Neptune in Pisces: flooding, drowning and tidal surges in the UK

Neptune stationed on the 11th of November, ending its annual retrograde period, which began around 7 June 2013. For many, this came as something of a relief. Neptune’s stay in the sign of Pisces has been anything but peaceful or uneventful, especially when it comes to the sea. Since Neptune’s ingress into water-ruled Pisces in April 2011, we have seen a surge in sea piracy, large ships capsizing and/or running aground (think of the such as the Costa Concordia), as well as a rise in sea drownings off the coast of the UK and Europe, especially during Neptune’s last retrograde spell. For example, in Ireland four people drowned in separate incidents within the space of 48 hours between the 11th and 12th of July.[1]

Flooding has been another characteristic of Neptune’s stay in Pisces. Just this month, we experienced some rather alarming tidal surges off the UK coast, resulting in what some have dubbed a ‘mini-tsunami’. A storm out in the North Sea whipped up swells of up to 7ft (2.4m), leading to the evacuation of several seaside towns along England’s east coast and north Wales, including Great Yarmouth in Suffolk and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, as well as the collapse of a number of cliffside homes in Hemsby, Norfolk, flooding in Whitby, Yorkshire and the drowning of two people. The latest surge was widely considered to be the worst in 60 years, but, significantly, there were much fewer casualties or flood damage compared to the North Sea Tidal Surge of 1953, thanks to the introduction of many sea and flood defence systems since that fateful natural disaster on New Year’s Eve.

Usually one would expect such events to be tied into soli-lunar cycles but on this occasion, it was just past New Moon (which took place on 3 December 2013); as opposed to the event of 1953, which happened within a few days of the Full Moon of 29 January.

It is perhaps significant from an astrological perspective that Neptune, the planet that rules oceans, made an exact square to Mercury on the evening of 6 December 2013 at around 21h30 GMT.

Neptune is very much the planet of idealism and dreams, as well as the ruler of large bodies of water such as lakes or the sea. At its best, Neptune can lower any boundaries or obstacles that prevent us from accessing sources of artistic inspiration, or enjoying closer emotional or psychic connections, both with higher spiritual dimensions and other sentient beings. It can also move us to dream of a better life or get in touch with our more noble intentions, including caring for others less fortunate than ourselves.

However, when retrograde, or badly aspected, Neptune can act like a sort of mist, interfering with our judgement, leading to mistakes and sometimes a desire to escape from reality. From a mundane perspective, Neptune rules open water of all kinds – lakes, rivers and the sea. It is possible that over the summer, for example, when it became unusually warm, that many people misjudged the dangers of diving into deep pools or swimming far out to sea, and so took some risks that ultimately found them injuring themselves on unseen rocks, or overwhelmed by strong currents and unable to get back to shore.

For most of the year, Neptune and Chiron have also been orbiting within close proximity of each other. This combination can lead to increased vulnerability to tragedy, rejection or some form of physical or psychological wounding, so it is possible that this also played a role in what occurred in the last couple of years or so. This influence is likely to have been especially strong for those with planets in the early degrees of Pisces, or any of the other mutable signs, over the summer but would also have continued on into the winter as Neptune stationed and began moving closer to Chiron again. In fact, these two planetary bodies have been orbiting close to each other for some years now, both remaining within 8 degrees or so of each other, which may explain why, in recent years, the UK has been hit by an unusually high number of flooding incidents.

Let’s take a closer look at the chart for the December 2013 UK tidal surge. Although direct at the time of the December 2013 sea surges, Neptune’s square to Mercury was certainly not a good sign. Mercury happened to be in the sign of Sagittarius, ruled by the former ruler of Pisces, Jupiter, which is the sign of Mercury’s detriment. Jupiter has a tendency to enlarge or amplify things – in this case, possibly the waves of the sea (Neptune in Pisces), which are often referred to as white horses – an animal definitely ruled by Sagittarius! At the time of the square, Mercury was also orbiting close to Antares, the fixed star known to the Persians as the heart of the Scorpion and, according to Bernadette Brady, this combination can lead to ‘a time of anxiety and worry.’[2]

However, we cannot ignore the influence of several other planets that are prominent in both the charts of the recent tidal surge and that of its 1953 predecessor. In the 1953 chart, Mercury was at 10 degrees Aquarius and conjunct the Sun (under the sunbeams) and the North Node. Both the Sun and Mercury were approaching a square to Jupiter in Taurus, although neither was in contact with Neptune in Libra. The Sun is also in the sign of its detriment, Aquarius. Perhaps it is also significant that the Moon had just entered Aquarius on the evening of 6 Dec 2013 and had recently separated from a sextile to Uranus – ruler of Aquarius? Aquarius, is after all, represented by a sigil that represents flowing waters  …More on this later.

However, more significant perhaps is the fact that, in both charts, Neptune is forming some kind of connection to the fixed star, Spica. In 1953, Neptune was almost exactly conjunct Spica at 23 degrees Libra, and in 2013, the planet was parallel to Spica. You may recall that I picked out Spica as being an important star in the charts of many of certain members of the British royal family. Spica also happens to be setting (i.e. close to the Descendant) in the chart of the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, which many astrologers consider significant for the UK because it symbolises the beginning of Norman rule in Britain and the unification of the disparate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into one fiefdom and therefore the start of both England and the royal family as we know it. 23 degrees of Libra is also a significant degree in this chart – the Descendent of the 1066 chart is 22˚ Libra 17” – pretty close to an exact conjunction (although because of precession, Spica in 1066 was positioned at 10 degrees Libra).

