The Dream Dealer

It’s a time of reflection, do you feel that?

Saturn in Scorpio is really starting to work his magic. Except it doesn’t really feel like magic. Or if it is magic then it’s some old-school thaumaturgy, or one of those terrifyingly savage shamanic rituals that unfortunate sailors would get caught up in, far from home, in the South Seas in the 1700s. It isn’t fun at all.

When the Moon hit Saturn in Scorpio, the energetic landscape changed. What I really became aware of was the way in which Jupiter in Gemini was suddenly, through an act of contrast, laid bare, and he looked kind of ridiculous. Suddenly that boundless frivolity started to seem dumb. It was, in true Saturn style, a reality check. The fact is that Jupiter is appalling in Gemini. Arguably not as appalling as in Virgo, but appalling nonetheless. Jupiter, who likes depth and substance has nowhere to go except to spread himself further on the surface, because Gemini gives no natural depth. Saturn in Scorpio gets seriously deep and suddenly Jupiter looks like a second hand car salesman arguing life perspectives with Alan Watts. In many ways I am far more comfortable with Saturn in Scorpio – as ridiculous as that sounds – than I am with Jupiter in Gemini.

In part that’s a generational problem. Having pondered the conundrum for some time I believe that Neptune is partly to blame (blame? Neptune?) for this. Allow me to explain.

Neptune always gets cast as the good guy; if I may quote myself (from “Orcus” p. 202):

“I believe that Neptune is given a fabulously good press by contemporary astrology, and one that is scarcely deserved. Certainly, Neptune’s reputation is enormously positive compared to his brother Pluto’s, and yet I am endlessly sceptical about how deserving of his many generous epithets Neptune truly is. Like the ocean, Neptune seems beautiful, yearning and restive, a vastness of potential and a personification of a gentle eternity, but it seems that way from the perspective of the safe shore. Anyone who has been beyond sight of land in a black and angry sea understands that Neptune’s power is just as dread as his brother’s; equally as alien and inhumane. Pluto’s realm is buried, however; unknown to the living, whereas Neptune’s treacherous tides and currents are glamorised by his glittering waves and gentle breezes. Neptune’s dreams, poetries and symphonies are spin-doctors par excellence.”

Neptune’s wonderful trick is that he flatters to deceive by presenting us with an image of the ideal that we cannot possibly hope to realise. Then, unattained, the dream becomes a goad to our discontent.

And, when you get to grips with it, Neptune describes your dream. With Neptune in Scorpio, the basic premise is a kind of unencumbered Spartanism. You dream of a life of purity, of minimalism, of spiritual depth. If that Neptune is in the 6th house then you will have a dream about starting your day by donning your robe, walking into the clean air as the day breaks, up to the dojo under the mountain and beginning your meditation. If the 7th house, then instead, you awake in your remote cabin to find sunlight streaming through the trees. Your beautiful, funny, successful wife has made a pot of rich Columbian coffee and you join her on the porch to listen to the birdsong. In the 8th, you wake up in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria. The Swedish women’s volleyball team are staying on the same floor…

Okay, I’m joking, mostly.

But you get the idea. Neptune has a dream. It is highly personal and always alluring because it is purpose-made for you. With a Scorpio placement, the quality of that dream is always going to be characterised by depth and richness. It is not a case of bigger and better; rather it is a case of finding something pure and valuable, like a rich seam of gold deep in the black earth. Imagine that for a moment, it shines in the darkness and promises so much.

The placement of Pluto and aspects to Neptune are going to have a profound influence on the themes of your dream. If you have Scorpio Neptune in the 7th and Pluto in the 10th, then after you have drunk coffee with your wife, you climb into your Porsche and drive into the city to make big-money deals.  If Neptune trines Mars then of course, all the girls flirt with you, you’re so charming after all, but they all know that you’re happily married and can’t wait to get home to see your wife.

