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Lightning Over the Waters

Part I - Macrocosm and Mythic Images


This article explores the seven-year mutual reception between Uranus and Neptune which begins in 2003.

The planet Uranus rules Aquarius, and Neptune rules Pisces. They are currently moving through each other's signs, in a transit traditionally called a 'mutual reception', reflecting a particular alchemy of opposites.1 The challenge is to include what is alien, to appreciate what is different, to do it with clarity and to dissolve and reform our understanding accordingly. First, we explore some of the mythic images associated with these two planets, as they mirror current events in an evocative way. Outer planets demonstrate processes bigger than the individual, and Uranus and Neptune could be seen as the archetypal energies of The Magician and The Mystic, respectively. Certainly, they are a potent pair - cosmic yang and yin, male and female, also collective mind and feeling.

Astro Mandala Uranus - Primordial Sky Father

Uranus was the primordial Sky-Father in the Greek creation story, both son and consort of Gaia, the primordial Earth Goddess. As the god of all potential, the infinite realm of ideas, he loathed his numerous imperfect offspring, the earthy race of Titans, who were cast into prison deep in the Underworld. Eventually, tired of his tyranny, Gaia plotted with the Titan Kronos to overthrow Uranus, and they crept up on him while he slept, brutally castrating him with a sickle. His bleeding genitals were thrown into the sea, and Kronos took over as ruler, soon becoming paranoid as an oracle declared that he too would in time be overthrown.2 He swallowed his own children in an attempt to pre-empt this fate. Gaia is our home planet, where mindless productionism drives us to behave like the mad broom in Dukas' symphonic poem of Goethe's story, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which Walt Disney popularized. The Uranian realm of infinite possibility is invoked by commercial interests to create desire and greed which fuels our compulsive consumerism. We are compelled to innovate and experiment unceasingly, without thought of consequences. However, even a minor natural disaster reminds us of how fragile are our creations. Abuse of the Earth's ecosystem (Gaia) directly contributes to 'natural disasters' like floods, droughts and earthquakes. As in the myth, she eventually retaliates.

Neptune - God of the Sea

The planet Neptune is named after the Roman god of the sea, often the traditional domain of a goddess. The Latin mare meaning 'sea' gives us English words like 'maritime' and in French la mer is very similar to la mère, the mother. The image of water as the origin of life has a very different feeling to that of Neptune, standing with his trident raised like the ancient English King Canute, who ruled from 1016-1035, when Neptune was in Aquarius, as it is now.3 Water dissolves and erodes solid forms, and the energy of the planet Neptune symbolizes change brought about in this way through 'watery' processes – dissolving, eroding, swamping, engulfing, as well as refining, washing clean, purifying, quenching spiritual thirst. In alchemical language, it is the solutio.

Aphrodite/Venus arises

After the bleeding genitals of Uranus are thrown into the sea (associated with Neptune), Aphrodite, goddess of Love, arises from the watery foam, while the Furies are born from blood which fell on the land.4 Blood spilled over land always begets more vengeful 'Furies', but this image of Aphrodite arising perhaps suggests something else. Water relates to feeling and imagination, which allow us to engage with and foresee consequences, and are essential ingredients of mediation and conflict resolution, as they are not about 'who is right'. Venus, an inner planet, emphasizes the importance of establishing a basis of personal values and skilled communication in how we relate to collective issues.

Through the glass darkly

Considering this mutual reception as reflected in world events tells us more about how the fear-based ego resists the incoming energies and seeks to appropriate them than it does about the pure qualities of the energies themselves. In the next issue, Part Two of this article will explore the more inward and personal symbolism of this mutual reception, but meanwhile more about the 'big picture'.

Both Uranus and Neptune are far-away 'outer' planets, not visible with the naked eye. Their cycle represents the rise and fall of different cultural and historical movements depicting the ideas, dreams and resulting political revolutions which shape history. The previous cycle began in 1821, and ended in 1993. We can see how both capitalism and communism peaked and declined during this time, and indeed can be symbolized by Uranus and Neptune respectively. The Earth's resources were catastrophically exploited by industrialization and technology of a Uranian kind, while Communism espoused the distinctly Neptunian illusion that by eliminating social differences, abundance would result for all. Needless to say, both systems are currently still imploding.

