“Coming Clean” – The Mercury/Neptune Opposition, 21 August & 1-3 October

MERCURY opposes NEPTUNE, a cycle that began with their conjunction at 23º15′ Pisces on 23 March 2022. The Mercury/Neptune relationship best helps us track the development of our fantasies, psychic perceptions, suspicions and, often, our self-deceptions and delusions. 

The opposition tells the story of how all these things affect others. The transit becomes partile when Mercury reaches 24°44′ Virgo on Sunday, 21 August 2022. Yet, due to Mercury’s retrograde through September, we will experience a rare, sustained second spell of this aspect when the messenger god turns direct again in the first few days of October, stationing within 0º34′ of exact opposition to Neptune.

So what can we observe during this opposition? 

Neptune has been in her mystifying domicile of Pisces since 2011, subtly dissolving many of the boundaries and edges defined by the human mind. This occasion will be the 12th opposition the intrepid Mercury will form, also in its domicile in Virgo. It is, however, the first time since then that Mercury will stop and return to take a second, more concentrated gaze into Neptune’s abyss. It is as if the analytical mind is determined to see deeper into the myriad of Neptune’s alternative realities and try to understand the nature of its quantum field.

As astrologers, we learn that the projections from our psyche, overlayed onto the world around us, can often distort perceptions and insights about what is real and what is simply wishful. We do this as an alternative to the truth for various reasons. 

Perhaps we find reality too harsh, so we distort the facts to suit a preferred narrative. Our little lies are common; we all partake in false narratives, usually to save face, avoid hurting people’s feelings, impress others, shirk responsibility, conceal our misdeeds and sinister designs, ingratiate or promote ourselves, avert confrontation, get out of work, conform to expectations, etc. We lie to others and lie to ourselves. Whilst, in one sense, this creates a nice illusion, our deceptions generate streams of turmoil, chaos, and distrust.

Of course, there’s a sliding scale of deceit. Whilst all deception is harmful to truth, perhaps it is measurable only by the degree of damage caused. Nonetheless, all lies are erosive, altering our reality, reframing it through the agenda of the person preventing the truth from coming out. Often the person spreading the lie is not necessarily the source of the deception but merely a naive or willing emissary of untruths.

In any sense, being lied to causes us to feel insecure because it makes us question our version of the truth. Dishonesty and cognitive dissonance bring about the erosion of all that is tangible and real. Being deceived makes us feel unimportant, as though the person lying to us doesn’t value us enough to tell us the truth. 

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At the culmination of the Mercury-Neptune cycle, the two planets oppose each other from their respective domiciles. It becomes apparent how much the distortion of facts affects us by undermining our trust, confidence and faith in others, leading us to question and doubt everything.

When reality appears to have become confused and distorted, the rational mind responds by imagining all kinds of conspiracies, collusions and aspersions. Once undermined, the mind enters a paranoid state, where intangible senses, now hijacked by an unintegrated Neptune, start to invent distortive narratives that further spread the chaos of mistrust, disbelief, ridicule and humiliation.

Cleansing ourselves of deceptive influences is essential when Mercury opposes the Piscean Neptune from Virgo. Discerning truth from lies can be confronting. It is galling to discover that our minds have been sullied by ambiguities, exaggerations, understatements, concealments, deliberate falsehoods or criminal designs.

During this rare and extended double opportunity, Mercury affords us a chance to realise that, ultimately, there is no actual value in kidding ourselves or participating in deceiving others. It wastes valuable time and never leads to satisfaction, only disillusionment and sorrow. Yet, telling the truth is a collaborative process and calls all parties participating in deception to come clean. Separating fact from fiction is best done with grace and generosity, especially in significant relationships. 

There is an art to everything, including confessions. If you must express a brutal truth, give your partner a loving heads up. Establishing a more straightforward communicative manner will help unshackle your illusory deceptions, leading to a deeper understanding of your own and other’s motivations. Be curious, not furious. At least until you’re satisfied you have done everything you can.

**Following the second spell of this aspect in early October, MARS will form a rare, sustained square to Neptune. Throughout much of mid-October and November, considerable tension builds between these planets due to Mars’ retrograde in the late degrees of Gemini. This may be an excellent time to voice your concern and anger at continued attempts to be misled. Refuse to remain under the spell of lies and misconceptions. Hold onto your reality. Do not sit there assuming you are worthless or not deserving of the truth. 

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