The astrological Neptune is one of the most mysterious planets, simultaneously driving our idealism but also planting seeds of confusion and doubt. Neptune energy is notoriously nebulous and difficult to pin down, but during Neptune retrograde, some of the fog eases and it can become clearer to discern this planet’s influence in your life.
What Happens When Neptune is Retrograde?
Neptune is one of the outer planets, and is very slow moving in its orbit around the Sun. Every so often, as seen from here on earth, Neptune appears to stop moving forwards through the sky and starts to move backwards. This is an optical illusion – in reality the planet never stops moving forwards in its normal orbit – but it’s an important illusion, astrologically speaking, and it is rich in astrological symbolism.
Neptune turns retrograde every year, for a period of between five and six months. This means that every year, Neptune is retrograde for over 40% of the time. It follows then that over 40% of people are born during a Neptune retrograde period – these people have what we call a Natal Neptune Retrograde in their birth chart.
Neptune retrograde periods affect everyone, whether or not Neptune is retrograde in your natal chart, but they affect us to different and varying degrees. If the part of the sky where Neptune appears to be moving backwards is significant in your birth chart, then you may feel the effects of Neptune retrograde keenly that year; if it’s not particularly significant, you may barely notice any effect at all. Neptune is always a fairly subtle planetary influence, so to really feel the retrograde motion it needs to take place in a natal chart hot spot.
What Is the Importance of Neptune Retrograde in Astrology?
When you do feel the effects of Neptune retrograde, it can bring about a fundamental change in your self-understanding and your spiritual growth.
Normally, Neptune in astrology represents idealism. This planet’s sensitive, intuitive, healing energy is compassionate and spiritual, but it can also manifest as illusions and confusion. Often, Neptune brings forth our greatest fears and anxieties. When working well, however, Neptune in the birth chart can represent healing powers, an ethereal magic, psychic abilities and the power of dreams.
During Neptune retrograde, a lot of the confusion and fog around Neptune seems to clear from our minds, so this is generally a good period to harness Neptune’s energy for higher purposes. This highly spiritual planet is often associated with a spiritual quest, but during Neptune retrograde, we turn inwards and find the divine spark within us, instead of seeking gurus or teachers in the external world.
Sometimes Neptune energy manifests as scandal or paranoia, which can be challenging. However, during a Neptune retrograde period, we have the chance to own any such scandal, or to turn paranoia into conscious, positive awareness. During Neptune retrograde, your dreams are likely to be much richer in symbolism and easier for you to remember and interpret. It’s traditionally a very good time for developing your spiritual gifts, because you become more aware of your own links to the universal consciousness.
Neptune Retrograde in the Natal Chart
If you’re one of the more than 40% of people born with a Natal Neptune Retrograde in your natal chart, you may not particularly notice its effects. Because this is such a common thing, we don’t regard it as astrologically significant in every chart. However, if Neptune in your chart is close to or makes an important aspect to your Ascendant, Sun, Moon or ruling planet, its influence may be personalized and felt much more strongly in your life.
Those with a strong Neptune retrograde in the natal chart may struggle to shake of feelings of guilt during their lifetime. This can lead to too much people-pleasing, or a difficult level of gullibility and willingness to follow others. However, these individuals often have a very strong awareness of their own cosmic divinity, even if they struggle to express it. They may be on a spiritual quest for answers, but they will always need to guard against being too trusting with other more manipulative souls.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting the Astrological Houses
When it comes to retrograde planets, the zodiac sign the planet is traveling through gives us an overall flavor of what to expect, but this changes during each retrograde motion period. For a better insight into what to expect during a Neptune retrograde transit period, we look at which astrological house the planet is moving through.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 1st House
Stop thinking of yourself as a work in progress, constantly needing improvement. This retrograde period is about recognizing the divine spark within you and knowing that you are perfect just as you are. Find acceptance and peace will surely follow.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 2nd House
Break free from the illusions that money and wealth create. You don’t need more than you have. Start a gratitude diary and consciously notice your blessings. You are richer than you could possibly imagine, but you have been too materialistic for too long.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 3rd House
Focus on speaking and communicating from deep within your heart. A painful truth, spoken with love, is much more valuable now than any number of kind but vague sentiments. Tears may flow as important things are said, but trust this to be a healing process.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 4th House
The focus of this retrograde period is forgiveness. Forgive those responsible for your past traumas and forgive yourself for not having been perfect. Meanwhile, allow your loved ones greater freedom – there is such a thing as simply too much nurturing.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 5th House
Your creativity can soar during this retrograde period, and inspiration should be easy to find. However, you must give yourself permission to play. Treating your creative ideas as just another chore will severely limit your progress at this time.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 6th House
Chaos and overwhelm in your everyday working life may start to retreat a little. Use this breathing space to create time in your daily schedule for meditation, yoga or something else which brings wellness benefits. This will help keep the overwhelm at bay.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 7th House
Stop sacrificing yourself for the good of someone else, even if you love that someone else to the moon and back. This retrograde period is teaching you that you matter. Start by respecting your own needs, wants, wishes and boundaries.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 8th House
Fears and anxieties over money or personal relationships can be intense during this Neptune retrograde period. Your challenge is to accept those fears and to sit with him. It’s OK to be afraid; only once you have acknowledged the fear can you work on removing it.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 9th House
Your idealism is laudable but may have been misguided. Are you sure that yours is really the only truth? During this period, open your heart and your mind to other ways of thinking, other beliefs, other opinions. To find what you are seeking requires a detour.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 10th House
Don’t censor your idealism when it comes to your career. If you sense that you have a calling or a vocation which is different to your current job, look within for the bravery and the power to change path. This is the ideal time for discerning your spiritual purpose.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 11th House
Your association with a church or a hobby or social group of some kind may have been causing pain for a while. Use this retrograde period to figure out why it’s holding you back and to walk away from it if you feel that it is no longer serving your needs.
Neptune Retrograde Transiting 12th House
This is a great opportunity to work on your tendency to blame yourself. Meditate on your karma and understand that bad things often happen to good people. Choose to step consciously into your spiritual gifts instead of being afraid of them.