The new cycle

A decade into the new cycle, the symbolism of Uranus and Neptune can perhaps offer a useful forward perspective. Currently, the capitalism of the previous cycle is being replaced by globalization, scientism, and technocracy. Enter Uranus, disguised as the Imperialist Big Brother, implementing the impersonal grand idea at distance through brute force, misinformation and using digital weaponry to create 'shock and awe'. Enter Neptune, furtive, elusive and undermining, aptly symbolizing the 'invisible enemy'5 eroding the aspirations of world domination as the tide alters a coastline. Western superpowers no longer fight the 'devil' of communism; terrorism is now the enemy, whose waves are fed by the murky waters of emotional and sometimes 'religious' tribalism.

The polarization

The emerging polarization is rapidly defining itself. Historically this culminates as Uranus and Neptune reach opposition. This last happened in 1906-1910, and the next time will be 2078-2081.6 In 1906, the young lawyer Mohandas Gandhi launched in South Africa a peaceful movement of resistance to Apartheid. The New South Africa was born just after the last Uranus-Neptune cycle ended. In this new beginning, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a unique experiment in attempting to acknowledge and heal the wounds of the past. The human cost of war and oppression is usually measured in statistics of death, ignoring wounds carried in the soul of the living. This process, whatever its flaws, was a landmark in human history, officially acknowledging as it did the mental and emotional suffering of a nation, and trying to address it.

The opportunity

This mutual reception can be seen as supporting the arising of the kind of detached understanding and compassion which alone can prevent differences developing into conflict resulting in violence. Paradoxically, this is done not by glossing over differences, but by clarifying and accepting them as we orient to the underlying Unity. Both Uranus and Neptune offer paths to an experience of Unity, but they travel through different territory.

There is much we can do, through being aware of national, racial and religious polarization. The question arises: how to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem? In the next issue we explore this question, using the notion of 'Jihad vs McWorld'7 which is both the title of a book and a wonderful short-hand for the energies of Uranus (McWorld) and Neptune (Jihad) when operating in a distorted way. We will engage the planetary symbolism to reveal our internal polarizations, through whose understanding we can cultivate a basis for clearer action. ++


  1. Including retrogradation, Neptune is in Aquarius 29.1.98-3.2.2012, and Uranus in Pisces 10.3.2003-28.5.2010. These planets had two mutual reception periods in the last Millennium: 1671-1676 and 1835-1844, and the next will occur 2170-2175. This article also refers to their cycle from one conjunction to the next.

  2. This story also concerns the succession of power from father to son. The complex father/son relationship between Bush Jnr and Bush Snr is no secret, and has manifested with astonishing literalness in that the son has tried to overcome the father by 'succeeding where he failed'.

  3. Although later hostile chroniclers portrayed Canute ranting at the waves as he tried to control them, it seems that in fact he was trying to demonstrate to his people that even the king was subject to natural law.

    But see www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page35.asp

  4. See Issue 57 for the article Queen of Heaven and Earth about the cycle of Venus. Note also that one of Aphrodite's main titles was 'Aphrodite Urania'.

  5. Although several dubious horoscopes of Osama bin Laden are circulating, each purporting official sources, the one most favoured shows the Sun in Pisces. This puts his birthday as the very day that Uranus went into Pisces - March 10th, which is also the anniversary of the destruction in 2001 of the Bamian Buddhas in Afghanistan.

  6. These oppositions will begin across Capricorn/Cancer and shift to Aquarius/Leo.

  7. See Jihad vs McWorld by Benjamin R Barber, Ballantine, 1995.

The mandala shows the orbit of Uranus and Neptune in relation to the Earth, and was created by Melanie using the ACS software Astrological Mandalas‚ which may be obtained from:

Roy Gillett Consultants
Tel: 01276 683 898
Email roy.gillett1@ntlworld

Continue to Part Two

(Caduceus Issue 60 - Summer 2003)

All website contents copyright © Melanie Reinhart 1989-2014. All rights reserved.

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