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Neptune and Genius

A man of genius and a primitive savage may share the same time of birth: it is the consciousness and level of evolution that makes the difference. - Jane A. Evans
There are as many different opinions about genius as about Neptune and Neptunians. Nobody seems to know where to draw a line between genius and madness, or between genius and talent, or between genius and creativity in general. This alone tells us that genius is in many ways a typically Neptunian phenomenon, it's something no one understands well; there are no sharp boundaries, no exact definitions - just a continuum, with no sharp lines of demarcation.

A genius is usually looked upon as a disturbing factor, wrote Carl Payne Tobey. Again a similarity with Neptune! According to Tobey that is the case especially in the academic world where people know very little about geniuses and usually prefer better team-players. Perhaps the same thing happens in astrological circles, true geniuses often have, just like Neptunians, an invisible identity, and because of that they are experienced as disturbing and hard to understand people.


The horoscope of a genius cannot be singled out from those of ordinary ability, nor might it differ in any obvious respect from the chart of a mentally defective. - Dennis Elwell

According to Rex E. Bills (The Rulership Book) genius is ruled by both Uranus and Neptune, but creative (literary or artistic) genius is ruled specifically by Neptune. And Marc Edmund Jones even includes Neptune in his formula of the Arabic part for genius: Ascendant + Sun - Neptune. In trying to understand genius we might begin by studying creative powers and talents in general.

According to C.E.O. Carter creative powers are the result of the solar ray, and of the 5th house, but this power flows through all the planetary bodies, literary creation trough Mercury, artistic through Venus and so on. The sign on the cusp of the 5th house and the sign on the cusp of the house where the ruler of the 5th house is, indicate whether the creative urge functions mainly on the physical, mental, or emotional level.

The ordinary person may have strong aspects, often without no co-ordination, but people with a distinct talent usually begin to display a clear orientation. And in addition there may be an abnormal sensitiveness to the higher vibrations, although this sensitiveness cannot always be detected. A true genius may not have just a rare type of nativity, but also unique powers of getting the utmost from the horoscope, says Carter. In addition to all this, geniuses may be sensitive to the influence of some as yet undiscovered planets.

Because of their sensitiveness - and perhaps because of other things we don't understand yet - some of the so-called minor aspects may work with geniuses as powerfully as stronger aspects with more ordinary and less sensitive types. From quintiles the genius of an individual can be to some extent determined, wrote Dane Rudhyar. Quintiles can often be notably creative but almost all the other aspects have their creative potentials as well, thus all aspects may add something to our understanding of geniuses.

And signs and houses as well can be important in analyzing genius and creativity. According to Richard Idemon creativity is often indicated by strong emphasis on personal signs, they tell us that energy is used by the person and is not scattered away. According to Rudhyar the individual creates in the fifth house, in the eleventh house the collective creates through the individual. The same can be said about planets and signs when they are either below or above the earth: From Aries to Virgo (and from the first to the sixth house) the individual creates, from Libra to Pisces (from the seventh to the twelfth house) the collective creates.

A conflict between signs and houses usually says a lot, for instance Sun in Libra in the first house may mean that on the deeper levels (signs) ideas stem mostly from the universal level, but they have to be worked out in a very individual way (the first house), thus one has to create something very personal from collective ideas. Good examples might be Rimbaud, Diderot and Kari Suomalainen (a well known Finnish caricaturist). If the Sun is in Aries but in the seventh house, ideas may be individual, but they have to be worked out using strictly collective methods. Good examples might be Gogol, Rajneesh, Erich Fromm, Pablo Picasso.

Alan Leo emphasized the importance of the signs for geniuses, according to Leo houses are not as important for geniuses as they are for ordinary mortals. Even the most personal type of genius has its roots on inner universal levels. A genius is never limited - in creative work - by personal circumstances (houses). Often the strongest indicators of talents and genius are to be found in dwads, but to be fully developed dwads usually need outlets on the radix level. If there are now radix outlets, creative partnerships, with some strong dwad conjunctions in synastry, may be of help.


Dwads are a secondary Sign influence underlying the exact degree and minute of the "PLANET". Dwads reveal an added dimension and can give outstanding supplemental information, especially for those working on deeper and more psychological levels. (5.)
This article was first published in Today's Astrologer, the bulletin of the American Federation of Astrologers. Many astrologers are familiar with a Hindu system of division of the sign of the zodiac into two and one half degree segments called dwadashamsas. Manilius, a Latin astrologer born about the time of Jesus, was also aware of this type of division. He called the two and one half degree segments Dodecatemories, meaning the twelfth part of a sign.

