Galactic News: Neptune and the Milky Way

Artist’s conception of our galaxy (the horizontal line) shown with gamma ray bubbles (called Fermi bubbles) discovered in 2010 and gamma ray jets discovered in 2012. The jets and bubbles extend about 27,000 light years above and below the galactic plane, further than the Earth is from the galactic core. There is a lot we don’t know about our galaxy. But these gamma rays are believed to be emanating from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Image by David A. Aguilar. Read more here.

Dear Friend and Reader:

For this month’s column, I originally planned a rundown of current transits — the kind that happen to people at certain ages. Transits are among the most important events in astrology; reading a chart is largely about observing how the planets at the time of birth intersect with the planets in the sky right now.

Based on a few notes scribbled on graph paper, I started writing (in parallel to the last An Aquarian Era chapters), and in about a week the project had morphed into an e-book, covering a diversity of current astrological events for people from ages 1 to 84. (Both will be made available at about the same time.)

Among the transits that washed in with the tide was an event now happening to people born around 1988, all of whom have a placement called Saturn conjunct Uranus. This is a permanent feature in their birth charts. It’s a challenging natal aspect to live with, putting the planet of rebellion (Uranus) in the same place as the planet of authority (Saturn). People born with this can carry considerable tension, which has to be expressed one way or another.

Saturn as seen from Cassini Space Probe

Saturn Square Uranus: Last Quarter Phase 

We are all living with a version of this now, in the form of Saturn square Uranus, in effect all year. The square is like the last quarter Moon of the Saturn-Uranus cycle, where the conjunction was the New Moon.

Uranus is tilted; its rings are not aligned with the plane of the solar system.

Transiting Neptune is now making a square or 90-degree aspect to this conjunction in those late-1980s charts. Currently births well before 1987 are involved, due to transiting Neptune in Pisces making a square to natal Uranus in these charts.

This process will proceed clear through Neptune’s ingress into Aries in 2025-2026, so we’re in for the long haul.

The resulting effect can be confusing, chaotic, or represent some kind of alchemical transformation. There may be the overwhelming sense that “there is no truth.” (Hello 21st century!) In no event will it be easy; that’s not the point. This transit in all of its forms is calling for deep integration work and approaching inner conflict in an aware and creative way.

Saturn-Uranus-Neptune together are about the relationship between matter and energy; idea and substance. Working with these principles is core curriculum on Earth. Everything people do that is relevant in some way comes back to these relationships.

Neptune square this conjunction is an initiation for all who have it. It is a coming of age, soon after their Saturn return event (age 29-30).

Yet since society is engaged in this cycle with the current Saturn Uranus square, it is in a sense happening to all of us. The story of the square begins at the conjunction, and the conjunction is going through a confrontation; a transformation. We are all on the ride, in this and one other very significant way.

Reintroducing the Galactic Core

The Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1988 was close to the Galactic Core in late Sagittarius. Our big spiral island in space has a focal point at its center, and that’s located at about 27 degrees in the same sign where those two big planets met up.

Artist’s concept of a barred spiral galaxy based on what is known about the Milky Way. You can see the Sun’s position shown in the lower part of the illustration — far from the core, and between two spiral arms. In other words, we are in the boonies.

The Galactic Core is all but ignored by astrology. There are a few who specialize in deep space points, though it’s a boutique item, and I think those astrologers could do better as well. The problem may involve some avoidance of what the Galactic Core is about.

I consider the core of our galaxy to be a spiritual homing signal. Astrology is symbolic, and in this symbolic language, and possibly in actual fact, the Galactic Core is pointing toward what I would describe as a spiritual source. At minimum, it is a point of orientation. Astrology tends to use the Sun for this, because everything else orbits it. But the Sun is about the ego.

Using the Galactic Core would be on a similar principle, but a bigger idea — and bigger ideas are not an astrological specialty. Astrology loves microcosms, not macrocosms.

Consider this true joke about how the Galactic Core was found out, which makes me wonder if maybe there isn’t actually something to astrology. Discovered in 1933 by a Bell Telephone Labs scientist named Karl Jansky, the scenario is bubbling over with symbolism.

Karl Guthe Jansky is known as the father of radio astronomy, because in 1933 he discovered that the center of our Milky Way Galaxy emits radio waves. He was not an astronomer, however. He was a young engineer with Bell Laboratories tasked with identifying sources of static for their overseas radio communications. He built this rotating antenna to get all-sky coverage at their chosen frequency of 20.5 MHz (wavelength about 14.5 meters), and it quickly got the nickname of “Jansky’s Merry-go-round.” With it, he picked up thunderstorms and a strange hiss that moved throughout the day. He eventually figured out that it was coming from the direction of Sagittarius, behind which lies the heart of our Galaxy.

Of the Distant and the Exotic

It takes place in Sagittarius, the sign of things distant and exotic, with a theme of international communication. One day some Bell engineers were laying telephone cable under the ocean (a perfectly Sagittarian activity), when they noticed interference on the line. They knew it was not some previously identified kind of cosmic ray. Rather, Jansky figured out and later proved that the hissing sound he was hearing was a signal from the center of the galaxy, which had not been previously observed.

The emergence of a deep-space point is another fitting symbol of Sagittarius, where it is located. Talk about exotic and distant — and spiritually relevant. Meanwhile, it’s a long way from the Earth to the core — about 25,000 light years. We are located in a kind of backwater area of the Milky Way, and it feels like it. Perhaps the most relevant message of the Galactic Core is how we tend to not be able to feel, or relate to, what it represents.

