Revisiting History: The Quadrature of Neptune

by Marilyn J. Muir, LPMAFA

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Neptune has been playing with my head as I have tried to write this article. How do I know that?  My first idea was to write about photography, which came to historical significance in the 1840s. Over decades prior, there was experimentation with many interim accomplishments. These eventually led to the usable, durable photography we take for granted. There was a lot of learning going on in the 1840s.

This period was also the discovery of planet Neptune. Uranus had been discovered in 1781 between the U.S. Revolutionary War and France’s revolutionary wars, both ending imperial rule in favor of citizen rights. Uranus’s discovery was also a time for many breakthroughs in industry as society began its journey from an agricultural base towards an industrial base. This took decades to accomplish; we are working on this lesson still. Astrologers had a whole new language to develop to learn about a planet that had been working unconsciously, finally emerging into its role in our awakening consciousness outside Saturn’s boundaries.

What Uranus did for revolution, industry, modernization, and futuristic thinking preceded Neptune’s emergence into consciousness. Dreams of the masses to join those who had good fortune, creativity, and spirituality surfaced. With good old-fashioned imagination, realistic or otherwise, a plethora of mankind’s unconscious became conscious (visible), the unrest of the unconscious manifesting culturally in humanity. This was a time of addressing slave trade, plight of the indentured, women’s rights had been fermenting… the emerging United States got caught between factions. Daydreams started to become reality evidenced by movies, fantasy art, gaming, theatrics, etc. – that are a part of our lives currently. It became increasingly difficult to separate reality from fantasy.

Interesting… a real part of our experience… but the photography article didn’t gel. Focus on Neptune (or at least try). What about Neptune today? Neptune was discovered September 23, 1846 as Astronomers studied the night sky at the observatory in Berlin, Germany to confirm their mathematical computations. My speculative chart is set for midnight. Neptune only travels about one minute per day, so its cosmic position will be accurate. We are looking at the discovery of a planet, not an application in a personal chart. What are the broader strokes? Neptune takes 164.8 years to orbit our Sun, so our world experienced a Neptune return circa 1940. Oh-oh… there is an important point in world time.

Application? I chose to work on my country, the USA.  We were born as a revolution fueled by Uranus, but Neptune also existed in that natal chart – it was just invisible to the patriots. I use the Virgo rising chart for the Declaration of Independence (DI) for national charting because it works best for me: July 4, 1776. 9:36 AM LMT, Philadelphia, PA. The DI birth Neptune was 22 Virgo 25 square (applying) Mars 21 Gemini 10. That doesn’t sound like a good natal aspect… a whole lot of commotion that will not be easy to track or see or determine any outcome when active.

Activations: I looked at the quadrature for Neptune’s orbit. If quadrature works for Saturn, it should work for other planets, ¼ or quad of its cycle: conjunction, squares (2) and opposition. 164.8-year orbit divided by 4  = 41.2 year markers. Ballpark: start with 1776.5 (Juy 4th) and add 41.2 years for Neptune’s quadratures.

1817.7 square, just after the War of 1812, while America was trying to build its Navy because the world powers and pirates were destroying world trade and one another… no one was safe. Did you know that the nations of that time hired the Barbary pirates to do their dirty work? The pirates worked for whoever paid them, crews were captured, sold into slavery or slaughtered, nations paid ransom… sometimes. Sound to you like transiting Neptune opposing natal Mars, natally in square to Neptune? Chaos stirring the already difficult pot of DI Mars square Neptune.

Add 41.2 years: 1858.9 opposition, the fermenting period just prior to the Civil War, really nasty at this point in history. Part was North/South politics, part was emerging territories and whom they would side with, part was racial bias and structure, and (believe it or not) part was women seeking to remedy their no-rights plight. At the core was a U.S. President (Buchanan) who did little to nothing to fix what was going on, so it just kept getting worse. Oppositions often work out as taking opposite sides. The outcome of that war is still being fought today. We are still battling the “he said/she said” claims of the sides and revisionist history 160+ years later. Hmmm… that seems very close to the 164.8 year orbit doesn’t it? And the issues are being repeated because we didn’t learn them the first time?

