Neptune was officially discovered on September 23rd, 1846 by French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier. Unlike Uranus’ discovery which was accidental, Neptune was first observed in 1795 but mistaken for a fixed star. Hence, its “real” discovery occurred under Neptune’s transit through Aquarius at 25 degrees in exact conjunction with Saturn. Events at the time a planet is discovered offer astrologers further clues to the meaning of a new planet. When Neptune was founded there was a growing interest in the occult, spiritualism, and the afterlife. The Romantic Movement had powerfully affected European art, literature, and culture; providing us with some clues to Neptune’s otherworldly, idealistic and mystic nature.
In Roman Mythology, Neptune is ruled by the Greek god Poseidon, the ruler of the sea and brother of Zeus (Jupiter). In modern astrology, Neptune rules Pisces, the third sign of the watery trigon, and water is one of the primary symbols of the world of feeling. Many modern astrologers still continue to use the old rulership of Jupiter, and there is still a continued relationship between Jupiter and Neptune. The ocean has always been a central image for the zodiacal sign of Pisces, and the God of the watery depths, thus, Neptune is a suitable ruler. Neptune has been named, the higher octave of Venus, whereby personal love is transformed into universal love, and represents our urge for unconditional love, to love selflessly, and feel a sense of unity with all living creatures. Neptune symbolizes the highest and most exalted expression of love and compassion which human beings are capable of expressing.
Neptune rules a realm where everything merges, blends and dissolves, and there appears to be a definite link between the Ocean as a prolific symbol of the unconscious, representing the deepest emotional level of the individual and our relationship with Neptune. The feeling nature of any individual holds a powerful influence, and there is much that goes on within a human being of which they remain unaware, and the experiences that an individual requires are created by his own inner self. As Jung pointed out, the ocean has always symbolized the group mind, or in his language, the collective unconscious. Jung posited that there is another layer of the unconscious that is shared by all human beings. The encounter with the sea is attuning us to the undercurrents or collective moods. Neptune’s sea life captures us through the world of fashion, music, film, images, and emotions.
Three quarters of the earth’s surface is submerged in water. This should give you some idea of how vast your psychic life is. When you think of all the sea creatures that scientists are still discovering- the giant squids (long thought extinct), resurfaced alive and well-then you’ll begin to grasp how mysterious your unconscious truly is. People often think of the unconscious in terms of feelings, dreams and memories. But that would be like equating the ocean with what we see on the seashore. The unconscious, like the ocean, slides out past the shoals and rocks and down into a murky realm that has nothing to do with the world we live in. Your inner life is a barely tapped resource. By Christopher Renstrom, Ruling Planets
One of the most difficult things about facing Neptune transits is that it becomes much more difficult to contain what is beneath the water. Neptune’s waters stimulate our imagination, psychic experiences, artistic inspiration, and mystical tendencies. Neptune transports us to a realm beyond the ordinary, and the dream is always preferable to life in the real world. The oceanic pull is very seductive for many Neptunian types, and in a great many cases, seeking solace in a bottle, finding the perfect relationship, or even finding an outlet for the urgent need to express creativity, unconsciously draws one to situations symbolizing the completion of all emotional strivings – unity with life itself.
Neptune is associated with death by drowning, and this can equally occur through dependent relationships as much as a reliance on drugs and alcohol. Neptune represents our refusal to face life and indicates deep apathy, and resistance to the challenges of isolation, loneliness, and self-sufficiency (Saturn). The function of Neptune is to dissolve our ego’s boundaries, and it embodies the urge to go beyond our limitations. The watery god has no time for boundaries because such things separate and confine while Neptune’s desire is to be at one with everything. The ability to discern and appreciate subtly is one of the main gifts of Neptune. Those whose charts are touched by this planet are often very creative and artistic; for the artist is usually someone with a heightened perception of feeling, color or sound. Neptune encourages us to reach out into a magical, indefinable world, bringing inspiration to the poet, artist or musician. Under Neptune transits, our sensitivity and perceptions are heightened, taking us into the world of fantasy and make-believe, and this is when we enter a kind of dreamlike reality.
It takes 165 years for Neptune to cycle through the zodiac, and it takes about 14 years to travel through each zodiac sign. In the midst of a difficult Neptune transit, we may experience hypersensitivity, and difficulty in adjusting to the demands of the everyday world, vagueness, and illusion. If there is one thing that Neptune can’t stand, it’s a dreary, meaningless and mundane reality. If we find ourselves in this discontented place we feel a desperate urge to escape from the world and are filled up with dreams, longings, and yearnings that need to be fulfilled.
Neptune is the ruler of addiction in the chart, and there are all types of addiction from drug and alcohol abuse, sex, gambling, work, internet use, compulsive eating. Most of us have experienced some kind of compulsion in our life, and everybody seems to be seeking some form of Neptune. Neptune in the horoscope is often symbolic of the place where we ‘drown’ on one level or another. Sometimes the reality of our life becomes unbearable and we have nowhere else to turn. We shut the world out. We blindly follow that which we think we need. The dependent type of behaviors associated with addictive tendencies belongs to the planet’s basic keywords: escapism, deception, altered sense of reality, and the ability to disappear into a different world altogether. Neptune is a planet that can slip into uncharted depths, and it’s also the planet of disintegration. When the going gets tough, Neptune is the first of the planets to look for a way out and provides us with a means of escape.
The beautiful watercolors of Neptune can make everyday life seem drab, colorless and unappealing. The disillusionment of Neptune, so often discussed in relation to this nebulous planet, is really all about mourning the loss of our core illusions, and if we had only looked more honestly at our lives, we may have seen it coming. Yet, it’s difficult to see anything clearly under these transits, and even if we are normally very pragmatic and down to earth, we will still find it difficult grounding ourselves when under the influence of Neptune. Problematic Neptune transits may indicate that we are caught in a net of material problems, illness, and victimization, suffering, and self-sabotage. Neptune transits signify our greatest years of indecision, representing the urge to move beyond the physical world and may distort our hold on the real world. We lose a sense of who we are, life is shrouded in a fog, and we fear such a breakdown or dissolution of the personality because we are not in control.
Neptune also indicates a time when we are more prone to deception; it has a general tendency to make things appear other than they are, so there is a kind of temporary blindness. The influence is erosive and dissipative, breaking down boundaries not only between ourselves and the world but between aspects of our own nature. Even the most rational of individuals will find their perceptions of reality seriously challenged. A majority of people are not subsumed by a Neptune transit or slip into insanity but are plunged into their deepest feelings and longings, and the first transit of Neptune to our birth planet begins to loosen our grip on reality.