Don’t Jump In! Moon conjunct Neptune.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Moon conjunct Neptune is dreamy, refined and often misunderstood.

Imagine this scenario: someone you know has come to see you and on their way over they have got stuck in traffic, had an argument with a co-worker on the phone and discovered that their husband spent the housekeeping on a hooker, then they call in at your house, and actually, they like you very much and just want to hang out for a while so they don’t mention any of that bad stuff, but inside they are angry, upset, hurt and frustrated, as would only be natural for anyone who had experienced such a frustrating and upsetting set of circumstances. For most, this visitor would appear agitated perhaps, maybe a little off and flat and for anyone without Moon conjunct Neptune it wouldn’t represent much of a blip on their personal radar, off their friend would toddle, and they might think to themselves “hmm, they seemed a little odd today, no matter”, and they would carry on about their business and probably forget all about it.

Not so for Moon conjunct Neptune. Not by a long chalk.

For anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune, they can feel the anger, resentment and frustration from their friend almost as a physical force in the room. The hostility would be profoundly uncomfortable, they feel so uncomfortable in fact that they may even begin to physically sweat, or shake, or feel a little wan and pale. And even before their friend was out the door they will already be running through the list of all possible misdemeanours they could possibly have committed to have caused such an upset, because it is entirely possible that their friend is angry because of something they have done, or said, or not said, or not done, or implied, or inferred or failed to anticipate.

Moon conjunct Neptune is sensitive.

So sensitive in fact that they can walk into a room and feel something in the walls. Moon conjunct Neptune doesn’t like hospitals, or asylums, or even places where somebody else has been in a bad mood in the last hour; and they really absorb the ambient and prevailing feel of people and places; they’re so sensitive in fact that you might even consider it a kind of social disability, because people who don’t have Moon conjunct Neptune simply have no clue how to behave around this person. Moon conjunct Neptune often wants to simply shut herself away if only to feel normal…

It’s not all bad though. There is no more refined possibility of feeling than that which exists as a potential within this aspect. It is entirely possible indeed to experience a sense of near-rapture when the conditions are just right. There is a deep well of feeling and compassion possible within this blend that probably exists nowhere else in the astrology, it creates many difficulties, peculiar ideas and strange notions, a feeling of being unsatisfied and misunderstood, a very difficult level of sensitivity to people and events, but by that same token it creates a sensitivity that when tweaked positively can open up a wide and verdant vista of communion with life that is truly rich and rewarding.

The most difficult consideration of Moon Neptune conjunctions however is found within this very deep pool of feeling that is created within the psyche, because all too often, and most especially in times of adversity, it is all to easy for them to simply “jump in”. It becomes something of a siren call for the native, not so much to wallow in their sense of being misunderstood, but actually to dive head-first into it and actually revel in it just a little. The most important advice I can possibly offer to anyone with Moon conjunct Neptune is to learn to recognise this tendency and when they hear that seductive song, to resist: “don’t jump in!” Skirt around the edge if you have to, paddle a little if you want, but keep your head above water: self awareness is the key, and the eternal refrain: “don’t jump in!” Make it your mantra.

The sense of Moon conjunct Neptune through the signs can be easily delineated by studying some examples.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo

Moon conjunct Neptune in Leo works rather well, because Leo is among the most naturally affectionate of the signs, so there is a route out of the adversity of this aspect through allowing that natural predilection to feeling human warmth shine through. At its worst Moon in Leo can tend to the vain and snobbish, but wherever Neptune is configured there is created a predilection to the immaterial. Those with this aspect who pursue the inclination to love of luxury found in the Moon placement will invariably experience disappointment as a result. Neptune in Leo though is profoundly melancholic too, so the tendency to jumping in to the lake of sorrow is decidedly exaggerated here. Jack Lemmon, Anne Frank and Peter Ustinov all demonstrate the gentle and kindly warmth of the conjunction in the eternal flame of the sign Leo: consider Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and George C. Scott, all of whom evinced both Moon and Neptune in Leo, but without the conjunction, the quality of the blend when viewed in this context, is unmistakable.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Virgo.

