Spirituality and Illusory Reality: Neptune in the City of Angels

(The Faculty of Astrological Studies was kind enough to publish this article of mine a few months ago.)

Ever since I first learned that Neptune symbolizes both glamour and spirituality, I’ve been trying to reconcile these two concepts as one archetype. My perspective has been shaped by a background that includes the practice of religions espousing a doctrine of asceticism, whereby glamour is seen as something “worldly” or “unspiritual.”

One of the problems religious ascetics have with glamour is that it is an illusion. In ascetic traditions, the goal is often to remove the veil of ignorance that separates us from our true, spiritual nature, to reject the things (and many people) of this world by rejecting the illusion that māyā is real. Interestingly, one way ascetics do this is by living in cloister, a twelfth-house, Neptunian endeavor.

Neptune throws a trident-shaped wrench in the dogma that says illusion and glamour are obstacles to authentic spirituality. I learned from my tutor, Glòria Roca, that all three outer planets, corresponding with three radioactive metals (Uranium, Neptunium, and Plutonium), “irreversibly alter the structure of the matter to produce something extremely powerful.” Perhaps Neptune’s lesson is that embracing illusion and glamour corresponds with embracing spirituality. Why else would these archetypes be linked? Is Neptune the radioactively-charged answer to Jupiter’s religious fervor?

Neptune was visible in his many manifestations on my recent trip to Los Angeles. In Santa Monica, we swam in the Pacific and I was reminded of the ocean of consciousness that Neptune calls us to unite with. Hollywood glamour was of course a prominent feature of our trip. And the casual way the locals talk about and practice their spirituality, as if it is simply a matter of course and not unusual in Christian America, was striking. Esoterica of all kinds is on full display in L.A., from tarot readers to psychics to Buddhists and, of course, thousands of yoga devotees. In L.A. it seems to be absolutely normal to discuss your personal daily chanting practice, or to attend a yoga class, or to visit an astrologer. This was refreshing.

From the perspective of the rest of the world, L.A. culture seems to be based on the glamour and illusion of the Hollywood film, television, and music industries, yet it simultaneously embraces spirituality. This is lived Neptune in action.

You have probably heard the idea that movie theaters (Neptune) are like modern temples, where the audience, in total darkness, partakes in the ritual of honoring the larger-than-life gods who appear on the screen before them. We watch them act out the stories that work on us like myths, defining our culture and society, defining people’s dreams (Neptune) and goals for them. Participation in this mass consumption of illusory reality can lead to denial or repression of one’s own personal dreams. Everyone tries to fit in with everyone else. The worship of movie stars (Neptune) continues outside the theater, in the real world, and celebrity and fame become the ultimate dream for people worldwide.

From the modern, psychological, symbolic perspective we learn at the Faculty, it appears that the explosion (Neptunium) of spirituality in the City of Angels is a direct response to this suppression of personal dreams through taking on the mythology of glamour, represented by our obsession with celebrities, who we raise to the mythical status of gods despite their being very clearly human. This spirituality is non-traditional for Americans; it is outside the religious norms that most of the country follows. L.A. is a place where the freaks among us can feel at home, whether we be artists or spiritual seekers.

Perhaps L.A. is also a place where a lifting of the veil can occur, and a non-religious, personal spirituality (Neptune) that unites the world as one can be born. A lofty goal for a city built on the industry of illusion.

3 thoughts on “Spirituality and Illusory Reality: Neptune in the City of Angels

  1. Hello, I just read your article. I presume that you know me as a critical thinker and a habitual challenger of presumptions. (I do not know which mythological archetypes that might be, but Saturn comes to mind).

    I question the idea of “uniting the world as one.” Either the world is recognized as having an eternal unity or the world is claimed to be somehow currently lacking in unity such that then some great savior of “personal spirituality” will “save” it and allegedly “make it from hell in to heaven.” (Note, is Neptune, a transpersonal planet going to be concerned about personal spirituality and personal dreams?)

    A tree is unified in it’s trunk and diversified in its branches. The union and the diversity are not contradictions. They are just different focuses of attention. Different linguistic patterns can reference them.

    Language is a key issue. Who creates labels and applies them? Is it also Saturn?

