Neptune: Art, Spirituality and Astrology
- by Maria Kay Simms -
If the “rule” book interpretations of Uranian astrology are to be our guide, one could wonder if a student with a strong Neptune might become discouraged enough to quit. Take the student whose chart is below as a possible example:
M is conjunct Neptune, Mercury is semi-square. From Rules for Planetary Pictures: To decline. To refuse something. To be unsure, unable to support. Unintelligible attitude. To follow wrong ideas. To deceive. Untruth. Falsehood. Swindle. To be intuitive. To concentrate on the future. To follow the unknown, the doubtful. Mercury is on the midpoint: Intuitive, false, imagined or fradulent thoughts or feelings. Thoughts and the way of expressing them are not clear and distinct. And, Venus is 22.30 or on the midpoint Mercury/Neptune: to desire people, to wish for people in whom one can trust and get along with harmoniously. New love acquaintances.
Well, that last bit with Venus isn’t so bad, but...it’s still pretty weak. Why am I complaining? Mainly because it’s my chart, and I do NOT relate to these interpretations of it. As much as I value and count on my multiple copies of Rules for Planetary Pictures, I’ve never liked the Uranian interpretations of Neptune! Why didn’t I, as a student, become discouraged in looking at my own chart? Because by the time I began studying astrology, at the age of 33, I was already well established as a creative artist, so I simply reinterpreted Neptune in my own way from the start, at least somewhat mollified by Ebertin’s allowing, within his extra notes at the back of Combination of Stellar Influences, that Neptune, in combinations for one’s career, might be positive if one is in the arts or in “parapsychology.” But, what about the young student whose career life is still ahead? Or the unaware astrologer who reads the chart of a child for its parents, or for a young person just starting out? Could a potentially very successful person be discouraged before he or she has given a special talent a chance? It’s high time we broadened the interpretation of Neptune to include the many uplifting potentials that can be evoked by this planet’s presence in a horoscope! So, with the chart examples to follow, I will attempt to be very “clear and distinct” in demonstrating the positive potentials of Neptune.
One major positive we could cite when viewing a chart with strong Neptune aspects to personal points should be the potential of talent in the arts that can rise to the heights of inspired expression. Art was my first career, following my college degree in fine arts with major in painting. Although astrology eventually became a primary identity, I still paint and in fact, had a one-person show recently—“Her Spirit,” featuring paintings based on the sacred feminine in Nature. But let’s view other examples, beginning with the chart of one of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. (Fig. 2)
As you can see, Leonardo has his Neptune exactly on the axis of Aries and on the midpoint Ascendant/Mercury, with the 22.30 aspect to Uranus. Neptune is widely conjunct his MC. Aries-Neptune, from “Rules”: daydreams, disappointments, general poisoning, blood poisoning. Ascendant/Mercury = Aries: conversation in public, announcements, advertisements, newspapers. And = Neptune: to discuss unclear matters; to be told lies; evil gossip. Come now, how about this alternative interpretation: the native becomes known to his world for his visions, dreams and sense of beauty, and with Mercury/Ascendant, he communicates all this to others through artistic expression...(and with Uranus) his creations are unusual and innovative in a way that is exciting to others.
Next, look at Figure 3 for the dial chart of a more contemporary artist, Salvador Dali. He also has Neptune conjunct MC, and MC is on the midpoints Moon/Neptune, Jupiter/Pluto and Pluto/Zeus. Moon/Neptune = MC in “Rules” has: sensibility, touchiness, sense of smell, state of dreaming. To live in a dream-world. Not facing the realities of life, not able to recognize them...mentally impressed thru secrecies of females. Well, we can concede that many of Dali’s paintings seem like dream images, but this can obviously be very good. Perhaps this configuration, especially with Jupiter/Pluto could be read: a highly successful career and sense of the “I”, the soul, the spiritual sense, can emerge from translating one’s dreams into artistic expression.
