Welcome to NYLON’s planetary explainer series, in which astrologer David Odyssey helps you get to know your chart and its key players, one planet at a time.
Over the rainbow and beyond the Source Wall reigns Neptune, the great planet of imagination, elevated consciousness, and inebriation. As a generational planet, orbiting the sun from the furthest edges of our solar system, Neptune’s rays are felt collectively, affecting the evolution of the cultural consciousness. Neptune’s placement in your chart will open the way to your creative gifts, and warn of your self-sabotaging tendencies. To hone Neptune’s power (and ensure you don’t get washed away), consult our guide below.
Neptune’s discovery was confirmed in 1846, during a groundbreaking Neptune-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius. Following Uranus and preceding Pluto, Neptune orbits the sun at an extremely slow clip, taking 165 years to make a full revolution. Neptune moves about one or two degrees per year, and spends approximately 14 years per sign. Named after Poseidon, the king of seas, storms, and winds, Neptune’s arrival coincided with the rise of global spiritual movements, unifying technologies, and the possibility of a coalescing, singular human consciousness.
In Cosmos & Psyche: Intimations of a New Worldview, Richard Tarnas defines Neptune’s domain as “transcendental, spiritual, ideal, symbolic…subtle, formless, intangible,” ruling over “myth and religion, art and inspiration, dreams and visions, universal compassion; melted ecstasy, illusion and delusion; escapism, intoxication,” and “enchantment, in both positive and negative senses.”
If you’ve ever encountered infinite bliss at a rave, then spent the following day cursing your life while hugging a toilet bowl, congratulations: you’ve encountered Neptune in all its aspects. Those artists who have ridden a creative high in their studio, only to feel devastated and enervated immediately after knowing the power — and danger — of higher inspiration. To encounter Neptune is to cross the gates of abstraction and altered consciousness, a trip which can yield world-altering results…or leave you shipwrecked, stranded, and delirious.
But for all its dangers, Neptune promises ego dissolution through spiritual surrender; the possibility of wading into something vast and eternal. As the higher vibration of Venus, Neptune awakens your individual talents and feeds them into the source. In his Complete Astrology, Alan Oken writes that “Neptune is the celestial musician, the force which makes men dream while hearing a beautiful symphony. Neptune is also the patron of the ballet, who causes the dancer to merge herself with rhythm and to become an extension of the sound…bringing the individual into contact with those Master Souls who govern the evolutionary processes of the universe.” If you can build a craft to withstand the storm, the passage will be worth it.
NEPTUNE IN YOUR CHART
Along with Jupiter, Neptune co-rules Pisces and the 12th house, the domain of the invisible and empathic. You can think of Jupiter as the manic and Neptune as the depressive. Look to Neptune’s interaction with other planets to understand how your creative, spiritual, or even psychic faculties emerge, and to understand where blurriness, addiction, and insobriety run roughshod over your chart. Check out our guides to the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter for more on Neptune’s dynamic with the personal planets, but to really reckon with the ocean master’s impact, you’ll need to know its location in your chart, namely by house.
NEPTUNE IN THE FIRST HOUSE
Who are you, exactly? With the great mystifier in your first house of intrinsic selfhood, you may emerge in the world as an ever-evolving artist, a sphinx with the allure of Björk and a penchant for reinvention. But beneath the beauty, mystery, and majesty, Neptune’s presence in the first house can be profoundly ungrounding. You’ll need some definiteness in your life, likely collected by working with Saturn, to give you stability and a sense of consistent identity, lest you lose the thread.
NEPTUNE IN THE SECOND HOUSE
The second house deals with our values and possessions. Neptune’s presence here may indicate a blurriness around personal finances or a propensity for debt and insolvency. What belongs to you feels unclear, or at the whim of others. But not all ownership can be quantified in the material. In Planets in Transit, Robert Hand writes that “your sense of values may become spiritualized and idealized.” If properly channeled, Neptune’s rays in the second house can grant you perspective and generosity about what you own, and what’s really important to you, freeing you from the materialistic factory farm of late capitalism.
NEPTUNE IN THE THIRD HOUSE
In the third house of daily life, interactions, and routines, Neptune can awaken you to the numinous all around you. Such a boon can imbue even the most mundane of tasks — doing the laundry, getting coffee, calling your mother — with possibility and magic. But don’t get lost in Dreamland. Without some countervailing routine, structure, and rigidity, you won’t be able to start or finish much of anything. Make sure you have enough focus to wash the dishes and pay your bills before the trip begins.
NEPTUNE IN THE FOURTH HOUSE
What was your childhood really like? And how much of it are you reenacting in your relationships? In the fourth house of home, roots, and family, Neptune can paint a fantasy of approval, safety, and wholeness which may never have existed, leading us on endless failed journeys to recapture an abstract, lost love (as dramatized in Brad Pitt’s literal trip to Neptune in Ad Astra). And yet, with the planet of imagination in your home domain, you can also harness its rays to build a new and abundant treehouse in the present, a base which can feed your imagination and give you all that you lacked growing up.
