By Jane Lyle
Planetary movements represent seeds and themes that are being sown now, and will affect all our lives in the future. Many fledgling movements and trends will be pushing up their little tendrils this year and next - those patterns unfold over the next few years, and, in some cases, well beyond.
One of the most important shifts is Neptune entering watery Pisces on 4th April 2011 for a few months, and finally settling there for a long stay in 2012. Neptune has recently returned in its orbit to the place it was when discovered in 1846. That's astronomy as well as astrology! It entered Pisces, the sign it rules, in 1847 moving through this mystical sign until 1861. A quick look at the events of this period gives us a clue to the general themes that will re-emerge, with a modern twist of course, since cultural evolution circles around like the DNA spiral, echoing itself. We will all feel these sea-changes, some of us more than others. If your birthday falls early in Pisces, Gemini, Virgo or Sagittarius, or you have planets or angles there, you'll be amongst the first to float down the river of dreams.
Neptune is the planet symbolically associated with illusion, delusion, glamour, spirituality, boundary-less experiences, psychic experiences, sacrificial love, deception, dreams, religious feelings, empathy, scandal, and the transcending of egos. It is the planet of fog, mist, oceans and oil. It rules photography and cinema - both forms of illusion if you think about it. There's also anaesthetic and hypnotic drugs, such as opium, the drug that kills pain and produces vivid dreams. In Victorian times you could easily (and legally) buy a wide range of drugs and poisons including opium and its derivatives, such as heroin. And very popular they were too, along with alcohol, another Neptunian substance. Neptune, in its highest manifestation, is associated with compassion for those who suffer, as well as a tendency to glamorise or idealise people, ideas, or even objects.
So what can we learn from Neptune's 19th century trip? Spiritualism, for example, began exactly during the first year Neptune entered Pisces in 1848, and was surrounded by sensational scandal and confessions, or accusations of deception for many decades. Spiritualists seek to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Pioneer spiritualists were often wildly popular, their seances were attended by royalty, celebrities, scientists and politicians of the day. Imagine that happening now!
During the mid to late 19th century spiritualism thrived in the USA and Europe, attracting the attention of scientists and famous figures such as Queen Victoria. It set itself up as a kind of alternative religion at a time when traditional church-going Christianity was waning or being questioned. At the same period Charles Darwin's radical theories of evolution turned traditional beliefs about creation upside down. Controversy about how life evolved raged amidst huge and passionate public arguments, and fears for the future of a godless humanity. In our time I expect to see developments around research into our origins that could potentially be as provocative as Darwin's work was then. There is, for example, already new scientific research showing that we are descended from more than one type of early human being. We will ask what it means to be human in many contexts. We will seek more urgently to define mind, body, and spirit, and question the notion that the body and mind are simply mechanistic organisms.Many of us will remember the ancient notion of the soul.
I would also expect to see alternative spiritual rituals and practices developing in strength and popularity. The need for ritual and ceremony seems to go very deep in the human spirit. Rituals can be secular, but even then they are imbued with an almost magical sensation. There is a genuine hunger for a sense of mystery and meaning which has yet to be filled - we are longing for collective experiences of beauty, something to lift us up and away from our everyday concerns. As those who said the cinema was dead discovered, people love to be in an audience and share an experience. You can get a movie anywhere you like now, but cinemas remain a destination......since Neptune is associated with film and photography I think developments and experiences around this core idea will be very intriguing. Neptune is linked with music, in Pisces that could translate as healing sounds. and music that really draws people together in a new way.
Neptune in Pisces links with compassion for the human condition. Back in 1848 Marx and Engels published their Communist Manifesto. Their potent rallying cry - 'Workers of the World Unite' - could rise up again, leading to social upheaval, civil disobedience, demonstrations, and subtle revolutions. Back in the 1840's Europe was in a state of volatile change as people began to assert or fight for their rights, and for better working/living conditions and pay. The effects of the industrial revolution had created mass urban misery and poverty. So, I wonder, what has the digital revolution created that people will reject or challenge? I expect to see this change happening in numerous ways - medical studies about the effects of digital technology; research into the social and emotional effects; the negative effects of a digital financial global marketplace, and technology's effects on our environment and its creatures. We have idealised and worshipped the internet, and digital technology in general. Reality begins to bite. Where now?
Further, Neptune in Pisces may bring a wider and more urgent awareness of social injustice, poverty, misery, and the effects of food and water shortages and mass epidemics on our population. The idea of putting something back gains real credence, we could see the rebirth of 19th century philanthropy translated into not only the actions of the super-rich (Bill Gates style), but also the actions of huge corporations.
Water in every context is another major theme for these years - from pollution of the oceans, and its fish and other creatures, to flooding, rainfall, healing, drinking, bathing and combating water-bourne diseases, such as cholera. The idealisation of the sea, of inland waters, plus a passion for pristine environments and their water are likely to be part of this. Poison in the oceans, and oil from under the sea ignite rage. The Deepwater Horizon disaster (2010) was just the beginning.
As Neptune is the planet of illusion, we can expect more fake textiles mimicking other materials, wild shoes, transgender styles and make-up designed to create a theatrical effect. The erotic, glamorous, and romantic will find new expression as we idealise the elusive and poetic, what is suggested or glimpsed or hinted at......we will crave a sense of intimate mystery in everything. This is part of the rejection of Big Brother cctv and internet surveillance that is brewing and growing during this period. Who is the individual? Who are the herd? We want union with others, to help foster social democracy, to belong somewhere and to be joined together by our passions and beliefs.
Charles Dickens was writing his novels during Neptune's last visit to Pisces. The social issues he raged against remain, and are highlighted once more as something that concerns all of us and shapes our futures.
That creative bohemian group, The Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, was formed in 1848 and existed until 1860, almost exactly mirroring Neptune's previous journey through Pisces. It's central beliefs and notions of revolution in art should find new expression and form during our own time. Magical realism and symbolism become popular, while cross-overs in all the arts, as explored by this group, mean that creativity expands in new ways as people experiment. Concern for others and our world becomes an important part of art and music again. Utopian experiments in living are also likely - yes, it could be the return of that old hippie dream, communal living for some of us. Certainly, it might make economic sense for many people. As boundaries dissolve, people find numerous ways to express themselves and escape narrow definitions of profession, gender, age, ethnic origin etc. We will ask ourselves 'Whom do these boundaries serve?'
So to sum up,here are some keywords for this fascinating period: the individual, the soul, dissolving boundaries in many contexts - sexual, spiritual, fiscal, political.... fighting for justice, freedom, fighting to be heard at all, revolutionary uprisings, search for intimacy and union, spiritual glamour, ritual and spiritual beliefs, philanthropic battles and campaigns, idealisation of healing, saving life in hostile areas, saving the oceans, music and its healing and emotional qualities. The environment remains a vital issue, but we can expect human beings and their welfare to be just as important if not more important. The idea of climate change takes over from global warming, other critical factors affecting our climate will be discovered.
And remember, with Neptune in Pisces nothing is quite as it seems.....
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