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The Seed Idea in Aspects
The Sun-Neptune Idea
The Stages of the Cycle
Outgoing conjunction
Outgoing sextile
Outgoing square
Outgoing trine
The Opposition
Incoming trine
Incoming square
Incoming sextile
Rudhyar: an agent & interpreter of Neptune
About the Author


Sun and Neptune through the Aspect Cycle by Charles Harvey


From seed to flower to fruit and back to seed again. The ground rule of Life is that all things abide in the One, proceed forth into manifestation and return back to the One again. This is the eternal return in all its variations which astrology so elegantly describes and which Dane Rudhyar so eloquently demonstrates in such works as The Lunation Cycle and, with Leyla Rael, The Astrological Aspects. However despite the emphasis placed on this cyclical concept by Rudhyar, and its further exposition by others, most astrologers continue, blind eyed, to interpret a 270° square like a 90° square, a 120° trine like a 240° trine and so on. To do this is to lose half the message that an aspect is giving us. Contrary to the way most astrologers still seem to work and think, life processes unfold themselves in cycles of 360° and not 180°.

The fundamental difference between the out-going, waxing hemisphere aspects and the incoming, waning hemisphere aspects can readily be seen if we think of the cycle of the seasons or of the lunation cycle or the daily cycle. Each of these cycles can be seen to start in darkness: ie., mid-winter, the dark of the Moon, midnight. Thus, in the signs, 0° Capricorn and NOT 0° Aries is the seed point, when the seed idea of the new cycles is all still latent potential waiting to be born. These cycles all reach their culmination at the opposition, at their point of fullest light: ie., mid-summer, the Full Moon, Noon.

Between these two poles lies the square points. The astrologer who interprets outgoing squares in the same way as incoming squares, is in effect saying that Spring is the same as Autumn, sunrise is the same as sunset and the First Quarter of the Moon is the same as the Last Quarter. Of course there are dynamic similarities. These different squares do both represent challenging times of crisis and change. But whilst at the outgoing square of Spring, the First Quarter and sunrise, we see the excitement of growing life moving out into the world, leaving Mother Earth and dark unconsciousness behind, by contrast at the incoming square of Autumn, the last Quarter and sunset, we see fulfilled life giving back its harvest to the Earth, the efforts of the day are surrendered to the coming sleep in preparation for the next round. Thus the first half of any cycle is concerned with growth as the cycle's seed Idea moves out into the world: to produce a plant, flower and new seed. By contrast in the second half of any cycle the emphasis is on developing a fruit or pod by which it can return back into the earth to begin its eternal return once again. Of course within this broad scheme each specific phase in the total 360° cycle has its own properties and expresses a different aspect, pun intended, of the total process of unfolding the root Idea of that cycle.


The root idea of any planetary cycle is the archetypal process represented by the planetary pair involved. In this study I would like to explore the unfolding of the Idea of the Sun-Neptune dance. To understand this let us first of all look at the principles of Sun and Neptune separately.

In simple terms, the Sun-Neptune cycle can be seen as the cycle of the relationship between the focused Individual Unity (Sun) in relation to the all embracing Collective Unity (Neptune). The Sun represents the conscious individual, the focused leader, the purposeful Hero Soul shining with his own unique inner light; in contrast to Neptune, the boundless Collective Unconscious and the ocean of unitive reality. We can relate the Sun to the differentiated individual Seed whose potential is to become a unique, conscious carrier of a creative idea. By contrast, Neptune is the great vessel of archetypes which substands all our lives and dreams. Neptune's embrace reminds us of the ecstasy of paradise and of the bliss of uroboric sameness from which we each derive our very sense of self-hood. At its highest Neptune dissolves the little self and opens us to the larger one-ness of things and the potentiality for mystical union with the ONE. At its lowest it can dissolve our sense of identity and capacity to function as a separate individual, leaving us floundering in confusion, chaos and psychotic breakdown. Neptune is the planet of poets and mystics, of alcoholics and pornographers, of film makers, advertisers and illusionists. Her dream-like qualities bring a self-deceiving charisma and an enchanting glimpse into the mysteries of ecstatic merging. Psychologically Neptune can produce that sense of alienation which comes from seeing too clearly that the world is not the humdrum place it seems, that there are larger realities behind reflex banalities and clichés of daily life. Equally, as we know, Neptune can lead to illusions, based on the fear of being separate and banished from paradisiacal oneness. How easily we can deceive ourselves when intoxicated by the Siren sounds of Neptune. This can lead the Sun-Neptune all too readily into being seduced into living out the prevailing, family and cultural myths, into living a socially acceptable lie.

