The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 326, titled:
With Laura Nalbandian and Chris Brennan
Episode originally released on November 3, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Shelby Richardson and Melissa Marklin
Transcription released November 3, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to the Astrology Podcast. In this episode I’m going to be talking with Astrologer Laura Nalbandian about the planet Neptune and what it means in Astrology. So hey Laura, welcome to the show!
LAURA NALBANDIAN: Thanks Chris, for having me and making time for me.
CB: Yes. You’re actually out here on a site visit. You’re planning a big astrology conference that’s happening in Denver next year in August of 2022.
LN: Definitely. So this is actually a hotel I had a conference at, gosh, seems a hundred years ago but it was 2003. So it’s not an unfamiliar hotel to me, but it’s been a long time. So ISAR is having their conference, finally. Normally they have a conference every 4 years. So their last conference was 2016, and I believe if I remember it was in Arizona. And then their intention was to have it in four years by 2020. We know how that went.
LN: 2020 everything came down.
CB: I remember there was something that happened last year… [Sarcastically]
CB: I’m a little fuzzy on the details…
LN: Exactly. Exactly. A little bump in the road… Unfortunately for all of us it’s been an ordeal in all of our lives in some way or another and certainly in the process of coordinating events all of us event coordinators have certainly had to deal with you know moving events, in one way or another. So I believe 2020 was scheduled for September, then it got cancelled. It was scheduled for this time in 2021, again too much uncertainty. Glad they did it with the Delta variant on the rise.
LN: And so it’s scheduled for August 25th- 29th at the Westin in Westminster, which is a suburb between Denver and Boulder.
LN: So that’s where we held and we have every focused intention of making that happen after two years of cancelling. Right. So they had previous coordinators and everyone got burnt out. You know when you’re planning a conference and it gets cancelled and they move it and then it gets cancelled again. People were getting burnt out.
CB: Yeah. Well luckily the astrology is going to be much better next year than it was last year. So that should help and I’m looking forward to that as one of the first in person conferences that will take place since the pandemic. So we’ll talk more about that later, and get into some of the details but there will be a website which is at ISAR’s website. I guess people can google?
LN: They can actually go to ISARastrology.org but the direct website for the conference will be ISAR I-S-A-R ISAR2022.org. Is in development at this point. So here we are in August. So it’s in development, we plan to have that up and running more clearly and have all those things in place within the next month. Registration, we’d plan to open that originally we thought we might get it done in September. But through our planning process this week while we were here with the board we realized that October after Mercury goes direct would be a better time for us to open registration.
CB: Yeah. That’s a good call. That’s one positive thing about working with astrologers on practical events is being aware of things like that.
LN: Absolutely. You know and we were going to open under Mercury direct, but then as they start to look Mercury was going to be in shadow, go retrograde, be retrograde for most of the early bird section so I think in many ways kind of dumb and my bad, and thankfully we rectified that. But it would have been unfair for some people to register kind of under mercury retrograde to get the discount and we don’t want to do that.
CB: Yeah that could be chaotic.
CB: Alright cool! Well I’m excited about that and I’ll put a link to the website in the description below this video or on the podcast where people can find more information. So to just kind of pivot to our topic today. So I’ve been doing this series on each of the planets where we do one planet per episode and do sort of a deep dive into the significations and the meaning of the planet and I thought you’d be a good person for Neptune. I’m not sure why I thought that initially. But I had some, I know you’ve lectured on that.
CB: But sometimes people have it like Sam — I did the Jupiter episode with Sam because I know he has a prominent Jupiter and has some very Jupiterian themes and vibes in his life. And I couldn’t remember why I felt like that way with you as well or what. Or how it was placed in your chart.
CB: Do you share chart details?
LN: I don’t mind. 1-17-1959
CB: Do you want to show it?
LN: You can! 6:23 PM once you get there.
CB: Let me pull it up. But you actually have Neptune like exactly conjunct your IC?
LN: Yes I do. It’s the closest conjunction to anything in my chart.
LN: Yeah, it’s within – I believe it’s within a degree or minutes. And yeah, so you have it.
CB: And of course that’s also in your 4th house, and that’s mom.
LN: Yeah. So I have, you can see it conjunct the IC — what is that? Five and six degrees. Yeah, they’re within a degree. I don’t have any real close conjunctions planetarily. They’re all separating conjunctions –
CB: Kind of, kind of wide.
LN: – or too wide applying.
LN: So that’s the closest one. And Neptune does contact a lot of planets in my chart. There it is opposed the moon. So mom, again. I remember, if I can do a brief anecdote.
CB: Please! And for those who don’t know her, if you want to introduce, we did a whole episode on her at one point a few years ago.
LN: Yeah we did. Maggie Nalbandian is my mother. She started Astrology et al Bookstore in 1975. So I started there at 16. She started NORWAC, the northwest astrological conference which I now own and run. She started that in 1984 and she started studying astrology when I was six, so 1965. And when I was a teenageer she said to me, she pulled me aside, and she said “Out of the four of you I’m worried most about you.”And I’m like “Why is that mom?”. And she said “Oh well you have Neptune opposed the moon. And I really feel like you know you’ve got to be careful of drugs.” And you know this would be back in the 70’s. What’s really interesting is out of four siblings I’m the only one that didn’t.
CB: Okay. Yeah, well you’ve got some nice counterbalancing like, earth stuff going on it seems like and that’s a lot of what’s going on in your chart. For those listening to the audio version, you have Leo rising and the Sun in Capricorn along with Mercury and Saturn. And then the midheaven and the Moon and Mars up in Taurus in the tenth house and Pluto in Virgo over in the first, or second house, depending on the house system.
CB: So a lot of earth in your chart really counterbalancing that Neptune helps.
LN: It does.
LN: And you could think of it conversely that the Neptune counterbalances all that earth.
CB: Yeah that’s a good point. That’s a good way to look at it actually. So but she was very much into obviously astrology and metaphysics and in that way sort of imported some of those things into your life.
LN: She did. She didn’t do it overtly, I think at that one moment probably she did. I started working in the bookstore when I was 16, would come in after school. The bookstore wasn’t too far from my high school, and I’d walk over, and I took my first class from her when I was 16. But you know, It was in the summer I was bored, it was math.
CB: Right, yeah people were still calculating charts by hand and like using clay tablets to write down.
LN: Yes, apparently yeah. And I was like, ‘’Really, I don’t want to.”.
LN: So the bookstore moved a couple of times. And in 1979, think it was around there, I was working in the bookstore. I had graduated high school and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and my father knew this and he came to me and said “Your mom and I are firing you. This is a safe place for you. If you don’t get out in the world to figure out what you want to do, you’ll never do it. So you’re fired, get out.”
CB: Okay so that was their version of kicking you out.
LN: Yeah! Yeah. It was good. I went out and did other things and became a bookkeeper at an accounting firm, which for my left brain was fabulous and learned a lot about bookkeeping and so that served me for business. Went back to the bookstore in ‘83, started studying astrology and other stories along the way about the circuitous route and how I became a professional astrologer which wasn’t the goal. Right? So you know, there’s– but having a mom who’s an astrologer, you know, certainly was very different than every other kid that I grew up with, stay at home moms and that sort of thing.
CB: Especially being born in 59’ in terms of the generation then that raised you and what their attitudes and like interests were. That would have been very different and much more mystical bent than, or spiritual bent than most parents in the 1960’s and 70’s.
LN: She took us to church on Sundays, not because she was religious, but she was very clear. Mom was very direct about her approach and she said ”I’m taking you to church because I want you to decide for yourself. I don’t want to tell you what’s right or what’s wrong about religion. I want you to figure it out for yourself.”
LN: And she was never, she never hid her astrology from church. The church ladies would come over, knock on the door while mom was at work and say that they were here to, you know, pray for us and pray for mom. She loved to go to the race track, the horse track. Again she didn’t hide those things! And that she was into Astrology. And we were very polite. But when we closed the door we’d all just break out laughing because we really thought it was “You have to pray over mom? This is ridiculous!”
CB: Right like they are afraid for her soul or something
LN: Yeah, and our souls, right.
CB: Right, wrapped up in all of these occult practices and stuff.
LN: And so yeah we did for ourselves discern and determine what we believed about religion. And so I think that was the better way. She didn’t necessarily tell us we had to be anything.
CB: Okay. And I was just looking up what episode. So it’s episode 75 which is on the Astrology Podcast website if anybody wants to go back and look up that episode where we did a whole thing on her, a two hour discussion about her life. So that’s a nice starting point in grounding in terms of your Neptune street cred and accolades. Cause also you’re a very practical person and you organize conferences. You’ve organized a bunch of conferences; you’re doing the ISAR conference next year, you’re doing the Northwest Astrology Conference, which you took over from your mom and became the head organizer of I think over, what? Ten, fifteen years ago. But then you also do have like a very sort of internally, a philosophical or spiritual sort of mindset, to some extent, despite your very practical exterior
LN: Absolutely, so it’s practical spirituality, there’s no question about it. It has to be, I have to find a use for it. That doesn’t mean it has to be “Can I manipulate it with my hands?” but I have to find some value for it and some use for it in my life. Right? So all things mystical and spiritual for me are actually quite practical and how I use astrology and my metaphysical and spiritual life from being a practicing wiccan to, you know, all sorts of things has got to be grounded in some use and some value for me.
CB: Yeah. And one of your primary backgrounds also is in evolutionary astrology. Would you say your primary approach?
LN: It is, I mean, it’s what I was astrologically raised in, in the sense of my education. Now mom started out fairly traditional learning from a local long-time astrologer Dorothy B. Hughes who had a bookstore.
CB:Yeah I’m still finding used books of Dorothy B. Hughes. That she has this like bookstamp and in used bookstores in Denver I’m still finding books in circulation that used to be in her collection.
LN: And you’ll find books that have Astrology et al stickers in them as well. So she started out in a very fairly traditional-modern… I mean, the truly traditional elements really didn’t come about until around the late 80’s and 90’s, but traditional-modern in that sense, along with Joanne Wickenburg and a number of Seattle astrologers and it was Jeffrey coming into the bookstore in ‘76, Jeffery Green, and she had started to move into, prior to that, Dane Rudyhar, Alexander Ruperti, there was Mark Roberts in Seattle, as well, who wrote Transit of Saturn, and he wrote a book on phases and a couple other books, I believe. Again, all very psychological astrologers. Gary Lorentzen was there at that time. who’s now since moved into a more mundane approach, but back then they were all sort of of that same kind of outlook on astrology and life. And so Jeffery came also with an interest in, steeped in Dane Rudhyar, Ruperti. He was good buds with Robert Chansky and his work on aspects and phases and so on. And so, you know, out of that work and his own inspiration came evolutionary astrology and the use of Pluto as the method of looking at soul patterns. Where’s the soul coming from? So I’m first educated in that. That’s my passion. That’s my love. That’s my focus. I look at other forms of astrology. I’ve looked at profections. I’ve looked at precessial returns. I’ve looked at tertiary. I’ve looked at solar arcs. You know, I’ve played with them, see how I can, you know, take methods and blend them into what I’m doing. If they don’t really work for me, I’m not using them, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t of use. But they may not be of use for me and so again everything comes down to is there use? Is there purpose? Does it have value? Does it have an application in what I’m doing? So that’s really it.
CB: That makes sense. Alright. So previously in this series in order to just ground the discussion and to focus on the meaning of the planet, we’ve read some passages from different astrologers in order to see what people have said in the past that’s been influential on how astrologers think today. I was trying to find a good book that would summarize some of the significations of Neptune and I have a few of them but one of them that I was going to read was Richard Tarnas’, one of his paragraphs on Neptune when he starts talking about the significations of the planet. Do you think that’s a good starting point or is relatively reflective of your views?
LN: Love Richard Tarnas! You know he’s a brilliant mind. He’s a great man. Had hoped to have him at NORWAC for next year. He’s got a reunion for college that he doesn’t want to miss. So he won’t be there.