In Virgo then, compare the three examples above: the Dalai Lama, Dustin Hoffman and Marvin gaye with any three other natives born with both Moon and Neptune in Virgo but out of the conjunction: so, for example, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson and Lou Reed. Immediately you will get a sense of the conjunction, the blend, which sensitises, softens and creates an often difficult vulnerability in the manner. Moon in Virgo alone is not the greatest placement for Selene, since it creates an incompatible practicality where the head rules the heart, a love of tidiness, method and order but also, in its best manifestation a tendency to simplicity and frugal habits. At its worst, Neptune in Virgo is pedantic, fault-finding and difficult to work with (which is a criticism very much associated with Dustin Hoffman for example), but it also gives an intuitive understanding of others and a profound interest in natural health. When these influences are brought into the conjunctive blend then we have a potential for great sensitivity to environments, especially cluttered, chaotic spaces. It makes one hyper-sensitive to working relationships (which explains Dustin Hoffman’s reputation almost perfectly) and gives a profound interest in simple, healthy lifestyles and philosophies: which rather gels with the Dalai Lama’s admirable message of compassionate simplicity. Any Moon – Neptune contact speaks volumes about the relationship with the mother too, perhaps she was fault-finding and practical but in some other sense vague or hard to understand or especially sensitive herself. Maybe she was a clean and tidy drunk. Possibly she was profoundly spiritual and methodical in her habits too; the blend always plays out through the maternal experience in one way or other.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra

Libra creates a subtle leaning toward the Other, thus any configuration in the sign of the scales profoundly affects the entire process and approach to relating, and the Moon – Neptune blend is no exception. Neith put it this way, which speaks to this exact potential:

Having spent many years dealing with a Moon-Neptune conjunction in Libra making it very difficult for me to see the reality of what was going on in my relationships, I have some experience and a few thoughts on coping with Mr. Fogbank.

All of that innate sensitivity and confusion is experienced through close relationships, and nowhere more so than in the marriage, although it can potentially create a similar ambience in business or creative partnerships too. Moon in Libra alone creates a need for love and affection as well as a measure of dependence on the partner for security and comfort and when Neptune in Libra is configured there is a genuine requirement for friendship with the partner too, so all of that sensitivity that is implied by the conjunction must in some sense be played out through the partner, who must be a friend of the most supportive kind otherwise the native will tend to become melancholic and confused and – as ever with Libran concerns – slightly off-balance. Sting, David Essex and Benazir Bhutto all shared this conjunction.

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio

Moon conjunct Neptune in Scorpio creates a very different ambience to Libra, although the vulnerability and sensitivity engendered by the aspect is still its standout feature. Consider the three examples of John Cusack, David Schwimmer and Greta Scaachi and contrast them with three natives having both Moon and Neptune in Scorpio but without the conjunction of the two in force: Will Smith, Liz Hurley and Jennifer Lopez. The softening and emotionally refining influence of the blend in these latter cases is absolutely conspicuous by its absence. Moon in Scorpio alone creates a tough, resilient, emotionally tenacious and frank impetus, while Neptune in this most emotionally intense of signs creates a very peculiar disposition, one that is rather difficult to fathom which simply increases the potential for being misunderstood that is already inherent in the aspect itself. Scorpio is of course deeply compassionate when evolved, and this aspect certainly encourages that outcome in those affected; this set of circumstances makes the Moon – Neptune in Scorpio native most likely to withdraw from the world – a fairly natural condition for the Scorpio in any case – since the sensitivity is increasingly tweaked by the experiential incomprehension which is the result of this blending. Neptune in Scorpio creates a tendency to soul-sickness and states of low level melancholy too and often this, when integrated into the emotionality of the Moon, creates a soft but world-weary ambience. When all is said and done however, Scorpio on the Moon is required to survive on meagre resources, they can nurture themselves on Spartan rations, emotionally as much as anywhere else, so there is at least an intimation of balance in the equation.