Let’s look at one more example from the visual arts, this time from the modern world of popular art and technology, the chart of Walt Disney (Figure 4). This is another example of bringing ones dreams and visions to the world—Neptune on the Aries point. On the axis are Moon/Admetos (crowded people or dying, dead nations facing uncertain, black future, desperate and deluded), Jupiter/Uranus (this is luck, and one could call it that, though I think Disney’s successess are due to far more than just luck), Jupiter/Poseidon (to sense higher things; see metaphysical truth), Sun/Kronos (with Aries, fine--creative, active, but with Neptune: incompetent, fraudulent leader). Couldn’t Neptune on Sun/Kronos also be “imaginative or artistic father figure?” Then there’s Sun/Cupido (unfortunate in marriage, deceived man, dissolution of communities, mediumistic artist). Well, at least the the last of those options offers hope. But I mainly object to that Moon/Admetos = Neptune “no hope” delineation, and propose this be considered as a more positive alternative: from deep, inner contemplation, artistic expression emerges from the soul.
The art of music is often associated with Neptune in modern astrology. We begin with the horoscope of Lucianno Pavarotti (Figure 5), whose gorgeous tenor voice soared to the heights of beauty and even evoked a sense of the spiritual in this listener.
With pointer on Pavaotti’s Neptune, we also see Venus, at the opposite end, and the midpoints Moon/Zeus plus Node/Kronos, Sun/Kronos, M/Sun and M/Node at or very near exactitude on the axis. Even Venus + Neptune is mostly unhappy in Uranian interpretation: “Rapture (yes), but then “renouncing, false or unhappy love, deceptive hope...” Why not “love (Venus) for music (Neptune)? Or art (Venus) that is sensitive, intutive, raptuous. Or perhaps simply the art of music? As for the other midpoints, all are mostly positive with Venus, but quite discouraging in every “Rules” interpretation with Neptune. In looking at this chart with the knowledge of what the native became, we can see the positive clearly, but what if we saw such a chart when the native was young and untried, seeking direction? Then, while the negative potentials might be mentioned, an alternative of hope can also be proposed. How about something like this: The “I” (Midheaven/Sun) may identify with the potential of a fiery creative talent (Moon/Zeus), that if nurtured and properly schooled, could rise to prominence (Sun/Kronos) and bring advantageous contacts (Midheaven/Node, Node/Kronos).
If a young, aspiring musician like the famed female opera star Leontyne Price (Figure 6) had considered her MC square Neptune prospects with Uranian astrology, she may have been sadly discouraged: M + Mars = Neptune reads only Fraudulent action. Inability to assert oneself. To succumb. To destroy something. Weak-willed. Pluto/Admetos = Neptune is at least, benign: Coming events develop below the surface, and can be noticed in small symptoms. Sun/Mercury = Neptune combines terms like impractical, sluggish, swindle and fraud with the possibility of inspiration as an author. (But voice is also Mercury, is it not?) Ascendant/Venus-Vulcanus = Neptune speaks variously of deception, separation, wasted effort, being forced to learn lessons, or that others may succumb through trials of strength.
In considering alternative interpretations: M-Mars is “one’s action” and here the primary Neptunian action for which this native became known is music—that was likely noticed at first in “small symptoms” as she grew from childhood. She expressed her music through her beautiful voice (Sun-Mercury), and received powerful accolades for it (A/Vulcanus). Would the Uranian student see any of this potential, if reading for a very young Leontyne, or might the student become too focused on the very discouraging Midheaven-Neptune-Mars combination and fail to see the more uplifting possibilities?
