Living With Neptune is a section of Real Imaginal magazine, which seeks to offer some helpful perspectives those who struggle with the influence of Neptune or Pisces in their natal chart. It may also be helpful for those who are undergoing a major transit from Neptune to their natal chart, as well as for astrologers who for example, have not personally experienced much of Neptune’s influence, or who would like to better understand Pisces’ influence. The water signs in general (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) will also resonate with some of this discussion, but we will focus on Neptune and Pisces.
Cultivating Boundaries, Part 1
One of the most disliked and most beloved qualities of Neptune is its capacity to dissolve boundaries. On the one hand, this could correlate to illness of all kinds (being susceptible to invasion), co-dependency and aimlessness. On the other hand this same challenge with boundaries could also correlate to genuine empathy for others, a capacity to be present to multiple and conflicting experiences, and cooperating with the demands of realities larger than oneself. Its positive expressions make it an archetypal dimension well worth cultivating.
Feeling Drained? Or Feeling Connected?
How might we distinguish between a draining and less desirable expression of “porous boundaries” and a generative expression of the same?
It may be important to first begin with honoring the intelligence of every response an individual may have to the demands of life. Compassion is basic to molding a healthy relationship with Neptune, but so is understanding that our behaviors are not completely senseless. With few exceptions, anyone who faithfully examines their problematic behavior and its consequences will find some reason for it, often centered on safety of some kind. If we take the time to honor rather than dismiss our behavior, an understanding can emerge which will make it possible to choose different responses and craft different strategies for life’s challenges.
But how do we even begin to notice what we’re doing? Especially with Neptune involved?!? It’s essential to realize that the heavily Neptunian or Piscean person can truly struggle with discerning who “the actor” is in their lives or in a given circumstance. I will try to illustrate what this means using a detailed hypothetical scenario involving someone we’ll call Jan, who was born with Neptune prominently placed in his natal chart. Jan experiences his work environment as oppressive, because his supervisor is constantly asking him to come in on his days off and cover for others at the last minute, and to work overtime and irregular hours. Foremost, Jan notices that he is constantly asked to do things he would rather not. Outwardly, he presents the attitude of wanting to please his supervisor and workmates, and to support the success of the organization. He professes to understand that others are sick or indisposed, and that the organization needs him.
But Jan does not notice that it is he who says yes every time, and moreover, that he never expresses frustration directly. There is a disconnection between Jan’s behaviors and his experience, primarily because he focuses on his supervisor’s behaviors, instead of his own, and he focuses on the well-being of the organization, rather than his own. He feels like a victim of the situation, powerless to change it, while seething inside about all of his boundaries that “other people” are crossing.
Let’s have some empathy for our hypothetical Jan, because he is totally unaware of this disconnection. It can be very hard for the Neptunian or the Piscean person to see how they are not protecting themselves or representing their own interests. It can be a very tender or vulnerable area to explore, and hard to approach, often because a great deal of unexpressed anger sits like a lid on top of it. And for Jan to make a change, he will likely have to notice this happening not only in the workplace—with the “problem supervisor”—but to notice it happening in other environments, whether that is in a new workplace or in friendships or family commitments.
In Part 2 (posted here), we will consider ways of turning the tendency to overly focus on the environment, and other people’s experiences towards improving a relationship with Neptune and Pisces.
 The planets Mars and Saturn pertain to boundaries. Mars is what responds when our boundaries are violated, while Saturn describes those boundaries. One of the hallmarks of Mars is anger, which plays an important motivating role in protecting one’s values, as much as one’s boundaries. When any planet’s expression is not duly honored and called upon or is outright repressed by a person, it tends to get pretty cranky. This can manifest as mental or emotional instability, or even somaticizing unexpressed urges or feelings. To somaticize is to convert unprocessed experiences, mental or emotional states into bodily symptoms. An anxious depression turns into a severe gastrointestinal disorder, for example.