At its very best, in whatever sign it is found, the contact of Moon and Neptune of any type creates a great sympathetic ability in the astrology, a person who can understand and empathise with the difficulties of others, but the conjunction feels those self-same difficulties more directly and immediately than any other type of contact, and very often the sense is entirely involuntary. Vivid dreams are another factor in any of Moon’s applications to Neptune. At worst, the contact creates a tendency to fantasy, delusion and dishonesty, most especially with the square or the opposition, but even in such difficult cases, the overriding impression is one of profound sensitivity.

Moon in Scorpio and the Myth of Mithridatum

Mithridates VI; Royal Toxicologist

Have you ever heard of Mithridatum? Probably you have not, but it is important to at least one in twelve of all human lives, because they ingest Mithridatum each day, and by it they thrive.

The mighty empire of Rome was under almost continual attack throughout its great history, usually at the barbarian frontiers, far from the Aventine, far from the Forum Romanum and the sacred Dionysian groves beneath the seven hills; in some benighted Northern heath, or desolate Mesopotamian dust-bowl, and usually, those seething discontented tribesmen and goat-herds were like the annoying buzz of a mosquito at the lion’s ear, but once in a while an enemy of Rome surfaced that turned out to be formidable.

We all know of Hannibal, and the Punic Wars perhaps, but what of Mithridates? He was the King of Pontus, a region of what is now Northern Turkey on the shore of the Black Sea, and he fought Rome in three separate campaigns, taking on the Mighty Sulla and Pompey the Great, the latter of whom brought about his downfall in 63BC. Rather than face capture, he attempted suicide by taking poison, which failed, and at the last his friend Bituitus ran him through with his own sword.

Accounts after the fact tell of how Mithridates took a large quantity of poison and “stamped about” in order to try and have it take effect, but he did not seem remotely fazed. The truth though is that Mithridates was obsessed with poisons, he feared that an assassin might take his life by poison and so he spent many years experimenting on his prisoners by feeding them poisons and then trying to cure them with herbal antidotes. The end result of these protracted labours was that he eventually created a panacea for all poison, a silver-bullet cure that he took every day of his life, an “almond-sized” pellet of this mystical substance that became known as Mithridatum, so that he might never be unwittingly poisoned by his enemies.

The Greeks were intrigued by Mithridates great cure and they created their own that was said to even be effective against viper-venom and they called theirs Theriac, from which the English word treacle is derived. But this article has nothing to do with treacle. Marcus Aurelius (as played by the late Richard Harris in the Ridley Scott movie Gladiator) was said to have ingested theriac every day of his life also.

There are two more legends concerning Mithridates that are pertinent to this article, firstly, it was related that he had a prodigious memory and could speak all 22 languages of his kingdom fluently and secondly, it is told that he spent seven years of his boyhood living alone in the wilderness following the assassination of his father Mithridates V – by his attendants and members of his own family.

Any scholar of the classics will already suspect the truth, these archetypal stories from antiquity reverberate in the subconscious because they reflect key truths that we relate to at a primal level, and the story of Mithridatum, of Mithridates himself, is a story of Scorpio Moon in its distilled and undiluted form. Think on it! An ancient warrior-king that even royal Rome struggled to suppress, a hero resistant to poison, who could not be killed by any normal means, who had a powerful memory and who was forced into a protracted period of intense self-sufficiency in his earliest years; Mithridates is the mythic keystone of the Moon in Scorpio placement!

Getting away from this profound talk, what is Scorpio Moon? The Moon talks about the mother archetype, it is the lunar principle, the nurturing feminine, but it is not so easy, in the midst of Solar society to grasp its import, it is instinctive, it is how we have learned to sustain ourselves; if our Moon then is in Leo, we require some drama in our life, and we like to have a little praise; and because we learn our most sublimated behaviours at mother’s knee, there is no question that mother was proud of us, she was warm, affectionate, something of a dramatist in the drawing room; we learned then how to nurture ourselves in a Leonine way, because that was how mother made us feel safe and loved when we were small.

