Astro Journal

Neptune in Pisces: Disillusionment and Transcendence

Neptune entered Pisces in 2011 and the world has been floundering in confusion and madness since. Along with Pluto’s transit through Capricorn, this is a profoundly important time in our collective evolution. If we get this wrong, we could spin off into a pretty dire future so it’s worth taking the time to understand what’s going on.

Neptune takes 165 years to transit the whole zodiac and will be in Pisces until January 2026. Here are the full dates for Neptune in Pisces:

  • 4th April – 5th August 2011
  • 3rd February 2012 – 30th March 2025
  • 22nd October 2025 – 26th January 2026

Neptune rules Pisces so the archetype is amplified in both positive and negative ways. As always in astrology, the way it plays out depends on your attitude and willingness to take responsibility for your experience. So what does Neptune represent?

The Neptune archetype represents our collective dreams, illusions, and spiritual longing for redemption. This is the urge to merge with something greater than ourselves, whether in terms of God or God-substitute ideas, such as religion, society, politics, and even science. Almost anything can be turned into a God substitute, but they’re all ultimately illusory.

What we’re really talking about here is the original oneness of life or unity consciousness. Neptune and Pisces represent our primordial origins in the darkness of nature – the mysteries of life. So this is about facing the unknown and unknowable and recognising there are things you may never be able to explain or understand. Neptune is beyond the rational mind, beyond reason. It strips away your illusions to reveal the mystery at the heart of reality.

This merging with the mystery doesn’t have to involve transcending into a higher consciousness. It can also mean dissolving into lower levels of awareness. Dionysus is the god of mystics and murderers, after all. You can have a peak experience doing almost anything, and a violent outburst can trigger an altered state quite easily. Herein lies the problem and is why mysticism is often misunderstood and misrepresented.

Neptune appears to create confusion, but if you approach these transits the right way it’s an opportunity to develop self-knowledge and self-mastery. Neptune appears to blur the line between reality and illusion, but what it’s really doing is revealing the illusion so you can see through to the reality beyond.

Neptune reveals our delusions – collectively and as individuals. As your dreams and fantasies bump up against reality or dissolve into nothing, you can finally see what’s true and what isn’t. It reminds you that life is bigger than you, and that you need to surrender to something larger than your own ego. This can be very humbling and you may end up feeling confused and disillusioned, but it’s necessary if you want to know reality. If you try to escape a confrontation with reality and your illusions about reality at this time, things could get difficult.

The trouble is, you’re likely to want to escape during this transit. Neptune represents the longing to return to oneness to escape from the suffering and pain that comes from feeling separate from life. Neptune transits can highlight the feeling of being cast out of Eden, divine homesickness and the dark night of the soul.

It is possible to respond to this suffering in a positive way that helps to heal the split in your psyche and return you to oneness. But the usual response is escapism in all its myriad forms. Even spiritual practice can become escapist and distorted from its original meaning and function – in spiritual bypassing, for example, where you avoid painful feelings by transcending or denying them, or spiritual pride (I’m more spiritual than you!), and even spiritual greed (I want to feel bliss all the time!).

Neptunian escapism includes any kind of addiction, but especially drugs and alcohol, as well as gambling, online gaming, social media, watching Netflix for hours and losing yourself in a drama, sports obsession, unrealistic beliefs (I’m a unicorn!), working too hard, and so on. Basically anything that leads to self-destructive behaviour.

It’s not just individuals that suffer from delusions and distorted beliefs. Many of our deepest delusions come from the cultures in which we live and the institutions we associate with. Entire nations can become possessed by an idea that leads the people down a destructive road. And if you think that couldn’t happen today because we’re more rational now – we have Science! – then Neptune could be about to dissolve the ground you’re standing on.

Positive expressions of Neptune in Pisces include creative experiences such as music, art, film, and fashion. The archetype is communicated best through symbolism and visions that bypass the rational mind. This is a great time for anyone with artistic talent. The collective is crying out for escapism right now, so in terms of writing, aim for visionary fiction rather than gritty realism (unless you’re revealing hidden truths). Fantasy, science fiction, and romance could all do well.

Neptune in Pisces is also about reconnecting with the natural world and living in harmony with nature and each other. We’ve already seen a rise in the rewilding movement, although this isn’t straightforward and suffers from its own set of illusions. The desire to return to nature is a romantic vision driven by our sense of disconnection from ourselves. Healing our fractured relationship with the earth is going to take more than planting a few trees or letting hedgerows grow wild. But we have to start somewhere.

Nature isn’t all gambolling lambs and picturesque wilderness. This transit has also seen an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic activity. Neptune entered Pisces just after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, which was caused by an earthquake that triggered a tsunami. By July 2011 huge amounts of caesium-137 had been washed into the Pacific, contaminating the water and food chain. It was still leaking several years later and is an ongoing disaster.

Events like this and the floods we’ve seen around the world in 2017, remind us that we’re not in charge and that we must stop taking nature for granted. We’re also becoming aware how fragile the oceans are to rising levels of pollution. Huge lumps of plastic are turning up in the Arctic, and microplastics have been found in 83% of tap water supplies, as well as in fish. We’ve poisoned the entire planet and Mother Nature can’t/won’t take it for much longer.

The way we’re living isn’t grounded in reality. The idea that a finite planet can produce infinite growth is beyond absurd – it’s psychotic. Totally delusional. So Neptune in Pisces is pleading with us to develop a more balanced and realistic approach to nature.

