A Preparatory Farewell to Neptune in Aquarius


Our cyber-togetherness. This project: 'astrobarry', an inspiration and astrologer-persona, my dedication to 'being of service' to you.

All of this has been made possible thanks in large part to Neptune's many-years' passage through Aquarius.

Neptune first entered the water-bearer's sign back in 1998, and is now completing his final steps here. Neptune will move into Pisces briefly, between Apr 4 and Aug 4, before retrograding back into Aquarius… only to return to Pisces in early Feb 2012, to stay through 2025.

As you can see, due to its very slow orbit (in relation to the other known planets of our solar system), Neptune changing signs is a pretty big deal. As long as I've been writing on this site (which is now nine years and counting), Neptune has been in Aquarius. We have grown so accustomed to the interconnecting influence of lowered boundaries (Neptune) through advancing technological progress, idealization of 'the everyday man/woman', and increasing intellectual compassion for human diversity (Aquarius), perhaps we forget to pause and appreciate how what's possible for an individual has so profoundly transcended our prior perceptions.

In 1998, when Neptune was kicking off his travels through Aquarius, I had only just recently started to use the Internet… and gosh, compared to my present-day broadband, boy was it slow using dial-up service. (Streaming video? Forget about it.) When I completed my undergraduate studies in 1995, I had never used email before. I actually spent time in libraries doing research from old bound periodicals or on microfiche. (Go on, ask today's 21-year-old what 'microfiche' is.) By the time I entered grad school in '98, email was a required means for conducting class discussion. Syllabi were posted online. And not only was the WWW becoming a primary tool in my work life, it also began to occupy a key role in my personal life when I first explored chatrooms as a mid-20s gay man searching for social companionship in a big strange new city. (Of course, these were text-only, DOS-based chatrooms… not any one of the zillions of flashy web-chat features now available.)

Not even a decade and a half later, it is nearly inconceivable to ponder what life would be like without the popular use of email, websites, digital cameras, mp3 players, social-media applications, and the pocket-sized smartphone devices that give us instant access to all these things wherever we go. My entire career success as astrobarry, for instance, has been a serendipitous product of the Internet's global scope. I birthed my web presence on the premise that, if I simply posted horoscopes on a consistent weekly basis, a readership would develop. As that manifested, I drew new contacts, colleagues and clients from all over the place. I snagged writing gigs in other countries. With the simple D.I.Y. deployment of the latest technology, I essentially shrunk the size of the world… and, in the process, connected with a widened slice of like-minded individuals unencumbered by geographic limits. This has been one of the greatest gifts of Neptune in Aquarius.

At the same time Neptune's effect on Aquarius helped facilitate this coming-together of different souls into ideologically harmonious communities, it also promoted an arguably delusional sense of just what type of personal 'connection' is genuinely possible when mediated by machines. Can relationships that only (or mainly) exist in cyberspace or via text message provide the same depth of emotional and/or bodily intimacy as those that bring us together in person? Will signing an online petition or 'liking' a Facebook page convey an equivalent dose of activist verve as marching through the streets or picketing outside businesses? If we are obsessively focused on what's 'virtually' happening on handheld display-screens, will we notice what's actually going on around us in physical reality?

Without a doubt, Neptune in Aquarius has fueled a glamorization of the televised-tweeted-and-technologically-tweaked image of the 'common' individual… with both an elevation in perceived importance of what the average Joe or Joanne is doing from moment to moment and a corresponding leveling of so-called stars' egos via overreporting on the mundane personal details of their lives, which ultimately weakens the boundaries between 'celebrity', 'fan', and 'normal person'. The faces on the cover of my US Weekly magazines are just as typically those of exalted Teen Moms, Bachelors or Real Housewives as they are of traditional Hollywood royalty. (Related article from 2009 here.)