So what of Scorpio? Moon in the sign of the venomous Scorpion is an entirely different affair. Where Moon in Virgo is precise and fussy but essentially nutritive and therefore practically sustaining, Moon in Scorpio actually has a less-is-more philosophy of motherhood. Scorpio withholds, it withdraws, hides away under a rock, Moon in Scorpio is instinctive and protective, but deadly and seriously dangerous too, if that little blighter stings you, then you’re in serious trouble.

This speaks very much of the evolution of Scorpio consciousness, because undeveloped, it is a self-destructive energy. Scorpio Moon is the emotional Spartan who learned that mother was probably just a little dangerous, that you had better leave her alone in case she stung you and so, taking all these archetypal lessons on board, Scorpio Moon ingested a little of mother’s poison every day, until, like the secret of Mithridatum, they became immune to her lethality.

Moon in Scorpio is in its fall, because the lunar principle is all about nurturance, but the Scorpion does not know how to nurture, it is ruthless and careless of life – even its own – and so it will soldier on in the face of the most incredible hardship, wandering the emotional wilderness for years, learning self-discipline and self-control by reasoning that: “if I need less, then I can cope better.” For Mithridates, who spent 7 years (or a Saturn quarter-cycle) wandering the wilderness as a child, this is a fundamental experience of the Moon found in the 8th sign. Then too, there is his remarkable memory, and this is one true gift of the Zodiac’s most tenacious (excepting Cancer) placements, Moon in Scorpio gives a profound power of recall, an ability to retain information.

But most of all, Scorpio on the Moon is tough. Tough emotionally for sure, but the native is able to endure all manner of austerities and hardships, they can survive, if not happily, then reasonably unscathed in the harshest of environments, and as a result they learn to be self-sufficient, usually because they have no choice. Most of those born with Moon in the Scorpion sign experienced some measure of parentally enforced deprivation as a child. One person I know always had to make do with the cheapest shoes, which he would wear until his feet hurt, and such was his parent’s reluctance to ‘waste money’ on his feet, he arranged to have his shoes “stolen” after football practise. Another person was sent away to boarding school and while other children’s parents would collect their laundry and return it sometime later, washed and ironed, this unfortunate had to manage on his own, doing his laundry in the school bathroom and ironing all his own clothes at age 11. These are the kinds of tales that are commonplace for those born with this difficult placement. Yet another young man was the son of a prostitute, who frequently had to make do with whatever food he could find for himself in the kitchen while his mother was out working, or sometimes, he lamented, while she was upstairs working; and here the sexual themes of Scorpio associated with the maternal principle are found.

So is there hope? Yes, there is always hope. Scorpio Moon, like Mithridates is mostly immune to poison, so they can be very good at being unriled by insults (with practise) and they rarely resort to comfort-eating; actually if anything, the Scorpio Moon, in a direct contradiction of Taurus Moon, actually resorts to comfort not eating, or comfort starving when they are feeling depressed. Contrary to popular opinion, Scorpio Moon is profoundly compassionate, once the evolvement is complete and the higher sense is activated; and of course, loyalty – even unto death – is one of the most remarkable features of this placement, if you are looking for a kinsman to stand shoulder to shoulder with you before the rush at Thermopylae, then consult your ephemeris. Discard all those witty Moon in Gemini types, forget showy Leo and flip-flopping Libra or wishy-washy Pisces; Moon in Scorpio will be there, until the very last gasp.