The Sun-Neptune individual is often an idealist, someone whose life is inspired by a larger social, religious, or intellectual perspective of life. This inspiration can empower one to make tremendous sacrifices for the good of the collective. By the same token, the Sun-Neptune individual can have a tendency to believe the dream to be reality, to find it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, and at a pathological level to suffer from a disintegration of the Ego and an invasion of collective material leading to schizophrenia and total psychosis.
  • At a Physical level, Sun-Neptune relates to hyper-sensitivity, fragility, and potential weakness of the heart and a tendency to be readily invaded.

  • At the level of the Family, Sun-Neptune represents the mysterious, illusive father, perhaps the absent father, the idealistic father, the artistic, creative father and the un-realistic, self sacrificing martyr to a cause; and of course the alcoholic or drug addict - the abdicated King.

  • At an Emotional level, Neptune's open-ness to the feelings of others can make both for a very sympathetic and insightful approach to life, and a debilitating moodiness resulting from the ebb and flow of responses to the environment.

  • At the level of Will, Sun-Neptune produces the charismatic leader, the powerfully imaginative artist, but also the weak and impressionable individual who is easily exploited by others, who gives away their will and gets drawn into confused and chaotic situations and whose life becomes a tangled web of deceptions and halftruths.

  • At an Intellectual level Sun-Neptune activates the intuition to encompass wholenesses of truth, and great receptivity to the power of symbolism and mystical experiences.

  • At a Spiritual level, Sun-Neptune represents the Mystic who has attained to Union, who has found themselves in order to make the great return; who, through a particular art or service, consciously realises that his or her uniqueness has been nourished all along by the inspiration coming from the Archetypal realms.


The phase we are born at in the unfoldment of the annual cycle of Sun and Neptune shows the relationship between our Individual Creativity and the Collective Vision. Those born around the conjunction are people who can deeply engage with and embody the Ideas and Ideals of their time and of the eternal Realities. At the incoming conjunction the individual is, as it were, moving irrevocably back into the womb of the Collective. There is a merging of individual and collective purpose. The German philosopher Hegel epitomises this phase. He conceived of consciousness (Sun) and the external universe of objects of consciousness (Neptune) as forming a unity in which neither factor can exist independently. He saw mind (Sun) and nature (Neptune) as being two abstractions of one individual whole. Hegel believed development took place through contradictions and the resolution of contradictions: dialectic. In his great work The Phenornenology of Spirit Hegel championed religion.

Jean Paul Sartre is another example of the conjunction which can perhaps be best expressed in the title of one of his most famous works L 'Etre et le néant (Sun and Neptune) and in his desire to produce a fusion of existentialism (Sun) and Marxism (Neptune). Of all the seed Sun-Neptune individuals of this century, probably another Frenchman Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit mystic, scientist and poet, seems to be the most obviously visionary and important. His vision of humanity which he sets out in Le Phonomene humain and Le Milieu divin is a vision of a world in which all things are inter-related and where all distinctions between matter and spirit are dissolved. Here we see the individual (Sun) capture and articulate the essential vision of Neptune in Taurus and set forth the seed vision of a world which is evolving through consciousness (Sun) towards the Omega Point where love will be all in all (Neptune).

At a social level, Yassar Arafat, who was born with an almost exact conjunction, epitomises the individual who totally identifies with a collective dream and myth; in his case, that of the new Palestinian state. His life has been given to this myth. It is notable that after a life time of celibacy, of sacrificing himself to the Collective, that with the Israel-Palestine accord Arafat felt free to get married. At the separating conjunction the individual is still identified with the vision but seeks to take it out into the world.


Girolama Savonarola, the Italian Catholic friar and religious reformer who crusaded against Church corruption, is an example of this phase. His vision of moral purity in a decadent time led to his public burning of decadent material, the original "bonfire of the vanities", and to his own martyrdom which heralded the Reformation.

Mohammad, the founder of Islam, is said to have been born on 5th May 570. If so, he was born at this conjunction which would be entirely appropriate for a man who preached so forcefully complete submission of the individual (Sun) to the will of God (Neptune), and the equality of all men of every race. This faith was to give birth to a tremendous rich flowering of arts and science and philosophy during our own Dark Ages.

Another example is Kate Millet, the radical feminist writer and lecturer and one of the founders of NOW (National Organisation of Women). Her Sexual Politics were a landmark in feminist thinking and explores the way in which patriarchy uses sex to determine power structure. She has been very involved in re-visioning (Neptune) the role of men (Sun) in society (Neptune). As we shall see, many of the leading feminists have been born at key phases in the Sun-Neptune cycle.


The Number 6 relates to the objective workings of life. At the outgoing sextile in any cycle a working relationship is established between the bodies involved and these ideas are put to work in the world in daily life. The sextile is about working in the world, about tools and ways and means, the hexagon of the busy worker bee. In the case of Sun-60°-Neptune this could be said to be the hallmark of the well ordered mystical life whereby the individual (Sun) establishes a daily relationship, and one that is more easily integrated, with the transcendent (Neptune).

