and effort. But you have to start somewhere. Recognizing the problem and committing to do something about it is the first step. The Moon is part of this configuration as well, conjunct Neptune and sextile Mars barely an hour after the Mars-Neptune aspect. The Moon can muddy the waters and reinforce the delusional side of Neptune. However, it’s also extremely psychic and intuitive, which in the end is really the only way to experience the indefinable nature of Neptune. There is no rhyme or reason, at least not to the logical mind. It’s rather like in dreams, where you can be barreling down a hill and, without getting of the car, you’re suddenly on a cloud, in a bedroom with no floor or walls, and your cat is talking to you. In the dream world, it all makes perfect sense.The other two major aspects this week are also on Saturday. First, there’s a sextile from Mercury in Libra to Jupiter in Leo. Creative writers will like this one, and it’s also good for patching up any relationship problems that may have arisen from miscommunications while Mercury was retrograde. What actually happened doesn’t matter, but if you feel a need to go back over a situation, make sure you own up to your part in the conflict.
Venus sextiles Pluto less than an hour before the Mars-Neptune sextile, making this a strong day for exploring the depths of your soul through physical intimacy. For many people, sex is the most accessible way to the mystical experience, although usually that’s not the goal. Moreover, sex can cause confusion and complicate relationships. When we want something (or someone) so badly, it’s more difficult to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves about our motivations and desires, and there’s a greater danger of projecting our own inner conflicts onto our partners. Fortunately, Saturday’s aspects are supportive, so this is a good day for personal growth within an intimate relationship and for deepening the relationship itself.
In general, this is the time of year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest – a theme reflected in the customs of different cultures, ours being Halloween. Although Pluto and Scorpio are associated with death and the dead, it’s Neptune that represents the collective unconscious and thus our perception – or, more accurately, our misperception – that we are somehow separate from each other, life on earth, the planet itself, and the cosmos.
Wishing you all much love and courage,
© Pat Paquette, RealAstrologers.com, 2014.