It wouldn’t be a proper sendoff to Pisces season without a deep dive into one of the more longer-term cycles that’s been coloring our landscape since 2012 — or should we say seascape?
Neptune is a slow-moving planet on the outer edges of our solar system, and we’ve truthfully only known about it since 1846, so it’s a relatively new-fangled concept in modern astrology. Like all outer planets, Neptune’s cycles are slow and impactful, leaving sweeping generational changes in its wake. With a cycle of 164 years, it’s the slowest planet second only to Pluto, spending roughly 13 to 14 years in each sign. This particular chapter technically began in early 2011, but then really kicked off in earnest after Neptune finished its retrograde and moved back into Pisces for good in February 2012, where it will stay until April 2025 (and then retrograde and reappear later that year for a few months).
There was a lot of anticipation around Neptune’s ingress into Pisces, and mainly because Pisces is the sign of Neptune’s rulership. Now that it’s back home in familiar waters, Neptune can really do Neptune — as in “Neptune just got its own apartment and is living its damn life in the key of extra.”
Much like the sign of Pisces, Neptune represents a place in space and time where boundaries don’t exist. It implicates the immaterial and intangible realms beyond our purely physical senses, and by extension, things like spirituality, inspiration, idealism, dreams, fantasies, intuition, illusion, deception, confusion, and flat-out escapism (drugs and addictions can figure largely into this). Because art is a medium for communicating the ineffable, it also rules things like music, dance, and film, and naturally, given its namesake, anything water-related.
On a Jungian level, Neptune also rules mass consciousness. One need only look back to what it was doing in its previous incarnation to “get” this concept: with Neptune in the futuristic and technological sign of Aquarius from 1998-2012, the internet went from “household curiosity” to “sentient extension of humanity’s consciousness.” In true Neptunian fashion, we can now access an infinite array of informational realms and dimensions — many of which are downright deceptive and tricky — and we’ve become somewhat addicted to this escape from our physical limitations, if not infinitely more interconnected in a different way.
Here’s the thing about astrology: nothing is ever inherently good or bad. Archetypes are multivalent signifiers of meaning, and they can assume higher or lower vibrational frequencies of the same pattern — or even both at the same time. With Neptune in Pisces, we’re getting a whole lot of the good mixed in with a whole lot of the bad, ranging from a global shift toward unified consciousness to the downright confusing paranoia of Pisces on a bad day.
Neptune in Pisces has historically been associated with utopian thinking and incremental changes in society that are rooted in compassion for human suffering: when it was last in Pisces from 1847 to 1862, slavery began to end around the world, and socialism was beginning to grab an ideological foothold. It’s also a time when nature, poetry, and culture have reigned supreme (think: Age of Romanticism and Walden Pond).
But as we all know, Pisces isn’t always one giant Seurat painting. Sometimes living in a giant fishbowl colored by your own subjective impressions creates a confusing funhouse paradigm where we all seem to be living in our own separate realities, if not occasionally on the same wavelength. The realm of Pisces can sometimes be a hella confusing, irrational place that triggers our collective anxiety and makes us cling to unreliable news sources that “speak to” our paranoias and entrench us deeper into our own subjective worlds. You know — alternative facts.
The Saturn/Neptune squares of 2016 truly brought out the worst of Neptune in Pisces, bringing irrational, paranoid fear smack up against our collective rigidity (Saturn) around our belief systems and foreign cultures (Sagittarius). Without the antagonism from uptight Saturn, Neptune in Pisces might eventually have us learn to relax our borders and let the freaky nationalism slide for a change, but for now, we’re still dealing with the fallout from these clashes.
It might help to look on the bright side, or acknowledge that this Neptune cycle has already done some interesting things to inspire our better demons. It’s not just you — woo-woo metaphysical stuff really has found its way further into the mainstream over the last couple of years, and not all of it is too “quack” for science to acknowledge. Alternative healing practices are just about as “Neptune in Pisces” as you can get, and there seems to be a collective shift toward things like spirituality, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, charity (hello crowdfunding platforms), and back-to-nature everything.
So long as rising sea levels and contaminated drinking water don’t drown out all of the positive potential of Neptune in Pisces, we might live to see a day where the promise of unity and togetherness drives the engine of mass consciousness. For now, there seems to be a rising tide that’s moving in that direction, and it’s up to all of us to keep it from breaking prematurely.
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