The Symbology Of The Outer Planets: Neptune

Written by Joe. G. Santos

Neptune is a planet shrouded in mystery, and that is just what it symbolizes. The planetary equivalent of the God of the Oceans dwells in the unseen realm and urges the world to do the same. To Neptune, nothing is impossible, and for that reason, through Neptune's cycles, we learn how to dream and imagine a more enjoyable and exciting world of possibility. Still, there is a heavy sense of duality within it, as the world of fantasy is the ideal environment for tricks and illusions to unfold. In that sense, Neptune trains us to discern real from the illusions of life in 3D. On its negative polarity, in the pursuit of an ideal, Neptune can manifest harmful coping mechanisms, escapism, and abuse of alternate mental states. That being said, it is crucial to learn how to work with these planetary energies properly to balance our inner Neptunes masterfully.

The Material Perspective

As we have explored in the previous article of this series, "The Symbology of The Outer Planets: Pluto," observing the planet's physical characteristics can give us insight into its astrological signification. Even though we still need much more research to get close and intimate with Neptune's physical attributes, what we know is enough to provide us with the fundamental knowledge required for the development of a symbolic rationale. 

Neptune was first discovered on September 23, 1846, while the planet was transiting Aquarius in conjunction with Saturn. It was the first planet found through a series of calculations instead of observation. After discovering Uranus, its distinctive characteristics made scientists wonder if there was another giant sister planet influencing Uranus' orbit. After a lot of number crunching, they came up with a possible trajectory for Neptune, and soon after, it was discovered. Since Neptune became public, the icy giant completed its first lap around the Sun in 2011.

Neptune is both the windiest and densest planet of the outer planets. Despite being so far from the Sun, 80% of its structure comprises a warm mixture of water, methane, and ammonia. Traveling down from its atmosphere to its core makes a slow gradient of gases and vapor that gets denser exponentially to the point gases are liquified. Air and water coexist in this gradient, creating an effect unknown here on Earth. In this chemical soup, some of the ingredients for life as we know it are present. While the planet's average temperature is around -200 degrees Celsius (-392 Fahrenheit), the high pressure that keeps the planet together keeps these chemical oceans warm enough that the possibility of alien life is not entirely discarded.

Additionally, as mentioned in this series's previous article, both Pluto's and Neptune's orbit have a small overlap. Pluto crosses Neptune's path for 20 years, but the planets are never at the same point in orbit, making a collision virtually impossible. The last time this happened was in 1999, and it will not happen again until 2245.

The Mythology

The Mythology of Neptune is one that gets complicated the more you get into it. At the surface level, Neptune is the Roman correspondent of the Greek Poseidon. Since we have already covered the origin story of the three Olympian brothers in the previous article (Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon), we will not repeat it here. Though, if you are eager to get a complete understanding of the God of the Ocean's tale, backtrack to the Pluto section of this series, as well as the article "What Can We Learn From Saturn?" where we cover the story of Kronos, the patriarch of the Olympians.

Previous articles:

The Symbology Of The Outer Planets: Pluto

The Symbology Of The Outer Planets: A Look Into The Unseen Self

In Liz Greene's book "Neptune and the Quest for Redemption," she explores the Poseidon myth and unravels how the Oceans' ruler gained his powers. Before the association with the ocean, Poseidon was worshipped as a God of Fertility, and much like Hades (Pluto), he was seen as an alternate manifestation of Zeus (Jupiter). When we consider this, we see an echo of the trinities present in many other cultures (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). Greene explains that the god had not gained rulership over the waters until Poseidon's mythical marriage with one of the many sea-goddesses, Amphitrite. Over time these two entities were assigned dual rulership of the oceans, leaving Poseidon as both the God of Fertility and the Seas. 

