Neptune, the planet of illusion and fantasy, was discovered in 1848. In that same year, celluloid was first created, the substance that would make the cinematic art form possible, a direct projection of one’s imagination, the pinnacle of illusion and fantasy. Neptune’s transits through the signs of the zodiac and major planetary aspects are essentially a short hand history of cinema.
For example, the last conjunction of Saturn and Uranus to Neptune in Capricorn in the early 90’s coincided with the explosion of CGI into filmmaking. The most recent conjunction of Jupiter to Neptune in Aquarius in late 2009/early 2010 coincided with the phenomenal success of the wholly immersive Avatar, kicking off a renewed interest and improvement in 3-D technologies.
Neptune’s ingress into Aquarius in 1997 heralded the arrival of “democratized” media via YouTube and Facebook, “reality” TV shows such as Survivor and American Idol, increased sophistication of CGI and digital technologies typified by the Star Wars prequels, the Matrix trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2011, Neptune finally left Aquarius and entered Pisces.
Pisces is a water sign, and what kind of services are people signed up for to watch TV and movies? Streaming. Pisces is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of excess, and how do many people watch TV shows now? Bingewatching. There’s an ocean of content out there, and we’re all swimming in it and drinking it in. And if we’re being completely honest, as with all things Neptune – it’s pretty damn addicting.
Some of the best astrological insight is unwitting, coming from people who don’t know anything about astrology. This is the case with the Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber and his article on pop culture’s metaphysical moment, and the “thrill of new religion”.
Across popular entertainment lately, science fiction, theoretical physics, and spirituality have blended to offer not escapism but wait-there’s-more-ism, offering a tantalizing hint that our perception of reality is too narrow—and that with a little bit of effort, we can see extraordinary things.
So many movies and TV shows right now are dealing with the possibility of multiple, parallel worlds. And while these kinds of stories have always floated around, “the recent multiverse musings, taken together, start to feel like a boomlet.” Actually, Mr. Kornhaber, it’s not a boomlet, it’s a transit. Stranger Things has the Upside Down. The OA has the afterlife. Doctor Strange moves through different dimensions. The Man in the High Castle alternates between parallel timelines. This is just to name a few. Pisces is a sign of dualism, featuring the image of two fish swimming in opposite directions. Accordingly, Neptune’s transit through this sign has imbued our media with the stories of parallel worlds. Pisces is also a water sign, so it’s interesting that at least in The OA and Stranger Things, other realms are reached through being submerged in water.
Neptune, Pisces and its ruler Jupiter are also associated with notions of mysticism, wisdom and spirituality. It’s been these curious ingredients in recent movies and TV shows that have offered some escapist relief from our own reality which more and more seems like an alternate reality devoid of these things. They beckon us to suspend the need for everything to make sense and to embrace the reality of paradoxes, mysteries and multivalences. With The OA in particular, the series frustrates you if you resist its call to disarm yourself, but it rewards you greatly if you do.
The desire for other realities also plays into a desire for a previous reality. Nostalgia has played a huge part in what’s popular these days. While Neptune was at 0 Pisces, Disney finalized the deal to purchase Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones properties. Since then, Disney has been releasing the massively popular and successful Star Wars sequels and spin-offs that are consciously recreating and reconnecting back to what was loved about the original Star Wars trilogy from the “Blockbuster Adventure” Neptune in Sagittarius period of 1970-1984. Stranger Things is set in the early 80’s, deliberately hearkening back to beloved films from the Neptune in Sagittarius period, such as E.T.
Sometimes, the symbolism of the zodiac is all too literal. So how exactly do fish fit in a story about digital streaming services? Well, if you’ve seen it, you’ll know exactly where I’m going with this. Blackfish is a documentary released on January 19th 2013 when Neptune was at 1 Pisces. It tells the story of Tilikum, an orca kept at Seaworld. If you didn’t already think it was messed up for orcas to be kept in captivity, you will after seeing Blackfish.
The documentary was so, well, captivating, that it started a three year period of sustained activism and pressure on Seaworld, due in no small part to its debut on Netflix in December 2013. After having a bitchfit the size of a whale, Seaworld finally relented in March 2016, announcing the end of their orca breeding program and all live performances by orcas. And that is the power of the medium of film. That is Neptune in Pisces.
The good news is we still have quite a ways to go until Neptune leaves Pisces in 2025, and the best is yet to come, when Jupiter meets Neptune at 23 Pisces. Whatever movie directors, producers or actors who have natal planets around this degree are going to have a great time, and we’ll all likely partake in its bounty on Netflix. While we “chill”. Happy watching!