CB: Okay. Maybe next time.
LN: Yep. For sure, yes.
CB: So here’s what he says and he has like a long section on Neptune so this is not going to be everything but he does have a decent paragraph where he says, “Neptune is associated with the transcendent, spiritual, ideal, symbolic, and imaginative dimensions of life; with the subtle, formless, intangible, and invisible; with the unitive, timeless, immaterial, and infinite; with all that which transcends the limited literal temporal and material world of concretely empirical reality: myth and religion, art and inspiration, ideals and aspirations, images and reflections, symbols and metaphors, dreams and visions, mysticism, religious devotion, universal compassion. It is associated with the impulse to surrender separative existence and egoic control, to dissolve boundaries and structures in favor of underlying unities and undifferentiated wholes, merging that which was separate, healing and wholeness; the dissolution of ego boundaries and reality structures, states of psychological fusion and intimations of intrauterine existence, melted ecstasy, mystical union, and primary narcissism; with tendencies towards illusion and delusion, deception and self-deception, escapism, intoxication, psychosis, perceptual and cognitive distortions, conflation and confusion, projection, fantasy; with the bedazzlement of consciousness whether by gods, archetypes, beliefs, dreams, ideals, or ideologies; with enchantment, in both positive and negative senses.”
LN: Okay I think we’re done!
CB: Yeah, let’s wrap it up and go home.
LN: Let’s go.
CB: Luckily I’m already at home so I don’t have far to go.
LN: I’m like, pardon me, couldn’t have said it any better.
CB: Yeah well he worked on the book for ten or fifteen years, twenty years or something so he put some thought into it. But that’s pretty good and one of the things that it does very well is capturing both some of the, I don’t know how to phrase it, but some of the upsides to Neptune and some of the downsides, potentially.
LN: You could call it integrated and unintegrated. Healthy, unhealthy. Shadow, light. I don’t like hierarchical forms and that’s a hierarchical form that intends to import judgement. Still struggling to find the words that describe those things on their continuum. Because that is a continuum. A spectrum of manifestation every planet, every sign, every house, everything has that spectrum of expression. And so, yes.
LN: He encompasses that.
CB: Definitely. So that’ll be one of the things that’ll be tricky for us, in terms of this planet, too. Because Neptune, obviously, is a very slippery planet and nailing down it’s significations and articulating them can sometimes be difficult. But that’s one of the primary difficult things is that it has those sometimes constructive manifestations and less constructive manifestations and everything in between.
LN: Absolutely everything in between. Right? And my intention in my astrology, in my teaching, and with clients is to not import judgement one way or the other on the placement of that spectrum that they might be landing. And we land on those spectrums can be moment to moment, throughout our lives, whatever. So some people get stuck in a place of what we might call the shadow of that, in that spectrum and they might get stuck there. But I really work at not importing judgment into that position. It is natural and normal for us to judge or make judgments. There are healthy judgments we make. And by and large we, as astrologers, for me, I’ll speak for me, I would much prefer my clients to be at another position on the spectrum. But my position also is that they are where they are for the reason they need to be and as their astrologer giving them advice or coaching them is to help show them the other part of the spectrum. Right?
LN: And to not demonize where they are at but to show it as a continuum for their growth. And that they don’t have to be stuck there and they don’t have to judge themselves. Because certainly people who are, those of us, all of us who have been in those what we might call the darker places of the Neptune spectrum, we know are there. Unless we are truly in delusion.
CB: Which is tricky sometimes if you’re in a heavy Neptune transit. It can seem very nice, but you can be in a sort of bubble or an illusory sort of bubble.
LN: Oh yes.
CB: It’s not until you step outside of that transit and you look back and you realize like, ‘Oh, I was in the middle of something that was not what it seemed but I didn’t quite realize it.”
LN: Right. That is very clearly true in transit. Right? And as a consulting astrologer, for me I want to make sure that I articulate the potentiality of being in that bubble and not to judge oneself even as you get on the other side of that bubble. Cause you’re in the bubble for a reason.
LN: I mean I, again from a practical point of view, for me it’s practical too. I don’t believe in the fated nature of the bubble, but we have a reason for being where we are right? And so in the growth of our consciousness and, for me, in the growth of our soul that’s the place we land and we have a multiplicity of choices in how we’re going to deal with, again, that spectrum. How we’re going to deal with that transit. And then as Neptune in the chart, we’re going to have lots of options and choices. Sometimes they don’t seem like it but we do. We do have choices in terms of where we go with that energy.
CB: Okay. So I’m trying to think of some things that he mentioned, but just the foundational principles to start with. One of them that I often think about is just Neptune as illusion, as like one of the main archetypal keywords that’s often mentioned for Neptune, is illusion, which can be positive, negative, constructive, destructive. There’s different ways that illusion can work. And sometimes that term might get a bad rap initially but it has positive connotations as well. One of my old friends who passed away in 2010 or 2011, actually, Alan White from Project Hindsight he always used this analogy of, he said “When Neptune was first discovered, newspapers first started printing photographs from the civil war and peoples’ jaw would drop because they would point at it and say ‘Look you can actually see this scene’, like you’re there in person seeing this battlefield and they were just shocked at how real it seemed to them. But then his point was always that it’s not real. That what it is is ink that has been sprayed on a piece of paper in a certain design in order to mimic or give you the illusion that you’re looking at the real scene when in fact you’re not, you’re just looking at ink on a paper. And that was, I always thought, a really good analogy of what Neptune does sometimes in creating an illusion of something that seems real. And maybe that is it, as a sort of starting point: the illusory nature.
LN: I agree and– look. Let me come back to some basic foundational stuff from EA that is part of my —
CB: –From evolutionary astrology?
LN: Yeah from evolutionary astrology, that is part of my philosophical trajectory through astrology. So though we’re not talking about Pluto, Pluto plays a role in Neptune, in a way, for me. So Pluto representing the soul has two dueling desires. One is to separate from the source which created it and one is the desire to merge with the source that created it. So, Mars is the planetary function of the desire to separate.
LN: “I ”, Aries, Mars, My will, I will, my desire. Right? Neptune is the function of the desire to merge and lose the separateness of self to merge with infinite source, divine consciousness, god/goddess, whatever universal intelligent, whatever you want to call that thing, source. So Neptune is also the illusion or represents on one hand the illusion that we are separate. Because the process of evolution of consciousness is to dissolve that illusion of separateness. So we are constantly dueling these desires within every human. The desire to separate, the desire to establish “I”, the desire to fulfill ego, the desire. And the dueling equal desire to connect to be part of something, to merge, to transcend.
CB: Yeah, to transcend one’s limited sort of ego and merge with something more collective is a basic impulse.
LN: And so from a buddhist point of view which kind of comes into this the nature of separating desires over the course of evolution of soul is that separating desires begin to fall away. It is more the tantric version, or the tantric path of buddhism which approaches enlightenment through desire. So that is, the only way out is through. It’s through the nature of exploring desire that you begin to burn them out and leave them behind so that the function of evolution is to leave those separating desires so that the only desire left is the Neptunian desire. So that ego becomes fulfilled not dissolved. You actually are dissolving the illusion of self, but it also creates its wholeness. I hope that makes some paradoxical sense. Because it really is, think of it this way, that we come through, my belief is we come through, the ego is like a lens through which consciousness and soul and stuff is projected throughout into the world. On that lens is our karmic attachments and complexes, and stories, and traumas, and the course of one’s life through transits is like a big sanding sandpaper, or diamond grit that’s trying to grind off all of that schmutz on the lens, all those attachments, all that stuff. So those are part of the stuff that as ego gets projected through it gets distorted, this is Neptune, gets distorted through those attachments, gets distorted through those, and those become the reality lens in which we focus on. So Neptune and the outer planets, for me, are part of, including Saturn, part of this transit process of grinding away as we move through these transits. We are dealing with stories that may come from our childhood or stories that transcend childhood and that dissolution of the ego as separate. But the reason we get to the dissolution of ego as separate is that ego becomes clean and whole and through a healed and whole ego we are able to see our god-self or to see god, or to experience divine. So for me Neptune is a primary function of that, of what I just said, in terms of the evolution of consciousness and the evolution of soul.
CB: Okay. It reminds me of that statement that Rob Hand would always make that Saturn is like reality, or something like that, or one’s experience of reality, and Neptune is one’s realization that there is no reality. Or something like that.
LN: Exactly. That’s a perfect analogy because Saturn is, in evolutionary astrology, certainly, obviously it’s the last planet we see with our eyes.
CB: It’s the last visible planet, and then you can’t see any planets beyond that with the naked eye, even though they exist out there.
LN: Right. So Saturn represents the limit of consciousness as we perceive it. It represents our known reality. Everything beyond that is the unknown. Right? And so all of that then encapsulates Saturn’s what we might call dysfunctions and shadows around the fear of moving beyond what is known and then crystallizes what is known to stay safe. So Uranus, Neptune and Pluto then represent the planets that are doing their job to, in some way, Neptune’s job is to erode the falseness of one’s perceptions of reality.
CB: Right, because if Saturn is last visible Planet it’s the last thing that visible in terms of the visible tangible world, then Neptune by definition, cause Uranus occasionally like Steven Forrest has mentioned this to me that you can see it sometimes with the naked eye, under certain conditions, but Neptune is the first planet that you just cannot see it with the naked eye. So therefore there’s something about it that does represent the intangible or that which cannot be seen, that which is hidden and that’s one of the reasons why it gets associated with the sort of spiritual or sort of transcendent sort of realms of reality
LN: You kind of have to take it on faith, in a way, if you didn’t have a telescope.
CB: Yeah, if somebody like told you there was a planet out there you would just have to believe them until, if you couldn’t actually have the technology to witness it yourself
LN: Right. I’ve never seen Neptune with my own personal eyes through a telescope so I, though I’ve seen photos, we know anything can be photoshopped so in a sense I’m taking the word of astronomers and those who’ve seen it and there is a kind of faith-based element in that. And so where Jupiter for me is belief, Neptune for me is faith. It transcends ego. Jupiter is an inner planet it sits inside Saturn, so it’s part of our structure of reality, right? So it’s ego to me bound in what I believe to be true, where Neptune has to transcend that it goes beyond religion for me and goes into the spiritual realm.
CB: Okay, so maybe the difference between, some people say I’m not religious but I’m spiritual. Sort of like a distinction there, where maybe Jupiter, which I did that episode yesterday with Sam Reynolds on Jupiter, we talked a lot about Jupiter and religion, and Jupiter and law, and morality and judgement, like judges as a traditional association with Jupiter. But here we’re talking about that, not it’s not formalized into like a set of rules necessarily but instead it’s some sort of transcendent sense of that which transcends reality and that which is spiritual in some fundamental underlying sense.
LN: Right, because how could it be structured if Neptune represents the dissolution of all things, all things that are formed. How could we then set a level of precepts and philosophies under the Neptune banner. It would have to be Jupiter’s banner which is about truth, and beliefs, and codified law and teaching of something, of precepts. Right? So there is a level of belief that comes into Jupiter. I have to believe in that philosophy, but Neptune transcends that right? That is a transcendental into some mystical unformed place. It is, for me, staring into the eyes of the Divine. Right there is no minister or priest or codified book of religious precepts between me and that experience.
CB: Right there is no middle man when it comes to Neptune. Neptune is almost direct, sometimes revelatory experience of something transcendent.
LN: Absolutely. Absolutely, so this is where we get inspiration and imagination and visioning. It’s vision quests. It’s those moments of Neptunian clarity and a moment of Neptunian clarity is very different than a Uranian clarity. Uranian clarity is a bolt of lightning lighting up the dark. Neptune’s clarity is like standing in the fog, in the mountains or on the edge of the water. And it’s cloudy, or foggy. You can’t see anything. Again you have to take on faith that the water is there because it distorts sound, it distorts light. Sound– water distorts. RIght? We know the principles, the physical principles of water, there’s a distortion element. So in a way we have to, we’re called to use different perceptionary tools than what we can see and what we can hear. Right? So when that fog bank begins to clear, it’s slow. Right?