Our galaxy, in turn, is part of a much larger structure called Laniakea, or great heaven, a living system of about 100,000 galaxies all being drawn to a point far deeper into Sagittarius than the Galactic Core. This is called the Great Attractor, the focal point of Laniakea. We are on the tail end of this arrangement, fluttering away with our backs to deep space. If we want community, contact and meaning, we must look to Sagittarius.

In the other direction, the next gas station is in Pisces-Perseus, an even more massive group of galaxies located 250 million light years away.

And how will knowing this help you get a date on Saturday night? It depends who you’re asking out.

These colorful stars, seen in a 2012 Hubble Space Telescope photo, reside at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, about 26,000 light-years from Earth. Aging red-giant stars coexist with their more plentiful younger cousins, the smaller, white, Sun-like stars, in this crowded region of our galaxy’s central hub. More info here.

Back to Our Story: What Neptune is Up To

As I said earlier, the most recent Saturn-Uranus conjunction in 1988 was very close to the Galactic Core. Neptune is now making a square to that conjunction, and it’s also making a square to the Galactic Core.

Neptune and the core have a similar elusive feeling. Both are famous for insights that are easy to forget. I figured out the Galactic Core and then forgot my delineation so many times that I wrote that into the delineation. Neptune is similar. You cannot really hold into it; consider the dream catcher. Devoted artists and writers have a notebook and pencil with them all the time.

This picture of Neptune was produced from the last whole planet images taken through the green and orange filters on the Voyager 2 narrow angle camera. The images were taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, 4 days and 20 hours before closest approach.

Both are also easily corrupted.

Fear can ruin anything potentially productive about Neptune. What Neptune represents at its best exists as a calling, but it can get blotted out fast. There are very few parents who encourage their kids to be the artists and musicians they want to be. Neptune is corrupted by all of its false idols — drugs, alcohol, lies, believing lies, and other forms of emotional toxicity.

This is why Carl Jung said to Bill Wilson (the founder of AA and author of the Big Book) that the only replacement for spirit is spirit. That is, if someone is addicted to alcohol, the only way out is a spiritual path — and even that carries significant psychic risk. Most spiritual paths become modes of avoidance. There is a bar and a church on every block. Why do they have to be 50 feet apart? They could be in the same building.

If we want healthy Neptune, we would make art supplies and musical instruments generally available. Oh wait, they already are, at least anyplace I’ve ever visited. This is more about how we feel about these things.

So, anyway, Neptune is making a long square to the Galactic Core. There will be five exact contacts in 2023 and 2024. Neptune by far has the widest orb of influence of any planet. We are under the influence of this transit now.

When Neptune makes a square to something, one effect is to obscure it. And when something is square Neptune, it can become very difficult to tune into. Simple sincerity can seem not to exist, or worse, have a negative value.

A quasar is a supermassive black hole in the core of a galaxy, wrapped in a bright disk of material. The most distant quasar now known is J0313-1806 (illustrated), which dates back to when the universe was a mere 670 million years old. This is an artist’s illustration. More info here.

At the Core: A Supermassive Black Hole (and a Lot of Chaos)

At the core of our galaxy, according to the last few hundred discussions by astronomers that I’ve heard or read, is a supermassive black hole. If the Galactic Core serves as a spiritual homing signal, at the heart of the matter is a deep, dark mystery. You might call it the mystery of death, or of the origin of consciousness. Whatever is there, it’s a reminder of the great unknown, which is so often avoided. It’s also an unavoidable force, which nearly everyone tries to avoid.

From listening to many astronomers and astrophysicists speak, it’s obvious that they are all speculating when it comes to explaining what a black hole is. We know a lot of gravity is involved. As you move toward the core (and toward the singularity point, where exiting the gravitational field is impossible), stars concentrate, and they increase in velocity. On planets close in, there may be so much starlight that at night the sky is as bright as during the day.

This would expose anyone on such a planet to an astonishing amount of radiation; maybe they photosynthesize it like the cactus in my living room, which is suddenly four feet tall, eating light from the window. Meanwhile, stars are orbiting the core incredibly fast, whipping through space, colliding and exploding, and many are getting drawn in to the singularity (black holes are said to ‘eat’ stars).

It is not like being in a Zen monastery.

Green Gulch Farm, a Japanese Zen Buddhist Monastery built as an extension of the San Francisco Zen Center.

The Human Condition is Chaotic

We have this notion that the spiritual journey is about love and light. But the human journey is chaotic, and that is mostly because we resist learning and learning from our observations. But then there is another problem of the ego resisting, at times violently, anything that might possibly be more significant than itself.

Neptune square the Galactic Core, and square the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1988, on one level represents total spiritual chaos. The energy at the core could boil Neptune. That also means burning off the illusions to which so many people cling, looking for safety from the alleged dangers of reality.

As humans, we have a choice of what we value. What most do not recognize is how much is in that choice, and why one would want to make it consciously.

In our time, the spiritual path has never been easier to embark on, or more intimidating. It’s all about the question, what is real and what is not?

Here is a clue: you are, even if you don’t feel that way. And if you feel real, I suggest you keep asking questions. The truth may have a hard time surviving Neptune’s square to the Galactic Core but I have big news: so will illusions.


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