Neptune and the Power of Belief
I associate the discovery of Neptune in 1846 with the rise of unorthodox belief systems like Theosophy and of occult and magical groups like The Order of the Golden Dawn that emerged in the last half of the 19th Century. Neptune represents spirituality that transcends tradition and dogma, and these systems and groups separated belief from the conventions of traditional religion and applied it ways that were often more inclusive and spiritual.
Of course, many of these systems of belief were also controversial. Neptune also rules deception and illusions, and many of the people associated with this new Neptunian kind of belief, such Helena Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley, have been labeled charlatans. This phenomenon has continued through the 20th Century and into the present day, with a long string of cults, gurus and spiritual advisors who have taken advantage of believers.
At the same time, Neptune’s influence has broadened our acceptance of different belief systems. It is now considered bad form, particularly in the West, to criticize another person’s religion or faith. We think of belief as a private matter, and reserve our criticism of systems different from our own to those that are obviously destructive or flagrantly illegal. And then there are other beliefs that we might not consider dangerous, but laugh off as silly and irrational.
Astrology is often placed in this last category. Astrologer, of course, object to this. One reason they often give is the fact that astrology in not something we believe in. It’s something we use. However, though this distinction is important to astrologers (including yours truly) the practice of astrology does imply belief in a universe ruled by an ordering principle. No matter whether you call this ordering principle Jehovah, Vishnu, or something else, belief is still a factor.
So how do you “prove” that your belief system is valid? Neptune’s answer is that you don’t. No matter how many believers you attract or feats of prediction you flaunt, belief will always inspire doubt. We might hope that sometime in the future the organizing principle that astrologer’s rely on will be “discovered” by a hard working scientists, but that’s a long range hope. Despite its many accomplishments, what we call science is still a long way from understanding the true depth and complexity of the universe.
That leaves astrologers with only one option. We have to come to terms with Neptune. We have to accept our credulity. We believe in a universe in which every human being has a distinct place. We believe that the positions of the planets and stars can give us clues as to the nature of that place. And we believe that if people understand their place in this universal order, they will live happier and more productive lives. As long as we believe these things, we believe in astrology, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.