For one more example of a musician, see Figure 7 for the 90° dial chart of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who has his Mercury-Sun conjunction in close opposition to Neptune. By “Rules,” Mercury on Sun/Neptune means day-dreaming; not being awake, mental defects, poor memory, and yes, it also offers receptivity for thoughts and ecstasy. Alone, Sun-Neptune is sensitive, and perhaps a medium, but weak in health, infirm. He only lived for 35 years, a short life by today’s standards, and died of a fever, but the magnitude of what he accomplished while living remains amazing by anyone’s standards, even if he’d lived to be 100. Might Sun be revisioned to define not just the body, but perhaps also something about how one “shines” in life? And Neptune be seen not primarily just for deception, confusion and dissolution, but also for emphasizing imagination, vision, a sense of Spirit, the quest for beauty? If so, then this person’s light was highly influenced by his visionary quest, and he communicated this to the ages. On this axis of Mercury and Neptune, we also see Venus/Jupiter (success in art? or with “old” Neptune, hopelessness) Moon/Mars (active brain), Mars/Pluto (organize, lead, perform several activites at once, or with “old” Neptune, secret plans, not carried out or aimed at destruction), Venus/Jupiter (rapture, or “old” Neptune’s hopelessness) plus the midpoint of Poseidon/Uranus-Node-Ascendant (visionary recognition, mental connections, union of ideas with others). Traditional Uranian interpretation is, happily, kind to almost everything involving Poseidon.
In retrospect of Mozart’s life and work, I think a fair addition to the totality of this axis, particularly the Mars/Zeus and Uranus/Poseidon could be: to express and communicate with others one’s unusual, electrifying connections with Spirit.
Mozart’s Midheaven axis falls exactly on the midpoint Neptune/Kronos, which means “incompetent as manager or leader.” His biography indicates that he may have experienced that at times. But certainly, also, if we consider Neptune as also relating to art and the spiritual, then this combination could also mean that one’s soul and leadership potential may involve the heights of artistic and spiritual expression.
The Arts of Poetry and Literature
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Neptune (Figure 8) is at the midpoint of multiple personal points, and on the same axis as Apollon, which of course, can be taken to mean a LOT of Neptune, most of it, other than possibly for the occult or chemistry, very messy—corruption, embezzlements, deception on a large scale. But, Shelley’s primary claim to fame is that of a romantic poet.
So, how do we see that in his Neptune axis, which must somehow count for his core being and expression in the world, being as it is on Midheaven/Sun and Mars-Jupiter/Ascendant? To be fair, Shelley’s life expressed quite a few of the negatives, too. He got into trouble from when he was a school boy for expressing atheistic views. His personal life had its ups and downs and the views he expressed that are seen as visionary today, stirred up plenty of controversy in his day. Perhaps, then, the interpretation from “Rules” for Neptune on the midpoint Midheaven/Sun-Venus is fair, to a point: Body and soul are sensitive and strongly react to all influences, even the weak. Slackening, therefore debility and dislike—dislike for everything—and with Venus, grief in love (for he experienced that, too, at times). But, if we include art and spirit in our understanding of Neptune, then we might bring in potentials for this axis like sensitivity to the spiritual, expressing oneself though the arts, and through his art, reaching many, and perhaps even bringing peace to at least some of them for whom his view echoed feelings they agreed with, but kept silent to avoid offending convention.
Maya Angelou (Figure 9), who has also been a dancer and an entertainer, is best known for her writings and poetry. She won a “Best Spoken Word” Grammy in 2003 for her record ing of her book, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, and in 1983 she was named among the One Hundred Most Influential American Women.
Maya has Moon and Neptune on the same axis, exactly on the midpoint Saturn/Chiron, and as you can see from the illustration, the midpoint Midheaven/Apollon is also exact on the Neptune axis. We can also say Saturn and Chiron are on Moon/Neptune. The axis also includes Midheaven/Apollon. Anything difficult that could be said about these combinations is probably also true, because she came from a background of hardship, rape and violence. The “Rules” interpretation for Neptune on Midheaven/Apollon speaks of peculiar experiences and to penetrate unknown fields of science. For Moon, it’s psychical experiences. Experiences with women in public. Anthropology.” To see Neptune as also indicative of sensitivity for art and spirituality, brings this axis into a much closer reflection of how Maya has activated this planetary theme in her development. It is also interesting that Chiron, not traditionally a part of Uranian methodology, does fit well here, for Maya has been severely wounded in her early life, but has born her burdens (Saturn) with extraordinary strength as this “wounded healer” grew to become so highly inspirational in offering hope and joy to countless others.
