Synastry Studies: Navigating Neptune

I intended to begin a series on the Moon’s Nodes in synastry, but I fear you’re going to think I’m angle-mad, (which I am, and yes, I know the nodes aren’t angles, but they behave like angles), so we’re shifting a bit.  The transiting Sun is over my Neptune this week, and the transiting nodes are squaring it.  This piece just came spilling out.

C’mon, let’s face it.  We have to admit that we’re all a little in love with the outer planets.  We love to read about them and write about them, like young girls reading teen magazines and emailing one another about the latest heartthrob.  They’re the glamour boys of the group.  They’re the movie stars, bigger than life and just as inaccessible.  Flamboyant, careless, powerful, they push us around and we don’t mind very much– until something truly awful happens.

Of all the glamour boys, Neptune has got to be the most deadly.  We’re a little frightened of Pluto, who behaves a bit like some gangster, the Humphrey Bogart or Cagney of the group.  We might be in love with him, but he might shoot us dead, too, if we get out of line, so we know we’d better be careful around him.  Uranus is the wacky genius, the unbalanced freak, the steely alien, the misfit who fascinates us.  He’s electric and exciting, but he might abandon us tomorrow, so we take what comes and hope for the best (If you think this isn’t attractive, think again.  Think Doctor Who and any role Johnny Depp has ever played.)  Now Neptune…

The danger of Neptune is that we never see him coming, and once he weaves his spell we can’t find our way out.  In the beginning, we don’t mind—and then it’s too late.  Pluto and Uranus both can cut us abruptly; we leave wounded, squashed, maybe, burnt up and out, but with our brains intact. Neptune doesn’t stop until we reach absolute bottom, and it often takes us a while before we know we’re there.  Neptune never demands, never asks for surrender; he seduces us into surrendering of our own volition.  Low whispers of promise, of bliss, of perfection.  Neptune tells us that all our troubles will be gone, and will never return, as long as he’s around.  Neptune is the answer to the question that you didn’t know you were asking, but now that it’s answered, everything feels  strangely complete.  Neptune weaves himself around us until we don’t know where we end and Neptune begins.  And then he seduces the ultimate surrender from us, beyond heart and mind.  He seduces our soul.  Under Neptune’s spell we become one with the all, all experiencing, all knowing, all feeling.  We drown, and we release the burden of ourselves, our egos, our consciousness.  This is otherwise known as death.  

Those of us who live with a heavy Neptune influence can have Neptunian periods where we veer between ecstasy and despair.  This see-sawing can be about things spiritual, relationship-oriented, creative, or psychological. We can experience utter bliss and oneness one week, and the next fall into the Neptunian trap of ‘nothing matters.’  This isn’t a variation on manic-depression, but to do with the fact that our perceptions wax and wane with the Neptunian influence.  Ironically, it’s often when we’re most in touch with Neptune that we feel most clear. We often live in the grey area between the manifest and the unmanifest worlds, because Neptune alters our perceptions of the way the world is put together.  Neptune allows us to see and feel things non-Neptunians do not.  (Neptune is always somewhere in the chart.  Wherever it falls, we have a higher sensitivity, we see beyond the walls.)  When we follow our instincts in unlikely directions, it’s often because we have more underlying information.  However, if our decisions are not soul-based, (for the good of all) but ego-based (for the good of me only), these excursions are doomed to failure.  Neptune has no time for the greedy ego, and when Neptune is in high gear, a  me-based life with no service involved will ultimately lead to the worst punishment of Neptune, the loss of Self.

One of the most deadly things about Neptune is the way he can convince us of the illusion of perfection.Wherever he falls, wherever he rules, we have to learn to live with a degree of longing.

