In 1986, astrologer Donna Cunningham, drawing on her experience as a social worker, wrote the influential book, Healing Pluto Problems. In it she addressed the darker challenges that arise by having a strongly placed or aspected Pluto. And more importantly, she laid out the tools needed to address these problems. The book has gone on to be one of the go-to resources for anyone looking to gain greater understanding of their natal Pluto themes.

But what about healing Neptune problems? Those who have a heavily aspected outer planet in their natal chart experience the archetype in intense ways. Neptune, the planet of illusions, escapism, and victims, brings its own set of challenges. If you’re like me — I have Neptune on the Ascendant conjunct two personal planets in the 12th square a Pisces South Node — moving from the lower form of Neptune to the higher form isn’t always a slam dunk. Instead it’s a meandering and messy journey through the fog of life. You may wonder why you keep attracting losers? Or people keep dropping out of your life? Or why you feel you have to be the savior? Or always the victim? Or feel guilty over saying no? The solutions are always not so clear, but let’s figure out together how to work with our Neptune problems instead of against.

A caveat: I offer these tools as a working dialogue, not necessarily the be-all and end-all fixes to Neptune gone wild. I obviously speak from experience, but know that my own partnership with Neptune/Pisces/12th House is evolving as is yours. And those really stuck in the Neptune shadows know that it’s easier said than done. (Note to self, reread Alive and Well with Neptune by Bil Tierney.)

Things to Stop Doing Immediately

Abusing substances. Hate to be a buzzkill, but Neptune is a hypersensitizing influence, especially if you have Neptune in aspect to the Sun, Moon, or the Ascendant or if you have Pisces rising. All this Neptune juice makes you extremely sensitive to toxins and is the psychic equivalent of leaving doors unlocked and all the windows open while you’re away on vacation. At the root is the use of substances to break down the veil between the physical and the astral and to reconnect with Source. But there are healthier ways to do this, namely meditation.

Being the savior. Are you the one always rescuing the baby bird who fell out of the nest? Are you rescuing lovers? Friends? Humanity? This only serves to reinforce the martyr role and creates an imbalanced relationship. Stop for your own sake lest you end up on the cross.

Being the victim. There are no victims. We co-create everything. So recognize your part in your creations, including the less than pleasant stuff.

Giving from the ego. This one’s a little trickier. If you find yourself giving and never receiving, question your motives. Are you giving because you want to be recognized for your selfless acts? Are you giving because you need to be validated? Are you giving with expectation? This is shadow Neptune at work and you’ll set yourself up for disappointment every time.

Creating from guilt. If you’re doing something because you feel guilty, you’re never going to be happy with the results.

Being open to everything. The opposite of Pisces is Virgo, the sign that teaches us discernment. Learn it well. Which brings me to . . .

Things You Should Do

Say no. People with a strong Neptune in their chart have a hard time saying no. They feel like if they do say no, they are letting someone down, which then fuels the martyr role and creates actions from guilt. Remember, cultivate discernment.

Have good boundaries. This one is a hard one because Neptune people have a hard time knowing where they end and someone else begins. Having a healthier sense of boundaries and saying no is a big step in the right direction.

Question reality. With Neptune, chances are there are a lot of things in your life that you’re not seeing clearly. So question everything.

Detox. Detoxing from substances, toxins, chemicals (even sugar) creates new energetic pathways that help you to get higher expression of Neptune and see beyond the illusions.

Surrender. Neptune is all about surrendering to divine order. At the risk of sounding trite, let go and let God.

The Higher Expression of Neptune

The thing about Neptune is that it’s a spiritual planet. If you try to do 3D or ego based reality through your Neptune, you’re going to get a lot of distortion. While it’s easy to point the finger and blame Neptune for our suffering, it takes a fair bit of maturity to work towards the higher expression. So how do we do that?

Neptune shows where we’re getting our halo without the martyrdom, where 3D needs are sacrificed for the greater good. Herein lies the dualistic nature Neptune with the lower path manifesting sacrifice as loss and the higher path manifesting sacrifice as making things sacred. It’s that very important pivot in perception that allows the higher expression of Neptune to manifest. God willing.

Another dynamic is giving and serving from a place of limitlessness as the compassion/unconditional love we receive from Source is without end. Doing something for someone out of the pure joy of service is a much different vibration than serving with the expectation of return or validation. We can’t be disappointed if we know our needs are always met, replenished from an unending spring.

The Bigger Picture

As discussed, there are two paths we can walk when we engage with our Neptune, the higher path leading us to our reconnection with Source. Ultimately our Neptune/Pisces house requires a bit of surrender. And Neptune requires us to co-create with Source, not from the needs of ego. Aspects to natal planets show where there is a higher purpose involved, where there’s the potential for unconditional love and compassion. We just need to turn off our 3D filters so we can see the beauty beyond the sacrifice. Neptune can be a bit of a heartbreaking journey when we’re stuck in the lower expressions, but how else would we learn to let go and let God?

So choose the higher path. Choose discernment. Choose healthy boundaries. Choose compassion. Time to get off the cross.