Neptune spends around 12-14 years in each zodiac sign, so you share the characteristics of Neptune’s sign placement with the fellow members of your generation. Neptune takes 165 years to orbit the Sun, so no-one ever gets to have a ‘Neptune return’, in fact you have to reach a ripe old age to enjoy a Neptune half return. On a personal level, this makes your Neptune sign of secondary importance to its house position in your natal chart. However, at a transpersonal or ‘generational’ level, Neptune’s influence affects the spiritual, psychic, idealistic and escapist impulses of each generation.
History tells us how Neptune’s influence has made its presence felt by sign. Neptune’s themes express with the energy of its sign and leave their mark for all time. Generational influences have an impact that extends well beyond the lifetime of any one particular cohort; and though history does not repeat, the dynamics of Neptune by sign will bring forth issues for each generation that are typical of Neptune’s expression in that sign.
Addiction, Alcohol, Boundary Issues, Blindness, Compassion, Confusion, Deception, Delay, Delusional, Dissolution, Dreams, Ecstasy, Escapist, Evasive, Eyes, Fantasy, Forgetfulness, Gas, Glamour, Guilt, Gilt, Idealism, Imagination, Inspired, Leaks, Madness, Martyr, Mist, Mystic, Nebulous, Porous, Psychic, Romantic, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice, Sensitive, Over-Sensitive, Silence, Sleep, Space, Subtle, Therapy, Therapeutic, Uncertain, Unknown, Vision, Visionary, Visions, Water.
Neptune in Aries
Neptune enters Aries in 2025, so a new generation is about to be born who will experience Neptune here. Going back in time, what were the experiences of the previous Neptune in Aries generation, so long ago? This was a time when Aries themes, such as heat/war/action/leadership/bravery/initiative, combined with Neptune themes, such as drugs/medicines/alcohol/the oceans/compassion/the arts, to produce notable innovations and actions which are still recognised today, examples being the work of Florence Nightingale (modern nursing) and Louis Pasteur (pasteurisation).
In the modern world, it’s possible to imagine conflict (Aries) over water supplies, or gas and oil (Neptune). It’s also possible to imagine issues with drugs, alcohol and gambling necessitating action (Aries) as also happened in the previous Neptune in Aries era. Mental health and self-care will be an issue for this generation too – let us hope it will be due to enlightenment (Neptune) rather than as a response to a more Aries style aggressive and Neptunian bewildering age.
Neptune in Taurus
Neptune last visited Taurus between 1875-1889, and will return to this sign in 2038. Again, history has to be our guide – along with the principles that govern both the planet and sign. With Neptune, everything you assumed was solid and reliable may be undermined or revealed to be an illusion. How will nebulous Neptune’s affect rock-solid Taurus? From first principles, Neptune may undermine security in a financial sense and may also do so in terms of food security, as rising sea levels may inundate the land. Energy security may also be an issue, as energy is a resource and Taurus deals in resources.
Taurus is a material sign, but it’s also a sign that appreciates culture – particularly art and music. With inspirational Neptune here, the generation with this placement may be born into a period of cultural flowering. Impressionist art emerged during the last Neptune in Taurus transit. The misty, blurred painting techniques characteristic of this style of art, gave even the most everyday images an ethereal, neptunian quality. Everything the art world thought it knew and regarded as conventional (Taurus) melted away (Neptune). We see things differently with Neptune.
Neptune in Gemini
Neptune was last in this sign between 1889 and 1902 and will not revisit until 2052. Neptune in the sign of communications left its mark on us in a good way the last time it came to town. We associate Neptune with film, and photographic film was invented during the last Neptune in Gemini period. Film photography changed our perceptions (Gemini) of the world. Neptune is a spiritual sign and those years were also marked by a huge interest in spiritualism and the occult. This was reflected in the literature (Gemini) and arts (Neptune) of the period.
Neptune is a magical sign and, at the turn of the century, inventions such as the ‘wireless’ (radio), ‘phonograph’ (an early form of music player) and the telephone must have seemed surreal to those who first encountered them. Will the creative imagination mark Neptune’s next passage through Gemini in a similarly magical way? Some forms of communications technology may disappear (Neptune) as they become obsolete. Clarity and truth become real issues; opacity and duplicity are watchwords for Neptune and Gemini.