LN: And you see less and less and fog, less and less fog, and then [snaps fingers] the sky is just blue and everything is crystal clear. That’s that kind of revelatory clarity that Neptune represents. That moment of, almost as if the fog drifts away, that the angels are singing and the trumpets sound. It’s like this awe-inspiring and you heard me take in my breath, that’s inspiration. Breathing in the breath of the divine, right? That’s that inspirational, you’re just inundated with the images of the blue and the colors and it’s divine.
CB: Right. So that reminds me, in terms of sudden exposure and dissolution of reality and dissolving of reality. We keep using the term dissolving. Somebody on twitter posted like, the scientist who first developed LSD and the exact time that he first took it and I think Neptune was right on the Ascendant.
LN: Of course.
CB: Or something like that, yeah. And I thought that was a really good example.
LN: Of course. Astrology doesn’t work does it?
CB: No, yeah. I really liked that because, so that’s another one example of suddenly being aware and transported to a different world where you realize that for a time at least while doing that I guess theoretically, from what I read in books, that you know you’re suddenly exposed to different type of reality where your senses have been changed and where color and sound and touch and all of those things that we take for granted and we’re used to suddenly have a very different sense and a very different feeling, suddenly.
LN: Yeah and that, you know, that is a, so for me I’m not anti-drug. Back in the 70’s,you know, I did my, my thing, without details, though I’ve never done LSD. Somehow I knew with Neptune on the Nadir and opposed the Moon and multiple aspects to Neptune, that it probably wasn’t a good idea. And because what you’re doing is externally or artificially, and I don’t mean artificial in the sense that you can use organic elements and natural elements to do it, but you’re artificially jumpstarting the Neptune process. So it happens a bit more rapidly than say the Neptune function on it’s own. Because if we think about the nature of water, and Neptune its function is slow. Right? You see the grand canyon, you see what water does dripping on rock over time consistently. Water wins over rock, water wins over earth, consistently. Unless you damn it up. Right? And put more of a force against water to resist it. But water over time will erode concrete, you know, it’s going to. So I get concerned a little bit, I’m not judgemental about it at all, but I get a little concerned about jumpstarting that process a little too quickly particularly if an ego, the ego structure is not ready for that.
CB: Right, yeah. Sometimes prominent Neptune can indicate, sometimes like a longing for other worldly experiences or transcendent experiences and sometimes the downside can be that sometimes people can get stuck with shortcuts which can be things like drugs or alcohol or other sort of addictive behaviors.
CB: Sure like anything that can be–
CB: Addictive, or anything that can give some sort of alternative experience of reality or almost experience of something transcendent. And that can be very addicting.
LN: Well that comes back to what I said about the dueling desires within the soul. Neptune represents the desire to merge, right? Desire to merge. And that’s a good word for Neptune. To dissolve boundaries. To merge. And in a very separated world, or the illusion of a separated world, we come back to that word illusion, and thinking about that ink on the paper, it’s an illusion of a separation. And Neptune’s process is to dissolve the illusion, to dissolve the veil. Evolution to me wins. If I think of one fate in the world it’s evolution, it’s just going to happen. And maybe the jumpstarting of it is part of the process, again, I don’t have judgments about that, but you can get thrown into something the ego structure isn’t prepared to see or deal with and you can get yourself in a world of trouble. And then you can use that as a form of escapism without really doing the work. And so the desire to merge with something can be done again at a full spectrum of behavior, right? So the desire to merge through sex, the desire to merge through drugs, the desire to connect to something, and the ego structure too fearful to make that leap for itself. That’s just one narrative about it, it can be for any number of reasons. And we do know that Neptune also represents the escapist tendency, the denial process. To escape from one reality to another. To escape one’s moment and to skip off into another, and that can be through imagination. But again imagination, inspiration, illusion all of these have functions that serve our growth and they are not to be denied either.
CB: Yeah or even like dreams, like the necessary component that it’s like you will go crazy if you don’t sleep and go into a deep enough sleep that you dream. And just the other worldly sort of experience of having dreams and whatever that is and wherever we go when we have dreams but that feeling of transcending things and being able to do anything or have any sort of different experience through the dreams state.
LN: It’s fantastic. Right? And so when we think about insanity and crazy that’s Neptune too, for me. You know, that’s part of it’s spectrum, of insanity falls on the spectrum of Neptune all the way up to enlightenment and connection to god.
CB: Sure, so in terms of like maybe being stuck in an alternative or even false reality or something like that.
LN: Absolutely. But you know escapism, imagintiation, denial all have their functions, they all serve us in some way. There is nothing that humans have ever created that wasn’t imagined or envisioned somewhere. We have to see it somehow. We have to have inspiration for it before it becomes manifest. And then if we are in, if a child’s in poverty or in a horrible situation or a person is in a horrible relationship where they feel they can’t get out. Sometimes the only way out in living that reality is to imagine and they escape to their imaginary world.
LN: Right? So we can get stuck in dead-end jobs where we are fearful of leaving because it gives us insurance and a 401k, or it gives us that sense of consistency and it’s not rocking the boat but it’s dead, right? And yet we might go to work and sit at our computer, whatever it is we are doing, counting beans, and imagine ourselves like, I don’t know, some of you might be too young but like Walter Mitty you know the secret life of Walter Mitty. Imagining yourself somewhere in the world doing some heroic thing or some wildly creative thing and that ‘s what dreams do for us as well, is what you’re saying. It’s a place where we become untethered from the bounds of reality. And dreams are a place where we can do anything that our consciousness and unconsciousness can possibly imagine. So it serves the ego structure in a way to untether itself from it’s world to experience. It also serves as a way of processing, you know, our daily lives and working things out. I mean dreams serve, they are fundamental to our very survival as you say.
CB: It’s interesting because you often think of Uranus as the liberatory planet that’s associated with freedom, especially like sudden unexpected even like violent overthrows of one’s restrictions in order to achieve freedom and liberation. But it sounds like freedom is another component here that we’re talking about underlying some of this stuff with Neptune that it’s like giving you access to a realm where you have way more freedom than you do in the quote unquote real world and there’s a freedom component to that, in some sense.
LN: I’ve never actually thought of that. Maybe in some other languaging of that, but I agree 100% because you are untethered. You are untethered from the bounds of physics, physical law, limitations of mental perceptions of you know, of anything! In my dream I can walk through that wall. In this dream, I could levitate. In a dream, I could do anything, be anywhere in the universe.
CB: Right, and there’s something that’s like, healing or necessary of that component, to have that in certain doses in one’s life. Whether it’s through like reading a book, reading like fiction and being transported to a different world. Or even movies, like film is a very Neptunian thing because I was reading something about film theory recently about how important suspension of belief is when you are watching a movie that you have to be able to suspend belief. And it’s actually the effectiveness of the movie is partially dependent on how well the filmmaker can create a world that is believable, no matter how weird stuff is in that world but that the person can immerse themselves in it and can temporarily sort of forget about not believing some of the narrative, or what have you.
LN: They have to buy in!
CB: Yeah, they have to buy in.
LN: They have to buy in and they have to go along with the imaginative narrative, right? They have to step in. Movies and books, music and art, are an invitation to step into somebody else’s imaginal world. Again some of your audience may be too young for this but if you haven’t read Jonathan Livingston Seagull it’s an old book. I’m just forgetting the author. It’s one of the first books I read at sixteen. It’s fiction, it was in the bookstore. It is from the view of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it’s a seagull, right? And the metaphysical perceptions that Jonathan has and one of the sections in the book is about movies and the suspension of belief, and imagination, and what movies we are drawn to in terms of the choices that we make for instance if your genre is horror movies or if you prefer romance, or comedies, or sci-fi, or documentaries. So I love books like that. I mean I’ve read a lot of straight psychology, spiritual, metaphysical, but I love stories that are fiction that bring in those concepts. Jane Robert’s work from Seth which is a tough read but wrote books that were fiction. The Education of Oversoul Seven was another book I read when I was young in the bookstore. Another fiction I found just a few years ago was The Art of Racing in the Rain by another Seattle author. The book is spoken through the eyes of the dog, Enzo, how he wants to incarnate next lifetime as a human and the metaphysical principles that are brought into that. Again you have to suspend your belief that a dog is talking and writing a book and is going to incarnate as a human at some point. You have to suspend your belief and open your imagination to a seagull and it’s perceptions of the world. Just as you have to, you’re invited into the imaginal world by a writer, a director, so yes. That’s Neptune.
CB: And you have to sort of understand and accept that it’s like you have your reality, but then in this world or in this alternative reality these are the rules there and these are how the rules are different compared to the real world.
LN: Or the real world as we see it.
CB: Right. I was thinking about like the fantasy books as a genre, like The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings, or more recently Game of Thrones, and how like in, you know, that world like dragons are a thing, or like elves…
LN: …Talking lions and…
LN: In the The Chronicles of Narnia, which I loved and my children loved, you know,5 you are invited into that world and you don’t have to accept the invitation. But if you’re drawn into it then there is that place where, for some of us, we can see and hear the animals talking and feel the snow falling and all of the things. A book gives you the place to get the visual element. When you’re in a movie, it’s given to you, right?
LN: So they build more of that illusional world. That imaginative world gets fleshed out for you to more readily buy in, it gives you all the textures and sounds and colors and all that. Where, reading a book, the better authors are able to draw you in and give you that as well so that you enter into their world. That you walk through the wardrobe in Narnia, in the closet, and get to the other side. That you get on a Hogwarts train and, you know, you’re being invited to that world.
CB: Right. Yeah, I like that. So we’re talking a lot about the Saturn versus Neptune dynamic and the differences between those but it’s also making me think of the Mercury-Neptune dynamic also when we are talking about fiction and like fiction authors and that could be one positive upside to a constructive use of Mercury-Neptune combinations, let’s say, is having a knack for sometimes building or communicating imaginary worlds. If you were a fantasy author that would be great.
LN: Without question, and for me Neptune in the third. Even hard angles, Neptune-Mercury, Neptune-Mercury opposition, any of them, squares, trines, quincunxes, any of those can produce that. It’s the degree in which you’re allowing yourself, that Mercury is allowing itself to be open to Neptune, right? So, through the sextile certainly the invitation is there and they’re communicating more clearly, and Mercury is like “Hey Neptune! Yeah! Let’s go there!” Where, possibly with an opposition or a square, Mercury might be a little bit more fearful and locked into its reality, depending on its sign and Neptune’s sign. But they’re still there and the potential is always there for opening up to the imaginative world. Whether you put pen to paper or fingers to computer keys or pen to paper to draw what’s coming through that is certainly there.
CB: So that’s the, let’s say, constructive version of that. There’s also a more challenging version of Mercury-Neptune because Mercury more than anything it’s primary function is just communication, whereas Neptune, one of its primary functions is illusion or creating alternative realities and sometimes when you put those together they almost become antithetical because Mercury’s attempt to communicate something clearly gets a little foggy. And, at the worst case scenario, that can be conveying something that’s not true or that’s false.
LN: That is false. Right. So here you have linear, left-brain mercury, right? So we know it’s left brain, it’s logic, it’s deductive. It is one plus one equals two. We get from point A to point B. It is carrying information through our synapses and we then are speaking and transporting information and ideas to somebody else and then receiving that information. Neptune doesn’t work that way. It really is, to your point, quite antithetical. It is intuitive, it is inductive, it is circuitous, it is imaginative, it is non-linear, right?. So when you find Mercury-Neptune in particularly stressful aspects, you can in fact find someone who either A. knows the distinction between what’s true and what’s not and goes with what is untrue. Or you find someone who cannot distinguish the difference between what is true and what is not and they just, their imaginal world or delusory world or illusory world just becomes their reality. I have a sibling, a younger female sibling who in my opinion has, and I’ve erased her chart from my head so I can’t tell you, but she has a very difficult time distinguishing. Whatever she’s communicating she sees as reality even though from one minute or one moment to the next or one day to the next they might contradict one another.