Manilius begins by describing the dodecatemories in much the same way as the generally accepted Hindu method. The first segment of a sign is ruled by the sign itself, the second by the next sign, and so on. Thus, the first two and one half degrees of Taurus are ruled by Taurus, and 22 1/2 to 25 degrees of Scorpio are ruled by Leo. Practice will make this calculation come naturally. One guide is that the dodecatemory which begins a decanate is always ruled by a sign of the same element as the sign in which you are working.

Manilius diverges from the commonly accepted modern usage of dodecatemories, or dwads, at this point, adding an interesting twist. In considering the dodecatemory of a given planet, he stresses the relationship of that planet to the placement of the Sun in the chart.


The true genius combines these two extremes. He is quick as the orderly and rich as the disorderly. - Novalis

Often the greatest chaos creates the greatest clarity and order, although not without work (Saturn). Novalis said that the orderly type will quickly progress to a certain stage, but will stay there. A less orderly one will not progress as quickly, but he will go on towards a heavenly translucence, self-enlightenment, which is seldom reached by the orderly type.

Saturn seems to be the best friend of geniuses - geniuses usually have both the ability and the inclination to work hard. Without Saturn a potential genius might just be fascinated by her or his Neptunian abundance of ideas without ever doing anything constructive with all those ideas. Then even the best ideas might just scatter around, floating formless high up in the air without ever touching the ground. Anything catching the attention of a Neptunian may start a new flow of ideas and keep it going indefinitely, unless Saturn sets up some limits. According to Friedrich Nietzsche all great men have been great workers, not only tirelessly discovering but discriminating, adapting, arranging their ideas.

"The source of genius is imagination alone, the refinement of the senses that sees what others do not see, or sees them differently", wrote Eugène Delacroix (Sun opposition Neptune). According to Novalis genius is an ability to see and handle imaginary things like they were real, this is for Novalis something completely different from clear observation. Thus an ability to describe well one's observations is not yet a sign of a genius. Without an ability to handle imaginary things as real you are just a half-genius, your talents may never develop into a full-blown genius. To this development you need a strong Saturn.


When human power becomes so great and original that we can account for it only as a kind of divine imagination, we call it genius. - William Crashaw

John Keats (Sun conjunct Neptune) said that geniuses have no individuality, no determined character. But although a genius as a phenomenon is universal, with "no individuality", the genius as a person is still a man or a woman, a human being, an individual. Perhaps a very complicated personality, but still an individual, with all the problems any individual will have. A genius may even have more problems...

According to Henry D. Aiken Hegel (Sun conjunct Neptune) tried all his life to act as a secretary for the absolute. This attitude is typically Neptunian. It is not a question of having a weak ego, as is sometimes said of Neptunians. On the contrary, a person with a weak ego couldn't handle the pressure of powerful creative energies flowing through her or him. Yet a very strong ego isn't very good either. A genius needs a resilient personality with a moderately strong ego and with a capability to surrender one's own will. According to Schopenhauer an ordinary man has one third intelligence and two thirds will, in a genius it is just the opposite.

Some geniuses - especially those with a very strong Saturn - find their creative genius late in life, usually after having given up their egocentric beliefs and will. "According to old wisdom genius means getting rid of your will, and I am more and more beginning to believe that", said a Finnish writer, Olavi Siippainen (Sun conjunct Neptune). Most geniuses understand this instinctively, for instance, Louis Pasteur (Sun conjunct Neptune), said that the greatest disorder of the mind is "to let will direct belief."


The difference between insanity and genius is success. - Jonathan Price

For Otto Weininger genius meant conquering chaos and mystery. A genius - as any Neptunian - needs a creative outlet to avoid a frustrating inner chaos, perhaps even madness. Both science and art can offer a way out of the inner chaos. For instance, for Lichtenberg (Sun conjunct Neptune) writing was a way to handle his own abundant inner mess.

For many geniuses nothing else matters than their creative work, sometimes they work so much that they totally burn themselves out. Tatu Vaaskivi (a Finnish writer, Sun conjunct Neptune) had an enormous amount of energy and an ability to push everything else aside, he concentrated intensely on his creativity but also squandered his powerful energies doing many things. According to Markku Ihonen Tatu Vaaskivi "died because of old age at 30".

