I’ve been questioning Uranus as ruler of Aquarius in my last couple of posts, and there’s been some good discussion on it. My concern has been that the positive, humanitarian side of Aquarius, which is so central to the sign, seems to be left out by Uranus’ rulership. Lynn at astrodynamics set out to redress this, and did a good job of it. So I’m warming to the guy, even though he reminds me a bit of the Christian God.
But what about Neptune, ruler of Pisces? If ever a god was male, it is Neptune. If ever a sign was feminine, it is Pisces. OK, he rules the sea, and he does a nice line in emerging with his trident from the crashing breakers. But the real sea is its mysterious, formless depths, we need to have a sense of that deep sea and its denizens if we are to understand Pisces. Neptune is exactly the kind of guy who would not understand those depths, he is not even aware they are there except in a vague kind of way, he’s only a god of the ocean inasmuch as he can impress the girls with his surfing. He’s much more at home causing storms and earthquakes and picking the winner at the races (he’s god of horses as well). Or going in for a bit of rape and incest.
Now I don’t think we need to choose a different body orbiting the Sun as ruler of Pisces, because the planet we call Neptune certainly has a very strong Piscean effect, whether in a natal chart or by transit. It’s just that we’ve named him wrongly, and if we were going to choose one of the planets to name wrongly, it would have to be the ruler of Pisces.
If we were to name him right, there would then be a load of mythic material available that would help us understand Pisces more deeply. And it doesn’t take long to find a number of sea gods and goddesses who may not be the right one, but who would certainly do a better job than Neptune.
Such as Proteus, an early sea-god who Homer called ‘The Old Man of the Sea’. He “was made the herdsman of Poseidon's seals, the great bull seal at the centre of the harem. He can foretell the future, but, in a mytheme familiar from several cultures, will change his shape to avoid having to; he will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing him.” (Wiki)
Or there is Oceanus, a Titan (son of Uranus and Gaia), who is also the ocean itself. He was often depicted as having the upper body of a muscular man with a long beard and horns, and the lower torso of a serpent. In one image, a fish-tailed Oceanus is seen arriving at a wedding with a fish in one hand and a serpent in the other, gifts of bounty and prophecy.
Neptune’s (or rather Poseidon’s) wife was Amphitrite (after whom an asteroid is named), the goddess queen of the sea. She certainly feels right to me as a possible ruler of Pisces, but there is very little material on her. She is “ the female personification of the sea: the loud-moaning mother of fish, seals and dolphins.”
Liz Greene favours Dionysus, conceived out of a secret love affair between Zeus and Semele. Hera, Zeus’ wife, was jealous and, “At Hera’s orders the Titans seized him, and despite his transformations into animal shapes, tore him into shreds. They boiled the pieces in a cauldron, while a pomegranate tree sprouted from the soil where his blood had fallen.
“But his grandmother Rhea rescued him and brought him to life again. He was raised in secret, disguised as a girl. But Hera found him again when he reached manhood, and drove him mad. He went wandering all over the world, accompanied by his tutor Silenos (a satyr) and a company of wild Maenads. He taught the art of the vine to Egypt and India, and then returned to wander round Greece. Eventually he arrived at Thebes, the place of his mother’s birth. There King Pentheus (whose name means ‘one who suffers’, like Dionysus himself), disliked the god’s dissolute appearance, and arrested him and his shabby train. But Dionysos drove the King mad, and Pentheus found that he had shackled a bull instead of the god. The Maenads escaped and went raging out upon the mountains, where they tore wild animals in pieces. The King attempted to stop them but, inflamed with wine and religious ecstasy, the Maenads, led by the King’s mother, rent him limb from limb and tore off his head. Thus he met the same fate as the god whom he had rejected.”
Then there is Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea, and currently the name of a minor planet. There are various legends about her, such as: “Sedna was a beautiful and chaste maiden who was innocently lured into marriage by an evil bird spirit. When her father tried to rescue her, the spirit became angry and caused a terrible storm which threatened the very survival of her people. In desperation, Sedna's father threw her into the raging sea.
The varying legends each give different rationales for her death at the hands of her father. Sometimes she is the innocent victim, and sometimes she appears to deserve death as punishment for greed or some other evil. But all tales agree that she descended into the depths of the ocean and became the Goddess of Sea Creatures. As such she became a vital deity, eagerly worshipped by hunters who depended on her goodwill to supply food.” (Wiki)
So I don’t know. But with Neptune one day away from an exact opposition to Saturn, it’s probably a good time to be thinking about it.
Meanwhile I'm off to try and watch Iggy Pop live on TV - he's performing down the road at Glastonbury Mudfest as I write.