The Cosmic Illusionist—Everything You Want to Know About Neptune Retrograde

June 17, 2019


Stations retrograde June 21, 2019, at 18°43′ Pisces

Stations direct November 27, 2019, at 15°55′ Pisces

Taking over 165 years to orbit the sun, Neptune is second only to Pluto in its distance from the sun and sluggish pace. Neptune transits each zodiac sign in roughly fourteen years.

Neptune first entered Pisces for the first time on April 4, 2011 and will only exit Pisces for good on January 26, 2026. Once a year, every year, until Neptune enters Aries, Neptune will retrograde in Pisces for almost half the year.

Find out where Neptune is in your chart!


Of all the water signs, Pisces is the most fluid. Its symbol, two fish held together by a lead, aptly describes the push-pull nature of the subjective, inspired mind of Pisces. Compassion and empathy also abound in Pisces, making it an ideal sign for healers and artists, while its porous, ultra-sensitive nature can easily leave Pisceans overstimulated and full of feelings.

To combat this, Pisces often needs to withdraw and decompress before reentering the outside world. Sometimes, this can result in escapist behaviors and coping mechanisms; in truth, Pisces’ sensitivity is both its greatest strength as well as its kryptonite. The lesson of Pisces is to find ways to be in a relationship with our sympathies without being overwhelmed by them.

In Pisces, Neptune has been gently nudging the masses towards healing, sparking a renewed interest in all things new age, and rejuvenating our collective sense of compassion. Under Neptune’s passage in Pisces, guru-cum-healers have enjoyed celebrity status, selling out stadiums filled to the brim with well-wishing spiritual seekers. As part of this, Neptune’s transit in Pisces has also laid bare the dark underbelly of false prophets (Bikram yoga, anyone?) and the perils of wide-eyed westerners falling too deep, too quickly into mind-altering mysticism. Neptune in Pisces may well be the perfect backdrop for cocooning our young in ‘safe spaces.’


On a personal level, Neptune’s retrogrades in Pisces act as momentary periods of pause in Neptune’s slow, nebulizing passage through Pisces. Ultimately, Neptune’s work is to break down false idols of all description, wherever they may be found. If, as Pisces dictates, we are all one, it would appear that you suffer from a problem of plenty: to paraphrase Walt Whitman, you contain multitudes. You are neither sinner nor saint, you are both.
If you’ve often found yourself projecting virtues galore onto others, it may be high time to start acknowledging that that same spark of divinity resides within you; there is no need to seek it elsewhere. The Neptune retrogrades in Pisces are the ideal times to cast out projections, illusions, and what dreams may be in favor of what simply is. After Neptune’s foggy, misty chambers, hitting rock bottom – the solid grounds of reality – has never felt so good.


These Neptune retrograde insights can be read for both your sun and ascendant sign.

Aries (and Aries Rising)

Neptune’s transit in Pisces has kept it slushing through a particularly murky part of your birth chart, the twelfth house. While some naturally associate this area of the chart with transcendence and healing, a more realistic rendering of this house’s meaning includes habits of self-undoing and addiction. The twelfth house embodies who we are when the lights go out.

Importantly, Aries, this transit could have brought new levels of self-compassion to your subconscious psyche and helped you find new ways to gently approach and disarm your most ruthless acts of self-sabotage. During this worthy tour of your innermost quarters, you may have teetered back and forth from spiritual high to resignation, meeting yourself as both curer and co-conspirator of your ills. Herein lies the rub: even in the deepest folds of shadow, there is a light of equal measure waiting to emerge.

As Neptune retrogrades, focus on this light, reminding yourself that nothing is quite so dark as it may seem.

Taurus (and Taurus Rising)

Benjamin Franklin famously advised to be slow in making friends, and even slower in changing them; with Neptune having inhabited the part of your chart dedicated to friends and groups for quite some time, you may feel he missed the mark with those words, Taurus. Neptune’s presence here may have dished out painful deceptions involving friends, forcing you to reconsider to re-qualify the line separating friend from foe. Others may have encountered collectives and co-ops which at first glance seemed infused with sunshine and happiness, but which were found to be made of lesser stuff upon closer study.

Ultimately, this is a lesson in self-reliance: while being one of many is all fine and dandy, in the end, we are all a party of one. Look to the Neptune retrogrades for help in finding the promised land within you (or a friend or two).

