Planet Waves
New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012

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Before and After Neptune in Aquarius

Dear Friend and Reader:

In what I trust is the last quirk of the publishing schedule after completing the 2012 annual, I had the choice today whether to write a late version of the Inner Space horoscope for February, or a letter to you. Given the quality of the moment, I've opted for the letter -- a personal one rather than a newsletter. I will concentrate my 12-sign energy on the weekly horoscope for Friday. In case you missed the February monthly horoscope, here is a link to that.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
We're in a rare moment right now, and I want to describe what makes it so. By rare, I mean once in a lifetime, with special opportunities to observe ourselves and resolve certain lingering issues -- or at least take a real step toward doing so.

This is the week that Neptune changes signs from Aquarius to Pisces; the precise moment is Friday at 2:03 pm EST. Outer planet sign changes are usually rare, but lately they have been coming in a cluster. Neptune spends about 14 years in each sign. So the theme of the moment is, in particular, getting some perspective on the past 14 years. Personal events will be meaningful, as will turning points that have influenced our whole culture.

Neptune began its trip through Aquarius on Jan. 28, 1998. A lot has happened since then -- many changes to society, political events, numerous wars, many changes to our culture. It's necessary to be observant of subtle changes when tracking outer planets, particularly with Neptune, but when you start making the before and after lists, you see some really interesting patterns.

Looked at another way, Neptune can represent an inspired state. This is natural for people who work with Neptune for a living, such as artists, musicians and composers; or rather, in order to do what they do, they've learned how to ground Neptune energy. The same would be true for a fiction writer, who you could say lies professionally but in a conscious, ethical way.

For those with less grounding, the inspired side of Neptune can be just as slippery as the delusional side. The many manifestations of what you might call false hope or false inspiration include believing what is not true because it's convenient, being sold a 'new lifestyle' through a product, or falling for the many pitches for hope and change that are sold to us. I know you may not watch TV, but if you do, have you noticed how many drug commercials there are? Have you noticed how the warnings at the end are often half as long as the commercial? I always wonder who would buy a drug that suppresses psoriasis but could spontaneously induce cancer.

Much of what we call inspiration can lack traction or any sense of contact with reality. To work with Neptune constructively it's necessary to take a long perspective, and by that I mean years; and to gradually focus your whole mind on the process. If there is going to be some kind of creative achievement, or some true potential for 'hope and change', it's not going to come from outside; it's going to come from us.

Neptune's ingress into Pisces on Friday is the last of the outer planets taking their positions in the 2012 set of aspects. As I described in an earlier article called The Road to Xibalba, in Western astrology, what we have been calling "2012" consists of a series of events that began in 2008, when Pluto first ingressed Capricorn.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
Then in 2010-2011, Chiron moved into Pisces; at about the same time, Uranus moved into Aries. Last April 4, Neptune slipped into Pisces, where it stayed for exactly four months. On Aug. 4, it retrograded back into Aquarius for the last time, and then Friday it leaves Aquarius and ingresses Pisces, where it will be till 2025.

Aquarius is the sign associated with groups, organizations, social patterns and thought patterns. Neptune is a planet that stokes the imagination, blurs boundaries and infiltrates everything that it touches. When Neptune is around, if you notice it, you might be asking yourself: Is this real or is this a dream? Many have asked that question before, but for a long time it was easier to avoid. Now that issue seems to be everywhere.

In more practical terms, what were your group associations, friendships and intimate relationships like before this transit and what are they like today? Think in broad terms: Are you more cynical, or more optimistic? Do you have more faith in humanity, or less? What has influenced you?

One of the most obvious manifestations of the Neptune in Aquarius era is this thing that used to be described accurately by the phrase, 'the Internet'. It is perhaps the ultimate example of a thing both intimately private and vastly public. Fourteen years is before and after the Internet as we now know it. We have gone from Yahoo! mail to being able to control your coffee pot from your phone. Think of it this way. We used to surround the Internet. We used to have to go to it. Now it surrounds us, and infiltrates everything. It is ubiquitous, both as a product and as the wireless and microwave signals that soak through our bodies at every moment. At the same time, we occupy it -- we project ourselves into it.

When you hear the discussions of "what is Facebook doing to our relationships?" that is just a subtle shade of the question. It's a good one though; it really is time to evaluate the meaning of the word 'friend'. I am wondering what this total merging of the Internet with consciousness has done to the way that our souls engage existence; how we conceive of ourselves. One thing that happens a lot on the Internet is that we represent ourselves to others -- and this can be in more or less honest ways. It's now considered natural to be one's own publicist, though we might want to count the cost of that -- for example, the issues involved with raising image over substance in our most intimate encounters. Question: Are you lonelier now, or do you feel like you have more companionship, than you did in 1998?

There isn't anyone who uses the 'Net who has not encountered some of what can go wrong: the misunderstandings, the crossed communications, the feeling of being deleted, and most of all the sensation that everything we say here is tracked, recorded, documented and potentially available to anyone. The question is, how do we feel about that, and what has it done to our sense of personal containment? How does this influence our integrity? A Course in Miracles has an early lesson: There are no private thoughts. How do you feel, existing in that environment?

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
The thing with Neptune is that its effects are often more easily seen after a transit than during the transit, and we're now in that last moment. With Neptune, it's as if a fog rolls in, and something happens, and we can't quite figure out what it was till the fog clears. Truly it is my perception that our culture has been living in an increasingly thick fog the past decade and a half, and many people have invested a lot of energy falling in love with their own delusions.

Today someone asked me why in my diary posts about Neptune in Aquarius was I only addressing the deceptive side of Neptune rather than the inspirational side. I will work up to it. Personally I thrive on the inspired side of Neptune. All of my interests spring from that well -- photography, music, writing about spiritual matters or writing fantasy fiction. Yet in terms of the wider world, I may have a bias, because I am leery of the damage that can be done by this influence and how carefully it must be handled. Many days it seems like we're drowning in the sea of true believership. I see some of the most inspired use of Neptune in Aquarius as being (in total) the more practical sides of the Internet, such as the way that Google makes information available and the way that Facebook makes people available. But then what do we do with that information or that ability to make contact? How creatively do we use it?

I am concerned about how and why we have taken some of the greatest con jobs in modern history so casually: fake wars, stolen elections, massive systemic heists of public funds, by the people who are charged with guarding them. I am less concerned with the events themselves and more with the way we've become so susceptible to them. We can ease the pain of that by believing all will be okay in the end, or that some good will have come of it, or that the world is better without Saddam Hussein, despite however many people were killed, hurt or displaced. With Neptune it's always necessary to ask: Is what I believe actually true?

While we're making inquiries, I suggest we ask ourselves whether we're more or less real today than we were 14 years ago, and how we got to be that way.

I am curious where you're coming from on these issues. Please write to me if you have any thoughts you would like to share with me or your fellow readers. I'll be giving this a lot of thought between now and when I write Friday's edition.

Eric Francis
P.S. -- I am doing some of that thinking out loud on both the Planet Waves blog and the Reality Check diary.

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