What is the difference between the way a contemporary astrologer would interpret Neptune on the descendant, as opposed to how it would be interpreted traditionally or Hellenistically?
This is a question that came up recently in a study group that I participate in.
It’s true that the approaches would be quite different.
Even though many astrologers working with traditional and/or ancient techniques work mostly with the seven visible planets, if an outer planet (Uranus/Neptune/Pluto) touches an angle, many of us will take that into consideration.
Here is how I would define the difference between the contemporary approach and that of traditional or ancient astrology:
In contemporary natal astrology, each of the seven visible planets represents a component of consciousness within the native, and the three outer planets symbolize an element of the unconscious mind (in its Jungian sense). The natal horoscope is interpreted as a map of consciousness and the various psychic impulses of the native. The entire natal chart and all the astrological symbols within it become a means of analyzing character and the psychology of the native.
However, in both traditional and ancient astrology, the approach is different: The ascendant, any planets in the first house and the ruler of the first house symbolize the native, both physically and psychologically. Houses other than the first house represent everything outside of the native.
So, for character analysis, both traditional and ancient astrologers interpret the ascendant, the first house and any symbols found within it. Additionally, a traditional astrologer (medieval, renaissance) will make an analysis of the native’s “manners”, by which is meant the temperamental balance of the chart. Is the person choleric or melancholic? Sanguine or phlegmatic? Or perhaps a combination thereof… These serve to give us effective delineations of the character of the native.
Keeping all this in mind, let’s return to the original question:
How would a contemporary astrologer interpret Neptune on the cusp of the seventh house? The seventh house being the house of marriage and partnerships.
Simply put, a contemporary astrologer’s interpretation would be that the native approaches seventh house relationships in a Neptunian way!
If the aspects to Neptune are soft ones, the native’s relationship strategies will probably manifest in a positive way (a spiritual approach, total immersion with the other person, etc). If there are hard aspects, then the manifestations would more likely be negative (difficulty seeing the other person in the relationship clearly, confusion, etc.)
For the traditional/ancient astrologer, the approach would be to see Neptune as a type of person or situation external to the native. If I saw this in a client’s chart, one of the first questions I might ask is if they happen to be married to a musician! Or poet… Or negatively, perhaps a drug addict!
And if it turned out that they weren’t currently in a relationship, the next step would be to use various traditional and ancient time lord techniques to find out when they would be likely to meet such a person.
That, for me, is the traditional approach (renaissance, medieval) , and also the Hellenistic (ancient) one.
Another related question that came up during our study session was: if the client is having a problem of some kind with their seventh house Neptune, how do we help them with it?
Using the contemporary psychological approach, we help our client by identifying the exact nature of the problem, for example if their Neptune was square or in opposition to Venus, we might explore whether they had difficulty seeing their love interests clearly. We’d help them identify the exact nature of their problem, and offer strategies as to how the difficulty might be solved.
The traditional astrologer’s approach would be to help the client by identifying the type of person likely to appear in their lives, when this person would be likely to next appear, and to advise them as to whether this person ought to be accepted with open arms, or to run for the hills!
If it turned out that the Neptunian influence was negative for some reason, then the next steps for the traditional astrologer would include looking at the various significators for the seventh house (its lord, other planets contained within and aspects to them), also looking at the lot of marriage and the lot of eros.
And THEN, we’d look at Venus for the boys and Mars for the girls, and by the time we’ve finished doing all that, we’d have quite a bit to talk about and will have normally helped the client see things more clearly vis-à-vis their seventh house issues.
At least that’s what we hope!