If you were to be told that this Universe, your physical existence, your birth and death itself and in fact everything around you is an illusion and completely insubstantial you'd more than likely shake your head in disbelief at such a proposition.
Both philosophers and more recently some scientists have declared this to be the truth of our Universe and that what we experience with our senses can't necessarily be believed to be true. Everything, they say, is a bundle of energy, particles of energy dancing, playing and mesmerizing us through our senses throughout these cycles of births and deaths – transfixing us with a notion that there is something "out there".
Once we move beyond the planet Saturn we venture into uncharted transpersonal regions with the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto assuming jurisdiction over the evolution of our individual and collective souls as well. And this is where Neptune comes into play and also represents precisely what that fantastic proposition is all about i.e. the unreality and the illusion of life and the transcendence of our normal perception to a vast new panoramic view of the cosmos.
If Saturn as the outermost personal planet is concerned with the concrete idea of manifestation and evolution in this material realm, then Neptune is the antithesis of this in that it is concerned with whatever is immaterial, spiritual and beyond the ordinary senses i.e. extra sensory. There is a distinct difference between the action and ultimate results of the planets Uranus and Neptune and that is: Uranus is the will and urge to break down the existing barriers in the search for freedom.
Consequently, Uranus is about the desire to rebuild and reconstitute new structures, usually within this material realm. Neptune's action however, is far different to this and supersedes any connection with the material, except in its most compassionate form of empathy which is one of its most notable traits of expression within the field of human nature.
Neptune and the Great Disappearing Act
Many mystics and healers and those practicing the psychic and occult arts are therefore governed by this most mysterious and indefinable planet. These representatives of Neptune, as mentioned above, sometimes point the way to the transcendental aspects of the planet but not always.
In its most negative expression the planet Neptune, with its subtle and imperceptible rays may confuse individuals who have not yet reached a sufficiently high enough level of evolution to receive these spiritual promptings clearly. The aspiration to the spiritual state being part of one's own innate nature impels many people to explore and indeed attempt to experience the power of Neptune through such things as drugs and other mind altering substances. Why is this?
We need to look at this process of materialization from the viewpoint of progress of the human soul and this becomes clear when we realize that the pinnacle of human consciousness is the shattering of the limited ego. Drugs and alcohol indeed break down our notion of self but are temporary measures which create further confusion and self delusion in the long term. This ‘shattering" initially, is the action of Uranus, which eventually gives way to a spiritual vision - being the shedding of this partial concept of self to a more universal extension of Being. This proposal possesses all the hallmarks of numerous other earlier philosophies, in particular Hinduism and Buddhism which speak in terms of the transcendence of one's own ego. It is thereafter possible to shift perception into the light of the higher Universal Self.
This is how compassion and empathetic work become at least a tangible worldly reflection of the mysterious planet Neptune. The inspiration of helping our fellow man, sharing the suffering of our neighbor and generally aspiring to a more humanitarian approach to life, affords the average person an opportunity to forget themselves. In this manner, the person is able to drop their limited ego and, if only for a moment, to experience the eternal spark of Love through these noble activities. This is a Universal Love which intoxicants in no way compare with. Yet all of these processes are under the dominion of Neptune.
Mythologically the God of the oceans postures with his trident and purportedly represents the nature and qualities of this planet. This is more than likely because the sign of Pisces is a water sign (the 12th and concluding sign of the zodiac). It has therefore been assigned the modern rulership of Neptune. It would in all probability be more fitting to assign the Vedic principle of Mahamaya to this planetary body as this is loosely termed the veiling power. This veiling power is a hard concept to grasp and alludes to the fact, as we stated earlier, that according to quantum science and some philosophers, what we see in this world is without a doubt a creation of our imagination.
Take for example color, as seen in the objects around us. Do we not take for granted that these things, each and every one of them, possess "color" as such? The fact is that objects within themselves do not possess color and this is simply a play of light in which a frequency of color as found in light is reflected and perceived by us. We assume that the object in question possesses that specific color.
Time and space have also come under the hammer of modern science and we are now told that our concepts about these two long cherished beliefs are now subject to a revamp because space, time and light (theoretically a constant since the year dot) are now variable and even to an extent psychological in nature.
So, this is what is meant by the "veiling power" and further good reason to assign this Goddess Mahamaya rulership of Neptune as she describes the planet perfectly. This is none other than the Eternal veiling power of the great Goddess who imminently becomes this world, our senses and even perception itself. The literal translation of Maya is however that which is not. This adds further confusion to doubt. Suffice to say that Neptune's realm of activity is both the illusion and the transcendence of the illusion we call life and the cosmos.
There is a popular analogy of the rope appearing as a snake to a drunkard. The snake is in no way real, though it appears to exist. This further depicts the Neptune-Mahamaya cosmic action. So you may ask, what is the use of an unreal world and how does Neptune assist in the transcendence of what doesn't exist?
Another analogy is useful: a thorn stuck in one's thigh can be removed with another thorn. Then, both thorns are discarded. In this manner the action of Neptune is like the thorn – we must use this illusion to perceive it as illusion, to then ultimately transcend the illusion.
Neptune in the Horoscope
The placement of Neptune in a horoscope may be a difficult task for us to interpret as the veiling power may even extend itself to our understanding of the horoscope. There are some pretty clear injunctions however, especially where Neptune makes contact with such planets as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, rising sign and angles of the zodiac at birth. In these cases, the influence of watery Neptune on the psyche will be quite influential.
In its higher aspect, an individual possessing a well positioned Neptune, will shine as a poet, a musician, film maker, photographer, mystic or even a great teacher of Truth. As mentioned earlier, the lower manifestation can be utter confusion, deception, trickery and the like. People born with this specific Neptune in difficult aspect may well turn to criminal activities and bring disrepute to themselves, friends and family.
