MARS/NEPTUNE – The Unconditional Surrender

Life is a symphony of cycles within cycles, each with its distinct flavour, duration, crisis points and overall evolutionary lesson. Sadly, we measure time in linear, arbitrary units rather than cycles. It keeps life moving at a relatively steady but also homogenised and bland pace, in which all other momentous phenomena are simply accidental. The average person does not observe even the Moon’s cycles, which is puzzling because they would understand much more about themselves just by simply observing this one, very regular cycle. Astrology is the study of cycles and we can learn much from these, even predict or prevent the inevitable with just a little wisdom.

Today we look at what happens in the Mars/Neptune dance, a two-year cycle involving the God of War and the Ruler of Seas. By the time Neptune is through with Mars, he appears washed up, dishevelled, disoriented and wasted on some sandy shore. Still, he has learned to survive in Neptune’s nebulous waters. While he is disappointed with himself, he is wiser, more refined and acquainted with the futility of his belligerent ways.

The current cycle commenced on 18 May 2022 and will take us to 29 April 2024. We are currently in the first quarter, and due to Mars’ retrograde, we will see Mars remain stationary within a 5º orb square to Neptune through October-November. Since the effects of a usual Mars transit last 5-10 days, this is a rare opportunity to examine Neptune’s effects on this vital energy source.

Critical phases (quarters, or squares) in the current Mars/Neptune cycle.

Being an outer planet, Neptune has a more significant evolutionary effect on the inner, ‘spiritualising’ everything it contacts, meaning dissolving away the ego attachment to the way it operates. It is an arduous journey for Mars, whose entire image is based on being threatening, menacing, brutal and ultra-masculine. Sensitivity, compassion and imagination are not generally a Mars thing, and he finds it odious to be so debilitated he cannot fight directly and openly.

Mars quickly realises that he cannot tackle the seas head-on. For all his personal power, it is an overwhelming challenge he cannot ever win using his usual “let me at ’em” approach. In fact, he cannot win at all against Neptune, who is ultimately exhausting. He has to find ways to defer, delay, prolong, bypass, or weasel his way out of waging war over the sea until he realises that the only way out is to surrender fully and unconditionally to the greater cosmic forces.

To the naked eye, activities going on under a Mars/Neptune transit will seem strange, mysteriously inexplicable and ultimately confounding. Biologically, this is due to Neptune’s weakening or paralysing effect on Mars’ rulership of muscle strength and coordination, which ultimately enfeebles and distorts his usual boldness and swagger.

Unless other factors in the horoscope indicate a grounded, pragmatic attitude towards masculinity, sex and sexuality, this period can present a raft of absurdly outlandish possibilities and probable improbabilities. We must be cautious about what to believe, even with our own eyes.

There is always a fascinating tale behind Neptunianised activities because what one sees is often not as it appears. Reliable references remain obscure and untraceable, requiring an almost pan-psychic approach to all things known and unknown to prevent our imagination from meddling with the sense-making process. Like a little child watching her father cry, intoxicated, drowning, stealing or caught up in a brawl, the vision of his ‘manliness’ being overwhelmed with ‘weakness’ seems disappointingly emasculating.

Some degree of compassion and a hefty dosage of acceptance for ‘nature’s wonders’ must be applied when assessing any celestial body affected by the mysterious Neptune, ruler of the quantum field. Here, two or more ‘realities’ can exist simultaneously, depending on our point of reference or perception. Where Mars aspects Neptune, we ultimately experience the actions of a more primitive masculine archetype, one ultimately in tune with natural and mystical forces, yet subject to the intuitions and inspirations prevalent in their time and place. One person’s picture of an ideal can be another’s nightmare.

Where the ego-dissolving Neptune is involved, our consciousness must take a more inclusive consideration of the myriad of different realities before we can begin to grasp a sense of proportion. This involves acting from a new centre, a point of stillness reached by inner silence and freedom from ego distractions. Only the pre­sent emerges from Neptune’s quantum field of infinite possibilities; in the now, the past is dissolved away into hearsay, while the future is a mere illusion. Only when attention is focused on the present moment can the whole being open up to the ultimately real experi­ence. The surrender must be made to the hidden inner self, not to the provocations of the outer world.

This is an extremely difficult surrender for Mars, whose primary function is to defend the ego/self from any threat, real or imagined.

As with all other outer planets (Uranus, Pluto, Eris) whose effects seem to defy all known natural laws, physical properties and calculable manifestations, Neptune requires that we employ our intuitive or ‘supernatural’ abilities to glean any semblance of sense or meaning. Neptunian powers are awakened, evoked and utilised via our fantasies, creative visualisations, daydreams, symbolic imagery and divine channelling. Neptune is Master of the Cosmic Dance, where the dancer is enticed to dive deeply into her undulating waters, where rhythmic tides of music, pulse, sound and colour carouse the spirit.

Hence we observe Mars – an aggressively masculine force that insists on initiating explicit, impulsive gestures that result in strongly distinguishable actions becoming hazed, weakened, glamorised or patently ineffectual wherever there is any entanglement with Neptune. We may exhibit unusual imagination and intuition in business, particularly in fields involving motion and energy – dance, gymnastics, underwater ballet, etc. – but our aspirations are usually all out of proportion with reality to achieve anything else.

