Category Archives: Living With Neptune

Living With Neptune: Cultivating Boundaries, Part 2

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 2

continued from Part 1…

Repetition is Key to Recognition

If I have said it once, I will likely say it a thousand times: repetition is key to recognition. This means that yes, sadly, we’re likely to repeat the same mistake an incredible number of times. But fortunately, we can also use the power of repetition to locate the actions, motives and intentions of the one constant ingredient in each scenario: ourselves. Let’s cue the compassion up now, because I’ve seen that observation used to shame a person, rather than to express the golden truth that they actually have the ability to change the pattern. It’s useless to belittle ourselves, and it is as unkind as it is hypocritical to belittle others. Who is exempt from karma, which we could simply think of as “actions?”

To begin to notice and then recognize our patterns of behavior requires us to keep track of our own thoughts and actions, which can be referred to as “tracking.” Tracking is a fabulous, if sometimes difficult skill for the Neptunian or Piscean to develop. There can be a strong tendency to think that “tracking” means tracking other people! [1] And that’s understandable for those who so easily merge their own identities with others’. Yet let’s consider a way of turning that troublesome tendency towards improving our relationship with Neptune and Pisces. As mentioned in Part 1, starting with love and compassion for ourselves and our flaws is the only way to start noticing our own less skillful behaviors and strategies for achieving our goals. Bullying ourselves, just like bullying others, will not lead us to explore our vulnerabilities, nor will it lead to the development of alternatives to our present challenges.

Second Beach Footprints, Olympic Coast Feb 2016

One tell-tale sign which can help the Neptunian or Piscean person notice when they are squandering Neptune’s powers: Are they making the focus of their life exclusively about others? Especially spending a lot of time creating narratives about others’ experiences and internal worlds? [2]

Neptune tempts us to believe that we know what is happening inside others’ hearts and minds, but there can be many distortions in even the most genuine information we may receive via intuition or other nonrational means. For example, for those who are able to readily feel others’ feelings, don’t forget: you don’t know why a person feels the way they do. Sometimes the other person doesn’t even know why they feel the way they do! It can be tempting to believe that others’ feelings are our fault or responsibility when they often have nothing to do with us, or at least not in the way we imagine. It’s a huge trap, and a way that permeable boundaries can become so draining, rather than helping us feel connected. What a gift to be able to experience something of how another feels! It brings the existence of the other into intimate awareness. What a curse it becomes, however, when we spend all our time processing other people’s emotions. What is simply a way of experiencing the connectedness of all life becomes a burden that can even feed the worst of our fears.

However, we truly can take what would be simply a weakness and turn it into a path of self-discovery—the literally never-ending task of the Neptunian and Piscean person—by realizing that unless we are well-trained or disciplined psychics, the capacity to make meaning out of something necessarily implicates us, and our story. In other words, if the Neptunian looks closely at their stories “about others” they may find that they are the actual main character! We may have to look really hard, but repetition, repetition, repetition—and opening our heart to ourselves, making it safe to see our own actions, then taking a big step back from the storyline can result in a revelation of personhood, and our own capacity to act. To return to our example from Part 1, Jan could begin to ask himself who is the one insisting that he must do everything possible to please his supervisor? Who is the one who wants the organization to succeed? Probing our storylines with questions and a sacred curiosity can open the way to finding the storyteller.

For I would suggest that once a Neptunian person can identify himself or herself as “the storyteller” in the narrative, they are making progress towards identifying how they actually see themselves. (Not how others see them, but their own self-regard.) Maintaining a clear self-image is one of the great challenges of a prominent placement of Neptune, especially in major aspect to the Sun and Moon. And while seeking the storyteller of our narratives “about others” will initiate a complex process of self-discovery, as a basic means of beginning to dis-identify with the environment and to start recognizing our own actions, it can be a great catalyst of change.

ENDNOTES

[1] Tracking events in the lives of our friends and loved ones is very healthy to a certain extent, and a wonderful nutrient to offer to the relational field. It becomes problematic when a person loses track of herself or himself, so to speak.

[2] We could distinguish this from the very healthy empathic imagination, which attempts to understand what is happening for other people, by noticing if the central focus is on oneself, rather than the other.

Living With Neptune: Cultivating Boundaries, Part 1

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.

“squirrels come in if this is open”

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.[1] 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.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] 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.