Neptunians never feel complete.  It’s been called ‘divine discontent.’ (I forgot who coined the phrase, but surely it was one of the romantic poets.  If not, they should have.) Divine discontent is a ‘happy face’ phrase slapped on Neptunian longing, the creative force behind an eternal restlessness, a hunger for divinity, impossible to assuage by the very fact of incarnation in this world.  Incarnation is all about boundaries, and Neptune doesn’t like to be trapped inside. Divine discontent has been responsible for all the creative product in the world.   It is one of Neptune’s main functions as the higher octave of Venus. It connects our smaller selves with the greater, and inspires us to make something of our visions.

But this same longing for (unattainable) completion is what pulls Neptunians towards addictions, which can include being addicted to a relationship. Addictions dissolve the boundaries of the ego, we fall into false completion, false bliss.  As the ego sheds its worldly responsibilities, we want nothing but bliss. The jettisoning of the separate Self, and all the real-life and spiritual responsibilities associated with it, can be as intoxicating as a drug.

In synastry, this false bliss can take the form of another human being.  We need this person.  We have no life without this person.  This person is everything I’ve ever craved, and will ever crave.  Fortunately, experienced Neptunians learn to recognize the danger signs (dependency, loss of self, excuse-making, obsessive fascination) and after a while, know what to look out for.  Those who don’t struggle with Neptune on a daily basis can be his worst victims.  They get taken by surprise.

I have to admit that in all my years of doing synastries, I’ve seen Neptune cause the most outright suffering.  Now, this could be because of resonance.  I believe we attract clients whose issues match our knowledge and experience.  So I attract more Neptune-oriented folks than most.  Neptune has a dangerous proclivity to urge us to lose ourselves in a well of grief for the unattainable, making life itself seem futile.  I don’t know what’s worse, having the dream and then losing it, or having the dream of a dream.

Neptune in synastry allows us to fool ourselves.  Is he really the embodiment of perfection?  Is she someone I can’t live without?  No.  That’s just a story Neptune is telling us, but the story is so effective, so real, so orchestrated to our own particular psychic kinks, that we believe in it totally.  Neptune is the best director of all time, making a movie just for us.

One thing to keep in mind when dealing with Neptune in synastry is the fact that, when we are betrayed by others, we have really been betraying ourselves.  What within us has been kept blind by Neptune’s spell, allowing us to be deceived?  We are not victims.  Neptune’s famous illusion has a purpose–it is orchestrated precisely to reveal our blind spots to us.  Often, these blind spots are covering things we would rather not see, abuse, neglect, abandonment.  The reenactment of these patterns when Neptune is part of the synastry picture forces us to revisit the terror, because our blind spots are preventing our proper connection with the world around us.

The trick to living with Neptune, either natally or in synastry, is to keep yourself anchored.  You can’t let the waves carry you out to sea. You have to know when to pull back, when to keep separated.  You have to have something heavy and real and of the earth (some Saturn, perhaps) to sink into Neptune’s belly and keep him and you in place.  You need the sky above you to keep you rational so you know where you are. And you need some instinctual fire to read the signs and tell you when a storm is brewing up and you need to get the hell out of there before you drown.  When worse comes to worst, the answer is almost always in Virgo.  Just do something useful.  Something real.

Common knowledge says that in synastry, the person who has the Neptune will put the spell on the person who has the inner planet.  Frankly, I haven’t seen this.  I have to say that I’ve seen more of it the other way around, that it’s the Neptune person who gets enchanted by the inner planet person.  Certainly at first.  The complications of the inner planet person come later in the relationship, when they can’t get a handle on where the Neptune person is coming from.  I have to say that this is true especially in the case of oppositions.  In these cases in particular, the Neptune energy gets projected onto the planet, and its fueled by the fact that the planet is on Neptune’s polarity point.  That planet embodies something that Neptune needs to learn, to become.  The person embodies that lesson, along with the illusion of completion. The fascination is inevitable.  This occurs even with lesser hard aspects, but the opposition is the potent one, followed by the square.