LN: And so I don’t think she particularly knows the distinction, what is real and what is not. That’s not to say all the time that she’s delusional but I do believe that comes in. And I believe illusion is a place where we know we are in illusion for the most part. And delusion then goes into that place where we don’t know that our illusions aren’t real. So then you get pathological levels of delusion.
CB: Right, yeah. Which is tricky and not to get all political but it was one of the fascinating things watching Trump’s rise and presidency was just, he has that pretty tight Mercury-Neptune square and you can see the ways in which he could use that sometimes to his advantage in order to be able to make a very compelling narrative rhetorically, using that Mercury. But then also sometimes in terms of like the fact-checkers and just seeing the media try to keep up with whether what he was saying was true or false on a day to day basis was almost comical at times.
LN: Yeah it was bizarro world to be honest.
LN: And I do believe now that I’m trying to call her chart up that she has a Neptune-Mercury Square.
LN: Yeah, so I’ve always likened her to our former president in a way. But here’s the thing, is that you can have a Neptune-Mercury trine with nothing stopping you energetically from a trine point of view, to stop you from spewing mistruths, as well, and being quite good at it. Same with a sextile. So the square– it was so many years ago. Erin Sullivan was doing a lecture at NORWAC, it would have been back in the 80’s probably or 90’s, and she gave an analogy about aspects where she said and if you take light and refract it through a prism at 90 degrees, that’s a square, that the light will stay trapped in the prism, building tension. But if you refract light at 120 degrees, which is the trine, that the light goes through unimpeded from the prism. So I always think, that was a great analogy for me and thinking about trines, I don’t think about trines as good and squares as bad, again, there’s a spectrum for everything. So the dysfunctional or unhealthy manifestations of a trine is that there’s nothing stopping us from doing bad behavior.
CB: Right, you could be really good at it.
CB: Right, okay. It’s making me think of a funny quote from, like Seinfeld where George Costanza is talking to Jerry and he has this line, he says “It’s not a lie if you believe it”.
CB: And that’s something that sticks with me as a nice, like, Mercury-Neptune thing, is that sometimes there’s an ambiguity because the person themselves sometimes actually believes that thing. Even if objectively it’s actually a lie, in that moment the person actually believes it just as much as they’re trying to convey it to the other person and that’s one of the weird ambiguities, sometimes, with very close Mercury-Neptune combinations.
LN: Right, and so if you say it, with confidence, you say it enough, and you make it big enough, you know, the big lie. How could it not be true?
CB: And on some level, it’s like you, yourself have bought into it, and you’ve convinced yourself, so that brings us to the sort of self-delusion part of Neptune, sometimes which can be a downside which is a tendency to sometimes try to talk yourself into certain realities. And to want to believe in something and sometimes it being hard to check yourself to get an external sort of view of whether what you’re buying into is actually true or not.
LN: Yeah, I often say to clients heading into clear Neptune cycles, you know, conjunction, square, opposition, that it might not be easy for them to see what’s going on to check in with somebody you seriously trust. Right?
LN: And I gotta say under my Neptune-Venus transit, I had, this would have been back in Neptune transiting Aquarius. And it was, I can’t remember, I know that Neptune over my Sun was five transits, Neptune over Mercury was probably five transits, I don’t believe it was five to Neptune that would have just been too much, I think. But, I was in a relationship that was clearly, when I got to the other side of it, was that bubble, right? And after I got on the other side of it, friends came up to me and said “Oh my god, I’m so glad you’re out of that because we did not like him,” and I’m like “Where were you when I’m in the middle of this?” and then I had to stop and ask myself, ”If they had said something, what would–”
CB: How would you have reacted?
LN: Would I have believed them? Because the illusion is so real.
LN: The experience of being swept away, of that transcendent, what appeared, or what I thought I was experiencing was transcendent love, right? It was mystical; it was swept away into this thing. Would I have believed them?
CB: No, probably not. Not during the middle of the transit. Usually a person is so committed to that version of reality that it’s very hard to break them out of it and that can come up with other things. LIke you’re talking about Venus-Neptune relationships, but also like religious cults and things like that. And like the worst case scenario of believing in a religion or a revelatory experience that somebody else has had or finding a guru figure who, if you’re going through a really intense transit, may not be, later, all they’re cracked up to be.
LN: Right, and so the ego doesn’t want to come to that until it has to. Then this is where I come back to clients and say you know if you get on the other side of this and you aren’t able, in process, to hear from somebody you trust, right? And you get on the other side of this or you’re now on the other side of this, in recrimination. This is the place for the big C word in Neptune and that is compassion, right. And that is that place where, for me, ultimate compassion is divine grace, where you give yourself the space. Forgiveness, as one of my students who’s a therapist said to me, forgiveness is for giving space to that which already has occurred. Because we go into denial or in the regret process or the self-recrimination process of saying “god I wish that hadn’t occurred. Why did I do that? How could I have been so foolish? How could I have been so stupid?” So, when we come to a place of acceptance that doesn’t mean “I accept it and I don’t have some level of regret.” But I have to give space for what has occurred. And that’s compassion, where I get that grace, where I say, “Okay that did occur. Those were the choices I made. This is the place I went. I’m on the other side of that”. Instead of living in regret and pounding myself on this, do I have compassion and grace to look at it and say what do I take from that? How do I– What is true transcendent? Am I able to transcend beyond that and am I able to transcend beyond the desires and patterns that lead to that place? So compassion, grace, unconditional acceptance, the true grace of the divine, the true love of the divine transcends. You know Neptune is the higher octave of venus. We have human love with attachments and expectations and all that and Neptune is something that transcends all of that.
CB: Right, yeah. That makes sense. We’ve talked about Saturn-Neptune, we’ve talked about Mercury-Neptune, and we are talking about Venus-Neptune now. And sometimes just being in love with the idea of being in love and as a natal placement or as a transit, sometimes just finding that person and falling in love and thinking they’re like the best person in the world and it’s a too-good-to-be-true type scenario except, in the moment, you sort of think that it is true. But it’s a little hard to snap out of that because your suspension of disbelief when it comes to relationships or romance– you tend to suspend your disbelief pretty quick.
LN: Right, and again, if I may I’m going to come back to that dueling desire nature of Pluto and with Neptune’s desire to merge. One of the ways, one of the primary ways that we try to accomplish that merging with source is through relationship, seeing the divine in other or seeing our path to connection or wholeness. You know, the fantastical, there’s a good Neptune word, the fantastical narratives are “You complete me”, the two hearts coming together that are broken. Nobody completes us, we are complete and that is ultimately the Neptune function is to dissolve the limitations of consciousness, to dissolve the false perceptions. Neptune never wants to dissolve anything that is useful. It only dissolves that which is false. The illusion of separateness. The illusion that we buy into in the moment that is not serving our consciousness nor is it serving our soul’s path. So in that desire to seek divine or divinity in our partner to make that ultimate connection that transcends the mind and so that my partner can read my mind and complete my sentences and do all those things that we are of one mind and one heart. Those are fantastical visions and fantastical narratives that lead us into the kinds of relationship process of unrealistic expectations via Neptune. That’s unrealistic. And think about the signs that Venus and Neptune rule in modern times. So Neptune rules Pisces; Venus rules Libra. Those two signs are quincunx, they are 150 degrees from one another, there is tension between those. That expectation that we have of our relationships via Libra and the unrealistic expectations that we have via Neptune, and the disconnect that often happens in the quincunx as we’re trying to reach divine through a human being.
LN: Right? And so in many spiritual traditions, the ancient traditions, there’s something called the spiritual union, the spiritual marriage and that is seeking the divine within, right? It is meeting the godhead face-to-face; it is seeing and experiencing the divine other within self so that you’re not projecting the distorted divine into the partner to meet for you to fulfill for you. Only to become disillusion, to be dissatisfied, all Neptune functions, when we’ve elevated, in this fantastical way, Venus-Neptune contacts in the chart; put our partner on a pedestal in a way that could never be sustained, and then the other person tries to live that false reality because they want it so bad. Then they, in a way, live a false reality, lie to us as well in order to meet that expectation, which will never be sustained.
CB: Yeah, you mentioned disillusionment. That’s a really good point because sometimes when the person with the heavy Neptune thing is coming out of the Venus-Neptune relationship, the initial stage is idealization and sometimes either not seeing the partner for who they really are or even projecting a false image onto the partner but then at some point, once reality starts seeping in, there can be this opposite extreme of then disillusionment and treating the person as being worse or more evil than they actually are.
LN: Right demonizing the person versus taking accountability for where you were at in the process, right? So, you know, that was a shared reality or the person engaged in, again, in a way, this is the first time I’m going to say this out loud, in a way we are all our own movie, and when we’re in a relationship, we either step into somebody else’s imaginal world of what that relationship will be or they going to step into ours, or they may duel. Right? And sometimes we step into someone’s imaginal reality of the relationship and really try to live up to it.
LN: Right? And that falseness and the expectations that are projected on us, the expectations that we, I mean, completely unrealistic expectations that we place on our partners. I mean that, in a way I think about it when I was young, so I’ll take this in a first person. I think about how sad it must have been for my partner, my first husband, to live in a world where I expected him to be somebody else.
CB: Right and to not be able to live up to that, or to–
LN: Yes. Both of them. That I wasn’t seeing him for who he really was, so sadness on that. And then the sadness of or the frustration of not living up to his expectations. He had Neptune in the seventh, so he had expectations that I tried to enter into. I have a Neptune-Venus Square, he tried to enter into my expectations. They were never going to work, this was never going to work anyway. We hung in there long enough, but the disappointment and disillusionment can lead to ”They misled me.” That’s the problem.
CB: Right,yeah, and the question of how much? Cause sometimes people genuinely are not what they seem and can put on a false facade and it’s like people under Neptune transits or something, let’s say, can meet up with someone who is deceiving them in relationships or vice versa. It can be you’re the one, the person is the one that’s actually creating a false reality by projecting things that are not true about this person and just not seeing them for who they are but it’s not the other person’s fault necessarily.
LN: Yes. Exactly. I agree. And then you can get variations on this. Let’s say you have Neptune in the seventh, you’ve got Neptune-Venus contact. You may even have, in modern astrology, Venus in the 12th. You may have Venus in Pisces. Right, so some variation, but let’s stick to Neptune in the seventh and Neptune-Venus contacts. You may be drawn to a relationship, let me set the premise for this. Neptune- Venus folks have the, in my opinion, the ability to see the highest good in other people. They can transcend the limitations of ego reality and see the highest good. And then what they can do is live in that expectation but then what they can do is attract somebody who is really unhealthy, they’ve got addiction problems, they’ve got something that they’re attracting, Venus, Neptune in the seventh. They’re attracting and then they do this full-on sacrifice thing to try to elevate this person up to their highest ideal.
CB: So they want to save the other person.
LN: Yes. They want to save the other person. And it’s ego-driven in many ways. There are past patterns and complexes that come into this from an evolutionary astrology point of view, but there’s still ego in this, that ‘I can save you’. Right? And so, again, the other person is very rarely capable of living up to that because they have their own path whether that’s the stay-in-the-addiction pattern or the dysfunctional Neptunian kind of world they’re in or whether to rise from it has nothing to do with the other person. Or they may even try to elevate themselves to the idealistic view that the other person has but they may not be able to sustain it. So again, falling off the pedestal, the disillusionment, the disappointment, all of that. You know. Wash, rinse, repeat.
CB: So it’s part of the compassion function of Neptune, it’s part of that, of a person that’s got a prominent Neptune or it’s tied in with relationships might feel great compassion for other people and a desire to want to genuinely help them out but sometimes can get themselves involved in situations that can be tricky as a result of that.