Though Amphitrite was Poseidon's ticket to oceanic glory, the seas had a complex hierarchy of rulers before that. The sea goddess is one of 50 nymphs called Nereids, who were the nymph Doris's offspring with the primordial Nereus (who in many ways was the ocean himself). The Nereids' primary role was to help sailors cross the oceans safely whenever challenged with storms and other oceanic catastrophes. When we analyze the Nereids' role closely, we begin to understand what Neptune's astrological goal is. The water in many cultures symbolizes our emotions and our psyche. Therefore, Neptune's idealism is a consequence of the planet's eagerness to calm our inner storms so that we can cross to the other side of our suffering safely. The Nereids also had an artistic spirit and were often seen dancing along islands' shores, illustrating the relationship between the planet and the arts. However, this artistic nature is much different from Aphrodite's (Venus) since the water element has a spiritual inclination instead of the carnal beauty often linked to the goddess. 

Moreover, Poseidon's role as the God of Fertility is also essential to note. As we will investigate later in this article, Neptune is also related to the Kether sphere in the Tree of Life. This is the singular point where all creation comes from, and therefore fertility is almost synonymous with the sphere. Most impressive about this link is that Poseidon was the father of many creatures, including humans, gods, and beasts. This points at the creativity that is often synonymous with Neptune. There is nothing that the planet cannot create as it travels through the zodiac in a perpetual state of creative ecstasy. Much like the humans on Earth, Neptune's creativity is its only limit, and his inspiration is boundless.

The Astrology

Keywords: Fantasy, illusions, ideals

Rulership/Affinity: Pisces

Element: Ether

Planetary Quality: Wet, gaseous

Neptunian Cycle: 165 years

Cycle Phases: 13 + ¾ years per sign 

Overview

Neptune, like the other outer planets, rules large groups and long periods of time. Mundane astrology links Neptune to the state of the collective's philosophies and artistic pursuits. How we entertain and distract ourselves is also highly influenced by Neptunian transits through the signs. Hard aspects (conjunctions, oppositions, and squares) tend to make for drastic changes in religion, media, and the world's population's overall mental health. In natal astrology, the planet also colors whatever area it appears on a birth chart with a sense of unrealistic utopianism. Contrasting the visible worlds, Neptune does not seem to have a considerable role in crafting people's personalities. Usually, in a natal chart, the water giant points at the topics we are likely to be delusional about, but it also shows where our psychic senses manifest the strongest. The exception to this rule is when Neptune aspects any personal planets. In which case, some of the Neptunian significations are imported onto the other planet. People with strong Neptunian influences tend to be daydreamers, idealists, and spiritual leaders.

Bear in mind the descriptions below are not of the personality traits of these Neptune placements. Read these as abstract descriptions of the planet's qualities while it is transiting through each sign. Neptune may influence our personalities depending on where and how it is placed and conditioned in the chart. Yet, the inner planets (Sun through Saturn) as they interact with Neptune's visionary archetype will be the ones bearing greater responsibility in that regard.

The Neptunian Cycle

Neptune in Aries

Neptune in Aries views his ideologies as superior. In this fire sign, the planet displays martian qualities as it strives to indoctrinate all who oppose his philosophies. In many ways, he symbolizes a religious fanatic. Even if his intentions are righteous at its core, as he believes he holds the ultimate truth, the quest to homogenize all belief systems end up being detrimental to his peers' development. Diversity and open-mindedness are critical to the evolutionary process, and his misguided attempts to save the world backfire. On a positive note, he is sure of himself, and the foundation of his beliefs is unshakable. 

Keywords: Self-idealization, indoctrination, certainty

Notable Historical Figures: Edith Wilson (U.S. First Lady), Connie Mack (Baseball Manager), Rudyard Kipling (Writer)

Most Recent Era: 1862-1875

While Neptune was transiting through Aries, extremist groups were on the rise. This era birthed the radical Christian denomination, the 7th Day Adventists, and a general public acceptance of groups like the KKK. On a positive note, this was also the era where the first American woman (Susan B. Anthony) was allowed to vote, setting the ground for an age of further development for feminist movements to rise in the coming years.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • The birth of the Impressionism artistic movement

Neptune in Taurus

Neptune in Taurus becomes a skeptic. There is no faith in theories, and even the words of experienced individuals bear no meaning to him. He must see it to believe it, and no one in the world can change his stance in that regard. He glorifies the physical plane and experience, and anything outside of that is nonsensical unless he is interested in looking into it himself. Since Venus rules this sign, his love of art is elevated. However, he finds beauty only in the simplicity of day-to-day experiences. His biggest challenge is having to broaden his horizons, but he is content in not having to deal with complicated matters.