Neptune in Cancer
Neptune last visited Cancer between the years 1902-1915. Neptune is diffuse and overwhelms barriers. It captures the imagination and is idealistic. In the sign of home, family, homeland, emotions and history, it certainly made its mark. This generation was born into a world where ‘idealistic sacrifice’ would become a common theme. The ability to sway the masses emotionally is Neptune in Cancer in action. Wars fought on the basis of populist emotion culminated in the mass slaughter of the First World War in 1914 – ‘the war to end all wars’. Idealism was proved to have been a Neptunian illusion.
It was also the age of polar exploration. Loss and tragedy accompanied those expeditions – and captured public imagination. When the SS Titanic sank in 1912, it also transcended personal tragedy to become immortalised in history (Cancer) and on film (Neptune).The Wright brothers proved that powered flight was possible – mankind could transcend it’s earthly origins. And the first cinema opened, heralding the age of film entertainment for the masses – Neptunian escapism on a grand scale. Neptune will return to Cancer in 2065.
Neptune in Leo
Neptune in Leo places the planet of dreams in the sign of creative expression. Neptune was in Leo between 1915-1929. It was not an easy time; the glory of war turned out to be a brutal illusion and money literally vanished overnight in the Wall Street crash. Neptune can be brutal in its effects. So what do you do? You escape from reality. This era saw the jazz age and the birth of the movie industry. A previously insignificant neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, USA became the dream factory of the world. There is nowhere that symbolises Neptune in Leo more than Hollywood.
Thematically, the dynamics of this placement are best understood by looking even further back in time. Neptune was in Leo between 1751-1765; boundaries were overwhelmed in the name of empire building. In the name of various kings (Leo), the world was divided between powerful nations, who paid scant regard to the rights of indigenous peoples. Creating an ‘imperial myth’ (Neptune/Leo) tends to take the eye away from troubles closer to home. This is how Neptune works generationally; displacement on a mass scale. Neptune’s effects are not always as benign as they first appear to be.
Neptune in Virgo
Neptune last visited Virgo between 1928-1942. It’s a relatively recent history, and it’s one that has been problematic in nature. It’s a placement that idealises serving something greater than yourself. There are also dreams of purity and perfection in all things. With Neptune, dreams can become nightmares. Dreams of wealth disappeared when the stock markets crashed and led to the Great Depression. The dream of a perfectly ordered society led to dictators like Adolf Hitler (an artist) brainwashing the masses and ‘eliminating’ those who threatened the dream.
In the period that saw the Great Depression and the rise of fascism in Europe, Neptune in Virgo enabled the mind to normalise things that were morally repugnant. Neptune and Virgo represent morality and mental health; the generation born at this time will have experienced emotional issues. To dream of a secure and stable lifestyle with enough food to eat, may seem modest and unexceptional to us, but in the context of that era, it must have seemed like a fantasy. When Neptune visits Virgo, beware of mass movements promising perfection; illusion is never an improvement on reality.
Neptune in Libra
Neptune was last in in Libra between 1942 and 1957. Peace must have seemed an impossible dream at the beginning of that period, but trans-national organisations were established to maintain a ‘post-war consensus’ – the maintenance of peace transcended the boundaries and self-interest of nation states. The UN and EEC (the precursor of the European Union) were a direct result of this Neptune in Libra ideal. However, the notion of dissolving boundaries works in many ways. The age of empires dissolved too; equality cannot happen under colonial rule.
History shows us peace is fragile and contested. The Cold War. The Suez Crisis. The Korean War. The Vietnam War. Continuing conflict made peacekeeping a challenge that persists to this day. Neptune in Libra’s peaceful ideals also brought forth a cohort who would drop-out, tune-out and become the ‘peace and love’ hippie generation. Narcotics enabled barriers to be dissolved and harmony to be achieved, but death or addiction were the price for some. Denial is as powerful a Neptunian weapon as illusion. And Libra always presents us with both sides of the argument.
Neptune in Scorpio
Neptune was in Scorpio between 1956-1970. What does history tell us about this placement? Occult practices entered the realm of our consciousness. There was a growing appreciation of the spiritual world – yet it was as if Pandora’s box had been re-opened – and more than a few demons unleashed. Neptune and Scorpio affect the psyche; breaking down boundaries to become more spiritually and psychologically aware is, perhaps the highest aim of this placement. At the other end of the spectrum, we have nervous breakdowns; that’s Neptune in Scorpio in action too.
