June 16 – Nov 22, 2017
Neptune turns retrograde for five months every year. Planets in retrograde are not actually spinning backwards – it is entirely an optical illusion as seen from Earth. Backwards motion appears to happen when Earth passes slower moving planets in the outer solar system. In astrology, this illusion manifests as a “backwards” functioning of the planetary roles. Click here to learn more about retrograde.
Since April 2011, Neptune has been transiting Pisces, the sign she rules. When a planet returns to its ruling sign, we say that it is “at home.” With Neptune at home, a global spiritual awakening is unfolding. However, this has also continued to manifest as a massive existential crisis.
Many trends in popular culture reflect Neptune’s current placement: rapid legalization of medical/recreational marijuana; the popularity of yoga and transcendental meditation; extra-terrestrial themes in music and pop culture; simulators and next-level gaming blurring the lines between physical and virtual reality; skyrocketing opioid addiction, and so on. The membrane between each dimension and parallel universe grows thinner each day.
Ever since Neptune returned home to Pisces in 2011, my intuition and empathy have grown exponentially more powerful. 2011 marked the beginning of my spiritual journey. Neptune is a mystic or psychic medium. Both Pisces and Neptune represent endings and return to Source. They are imaginative and highly creative. Together they rule ego-death, universal love and compassion, divine sacrifice and enlightenment.
Neptune asks us to confront our addictions. A major lesson of Neptune is understanding that our vices do not elevate us to a higher consciousness. Many fall into addiction and escapist behavior in an effort to gain greater soul awareness, although they may not realize this is why they are using. I am reminded of Coleman Bark’s introduction to a collection of poems about taverns by 13th century Turkish poet Jelaluddin Rumi:
The grapeskin of ego breaks and a pouring begins. Fermentation is one of the oldest symbols for human transformation. When grapes combine their juice and are closed up together for a time in a dark place, the results are spectacular. This is what lets two drunks meet so that they don’t know who is who. Pronouns no longer apply in the tavern’s mud-world of excited confusion and half-articulated wantings. But after some time in the tavern, a point comes, a memory of elsewhere, a longing for the source, and the drunks must set off from the tavern and return … The tavern is a kind of glorious hell that human beings enjoy and suffer and then push off from in search for truth … A breaking apart, a crying out in the street, begins in the tavern, and the human soul turns to find its way home. (The Essential Rumi, p. 1)
When Neptune turns retrograde in Pisces, she sinks below the subconscious, swirling in an underwater cove where turquoise grottos glow in iridescence, where music emanates from an ephemeral conch, where dreams are real, where fantasy rules supreme, where time and space coalesce in a giant bubble rising to the eye of eyes, bursting and sucking, a current rolling endlessly into the dark, dark night. Even if you do not have an existing problem with substance abuse, I highly recommend avoiding drugs and alcohol. Sobriety will allow you to tap into levels of consciousness otherwise unavailable, obscured by a fog of hallucinogens. Neptune can drag you down, down, down into her lair, and I promise you don’t want to go there. From Kilaya Ciriello’s “The Scorpio Ring of Fire: An Astrological Journey into the Heart of the Galactic Center”:
[T]he archetype of Pisces is the story of two fish – one swimming down to the depths and the other swimming up to the surface of an ocean … [T]he archetype of Pisces includes a simple choice to do good or bad, to move towards the light or towards the darkness … For a fish it feels the same to swim up or down and this tells us that within Pisces it is often difficult to distinguish between what is good versus what is bad. So like a fish in the ocean, when under the influence of Pisces, deciding where to go is often confusing because things appear murky, not clear or out of focus. (p. 69)
Discord scatters the fishes to the farthest starry cenote; here she rests until the waters have calmed again. Cultivate a spiritual practice. Anything you do on a daily basis that makes you feel whole and healthy is a spiritual practice, like a morning walk, an art project or a jam session. Without such practices, we are highly susceptible to Neptunian temptation: lost, void, desperate, drowning. This is a dangerous place to be. Keep your inner world burning brightly lest netherworld sea creatures wriggle their way into your dopamine receptors, whispering that they have something you’d like, just what you’ve been looking for.
This is the time of year when we are most likely to lose our grip and engage in regressive or destructive behavior. We might enter into an unhealthy relationship, for example, or take a job on blind faith. Learn as much as you can beforehand about everything and take your time. Unlike other planetary retrogrades, Neptune does not push, she pulls. Neptune muddles reality until it practically vanishes. Stand strong against impulse and seduction, my friends, because I can tell you now that if it seems too good to be true, the Queen of Illusion has something waiting for you in the chamber.
It’s not all bad though, because even if you do mistakenly swim into the belly of the whale, Neptune delivers a higher love. Look around and you will find a light, a cord of ascension. She never leaves us totally helpless.
Neptune Retrograde is an introspective and reflective period. You may struggle to express new insights gained from internal wandering. We can feel something so strongly that it radiates from our bodies, yet words cannot be found. This transit is like being woven into a cocoon. Alone but not lonely, bound up with nothing but vivid thoughts and a beating heart to keep us going, how to transmute the experience from within? Heal your wounds, let go of reveries that mumble only of what could have been. As we will be entrenched in the right brain, a surge in preternatural abilities is not uncommon. Our sensitivity will increase such that we see and feel much more than usual. Resisting outside influences may seem impossible. However, we can use this challenging time to learn how to exercise better self-control.
Give a listen to the haunting Neptune, the Mystic from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Celebrate Neptune with Pisces Yoga. I was born with Neptune Retrograde. To find your Neptune sign and whether she was direct or retrograde at the time of your birth, click here.
Mantra: I believe