Keywords: Skepticism, simple lifestyles, close-minded

Notable Historical Figures: Alexander Flemming (Physician), Gabrielle Renard (French Model), James Joyce (Irish Writer)

Most Recent Era: 1876-1889

Neptune in Taurus birthed the Nieztche's philosophical idea of Perspectivism, which mainly focuses on the relativity of reality itself. Through these lenses, tangible and real is dictated solely by each individual's experience, allowing multiple truths to coexist.

Neptune in Gemini

Neptune in Gemini is obsessed with knowledge. Mundane life is grossly disinteresting to him. Here Neptune's concern is what he does not yet know, and he strives to hoard as much information as possible. Any uncharted territory is idealized, and fear of the unknown is simply not present. This can make the God of the Oceans get into a lot of trouble. Though he can be overly excited and fall for the trappings of his curiosity, his willingness to make mistakes is his saving grace. Even errors are seen as a learning opportunity, but as a consequence of that, he never knows when to stop acting recklessly.

Keywords: Mind over matter, controversy, exploration

Notable Historical Figures: Otto Dix (German Painter), Vivian de Sola Pinto (British Poet), Galileo (Scientist) 

Most Recent Era: 1890-1902

This Neptunian era was marked by an increasing debate on alcohol's social role as prohibition laws were a focal point of political and religious discussions. The exploration of radioactive technology also increased at an alarming rate, which would open the way for nuclear weapons manifestation in the coming century. Still, it also led to the discovery of technologies indispensable to modern medicine such as X-rays and chemotherapy.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • The birth of Ragtime

Neptune in Cancer

Neptune in Cancer is hugely connected to his intuition. Here he is more concerned with expressing himself than anything. Instability is an obstacle as the planet tends to neglect the boundaries of physical reality. In this lunar sign, he idealizes all emotions, and both joy and pain inspire him alike. For that reason, we can compare him to a starving artist as the ability to transmute pain into beauty is his highest blessing. There is also a possibility of putting his peers on a pedestal at the cost of his gratification.

Keywords: Martyrdom, dark beauty, heightened intuition

Notable Historical Figures: Yehudi Menuhin (American Violinist), Graham Greene (British Writer), Joan Crawford (American Actress)

Most Recent Era: 1903-1915

This Neptunian era was quite a big deal for the arts. Pablo Picasso's Demoiselle de Mignon was first publicized, and many art historians ascribe the inception of Western Modern abstract art to this one painting. Though not immediately accepted by the art scholars of the era, movements such as Cubism and Fauvism have now become a fine arts standard. Another significant development for the artistic world was the invention of the first color camera, which still hugely influences how we think of the past, especially times preceding this technology. 

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • American Liturgical Movement

Neptune in Leo

Neptune in Leo is self-focused, but not necessarily selfish. He idealizes the self but also believes everyone should do the same. Here he becomes obsessed with uncovering every single detail of his psyche. This manifestation venerates self-discovery and thinks there is no higher pursuit than striving to embody the inner royal existent with all of creation. Still, as he is fixated on helping himself, he forgets that not everybody has the same mindset, and in turn, he may overlook those who need help beyond mere motivation.

Keywords: Sovereignty, self-exploration, self-serving

Notable Historical Figures: Marie Antoinette (French Queen), Betty Friedman (American Writer), Wolfgang Mozart (Austrian Composer)

Most Recent Era: 1916-1929

During this era, self-exploration and exaltation were on the rise. With Jazz's inception, a musical modality entirely focused on the individuals' musical prowess pushed both artists and listeners to expose their raw selves to the world, especially considering that the genre was quite wild and rebellious the era. In the realm of Visual Arts, Surrealism was beginning to gain popularity as well. This artistic movement focused mainly on the exploration of one's subconscious and identity through symbols and abstractions. 

