Transiting Neptune infrequently aspects itself in the course of a life time, but such "life-cycles" are usually experienced by most people around the same age. The ones that seem to stand out are the transiting square, quincunx, and opposition. However, the semi-square, the sextile, and the trine phases all offer us different insights.
All of these phases can be very subtle, giving us the impression that nothing is really going on -- but that's typical for Neptune. These transits don't readily translate into dynamic situational events, at least not in any cut-and-dried way. It also takes a special refinement of consciousness to sense Neptune's unfoldment.
Many of us are not paying internal attention to this process and therefore may seem to be uninfluenced. Still, we can evoke the power of Neptune's cycles more consciously by putting ourselves in touch with this planet's ability to better synthesize experience, once we emotionally open up to reality's more subtle levels. Much seems to depend on our age and the situational opportunities at hand.
NEPTUNE SEMI-SQUARE NEPTUNE: AGES 19-21
This period is a time of the dawning of young and innocent adulthood. The sense of invincibility in our early twenties is partly due to the Neptune mystique, the illusion that we'll never grow old and be trapped by stale, limiting routines. Such invincibility is also aided by the Uranus square Uranus transit around age twenty-one -- an aspect that makes us feel fully in charge of ourselves and immune to behavioral restrictions imposed by society. The tensional pattern of this semi-square is mildly stimulating, and brings Neptunian urges a bit more to the forefront.
The idealism that feeds our youthful dreams, plus the great expectations we have about making it on our own, tie in with faith in ourselves at this time. This can also be the beginning of a permissive stage, subtly tempting us to abandon Saturnian common sense in favor of the glamour of freedom and independence from any symbolic form of parental control. We can indulge in a lot of impractical interests.
This could also be a time when some of us seek out and attempt to merge with an ideal "other". Unconsciously desiring perfection, some of us yearn for a relationship that will sweep us off our feet. We also want involvement in outer-world conditions that elevate our feelings and make our spirit soar. However, vagueness of direction and indecision about future commitments can plague this transit, resulting in temporary uncertainties. Our options usually depend on the limits of the social environment in which we live. Some of us without a self-determined direction may flounder, with no relevant goals in sight.
In an economy that's not doing very well, this transit can make us feel very shaky and hopeless. We may keep everything tentative until our direction becomes clear. This can be a poor time for marriage or raising a family, regardless of the emotional high we're on from our relationships. Later on, usually during the Saturn Return, we may realize that we married young partly to escape from parental structure. However, while this semi-square is active, we're convinced that true love motivates us, and nothing else. This is obviously a time when we'll need to address a few blind spots, even though the semi-square doesn't provoke a crisis of self-confrontation as does the transiting square.
NEPTUNE SEXTILE NEPTUNE: AGES 26-28
In this period, we may feel that we're starting to see the light. In a subtle manner, our vision and understanding of our deeper needs increases. Although the previous semi-square cycle fed illusions of ideal relationships -- including the assumption that our "will" alone will magically help us to secure our heart's desire -- this phase serves as a reliable internal support system, functioning in the background. Still, more pressing concerns are dictated by the upcoming Saturn Return.
Neptune, in theory, can aid us in our inner realization of what we could be, once we dissolve our ties with any self-blinding elements of our less-enlightened early twenties.
Regardless of surface conditions at this time, transiting Neptune is trying to help us to sense that it is all right to be discontent with our world and to want more for ourselves. Neptune urges us to expand our potential at any point in its life-cycle. Any changes in our mundane circumstances, even disappointing ones, are actually working for our highest spiritual good, because sextile phases are opportune times to grow along new lines of interest.
This could be a time to learn about self-compassion, forgiving ourselves for our dumbest mistakes during this decade. We are also in a state of consciousness where we can better tap into the fruitful expression of our imagination, resulting in more creative solutions in our lives. A more ideal image of ourselves is now ready to take form in the world. Unconsciously, we're just waiting for the Saturn Return to help us to put an end to a host of other self-limiting views and behaviors.
NEPTUNE SQUARE NEPTUNE: AGE 42
This cycle occurs during the highly popularized and often misunderstood "mid-life crisis" years. Any square aspect in general tends to highlight issues that demand of our attention. A resolution is needed. The Neptune square to itself is probably the most critical aspect of its life cycle that we'll get to experience in our lifetime. It's associated with much of the growing disillusionment that we can feel with our current life pattern. In our attempt to sort out what is real to our true needs versus what is illusionary, we can become confused.
This Neptune phase describes the emotional discontentment of the mid-life years. Buried feelings and forgotten yearnings may now emerge from our unconscious depths, needing our nurturance and understanding. We should acknowledge them now, rather than further suppress or deny their existence.
Things could prove painful for those of us who would rather ignore inner conflicts, although that's hard to do at this time. Getting in touch with such energies, made more powerful due to their suppression, can be rejuvenating when given suitable outlets for release. Self-compassion is also a must to help us offset any fleeting feelings of being a failure or an impostor who shows to the world an image that doesn't honestly depict our internal state of affairs.
We can feel unreal to ourselves at this point, wearing a social mask that has, for so long, protected our inner vulnerabilities, but has also kept the outer world at a safe distance. The tightness of this rigidly worn mask now suffocates us. With Neptune's help, the mask is ready to slip off and melt. This allows us a chance to perceive the hidden features behind the facade -- features that reflect our ideal facets and the reality of our spiritual identity.
