“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.”

Joseph Campbell

From June 23 to November 29, 2020, Neptune will be in retrograde motion.

All the outer planets turn retrograde every year for a prolonged period of time. Neptune generally remains retrograde for about 158 days. On November 29, it will finally turn direct again.

The ‘trans-Saturnian’ (outer planets) tend to have a more ‘generational’ influence due to their long sojourn in each sign.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a direct and a retrograde Neptune as this Lord of the water-worlds has such elusive energy anyway.  How does it act in backward motion?

Astrologers often wax lyrical about Neptune’s spiritual powers and how it will put you in touch with your dreams. Well, maybe it will but it can also mean that you may lose your grip of reality, or that what we call the real world suddenly has gone into a shape-shifting mode.

Neptune can certainly be helpful for those who are on some kind of spiritual path. Spirituality is an important practice that can help us find meaning in our lives, build cohesion, and give us the endurance and strength necessary to deal with adversity. But it can also be a form of escape. Delusion is a common phenomenon among those who think that they are holier than thou.

Retrograde Neptune can have an eroding quality and it can be quite powerful at that. Neptune, the God of the Oceans, is jealous because he was not given any land to rule over. In revenge, he has taken matters into his own hands and stealthily tries to claim back some by eroding the shoreline.

Along the ocean shore the boundary between the world of solid reality (consciousness) and the realm of the constantly shifting ocean (unconscious), merges. One can never quite say where the dividing line lies. When the wave goes out you are standing on solid ground. When the wave comes in, your feet are submerged in the water. And, if you are unlucky, a powerful wave might push you down and wash that solid ground right from underneath your feet. That is the power of Neptune.

In light of the current world events, this retrograde period will touch many facets and is likely to manifest as a kind of nagging, eroding, ebbing, and flowing that is more likely to be felt like a constant undermining, dissolving power than some momentous one-off event.


This pandemic very much carries a Neptunian signature, especially in combination with Mars, which is now subsiding. The focus has shifted from flattening the curve to getting the economy going again, ignoring the still present dangers. However, the virus is unlikely to vanish just because we choose to ignore it. And, while it may disappear from view, it is likely to spread, more or less unnoticed or mutate and gather strength for come-back.


We now have to deal with the collateral damage; trying to get our lives back and returning to ‘normal’. But what is ‘normal’, now? And, is this really the best way for us to continue?

Business as usual, the way it once was, no longer seems viable. Our previous assumptions and beliefs are no longer holding our world together.  This can be an unsettling experience, yet, it is part of the process of transformation. We have learned a lot. Can we let go of the things that are destroying the planet, even as we are trying to get back on our feet again? It is a huge challenge. The economic fall-out and simultaneous challenges of climate change really demand a radical shift in perspective that could dramatically change the way we do things. But will we rise to the challenge, or continue on the path of ‘fun driven self-destruction’? Things are shape-shifting and we don’t yet know what they will become.

With this uncertainty, there is a looming sense of apprehension and anxiety. We are only just beginning to realize how deeply the epidemic has and will change our lives for some time to come. Carefree was yesterday. We now have to figure out how to prepare for an uncertain future.

Uncertainty is very uncomfortable and makes us feel helpless. It presents a burden on our mental and physical health. Even those of us who have not been directly affected by the virus might feel the aftermath in painful ways – loneliness, losing one’s job, anxiety, depression are all among the costs of this episode. Psychologists are already warning that a mental health crisis is looming. Mental health issues also produce physical symptoms, sleeplessness, headaches, indigestion, or even heart problems. If you want to use this Neptune retro period positively, do all you can to strengthen your inner resilience!

Another facet of Neptune retrograde is the popping of certain illusions. The naked truth will be bared, which can be harsh, unsettling, and disorienting. But will we even recognize it when we see it? We may take a while to figure out what is really real. What mental constructs can we trust now, in this era of fake news? How can we build a new paradigm that fulfills the needs of the times? Neptune rules belief systems – the construction material that creates our world view. Retrograde periods tend to question the validity of the beliefs, structures, and institutions we have created and sometimes erode their authority. Neptune retrograde is a kind of twilight zone. It is hard to get a real perspective of the changes that are taking place right now because we are all right in the midst of this whirlpool. The full scale of what is emerging will not become apparent until it turns direct again.

To use this transit wisely, beware that change is happening and necessary. We can’t stop it, but we can work on building our resilience, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. To be resilient does not mean to resist change, but to adapt by staying open-minded and alert. It also means asking for help, or helping one another – for we are stronger together.