LN: So you get this enmeshment thing, right? You become over-enmeshed, over-sympathizing, over-empathizing and really in a way, ego-driven. Again, the other side of the quincunx to Pisces in the twelfth house is Leo. So, you know, there’s some ego dynamics in here, that “I can save you”, and that “this is my job” or, you know, whatever narrative might come about. But, you know, the compassion piece is so important there. Empathy is important. The loss of empathy is something I fear in our culture. Right? In our world, this loss of empathy, loss of the ability to sympathize and resonate with somebody else’s pain or position or thought. This does not mean you have to buy into it. You do not have to agree with it. That’s not what empathy and sympathy is about. It’s being able to just step into somebody else’s world. Again, suspend disbelief for a moment and walk into their imaginal world, and then you can step out again. Right? So compassion for me, as I’ve recognized toxic behaviors from a sibling to other friendships, is to be able to have compassion for where they are at and compassion involves non-judgement. But it then comes down to a steely-eyed assessment, a judgment. Not a judgment of them, a judgement of the situation and a mature recognition of where I’m at. So Saturn comes into play, there’s a number of planets in play. But those words, to be able to have the maturity and compassion to say, “Yes, I accept where you’re at but I’m not playing with you. I’m not stepping into your toxic world.”
LN: Right? So I can, then compassion means I have compassion for me as well. I’m not willing to sacrifice myself. I’ll toss you the life ring, but I’m not going down for you.
CB: Yeah, that it’s not necessary to sacrifice yourself in order to save everyone. Even though sometimes the tendency can be there, that desire to do that can be part of Neptune.
LN: Absolutely, and there’s lots of scenarios. I’m not talking about being cold-hearted by any stretch, but sometimes that life ring is going to a pool of three inches of water. And they think they are drowning.
LN: Right? And they want to stay there in three inches of water. That’s their comfort zone, of thinking that three inches of water is an ocean that is about to sink them. And then there are those, you know, that pull at your heart, right? And children and animals where they may not have the choice consciously to make or the ability to change and we are called to take action but understanding the limitation of those actions is also important and having compassion for self, knowing there’s only so much we can do.
LN: Right? So understanding compassion and having boundaries, Saturn, having those boundaries is important but we don’t want to be cold and calculating, and turned off to the pain of the world.
CB: Right. Yeah, and figuring out the boundaries between those two, like most Neptunian things, is kind of murky. So I did want to pull out in this series. I’ve been using Stephen Forrest’s book “Inner Sky” from, I think, 1988, but I wanted to read his Neptune passage really quickly because he has different categories of function, dysfunction, question to ask yourself. So he says ”Function of Neptune is the decentralization of ego in self-imagery, the creation of a point of self-observation external to ego, the weakening of the barrier separating conscious from unconscious, ego from soul, the development of an awe-ness of what may be called god. Dysfunction: confusion, laziness, daydreaming, spaciness, escapism, drifting, drug and alcohol dependence, poor reality testing, and glamorous delusions.” That’s a good one. “Key question: Where must I learn to de-emphasize logic and to function intuitively? Where is narrow self-interest most appropriate and destructive to me?” That was what we were just talking about. “Where am I most vulnerable to mistaking wishes and fears for reality?” So that’s a good one.
LN: Fantastical thinking, right?
LN: So he used a good, another C word for Neptune and that’s confusion.
CB: Yeah, confusion.
LN: Right, and it’s a necessary function, right, just as denial and process of disillusion are necessary functions of Neptune. But confusion is a by-product of dissolution. So you know it’s “What I thought was real is no longer real,” then that space of confusion, “Oh my god. How far back does that go?”
LN: Right? So one of the things that I find with students over time is that they say ”Neptune’s so confusing”. No, no. Neptune’s not confusing, Neptune’s confusion. So we don’t need to submerge into confusion in order to understand confusion. It’s just a word that describes a place or an attitude or a function or a space. We need to understand that. Right? “Neptune seems so nebulous,” no it rules nebulousness. “It seems so unformed,” no, it rules unformed.
LN: Right? So there’s that sort of my earth getting in there to give some distinction. Yeah, we can get lost in that, right? That’s a place that we can go and build a house in confusion-ville. Right? It’s just a place we want to pass through, it’s not a place we want to stop and spend a whole lot of time.
LN: And we talked about insanity, if I can switch a bit?
CB: If you want to, although be careful because there’s a whole debate about astrology and mental illness and the appropriateness of like astrologers getting into that.
LN: You’re correct and I don’t believe– Let’s not talk about clinical psychology, because I’m not a clinical psychologist. The simple everyday kind of places where we go where we say “that’s insane.”
CB: Sure, yeah.
LN: Right? The kind of insanity where we do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.
LN: Alright, so that’s where I’m going. Not clinical, I’m not educated, qualified, trained, to talk about that. I may have opinions of it, but I am not trained to talk about it.
LN: Right. So the simple kinds of places where we go where, you know, we slip into a fantastical, insane moment. Or where we say, “God that was insane! How did I do that?” You know, where that was an awe-inspiring insanity, “Oh my god, how did I manage to get into that. That was really cool!” or “Oh my god how did I get there?”
LN: Right, so those kinds of uses of the word. And I think of, and I do talk to clients about a Neptune transit is like building a sandcastle at the edge of the ocean and coming back every day and finding it gone and building it again in the same place, to have it dissolved again and again and again.
CB: So impermanence?
CB: Okay. Yeah, that’s a good one or it makes me think of the Buddhist process or practice of making like a mandala in sand and then it creates this beautiful pattern and it takes like days or weeks or months to create and they’re very painstaking and then they just erase it immediately after.
LN: Right! So that is the beauty of the recognition of impermanence, right? That is like full on embracing, in physical reality, the dynamics of impermanence. So building your sandcastle on the edge of the ocean of the sea, knowing that the tide’s going to come in and expecting your sandcastle to be there the next day. Being disillusioned and disappointed that it [isn’t] there and then rebuilding it in the same place. Right?
CB: Right. Yeah, I’m thinking of that in different ways, like the Venus-Neptune aspect and just relationships and like a person can go through that process of going through that same thing of like, “Oh my god, I found the one, and they’re my soulmate and we’re going to be together forever and we’ve been together in past lives.” And then it turns out that it’s like actually not a great relationship and then it goes away. And then they meet the next person and they’re like, “Oh my god, this person is the one and we’re soulmates and this is really it this time,” and then it doesn’t work out, and then they move to the next one. And so there’s a, that’s what I think of when you mentioned that, yeah.
LN: Yeah. And there’s so many ways to use that and apply that analogy of building your sandcastle at the edge of the ocean with the waves coming in. You see them! You see them and then you have real time results. The next day the sandcastle’s gone, it’s been washed away, and you rebuild it thinking that the ocean’s not going to come back, “That was yesterday, this is the one.”
CB: Or maybe sometimes, maybe the overarching message is that maybe sometimes we need that. Like, sometimes we need something to believe in, because for some people that helps keep us going and that brings a sort of energy and meaningfulness into life that, even if on some level, subconsciously, you know it’s not real or you know that the sandcastle is going to be gone tomorrow morning, in the moment that feels good and that feels right and feels necessary for you to enjoy that.
LN: Absolutely. Right and I think again without judgement, but the question then becomes for a client who’s frustrated in that moment, frustrated with that cycle, to use a visual analogy to say, “Isn’t it rather like building your sandcastle at the edge of the ocean and coming back every day to find it gone and then building it again?”
LN: Right, so that spins them into, you know, gives them an image or I might use a metaphor or I might use, I mean, all kinds of things that might stimulate imagination and mind to get in there and think about something differently. If I can get my client to come back and say or even say in real time in a session, “Wow I never thought about it that way,” I’m happy. Shifting perception is the magic of the universe. Right?
CB: Yeah, definitely. One other point we haven’t touched on about Neptune is sensitivity and it’s almost like a biological thing, to some extent, or a physiological thing where sometimes people that have Neptune conjoining certain points in their chart will become incredibly sensitive in that area of their life. Or even if it’s like connecting to some part of the chart that’s connected with body parts or different physiological things can be sensitive to, like, noise or to smells or to different senses become heightened and become extra easy to be overwhelmed or to influence in some way.
LN: Yeah, they’re extra-sensory, in that sense, that’s not just ESP but the extra-sensory in terms of taste, touch, feel, smell, those kinds of things, and the hyper-sensitivity because you have this dissolution of people who are hyper-Neptunian, Piscean, whatever, the veil between realities, conscious and unconscious, becomes very thin. Part of their lessons is through what we call polarity points, so that’s more of a Virgo/Mercury thing, is about perceptional discernment. Right? Is about discerning and learning to practice what’s real and what’s not; to filter and filtrate and make adjustments. Not to erase it, not to let the linear mind convince itself that that isn’t real. So there’s a lot of bleed through that’s coming on, and then again the tendency to over-empathize, to over-enmesh, part of that coping mechanism of Neptunian concepts is to cope by sending out, unconsciously or consciously, these psychic tendrils, these emotional-psychic tendrils to sense the environment as a way of gaining enough information to be safe, right? Particularly if you’re in an environment as a child with a dysfunctional parent who might be an alcoholic or have dynamics or issues they’re not dealing with, part of the way to survive is to try to read the psychic environment, to know where they need to be. ”Where is my parent in this?” emotionally, psychically, so that I can find my safe space. So there’s a place for that in Pisces that’s functional, and there’s a lot of places for that to be dysfunctional. Because what can happen is the more the Neptune/Pisces function sends out these tendrils into the world, consciously or unconsciously, the more information they’re picking up, the more overwhelmed they are. And their systems are hyper-sensitive and so the system gets overloaded.
CB: Right, it’s like taking an extra dose of wateryness and just putting it in whatever life or whatever area it is so that if we think of wateryness as sensitivity and receptivity and use the word hyper-sensitivity. I think that’s a really good word.
LN: I think so. I think so, and again as you saw my chart, Neptune in the fourth opposed the Moon. Right so the Moon’s in Taurus. How I see that is I have a heightened sensitivity to other people’s emotional space as I’ve aged. I was in denial of it as a child because it was too overwhelming, right? So I just blocked all of that out and lived in a more narrow world. In my dream state there was fantastical things happening. I, even waking, would go into astral projection spaces that I didn’t even know what they were, and kundalini risings as a child when I was six which I didn’t know what those were. At the time, would just knock me to the ground, kids thought I was weird. I didn’t know what was happening, I couldn’t breathe, there was electricity running through my body, you know? And so this hyper-sensitivity to things when I’m around people whose energy isn’t quite clean there’s prickly feelings across my body. That Moon, that Neptune opposed that Moon in Taurus, the Mars in Taurus; they’re not by degree, but they’re by sign. So that kind of prickly, physical discomfort with things that can happen when I’m around things. I’ve had to learn, again, to learn how to filter, to manage, to bring in practices that help me filter that out to find the dimmer switch and turn the darn thing down so I don’t have to. Just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean I have to be feeling it all the time. It’s not appropriate, it’s also not healthy for me. It’s also invasive for other people. So I’ve come to a morality place of that, it’s not my place to be in their space or their emotions. If they want to share them with me then they will. If they don’t then it’s fine.
CB: It’s funny. You mentioned the electricity thing and you also have Neptune like right on your Ascendant. So your ascendant is at 17, and Uranus is at 15. So you have Uranus on one angle, almost exactly, and then Neptune on the other angle.
LN: Yes I do. Yeah-yeah.
LN: Yes, so I had to learn because there was at one point, Uranus was squaring my Moon, and now it’s conjoined my moon, but when it squared my moon and conjoined with Venus, I literally got red circles on the palms of my hands too much energy was running through the system. And I was actually doing massage work, I was a massage therapist and energy worker, and I had to stop because it was painful, it was these hot– I mean it was just amazing. I mean amazing in an awful way. Amazing in a kind of “Wow, that was kind of cool!”
