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Lightning Over the Waters

Part II - Up Close and Personal


Part I of this article was entitled 'Macrocosm and Mythic Image' and addressed the 'big picture'. Part II aims to explore the mutual reception of Uranus and Neptune by concentrating on their energies within our personal experience.

As I was finishing Part I of this article, a friend shared with me an image she felt described our times. I was deeply touched, especially by its astrological resonances.1 She described ice floes breaking up under a warming sea, and polar bears and penguins left marooned on little pieces of ice floating away from each other. Many animals like to huddle together, and suffer incredibly when separated. So this image reflects the poignancy of rapid change, where the seemingly solid territory we once inhabited breaks up and the familiar seems to float away from us. Old friends, places, habits, beliefs, and comforts depart, and we stand alone like marooned polar bears on our own little piece of ice. But it is the warming sea that creates this breaking-up, and if we wait patiently, other beings may float toward us, also solitary, and their ice floe may even join with ours. The warming sea contrasts to the previous frozenness and also reminds us of the flow of unity underlying all life. As our structures break up, we are also introduced by fate or circumstance to new possibilities. Waiting peacefully helps us see these new relationships and connections which are being brought to us.

The World Stage

It is easy to project our own internal conflicts onto the world stage, thus rendering impossible any creative action. But if we realize that ultimately the world is indeed all of us, we can engage deeply with the metaphors which are presented outside of ourselves, and understand that they also mirror what goes on within. Conversely, this inner process increases our options in terms of action 'out there', as it prevents us from merely projecting our own unresolved personal issues back into the collective, thus becoming part of the problem, not the solution.

Jihad vs McWorld

As mentioned in Part I, this evocative phrase describes in contemporary metaphor how the energies of Neptune (Jihad or Holy War) and Uranus (McWorld) operate in their most distorted fashion, abusing the energies of heart and mind respectively.2 Allowing the global situation to mirror our inner conflicts, we may discover this polarity within such tendencies as depersonalization and exploitation on one hand and obsessive emotionalism on the other. In other words, we may see where and how we treat ourselves and others as commercial enterprises, exploiting our energy, talents and resources for dubious gain based on consumerist notions (McWorld, or Uranus). We may also discover an internal Jihad where our personal desire for punishment or revenge is justified in the name of God (however defined) or rationalized in terms of tribalistic politics or principles. The original meaning of Jihad recognizes the intense inner spiritual work required to confront aspects of our own shadow. We can surely feel embattled as we confront the unbeliever or hardened cynic within. However, as I understand it, the externalization of this concept into war and violence is a distortion of its original inner meaning. Where do we still harbour separatist feelings of blame and judgement? Where is our own jihad directed? It could even be against ourselves. If so, what are the convictions that perpetrate this? (pun intended).

Working together

In terms of pure qualities, Uranus and Neptune symbolize the following: Uranus brings insight, clarity, understanding, perspective, detachment and equanimity. Neptune evokes compassion, devotion, inspiration, surrender, peace and unity. Turbulence occurs as these arising qualities impact the density of our fears, negative beliefs and unhealed past suffering. So the work of embracing these energies inwardly lies in gently exploring in a non-judgemental way whatever things are preventing access to these precious states, whose real purpose is to nourish body and soul, enliven the mind, and thus promote right action. As the two planets are currently in each other's signs, try combining qualities from each list as a focus for contemplation. For example, Uranus awakens compassion, Neptune surrenders to insight.

The following calendar list shows auspicious days for meditation on these themes. You will notice that the dates below alternate between Neptune events and Uranus events, some quite close together. In each case, start attuning a few days before the date listed. This prelude time may see events precipitate or inner processes intensify. Nearer the actual date, the pure energy will usually be more easily accessible for meditation.

List On this list, D indicates when either planet is turning to Direct or forward motion, and R indicates the turn to Retrograde or backward motion.3 The latter ushers in a period of integrating inwardly and processing the results of changes that have recently happened, while the former often indicates change manifesting. Sitting quietly, centring yourself and becoming aware of your breathing, allow yourself to settle into a receptive state. Take one of the qualities listed above for the planet whose activity is emphasized on the day you choose, and perhaps write it on a piece of paper in front of you, or see if there might be a colour which resonates with it. For example, if you are working on a Neptune day and you choose the word peace, you might associate pale pink with peace. Another person might feel that turquoise expresses peace. Use whatever arises. Now give yourself sufficient time to sit with this process. Allow yourself to drink in the quality, through mind, heart and body. And, most important, give space to any resistance which may arise. Concentrating on peace may bring to the surface areas of conflict in your life. Include these too, perhaps by writing them down, or just welcoming them into your consciousness. Many conflicts dissolve by themselves if we leave them alone, but some do require action. Often we are not able to discern the difference, and we struggle to resolve what is not resolvable while neglecting areas of action where we could make a difference. Peacemaking within is a valuable process in itself. ++


  1. Thanks to Hazel Marshall, who runs Rock Bank, a Centre for Transpersonal Psychology near Leicester. Tel: 0116 236 4256 for information about their programme. See Part I of this article for further information on the astrological symbolism.

  2. See Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamin Barber, Ballantine, 1995. The book explores this dialectic in the contours of society, but I have taken the liberty of using Barber's phrase as a means to discern inner processes.

  3. These differences in apparent planetary motion are geocentric, as in reality the planets are all orbiting around the Sun. Nevertheless, living on the Earth as we do, the shifts and differences are easily sensed.

Continued from Part One

(Caduceus Issue 62 - Spring 2004)

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