Three Paths to Wisdom: Neptune and the Path of the Heart

Tibetan Sand Mandala

I bought a surge protector the other day. I know that this is a strange way to open a post on Neptune, but bear with me.  Apparently, I have a very sensitive refrigerator.  If we have a summer storm and there is a little irregularity in the way the electricity distributes itself, the fridge will pretend that it died.  This is extreme behaviour even for a refrigerator, who are universally known for being the drama queens of appliances and not nice and well behaved like stereo systems or washing machines.  I thought my fridge died in the last storm.  The repairman said it was only pretending and kissed it back to life again.  But now, I need a surge protector, a permanent guardian for this temperamental (and frankly, a bit hysterical) piece of machinery.

Now, granted, I’ve been thinking about this piece during the week, so things Neptunian have been dominating my consciousness.  Little did I realize how much influence it had.  I know that Neptune and I are old (very old) friends, but I still wasn’t prepared for the length of his reach.  When my surge protector arrived I found out that this was no ordinary surge protector.  In big letters on the box it said, “This Surge Protector Will Sacrifice Itself For The Sake Of The Appliance.”  I managed to order a Neptunian surge protector.  I didn’t know they made those.

Ah, me.

You may laugh, but this is how Neptune works, when he gets going.  He seeps into everything.  He can be as welcome as that beautiful old Wisteria that grows from the neighbor’s garden and creeps its way along your roof and into your heart, or it can be as insidious and invidious as the black mold rotting out the dark corners of your basement. Neptune, when inspired, can overtake anything– even a life.  Where Neptune is, we can lose not only our defenses, but our common sense, and that is when he becomes dangerous.  Neptune in action is a cautionary tale at the best of times.  He seduces us, and what he seduces us towards can be dangerous in the extreme.  Neptune is not only out to remove our lesser awareness, like Uranus, or strip us down to our soul’s growth, like Pluto.  Neptune is here to destroy the “I.”

We hear a lot about the negative affects of Neptune.   Under Neptune, we experience confusion and lack of direction at best.  There is dissolution, illusion, loss of identity and direction, self-medication of all kinds, the need to evade and escape.  If we don’t seek some form of escape, we arrive at Neptune’s other option: sacrifice. We sacrifice ourselves, give ourselves over willingly to whatever is channeling our Neptunian urgings.  When we don’t capture this embodiment of perfection, when we can’t seduce it, we become desperate. We bargain with the universe.  We pray.  We believe that if we keep giving, if we surrender our unique gifts, offer our all-encompassing love, we will be repaid with the love we deserve.  This is the first lie of Neptune, that somehow sacrificing ourselves without discrimination earns us a receipt, a coupon we can redeem either here or in the afterlife, for love.  If a big man with a curly white beard made of seafoam, carrying a trident, comes up to you and offers you this coupon, tell him to take a long walk off a short pier back to where he belongs.  It’s a fake.

Like Uranus and Pluto, Neptune takes something away from us before he replaces it–but no, that’s not quite right.  There is loss where the natal position of Neptune is concerned, but it isn’t the traumatic and sudden removal of Uranus, or the long and hungry struggle and tearing that is Pluto’s style.  Neptune often gives us an early taste of what is possible, the deep and silent communion with it,  the mind and soul-fulfilling joy of it, and then spirits it away, leaving the illusion of it dangling just out of our reach, forever lost, forever longing for the peace of that connection again, the strength of that fulfillment.  It gives us brief seconds of what could be, and then, in our darkest moments, tells us that we will never know the like of that again.  Not here.  Not in this life. Neptune can be more brutal than Pluto, more ruthless than Uranus, and tops them both by never allowing us to let go.  Where Neptune is concerned we cannot be healed, we must be transformed.

Neptune can have his shocking side, too.  He has more than one trick in his pocket, more than one weapon in his arsenal.  As if the longing and the sacrifice weren’t enough, he will go out of his way to destroy our illusions, and choose the most cruel way possible.  One of the functions of Neptune is to shatter our naivete.  Pisces is the sign of the fish swimming in opposing directions–the sign of polarity itself.  Often, with Pisces, you have extremes and absolutes.  Unfortunately, and sadly, we can experience the slaughter of innocence in Neptune’s realm–our happy bubbles get burst one by one, until there are no bubbles left and we are left clawing for meaning at the bottom of our emptiness.  Neptune can churn up some very black storms–where the lack of boundaries and grounding leads to madness and extreme behaviour, Neptune’s domain can turn tragic.

Now, you may wonder, “What has all this got to do with Venus?”  Venus is all about having, and Neptune is the ultimate in ‘have not.’

Something very interesting happens when we get to the bottom of our emptiness.  We suddenly realize it isn’t emptiness.  We were just looking at it the wrong way.  We come face to face with The All.