Gemini (and Gemini Rising)

Many of us derive our most basic of identity from what we ‘do’: our careers. Having Neptune in your tenth house, itself linked with career and reputation, may seem like a cruelly destabilizing ride, Gemini. You may feel unsettled and ill at ease about your given profession or unsure of where you’re headed. In truth, much good can come of this transit: being temporarily derailed from your career aspirations can be hugely frustrating but may also serve to deliver you to a career path much more closely aligned to your authentic self.

Neptune’s transits always topple fantasies, so if you’ve been holding onto to dreams that are distinctly past their sell-by date, no is the time to release these old dreams back into the ethers. For a small bunch of folks, however, Neptune here can bring notoriety and even relative levels of celebrity, although you’ll still need to keep both eyes peeled for Neptune’s unsavory connections with dramatics falls from grace.

Wherever you’re at on your career path, the Neptune retrogrades in Pisces can be a useful salve for releasing your ego from the grips of your vocational status. Use this downtime to envision your next move while leaving the action for later.

Cancer (and Cancer Rising)

Jesus, take the wheel: with Neptune long present in the part of your chart dedicated to spiritual sustenance, you may have found yourself sinking further and further into the cushiony embrace of a higher power, Cancer. What – or who – that higher power is matters very little.

You’ll find through the Neptune transit in Pisces that there is no singularly faultless axiom, guru, text, or spiritual path. Perhaps disappointingly, all roads really do lead to Rome, which in turn means that not one road is inherently special. With that in mind, enjoy the ride: seek high and low, far and wide. Open yourself wholly to the experience of merging into the great unknown.

Use the Neptune retrogrades in Pisces to help you stop focusing on finding the one true path; once you do, you’ll be more open to discovering the best path for you – and that will make all the difference.

Leo (and Leo Rising)

Inevitably, when things are combined, something is lost. Two becoming one has been the inspiration of alchemically-inclined romantics throughout history (as well as the Spice Girls) but in truth, the disappearing of “the one” into “the other” works much better as a poetic device than a partnership guideline.

With Neptune transiting your eighth house of shared resources, this may feel particularly pertinent to you right about now. Lessons concerning your partner’s resources (or lack thereof) and their willingness to share or combine those assets to positive affect may have been a theme, as well as ideas about interdependence in romantic relationships. Fears of loss may loom large, clouding your mind with end-of-times visions; promised inheritances, and well-intentioned investments may wither on the vine. The benefit? Locating a deeper, more profound column of strength within, that depends on nothing and no one except yourself, Leo.

As Neptune retrogrades in Pisces, take heart that this process is unfolding as it should. Your doubts, fears, and insecurities are all part of that, even if it doesn’t yet feel that way.

Virgo (and Virgo Rising)

Hosting Neptune in your seventh house may have been a discomfiting match for ultra-pragmatic, grounded Virgos, whose talents for discernment are usually second to none. With Neptune transiting Pisces, the sign opposite yours, however, you may have had to reconcile on more than occasion that your normally precise judgment has landed you in murky waters.

Neptune’s hazy presence in the part of the birth chart dedicated to committed partnerships may have made for less than savory happenings, blurring the edges of who is and is not to be trusted. Classically, Neptune in the seventh house can create dizzying love affairs (and business partnerships, too) which end when our sacred other is exposed as a sham. Maybe this indiscretion included betrayal or deception; maybe it amounted to no more than realizing our own projections were keeping us from seeing others as they truly are.

As it stands, Virgo is quite often to play the role of helpful beta, submitting itself to serve the greater good; these Neptune transits, including the Neptune retrogrades in Pisces, are goading you into seeing that while your assistance is always appreciated, your self-sacrifice is not at all necessary.

Libra (and Libra Rising)

Neptune transiting the sixth house may be one of the more challenging placements: as this house holds health challenges, and Neptune confuses, you may have faced significant setbacks in vitality for which you have failed to find definitive diagnosis or treatment. Strange irritations and inflammations may have taken hold, leading you down a nebulous path towards rehabilitation, Libra.

If Neptune has been kind enough to leave your body alone, however, it may have sent waves of workload your way instead. Much of this work could have kept you toiling away past all sensible limitations, at times making it hard for you to distinguish yourself from the work you do. This may have led to confusion between service and servitude; the former requires only good intention while the latter demands forfeiting your personal needs for that of your employer, project, or team. Disappointments may have also occurred with colleagues, subordinates, and even house pets, all of which are secondary significations of the sixth house.

During the Neptune retrogrades, some of the relative fog surrounding confusions at work and wellness may lift just enough for you to get a little perspective.