CB: Yeah. There’s a funny, like hashtag on Twitter which is just #astrologergood which is just when something bad happens but the transit fits so well that you’re actually impressed more than you are annoyed at it.
LN: I like it.
CB: So I know somebody who has Neptune prominent in their chart and they’re very sensitive to sound and can get very easily overwhelmed by just, like, loud noises and easily disturbed in their sleep by noise and things like that.
LN: That’s me. I had freakishly good sound the hearing started to go in my right ear. I mean I could hear things, some of it was even extra-perceptional, right? Eyesight, strong. Touch, extra-sensitive to touch and energies and that sort of thing. I have to have a black room with no light, not even the light of a clock because, actually I can see it through my eyelids when they’re closed. It’s like I have thinner eyelids, I don’t know why, right? It has to be dark. That distracts me, it’s too much. I can’t turn up the music loud in my car, it’s too much. Loud sounds jolt me, you know? So yes, that’s definitely a Neptune function.
CB: –Neptune thing. And I think it’s really important, I think for astrologers to be aware of because from an external standpoint if you’re like with somebody and you don’t realize that that’s a thing and what that’s like to actually live with it can almost be weird or like annoying for somebody else who’s just like, “Why are you freaking out about this sound?” or, you know, “Why are you sensitive to things?” But it’s actually because they are much more sensitive than, let’s say, the average person to basic sense-perception in some way.
LN: I can smell things that other people cannot smell, right?
CB: Okay. Yeah smells, strong smells. And just to think about, because I’m trying to think of an analogy where, like, an average person would even have that experience of having their senses, like overwhelmed or flooded by something and that’s what you have to like imagine in order to be in that space of somebody who has a prominent Neptune.
LN: I know someone who actually had, medically, a situation, I don’t know what it’s called, where she had to walk around with earplugs in, and then eventually she just had to separate herself from the world. Her senses became just completely overrun by the world around her. Felt it physically, it just distorted her whole energy systems.She couldn’t even function or think straight. So that’s a real thing.
CB: Right. Yeah, or also heightened sensitivity to like drugs or like ingesting things.
LN: Yeah, that’s me.
CB: Alright. So there’s one last author I wanted to look at before we start to wind this down.
LN: Sure. Sure.
CB: Let’s see. So one of them was Reinhold Eberton and The Combination of Stellar Influences which is published in 1940, and it was translated into English from German and a lot of later astrologers drew on it but it’s very concise it just says, “The principle of Neptune is receptivity, impressionability, a sympathetic understanding of people. The positive psychological correspondences are receptivity, fantasy or imagination, sensitivity, contemplation, sympathetic understanding, or compassionate sensitivity, a dreamy nature, an inclination to mysticism or mediumship.” That was a good point actually, when Neptune was discovered, not long after, in America, spiritualism became really big and, like, mediumship and things like that in the 1800s.
LN: Of course it did. Yeah right.
CB: And interesting, we’re going through Neptune in Pisces again right now and we can come back to that. It says, “The negative or challenging psychological correspondences: impressionability, sensitiveness, vagueness or lack of clarity, confusion, fanciful notions, deception, a lack of planning ability, and a lie or a fraud. Sociological correspondence: people with a negative outlook on life who are easily influenced by other persons, mediums, persons of doubtful character, crooks or tricksters.” So it actually gives a very largely negative slant with sociological correspondences for some reason, but otherwise even treatment of positive and negative in the previous section. Is there any other major components that we haven’t touched on here today when it comes to Neptune? We’ve talked about several combinations, like the really classic ones like Neptune-Saturn, Neptune-Mercury, Neptune-Venus, those are all pretty obvious and straight forward.
LN: There’s Neptune-Jupiter that’s interesting.
LN: Because I think of Neptune, sometimes, as trying to take a sip from a fire hose.
LN: You’re trying to distinguish something small from something very grand, the infinite. Right? Neptune to me as well as Jupiter– Jupiter represents possibilities but in a way they’re the known possibilities because it’s inside of Saturn, right? Neptune is beyond that so it’s the infinite, infinite possibilities that we could know and not even know cause Neptune to me is the unknown-unknown right? So with Neptune in a difficult or stressful aspect it actually doesn’t matter,again, because I see the less stressful aspects of the trines and the sextiles to have their spectrum as well so they can operate in shadow. So this is a place where Jupiter in Pisces, Jupiter-Neptune, Jupiter in the twelfth for me, can in fact find it difficult to parse, or to discern, again if we think about that polarity point of Virgo and Mercury over there, to discern what is real and what’s not. Right? And so what can happen with Neptune-Jupiter is that because there are so many possibilities of what’s true, then what happens is they become in a space of where they are easily gullible, where they are easily impressed upon by, “If somebody has a sense of clarity of the truth, even if it’s not the truth, then I’ll go with that.” Right?
CB: So in terms of belief and, like, easily being led into beliefs if they find somebody that seems like a compelling teacher?
LN: Yes, right.
LN: And again that projection of the guru, the projection of the great master, teacher who has access to the mystical realms. Again, that is the desire, that is Neptune’s desire to merge, right? And then by merging with someone else through osmosis I gain what they have.
LN: Right? So there’s a transference process in that, there’s some Plutonian elements that come into that because I’m an evolutionary astrologer. So there’s some components of that, the big lies that can happen with Neptune-Jupiter. The cultish natures or even someone being the person who speaks the big lie, and is charismatic and just has enough truth to catch people in that reality.
LN: And where there are disconnects in something like that you have to get people to buy into the big lie so that the disconnects don’t mean anything.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point because that’s one of Jupiter’s primary functions, is truth. And that’s always been a consistent significations in the Western tradition, is Jupiter representing truth and when you put it together with Neptune, sometimes it can be bending the truth or using the truth selectively where I’ve noticed for example in some quote-unquote conspiracy theories or certain type of conspiracy theory gurus, part of the grift is to tell the truth like a certain percentage of the time so that you have like ten percent or like twenty-five percent is something that’s actually valid, that’s an interesting observation, or like insight or behind the scenes view and look into the world but it’s like the other 75% is stuff that you just made up.
LN: Just made up.
CB: So I’m thinking of people like Alex Jones or somebody like that, but that’s really interesting. And then in that you sort of set yourself up as an authority figure or a guru-type figure, so that’s a good Jupiter-Neptune sort of thing.
LN: That’s the shadow, absolutely.
CB: What’s the positive side of that?
LN: Jupiter-Neptune is that the limits of one’s ego truth are being transcended. The dissolution, which I see as a positive function of Neptune, is to dissolve the false edges of one’s truth of what the ego is holding onto as true, and Neptune does it’s job to dissolve those. So that’s transcending. Neptune is a water function, so it’s cyclical, so like the tide, it ebbs and flows and so that cycle is going to come back around to dissolve more. And so this is the transcending process, the transcendent nature of transcending one’s belief systems over time. It can be the connection between the mystical divine out there coming through and being able to speak the truth, see the truth, narrate it out in the world. This is why those who have ill-intention in their consciousness can actually tap into that stuff just enough, and there’s the ego and narcissism that comes in that then they begin to believe their own story, “I am the guru. I can see the truth.” And that’s what we call the expansion of the ego till it gets like a balloon to it’s thin stages and it pops and it collapses, and Neptune will, over time, it’s not a fast pop but eventually at some point, slowly and gradually that balloon will pop. And so the dissolution of that ego structure, and so on. So there are obviously, and always, the spectrum for everything and so that person who just sees and knows but doesn’t have the ego attachment, walks with it humbly and knows that they are tapping into the conduit, they are not the conduit. Right? They are tapping into the message, they are not the messenger. Right? That’s a very different narrative then, “I’m the messenger you must listen to my truth.”
CB: Right, yeah. That’s really interesting. So this is also bringing us into the philosopher or somebody that’s able to merge the more, like, left-brain and right-brain areas of philosophy and religion and things like that and maybe be equal to codify, transcendent truths into something that’s a little bit more tangible or a little bit more reasonable in the real world.
LN: Yes and what’s really interesting, and I do love that fact that– so first of all, let me set a premise for you. In evolutionary astrology, just like most astrologers see mercury as left-brain but in evolutionary astrology, we see Jupiter as right brain. Right?
LN: So it’s intuitive, it’s inductive, it’s abstract, you have to believe, right? And so there’s this intuitive nature, right? Right-brain. Not right-brain, creative but what’s interesting is that in traditional astrology taking out the outer planets, Jupiter and Mercury rules the mutable cross.
LN: And in my world, Jupiter and Mercury have everything to do about perception and so it defines, in many ways, the structure or reality as to what we believe and what we think. So to me, again, the mutable cross, having almost none of it in my chart, it took me years and probably through progressions getting into mutables, that really gave me a much grander and deeper understanding of mutability. And so really seeing it as the magic in the universe, that I believe in, that one shifts one’s perception through the dissolution of Neptune, through the gaining of higher information of Jupiter, through the accessing of information of Mercury ruling both Gemini and Virgo. The filtration of that information and the discernment of the information, we gain all that and we shift our perspective. Right? And then reality changes from that. So I just wanted to throw that in there. I find that fascinating that the mutable cross is to me, in so many ways, the more powerful of the mode crosses.
CB: Right, yeah. It’s interesting that traditionally the contrast between the two Mercury signs of Gemini and Virgo, and the two Jupiter signs of Sagittarius and Pisces is small things in the Mercury-ruled signs versus very big things in the Jupiter-ruled signs. And even in the modern rulerships, it’s kind of interesting in that context, of putting Neptune in Pisces that you still get the same thing of going from small practical, or tangible things, to not just big things, but things that are so big that they are just immeasurable and transcendent.
LN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
CB: Yeah. Well, okay so we have covered Jupiter, that’s pretty good for Jupiter-Neptune. I know there’s other stuff but we’re getting towards the end of our time here. Are there any final things? You’ve done, like, lectures and workshops on Neptune, right?
LN: Yeah, I have. I’ve taught classes on them, I’ve done workshops on it, I’ve done lectures on it. I love planets. I love the outer planets. At ISAR next year, I’ll be doing Pluto transits and Uranus transits lectures; did one at NORWAC on the Pluto transits. I’ve done Neptune transits. You know, so Neptune is a meditative world. So there’s meditation, a place where you’re transported or you transcend the day to day, again Mercury-Virgo, humdrum nature. The tasks that we get involved with and that we tick off and the work we have to do, and all of that. And I do believe Virgo to be a brilliant and absolutely necessary sign, and again from an archetypal point of view of looking at these mutable signs, they are transition points. They are the signs where we transition back into cardinal, right? So they are huge transition points because if we think along the axis of the prime horizontal and the prime vertical, they are just on the other sides of the AC, MC, DC, and IC. The first, fourth, tenth, and seventh, in whatever order I went with, but they’re just before that. So they’re a big transitional process where adjustments have to be made and so–
CB: –and also it’s moving away from the two fixed signs, of the fixedity of being in the stable middle of the season to suddenly getting ready to move into a new season and that in-between stage, which is transitional.
LN: Transitional, right, and so there’s such power in these mutable signs. And so one of the things I wanted to say about Virgo is that ultimately we think about it as work and tasks but something Demetra George said many years ago about the sixth house and Virgo, or she was just saying about the sixth house, is it’s the work that fulfills dharma. Right? So that’s something that even transports that beyond what seems to be the day-to-day tasks of the things that we’re doing and that we get ourselves distracted by. And so when I think of meditation, I think more in lines of zen buddhist and buddhist meditation where the buddhists believe that we are actually walking around in an altered state and that meditation is a place where we wake up.
