Dissolving History: Saturn, Neptune and Psychedelic Medicine
In astrology, the larger, distant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) preside over longer cycles of time that impact humanity as a whole in contrast to the smaller, closer planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars) and lights (Luna, Sol) that describe our more individual affairs and dramas. The dominant planetary conversation of 2016 has undoubtedly been between structure-building Saturn and boundary-dissolving Neptune.
Saturn is the most distant planet that we can view with our naked eyes and as such, this grandparent planet expresses themes of constraint, order, time, maturity, obstacles, endurance, and commitments. Social and political structures that have very tangible effects on how well we live are governed by this ringed body.
Neptune is even more distant and thus invisible, expressing energies that stretch us beyond the human experience and connect us to the numinous mysteries of existence. That odd state on the cusp between waking life and peaceful sleep belongs to Neptune’s realm, the experience of merging with others through art and compassion belongs here as well. Neptunian energies are slippery and mystical, alluring and unknowable. Because Neptune involves worlds beyond our own and because its energies are so vast and dispersing, Neptune can also show associations with escapism, deception, and glamour.
Saturnine energies are dense and hard, outlining the realities of living in a mortal body embedded in a cultural system of rules stretched across time. Neptunian rays have the power to dissolve and blur aspects of our physical and cultural realities. When these two planets clash as they have been all year long, borders and boundaries that we are accustomed to become porous, and new opportunities for spilling beyond what is known will arise.
World events that manifest the strange and challenging mixtures of Saturn with Neptune include:
· The refugee crisis, as national boundaries (Saturn) are dissolved (Neptune) and people’s regular way of life gives way into chaos, creating opportunities for individuals and nations to express deep compassion (Neptune) or fearful, isolationist politics (Saturn)
· The bizarre drama of the upcoming American election where one candidate is regularly accused of deception and conspiracy (Neptune) and the other plans to build literal walls (Saturn) between nations
· The surge in popularity of virtual reality games like Pokemon Go that enable users to play with characters and worlds that do not physically exist plus creating opportunities for people to escape from regular life for awhile
· Everyday challenges in discerning truth from fiction in the unprecedented massive amounts of media
A more hopeful expression of Saturn-Neptune revealed itself to me here in Saskatoon the other day. I attended a talk about the re-emergence of psychedelic medicine by Ken Tupper, PhD at the University of Saskatchewan. Psychedelic medicines and entheogens (ayahuasca, psyilocybin, LSD, cannabis, MDMA, mescaline) give humans the opportunity to enter expanded, other-worldly realities through their effects on perception, creativity, and the sense of self. Very Neptunian!
Science as a step-by-step endeavor that focuses on empirical results is in the structured realm of Saturn and it is fascinating to see traditional medical practitioners soften their viewpoints on these illegal substances and prohibited plants as evidence accumulates that these medicines can profoundly (and efficiently!) improve peoples’ lives.
People suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more have reported relief after as few as one session with a psychedelic treatment and evidence also shows that people with no maladies can benefit from the opening up and expansiveness triggered through these experiences.
Neptune manifesting through plants and substances that transport us to magical, insightful, compassionate places is pervading the laws and beliefs of our governments and health institutions. The weight of psychedelic history is falling apart and softening up as scientific and political institutions must face a burgeoning new paradigm in order to maintain credibility. Real, lived experiences of people benefiting from these therapies will create new weight and new momentum toward incredible changes in the way we view the body, mind, and spirit.