Suicide was decriminalised. Occult and mental health issues, were becoming more prominent – but in a Neptunian manner. The arts – predominantly literature and film – saw horror movies and crime thrillers become popular genre and there were taboo breaking presentations of sexuality and violence. And, of course, that is what Neptune in Scorpio is about. Breaking down the barriers between taboo issues- and our perceptions of them. It’s only by seeing things in a different light, that we come to understand the impulses that produce them – and accept that all things have a place.
Neptune in Sagittarius
Neptune last visited this sign between 1970-1984. The planet of peace and universal love in the sign of expansion and freedom brought forth a generation that saw a shift from the ‘hippie’ age to consumer-led capitalist culture. It was an expansionist, forward looking and optimistic time. So, how did that define a generation? You have to maintain the illusion of optimism somehow – and this period saw the development of the blockbuster; films, books, newspapers. Everything became huge, including our hairstyles and waistlines.
‘More is more’ defined the Neptune in Sagittarius years. Loosening constraints led to the loosening of restraint in all things. But when that generation came of age, what then? Neptune’s illusions vanished like the morning mist. You cannot have it all. And that’s a tough thing to accept. Those born in that era attained majority at a time when the dream was fading fast. There was a price to be paid – and they were expected to pick up the tab. Issues of civic responsibility loom large for many in this generation; personal freedom may also be an issue. The irony is that for the freedom generation, almost nothing is free.
Neptune in Capricorn
Neptune was in Capricorn between 1984 and 1998 – and suddenly everyone wanted to be successful. Economically the world was in a better place, but the dream was to have more than that. If it’s possible to glamorise, dramatise and fantasise about being a billionaire, it happened at this time. In popular culture the images of glamour and success were everywhere. Film,TV, celebrity magazines (‘Hello!’ magazine was launched in 1988) and paparazzi photographers fed into the public’s apparently insatiable appetite for vicariously living the celebrity lifestyle. The glamour business was born – and it was huge.
It was a business that needed its icons. Designer label clothing, fine jewellery, high end motor marques, celebrity catwalk models, royalty, actors, media moguls and multi-millionaires became the most notable public figures of the time. We wanted to be like them. Or some of us did. But Neptune’s illusion fades, and the glamour industry eats its own children. Plastic surgery became big business. Successful men were revealed to have been power-crazed abusers. Credit card debt soared as lifestyle choices came at a price. They were years of conspicuous consumption and waste – and a=we are paying the price.
Neptune in Aquarius
Neptune visited Aquarius between 1998 and 2012, and coincided with much of the time that Uranus was also in this sign. Neptune’s presence in this sign lent an atmosphere of boundless possibility to Uranus’s technological revolution. Those innovations soon crossed the boundaries from their scientific and technological origins to affect every aspect of everyday life. This was a revolution that knew no boundaries, however, when you can only see the magical upside of things, you can be blind to the downside – and Neptune is renowned for its ability to cloud a few issues…
We are now learning to live with the downside of unfettered technological expansion in our lives. The absence of safeguards and publishing controls on the internet has led to a proliferation of material that is disturbing – both at a personal and at a societal level. The existence of the ‘dark web’, shows us that the magic has a dark side too. Technology has been idealised, but it has caused social isolation and social division. It’s easy to propagate lies and misinformation. For those born during this time, the challenge will be to cut through Neptune’s fog without losing their inspiration.
Neptune in Pisces
Neptune has been in Pisces since 2011 and it will leave in 2025. Neptune overwhelms boundaries and causes confusion. It’s associated with blindness, illusions – and delusional behaviour. When Neptune is in its own sign, the world is more receptive to those influences. Religiosity, alternative facts, gaslighting, lies and a global pandemic are thematically Neptunian in nature, while Pisces describes how Neptune’s actions take effect. We are waking up to Neptune in Pisces as this current transit draws to a close.
That is how it is with Neptune. History tells us that the last time Neptune was in Pisces (1847-1862), the genie undermined religious orthodoxy in a big way; Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species and challenged the Word of God. The concept of ‘Utopia’, the perfect idealised society, emerged from the theories of Karl Marx. the Pre-Raphaelite artists presented idealised beauty, but undermined it with hidden symbolism and coded messages. Neptune undermines with devastating effect – and the arts often provide the perfect vehicle for doing so.
© Sara Shipman