How Neptune Transits Reveal Spiritual Journeys

I am in deep reflection about the spiritual meaning of Neptune’s transit of houses.

Brief Reflections on Neptune

glyph-NeptuneNeptune is difficult to think about and write about, I think because thoughts and words are chiefly earthly artifacts, so they are in the wrong dimension. But we are here, so here we are. I think Neptune is more difficult to grasp than Pluto or Uranus, at least at a fundamental level.

I increasingly think about incarnated life as living on two channels, a spiritual one that transcends this incarnation, and an earthly one that IS this incarnation (more in On Being Incarnate). For me, Neptune is connected to the spirit channel where thoughts and earthly actions don’t really apply. I have to use my “higher sense” and perception. I see incarnations as spiritual journeys.

I have an immediate selfish reason for wanting to perceive Neptune. It has a unique place in my birth chart, being part of one quintile yod and three septile yods. It also bisects my tight Pluto–Chiron opposition, which is central to my early life drama. I sense that Neptune is closely related to septiles.

Spirit Journey

I think of Neptune as a conduit of spiritual journeys. Pluto transforms by destroying so we may rebuild something better. Its process can be violent and painful if one tries to retain that which must go, but I find Pluto’s action relatively easy to grasp although it usually starts subtly. Uranus leads us to sudden changes through illumination, so our perceptions change, our “world” changes. Neptune erases the lines and signposts of “reality” according to Robert Hand, who has some of the best writing on Neptune I’ve found. I call it the planet of irreality.

Stephen Arroyo writes about Neptune’s key action as “the urge to lose one’s self in another state of consciousness (whether ”higher” or “lower” consciousness) and the urge to escape from all limitation, from both the limitations of material existence and its boredom and the limitations of the personality and ego.” Arroyo posits that the spiritual motivation is to join with [God] or the oneness of everything.

Both writers emphasize that, to experience Neptune while one is incarnated, one must have a solid grounding in one’s incarnated life, realizing that the incarnation is like an immersive video game, it’s not real, but one takes it seriously, gives one’s all to it. One honors and respects one’s incarnation. If one is not grounded, Neptune’s more “negative” expressions present (illusions and deceptions are examples of not being able to experience the formless, limitless world of Neptune simultaneously with the fact of Saturn’s structure and limits; Dane Rudhyar asserts that one’s incarnation is in itself Saturnian).

Given all this, what is the meaning of Neptune’s transits of our houses? As it circles the zodiac every ~165 years, in most cases, it will transit at most five or six of a person’s houses. So what might this mean?

Neptune’s Transit of Houses

houses2Starting from Neptune’s position in the birth chart, consider the next six houses. Are they within the north or south hemisphere? Or are they mostly above or below the horizon? This can give you a general orientation from which to start.

To take an example, let’s say a person’s Neptune sits in his 9th house, so Neptune will transit the rest of the 9th, the 10th, and so on, perhaps reaching his 4th or 5th house. The pattern here is that Neptune’s action will be focused on the individual self, i.e. the houses east of the meridian (Midheaven/Nadir). The broad themes would look something like this. Of course, we could get much more precise by considering each house’s ruler, where it sits in the chart, and aspects Neptune makes to it as well as planets that sit in each house.

9th house

As this transit occurs in this person’s early childhood when his higher mind and abstract thinking are not developed, Neptune has no such structures to dissolve. Its effect will probably be to establish a distinctly Neptunian ability to imagine things; the person will have a “native” ability to be in a Neptunian space, but here this is not in response to ideals or the desire to escape because the person is only beginning to experience and understand earthly existence. He will probably have a Neptunian orientation to his earthly existence (again, this will be modified by other chart factors).

10th house

Just entering puberty or early adulthood when Neptune transits Midheaven, which signifies one’s “social office,” as Dane Rudhyar puts it (commonly, career, reputation). As with the 9th house, the person is too young in most cases to have any firm grasp on what this might be, especially in this era of prolonged childhood/education. So Neptune’s effect would probably be to inhibit the person’s formation of such a concept. It is likely that many possibilities occur to him and that he does not grasp the concept of “being somebody” socially (although this varies with other factors in the chart, especially the placements of Jupiter and Saturn). This is even more likely since Neptune’s transit of his 9th created a Neptunian “higher knowledge” that is formless.

11th house

Here, probably for the first time, Neptune is acting on the person’s formed ideas about friends and groups with shared aspirations. Depending on the size of the houses, this transit occurs in the person’s thirties or early forties. It probably dissolves the person’s feelings or perceptions about his friends and social groups, probably by introducing dissatisfaction or disillusionment. Depending on the sign and other planets’ aspects to its ruler, he may become very idealistic in his shared aspirations, or cynical.