Fast forward another 41.2 years = 1900, another square, another world conflict on boundaries, another war: the Spanish/American. Again we seem to be repeating similar patterns. The Mars/Neptune natal square is obviously triggering and retriggering at the quadratures… and don’t forget about the semi- and sesqui-squares. Perhaps they won’t trigger a major conflict, but they sure stir this particular pot, especially if several trigger simultaneously!

And now for the Neptune return… add 41.2 years and we get 1941. OMG… World War II… that should prove my point. We tried to stay removed from the war in Europe and that wasn’t going to work, but it did play out in a Mars square Neptune fashion – two steps forward, one step back. Eventually we did join the fray in Europe as well as the Pacific conflict. Good moment to proof the total orbit: 1776 + 164.8 years: 1940.8. Neptune has approximately returned to its original position, triggering and reinforcing the natal square. I choose to finish the quadratures before I look at the dates of the Neptune return itself.

Adding 41.2 years brings us to 1982. I Googled 1982 conflicts, lots around the world (always), many where we as a nation were involved. For a quick list, use Wikipedia’s Timeline of U.S. military operations, too many to list here. Look at early 1980s. Look also at the type of U.S. involvement. You can see the DI natal Mars square Neptune effect all over those conflicts. Spooky and on the money!

Add 41.2 years = 2023.3… now to our immediate future. We are currently approaching the second opposition phase. Look at our national rearview mirror – this repeats the Neptune approach to the Civil War that began in 1861 and never truly ended. Go back and read that 1858.9 paragraph. Do you see any similarities in our country from then to now? Do you see where this is leading? Do you want to go there? We still have a little time, not much, but some, to whip out our reported intelligence and do something rational to fix it. Remember turmoil is affecting our entire world. I focused on our DI aspect.

We have ballparked to show us the timing steps. There are a couple of considerations to add to our story. The natal square between Mars and Neptune was tight: 1 degree 15 minutes and applying. Tighter is stronger. Applying is present to future (separating formed in the past). Orb allows a slight expansion to the nature and timing of the original square and can affect ongoing timing slightly. Neither Mars nor Neptune were retrograde at discovery. Mars goes retrograde every couple of years. Neptune goes retrograde yearly, so it can trigger at first direct motion, retrigger when retrograde and retrigger again at direct, usually three times over ten months. Because of its slow motion, Neptune can trigger five times occasionally, taking about 1.5 years for the whole pattern (orb of effect). (Aside: Pluto can do this as well.) This triggering pattern doesn’t occur in a single day, week, month or even year. There is an orb of effect that requires far more study than I can list in this short article.

The ballpark return was 1941, give or take the fluctuations illustrated in the paragraph above. The direct return hits to the DI natal Neptune 22 Virgo 25: initial direct – October 29, 1938, retrograde – February 24, 1939, final direct August 30, 1939; definite war in Europe, America was on the sidelines still coming out of the Great Depression. War was imminent.

What about the discovery of Neptune in 1846 and its 164.8-year return in approximately 2011? Actual Neptune return dates for 25 Aquarius 11 natally retrograde: first direct March 18, 2009, retrograde – August 14, 2009, final direct – January 19, 2010. Wonder what was going on in the U.S. for 2009?

And we haven’t even thought about heliocentric, which can even out these discrepancies in time. Heliocentric is the position of Neptune in its orbit around the Sun. Geocentric relocates those measurements to the perspective of our Earth… parallax. And we haven’t started on studying infection! Feel free to study and share with me so I can learn as well. Write about what you learn.

First published in AFA Today’s Astrologer September 2020, vol 82#9, republished with slight editing.

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