This process is well depicted in the writings of Herman Hesse where he deals with the individual in relation to the forces of the archetypal. But the immediate struggle and panic is missing. He explores and articulates the relationship between the earthly individual and the mystical impulse. His work (The Glass Bead Game, Siddhartha, Demian) is full of romantic dreams and idyllic landscapes.

This phase is epitomised at a social level by the great writer and philosopher Jean Jaques Rousseau whose thinking on the "noble savage" inspired the Romantic Movement. His Contrat Social sets out the relationship between the noble impulses of free man (Sun) and how they can find collective expression (Neptune).


The outgoing square demands that the individual meet the material world and grapple with the issues involved in making the root principles of the cycle manifest. This is often both the most problematic phase of any cycle and yet at the same time one of the most fruitful and productive. As the Sun arrives at the outgoing square to Neptune, the ego (Sun) is challenged to separate from the collective in some way, to differentiate from the archetypal and yet at the same time to carry forward the collective vision into the world. Whilst Neptune's sea of origins actually substands and gives rise to the individual, with the out-going square there can be an uneasy alliance and a sense that one must 'do battle' with the all-encompassing archetypal which both inspires and swamps.

The great Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung epitomises this struggle between individual and collective. He describes for us in his autobiographical work Memories, Dreams and Reflections how his work grew out of his own personal struggle with the Collective and with the threat of being swamped, in effect with his own potential psychosis and breakdown. In a sense we could take the description by Jung of the process of individuation as a description of the challenge of the Sun-Neptune outgoing square.

Another example is Friedrich Von Schiller whose life was centred around the articulation of an aesthetic idealism, an ideal of intellectual and spiritual achievement. He saw that through art and poetry the ideal personality which is latent in everyone may be aroused and achieve living expression.


The American-English poet/playwright T. S. Eliot is a fine example of the outgoing trine. He epitomises the creative delight of this phase: the religious sequence of The Four Quartets in which he seeks the eternal reality, and the drama Murder in the Cathedral on the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, show the Sun-Neptune theme. Eliot constantly uses Neptunian imagery, for example in The Dry Salvages:

The river is within us, the sea is all about us.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time.
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

The great Indian spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo also had this outgoing trine, and in fact, in his chart there is a Grand Trine of Sun-Moon-Neptune. Sri Aurobindo's life was motivated by the desire (the trine and number Three are very much to do with desire and what delights the heart) to integrate the divine into the heart of one's life. He sought to connect the ascent to divine consciousness with an opening to the descent of the divine principle into the material world. In this process he saw the birth of a "superman" endowed with those supramental abilities which transcend the merely intellectual.


The opposition is analogous to the Full Moon and can be seen as a point of fruition. This is the phase of most manifest duality and objectivity, where an acute consciousness of the two factors in the cycle is reached. Here the individual (Sun) must become aware of relationship with the collective (Neptune). The striving for individuation/separation is intense and yet can only be successful if the individual truly understands the extent to which individuality depends upon universality. The individual with this aspect can both confront the Great Sea of nouminal realities and be fed by it or fall in and drown.

Gerard de Nerval, the French romantic writer and poet who wrote the beautiful and mysterious Chimeres, was born as the Sun was just 2° from the opposition. He teetered on the brink of the ocean of genius and madness for most of his life. We all know the story of how he led a lobster on a ribbon through the street. As he grew older he sank deeper into the waters of visionary psychosis; his stories became increasingly fantastic, his capacity to distinguish reality from dream became more and more tenuous, until finally he took his own life in a state of psychotic breakdown.

Mozart's life also exemplifies the artistic creativity as well as the fragile self-definition this phase can bring. And of course, central to his life and work was his stormy and idealised relationship with his father.

Born just 4° degrees after the exact opposition is Simone de Beauvoir, the French feminist, socialist, and existentialist writer. In her seminal book Le Deuxieme sexe she develops the ideas of Hegel (Sun conjunct Neptune) on self and others. Her work is focused on objectifying (opposition) and giving back to the world (incoming phase) the cultural myths of the male-female relationship. She is concerned with the way in which a woman's biological processes (Neptune) compete with her need for individual identity (Sun. Dr Beauvoir suggests that women define themselves in opposition to men to their disadvantage. As with other feminists with a strong Sun-Neptune, her relationships with men were ambiguous, and her long term relationship with Jean Paul Sartre (Sun conjunct Neptune) was clearly both fraught and inspired.

Betty Friedan, the pioneer U.S. feminist of the 1960s who founded the National Organisation for Women, was born at almost exactly the same incoming opposition phase in the Sun-Neptune cycle as Dr Beauvoir. Interestingly, she has more lately been pleading for communal values (Neptune) as an antidote to the sort of extreme individualism that some feminists have encouraged.