It has been called “divine discontent,” this longing of Neptune’s.  And the truth is that divine is the keyword here, not the discontent.  Neptune’s sacrifices, whether accidental or deliberate or any combination of the two, have a goal, a purpose.  Neptune wants you to get out of your own way, out of your little life, so that you know what it’s like to live life as a vehicle for “the All.” Neptune, ultimately, wants you to connect–and it wants you to connect with something which may have only vaguely whispered to you before this, perhaps in a song, or a dream. Neptune wants you to open your heart in the most vast way possible.  As Jacques Brel wrote in “Les Coeurs Tendres”:

Y en a qui ont le cœur si vaste                                                            There are those with hearts so vast
Qu’ils sont toujours en voyage                                                           They are always on a voyage.
Y en a qui ont le cœur trop vaste                                                       There are those with hearts too vast
Pour se priver de mirages*                                                                 To do without mirages.

I love those last lines, because they embody the essence of the way Neptune guides us to “The All.”  The heart is opened and set on a journey to the unknown, with only our most delicate whispers and visions as a guide.

When Neptune is alive in the chart, we are on an endless journey that allows us to experience what is eternal and all-encompassing.  It allows us to experience the fact that there is no such thing as separation, that our consciousness is merely a reflection of the greater consciousness.  We contain The All and are contained by it.  It lives within us and we within it. 

When we have Neptune heavily emphasized in the chart, we learn that we must get beyond our ego desires and connect with whatever path our soul has chosen.  We sacrifice the lesser for the greater knowing that we will be rewarded with a level of understanding that our ego-driven selves could not have known about.  We begin to understand that all of our previous deprivations had to do with getting these lesser desires out of the way, so that we could be initiated into the deeper and higher levels of love.  And at that level, we begin to realize something very important.  That love isn’t an emotion, or an experience, or a state of being.  Love is a power.  A connecting power.  It’s the ultimate creative force.

Think about it.  Whatever we pay attention to in our lives, whatever we care about, grows in our consciousness.  What our consciousness registers gets fed back to us in our lives.  It may not be perfect, it will arrive in whatever warped fashion our ego has formatted for it, but the more honest and pure the love, the more honest the response from The All.  Nothing would be accomplished, nothing created, if it weren’t for love.  To create something, we must first envision it, and the visionary principle belongs to Neptune and its connecting power. What we do with it afterwards belongs not to Neptune, but to Venus.

Esoteric astrologers understand the power of Venus.  In esoteric astrology, the ruler of Gemini is not Mercury, but Venus.  Venus draws, Venus seduces, Venus magnetizes, Venus attracts.  Venus is the connector extraordinaire. Venus ultimately is ego-centric, but this is no bad thing.  We need Venus in order to stay strong in the material world.  To negotiate this world successfully, we must maintain a grounding in the world, and understand what our value is, and where we belong.  We all know that it’s impossible to attract someone, or some thing,  if you don’t feel you deserve it, deep down.  That’s Venus’s job–to connect us with the joys and the pleasures and the rewards of life and cause us to appreciate our material existence.  Venus, is, ultimately, about our value system–what is it we cherish and how do we care for it?

The goal of Neptune is not to replace Venus’s value-system with its own, but to find a balance between our spiritual life and our material one.  Ultimately, we need to understand that there is no boundary between the spiritual and the material worlds, they are one and the same.  When Neptune drives us to surrender and to sacrifice, it’s in the cause of understanding that a greater love will take the place of a lesser one.  We will feel that we have a place in the world, because we are the world. Neptune experiences, if we are properly aware and we get past the fog and the confusion, allow us to open the doors of our mundane existence and let in the transcendent and the eternal.  Venus still acts as an attracting and connecting principle, but its range is now limitless.  We no longer need to own, because we have what we need within us at all times. 

We know that Venus has been elevated and strengthened by Neptune when her compassion has been aroused and she understands that compassion is not enough.  Then Venus gets to work putting her considerable forming abilities to work, finally, as we say, ‘walking her talk.’  Venus, as an inner planet, has considerable influence in the material world.  Elevated and empowered by Neptunian vision, connection and awareness, there are no limits to what she can be inspired to achieve.

 If you’d like to hear Brel sing “Les Coeurs Tendres” to a background of photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, look here.

But if you’re suffering a Neptunian deluge and you need deliverance and/or transcendence, I suggest you watch this video of Brel singing his best known song, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”) live.  It’s almost brutal in its intimacy.

Les Coeurs Tendres copyright c Jacques Brel, Editions Pouchenel.  Translation mine.


See also:  Uranus and the Path of Mind, Pluto and the Path of Right Action


 The Music of the Spheres:  An Introduction





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