With Sagittarius, the dream changes, fundamentally. Now Jupiter is running the show, so it’s not a seam of gold buried deep in the earth any more, rather it’s a bright, hot-air balloon drifting gently in the balmy summer sky. You’re up there in the clouds looking down on the glittering panoply under your feet.

With that Neptune in the 6th house, you want a daily routine that’s filled with fun and laughter and good times. Yes, you can feel that can’t you? You get up and the kids are laughing, the sun is shining, your handsome, jovial husband is cooking breakfast and telling goofy jokes. You sit down to eat and your best friend calls and you arrange to go out for lunch after your yoga class. You see? That is the “more is more and it will all be great fun” style of Neptune in Sagittarius’ dream.

Inevitably though, the dream can become something of a curse. Actually, it invariably does, and when we experience hard transits to that Neptune, we begin to feel just how painfully short of that dream our reality actually is. The Neptune squares are the time in our life when we get the best opportunity to feel how far from that dream we are, and to make necessary adjustments, which invariably require coming to terms with the fact that we are going to have to let go of some things that don’t serve that dream. But that isn’t the only time we can improve the situation.

We are gifted another opportunity when Saturn moves into Neptune’s sign. It rarely feels like an opportunity, because the nature of these two energies are fundamentally dissonant, but for those born with Neptune in Scorpio, now is the time to make the hard and often onerous changes in your life which will help you to make the dream a reality. This is because the planet of reality is bearing down on the planet of fantasy, and when they finally meet, they are going to find a middle ground. It might be that Saturn gives way and you work hard to realise the dream, or it might be that Neptune gives ground and you start to get real about what is possible, and adjust the dream accordingly. Whichever way it goes, and usually there is a combination of both, after this transit, your ideal life, and your actual life will be closer than ever before. The process will not have been easy, or enjoyable, but you’ll be glad of it when it’s done.

With Neptune in Sagittarius, the situation is unique and considerably more compelling. Neptune in Sagittarius’ dreams and aspirations are in many ways bigger than Scorpio’s, and easier to deflate for that reason. But the great cosmic mechanism has ensured that Neptune in Sagittarius gets a double dose of adjustment as Saturn moves into Sagittarius between December 2014, and December 2017. People born in about 1971 are already being given a taste of this problem because – born between 1971 and 1972 they have Neptune in Sagittarius and Saturn in the early degrees of Gemini. They’ve lived with the dissonance of Saturn opposing Neptune their entire lives and as Neptune squares the opposition around now, the reality check can be especially sobering. Neptune is so very idealistic in Sagittarius after all, and the opposition to Saturn really polarises the fantasy with the reality. The dream is extremely positive and the dawning truth at the time of the Neptune squares can feel like a wet blanket the size of the old Soviet Union when it descends.

For those born somewhat after, they will experience Saturn moving into Sagittarius at the same time as their Neptune squares. It’s a double ‘turning of the screw’ on the dream of the perfect life, and for that reason it will feel very tough.

But in both these cases, all is not lost. The adjustment is painful and dissonant, but it also offers a powerful opportunity to make a shift of consciousness, which is always Neptune’s exalting pressure, into a truly spiritual mode of life. Once made, that shift is a panacea for the harshness of Saturnine reality, because it recontextualises material reality, success, status and toil into immaterial terms. Status is no longer being seen as a success, but rather in knowing that one is a good person. The small chores of life are no longer drudgeries, rather they are become meditations. What we call “work” is now “the Work”. Fundamentally, this shift is found in the realisation that the life of contentment and ease that we yearned for is not ‘out there’ but it is inside us, bound up in the distortion of perspective that we are somehow hard done-by, a victim of somebody else, or of God, or that, in fact, because we are good, we deserved better. Saturn teaches our Neptune that nobody gets what they deserve, they get only what they need to let go of the illusion that they deserved better.

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.