This transit reveals the truth of our interconnectedness. We can’t exist without the support of the whole of life. We’re not separate from each other and we all long for the same things in the end – to love and be loved, to be happy. This idea of oneness can produce romantic visions of a utopian society, but again, it’s important to be careful of our dreams.

The latest version of this idea comes from the Transhumanist movement and the illusion of the singularity. It’s a dream of global unity, a brave new world where everyone is connected via technology to a collective mind – like the Borg in Star Trek. But we don’t have to wait for the singularity for the nightmare to begin. In many ways, it’s already here.

‘Steve’ the robot cop drowned himself in a fountain earlier this year; a perfect symbol of everything that’s wrong with our ideas on AI. FYI: the fountain is a symbol of the soul or inner life of a human being.

Recent years have seen a rise in the amount of personal information being shared online. People are living increasingly artificial lives by creating false or modified identities and hiding inside a dream version of themselves. This is despite Edward Snowdon’s warnings on mass surveillance and invasion of privacy. Our personal boundaries online aren’t as secure as we thought, and this transit could see a rise in the number of hacks, fake accounts, and revelations of personal secrets online. (More so now that Jupiter has entered Scorpio.)

The internet isn’t all bad, of course. It allows ideas to be shared around the world, dissolving boundaries between cultures and leading to an expanded worldview. Identities may get blurred and confused, but we can also learn to see others in a more inclusive way and to think within larger perspectives.

Boundaries are dissolving in the real world too. The refugee crisis and mass migrations of people into Europe, and elsewhere, have brought forth great outpourings of compassion. After every natural disaster we see people coming together to help each other. This has made many more people aware of the social injustice and imbalances that cause suffering around the world.

Perhaps this signifies the shift in consciousness often talked about in spiritual circles. Or perhaps it’s just human nature to care for others. Whatever the truth, Neptune entered Pisces just in time for the 2012 mania to take hold, along with all manner of doomsday prophecies and messianic movements. The Mayan prophecy was conjured out of nothing, and when the end of the world failed to materialise in December 2012, many simply conjured more fictitious deadlines into the future – the latest being the start of the Age of Aquarius (more on that later).

Whether there’s an awakening happening or not, the world feels more dangerous now and we seem to have transitioned into some sort of weird meltdown. All the old certainties are dissolving. But it’s not so hard to understand when you see that Pluto is in Capricorn and Neptune is in Pisces.

Whether the dissolution of old structures and spiritual visions give rise to a shift in consciousness remains to be seen. At the moment it seems to be taking us into dark territory as we confront the shadow, but many still deny that we need to change so it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

The craziness of the world and the destruction of the environment could fuel the desire to escape into fantasies of a life lived without friction in a digital utopia. But this is likely to be another prison – just another structure to free yourself from, another illusion.

At best, this transit is an opportunity to wake up to the illusions and fantasies we have been hiding inside, and finally make real changes to the way we live together on this planet. And that means turning inward and reconnecting with the mysteries of human nature – not turning ourselves into machines.

The transhumanist dream is a materialist version of religious eschatology where you live forever in heaven with angel wings and a halo. But this isn’t what the spiritual path is really about. We need to return to the true mystical roots of religion and remember who we are in our hearts. True spiritual transcendence has nothing to do with escapism. It’s about being present. Here. Now.

Neptune in Pisces could give rise to a genuine spiritual awakening where the scales fall from your eyes and you see the Truth. It brings you back into the moment – the only moment in which you can live – and this is where you connect with everyone and everything else. You can’t separate yourself from life – you can think you’re separate, but you never really are.

The ‘End Times’ feeling is coming up now because we know things aren’t going well. It’s an expression of a soul-deep unease and fear that everything we love will be washed away. But if people were truly happy and knew who they really were, they wouldn’t feel so lost. There would be no need for the apocalypse.

The real meaning of apocalypse is revelation, and this is what Neptune in Pisces brings – a revelation of the Truth. But you need to have your eyes open to see it and your feet firmly planted on the earth to live it.

The urge to escape limitations and dissolve all boundaries into formlessness or idealism (whether spiritual or technological), can lead to some very bad behaviour and extremely stupid ideas. You can’t actually transcend physical reality. As long as you’re alive and in a body, you’re subject to its laws. But that doesn’t mean you’re trapped. Not if you understand the real meaning of transcendence.

Waking up to the truth doesn’t mean escaping from reality and drifting into a fantasy world. It means being present in this moment and dealing with what you find there. When you do that you discover that Eden is right here. You don’t have to go anywhere else to find grace. It’s your birthright – it’s who you are.

Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac and so this represents the end of a cycle and the seeding of possibilities for the next cycle. That means it could involve a breakdown or a breakthrough, or both. The point is to bring the vision and insight of Neptune into form, to give it shape in your life and actually live it. Obviously ideals change when you bring them down to earth, and that’s the challenge of this transit combined with Pluto in Capricorn (and Saturn about to join the fun).

If you feel overwhelmed by change and uncertainty, it might be because you’re trying to control the flow of events. When you do that, Neptune drains your energy, and your health and sanity will suffer until you surrender. To get the most out of this time you need to stay grounded in daily tasks and focused in the moment without losing discernment. Surrender doesn’t mean you stop thinking, and acceptance doesn’t mean you believe any old bollocks. It’s a matter of balance – which is why the Buddha called his dharma the Middle Way.

“And just as the cosmos is not a dissolving mass of particles, but rests in the unity of God’s embrace, man must not dissolve into a whirl of warring possibilities and tendencies imposed on him by the unconscious, but must become the unity that embraces them all.” – C.G. Jung, Psychology of Transference

Image: ‘Steve’

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