Holymotherofgod posted a comment asking about the Neptune retrograde which occurred at the time Mercury went retrograde on 26th May. At the time, I didn’t have the time to address the subject but it has been stewing in my unconscious (Neptune) for the past week. Several news events have triggered some thoughts (Mercury). But first, some notes about Neptune.
Following Pluto’s demotion from planetary status, Neptune is currently the outermost planet of our solar system. In its positive manifestation, Neptune is the planet of ideals, dreams, inspiration, compassion (see Susan Miller’s delineation); in its negative manifestation, the same qualities can turn to delusion, vagueness, indecision, and deception. Yet, the hard-to-grasp qualities of Neptune, maybe because it is also rules the unconscious, are such that even when the planet is going direct, so much of its energy can seem to tip towards the negative (see rant by Eric Francis) — yet another example of dissolving boundaries, perhaps.
Neptune ingressed Aquarius in January 1998, and will stay until February 2012. In that period, it retrogrades for approximately a five-month period each year, that is, approximately 43% of the time. Retrograde periods, as I’ve argued for Mercury retrogrades, are times of reflection and reassessment in word and deed. Neptune retrogrades, assisted by their longer periods, may be times during when, as Jacob Schwartz puts it, ‘we can give spirituality another go, making an effort to connect with a transcendent side of ourselves devoid of judgment and criticism, fully accepting every experience, however frustrating and painful, to be unfolding in a way not bound by limited labels of ethics or morality’. At the same time, it is also necessary to ‘be careful with the side effects of medications and alcohol as the need for fantasy and escapes are even greater then. It’s better to return to artistic expressions and talents previously neglected’.
As a psychological archetype, Arthur Dione, in his book on Jungian Birth Charts (1988), offers an additional take on Neptune that goes beyond simply attributing to it a dreaminess and illusiveness of purpose. Neptune’s dream-like quality (and thus, also its potential for self-deception) is due to its ability ‘to soak up the prevailing influences around when there are strong energies from others, drawing the atmosphere of the environment into itself, so it represents that within us that connects us to the infinite, the unconscious depths from where we sprang’ (66, emphasis mine). In this sense, Neptune’s transits may point (if we tune in to it) to the zeitgeist of the times:
I’ve suggested in quite a few articles that Neptune in Aquarius is the queen bee of the particular madness of our society right now. Aquarius represents many people, communities and ideologies shared by groups. When we look back (or if we look in the right mirror now) we’ll see the extent of delusion that we live with as a society; a time of mass self-deception so vast and oceanic that we may fear that to begin having integrity would be like trying to bail out the entire sea with a tea cup.
I guess you need to start somewhere, and the retrograde to me is like a crosscurrent in the larger current of Neptune in Aquarius beliefs. There is an option; one need not experience it alone. There’s a subculture we can access, a group that even those who are out of sync with the larger culture can tap into, or be part of the stream of. (Eric Francis, The Lighter Side of Neptune, 30 June 2006)
Three Neptunian (rx) moments
The following are three random news events that stuck out for me in the past few days, that appear to capture the current climate of madness we seem to be wading in, especially so in the wake of Pluto’s ‘last gasp’ in Sagittarius before leaving for another 200 years or so.
1. Tony Baloney
The first is former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s inauguration of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation aimed to ‘to promote faith as a force for good, improve awareness between religions and tackle poverty and war’. Is this one of Mercury’s trickster jokes? (see editorial written close to Neptune’s station rx in 2007). We even have the perfect soundbite:
Idealism becomes the new realism.
The extent to which this man’s self-deception (Neptune) is continually foisted on the world (Aquarius) can be read in any number of political blogs. Feels like an example of Pluto’s last gasp (transformation + power) in Sagittarius (religion)? However, given that the announcement is made during Mercury retrograde, the story doesn’t yet have a happy ending. My eye (and ear) on the future: Mercury retrogrades in Libra (justice) next, let’s see what that throws up.
2. Joan’s Ark
The second is the amendment, on 26th May 2008 (the day of the station retrogrades) of the Fraudulent Mediums Act in UK Law, which essentially opens any occult practitioner to criminal prosecution should their ‘predictions’ not come to pass. In this group includes astrologers, tarot readers, psychics and other spiritualist practitioners who charge for their services. The justification for the law is made under the ‘consumer rights’ banner. Whilst I am surely not advocating false prophets and fake mediums (all Neptune), this latter-day witch-hunt signals a spiritual reassessment (Neptune rx) of a very different kind; one again pit against normative religious expression — Pluto’s last gasp (obsession) yet again as it retrogrades from Capricorn (institutions) to Sagittarius (religious/spiritual expression).
A distinction needs to be made between fraudulent practices (with the intention to deceive) within spiritualism and spiritualism as a fraudulent practice (which is generally accepted to be the case). As one commentator to this article put it, and I paraphrase: if that is the case, we would need to ask churches to prove the existence of God before it can legally solicit donations from the congregation. And what about other professional services whose achievements with clients cannot always be quantifiably determined — therapists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians (see above)?!
3. Drawing the line
The third is the pronouncement of another UK law that criminalises anyone in possession of drawings or computer-generated images of ‘child sex abuse’. Child sex abuse is a horrific crime, and by all means prosecute those who perpetrate it, distribute and consume images of it. But to put a person behind bars for possession of a drawing indicates a shift in the state’s actions from protecting the child (depicted in photographs, for example), to policing one’s fantasies (Neptune’s domain). The state is getting into our heads and ring-fencing our thoughts more so than ever, and it is disturbing that we seem too narcotised (more Neptune) to react.
The Neptune station rx of 26th May was also in close conjunction with retrograding Chiron (healing awareness) and the North Node (soul messenger). If there are lessons to be learned from these three simple incidents, it is that if we cannot find a way to dispel the fog, we need to sound the fog horn loud and clear to keep our navigation straight and true. Retrograding Mercury can make sure we stop and pay attention.