Other Noteworthy events:

  • First talking movie, "Lights of New York"
  • Bauhaus built in Germany

Neptune in Virgo

When Neptune is in Virgo, his pursuit of an ideal goes rampant. There is a strong sense of heroism and attempting to be the world's savior. However, as Virgo is the most detail-oriented sign, cognitive dissonance makes for a turbulent relationship since Neptune's world is ethereal, grandiose, and in many aspects devoid of details. Here Neptune's biggest challenge is facing the fact that perfection in the physical world is nothing like the dream world's magnificence.

Keywords: Mental overload, unrealistic expectations, dissonance

Notable Historical Figures: Helene Cixous (French Feminist), Paul McCartney (Musician), Bruno Huber (Astrologer)

Most Recent Era: 1930-1942

This era was characterized by World War 2, and consequently, the Hero archetype was a big part of this decade. Here Superman and Batman, the two most famous superheroes worldwide, are first conceptualized. The pursuit of order and perfection was also quite evident in the decade's popular art through the intricate and precise patterning of the Art Deco aesthetic.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • The radio becomes one of the biggest platforms for media distribution.

Neptune in Libra

Neptune in Libra has to find common ground between his dreams and those of others. Here the planet idealizes other people's beliefs, and in the pursuit of balance, it may even adopt harmful ideologies as his own to please those he glorifies. Here we see Venus' influence over the water giant as the great unifier. Though these energies are quite sympathetic with Neptune —who dwells in the realm of singularity— learning how to separate his goals from the collective's goals is his biggest challenge.

Keywords: Sheep and parrot-like behavior, inferiority complex, servitude

Notable Historical Figures: Kevin Costner (American Actor), Cindy Sherman (American Photographer), Rick Merlin Levine (Astrologer)

Most Recent Era: 1943-1955

This Libra phase of the Neptunian cycle was when the public had to deal with the aftermath of the World War and the dawn of the Cold War. The general public of countries began to antagonize each other as much of the reasoning behind such battles was obscured by each government. Paradoxically, dealing with such collective torment cultivated a strong sense of patriotism, consequently bringing local communities closer to each other.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • The first photograph of Earth from outer space

Neptune in Scorpio

Neptune in Scorpio has an intellectual and tactical nature to him. There are many similarities between the planet and this sign. Both of them have cold and wet characteristics that make for quite an interesting combination. Here the god of the oceans' psychic abilities are used as a defensive weapon against those who threaten to encumber his dreams. Since Mars is the ruler of Scorpio, the planet's influence certainly shines as the infinite oceans in Neptune's control can carve out his environment and mold it to his will. There's almost a punk aesthetic to the way he carries out his dreams and illusions.

Keywords: Weaponized imagination, strategizing, deep thinking

Notable Historical Figures: Bill Ackman (American Investor), Tim Lott (British Author), Cynthia Rothschild (Gay-Rights Activist)

Most Recent Era: 1956-1969

Neptune's rebellious dreams for this era were crystal clear during this decade. Both the Civil Rights Movement, which aimed to gain social, political, and economic fundamental rights for African Americans, and the psychedelic revolution were happening simultaneously. The fight against systematic oppression was present in every aspect of popular culture.

Other Noteworthy Events:

  • The Golden Age of Porn

Neptune in Sagittarius

Neptune in Sagittarius is sometimes delusional, but it almost always has good intentions at heart. Here the planet believes himself to be highly enlightened and that his views are the one which will save the world. Whether he's wrong or right is out of the question, but in his mind, he is so confident of this messiah-like stature that he carries himself out almost like Christ himself. He sure is divine, but perhaps his ego can occasionally become overinflated in typical Jupiterian fashion. He makes a good king, but a naive one at that.