Drives, ambitions and career prospects can slump into a commonplace rut unless there is a sense of mystery, peculiarity and magic to keep us inter­ested and worthy of exerting ourselves. Those with enough charm to beguile others, with or without their consent, can turn fantasies into reality by appealing to their wishes and visualisations. However, individual power over others is implicitly sexual, which is the primary thing we need to understand with Mars.

We assert our Mars energy to ensure our self-preservation through procreation, ultimately. It is the battle between man’s ego essentially trying to interpenetrate his gene pool (or other distinctive brandings) among the race versus the constant undermining forces of nature. Under this premise, we may effectively view the Mars/Neptune archetype and the idealised masculine, someone capable of playing the role of everyone’s sexual fantasy or, alternatively, someone who sees everyone as theirs for the taking.

Naturally, this ‘assertiveness’ function is not based on gender or sexual persuasion. However, we must understand that the primary motivation of Mars is sexual – his role is to drive the individual to somehow assert themselves (or their gene pool) in the present moment in order to survive and possibly dominate the competition. While the function is entirely masculine, it is not exclusively male – we are all in the race to win, or at least not lose.

Bringing the visionary Neptune into this, we might imagine that the idealised masculine is subject to the trending fashions of its time. We need only look to our prized media celebrities, athletes, fashion models, etc., throughout the ages and across various cultures to see how symbols for sex and glamour differ and vary, spectacularly heightening and fading with the changing times, especially during the post-millennial age.

With Mars/Neptune, there is always a captivating story of heroism and accomplishment playing out in at least one person’s image-making faculties. Someone who represents the embodiment of what is considered sexy, dangerous, virile, and competent; someone who has the necessary ‘goods’ to deliver, rescue the day or who fights for all the victims, the underdogs, the distressed and the disadvantaged; a saviour; someone whose image we feel seduced to wholly merge into, if not wish to embody ourselves, inspires the ‘idealised masculine’ archetype. That’s whom we wish to have our kids with…

Typically, like a quantum particle or wave, this glorified image exists only in the moment and requires an extraordinary amount of energy to embody for any length of time. Consequently, it can potentially drain our libido, or sexual energy reserves if we become too ego-attached to trying to preserve an ideal.

Stories require effort to keep telling and retelling, and like the sea, Neptune cannot be held to one distinct rendition – we must commit to keeping up with her fluctuating tides and moods and repackage the story to suit her whims and fancies. This ‘need to stay tuned in with audience’ can be particularly stressful and tiresome during the hard aspects (squares, oppositions). It leads to irritability, discontentment, physical depletion, disinclination to work, lethargy and impotence, none of which are particularly sexy, let alone proffer any guarantee to our survival because sooner or later, the idealised becomes bogus, and that’s usually not very appealing.

The recourse for the unintegrated Mars/Neptune type is to fake it, to try to deceive the present moment either by promising something they cannot physically deliver or through passive-aggressive conduct where they attempt to undermine any competition, grind them down by cynically downplaying or avoiding life’s demands and generally misrepresenting their level of interest, if any.

An unintegrated Mars/Neptune type may know they cannot win but refuse to surrender or leave the race. They may continue to play with the intent of messing things up.

Hence, the most harmful manifestation of Mars/Neptune energy is seen in those whose wilful desire is to abuse, misuse or exploit others’ well-intentioned efforts, often with criminal intent. The abuse of one’s sex appeal, or procreative power to harm others, ie. cause confusion, sabotage, transmit illnesses (including sexually transmitted ones) or plague others with their mental derangement, is not uncommon here.

At its worst, Mars/Neptune periods elicit waves of unprovoked attacks from strangers, allergies, sullen or hostile attitudes, irritability, discontentment, feelings of inferiority, complaints about feeling underappreciated or cheated or being victimised by society or its lower elements, problems with pests (the two or six-legged varieties), addiction to narcotic poisons or drugs, sexual prob­lems, paranoia and neuroses.

In any case, extremes of indul­gence in an idealised masculine persona or complete abstinence from this can be the consequence of a Mars/Neptune aspect. This is probably the most sexually bizarre aspect possible, and just about everything erotic may present as weird, distasteful or unpleasant. People whom we do not like can enthral and entice us to revel in unusual practices. Words like sleazy, creepy, sneaky and wet, can be used to describe those whose motives are not only unwholesome and unclear but also undesirable.

For those uncomfortable with the masculine archetype (which includes most members of modern society), a Mars/Neptune transit can be a particularly unpleasant time. It presents all the evidence necessary for what appears to be an indefinably negative time, in which the forces that attack are invisible, covert or mysterious, often stemming from within.

Sooner or later, the subtle impact of Neptune will wear you down. It’s easier to listen to the tides and do as they say than argue. In this way, calm or utter delirium takes over your mind. You no longer know where it ends, and you begin. You accept anything it says. You humbly do what it tells you, no matter how ridiculous or absurd. If it tells you you’re worthless, you must agree. You can plead for it to stop, promise to behave, but the waves continue to wash over you. In the end, you are on your knees before it, and it laughs, right in your face.

At best, this time may see us posturing to defend the underdog through some self-sacrificial action or a conscientious objection to wars or other shared abuses, but we must not count on any allies for the most part. Humiliation, defeat and victimisation are too often the results of our misdirected efforts to impose our distorted ego ideals upon others, and Neptune has a way of humbling everyone, eventually.

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  1. A truly awesome explanatory writing, Ang. I am very grateful to read it.