    “The world needs to be unified by a Roman Catholic empire of a global communist police state.” Maybe that is what some pope in 1302 announced to the various cardinals and bishops and so on. Neptune does not even care either way.

    If your “personal” dreams cannot include the myths taught to you in public school, or in mainstream media (including movies), or in mainstream religious indoctrination, why not? Where do these “personal” dreams come from?

    If you say “past lives,” then that is equally mythical. I do not mean it is fictitious. I mean it is beyond the veil of what I would bother to argue with anyone about.

    I might argue (like in court) that I own such and such a car and the government mercenaries should not have taken it from me without “due process.” I might file a “claim” in the holy temple of the courthouse, where the huge columns adorn the front of the sacred buildings, and where the black-robed priesthood rules over their military squads of deputy soldiers.

    Mars may say “but that is confusing. The government is separate from church. This is not Britain where the Queen is head of the monarchy and head of the Church of England. This is Germany!”

    But is what Saturn said confusing itself or just revealing the personal confusion of Mars which previously was there? Was Mars already confusing myth for truth? Was Mars already operating behind the veil of personal illusions- the “illusion” of an isolated persona?

    Again, Neptune just sits there with his three-pronged spear, warning Mars not to enter in to the chaos of the inner temple. “The inferior one will die if you come in here. Only the one who is pure can enter here and survive.”

    “You are the devil, Neptune- with your threats and your three-sponged spear! You should not be how you are,” Mars rages!

    “You are right. I should not be how I am, and yet here I am!” said Neptune. “The issue I present you is the opportunity for clarity, but to experience clarity, one must first recognize that sincerity is blindness, that your own personal dreams are shared by millions or billions of others, and that when you confuse a label for the thing labeled, then you will be confused.”

    Mars sat there in the desert, considering the riddles of Neptune. Neptune broke the silence and said “If you give me your capacity to be aware (your soul, your consciousness), then I will give you authority over all of the world!”

    Mars said “Jesus Christ, that is a bunch of baloney. I cannot give away my capacity to be aware. I fundamentally AM that impersonal capacity to be aware!”

    Neptune suddenly changed in to a frog and Mars suddenly died, replaced miraculously by an angel named Uranus. Some say that Mars was reborn. Others say that the frog was actually a prince that just needed to kiss the ring of the pope and then the frog would turn in to a pumpkin pie made of Cinderella myths from Disney movies, but all based entirely on ancients myths and folk legends.

    Right about then, the REAL devil showed up and said “I challenge the All-powerful, eternal, omnipresent, savior named Brahman to an arm-wrestling match.” Brahman agreed because Brahman had forgotten that the devil was just a creation of Brahman, a reflection, an image, a facet of a gem on the web of Indra, a branch of the tree of life.

    So, then Satan and Brahman arm-wrestled for hours, for days, for years. Then suddenly my phone rang and I realized that hell is just the religious belief that life should not be however it is. I vowed never to go in to the underworld again- not that the people there annoyed me- but because my cell phone reception really sucks down there and I am waiting for an important call from Aphrodite.

    1. Hi J.R.,

      Thank you for your comprehensive comment. Your very interesting story, whose symbolism I’m not sure I follow, reminds me of this (NSFW): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIL_8wl4sEY

      In response to your main points:

      “I question the idea of “uniting the world as one.” Either the world is recognized as having an eternal unity or the world is claimed to be somehow currently lacking in unity such that then some great savior of “personal spirituality” will “save” it and allegedly “make it from hell in to heaven.””

      This is a false dichotomy. Either the world is recognized as having an eternal unity, or it is not. No “savior” need be involved.

      “Note, is Neptune, a transpersonal planet going to be concerned about personal spirituality and personal dreams?”

      Spirituality and dreams are by nature transpersonal. That doesn’t mean they can’t be experienced by the individual.

      “Who creates labels and applies them? Is it also Saturn?”

      No, it’s us.

      “If your “personal” dreams cannot include the myths taught to you in public school, or in mainstream media (including movies), or in mainstream religious indoctrination, why not? Where do these “personal” dreams come from? If you say “past lives,” then that is equally mythical.”

      I wouldn’t have said that, but it’s an interesting answer for you to have anticipated.

      Personal dreams are not the culturally-specific, conditioned ones we are all subject to, but are creative and individual. Where does creativity come from?

      Has Aphrodite called yet?

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