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Neptune in Pisces (and Retrograde Shadow Work)


In astrology, Neptune represents dreams, intuition, and the subconscious, symbolizing the realms of imagination, spirituality, and illusion. Neptune governs our capacity for empathy, creativity, and connection to the divine or mystical aspects of life. This planet encourages us to transcend the material world and explore our inner landscapes, often inspiring artistic expression and spiritual growth. However, Neptune's influence can also lead to confusion, deception, and escapism if not grounded in reality. The lessons of Neptune involve learning to balance our dreams and ideals with practical considerations, embracing our intuition and creativity while remaining mindful of potential illusions and the need for clarity and discernment in our perceptions.

The Hanged man - tarot card of Neptune

The Major Arcana Card that corresponds with Neptune is The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man tarot card symbolizes surrender, perspective, and the power of letting go. Depicting a figure suspended upside down, this card suggests a voluntary pause or sacrifice to gain a new outlook or deeper insight. It teaches us the importance of patience, surrendering control, and viewing situations from different angles to achieve enlightenment. Corresponding with the planet Neptune, The Hanged Man emphasizes themes of spirituality, intuition, and the dissolution of boundaries. Neptune's influence enhances the card's message of embracing the unknown and trusting in the flow of life. The lessons of The Hanged Man encourage us to release our rigid expectations, open ourselves to new perspectives, and find wisdom in stillness and contemplation, ultimately leading to greater spiritual awareness and personal transformation.

Neptune in Pisces

Neptune first entered Pisces on April 4, 2011.

This has been a long journey with Pisces, and now in the anaeretic degree, Neptune may begin to become louder and more intense (as opposed to the usual subtle and quiet nature)

Neptune in Pisces through these past 13 years has amplified our capability to dream and imagine. This has amplified our creativity, but it has also amplified our tendency to get wrapped up in delusions and fears. The part of us that can dream and visualize happy outcomes is the same part of us that can visualize worst-case scenarios and generate fears and paranoia. The lesson here is in awareness of your psyche - know your fears so that you can identify them without being controlled by them. Know your fantasies and dreams, but keep an anchor in reality so you don't get swept up in delusion. Know the power of your imagination, so you can apply your dreams to your realistic goals in a way that is practical.

Neptune in Pisces has opened us to very deep spiritual experiences. Know the true value of these experiences comes in how we can apply this wisdom to reality. We aren't meant to exist in the liminal - just to make short visits there to relieve guidance. We can open the crown chakra, but we won't be able to apply those visions to our life in meaningful or healthy ways if we don't connect back down to our root chakra.

Neptune's slow transit through Pisces has been like a portal opening up a deeper connection with our subconscious realms.  Many have likened this 15 year transit to a collective Spiritual Awakening as well as a time of confusion and delusion.  Neptune is very comfortable in Pisces and returns to this sign approximately every 165 years.  This current transit of Neptune in Pisces began in February of 2011 and ends in January of 2026 when Neptune enters Aries.

Neptune has influence over collective ideologies and beliefs, but it operates from a rather subtle or unseen realm; dealing with our fears, dreams, imagination, and subconscious realms.  From the subconscious and spiritual Neptunian experiences we have, we develop beliefs and ideas about our reality.  Each person has their own Relative Truth that is constantly in flux - developing and changing based on these deeper spiritual and subconscious experiences that we have.  

Neptune rules over dreams, fears, delusions, spirituality, and religion - all connected to a deep emotional tide that drives us to seek out higher meaning.  Pisces rules over these areas too - operating as the part of the chart that deals with hidden things; secrets and mysteries that we seek to understand and gain mastery of.  Pisces also relates to the spread of ideas, a subconscious or conscious desire to share what we find in the shadows with our collective community.  (While Scorpio also deals with these secrets, it is more related to keeping them.)  Pisces wants to take these secrets and mysteries out into the open, to "flood the earth" with a desired purpose of collective transcendence.  There is a beauty here, but also a danger.  Neptunian "truth" is subjective and while it may feel profoundly Spiritual, it can be deeply entwined with Fear and Delusion. 