12th house

Neptune’s effect here will vary widely because people have very individual experiences of the 12th house. It often manifests as the house of repressions. The first house above the horizon, it signifies where one meets the external world, according to Robert Hand. In most cases, one’s sophomoric expressions of self meet resistance, and if one takes this painfully, as many people do, one represses those parts. On the other hand, some people do not experience painful first experiences with the external world, so their 12th house is different. In the first case, Neptune can play a healing role because it can dissolve the repression (which is an emotional structure), liberating that part of self. The person is likely to experience this as upsetting because repression is a self-protective mechanism. If he is able to accept the parts of himself that he has repressed, this can be a liberating transit.

1st house

Here, the person is dealing with Neptune dissolving the external image that he presents to the world and the lens through which is sees the world. Depending on how he dealt with Neptune’s effect on his 12th house, this can be a time of renewal, but it is likely to be upsetting because the 1st house is precisely where he tries to present a self (a structure as it is a definition) to the social world, and Neptune interrupts this. For most people, self-definition depends on external social factors, and it may be that Neptune dissolves them, constantly pulling the carpet from under the person. In Neptune’s world, the self-image disappears as the spirit connects with “infinite oneness.” It is likely that the person changes his presentation to the world and his way of perceiving the world, perhaps several times during this transit.

2nd house

According to Dane Rudhyar, the 2nd house signifies the capabilities to animate the “individual impulse” that the 1st house represents, hence possessions, money, and strengths one has. So, Neptune, having challenged the person to rise above the natural human need to define and present a persona to the world while also seeing the world through the eyes of that persona, now dissolves the person’s capabilities. Remember, this whole process is in the service of helping the person to see that he doesn’t really exist as an individual—no one does—and therefore has no true defined persona or need to animate its individual impulse. Obviously, this is a lot to digest for incarnated beings. This transit will tend to dissolve money, possessions, and other capabilities the person thought he could count on, so it can be disturbing for people who aren’t aware of its spiritual purpose. The spiritual lesson of this transit is likely to be that, since one has detached from one’s earthly ego or need to define and present an individual self in the 1st house, one is liberated from the need to animate it as an individual self in the 2nd house. As with other houses, the way this manifests depends on Neptune’s transits to the 2nd house ruler and planets that sit in the 2nd house.

3rd house

The 3rd house is commonly associated with lower level thinking, local travel, and relations with people in close proximity to one’s physical location. Robert Hand depicts it as “unconscious thinking and acting,” which ties together relations with neighbors, siblings, and local travel. All these things have in common Mercury (talking, thinking, siblings) operating on autopilot. I think of it as encapsulation: when you drive a car, you aren’t thinking about braking, flipping on the turn indicator. These are encapsulated routines your brain runs, so you can be thinking about the conversation you’ll have with a family member tonight, or one you had with a colleague or client earlier that day. So when it transits the 3rd house, Neptune dissolves these encapsulations. The spiritual lesson may be that they are not necessary. At this point, one has grown spiritually and probably detached significantly from the incarnated life in the sense that one has little sense of immediacy about it. Encapsulation, in a way, is about immediacy and managing earthly affairs; one encapsulates to enable the brain to focus on higher level affairs. At this point, that is less necessary.

4th house

This is likely to be this person’s last Neptune transit in this incarnation as he will surpass one hundred years old here. The 4th house, in my experience, is a gold mine that’s neglected by most astrologers. According to Rudhyar, it signifies one’s attachment to the earth, one’s roots whence one takes nourishment and nurturing. This includes connection to the collective unconscious, ancestors, home, heredity, family of origin. Putting it another way, the 4th house is the root of one’s timeless connection to this incarnation, which has connections to past lives as well. Rudhyar writes that the person builds himself as an individual, having learned of his capabilities in the 2nd and how to manage interacting in his local environment in the 3rd. So, Neptune dissolves his roots, need for nurturing and protection, sense of rootedness. If the person has learned the lessons of Neptune’s transit of the preceding houses, he will take this in stride. The 4th also signifies death in the sense of being buried, reunited with the earth from which his body sprang.


  • Since Neptune’s orbit around the Sun is so much longer than the other planets, it doesn’t have returns in the common human life span. However, I hope this post suggests how enlightening its transits of one’s houses can be; interpreting them can provide intense insight into one’s spiritual journey.
  • Neptune’s transit of one house is often about the same time as a Jupiter return (12 years). So the brief descriptions above represent 12-20 years each, so they include many phases of action.
  • Neptune transits also suggest the challenge for people for whom Neptune is the rising planet (closest planet to Ascendant on its north side). They begin incarnated life with a Neptunian “persona,” which means an undefined persona in earthly terms. Neptune’s transits for them focus on the interior self (north hemisphere).
  • Another fascinating point is that Neptune’s (and all other bodies’) transits are actually part of the birth chart (see Your Horoscope Is Not a Chart—It’s a Movie).

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