A Treatise on Astrology, Liber 536 by Aleister Crowley, 1917

Neptune in the First House

It is usually easy to recognise persons who have Neptune rising. Even at the first glance it is apparent that they are not as others. The sensation given is difficult to define, but it is unmistakable. They seem, in some way, peculiar, strongly individual, yet not with any common kind of strength. The general racial characteristics will be determined more by the sign rising, the planet which rules that sign and the aspects to that planet, but it is practically always possible to determine whether Neptune is in or close to the Ascendant, for his influence is concentrated in the eyes. These are often grey or blue of a rather cold shade, but whether this be so or not, they have a peculiar magnetic quality. The effect is often weird and startling. There may be some hint in it of perversity or madness. They are coldly penetrating yet sometimes shiftly and secretive; so characteristic is this appearance that only a few observations of people who possess it are necessary to familiarise the student with it. This indication is often especially valuable when the hour of birth is not accurately known, for if Neptune happened to be rising, there can be no possible doubt, and the figure may then be cast for the appropriate hour with perfect confidence.

The moral and mental characteristics of people with Neptune on the Ascendant are singular and subtle. The action of Neptune, taking place as it does, in the remotest fastnesses of the soul causes deep-seated upheavals of the personality.

Nothing so upsets the normal indications drawn from the sign and ruler as the presence of Neptune. It does not modify them, it introduces an entirely new influence from a finer and more powerful plane. The first result of this circumstance which attracts our notice is that the character often betrays a contradictoriness, a whimsicality, a perversion, or introduces some fantastic clement of mockery or masquerade. In some natures, this will be very profound and far-reaching; in others shallow, even superficial. This question must be determined by consideration of the relative strength of Neptune, essential or accidental, with the rising sign and its ruler. We may, however, mention a few of the principal observations which have been made, especially characteristic of its effect. In younger souls, such as have not freed themselves even partially, from the gross influences of the physical, a yearning of the spirit which Neptune represents, is likely to manifest itself in seeking after strange gods. The use or abuse of those drugs which break down the limitations of time and space and seem to develop the individual, though only temporarily, at the expense of his environment, is frequently to be seen. For exactly the same reason, abnormal vices are resorted to by the Neptunian. The common satisfactions of life appear to him banal – he has not yet developed that mastery of his own soul and of the soul of the Universe which brings the seeker after the hidden mysteries of life back to sanity.

The advanced soul knows that life is a dream, but he knows also that it is a divine dream. He no longer mixes up the planes. In the beginning of his search, inspired by a sense of dissatisfaction he imagines quite naturally, that by reversing the natural order of things, which he has decided to be bad he will attain to good. Indeed this state of thought is probably necessary for everybody at some time or other. However, by following out his path, he comes to the conclusion that, after all, things are no better upside down than they were the right way up. He will then, sensibly enough, take the easiest way – he will become content with life, no longer in the unthinking way which IS characteristic of the lower animals, but through his having gained a divine wisdom. No doubt he and everyone else in the world, are but players on a stage, shadows in a dream, but he sees also that in this play he should make the best of his part. In this dream, he should not invoke the powers of the nightmare.

For these reasons, as well as because of our own understanding of the divine tolerance which pours the smile of the Sun and the tears of the rain alike upon the just and the unjust, we must not blame Neptunians [or those peculiarities which seem to our cider judgment to be destroying his soul. In extreme cases, it may be necessary that the soul should be allowed to destroy itself, for only through destruction lies redemption. OUT attitude, therefore, should be sympathetic. We should endeavour to understand these wonderful impulses. It will be useless for us to endeavour to suppress them. They are divinely ordered, but we may advise the control of these passions where they seem to us to be doing more harm than good. It will be well to remember that the source from which they spring is irrepressible. It comes from the depths which are the very seat of character, and any attempts to deal harshly with them are fore-ordained futile. Our attempts would only excite opposition and that opposition would be justified, for to our worldly wisdom, it would array in battle the army of the all-wise Providence of God.

There is one characteristic of a rising Neptune, which is excessively annoying to the person possessing it. This has been described by Edgar Allan Poe in his story ‘The Imp of the Perverse’. The mind of the individual may be perfectly made up, his judgment may be sound and his desire un· hampered, but at the moment of putting his will into execution he balks and jibs. Ibsen has pictured the same quality in his description of ‘The Troll in Us’, but perhaps the clearest and most succint of all the accounts of this curious quality is given by St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans, Chapter 7, verse 15-24.

This is not to be confused with the war of the flesh against the spirit, which takes place constantly in all of us, or with doubt, hesitation, vacillation, and the conflict of impulses, or the difficulty in striking a balance of judgment. It is pure perversity.

The quality of aspiration to things beyond the limits of life is common to all Neptunians and in elder souls which have passed through the purifying fires, in those same minds which possess knowledge and understanding o f the cosmos and have learned how to deal with passion and emotion, it assumes a less devastating form. There is still the determination to attain to the Bourneless Beyond, but the method which appeals is carefully reasoned instead of being instinctive, and common sense takes care that neither health, reason, fortune, or social relations, is put in danger. A person thus gifted may study strange sciences, but he will not go astray in them, will devote himself during every moment of his spare time to prayer and meditation, but will not become a fanatic; will adopt mystical practices which might appear entirely foolish to the average man, but he will probably keep his own counsel in the matter.