The Moon - tarot card of Pisces

(The Major Arcana Tarot Card of The Moon corresponds with the sign of Pisces)

 Past transits of Neptune through Pisces can be connected to massive shifts in collective ideology.  It brings creativity and expansion of the arts, as well as changes in how we communicate ideas to larger audiences or over great distances. (The last time Neptune entered Pisces, 1848 - the Associated Press was founded,(relating to the spread of ideas and information)  But Neptune in Pisces also heralds times of confusion and ideological shifts or changes in religious power - often related to revolts, religious wars, and spiritual or political crusades. (1848 also is the year Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto - relating to the spread of ideological shifts related to people's hopes and fears)

 This seems related to the way that Neptune in Pisces takes ideas and spreads them or shares them, which then results in a collective shift in beliefs and values - often connected to some kind of underlying fear in the human psyche that is amplified and then echoed by others.  Neptune in Pisces can lend to the conflict that arises when certain groups feel that their Relative Truth is an Ultimate Truth - and therefore they are energized to fight for their Ideology as if it is "The Word of God" or the "Will of a Higher Power".  

Neptune at the 29th degree of Pisces

The 29th degree of any sign is known as the anaeretic degree, and is considered to be a very potent or critical placement for a planet. This degree is also known as the degree of Karma, the degree of Fate, the degree of Mastery, and the degree of Completion.

The planet in this degree is amplifying its lessons, as it is completing its mission and work in this sign before moving to the next sign. It is giving out its final tests and lessons, and reviewing your progress to give you a final grade in the class. Concepts of Karma, Fate, and Destiny are connected to this degree because what's done is done, this is a time when you don't have any time left to study or turn in extra credit or finish those missed assignments. You will either get a passing grade with the final exam or you won't.

However, it's not all negative and with faith and luck, sometimes fate can be changed. This is the degree of Mastery - perhaps you didn't understand the lesson until sh*t got real, and with the pressure of the class ending you had something click and you finally got it! Perhaps you perform better under the pressure of a deadline, and the planet in the final degree of a sign is applying pressure, teaching with passion and excitement because they really want you to get this message before they move on to the next lesson.

Neptune is now in the 29th degree of Pisces. It's not the only time that Neptune will be at this anaeretic degree before it moves into Aries next year, but this is the beginning of a very intense Neptune year.

Neptune will be at 29° Pisces from May 3 - Sept 2, 2024.

On September 2, Neptune in retrograde returns to the 28th degree (and eventually the 27th degree) Neptune will turn direct again on December 7, and return to the 29th degree on March 3 of 2025

 It will first leave Pisces to enter Aries on March 30 of 2025, and retrograde back into Pisces later that year, returning to Aries again in January of 2026, this time staying in Aries until 2038.

Neptune Retrograde

July 2 - December 7, 2024

Neptune is already a subtle planet that works on the subconscious level, so a retrograde of Neptune doesn't feel much different than a direct Neptune. It might intensify some of its lessons, but usually these will be related to aspects that Neptune makes with other planets: both in transit or to the birth chart. You will want to be aware of Neptune aspects because this can increase fears, delusions, fantasy, and disconnection from reality.

During this retrograde period, Neptune will make conjunction with any planets in the late degree of Pisces - especially the last 5 degrees of Pisces. Check your birth chart for any planets in the last decan of Pisces. Neptune will make opposition to any planets in the late degrees of Virgo, especially the last 5 degrees of Virgo. Neptune will form square aspects with any planets in the late degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius, especially the last 5 degrees of those signs. Neptune will also form a Trine aspect with any planets in the late degrees of Cancer or Scorpio.

With both Saturn and Neptune Retrograde in Pisces for the next few months, we will likely be facing some kind of Shadow Work related to Pisces lessons.