Neptune in Spirituality
For spiritual exemplars with strong Neptune placements, I’ll begin with Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II (Figure 10), who has Midheaven conjunct Neptune and Jupiter, with Neptune right on the Midpoint of the other two (disappointment and premontiton of loss).
But here, again, I will say that Neptune conjunct Midheaven has far better potentials than the refusal, uncertainty, wrong ideas and falsehood that traditional interpretations suggest. However, what I am showing in this illlustration of John Paul II’s dial chart is the axis of Aries: how the native is seen in the world. See how Sun/Kronos, “father,” is precisely on Aries, and with Venus and Node, it’s both the fatherly love that he both bestowed upon the world and also the love that so many had for him. Note, in looking to the 22.30 point, that Neptune/Pluto = Mars in also in contact with Aries. The meaning given for that in “Rules” is “to work without planning, without using the head. An undertaking which has been rushed and set going without consideration. This may well reflect some of his wartime activities as a young priest in Poland, but might it not also be interpreted as the power of the native’s work spiritual work to affect the world in general?
The next example (Figure 11, above) is the Aries axis of The Dalai Lama, and as you can see, Mars/Neptune is precisely on that axis. If we moved the pointer just a little less than one degree counter-clockwise, the midpoint would shift to Midheaven/Ascendant and Node/Neptune. Knowing this man’s work in the world, it is obvious that we’d best concede a spiritual connotation to Mars/Neptune in reading his horoscope, and Chiron also in the picture suggests spiritual healing. As for the slight shift to Midheaven/Ascendant, his relationships to others are spiritual (Neptune) connections (Node).
Neptune for Astrologers
Finally, we come to a question of how “Neptunian” astrologers might be! Quite a number of years ago, before I wrote Dial Detective, and at the time had an ongoing weekly Uranian workshop in my home, we decided, for one class project, to test whether astrologers were really primarily Uranian (as most would prefer to think we are) or if the far less popular idea of Neptune was at least as prominent in our charts, or even more so. We gathered the charts of as many astrologers as we could find—a lot of them, but I don’t remember how many, nor can I find that research anymore. But I do distinctly remember that we found it was pretty much of a toss-up. There were just as many who had prominent Neptune as there were for Uranus. In this potential controversy, I can be quite neutral since I have both (Neptune closely conjunct Midheaven, while Uranus is closely opposite Sun and trine/sextile Midheaven.
In any case, to close this article I have recreated a semblance of that earlier research by rather randomly searching through AstroDataBank for professional astrologers with A or AA data. After I ‘d pulled 106 charts, I decided I’d procrastinated finishing this paper long enough, so I stopped and and tallied them. Following are my results:
- 18 Neptune closely conjunct an angle, Sun or Moon (-3°)
- 13 Uranus closely conjunct an angle, Sun or Moon
- 10 with both of the above (-3°)
- 20 with either Uranus or Neptune angular, but not conjunct, or conjunct Sun or Moon, but more than 3° Of the above, 11 are with Neptune; 8 with Uranusand 3 with both.
Of the other charts in my little study:
- 5 Neptune angular, but wider in orb
- 7 Uranus angular, but wider in orb
- 33 have no immediately noticeable close “hits” of major personal points to either Neptune or Uranus.
Then, curious, I went back to the pile of 33 and tried some of them on the 90° dial. Neptune or Uranus or both were strongly placed in every one of them! Here are illustrations of just a few of the 33 whose Uranus & Neptune “hits” were not quite so obvious without the dial:
Reinhold Ebertin showing Neptune picture:
Ebetin with pointer rotated to Uranus:
Friedrich Sieggruen, Note the Uranus/Neptune-Axis:
Uranus is strong, though Neptune is not far off the Aries-Axis
And here is Udo's chart again;
pointer turned to midpoint Uranus/Appollon.