The gamut of Neptune’s influence is thus seen to extend far from the darkest abyss of hell to the crown of the heaven’s evershining mountains, but the underlying impulse is always the same. It is the hunger for the infinite. The drug-fiend, the psychopath, the lunatic and the saint are all members of the same family and that which divides them is not the result of any differentiation in the soul, but rather in the degree of knowledge and experience. It is his mentality which separates St. Francis of Assisi from the Marquis de Sade, and in judging any particular horoscope, the characterisations of the native must be determined by those houses and planets which govern the mind.

To recount a few of the less important Neptunian qualities, the same impulse which causes an Ignatius Loyala, a Gilles de Rais, an Indian Yogi or a Napoleon to determine to be something extraordinary makes impractical persons with less sense of actuality, determine to pretend to be something extraordinary; hence we find people who assume titles to which they have no right, who love to wear extraordinary clothes, who smother themselves in exotic perfumes, or who make up their faces. This idea may again express itself in a different kind of action; such, for example, as Jove of intrigue, of playing practical jokes, of hoaxing their friends or the public, or of playing some part upon the stage of life, which is not altogether natural. Better balanced persons will probably manifest this tendency by actually going on the stage, where the impulse finds a legitimatized and accepted expression.

In all these matters, it is rare to find a true creative tendency. Mimicry and imitation are the rule, but there is usually a certain spice of originality involved. As an example of a whole period under Neptunian influence, we may cite the time of Moliere, the seventeenth century, when every· body masqueraded. It was not merely the valets and maids who pretended to be their masters and mistresses but the nobles themselves could not conduct the most’ ordinary flirtation without pretending to be shepherds and shepherdesses of the time of Virgil. It has been necessary, this, lest the student confound this quality with the coarseness, quite Inexcusable, of snobbery.

The Neptunian is usually a somewhat irresponsible person, he is very inconstant and his moral character appears weak, because it is based on what seems mere impulse or whim, rather than on judgment, inspired by self-interest. He usually knows that he is making himself ridiculous by his antics, but the elfishness of his spirit leads him to continue with them, and a hint of opposition will often cause him to exaggerate the errors of which his friends complain.

Neptune also gives a disposition to wander, a discontent With the place where one happens to be; we make no apology for quoting Baudelaire’s prose poem ‘Anywhere, anywhere out of the world’, which gives a most eloquent picture of the spirit of which we are speaking:

This life is a hospital where every sick man is possessed with the desire to change his bed. One is anxious to bear his sufferings in front of the stove, and another thinks that he will get better beside the window.

It seems to me that I should always be well wherever I am not; and this question of removal is one which I ceaselessly discuss with my soul.

Say, my soul – poor, deluded soul, what do you think of going and living in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and you would become as lively as a lizard. It is on the waterside; they say that it is built of marble, and that the people have such a hatred of vegetation that they pluck up all the trees. – Ah! there is a landscape to your liking; a landscape made with light and mineral, and a liquid mirror to reflect them!

My soul replies nothing.

Since you love rest so much while contemplating movement, would you like to come and live in Holland, the land that brings happiness? Perhaps you would find amusement in that country, whose picture you have so often admired in museums. What do you say to Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts, and the ships moored alongside the houses?

My soul remains dumb.

Would Batavia smile on you perhaps more sweetly? There we should find the spirit of Europe wedded to the beauty of the tropics.

Not a word. Can my soul be dead?

Are you then come to such a point of enervation that you take pleasure only in your own happiness? If so, let us away to those countries that are the emblem of death. I have it, poor soul, we will pack for Torneo. Let us go father still, to the far end of the Baltic, still farther from life, if it is possible. Let us set up our camp at the Pole! There the Sun strikes the earth obliquely, and !.he slow alternation of light and night suppresses variety and increases monotony – that better half of nothing. There we may take prolonged baths of shadows, while, to amuse us the Aurora Borealis will send us from time to time its rosy sheaves, like the reflection of the fireworks of Hell.

Then at last my soul broke forth, and wisely did she cry, ‘No matter where, no matter where, so long as it is out of the World!’

It follows from all that has been said that the purely Neptunian type lives almost entirely in and through the nervous system. Very often his body is frail. delicate and flower-like, but the soul in him burns strong and may easily wear out the scabbard. At any lime when the physical functions are depressed. and the nerves cannot obtain that supernormal energy which they so insistently demand, the result is likely to be hysteria and nervous breakdown. Persons, who suffer in this way are, perhaps, fortunate, for the warnings of nature in such cases are insistent, and medical treatment, by insisting upon absolute rest and quiet, can restore them to health. Where the body is stronger and responds with more alacrity to the extravagance of the nervous system, the result is likely to be worse. For then, insidious and often incurable disease obtains a hold, before the patient is aware of it. Such troubles as locomotor ataxia, general paralysis of the insane, softening of the brain, and other obscure lesions may perhaps be caused in part by this influence. Worry and all its attendant ills are very often Neptunian in origin. One may conclude by mentioning certain other wasting diseases whose nervous origin is not yet understood by the less advanced schools of orthodox medicine.