Keywords: Boastfulness, benevolence, naivety

Notable Historical Figures: Yao Ming (Chinese Basketball Player), Poppy King (Australian Entrepreneur), Melanie Brown (British Singer)

Most Recent Era: 1970-1983

The push to manifest an ideal world increased exponentially during the 70s. This is a decade where we see the first glimpses of the New Age movement and Environmentalism. Owning your own philosophy and stepping out of organized religious institutions became much more acceptable in developed countries. Additionally, this is also where we see the creation of fabricated worlds through the broad commercialization and availability of video games.

Neptune in Capricorn

Neptune's imagination is wholly distorted in Capricorn, and in many cases, it causes illusions that imprison the planet. Capricorn being both an Earth sign and Saturn ruled brings the fantastical and imaginary to the real world. With no mind-realm to escape to when the tangible reality breaks apart as it does, escapism and distractions are the only way to ameliorate the pain that only exists in the 3D. On a positive note, when the tangible reality is subjectively pleasant, everything possible in the imaginary is made palpable in the 3D.

Keywords: Industriousness, escapism, real illusions

Notable Historical Figures: Herve (French Actor), Emile Ollivier (French Statesman), Pierre Alexis (French Writer)

Most Recent Era: 1984-1997

This decade was responsible for much of the modern ideas of consumerism we are so familiar with today. With cable television, VHS, and video games becoming massively available and affordable in the west, a sense of worth based on your possessions is born.

Neptune in Aquarius

Neptune in Aquarius uses his imagination and wonder as a means of problem-solving. Under Saturnian rules, even the delusional and aloof Neptune is put to work. This sign's influence on Neptune has many similarities with Capricorn's. Yet, since Aquarius is an air sign, Neptune gets to recreate his idealized world, albeit in a much more structured and binary manner as Saturn would see fit. 

Keywords: Creative intellect, artificiality, realistic illusions

Notable Historical Figures: Henri Rousseau (French Painter), Thomas Hardy (British Author), JP Morgan (American Banker)

Most Recent Era: 1998-2011

This is the most recent Neptunian era. Here we see many of the themes associated with Aquarius used as a way for Neptune to create his ideal illusory world. This was the decade where we see an increased push towards virtual realities as humanity increasingly spends more time on the internet interacting with a human-made digital realm. Many aspects of the "real world" begin to go virtual, like social interaction through Social Media, and even video games become more realistic with advancements in CGI technology.

Neptune in Pisces

After making his track around the zodiac and passing through two Saturn ruled signs in a row, Neptune finally gets a breath of fresh air. In Pisces, his dreams know no bounds, and it's perhaps the reason why some astrologers believe Neptune to be the ruler of Pisces. With Jupiter's help through the feminine sign of its domicile, Neptune is likened to a kid staying over at their grandmother's house. Nothing is ever denied to the water giant, and he rejoices in such a spiritual centered, grandiose, and imaginative sign. He the word impossible totally loses meaning.

Keywords: Childlike imagination, lack of focus, savor 

Notable Historical Figures: Paul Gaugin (French Artist), John Herbert Quick (American Author), Virginia Zucchi (Italian Dancer)

Most Recent Era: 2012-2026

This is the Neptunian age we are currently experiencing as this article is written (January 2021). We still have five years left of this phase in the Neptunian cycle to describe conclusive characteristics of the planet's role in the current age. Yet, so far, Neptune in Pisces brings the Jupiterian ideas of faith and spirituality as Neptune's priority. For this transit duration, we see a significant revival of mysticism as part of popular culture. While Neptune continues to track around this sign, we also see the legalization and decriminalization of psychoactive drugs such as magic mushrooms and cannabis in many countries.

The Natal Influence of Neptune

Neptune may not play the most significant role in shaping our personalities, but it indeed brings about noteworthy events throughout our lives. There are two main transits involving Neptune that significantly shape our soul's development on Earth: The Neptune Square and Opposition. 