LN: Right? And so that mindfulness meditation is about that place of letting go of the monkey mind, of the thoughts, you know, the sort of the Mercury-Virgo-Gemini chatter that’s going on and to see it float away in a bubble, to let it go. To let it go, come back to the breath. Let it go, let it go, come back to the breath. And then what happens is that you get into that space in between moments. Right? In that meditation, the space in between breaths, and that’s very Neptunian. Again transcending those moments. Not to demonize them, not to consider them less, but to actually wake up into the moment of now. So that, it’s not a place– We often think of meditation as a place where we are transported somewhere else, right? Transcendental meditation, up there out there somewhere. Where I like the mindfulness, zen buddhist, be present, be here now, the awakened mind, the mindful mind, the intentional mind, the intentional moment. And that is this beautiful merging and blending of Neptune-Mercury, of Virgo-Pisces that finds it’s harmony, it’s union. Right? And so that meditational moment, the meditation is Neptune, it is the 12th house, it’s that place of breath, of giving space, of a place of grace and opening. That’s that place where the fog gradually drifts away and the clarity of the moment comes through. Right? And I just love that about Neptune. So often humans want to, especially when they are getting into astrology to begin with is to sort of obsess about, “Oh my god, I have Neptune here. Are you a drug addict?” The kind of thing my mom did when she was a young astrologer, right? To think about the negative. So we need to be aware and mindful of them but, you know, all that beauty and potential of the Neptune and its association with the twelfth house and its association with Pisces it’s just grand and beautiful.
CB: Yeah there’s something very beautiful about it. And something that is beautiful in a way that you’re not used to experiencing and is beautiful on a level that transcends the basic conceptualizations of beauty that we commonly think about with Venus, like art or flowers or something like that. There’s something other-worldly about it that when you feel it, occasionally, it’s something that feels, can feel very good.
LN: Right and the connection between Venus and Neptune, again, is very clear right? It’s the higher octave of Venus, Neptune is. So you can pass by a piece of art and go, “Yeah, that’s nice.”
LN: Right? There’s the appreciation, that’s Venus. We appreciate that art and possibly where you have Venus, you have an appreciation of the actual artist’s method and, you know, so on. How well they detailed what it is they were doing or captured it. But when you involve Neptune with that you are pulled into that imaginal world. It expands and opens. It’s like standing in front of the piece in the Chicago museum, the pointillists where they’re standing in the park in Victorian clothes, and if you just soften your eyes, you begin to see the pointillism. And you begin to, you know, kind of enter into that. Or standing in front of a Monet or Renoir, and just sinking into and tasting the color of the blue or feeling the color of the water and the water lilies, and the color wash over you. That’s a Neptune thing, that’s not a Venus thing.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And having that sense of feeling and living and being there. And being transported there through your senses or through something that’s intangible and hard to articulate.
LN: Right. And that’s the difference between, as I said, the difference between Venus and Neptune. They have creative components, they have that connection. Venus has appreciation and aesthetics and sees the value of something and what they appreciate and Neptune is transported. It transcends the details of the artwork and the methodology and all of that. It just transcends that.
LN: And you can do that with poetry and music and sound. Right?
LN: All of that can be from an appreciation point of view or from an immersion point of view, right, where you merge into that experience.
CB: Right, and people, maybe that’s the highest– I don’t want to say highest but let’s say practically speaking, one of the most constructive uses of Neptune is just people that are able to do that and convey that to other people of bringing that sense of transcendence into reality in some way and to share it with somebody else, for even just a moment, through something.
LN: I think that’s a gift.
LN: Right? I mean, and then out of that gift, again, inspiration occurs, to inspire other people, to reach for something within themselves that can be expressed after living in somebody else’s imaginal world, however briefly.
LN: Right? It opens our world to possibilities. So that’s a gift.
CB: Yeah. That’s great. To inspire. That’s such a great keyword. Because you can inspire somebody through art. You can inspire somebody through, you know, a belief. You can inspire somebody through even a relationship. There are so many different ways you can inspire somebody in different ways but that’s one of the core, underlying, beautiful components of it, is just to be inspired.
LN: Right, so even with Saturn-Neptune. Be an inspirational leader.
LN: Right? Instead of a dictator.
CB: Yeah, seeing a lot of the Saturn in Capricorn people in their late twenties just going through their Saturn returns, where they had Saturn conjunct Neptune and Uranus in Capricorn from the late 1980’s was pretty wild because a lot of them that had their Saturn returns, it was also activating Neptune at the same time and they had very often idealistic motivations in the things that they were trying to bring into concrete reality.
CB: LIke I know one person at a local astrology group they wanted to work on like a sort of group housing project in order to help build housing for low-income people and it was part of this motivation of compassion that was driving it but it was being brought into reality through Saturn.
LN: Yeah, I have Saturn, obviously as you folks may have seen, I have Saturn in Capricorn. So I had my second Saturn return. So my first Saturn return, back in 89’ when you’re talking about that group being born, was a Neptune, Uranus and Saturn going over my Saturn.
CB: Which famously was also the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the time.
LN: Yes. So for me it had a lot to do with my narratives around some pretty classical stuff: my father. The unrealistic expectations that I placed on my father. And not really seeing him for the individual he was but the archetype of father and how he must live up to that. My disillusionment in my life that I had claimed on that. And I have a Neptune-Saturn sextile in my natal chart but, if you go along with more modern narratives, the Moon can be either parent sitting up there, particularly in the tenth house, so it’s a parenting dynamic. Anyway, it really was a beautiful thing where I was able to really release the disillusionment that I had and the illusions I placed on him, the unrealistic expectations that I had placed on him, and the disappointment I had had with him. Right? And so that was the seeds that were there for me to be present when him through his illness and death, was for me to be really present with him. Not in that place of a little girl who had those expectations of her father, but as a woman seeing a grown man with his foibles and downfalls and greatness and whatever that might be. Right?
LN: And so, you know, Saturn-Neptune, Neptune to Saturn in a natal chart, Neptune transit to Saturn, you’ve got all kinds of things, you know, dissolving our narratives and our beliefs about what personal authority means. Who has the authority to author my reality? What’s real and what’s not? What are boundaries about? How are those? What are the limitations of what I thought was real? All of those things are, in a natal chart, with Neptune-Saturn those are going to be perpetually, consistently, cyclically, challenged. And then, under transits you get targeted moments and targeted cycles through those aspects of intensified moments of those experiences. Right?
CB: Right, yeah. Talking about that reminds me of something I noticed a few years ago during the Saturn-Neptune squares of 2016-ish. There were some pivotal things that happened in debates about house division. And I realized that, like, Saturn-Neptune combinations were somehow tied in with the history of house division in Western astrology which is such a funny and literal manifestation because with different house systems astrologers are trying to define the boundaries between the twelve houses–
LN: Which are an illusion anyway! Or a projection!
CB: — yeah but there’s a lot of nebulousness and ambiguity about where the cusps are supposed to be and how astrologers calculate that, and different good arguments where it may not be one or the other but it could be, like both or all at the same time or something like that.
LN: Well I do believe so, look, we’ve taken the ecliptic and we’ve mapped it to a piece of paper, and then we’ve wrapped the planets around that ecliptic and then decided to divide the sky!
CB: Right, yeah.
LN: Alright so we’ve decided to divide the sky, and there are different methods for dividing the sky, and when we divide the sky, we’ve then mapped that onto a piece of paper and there are no divisions of the sky. It’s just like drawing a line on a map. We’ve declared it as such but it’s all one thing! It’s still a 360 degree circle, there’s a continuum along it, so whatever house division you might use that suits you, then great! It doesn’t make another one wrong.
CB: Right. Which is such a hard thing for Saturn to cope with because it’s such a Neptunian reality to say that.
LN: And here’s a Capricorn, Saturn in Capricorn, Mercury in Capricorn saying it!
CB: Right. [laughs]
LN: Right? So it’s like okay, my husband is a general contractor and he has a particular hammer that he likes. It’s got the right weight for him. It’s got the right grip. It does exactly what he wants it to do. And then he’s got a guy over here who’s got a different hammer that was never going to work for him, and if he hands his hammer to that guy it’s going to be awkward and clumsy, it’s not going to work. But you know what they’re trying to do? They’re trying to hammer a nail into wood. And both of them do it.
LN: If they’re skillful, and they know how to use the hammer then they’ll be able to strike the hammer into the wood. Some will be more efficient, some might not. Same with a screwdriver. What is it’s intention? It’s to screw a nail into something. Doesn’t matter whether you use a screw-gun, whether that thing’s electrical, whether it’s battery, whether it’s handheld, whether it’s got flowers on it, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, it does the thing. The point is does it do the thing.
CB: Yeah, does it get the job done?
LN: Yeah, so If you find, with your clientele and the type of astrology that you do, that it gets the job done and you get results. Awesome!
LN: Right? But for my type of astrology that I’m doing, your methodology may not work. That doesn’t mean that my methodology is right and that yours is wrong. It just means, for what I’m doing, this is the tool I’m using.
CB: Sure, yeah that makes sense. Well, that’s a good Neptunian lesson, I think, to walk away with, in terms of the disillusionment of boundaries and what happens when Neptune is introduced to Saturnian-type boundaries things, is the blurring of lines. Yeah, alright, I think we’re at our time now. So this has been amazing! This is a great discussion, thank you so much. This is one of my favorite of the planetary series so far because we just set this up really quickly last night because you were in town.
LN: We did!
CB: We had no outline.
CB: Just sort of riffed on Neptune, and we Neptuned our way through it.
LN: We did! We Neptuned the snot out of that one! [laughing]
CB: Right. [laughs] So thank you so much for doing this. Let’s talk a little bit just to reiterate, so you’re doing two conferences next year, not just one conference. So the Northwest Astrology Conference, which a year ago in 2012–
CB: Or 2020, the pandemic hit and you had two months before–
LN: — six weeks —
CB: — six weeks to—
LN: — to pivot.
CB: To switch an online astrology conference and you pulled it off and it was, like, wildly successful, in May of 2020.
LN: It was, thanks to you.
CB: Well partially, I mean, a little bit, but also partially due to your helpers, like Nicholas Polimenakos and other people. And we recorded a whole podcast about that right after it had happened. I’m not sure what episode that is but people can look for it in the archives, from May of 2020. So then you did another online conference in 2021, but next year you’re going to bring the Northwest Astrology Conference back in person in Seattle.
LN: That is our goal.
LN: And you know, a lot of things can happen between now and then. We need good news that I’ve packed up over the last three days is that we’ve clocked in a million vaccines. Vaccines were given for three days straight so that’s three million vaccines over the last three days. A lot of them were new and the other side of that was the second shot for people that had them a couple, several weeks ago. So that’s encouraging, I’d like to see that trajectory increase. So the dates of the conference is the end of May. It’s late May, and I wish I could tell you the dates, I think it’s May 26th.
LN: I think those are the dates. You can go to NORWAC.net. You’re gonna find the schedule disconnected right at the moment because I haven’t built yet. Speakers are due to get me their materials, and I will build that schedule. Speakers are listed on the website. Those who have given me their bios, it’s up. But I do have all the photos. The registration rates are up there but the registration form is not built. That will open up in October as well. I had originally set it for October 5th, blindly not paying attention, as I can do, and I will need to shift that until after Mercury goes direct as well. So we’re talking October for registration open for NORWAC, and October for ISAR to open. If I might talk just a moment without too much time, we have established a new organization. There are four of us that kind of got together after an event, particularly in the EA community, and it wasn’t just to the EA community, where there were ethical violations of boundaries between student and teacher. And we had a town hall, and I stumbled into the town hall, and managed to be voted the president not too long after that, to this organization that we were establishing. Wasn’t my intention! I was just going to a town hall. So it’s called the International Association of Ethics in Astrology: IAEA. We have a website, ethicalastrologers.org. We’ve got some great people on the board. Ace [Alice] Sparkly Kat just joined us. We have Omari Martin. We’ve got Patricia Walsh, Margaret Grey, Anne Ortlee, Wendy Stacey, Michelle Gould. There’s a lot of really great people, who are doing a lot of really great work. We have an ethics document. We’re building an ethics document for conference speakers and an ethics document for conference attendees that we will publish at NORWAC. NORWAC speakers will get it so that we’re very clear about our boundaries and what constitutes an ethical violation. Our main purpose at this point is to educate. So we’ve got some great people working on educational videos and our website will be built around short, brief, PSA’s which will go out into social media with, like Stormie Grace. And we’ve got lots of people doing short, brief PSA’s about different topics on ethics because we want to teach young astrologers, and regular astrologers, so the providers and consumers of astrology, we want to teach them, hopefully, and educate them on what is ethical and what is not. So our point is education, at this point. To be able to just get out there into the world and tell people, you know, “This is what should be expected of your astrologer.” Right?