Scorpio (and Scorpio Rising)

The play’s the thing, with Neptune mollifying your fifth house of love, creativity, children, and sex since 2011. Pleasure is a noble use of one’s time, but if it is held as a singular, unchallenged ideal, you may end up sliding into situations of just too much of a good thing. It’s equally possible that you could have found yourself putting your romantic partners up on a pedestal, long before they rightly earned such accolades. As infatuation fades and reality seeps in, as it tends to do, romances formed under the slippery auspices of rose-colored glasses tend to stumble and fall, leaving both parties disillusioned. Was it love, or just confusion, Scorpio?

Romantic suffering is not the only contest you face: with Neptune transiting the fifth house, you may be a creative martyr in the making, sacrificing all for your art; since the fifth house also includes children, the same pattern of self-immolation may involve your role as a parent.

Aim to elucidate as best you can the boundary between pleasure and excess throughout the Neptune retrogrades in Pisces, and attempt to find a healthy middle ground between the two.

Sagittarius (and Sagittarius Rising)

Fill a house with love, the old axiom goes, and then it becomes a home. As a Sagittarius, that statement may not entirely resonate, what with your natural penchant for wanderlust and freedom; you may be more inclined to muse that home is where the heart is (a location which might change daily for you). Yet here you are, knee-deep in Neptune transiting your fourth house, where you’ve been busily unpacking the difference between house and home, as well as negotiating home truths about the nature of family, Sagittarius.

Neptune’s transit in this part of your chart may have allowed you to see that four walls suffused with buckets of love can just as quickly become a prison, as it can become a home. Some may find themselves ruminating anew on family woes long past, while others sift through current melodramas; in both scenarios, you are likely to find yourself disenchanted with the gap between expectation and reality in your home life. If this seems harsh, it is, but it is also a journey worth its weight in gold: only when faced with bitter disappointments do we learn what it means to love ourselves and others unconditionally.

The Neptune retrogrades in Pisces will be particularly useful for returning to your stories of origin to adjudicate what was real, and what was merely wishful thinking.

Capricorn (and Capricorn Rising)

Perhaps this is optimistic on my part, but I’m inclined to believe that Neptune transiting the third house can be one of the more productive, helpful ways to experience Neptune’s powers of dissolution. Primarily, the third house relates to writing and communicating; positively, Neptune can help open us to preternatural levels of creativity, drenching our spoken and written words with palpable sentiment. The third house also embodies other topics, however, which may have been less fanciful.

Traditionally, the third house encompasses siblings and family member just beyond our immediate family, as well as our neighborhood and short-distance travel. At worst, we may have discovered that our siblings have hidden agendas; other possibilities include a failure to erect appropriate boundaries with the same. Since the connection between your sign and Neptune is mostly beneficial, it’s also likely that you may have received a helping, healing hand from your family.

Artists and creators can use the Neptune retrogrades for plunging deep into Neptune’s well in search of inspiration. The remaining Capricorns will benefit just as nicely by actively letting go of fantasy and leaning into healing.

Aquarius (and Aquarius Rising)

It seems you may have been busily building sandcastles in the air these past few years, dear Aquarius. This imaginative output is part of your modus operandi: inventive and future-focused, you approach every project with more than a nod of Promethean purposefulness, studying every angle and rebuilding things anew – and always for the best.

Typically, this would be all well and fine, but with Neptune transiting your second house of earned income, there may have been one or two hiccups involving your personal finances. Perhaps you overestimated your ROI, or maybe you invested big when you should have run in the opposite direction; some may have faced fiscal treacheries. Others may have become overly attached to material security, hoping that their beefy bank balance may somehow magically ensure their physical security, too.

As the pressures of Neptune’s waves recede during the retrograde, you’ll be better placed to make clear-headed decisions about your financial plans, hedging your bets as needed. For now, keep in mind that money is one of the greatest illusions of all – so treat it accordingly.

Pisces (and Pisces Rising)

Neptune’s transit through your sign and the all-important first house may have left you feeling as if the edges of your being have eroded, leaving you exposed to the elements. Neptune transits can be notoriously hard to articulate, and in your case, there may be a sense that your most basic identity – who you are and what you’re about – is somehow just out of reach, evading your grasp.

You may have reached this point after many well-meaning attempts to better yourself, chasing the ideal and holding yourself against impossibly high, chimerical standards; the resulting failures to transcend yourself may have been brutal and enlightening. Any lingering suppositions you may have had about the separations between yourself and others have now been rendered well and truly void.

The Neptune retrogrades in Pisces may be a welcome respite from this deep-reaching spiritual work. As the fog lifts, and the erosions slow, take note of what parts of you remain steadfast and true, even in the face of certain dissolution.

By Lee Coleman