Somewhere between these two extremes are those whose personalities and egos have not the requisite strength to deal with either the practical day to day life of this world nor the powerful spiritual light that emanates from Neptune and in this class of individuals, we see the depressive, the forlorn, the victim, the drug addict, the weak and insipid individual whose life is permeated by disorder and chaos.
On occasion we see the mixing up of these extremes in such cases of Rev. Jim Jones and Charles Manson whose self delusions, coupled with religiosity led to the tragedies of hundreds of deaths. Again with Neptune, we see the higher and lower principles operating, as with all the planets where the sublime heights of self actualization and spiritual reformation balance the other extreme counterpart – delusions of grandeur and precarious religious fanaticism.
Where Neptune is functioning in a moderately healthy state, we can expect to see a gradual unfolding of latent spiritual, empathetic and psychic tendencies within us. People operating in this Neptunian realm who are endeavoring to perform noble work on our planet must always be mindful of the fact that well motivated action and the upliftment of our fellow man is an essential ingredient to opening the doors of spiritual perception and paranormal skills. This however, is not the end in itself.
The great magician called Neptune, performs our amazing disappearing act on us only when we are ready to accept the highest stages of human evolution ie complete abnegation of our petty personalities in favour of an immeasurable Conscious Self. Who is to perform the compassionate work when in fact the ego no longer exists? Who is to take credit for a great work of art when it is the supreme artist of Creativity itself channeling through the craftsman? Which actor or photographer can truly say "I" have done this, if in reality true self effacement has taken place throughout that creative expression?
It is to these powerful philosophical questions that the true meaning of Neptune aims its trident of understanding and offers us a solution to the anomaly of life. It is the essence of the statement of Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition in that he exhorted his disciples and millions of future followers to "be in this world, but not of this world". What else could this have meant other than this world must certainly be engaged with, endured and suffered in the most materialistic and Saturnine way – whilst all the while maintaining the goal of human existence - which is mindfulness of the true nature underlying the structure of this illusory universe - Pure Spirit.
When this stage of transcendence is attained and Neptune's glory shines forth from within the human heart, the initial stage may be likened to the Buddhist concept of Sunya or Void. In this supposedly vacuous state the Great Shining takes place as the emergence of pure abstract Awareness. It is only through the mechanism of Neptune that we are able to gain these In-sights from within ourselves and allow ourselves the joy of disappearing under the spiritual wand of magical Neptune.
The descriptions of Neptune through the signs of the zodiac are quite interesting but also very generational, unless those contacts with the personal points of the horoscope are pronounced. When the planet is positive in the fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, its action may be quite creative on one level but being a water planet posited in fire signs, may not yield the most beneficial results. Its placement in the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn may also give somewhat of a struggle as the earth signs deal with structure, form and the essence of materialism and security as such. Capricorn of course is dominated by Saturn who itself epitomises time and concretisation in this world. These are diametrically opposed forces operating here. This is not to say that those having the earth signs prominent won't be able to utilize the Neptunian idealism, but certainly they may have more of a challenge than most.
The air signs can fall both ways, positively and negatively, with Neptune there and these include Gemini Libra and Aquarius. In the air signs the intellectual and rational processes are the dominant sign and with a well-placed Neptune these three signs of the zodiac will experience incredible heights of imagination whereby they can uplift others through artistic and even design and literary works. In the sign of Aquarius, that of humanitarianism, Neptune also would be in a formidable placement to assist in accelerating the evolution of humankind.
By far the most resonant element for Neptune however, would be the water signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, over which Neptune has jurisdiction. The element of water has long been associated with the emotional, psychic and spiritual level of man. Is it any wonder then, that Neptune found in these water signs will trigger the innate qualities as mentioned? This is the pinnacle of life - to have the accelerating influence of Neptune in this element; however astrology is never cut and dry. Even in these water signs, the adverse influences of Saturn, the Sun and Mercury may cause heightened states of confusion, paranoia and anxiety. Each horoscope must be studied, scrutinized and evaluated with the knowledge of the evolutionary grade of the individual in mind. Naturally the cultural and socio-political context of the horoscope and the action of Neptune will further determine the likely effect of the planet on the person in question.
As with the other two trans-saturnine planets of Uranus and Pluto, the inexorable journey of Neptune through our zodiac continues. As the higher harmonic of the love planet Venus, it slowly works its way through each horoscopic sign. It systematically but more importantly in each of our individual lives transforming this limited ideal of love ( which is more often than not simply a selfish transaction ), into the most formidable state of peace and heartfelt union with our fellow man. The true nature of Neptune cannot even be understood through the horoscope, the glyphs or symbols that astrologers espouse nor through the telescopic magnification and mathematical computations of scientists. In utilizing the spiritual injunctions of the knowers of truth and those who are resonant in spirit with Neptune it is clear that its impact will only be felt through a systematic and practical application of love in action.
This then brings us full circle wherein we began by stating that Neptune is the transcendent aspect of our lives, the veiling power and that which cannot be understood by rationalization, only spiritual perception. Yet we also say that it is through action in this world with our fellow man that this petty, limited ego crumbles and gives way to the dynamic spirituality of this planet. The secret of secrets is this attitude.
One may work but there are many motivations for the same action. This secret is to absorb oneself in compassionate action without thought of gain, without consideration of building up one's ego. Rather, Neptune is specifically about the curtailing of our limited personalities to permit this pristine clarity of compassionate awareness to develop and manifest in all our worldly activities. This then is the true significance of our second most distant sister, the planet Neptune.