This has been, after all, the epoch of the reality-TV personality: a romanticized notion that any one of us might be followed by cameras and 'have our lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real', and that the product would somehow be interesting to others watching. The Neptunian ecstasy of reality-TV is drawn less from the individual qualities of any single 'star' than the group dynamic of the entire cast (of 'seven strangers' or some similar group-minded gimmick)—a totally Aquarian concept made captivating by Neptune. Ditto goes for the narcissistic appeal of online celebrity (present company included?). There can't be dishy catfights without the gossipy interactions between the entire cast of interrelating reality-show characters, just as the world of the promiscuous status-updater is meaningless without the commenters, likers and retweeters that nurse the mutual reflection of self-significance.

Neptune in Aquarius has surely brought us closer together, at least in the realm of data exchange… even as it has simultaneously collapsed the distinction between different levels of reputable authority, decentralizing the source of the information we receive and/or filtering it through particular ideological bents (disguised as 'fair and balanced') on all sides.

For me personally, with my four planets in Aquarius, Neptune's transit through this sign has profoundly altered the course of my life—in directions I certainly didn't anticipate, and which ran counter to what my ego had previously desired for itself. As Neptune conjoined my Sun in early Aquarius throughout 1999, I struggled to find my professional place while in grad school in NYC. Having been on track to become a professional academic in cultural studies, I found my progress blocked when I confronted ideological adversity from institutional key-holders (while admittedly doing my part to fuel the adversity). The academic door slammed loudly after a second round of rejection letters from my Ph.D. programs of choice. I had no idea what to do next, other than to follow my strong (pre-9/11) instinct to leave NYC and return to SF as quickly as possible, which I did during the great grand-cross eclipse of August '99.

1999 also marked my first experiences as a professional astrologer, with people I didn't know paying me money to interpret their charts. At that time, with the divine-hand of Neptune clouding my Sun with confusion, I entertained no notion of devoting my future life to such an esoteric, unorthodox pursuit as astrology. I merely thought it would be a good side gig for earning extra money while in school. Getting my feet wet as an astrologer, my ego was incredibly uncomfortable as I practiced a craft in which I was self-taught and non-credentialed… unable to prove myself 'right' with intelligent theory, but instead needing to prioritize compassionate presence and intuitive interpersonal exchange in order to yield the best results. Yet, I began to feel a spiritual benefit from helping other people in such a direct experiential way—a benefit I doubted I'd be able to experience in quite the same manner if ensconced inside the elite ivory-tower. Though it took me another few years until I pursued this path full-time, it was my period under Neptune's ego-diffusing spell on my Sun that reoriented my whole relationship with this 'calling' to serve the greater good. I haven't looked back since.

Neptune's passage into Pisces, beginning just over a month from now, is obviously headline-making astro-news… not merely because Neptune changes signs so rarely, but due to its natural affinity with Pisces. (Neptune is considered the modern ruler of Pisces. Even though I follow the traditional rulership schema, which has Jupiter ruling Pisces, there is no denying the kinship with Neptune.) While I'm not going to explore the full implications of Neptune in Pisces right now, let me offer a precursory comment on where we go from here:

Yes, we've shrunk the world since Neptune's been in Aquarius. We text and ping and poke each other across wide distances, more clearly conceiving of the human ties we hold in common, which afford us opportunities to connect, communicate and create like never before. We understand ourselves more as being part of a single global culture than ever before, with the loss of singular cultural identity (and the shared submission to multi-national economic and governmental interests) that comes along with it.

Once Neptune's in Pisces, we will feel the interconnectedness in a more emotionally direct fashion. What we share, if we're willing to openly receive the sympathetic sensations, trumps ideas and ideologies. It is a universal heart, which aches in unity whenever one of us is in pain… and which bursts with triumphant love when our actions bring hope and compassion to those who most need it. Neptune in Pisces will shift our understanding of suffering from the theoretical to the psychic. And though it'll likely bring periodic waves of moodiness or melancholy, it is a beautiful transit arriving, as always, at the perfect time. Occurring alongside the disruptive turbulence of the Uranus-Pluto square, Neptune in Pisces offers the salve our souls require, if we want to bear heart-centered witness to this transformation of our global society.