NEPTUNE IN THE FIFTH HOUSE
Welcome to the domain of creative expression, pleasure, and romance. With Neptune here, you’re treated to great highs: surges of inspiration at the easel or typewriter; athletic experiences which take you to peaks and summits; and those cinematic dates which make the world come alive in technicolor. And yet, without balance, the pursuit of these rushes can become addictive, making you a fool for love or an artist without a process. Make sure you have consistent ways to meet the muses (and flex your dating muscles) without feeling like every experience has to be the biggest, greatest, and most romantic.
NEPTUNE IN THE SIXTH HOUSE
The sixth is the house of the body and boundaries: What do you have to give, and what are you set to receive? In work and life, what are your physical limits? How do you define yourself? With the planet of dissolving boundaries in this arena of your chart, you’ll have to learn about saying no, and pushing yourself to extremes. Pay attention to illnesses and somatic reactions, as they’re likely indicating some interior need for space, safety, and better protection. With awareness of your needs, your body can become a powerful channel for the creative and the divine.
NEPTUNE IN THE SEVENTH HOUSE
Codependency and love addiction may befall those with Neptune in the seventh house of others. What’s at stake is a distortion around where you end and another begins, and what’s to be gained by “having” them once and for all. You’ll have to confront any false promises of completion, wholeness, and happy endings in relationships, and cultivate your own mystery and romantic radiance. Of course, with the planet of higher consciousness in your relationship domain, you are promised gateways to magic when you meld with your friends, collaborators, and loved ones. Just make sure you’ve set rules of engagement before the tab dissolves on your tongue.
NEPTUNE IN THE EIGHTH HOUSE
In the house of metamorphosis, Neptune awakens a curiosity about life’s deeper, often uglier truths. This is the house of the psychopomp, the traveler between realms, and Neptune here rips down the veils. What roles have you played, in your family and relationships? What have you assumed to be true and binding about your life? You may be drawn to the supernatural, psychic, or psychedelic, and will question everything about the life you’re supposed to accept. Embrace your calling to go beyond this realm, but make sure to bind your feet with string to ensure a safe trip back to reality.
NEPTUNE IN THE NINTH HOUSE
Voyagers, idealists, and seekers of higher wisdom flock to the ninth house of gates, journeys, and expanding horizons. Here, Neptune launches you to find God or elevated understanding in the big, broad world. This presence will send you on life-changing adventures, and give you the perspective of an eternal student — but first, you’ll need to investigate why you’re packing your bags, and what you may be escaping from. Establish some accountability so that you don’t get lost in the spiritual path du jour, running away from yourself to stay distracted from who you’re supposed to be.
NEPTUNE IN THE 10TH HOUSE
What is the endgame of your career? What is the legacy you wish to leave behind? The 10th house deals with our career and public glory, and the expectations which drive them. Here, Neptune may lead you to overwork to please a vacant father figure, or imagine happiness as a byproduct of perfect success. You’ll have to dash any false dreams or delusions about your future, and set yourself free to do what you want for the sake of it. With Neptune in the 10th, you can build a career that serves your authentic dreams and imagination.
NEPTUNE IN THE 11TH HOUSE
Where do you belong? The 11th house contains our community, tribe, or audience; it’s who we work for, and where we want to end up. With Neptune here, you may be barking up the wrong trees, seeking the approval of the wrong people, or even ending up in cults. Ideally, Neptune will lead you to people who align with your highest spiritual and emotional vibrations, but to get there, you’ll have to face the temptation to belong at any cost.
NEPTUNE IN THE 12TH HOUSE
With the oceanic god in his ruling house, you’re tapped into the vast spectrums of empathic, psychic, and otherworldly transmissions. Of course, anyone at the whim of such psychedelic downloads will feel burdened, overwhelmed, and afraid without some means of processing. The twelfth house deals with healing and synthesis, and commands you to find ways to deal: therapy, art, exercise, whatever. Unless you can find a way to move these forces through you, you won’t have access to their incredible boons.
COLLABORATING WITH NEPTUNE
Because of Neptune’s slow orbiting clip, you can glean a lot about the current cultural moment based on its position. Neptune’s residency in Pisces (2011–2025) has turned the whole world into Burning Man, unleashed a savage opioid epidemic upon the masses, and blown up shared cinematic universes, multiverses, and simulation theories. As Jupiter joined Neptune in Pisces over 2021 and 2022, the two delivered perfectly on-the-nose artistic relics, including the dazed (Euphoria); the reality-bending (Everything Everywhere All At Once); and, most literalistically, the aquatic (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way of the Water, and the upcoming Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom).
Beyond studying Neptune’s global effects, pay attention to which planets it hits in your chart, and where. If Neptune is on top of your moon, in your sixth house of the body, use the somatic channel to access your intuition. If Neptune is squaring your natal Uranus, in your tenth house of career, what new or fantastical ambitions are awakening? What’s calling you to shift your destiny in a way you never knew?
Of course, Neptune rules dreams, psychedelics, spiritual awakenings, and trips beyond the gate. You can call on Neptune’s gifts, whether you’re turning up on the dancefloor or sitting down at your studio desk, but you’re well-served recruiting Saturn and Mercury for form, limits, and clarity, lest you get washed away in the swell. Without Neptune, you’ll forever work in isolation, never joining the greater current. Ready yourself to become part of something bigger, but ensure you don’t lose yourself along the way.