Early on, when we’re young, life with Neptune can be torture.  Over and over again, we hunger for what is inaccessible, and it’s unbearable. We fall in love with gay people, married people, famous people, and we fall hard.  We yearn for lives that we will never have. We pray to focus our energies, on something, anything, that will give us fulfillment, and it never comes (at least, not in the way that we expect). Later on, after we’ve had a bit of reality thrown at us…no, wait…later on life with Neptune is a struggle, too.  But it becomes easier when we learn that we can have some of the things that Neptune promises us (even some bliss). Eventually, we learn that the secret of surviving Neptune is in keeping the heart wide open, as frightening as that might be after a Neptune episode.  We are tempted to shut Neptune out of our lives, and that is the most dangerous thing of all.  When we do, we live lives without magic, without the thrill of seeing our hopes, wishes and dreams (yes, with hard work) become reality.  Without Neptune, we feel cut off from the possibilities the universe affords us.  Still, we have to keep a very steely eye on that hypnotic bastard or he’ll weave that stupid spell again and the waves of goo will pull back and we’ll find ourselves stranded out in the middle of the desert of nowhere (again), forced to feel our way home via an unfamiliar landscape.

I was going to go on to make some comments about how the illusion of perfection is the result of the dark side of Virgo, which is a dominant theme in our Piscean age, but I’m not going to.  I realized as I was re-reading this before posting it, that no one ever talks about the good things that Neptune brings.  Really, it’s almost as if they don’t exist.  No wonder Neptune feels he has to seduce us, he doesn’t believe that any of us would go to him willingly.

Neptune’s rewards are not really physical. Not like the rewards that come with Saturn work, or the benefit of using your Mars or Mercury to maximum effect.  But working with Neptune does come with benefits.

Ironically, clarity is one of them.  When Virgo discrimination is applied to Neptune, the fog lifts, and we are inspired.  We can see things we’ve never seen before, create things we never thought possible, and yes, even feel states of consciousness we’ve never felt.  We realize that bliss, joy and oneness are possible in this world.  Neptune allows us to see past the illusion of our Earthly boundaries and realize that the ultimate boundary, the schism between “I” and the universe itself, is an illusion.  Neptune teaches us that whatever effects one effects the all.

In synastry, Neptune can give us great compassion.  It can even give us empathy, if we push our own egos out of the way.  Neptune can allow us to cherish our partners and forgive them their flaws, because we are all too aware of our own.  Neptune allows us to know our partners intimately, and to allow our partners to know us.  Neptunian trust is the bravest and highest form of trust, because we don’t allow ourselves an out.  We give ourselves over entirely and willingly, because we know that, no matter what happens, we will survive.  Neptune allows us to see divinity in the beauty of another, in a gesture, in a whisper.   It allows us to live hand in hand with a higher power, and surrender with grace, in full knowledge of what we are doing.

The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on this Earth, and I say ‘thing’ deliberately, because I’m including sunsets and mountains and leopards and paintings and anything else of this world, was another human being.  Not anyone I know.  He was standing near me on a London street. The light caught him in a gentle halo, and I actually let out a quiet gasp, stunned that anything so beautiful could be formed from the random chaos of the world.  I walked away, a bit shaken, but convinced that something in me had been opened, altered.  End of story. (I’m a double Virgo, you didn’t think there was going to be a Neptunian finish here, did you?)

I’ve been around for a while now, have done a lot of things, seen a lot of things, and am not easily impressed.  I was humbled by my reaction, by my susceptibility; there is something about beauty that makes pilgrims of us all.  Neptune allows us to be awed, and that’s the crack that lets the light in.  It brings us to our knees. What was altered in me that day?  I still don’t know.  That’s Neptune for you.  Something to do with having faith in the creative powers of the universe.  Something to do with abundance. Something to do with the pure joy of living.

But that’s my Neptune journey, my personal navigation through the manifest and unmanifest worlds, towards a realignment with the magical unknown.  Yours will be different.

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