Just as the outgoing phase equated to the delights of the flowers of Springtime, the incoming trine equates to early Autumn when the trees are laden with fruit. There is a sense of delight and an aspiration to give to the world from personal abundance. Typical of this phase is the German poet and philosopher Novalis who expounded a philosophy of fairytale-like creative imagination, based on a vision of supreme love and spiritual aspiration.

"Poetry is indeed the absolutely real. This is the heart of my philosophy. The more poetical the truer".

Another typical expression of the INCOMING TRINE is the archetypal psychologist James Hillman, whose works, such as Revisioning Psychology, focus on celebrating the archetypal realities of the many gods within us and honouring their expression.


At the incoming square it would seem that the individual is concerned with returning the fruits of individuality to the greater good of the Collective. We saw how the outgoing square was epitomised in the life of C. G. Jung: the individual wrestling to individuate himself from the Collective Unconscious. Albert Schweitzer is a beautiful example of the incoming square; he wrestled with the dilemma of how he could most effectively dedicate his individual achievements (Sun) to the Collective (Neptune). Schweitzer first trained as a philosopher and theologian, then as a musician, and finally as a doctor, choosing to dedicate his great personal accomplishments (Sun) in selfless devotion as a medical missionary at Lambaréné in Gabon, often raising the necessary funds for his enterprises through giving Bach recitals on the organ.

At this phase the individual seems especially conscious of serving "the gods" and the archetypal and imaginal realms. It is notable that we here find Proclus whose The Theology of Plato is one of the most important books ever written on the gods, likewise Petrarch whose reintroduction of the imaginative depths of the human condition into 14th century Europe did so much to fuel the Renaissance, and Joseph Campbell whose life was dedicated to expounding the mythologies of all ages and cultures.

The present Dalai Lama is another example of someone whose life is given to the larger reality. On the dark side Robespierre, "the sea green incorruptible", embodies the capacity of this phase to become drunk on their own vision of things to the point where they are consumed and become a martyr to it.


At the incoming sextile the individual is approaching unity and working to understand the nature of the mysterious One. In this phase the individual feels called upon to organise, order and disseminate the practical realities of the transcendent and mythical, ordering it and making it available. Appropriately this sextile appears in the chart of James Frazer, the Scottish anthropologist who compiled the twelve volumes of The Golden Bough. This monumental source book assembles the ritual, religious beliefs and folklore of native peoples throughout the world. His life was focused on working to understand the universal basis of the magical and religious beliefs of mankind through the ages.

Another example of this phase is Colin Wilson, the English writer and philosopher whose prodigious output has focused on organising and presenting the Neptunian spectrum of ideas from existentialism to dreams, depth psychology, poetry and mysticism. He produced the Encyclopaedia Of the Occult as well as numerous works on key Neptunian individuals.


Rudhyar himself was the embodiment of the Sun-Neptune process. He was born at the incoming Quintile of Sun to Neptune. The quintile refers to knowing and the empowerment which comes from knowing. Rudhyar knew about the relationship of individual to collective and his writing is very much an exposition of that relationship. But this is no ordinary Neptune. It is the Neptune conjunct Pluto of the 1890s. This conjunction, in terms of mundane astrology, marked the seeding of the "global village" and the beginning of a new world civilization which is even now beginning to emerge.

Neptune was the key to his chart: it exactly sets conjunct his Sun-ruler Mars. Not only is it in a close quintile to the Sun on the Aries Point, but the all-important Sun/Moon mid-point is almost exactly square to Neptune. Through the vision of Neptune he found his own Inner Marriage and access to his own creativity.

For Rudhyar was the master of the relationship between individual and collective. He thought about it, he reflected on it, he knew about it, he was empowered by it, it held and informed his insights about man and the world. Rudhyar reminded us that the process of individuation is that universal process which ends in the realisation of meaning. It starts with Form and ends with Significance; and all meaning is born within the innermost of the individual, but an individual who, after constant assimilation of collective life contents, has reached a condition of fulfillment as integrated Personality.

Dane Rudhyar birth chart

Charles HarveyCharles Harvey (1940-2000) was one of the most oustanding British astrologers of the 20th century. He was the President of the Astrological Association of Great Britain from 1973-1994 and thereafter continued to be its Patron. He was also co-Director, with Liz Greene, of the Centre for Psychological Astrology, and the Director of the astrological charity The Urania Trust. Harvey worked as an astrological consultant and teacher and lectured widely in Europe and N. America. He was co-author, with his wife Suzi-Harvey of Sun Sign-Moon Sign and with Nicholas Campion and Michael Baigent of the widely respected Mundane Astrology, and Working with Astrology, co-written by Michael Harding.

A fuller biography is available on the Urania Trust website at

© Charles Harvey, extracted from an article presented for publication in 1998. Title graphic with acknowledgement to

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