CB: Yeah, and just raising the bar in terms of ethics in the astrological community both in terms of teaching and consultations and conferences and everything.
LN Absolutely. All of it. Straight across the board. So we are going to be talking about transference and all kinds of imbalance power dynamics and, you know, consultation fees and attribution, and diversity, and diversity language. I mean, we’ve got deep, rich– the documents are up on the website. You can find the ethics documents. A lot of that stuff, we’re going to have hyperlinks through the ethics documents to videos and further articles, articles we think are appropriate from the internet. The board is going to go through diversity training. We have an outside company coming in that’s going to take us all through diversity training. So, you know, it’s just all happening and it’s just phenomenal. I’m blessed to be a part of it. My goal is to get them established and to bring other people up into these positions. But my job is to get the foundation that’s what I’m good at. Get the structure in place, let’s do that, something it can stand on. It’s 501c3. It’s non-profit. All of that, the corporation, all of those foundational elements, raise funds, do that kind of thing. That’s what I want to do.
CB: That’s amazing.
LN: And lastly to self-promote. My school, Soul-Wise School of Evolutionary Astrology. Co-teachers, Patricia Walsh and Rose Marcus. We were all directly trained by Jeffery at different times, me in 1983, in the 1980’s, Rose in the early 1990’s, Patricia in the later 1990’s. So we co-teach together. I teach the beginning level of chart synthesis archetypes and chart synthesis and they go into level two. where they do the foundational EA work and that takes two years. The level one takes about a year. So we have that. And then I have my own website Lauranalbandian.com.
CB: Brilliant, you wear many hats.
LN: I do.
CB: It’s amazing.
LN: It’s crazy.
CB: It is a little crazy, but it’s inspiring, and it’s interesting. I’ve been shocked at the influx of new astrologers into the community over the past two to three years.
LN: Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. You know, this has been going on for a while. Demetra George started looking at that mentoring, bringing younger people forward. NORWAC started bringing Kepler students in to speak. So bringing younger astrologers in, this was back, when did you speak for the first time?
CB: LIke 2006, because my first conference I attended, I volunteered in the bookstore in 2005 when I was living in Seattle, for Kepler.
LN: Right, and so we hadn’t really had anything formal prior to that but we were working toward that. And then it came to that and then over time it was bringing Sam in as my cohort, confidant, and partner in crime in the greatest crime of the century is elevating the diversity of astrology. And I mean it in the most positive sense, you know, just building a ground floor. And Sam and I were on the same page in this. Sam and I never had just the intention to give away scholarships to NORWAC, so that we could have a diversity of people. That’s cool, that’s great. We wanted the diversity in the speaking field, which wasn’t there.
LN: So we had to cultivate. And so with Sam’s brilliance, and pulse on the things that are out there and the people and what’s going on and who he thinks can really get there. We’ve been able to cultivate our diversity people up into speaking, and their careers have blown up.
CB: Yeah, it’s been amazing. That’s one of the amazing things about the influx of younger astrologers over the past few years is the explosion of greater diversity in the field then there was prior to that point, from like, for whatever reason that was.
LN: Even six years ago. You look six years ago, and it wasn’t.
CB: Yeah, and it’s something actually people, younger astrologers actually need to understand that’s tricky in terms of that it just wasn’t that way prior to like, five or six years ago and there weren’t as many people to draw on.
LN: There wasn’t.
CB: That actually raises one question, is how can people start speaking at conferences eventually. I usually tell people to start trying to speak for a local astrology group, get experience and build from there. Because then you’ll be able to get like a demo tape from giving a talk for a local group.
LN: Right. So I’m going to be doing Opus iAstrologer and one of the things that I’m doing at iAstrologer, and which I hope eventually to do but my schedule is too busy, is to do an extended lecture on public speaking. And some of that’s going to include some ethics elements of what to include and not to include in your presentation. Triggering images. Language. All that stuff. But then about how to select a topic, how to present, and the distinction between what do you want to do? Do you want to inspire? What do you want them to walk away from a sense of inspiration of a large, overarching topic? Do you want them to come away with kind of an awe, kind of thing, that you showed them this technique but they can’t really use it? And that’s ok! Or do you want to do something that is more technique driven and more practical. I find that attendees want the practical over and over and over again. In the surveys, it comes back, “That lecture wasn’t practical. I don’t know what to do with it. It inspired me. But I don’t know how to use this.”
CB: Yeah. You have to be a certain type of astrologer to pull off the– you have to be like Rob Hand to pull off the just purely inspiring.
LN: Or Rick Tarnas.
CB: Sure yeah.
LN: Right? I think Lynn Bell.
LN: Right? These are people that can and have the capacity to inspire and you don’t care whether you walked away with something.
CB: Yeah, sure.
LN: In the sense of I have got a technique now I can use. Right.
CB: Yeah, right. I’m trying to remember where Rob’s Neptune is because he’s got an almost Jupiter-Neptune vibe in the way that he used to, at NORWAC for years, do what we would lovingly refer to as the sunday sermon.
LN: Sunday sermon.
CB: Yeah. and he would give this very inspiring lecture at the end of the conference that would leave everyone sort of inspired and go home with a real feeling of something.
LN: It’s true because he had this way of lecturing at that Sunday sermon where you weren’t quite sure where he was going.
CB: Right. [chuckles] He had a lot of Sag placements, it was very circuitous, but he’s the only astrologer that can get away with these like wild digressions because they are actually interesting.
LN: Yes! They are interesting. And if you’ve listened to him enough you know he’s going somewhere.
CB: Yeah, you know it’s going to go somewhere good.
LN: You just don’t know quite yet where that’s going. But then he brings it home, man. And then like your mind goes [explosion sound and gesture].
LN: But coming back to how does somebody lecture at NORWAC? Well, look, it’s very cool to say at times, you know, so and so out in the public sphere had, these people have Neptune sextile Mercury. Let me show you how that works. I also want to know how many people have that aspect where it doesn’t work. I actually want to know that. Because these five people–these three people that you said this works on, ehh it’s a small sample.
LN: It’s anecdotal in that sense, right?
LN: So it’s cool, it might be interesting, and people might walk away and say, “That didn’t work in my chart,” or “That wasn’t applicable,” or “I don’t see it working down the line”. I’d like to see something where you’re showing me a little bit more. Obviously, it’s a 75-minute lecture, you can’t do sixty people’s charts. But you should have looked at sixty people’s charts or looked enough. And actually, when I’m researching something, I want to find the charts where it doesn’t work, and I want to understand why.
CB: Sure. Yeah, or like the other extreme, probably not a great version of that, is like just using your own chart example in a lecture. Which is, like, sometimes okay and obviously our own charts are always going to be our best study example, where we learn the most from because we have the most insight into our own lives. But it also doesn’t necessarily make for a good lecture if you’re only talking about yourself.
LN: Correct. And people do like to have it personal, just don’t make it all about you.
LN: Right? And so, you know, I’m going to be talking about that and hopefully I’ll do it in another way or another format, how to keep eye-contact, how to keep it interesting, right? Inflection, body-language, and, really importantly, topic. Right? How do you get from point A to point B? Practicing and rehearsing and timing and making sure that in your overzealousness to present this topic that you don’t have five hours of material that you’re trying to present in 75 minutes and then you’ve spent three quarters of the seventy five minutes just languishing, you’re meandering right?
LN: Right? And then all of a sudden you look at the clock and you’ve got so little time and now you’re at a full-on sprint to try to deliver. So time management becomes interesting and again comments from surveys will tell me somebody’s not managing their time well. They got distracted by a question in the audience that took them off topic. Somebody hijacked their lecture.
LN: You know, all kinds of things. So I’ve, over 37 years, right, I’ve got a body of evidence of what attendees are saying from our conference, and what they say about speakers. “They just read their powerpoint, that’s all they did. I just could have gotten their powerpoint and read it.”
CB: You’re listing off all of my, like, classic rookie mistakes that I have made at different points and like learned from but also that are very common things that people do–
LN: Of course they are, you’re nervous.
CB: –and learn from and eventually grow out of. That sounds amazing. So that’s going to be an OPAA talk or workshop?
LN: It’s iAstrology. It’s not their OPA retreat which I just did, but iAstrology is– we select– so the students get up and do presentations. They learn how to write. They also learn how to write a column or a podcast or a thing, how to write a bio. They learn about software then public speaking and then they will get up and public speak. They’ll have a short presentation, I’ll be on a panel choosing. They get scholarships, or awards. They get awards for being selected. Might get a monetary award that can help you jumpstart your business. And then I will select a new speaker for NORWAC. Part of their award might be, and would be, speaking at a future NORWAC.
CB: Wow, nice.
LN: Right? So, it’s very cool.
LN: We did it a few years ago in person. Some of this is going to be online and virtual, and then they’ll have, hopefully, some in-person stuff later in the year, as well. So we’re going to be having an ethics discussion, Sam’s gonna be on that, I think we are going to do independent ethics discussions versus it being a full-on panel, I think. I’m not quite clear on it. Again I’m going to choose the topic of how you ethically speak, present, and all of that. So the ethics of that.
CB: So this is the Organization for Professional Astrologers and I think that’s OPAastrology.org. Or something like that.
LN: Yeah, it is. OPAastrolgy.org.
CB: Okay, do you know the dates of that event?
LN: No I do not, they’re forming it right now. But you should be able to go online, find an email and connect with somebody. Kay Taylor is the president and Maurice is, I think the president pro-tem. He was before and so he’s assisting with things that are going on.
CB: Okay, I actually met and then had Kay Taylor on this podcast after seeing her talk on the outer planets at an OPA retreat and I was impressed. So we did an earlier episode on the outer planets and relationships, it was a lot of fun.
LN: She’s good.
CB: She’s great. That sounds amazing and I’d love to talk to you about that sometime after that event. That might be a good follow-up podcast if you come through Denver, again, at some point cause I know there’s a lot of younger astrologers that want to know that information about how to give a good lecture.
LN: Yeah, and it’ll be, again, how to start your business, how to be professional. In the old days, it would be business cards. It’s that kind of thing. Logo design and, you know, how do you build your brand. There will be brand building, and build your presence on social media, and that sort of thing. It’s all for the up and coming professional, or the professional who’s felt they’ve been languishing and not really kind of clear on where their business is going. iAstrologer is for you and that.
CB: Brilliant. Okay, so people can check that out on the OPA website. And then finally ISAR. All things going well and, fingers crossed, will be here in Colorado one year from now in August of 2022?
LN: Yes. There has to be the world turning really bad for that to not happen.
CB: Yeah, right.
LN: That is the trajectory. We are committed, without question, to that outcome of August 2022 for ISAR. It’s gonna be a blast.
CB: Yeah, that’s going to be brilliant. That’s going to be the biggest conference of the year, I’m sure. It’s more international so there’s going to be people flying in, I’m sure.
LN: Yes, and it’s a beautiful Moon-Venus conjunction in Leo.
CB: Okay, for the opening?
CB: Nice, okay, I like that. Well I’ll be looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing everybody there, here in my home state, in one year then.
CB: Cool. Well thanks a lot for joining me for this today.
LN: Thanks Chris, this was great.
CB: You’ve got to get to the airport so we should wrap it up.
LN: I do. Bye-bye.
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