Lessons in Empathy : Reflections on Neptune and Saturn


Another post from a few years back.  I use a lot of astrology in this one as a way of grappling with certain experiences around empathy.  My sister is now in a stronger space,  her struggle with mental illness and emotional pain mirrored my own and at this time we were both in deep water which is how I would see a strong Neptune influence around us both : deep feelings gone unconscious:

Maybe one of the gifts of having suffered loss and depression is that you come to know the territory very well.  There is more to be learned through the actual suffering of and living through certain states of being because its only then that you can know how it feels for you to be in a place where you feel you have been pressed down by a huge weight or are drowning under a wall of water that rolls you round and round in a deep swell, then tosses you over and over and over in such a way that you no longer have control.

People who haven’t been through it just don’t seem to get it, you can use words to try describe the experience but they are always going to fall short.  Images or sounds, including music or dance would be more evocative mediums, I guess.  Still my form of expression is, for the time writing so I will struggle on with this.

We cannot explain or make sense of the inexplicable, but never the less we try.  A great wall can separate us from others when we are suffering in this way and their agenda may come out of the difficulty they are having in being powerless in a situation watching someone they love suffering and knowing much as they love them, there is so little they can do to change what is going on.

I’m finding myself in this situation with my sister at the moment after undergoing a similar theme with my older sister for over 20 years.   Neptune is natally positioned in my third house of siblings and transiting Neptune is, at present, transiting over my Chiron and in opposition to natal Pluto at the moment.  At the same time it is hitting my sister’s Sun and Venus square to Mars.

In short, my Chiron is smack bang on her natal Sun Venus and squared by her Mars.  I feel a sadness and pain, knowing she is in pain, then also a kind of powerlessness and wordlessness surrounding how to be with her and in it.  I can recognise it but when I try to make any kind of contact I am hitting a brick wall and then the words run short and there is nothing I can do but hang up the phone or leave and then the avalanche of grief breaks open.

The way I am dealing with this at the moment is in reaching out to my recovering friends.  For me these are just the one’s who will allow my feelings to flow and recognise the place I am in without trying to change it.   They don’t give me any advice but allow me to feel my way through it and process until it has shifted   For me that is what is needed for it to pass.

I am deep in Neptune territory at the moment and there are three planetary stations at the moment which means there is a psychic shift.   Saturn is one of the astrological heavy weights which will be driving home its essential message over the next 4 and a half months,  as it back tracks over the zone 23-16 degrees Scorpio it will square my seventh house Aquarian stellium and oppose the North Node in Leo while moving back into a wide conjunction with natal Neptune in the third.

Saturn speaks to me of boundaries, limits and discipline, it also is associated to gravitas, depression, a falling back to the earth of reality and a pruning or limiting of ego ideals and plans to deal with the oceanic theme of that 3rd house Neptune which must in some way relate back to my Mum’s sadness and longing around having no other siblings and a father who died when she was very young.

Synchronistically, I recently re read a dream I had many years ago  My sister and I were walking by the ocean and as we did we came across a whale that had beached itself.  My sister looked me in the eyes and said “the whales are such sad creatures”.  I felt the deepest most unescapable karmic sadness in the dream.

Metaphorical associations :  to me whales inhabit the ancestral deep, that they are beached means that some deep ancestral issue has emerged and become stranded and the deep pain around it is recognised by my sister and by myself.  There is a profound element around Piscean placements to me and it relates to our ancestral connection we both have been abandoned by our partners and our maternal great, great, grandfather too, was left and ended his days in an asylum.

Maybe our planets give us this innate sensitivity in a soul to the totality of collective suffering and experience, most especially on an emotional level.  This degree of psychic sensitivity gives a load of empathy but also a difficulty with differentiating boundaries.  Chaos is one’s nature state, rationality and logic are experienced as straight jackets, there is a longing too for dissolution that will melt the walls of division which keep us separate but the problem may be that the sought dissolution ends up destroying the essence of the sensitive.

Too much Neptune, not enough Saturn we become a psychic sponge absorbing pain of others that we relate to but is not ours.  We need a secure space where we can retreat in order to return to us, if we are too strongly drawn in by others who have powerful psychic defences we can become a garbage dump for their projected and rejected psychic “stuff”.

A year on re-editing this post and reflecting on the image of the beached whale more deeply and seeing the journey my only living sister has undergone I see the emergence of this Piscean part of herself, how it has affected me.  Together on the beach we recognise the whale and it cant be spoken of : the suffering we both know is a soul level experience.

Sometimes it appears to me a conundrum to have both strong Saturnian and Neptunian emphasis in my psyche but I am beginning to see that both are essential states of being.   The deep solitude of my Saturn Moon helps me when I get into Venus square Sun/Venus/Mercury/Jupiter/South Node overload.  It returns me home often with a sharp slap.

Solitude gives me an alembic,  a soul container for the tears both of myself and of others, of the collective culture.  It gives me nurture for in the solitude of Saturn I find the understanding of my strong Neptune which is often subjected to misinterpretation by more pragmatic, less mystical folk.

Its taken me many years to understand this.  My empathetic Neptunian self feels others pain but Saturn teaches me I have to respect their journey and right to choose different ways of dealing with and understanding it.  My Chiron in the Seventh which is ruled by Neptune (placed as it is in the sign of Pisces) can be a dumping ground for the projections of others and needs the backbone of Saturnian recognition to deal with it and sort out what is projected and what I own.

Today I read an excellent blog about Empathetic muscle.  It described the difficulty empaths have with absorbing and becoming a psychic sponge for others.  Ideally empathy should give us the ability to feel others pain and yet not get lost in it.  It seems to me that this has been the deep Saturnian work of the past few years for me.  This blog was written last year and it has taken this time to complete.  Its being released as Saturn trines the Sun prior to its forward movement soon.

2 thoughts on “Lessons in Empathy : Reflections on Neptune and Saturn

  1. Omg cool!! You’re into astrology too? Awesome 👏🏼❤️. It’s been one of my special interests for the past 24 years but I haven’t been able to devote much time to it lately. I must say, your grasp of it is much firmer than mine! Kudos and cheers to you ❤️
    ~The Silent Wave Blog writer/Laina 🌟🌟

    1. Oh how wonderful that you are interested in astrology too:) I have studied it for a long time and watched how it appears to manifest. So lovely to have your feedback and comments Lots of love to you Laina. Deborah

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