This transit implies that it's best for us not to resist any self-transcendent changes taking place inside of us. We can be in a metamorphic period, similar to that of a butterfly emerging from its dark cocoon in all its radiant beauty and lightness. However, before any spiritual transfiguration can take place, we must examine our motivations with complete self-honesty. We'll have to draw on our inner resources to find the strength and the courage needed to do this, because society has not conditioned us to undergo such intense self-appraisal.
It is typical that some of us can feel alone and cut off from outside support systems when attempting to do this. This "dark night of the soul" feeling is perfectly normal and appropriate for this phase. We can suffer more when we remain in a fog regarding our real nature by clinging to former attachments that we should have long outgrown. When blocked, Neptune fails to provide us with the psychological lubrication needed, thus keeping our ego-structure dry and brittle. This makes us vulnerable to emotional calcification in our later years.
Life is telling us that we can no longer seek ideal security from sources out there in the world. It will have to come from within if it is to be trusted. As we begin to illuminate those previously unlit parts of ourselves, this transit will seem less dark and threatening. Throwing light on our shadows is the best way to completely dissolve them. This "lower" square (waxing phase) Neptune transit inspires us to establish a new, inner foundation based on values more universal than society has offered.
NEPTUNE TRINE NEPTUNE: AGE 55
This transit occurs shortly before transiting Uranus trines itself. This can be a peak expansion period in which we can sense spiritual renewal and self-blossoming. We have another opportunity to feel free and unhampered when exploring newer dimensions of our life, and with a more mature sense of innocence, as paradoxical as that sounds. Simultaneous Neptune and Uranus trine phases indicate a time when we can feel at peace with ourselves. This is a natural time to open up to the non-material side of our existence. Even if we have been receptive to our soul-needs earlier in our lives, now we perceive we are transforming according to a more ideal but realistic self-image.
We may also have the proper emotional and mental framework in which to re-cultivate special abilities we once abandoned due to other, diverting reality concerns. We can now relax and feel more content with self-insights gained. This can be positive, affirmative, and confidence-boosting. How far we allow ourselves to go depends on how well we can re-structure ourselves during our Second Saturn Return (usually at ages fifty-seven to fifty-nine). We may even be inspired to dream new dreams about how we will function during our upcoming, post-retirement years. This is the right time, however, to start envisioning an ideal plan for living out our golden years.
NEPTUNE QUINCUNX NEPTUNE: LATE 60s
We experience this cycle at a time when Uranus also sextiles itself, Jupiter sextiles itself, and Saturn trines itself. Although Neptune's phase could prove disorienting and confusing for more calcified personalities (we probably blew that last Saturn Return and became meaner and grumpier), the backup support from these, concurrent phases should help us to make the emotional adjustment required for a healthy psychological break with our past.
This can also be a time for spiritual adjustments, in which we more deeply reflect on memories of our former growth cycles, both the bitter and the sweet. Discrimination, typically a quincunx theme, is not easily achieved at this stage of life, because our recollection of the past can be faulty and distorted. However, life now requires that we not get too attached to past impressions or attempt to relive them in our heads. Instead, we are to let go of non-productive recollections and other memories that are negatively charged with hostile, unresolved feelings. The more creative types at this time will not get hung up on self-pity or personal remorse. To do so could jeopardize our health and render us less functional -- without any future dreams to shoot for.
NEPTUNE OPPOSING NEPTUNE: AGE 82
This second most significant life-cycle for Neptune occurs just before our Uranus Return. This is a prime time for a fuller awareness concerning illusions that we have experienced during our lifetime. Many false assumptions about ourselves, others, and the world in general were necessary during those times when we gave them our greatest emotional energy. Realizing this, much -- if not all -- can be forgiven. We do not have to live out the remaining years of our life feeling defeated, dejected, and unfairly victimized. Our illusions eventually helped us to learn more about the nature of our real self in an in-depth, compassionate manner. They served a higher purpose.
At this phase, we can experience many reversals of emotional attitude. Matters that we had assumed to be unfortunate are now seen as blessings in disguise, while those which we once highly regarded as most important to the fulfillment of dreams now appear less magical and meaningful. Former distortions to which we clung with blind determination can clarify themselves at this phase, making it easier for us to let go of them once and for all. The opposition's potential for fostering total awareness helps us to dissolve a lot of emotional baggage.
We can also make peace with all troublesome life patterns of our past, once we have acknowledged that everything that happened to us or through us was for our own greatest spiritual good. Never once did we actually fail in any experience but, instead, had a chance to grow closer toward the God within. This allows us to begin the process of withdrawal into our inner world in a state of serenity and tranquil self-acceptance.
For some of us, this becomes a time in which our spiritual comprehension of the unity of all life is at a peak. The culmination of this transit can result in true self-illumination. It's time to surrender our will and our ego to the greater cosmic flow until death. This will facilitate our soul's transition into the next dimension that awaits.
Alive and Well with Neptune
by Bil Tierney. ©1999.
About The Author
Bil Tierney has been involved with astrology for over thirty-two years. As a full-time professional, he has lectured and given workshops at major astrological conferences throughout the United States and in Canada since the mid-1970s. Books he has written are: Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, Twelve Faces of Saturn, Alive and Well With Neptune, Alive and Well With Pluto, and Alive and Well with Uranus.Bil currently limits his practice to working with clients, lecturing, occasionally tutoring, and writing articles and books.