The Volcano Meets the Sea: Transiting Neptune Square Natal Mars

For most of my life, I believed that if I stopped moving for a second I would die. It was like I thought life was a tightrope I could only get across by propelling myself forward faster than gravity could pull me down. It sounds nonsensical, but for a long time it wasn't. Until I was twenty-five, my knees dislocated at random. Between surgeries, doctors' appointments, emergency x-rays, physical therapy, and long afternoons propping up a leg with an ice pack in bed, I learned not to let a good moment slip by unaccounted for. I had to live life when the opportunity came to me or risk not living at all.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I turned 30 and all that motivation and drive dissolved completely. I was between projects, which made this sudden development even more shocking. Not knowing what I'm doing next is usually a prime motivator for me. It gives me a laser-like focus, and I dive into the next project as soon as possible, preferably with no gaps in between. This time I knew six months ahead of time that my project was coming to an end--plenty of time, I thought, to figure out something else to do and read a few extra novels. 

Instead, I could barely get myself out of bed. I took naps. My energy for anything more involved than filling pages with simple geometric designs and listening to podcasts was gone. 

Was I depressed? No. I'm not an expert on depression, but my experience of depression has always been heavy, empty, full of drudgery and slog. This didn't feel like that at all. It felt light and spacey.

Still, worried that there was something wrong with me, I took the problem to my mentor who told me I wasn't losing my mind. It was just Neptune squaring my natal Mars.

What is a square?

In astrology, planets are said to be square when they appear to form 90 degree angles to each other from the perspective of the earth.  

When two planets are square, they work cross-purposes. It is impossible to give one planet what it wants without taking something away from the other.

What Happens When Neptune Squares Mars?

When Neptune and Mars are square, the motivation and drive of Mars works at cross-purposes to Neptune's need to find oneness and dissolve things.  

In my case, Neptune squared my Mars in Gemini when Neptune was in Pisces.

Gemini is all about about perception. It wants to be here now and see and understand everything. Like its ruler Mercury, Gemini is endlessly sending and receiving information, endlessly fascinated by it. With Mars in Gemini, I am motivated by curiosity. I am passionate about dialog and constantly find myself in situations where it takes courage to look truth in the eye.

Pisces, ruled by Neptune, is the cosmic tripster. Pisces can't care less about what's going on in the moment. Pisces is more interested in watching the watcher, floating dreamily in consciousness itself. I have no planets in Pisces, and my natal Neptune is in Capricorn tied in a Saturnine straight-jacket and aspecting nothing but Pluto.

ThoughNeptune has been aspecting one or another sensitive area in my chart almost continually since I was 3 years-old, Neptune meeting Mars came as a total shock. I'd been driving that martian motivation for so long, losing it felt like dying.

And with those two energies working with each other, it's easy to see why I couldn't find the motivation to be interested in anything. Every time my Martian curiosity was activated, I felt like a volcano erupting into the ocean. As soon as energy or passion appeared, it was washed by a Neptunian wave, and all that excitement petrified instantly, falling out of consciousness or forming bubbles that floated away.   

Working with Neptune Square Mars

I only started to move beyond the stalemate when I attempted to put those energies together in a way that made sense. One thing that worked for me was allowing myself to be open to developing new Neptune-themed passions. Neptune is associated with art, and I found that while practicing line drawing, photography, or sculpting things out of polymer clay, I was able to go into flow easy and found profound peace. Kathy's Rose's "Navigating the Neptune Fog" was invaluable to me there. 

Music is also a good way to get into the Neptunian flow. Fortunately, I'm married to a mood music wizard, who helped me start putting together a Neptune playlist with music from YouTube. You may not be able to defeat the god of the sea, but sometimes it is possible to distract him for awhile with good tunes. 

With Neptune in Pisces in my 8th house, the house of death and the esoteric,  I discovered that my curiosity came back when I allowed myself to explore in that direction. Neptune had been in Pisces for four years already when the square started, so I was already somewhat familiar with Neptune's resting Cthulhu face, but I found new energy for cosmic horror and spiritual things that had always been taboo to me like drumming into altered states of consciousness. (Don't worry. Chanting for elder gods is still off the menu.)

Once I discovered that I could work actively with the transit, I thought that navigating this transit would be easy. I imagined that each planet and each sign came with a set of keywords and guessed that the ideas most likely to work were ones that combined those keywords like fridge magnet poetry.

Sometimes, that worked.

Unfortunately, one of the lessons of the 8th house is surrender, and after I learned the basic lesson of working with the transit instead of fighting it, it became clear that I wasn't going to miss out on the surrender lesson with cleverness or trickery. There were days when all of the curiosity and coaxing my Gemini Mars could muster failed to pull my head away from Neptune's dreamy influence. For the first time since I could remember, I lost hours staring at the clouds. Sometimes, I even managed to relax and stop panicking about it.

Neptune Square Mars into the Future

I am writing this in early 2016 after experiencing this transit for only a year. Neptune will exactly square my Mars twice in 2016 and once in 2017, so I anticipate that I will have more to say about this transit as I go through it--especially while it forms a t-square with Saturn in Sagg.

As I write about it, you will be able to find more articles here: