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Neptune, the Spiritual Awakener

Space probes have given us all sorts of information about Pluto, but only one space probe has ever met Neptune. This bright-blue planet whirls: Its day is only 18 hours long. It has delicate ice rings and 15 moons. Neptune is in everyone’s horoscope every day, governing spirituality, psychic power, dreams, symbols, meditation—whatever connects you to your inner vastness.

Among Neptune’s keywords are ecstasy, glamour, illusion, and mystery. It’s also the planet of weirdness, deception, and superstition. Ghosts are Neptunian. When someone “ghosts” you by not replying to your texts, that’s Neptunian. Neptune rules other elusive worldly phenomena like psychology, drugs, and religion. It’s hard now to believe there was a time before psychology; credit Neptune with opening our eyes. He is called the Spiritual Awakener.

Ancient astrologers never saw the planet Neptune. It was discovered in 1846, during an era of seemingly miraculous insights, discoveries, new faiths, and new drugs. Samuel Morse’s telegraph allowed people thousands of miles apart to communicate instantly. In 1847, surgeons discovered that chloroform made childbirth and surgery painless. The Spiritualist Church—a real alternative to established religions—was founded in 1848, also the year of the first U.S. women’s rights conference. Edgar Allan Poe had just published the first mystery/detective stories, now the world’s most popular kind of fiction. Great Britain was in China fighting the Opium Wars when Karl Marx in Germany declared religion “the opiate of the people.”

Neptune is why we love mysteries, personal growth, and exploring alternatives to traditional thought. As the eighth planet of the nine, it is the outermost of astrology’s “personal planets,” meaning that although it moves slowly, it will still make significant aspects to your individual natal planets within your lifetime. It also leaves its mark on generations. Everyone born from 1943 until 2030 has or will have their Neptune in sextile (60-degree) aspect to Pluto. Astrologers interpret this as “the era of self-exploration.”

There’s no more perfect way than “self-exploration” to describe how we are living now: examining our beliefs, replacing them with others, joining the human-potential movement. At best, this means Neptune, with its gift of mindfulness, will gracefully hand us off into the approaching Age of Aquarius where we will care about the rest of humanity as much as we do about ourselves.

How Neptune Messes Us Up

Neptune created the mindfulness movement. Oprah Winfrey, broadcaster whose vision has affected the way millions of people today read and think, has Neptune at the top of her natal chart and prominent in her lucky natal Grand Trine with her Sun, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter.

Neptune in its deceptive and delusionary mode is also why hair coloring and plastic surgery are rife and why drugstores are everywhere. Drugstores sell Neptunian items: not only drugs but makeup, tobacco, photo-imaging services, and sometimes alcohol or Halloween costumes. On every corner are coffee shops dispensing the caffeine we think we absolutely need.

Neptune, named for the sea god, has been in the sign Pisces, the Fishes, since 2011 Neptune rules this sign, so the planet is very much at home here, expressing itself fully, including its destructive side: flooding and tsunamis. Neptune in Pisces is why we all carry water bottles to stay hydrated, although people stayed hydrated long before bottled water. Also very Neptune-in-Pisces is our cultural passion for psychoactive liquids such as coffee and wine, and our tender feelings about dolphins, penguins, seals, and whales.


The god Neptune lived beneath the sea and ruled all water, fresh and salt: three-fourths of the entire planet. When angry he plunges a three-pronged spear into the earth or sea floor and creates earthquakes, storms, and floods. Neptunian astrological aspects are correlated with natural disasters on Earth.

We have all sat on a beach or bench and stared as if hypnotized at the water, or enjoyed our weightlessness while in water. Neptune in Pisces is why millions now stare at screens for hours at a time and ignore where they are. Neptune is movies and shows—illusions we discuss as if the characters in Downton Abbey were real. It’s why so many people wreck their minds with drugs legal and illegal, fleeing their own lives because their lives aren’t at all like those on TV.

Neptune’s traits balance themselves, so Neptune also created the mindfulness movement and the boom in creative arts and art technology such as animations. Many film and TV stars have prominent Neptunes, especially those we call beauties, such as Marilyn Monroe. Every A-list beauty seems to have Neptune in conjunction with other planets. For Jennifer Aniston, it’s Mars; for Selena Gomez, it’s Uranus.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Weird Thoughts and Weird Practices

Neptune unites us with whatever in life is invisible, whether that’s guardian angels, spirit animals, our childhoods, bacteria, or calories. Preferring emotion to reason, many of us are obsessed with the invisible or virtual, such as what’s on TV, or blame invisible forces when life doesn’t match our desires.

Neptunian illusion can become delusion. The New Age Abraham-Hicks book Getting into the Vortex says negative thinking causes cancer, and that negative thinkers choose cancer. Some students and parents are offended by textbooks that don’t rhyme with their personal beliefs and have succeeded in revising history books. With Neptune currently in sensitive Pisces until 2025-2026, everybody’s sensitive. When we take so much on faith (the way we believe that some blogger or commentator knows the whole truth about corn syrup or feminism), we can label everyone who doesn’t share our faith as insensitive, dumb, or dangerous.

Neptune can be a dangerous planet, no question about it. By that we mean that not every approach to the invisible is a healthy one. An acid trip or walking on hot coals will not necessarily be an ecstatic mind expansion banishing all your fears. Just because a practice is new or weird doesn’t mean it guarantees you spiritual growth. We don’t yet know everything about Neptune or spiritualityWe don’t yet know everything about Neptune or spirituality. Maybe that should warn us that certain things remain mysterious because humans are not ready to know them.

But maybe worse than hot-coal-walking woo-woos are rigid people who are sure that there is only one reality: theirs.

Neptune and You

We can’t do much about Neptunian social problems—they’re generational—but Neptune in our natal and transit charts is significant for us personally. By looking at both the house position and the zodiac sign, astrologers can tell you a lot about yourself. But to speak generally:

  • Neptune in your chart shows where the “magic” or “divine” in your life is.
  • Your Neptune shows where other people think you shine or show charisma.
  • Neptune can also show where in life you might have abandoned reality and are living as if the present doesn’t matter. Examples include dropping out of school because “Lots of great people didn’t finish school,” or New Age people whining “I just want to go home,” meaning the unseen karmic heaven they believe they came from.
  • Neptune shows in what department of life you’ll be selfless and charitable and maybe give or do a little too much.
  • Neptune’s position and its aspects to your natal planets tells you what your escape valve probably is.
  • Neptune shows where you are tempted to think, “There’s no benefit in it for me.” But because it also pinpoints the area of your creative talent, you might fool yourself into abandoning creative pursuits or talents just because they take work or won’t make money.
  • Neptune is the place of your creative solitude.

Milky Way

Find Your Personal Neptune

Slow-moving Neptune spends about 14 years in each zodiac sign. After finding your birth year here, google “Neptune in [the sign]” and learn more about your personal Neptune. Some years overlap because Neptune changed signs in mid-year.

Born 1928-1942: Virgo

Born 1942-1956: Libra

Born 1956-1970: Scorpio

Born 1970-1984: Sagittarius

Born 1984-1998: Capricorn

Born 1999-2012: Aquarius

Born 2012-2026: Pisces

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