Popular mythology talks about how close genius is to madness. And there has also been a lot of research on psychotic tendencies in creative people, for instance J.L. Karlsson (in 1978) got the following results in studying the frequency of psychosis in different types of great men:

philosophers 40 %
poets 35 %
painters 35 %
writers 30 %
mathematicians 25 %

H.J. Eysenck reports a similar study of frequency of serious psychopathological symptoms (Genius: The Natural History of Creativity, 1995):

writers 46 %
artists 38 %
composers 31 %
thinkers 26 %
scientists 18 %
politicians 17 %

According to these results politicians and scientists seem to have less psychopathological symptoms, philosophers and writers more, but we never know how much these results, like any other research results of such a difficult subject as genius, are influenced by our inability to understand geniuses. When we do not know what to do with geniuses, we may just label them. As Ezra Pound said: The concept of genius as akin to madness has been carefully fostered by the inferiority complex of the public.

Humanistic thinkers like Abraham Maslow have, instead of madness, emphasized self-expression and self-actualization both in geniuses and other creative people. Yet this view has its opponents too, for instance R. Ochse (Before The Gates Of Excellence, The determinants of creative genius, 1990) concludes, that results do not support humanistic views, which are based on the humanists' own rosy viewpoints, not on research. According to Ochse Adler and Freud, and others of their kind , knew better, Adler in emphasizing inferiority feelings, and Freud in seeing creativity as a way to channel energies from frustrated emotional blockages elsewhere.


My experience is, that the best writers resemble each other. ... Perhaps 'genius' is something ordinary. - Olof Lagercrantz, Finnish writer

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson the greatest power of a genius is in its lack of originality. A genius tunes into everything in a typically Neptunian way. The roots of a genius or the real origins of the works of a genius cannot be known exactly. A genius creates because a genius has to create, in ideal case the will is not involved. According to Arthur Schopenhauer genius means an ability, at least at times, to give up your own purposes and your will, a genius is then just a conscious subject, a clear "world-eye"...

In fact, the roots of creativity go always beyond the personality. For Marshall McLuhan (Sun conjunct Neptune) the whole idea of personal creativity is dangerous. And according to Lichtenberg (Sun conjunct Neptune) a writer has to describe what most people think and feel without conscious awareness. In true creativity it's not so important who is the original father or mother of an idea, instead it's important to use - any existing ideas - well in order to express something meaningful, in a way others will be able understand.

For instance Shakespeare quoted, as many researchers have said, almost everything he found, but he used the material well. In fact, this is what most of the best creators do, because the best things have already been said, a genius just puts his own touch on the material. Often what we commonly see as original, isn't original at all. It's not original to say something others don't say. It's original to say something exactly the way you experience it, no matter whether others say it in a similar way or not. "Originality consists in thinking for yourself, and not in thinking unlike other people", said J. Fitzjames Stephen (Leo, Neptune in Aquarius).

Thus you can be original in your thinking and still think the way everyone does. Or you can think in another way than most, and yet without originality. If you are original, you make something interesting out of anything, because your approach will be so unique that even an old subject becomes new in your hands. Paradoxically, in the world of geniuses originality is common: In the world of ordinary mortals a genius may be original, in the world of geniuses he is something ordinary. He opens new vistas for ordinary mortals, geniuses just recognize a brother.

Although geniuses may resemble each other, many of them also resemble ordinary people. In astrology we can say very little of what kind of a chart a genius might have. According to Dane Rudhyar charts of many artistic or literary geniuses may resemble the charts of a psychotic in an insane asylum...

Even with some clear horoscopic indications of a potential genius we do not know - without other information - whether the potential was ever developed to a full-blown genius, or whether the potential genius succumbed, because of her or his Neptunian sensitivity, to difficult environmental pressures. Bertrand Russell (Saturn-Neptune square) said that although all geniuses we know have conquered they difficult circumstances, we cannot assume that there wouldn't be others who have succumbed when young.

As to great and commanding talents, they are the gift of Providence in some way unknown to us. They rise where they are least expected. They fail when everything seems disposed to produce them, or at least to call them forth. - Edmund Burke (4.)

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Use your own discretion while trying them. Meditation is a person's own journey to his inner self. What may suits some people may not suits everybody. If you are ill or weak, take your doctor's advice before trying meditation. Again - use your own discretion.

Though meditation has been shown to be helpful in certain medical conditions, it should never be considered as a substitute for medical treatment, for psychological or psychiatric counseling, or for needed medication.

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(1.) Antero Alli: http://www.verticalpool.com
(2.) The Role of the Least Aspected Planet in
       Astrocartography. Planetary Symbolism in Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology,
       by Robert Couteau: http://www.dominantstar.com/tpluto.htm
(3.) Linda Brady: http://www.creativechoices.com/article/fear.htm
(4.) http://koti.mbnet.fi/neptunia/nepwords.htm
(5.) MARS by Carol Willis, MA: http://medicinegarden.com/astrology/cw_mars.html

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