Updated: Mar 5
Neptune, planet of spirituality, empathy and imagination, identified by neo-Vedic astrologers as Varuna, devata of oceans, moves into its own sign of Pisces on April 18th 2022. This is part of the planet’s 164-year cycle, where its previous stay in Pisces was from April 1857 until April 1871. Some astrologers argue that such a long orbit is beyond the scope of a human life, and Neptune is doubly out of bounds because we can’t see it with the naked eye. Yet anyone who has worked with this planet over a period of time will vouch for its mystical and boundary-blurring influence in a natal chart and by transit, on a global and individual level.
Neptune last entered Pisces in 1857, a year infamous for India’s First War of Independence, a bloody uprising against the British Raj known chiefly in the West as ‘The Great Sepoy Mutiny’. This rebellion was quelled ruthlessly, but also spelled the end for the piratical East India Company - the British Crown took over power in India, and by way of reprisal, began in earnest a program of divide and conquer along caste and religious lines. Neptune is anything but a warlike planetary energy, but this is an example of a policy which relied on psychological and spiritual repression of India’s identity and soul. India in the 21st century is having a major cultural and economic renaissance, and Neptune in Pisces may inspire its further independent spirit and world influence.
This Neptune transit also spanned the 1860s and American Civil War, an event tied more obviously to Pluto in Aries, but as was the case in India, Neptune in its own sign influenced the setting of boundaries. The heavily polarized USA today may be repeating this schism under different circumstances, God forbid (the country also goes through its sidereal Pluto return in 2024), but the nature of modern war is also changing. Bombs and tanks are being replaced by drugs, viruses and (mis)information, all Neptunian issues which will be the 21st Century battleground.
On February 11th 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old girl from the French Pyrenean town of Lourdes, claimed an image of a beautiful lady appeared to her and identified herself as ‘The Immaculate Conception’. This vision was believed to be the Virgin Mary and appeared a further 18 times, making Lourdes a world shrine for Christian pilgrims. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864.
Our Lady of Lourdes
In 1858 also, a magistrate in India named William Herschel (not the astronomer), began using fingerprinting as a way to make natives "sign" a contract. He noticed that no two people’s fingerprints were the same, and that fingerprints could be used for identification purposes. Does this development have parallels with vaccine passports and rumours of microchipped ID today?
Neptune in Pisces brought the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable in 1858, the undersea communications line connecting either side of the Atlantic Ocean. The 1860s also saw the start of submarine technology: the first submarine not relying on human power was the French Plongeur (Diver), launched in 1863, and in 1866, Sub Marine Explorer was the first to successfully dive, cruise underwater, and resurface under the control of the crew.
1859-1869 : Suez Canal constructed.
1859 Books: Tennyson, Idylls of the King; Darwin, Origin of Species; JS Mill, On Liberty
1860: Cocaine is first isolated from the coca leaf and given its name, by German chemist Dr Albert Neiman
1863, The International Red Cross founded, though was only named as such in 1876.
May 7th 1867, Dynamite patented by Alfred Nobel
July 1 1867 Dominion of Canada formed: the country is having a Neptune-return
Further back in history, two transits ago, the Pisces Ingress of Neptune in May 1692 occurred in the middle of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, in Massachusetts, where altogether eleven women and five men were executed. This event today is interpreted as an outbreak of mass hysteria, not unlike the claims of Mass Formation Psychosis spoken of in relation to Covid-19 today, with episodes of obsessive ‘free-floating anxiety’ where ‘people lose their ability to have rational thought and judgement’. The current obsession with language, and outing and cancelling anyone for hairs-breadth transgressions of acceptable opinion has all the qualities of a modern day witch-hunt.
Neptune in Pisces previous to this, in 1528-42 was the height of the Tudor dynasty in England, and took in Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, a perfect Neptunian planetary signature. As today, this program overlapped with Pluto in Capricorn, and was part religious revolution and part political power-grab. Beginning with the Act of Suppression in 1536, the Crown seized Church property amounting to over a quarter of all England’s cultivated land and shored up Henry’s newly-created position as head of church and state. For the Church, today read the World Economic Forum, and their dystopian promise ‘You Will Own Nothing and Be Happy’. Incidentally, Henry’s overthrow of the church began in the same year as his divorce from Anne Boleyn, who was executed on May 19th 1536, under an exact Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in Pisces.
Incidentally, on February 13th 1524, the seven classical planets, plus the yet-undiscovered Neptune, gathered in tropical Pisces, all bar the Moon in Gemini. This line-up caused a scare among contemporary astrologers who feared Biblical-scale flooding and catastrophe - though in the event nothing actually happened. An obvious explanation appears when this stellium lands in Sidereal Aquarius - shift it back a week to February 6th at around 6am and all of the planets including the Moon and Rahu are SZ Aquarius. 1524 was the year of the German Peasants’ Revolt, a precursor of Communism, and might fairly be taken as an astrological signature for the Protestant Reformation.
But enough of predicting the past. Since 2008, Neptune in Aquarius has broken down boundaries through digital technology, and the rise of social media is a defining modern revolution. Fluid definitions of gender and sexuality are an Aquarian/Uranian hallmark, where we’re encouraged to be whoever and whatever we say we are. It’s a big stretch to claim telepathy will be the medium in the new Piscean Utopia, but digital boundaries are an Aquarius notion, and we might become more organic and linked in by our spiritual lives in the approaching mini-Piscean Age.
Neptune in 2022 initially reaches 1° Pisces, before going retrograde on June 29th, then returns into Aquarius by September 12th. This brief window is like a trailer for the main event and should still reveal a lot about its impending 15-year stay after February 2023. Especially as Neptune will be alongside Jupiter this year, whose influence is to expand and enlarge. Chiron, an even more modern, and some would say symbolically weightless, planet(oid), is also in Pisces at this time, though in fact, in certain contexts Chiron has a quite definite and specific influence.
Looking further ahead, Saturn also enters Pisces from 2025-2028 where it comes to an exact conjunction with Neptune in February 2026. These polar-opposite planets, the bounded and the boundless, have a nightmarish quality when brought together or found in hard aspect and create a signature for malaise and disenchantment. Reality may be defined as that which doesn’t go away when we don’t believe it, yet this same planetary combination can also build a dream. Neptune was discovered originally under its conjunction with Saturn in 1846, which effectively gave the new planet visible material substance. This pair’s current 36-year synodic cycle began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and we may expect more walls and divisions, literal and symbolic, to be dissolved. Previous to this, the conjunction of 1953 took in the McCarthy hearings in the USA, a modern echo of the original 1592 Witch Trials. Cancel Culture may come to a head in 2026, similar to a modern-day Red Peril, where people are denounced and accused without evidence. A veil is removed, the truth exposed, and a schism hopefully healed: perhaps this conjunction will have a bearing on social media’s encroachment into all our lives.
There may be chaos on the material level, however: mid-January 2022, saw a massive underwater volcano erupt in the Pacific Ocean, on the scale of the largest-ever nuclear explosion, creating a tsunami across nearby Tonga and Fiji, and bringing ripples as far as the US mainland. Jupiter is in Uttara Bhadrapada for most of its Pisces transit this year, and as well as the obvious flooding, this nakshatra’s Shakti for ‘Bringing the Rain’ has an association with growth and fertility.
On a more hopeful note, Neptune together with Jupiter in Pisces, their shared home sign, signals a breakthrough in consciousness, where the power of prayer, the collective mind and remote healing will be better understood and appreciated. ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that peace must be constructed’, reads the preamble to UNESCO’s constitution, and the world today is in great need of the technology of the Unified Field.