Saturn in Aries: into the wild…

Chris McCandless in Alaska

Chris McCandless in Alaska

I recently watched Sean Penn’s magnificent biographical drama of the life of Chris McCandless, described as an American wanderer who quite literally went “into the wild” to try and answer some inner impetus. I found the film to be profoundly moving (I don’t care, I cried – a lot!) and I cannot recommend it highly enough; so if you haven’t watched it yet, go rent it or buy it, then watch it, then get back and read the rest of this post.

So, if you’re half way familiar with this young man’s story then you will no doubt wonder what motivated him to feel such an overwhelming need to go “into the wild” at all, after all, he had a good life, good prospects, a future of genuine promise. His demise provokes real polarity in onlookers with the majority thinking that he was tragically driven by a surfeit of feeling and others preferring to consider him at best “an idiot” who got exactly what he deserved. (And who says there’s no compassion left in the world!).

I cannot find his birth time, but actually it does not really matter, because there is one overwhelming factor in his astrology that simply cannot be understated; let us consider his chart:

Astrologers beware! I know that tee-square to Neptune looks enticing, and how can we gloss over the grand water trine, which actually forms a kite to Uranus for Pete’s sake! and then too there’s the opposing near partile conjunction of Mars with Chiron to consider; but all of these are mere appetisers when compared to the main event, peregrine Saturn in Aries.

Not for nothing is Saturn in Aries called the lone ranger position (by me mostly), and “the loneliness of the long-distance runner” has some ring of authenticity to it, but if ever there was an “into the wild” placement then people, this is it. The sign of Aries is all about adventure, solitude, strength and character, and wherever Saturn is found it makes a test. Peregrination, as you should understand if you want to help your clients whose charts evince it, creates an extreme polarity, it is like having only two volume settings on your stereo: totally silent or really forkin’ loud! Or only having two speeds in your car, standstill or a thousand miles an hour! Now it stands to reason that if your car behaved like that you either would never go anywhere in your life or you’d create complete havoc when you did decide to take a trip to the shops. That is peregrination, trust me, it works every time.

So, for Chris McCandless he never really had any choice. Here then is not actually “an idiot who deserved everything that happened to him” but someone with an almost soul-destroying burden of astrology; Saturn peregrine is really tough, hey guys, Saturn is pretty tough even when it gets trines, so imagine not having anything to moderate that entire influence and having to express that exacting energy with every fibre of your being! In Chris’ case he was switched into a particular mode of Saturnine/Arian expression, that of survival and going it alone, and this was motivated by a need to transform himself into a non-materialist free-spirit (tee-square to Neptune in Scorpio) and the grand water trine creates an emotional self-sufficiency and introversion that allowed him to feel secure within himself and which requires no external validation (a great insight into the grand trine experience by the way). If you watch the film and consider the manner of the ending too then it really speaks, does it not, to those themes of Mars/Chiron opposing Uranus/Pluto across the Virgo Pisces axis. Here are themes of recklessness in regard to nutrition and sustenance, with giving up on the world and trying to trust in something less tangible, with a need to very abruptly transform the self whilst simultaneously rejecting the pain of confused emotions.

These factors though only describe the mode of expression of the peregrination. Far more common, where Saturn is Aries is concerned, is the “fountain of youth” effect. Consider two further examples of peregrine Saturn in Aries, Twiggy and Kylie, both who have made a considerable career from their vivacious and youthful good-looks. Even to this day Twiggy is considered a role-model for ageing women wishing to retain some measure of youthful vitality. Here then is another expression of Aries (youth) configured with Saturn (old age). With Saturn in Aries this impetus is prevalent: no matter how you achieve it: it is either “forever young” or “into the wild”. This is exactly why Saturn in Aries speaks to the loneliness of the long-distance runner, because it neatly encapsulates both principles to near perfection; you can actually don your running shoes and go into the wild, all the time fighting the signs of premature ageing by keeping your body in top condition. It is so good a rule that one of the first questions I ask anyone with Saturn Aries is: “did you start running yet?” They always do.

And before you wonder, I do have Saturn in Aries and I’m all signed up for the Hastings half marathon next spring, so I have to get out there and do my 5 miles, right now.