Friday, April 30, 2010
Archetypal Processes X: Neptune – CREDO CVII
Watch a rerun of the movie Gone with the Wind. The actors are all gone, yet they are still visible. Take a glass of water and pour a teaspoon of salt into it. The salt disappears but is still there. This is the essence of Neptune’s processes: illusion and dissolution! Neptune offers an alternate level of reality. The thing to remember is that unlike Uranus, which is a higher level of Mercury’s communication, Neptune’s process involves images or imagination. As the higher octave of Venus, its impact is basically only transiently visual.
As I hinted in the previous CREDO on Uranus, Neptune is the companion and opposite of Uranus. Neptune was discovered by two German astronomers in 1846. After much observation of its historical impact, it has come to be viewed as ruling the yin process of dissolving, in contrast to the active yang of Uranus.
At the mid-40s of the nineteenth century, the Romantic Movement was in full bloom in the Western world. The visual arts, which heretofore had always been clearly defined, gave way its borders to loose and shaded swaths of color, giving permission to such great artists as Cezanne and Monet; music, which had always had clear standard rhythms, surrendered to such as Debussy; literature gave us Goethe and Schiller, Blake, Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley. Coleridge’s lines In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree: where Alph the sacred river ran . . . were written under the influence of drugs, which are ruled by Neptune.
Goethe’s The Sorrows of Werther, a tragic romantic bestseller, was the first book to be hailed worldwide. As evidence for that, my own ancestor, sea captain Thomas Holden, brought back from China six framed illustrations of it, hand painted on glass. These required painting the eyebrows before the face, requiring enormous skill, and the features have a slightly Chinese cast. This was the period of Die blaue Blume, the blue flower, a name given the Romantic Movement. America became a contributor as well with Poe, Melville, Emily Dickinson, and of course the Concord Transcendentalists Emerson, Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott. I hope you get the idea of the “spirit shift” that took place. A kind of early globalism was afoot, as the first translations of Hindu philosophy had finally reached Germany.
In science, the Curies discovered radium. Ether was found to help in pain-free operations, and idealism of all kinds, led to the Civil War and the abolishing of slavery, and one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln.
There is not room here to add the equivalent shift in Russia, but just think of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky!
The end of that century gave us Freud, Adler, and Jung and the discovery of the inner psyche, which has been likened to the outer process of the discovery of the interior of the continent of Africa. One could say that globally and culturally speaking, the nineteenth century was one of the most significant in history.
If Uranus rules occultism, Neptune rules mysticism. The impact of the Eastern religions began to impact the West, and for the first time in centuries women teachers outside of the church began to be known – Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Movement; Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science in Boston. She came first to my great-grandfather John Wilson of the University Press in Cambridge with her manuscript of Science and Health, which he published. The list of shifts in the collective is endless!
The main essence of Neptune is actually the shifting of consciousness, but this leads us, alas, also to many negative aspects of Neptune: drugs of all kinds, including alcohol, leading to escapism. To quote William James, “Alcohol is the poor man’s search for mysticism.” These drugs are still with us.
In the twentieth century, Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work with LSD has led to holotropic breathing, which alters states of consciousness. This I witnessed personally when I was teaching at Esalen. A group of South American doctors hyperventilated to music and within minutes were having visions of past lives!
Neptune rules transient images, from dreams to the ersatz reality of movies, of television, and the inner ersatz provided by cocaine, meth, or fumes of glue. Yes, even perfume is ruled by Neptune, as are oil, gas, fog, clouds, and the faculty of imagination per se. Add to the list psychics, ghosts, photography, oceans, poetry, dance, music, and best of all, yoga and meditation.
The most profound contribution is our growing awareness of the esoteric side of all the exoteric religions, called mysticism. For Islam, it is Sufism; for Judaism, the Kabbala; for Hindus, Vedanta; for Christians, the emerging Inner Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, with its rejection of married priests (stay tuned!) nevertheless has had its great share of mystic saints and visionaries, such as St. Francis and St. Teresa; the latest perhaps Teilhard de Chardin, in particular. His work, however, remained unpublished or unaccepted until after his death!
Even our sense of time passing is Neptunian. It is a paradox because it is always NOW! Neptune’s process, of course, has always been with us, but now we recognize it: Neptune is the ruler of Pisces and the entire Age known as the Christian Era, now coming to a close. It ushered in Jesus Christ, and his life of love and suffering death gave a complete reversal to the preceding Age of Aries, with its psychological coming of the Ego. The difficult message is that the human Ego as center of consciousness is needed to point to the Christ Within or atman, the Jungian Self, but must learn to surrender to it. All these proper names are just labels, and we should remember that they hide archetypes with many other names. Mystics know, experience, and love. Tolerance and interfaith is natural to them.
In the past, Dionysus, Bacchus, the worldwide ecstatic dances, past and present, Woodstock included, the contemporary power of singers to mesmerize crowds – all these are Neptunian, as is idealism and the concept of agape or transpersonal love, compassion, personal acts of random kindness. Spiritual gatherings, prayer groups, the many study centers all over the world fostering inner growth, all have Neptune in common. Today, it almost seems that to be spiritual is more meaningful than to be religious. The only difference seems to be that the strict dogma and dos and don’ts of religion are being rejected as hampering genuine individual growth. We seem to witness this in the drama of Fundamentalism of all stripes digging in and resisting the inevitable coming of the shift to individual responsibility to the collective!
We need to realize that a new Aquarian commandment is emerging:
LOVE THY NEIGHBORS THEY ARE YOURSELF!
Having no DSL, I am unable to participate in Facebook, Twitter, and the like, let alone texting or iPods, but the downside of these might be that a great part of a whole generation is living by choice in a Neptunian world of alternate reality and that the four natural elements of Nature will be required to bring us back to the significance, as Jung points out, of In-carn-ation, coming into the gift and privilege of flesh and blood in a material life. The recent volcanic eruption, the earthquakes, floods, fires, and tornados seem to suggest this. As I was writing this, Neptune’s fury is being expressed in the dangerous explosion and catastrophic oil spill threatening our whole Gulf Coast!
Now that I am facing my departure from my painful wreck of a body at 87, I am only too keenly aware. Not yet! I pray, I still have more CREDOS to come!
PS, I feel a need to apologize for trying to express too much in too little space. Please forgive this! I just hope that you can catch one seed of thought and nurture its meaning so it can flower in your own soul!
Posted by IonaDove