Alan Watts, pt 3: Moon, Chiron and a few notes

Alan WattsTime then for a few closing notes on the subject of Alan Watts’ fascinating nativity. We have covered some of the key issues that made him the enigmatic but brilliant genius that he so clearly was; his peregrine but dignified Uranus, Cazimi Mercury, qunideciles from Saturn conjunct Pluto and Neptune on the 8th and his Saturnine/Uranian soul, realised through an appreciation of his Capricorn stellium in the first. Of course, no chart is defined entirely by just one or two configurations, and really we have up till now concerned ourselves with confirming those aspects of his nature that we are privy to, so what of the rest of the man?

Astrologically I find the Moon opposition to Chiron intriguing. This suggests a painful and never-healed rift in the relationship with the mother; with his Moon in pure but perfection-seeking Virgo in the 8th there is a hint that she may have held high standards that the young Alan found hard to attain. His interest in philosophy and later eastern mysticism came about largely through the influence of his mother, Emily, as she was the daughter of a missionary herself and Watts recalled in his biography how his mother taught at a local school for daughters of missionaries to China. It was because of his mother that Alan had early exposure to Asian culture, via art and other gifts brought by parents returning from China. A Sinophile all his life, Alan attributed the start of his interest in the writings of Chinese poets and sages to his mother’s gift of a Chinese translation of the New Testament.

Immediately, we get a sense of Emily as having a deeply spiritual, albeit orthodox facet to her nature, and it is interesting to note how Watts spent a great deal of his philosophic effort upon deconstructing many of the inconsistencies of traditional theistic logic. With Chiron in Pisces, we get a sense that the damage in his maternal relationship was at heart a spiritual one, an inability to find a middle ground between the exacting rules of critical Virgo and the polarity of Piscean faith; an existential incompatibility between a mother who may have been obsessive and critical, and a need to find a sense of trust in a benevolent Universe. Indeed, much of Watts’ greatest insight speaks to powerfully Neptunian themes of dissolution, of impermanence, of illusion and compassion.

So what might have caused this rift? Moon in Virgo hints at a mother who wanted things to be just so, neat, orderly and if not exactly conventional, certainly humble and God forbid! None too flashy! Then we see the quincunx to otherwise unaspected Uranus in its domicile of Aquarius, suddenly (and thus fittingly for Uranus) we see the source of the pain. Watts was different, naturally he was odd, quirky, noticeable by dint of being not-normal; his interests were weird and profoundly unorthodox and he speaks of a childhood spent devising complex funeral rites for birds, and composing treatises on theology which he would discuss with his parents long into the night. There is no question that his mother loved him; he speaks of her fondly, but of course that quincunx speaks to dissatisfaction, and it appears that even after declaring himself a Buddhist at age 14 Watts was still inclined to try and reconcile his chosen belief with that of his mother’s choosing.

The maternal principle is internalised, and with Moon in the 8th, there is a theme of letting go; this opposed to Chiron further posits the idea that letting go of his mother drove him to seek some spiritual solution to his painful loss. Chiron in Pisces on the very cusp of the 3rd forces one to continually readjust their faith in hope of addressing the cold-shoulder of an uncaring cosmos.

A few other points worthy of mention:

  1. Neptune conjunct royal Regulus would dignify his spirituality.
  2. Venus in Sagittarius in the 12th gives a profound love of prophetic and far-reaching  ideals, of far off places, of the exotic and mystical; it also gives a deep love of solitude, and it is well known that Watts would spend several hours a day meditating alone, a confirmed Buddhist; which in his day was certainly an exotic belief system.
  3. Venus furthermore rules the 10th, so this love of exotic belief systems would somehow define the career!
  4. Saturn in Gemini creates a challenge to articulate, and here, conjunct Betelgeuse denotes “success which is not blocked” according to Brady. Unquestionably so.
  5. Saturn furthermore mutually receives Mercury; thus lending great stability to his thinking and much faculty for adaptability in meeting his obligations.
  6. Pars fortuna is partile the Imum Coeli, suggesting that his most private self was his bounty.

This is the final article concerning Alan Watts. I strongly recommend that you listen to some of his marvellous teachings, and here is a podcast which will allow you to do just that.