This chart is an excellent demonstration of planetary pictures specific to astrology:
Uranus + Apollon = Zeus and Kronos for leadership and authority,
and also connects the native to others (Ascendant) successfully (Mars/Jupiter).
Neptune is seen on the midpoint Midheaven/Ascendant
Sun is on the midpoint Uranus/Neptune
Omarr, whose career was notable in popular astrology,
has Midheaven precisel on Sun/Uranus
In conclusion: Uranus may be considered our profession’s “ruler,” but Neptune is an equal (or in many cases, the more dominant) indicator of who we are and what we do. So, let’s rise out of our “confusion” and learn to like the this God of the Sea with his pointy trident. He does have his postive attributes and potentials after all, and can be indicative of both strong talent in artistic and spiritual pursuits, with the power to inspire, to create and perhaps even to heal.
References for this paper:
All of the dial charts shown were calculated with Nova Chart Wheels software by Astrolabe (www.alabe.com), then saved to jpg files (a function included within the software) for placement in my paper. Chartwheels is a program well worthwhile acquiring. It is a full-service astrology program, that more than any other I’ve tried, is especially effective in working with dial charts
All data used in this paper is Rodden-rated AA or A, and except for my own, I obtained all from AstroDatabank. It is a violation of AstroDatabank’s copyright to give full birth data for large lists, even with citation, so I have not indicated full data unless it is openly and currently published on www.astrodatabank in the Newsmaker list, or is a chart that I have obtained from a public source for which copyright is not at issue. All of the charts used in this article can be found in the huge database within AstroDatabank’s extremely useful software program–an invaluable research tool for any astrologer.
My italicized quotes of interpretive text came, specifically, from the Witte-Lefeldt Rules for Planetary Pictures by Ludwig Rudolph, a hardcover 5th Edition, 1959. (Despite my criticisms of Neptune interpretations in this book, and my advocacy of adding more uplifting alternative interpretations, “Rules” in an invaluable tool that I’d never want to be without!)
The one reference to Cosmobiology is from The Combination of Stellar Influences, Reinhold Ebertin, AFA 1988 printing.
Data/captions for jpgs, by order of Fig number:
- Maria, Nov. 18, 1940, 8:01 am, Princeton, IL
- Leonardo da Vinci, April 23, 1452
- Salvador Dali, May 11, 1904, Figueras, Spain
- Walt Disney, Dec. 5, 1901, Chicago, IL
- Lucianno Pavarotti, Oct. 12, 1935, Modena, Itally
- Leontyne Price, Feb. 10, 1927, Laurel, Mississippi
- Wolfgang Mozart, January 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austria
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, August 4, 1792, Horsham, England
- Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO
- John Paul II, May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland
- The Dali Lama, July 6, 1935, Tengster, Village, Tibet
- Reinhold Ebertin, February 16, 1901, Gorlitz, Germany
showing Neptune picture
- Ebertin with pointer rotated to Uranus
- Friedrich Sieggruen, December 20, 1877, Leubeck, Germany.
Note the Uranus/Neptune midpoint
- Udo Rudolph, December 14, 1921, Osterode, Germany.
Uranus is strong, though Neptune is not far off the Aries axis
- And here is Udo’s chart again; pointer turned to midpoint Uranus/Apollon
This chart is an excellent demonstration of planetary pictures specific to astrology: Uranus + Apollon = Zeus and Kronos for leadership and authority, and also connects the native to others (Ascendant) successfully (Mars/Jupiter).
- Rob Hand, December 5, 1942, Plainfield, NJ
Neptune is seen on the midpoint Midheaven/Ascendant
- Elizabeth Tessier, January 6, 1938, Alger, Algeria
Sun is on the midpoint Uranus/Neptune
- Sydney Omarr, August 5, 1926, Philadelphia, PA
Omarr, whose career was notable in popular astrology, has Midheaven precisel on Sun/Uranus
Published: 12 July 2008