The first transit, the Neptune Square, happens around the time we turn 42 years of age. This transit simply means that Neptune has moved precisely 90 degrees from the position it was in during your birth. While the exact degree mark points at the peak of this transit, you may start seeing the build-up of that situation as early as when Neptune reaches 0 degrees of the sign angular to your Natal Neptune's sign. For example, if your Natal Neptune is at 15 degrees of Taurus, the peak of the transit will be at 15 degrees Leo lasting from 9 to 12 months, but the whole 14 years of Neptune's stay in that sign colors that era of your life with similar themes, albeit not as dramatic. The same goes for the Neptune opposition, which happens at around age 84, although that period is marked by a 180-degree angle from the natal position or the next square after the first.

All major Neptune transits are characterized by a hint of uncertainty, illusions, and confusion. Since the planet also rules dreams, these are times when we look back at our highest goals and aspirations and where we are in the course of realizing them. These goals can either be achieved or begin to take a different shape at around that time. Pay close attention to the themes brought up by Neptune's sign of the decade can help you gather hints as to how these transit could affect you in the future. It is important to note that Neptune transits are extremely internal, and therefore, they focus on our spirituality and mental health.

Neptune and the Tree of Life

"The end is wedged in the beginning, and the beginning is wedged in the end."

Sefer Yetzira (1:7)

Diving deeper into these spiritual waters, we take a look at Neptune and the Kabbalah's relationship. In the Tree of Life, Neptune corresponds to Kether, the highest point in the tree. This is the singularity and the will of the Creator, God, Universe, etc. In Kether, duality is inexistent, and therefore all light and darkness are harmonized as the illusion of separation is dissolved in this ethereal fluid.

By comparing the planet and the sphere, we get a better sense of Neptune's idealism and fantastic nature. The planet's influence on the microcosm ushers humanity towards the singularity. Through the lens of Neptune, we see the thread that unites us all. The more uncomfortable manifestations of the planet's energy are a mere result of a resistance to that union. Issues such as escapism through the use of substances and other pleasures are a futile attempt to flee from what is real. Since in Neptune, all in one, no escape route leads outside of singularity. Though we may feel we are going "somewhere else," truly, we never left where we were. With that, Kether teaches us how to properly work with Neptune's energies by embodying the spirit of true surrender.

Summary

Neptune is the planet that rules dreams, aspirations, and illusions. It is where we escape when we are the most hurt, but it can also be the source of confusion and anxiety. Neptune's slow movement helps shape the overall mental state of a generation, so paying attention to his cycles gives valuable hints to where society's secrets, passions, and faith lies.

Resources

  1. https://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/astroarticles/planetssymbols_4.shtml
  2. https://trans4mind.com/personal_development/astrology/LearningAstrology/signsNeptune.htm
  3. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/neptune/in-depth/ 
  4. https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/
  5. https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question5
  6. https://www.thearda.com/timeline/browse_movements_date.asp 
  7. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Amphitrite-Greek-mythology 
  8. https://cafeastrology.com/natal/neptune-pluto-signs.html
  9. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/ 
  10. https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/21/8643#:~:text=Introduction,of%20chemicals%20to%20treat%20disease
  11. CS13 Mundane Astrology by C.C. Zain - pg 25-39
  12. Neptune and the Quest of Redemption by Liz Greene - pg 38-43
  13. A Tiny Universe by Joy Usher pg.185-241
  14. Timelines of World History by John B. Teeple

About the author: 

Jogee is a vibrant and dedicated student who is always eager to share his discoveries with the world. He’s cultivated a strong sense of respect and open-mindedness to all points of view throughout his life. His work as a research and consulting astrologer demonstrates these characteristics as he seeks to uncover all forms of truth. 

With his Sun in Cancer and Moon in Leo, he is just as aware of his own light as others’ capacity to be brilliant. His life mission is to help all those who cross his path find their sense of sovereignty and worth. According to his perspective, no one is ever wicked but misunderstood. With that understanding, he seeks to be the ears for the voices of the unheard.

He’s Brazilian-Canadian, oldest of six children, a devotee of Mercury, and always down to talk about anything.

Find more of Jogee’s work at: https://www.themercuryrising.com/ 

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