Spica (and therefore, Neptune’s position in the 1953 chart) is also located in the first house of the UK’s 1801 Union chart (the date of the formation of the United Kingdom when England and Wales unified with Scotland), which is the one I tend to use in my astrological work. I also like this one because it has Sirius, considered one of the brightest stars in the sky and a star connected to the current generation of British royalty, including Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, on the Midheaven.

Returning to our analysis, we cannot ignore the many instances in which the sign of Cancer also seems to crop up in relation to water-related incidents. Over the summer of 2013, the Sun and Jupiter were both in Cancer when many of the sea drownings took place. In both 1953 and 2013, an important outer planet was occupying the sign of Cancer. It also happens to be the ruler of the Midheaven in the 1801 Union chart, and the ruler of the IC in the 1066 chart. So perhaps this sign of Cancer (the sign which Spica currently occupies) may be significant in indicating a connection between floods and homes for the people of the UK?

If we transpose the 2013 chart onto that of the 1801 chart, we get Jupiter in Cancer conjunct the Moon on the Midheaven, and if we do the same with the 1953 chart, we get Uranus in Cancer on the Midheaven. By being close to the Midheaven, both oppose the 1801 chart‘s IC, which as we know, symbolises homes, lands, buildings and property. If we place them onto the 1066 chart, both Jupiter and Uranus move to the 4th house of property, family and home. Uranus also makes an opposition to Mercury in Capricorn on the Midheaven.

To me, this seems to indicate that Cancer and Capricorn along the MC-IC axis are clearly important significators for the UK, pointing to a strong social emphasis on property ownership, home life and family values, and a connection between family bloodlines, land ownership and social status. We only have to look at the reverence given to the royal family and the aristocracy (who are essentially landed gentry who pass down ownership of large estates and titles via a system of family inheritance) to see that this is still very much the case for British society, no matter how much it has claimed to modernise.

Although this serves to help us pinpoint what signs indicate which aspect of British life (the ‘where’), we still cannot get away from the fact that Neptune is still very much a good indicator of the ‘what’ – the floods themselves. Neptune is placed in fairly prominent positions in all of the charts we have looked at concerning the tidal surges, which as an island nation, seems fitting: It appears in the first house of the 1953 chart, and is located in the 7th house of the 2013 chart. If we transpose both flood charts onto the 1801 chart, we also get significant placements for Neptune – the 1953 chart puts Neptune in the first house of the 1801 chart, from where it aspects the 1801 Saturn, ruler of the IC in the Union horoscope. The 2013 chart puts Neptune in the 5th house of the 1801 chart, where it conjuncts Pluto, ruler of the 2nd house (a secondary indicator of property because of its association with money and material assets). Pluto also happens to square the 2013 Mercury in Sagittarius, which is conjunct to the 1801 Chiron…Once again, the Neptune-Chiron connection in relation to flooding seems to emerge!

What strengthens this connection further is the fact that both of these planets have been orbiting very close to Fomalhaut, the fixed star located in the mouth of Pisces Australis, the southern Fish. This star has a rather ambiguous reputation amongst  astrologers – on the one hand, it is the star associated with immortality, spiritual virtue and fame, but on the other, it is considered to be indicative of secret enemies, narrow escapes and the deception – a bit like Neptune!. What is most interesting is that it lies in that part of the sky which Aratus called the ‘Water’ because of its proximity to the sign of Aquarius the water bearer, and in Western stellar mythology, ‘this is the fish that drinks the flow from the urn of Aquarius.’[3] This may explain the connection between Neptune/Pisces and Uranus/Aquarius with flooding in our charts.

With Neptune currently located in its own sign, that of Pisces, the emphasis on water and flooding is likely to continue for some time. Neptune will remain here until at least 2026, so UK authorities would be seriously advised to make plans to protect the many homes that lie along the south and east coastlines, as well as those positioned on the flood plains of major rivers such as the Thames estuary, because these are more likely to be affected by heavy rains and tidal surges in the future as the planet becomes hotter and wetter, and ocean levels rise in the wake of melting polar icecaps.

According to the UK government website:

“In England, more than 5 million properties are at risk of flooding – that’s nearly 1 in 6.

There are also more than 200 homes at risk of complete loss to coastal erosion in the next 20 years. It’s possible 2,000 more could become at risk over this period.

The latest climate projections indicate that sea levels will rise, and there will be increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms. This means the risk of floods will increase.”[4]

As a result, they have set aside £2 billion in funding to improve flood forecasting and early warning systems; reinforce existing flood defences and improve flood protection for 165,000 households over the next four years. However, it is expected that flood insurance premiums are likely to rise in the near future, so anyone thinking of buying a home close to a river, along the east coast or on a flood plain, should consult the Environment Agency to find out what flood zone they are in and get an estimate of what sort of costs may be involved.

Of course, Neptune’s stay in Pisces is not all doom and gloom. In July, Neptune was also involved in the major grand trine with Jupiter and Saturn. This coincided with the birth of Prince William’s heir, Prince George of Cambridge, on whose chart I have written fairly extensively, and who also has Spica quite prominent. The other two planets in this grand trine, Jupiter and Saturn, also happened to be within orb of a second trine on December 6, which may have served mitigated the damage caused by the latest tidal surge and preventing casualties levels from reaching those of 1953, no doubt via the many sea and flood defences that have been put in place since then.

Furthermore, HM Government is also currently in negotiations with the UK insurance industry to try and ensure that those living in the most flood-prone areas of the UK are still able to get access to affordable flood insurance. Another positive spin-off of the July major grand trine? Let’s hope so!


[1] ‘Four drowning deaths within 48 hours in Irish Republic,’ BBC News,

[2][2] Brady, Star and Planet Combinations, p. 125

[3] Brady, Star and Planet Combinations, p. 169

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