Some Pisces Shadow Work:

Pisces is the sign of Imagination, Compassion, and Spirituality.  Within the “Ocean” of the subconscious, we feel connected to all humanity and beyond - a connection with the planet, the universe, the Divine.  This Pisces sense of “All Are One” is a source of empathy and compassion - as what happens to one of us happens to all of us.  At the same time, this connectedness can also be a source of grief, fear, and delusion.

This all boils down to the Pisces key phrase of “I believe”.  What we believe about the reality we live in is what we will experience - and Pisces teaches us the power of our subconscious beliefs, our imagination, and our dreams.

The Shadow side of Pisces is place where our imagination turns into nightmares, where our impulses turn into addictions, where our beliefs turn into delusions.  There is a quote from Joseph Campbell that I think sums up Pisces energy really well: "The mystic swims in the same waters which the mad man drowns."  This quote illustrates how the place of mysticism and spiritual enlightenment are the same place in which you encounter insanity.  One has to tread carefully here so you don't lose your mind.

The dual nature of Pisces is not often spoken of - but here we need to remember that the glyph of the two fish is illustrated with two fish swimming in opposite directions.  In one direction is spiritual bliss, and in the other direction is insanity and depression.  In the realm of Pisces, you might be hearing the voices of the Divine, or you might be experiencing psychosis.

The Shadow Work of Pisces is - how can you tell the difference between your intuition and your imagination?  At what point does your imagination cease to serve your spiritual experiences and become a blockage to true spiritual experience?

How can you keep enough of yourself anchored in reality so that you can tell the difference between a spiritual experience and your imagination? While it can be beneficial to turn to our spiritual advisors for life advice through tarot, astrology, or psychic readings, this can also become addictive or lead to dependency.  I love Astrology as a tool for self awareness, but I caution my clients about leaning too heavily on the charts and transits for making their big life decisions.

There have always been rules in spiritual traditions, and usually some kind of "gatekeeping" was set in place to protect the practitioner as well as the spiritual or magical community from harm.  Lately, "gatekeeping" has become a bad word, but what I am talking about is like this;Before you are given a bicycle, you are probably given a bike with training wheels, right?  You have an experienced adult helping you learn bike safety and monitoring your progress, and that adult usually decides when you are ready to take off the training wheels.

In most spiritual practices or magical traditions, you need to learn some basics before you are ready to jump into more advanced practices.  This is true for yoga, meditation, divination, and many kinds of spell-craft.  A good solid spiritual training will help you be able to know the difference between the voices of your ancestors, your Higher Self, your deities, and the voices of your imagination.  A solid spiritual training will help you become self aware to know your personal limitations, the signs of mental illness, and teach some good self care practices.

If you skip over some steps in your spiritual growth, this can sometimes be called Spiritual Bypassing.  In the time of the internet, this is really easy to happen - there is no one really telling you when you are ready for the next bit of information.  No one judging your progress and helping you decide when to move to the next "level" in your study.  And so often - if someone online does try to offer this type of guidance, they are attacked and told off.  "Don't be a gatekeeper!" the angry mobs shout.  No one likes to be told what to do, and a stranger on the internet isn't really the best judge of what you are ready for or not!  But the fact still remains, Spiritual Bypassing happens a lot.  And then we have an end result of a lot of people then "teaching" other people, but leaving out some critical lessons, or even putting people in harm's way by ignoring signs of mental illness or emotional crisis.


Neptune in Pisces is primarily reminding us that our emotions, intuition, empathy, and compassion are beautiful gifts that we should not ignore. But we do not want to ONLY listen to these parts of ourselves, we also have a brain that is good at logic and figuring out practical matters for day to day life. In all things there must be balance.

With each sign, there is good and bad. Generally we can balance out the challenging bits of any sign with the lessons of the opposite sign. In this case, when the Pisces lessons get confusing or overwhelming, we need to turn to the lessons of Virgo. The axis of Pisces and Virgo can give us the balance that is required to work through the shadow work of having both Neptune and Saturn retrograde in Pisces the next few months.

The Pisces - Virgo Axis

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