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An Integrated View of the Outer Planets

Master’s Musings, January 2024

An Integrated View of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto

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Master's Musings
On December 7, 8 and 9, 2023, I did a long online program for my Chinese students. It was  called “Working With The Invisible Planets.” The teaching went well, but it was tough going for me  – three back to back six-hour classes, running from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm each day, starting on a Thursday. That timing corresponded to the class opening at 8:00 on Friday morning in China, so it worked well at their end, but not so well for this “morning person.”
Even though those hours were hard for me, I am glad I did it. There are many reasons for that – I love my Chinese students, for starters – but the main one is that much to my surprise I actually learned something new, fundamental, and, at least to me, rather eye-popping about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. That kind of surprising serendipity happens sometimes – I’m going over what I think of as familiar territory, and suddenly a new understanding comes into focus. Lightning strikes and in a flash I feel the way I felt studying astrology when I was 19 years old. Back then, those lucid moments happened frequently – astrology felt like a rich, new continent where I was always tripping over unexpected nuggets of gold. Those lightning bolt experiences are less common for me now, but I’m grateful that they still happen from time to time. Fresh astrological mysteries and patterns still reveal themselves.
About my new insight into Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto – let me give you a little background first so everyone is up to speed. In the FCEA 300 courses, we go deeply into each of the planets, singly or in groups. One of those groups, which we study in FCEA 304, is about this trio. They’re very different beasts, but we link them together under the banner of “The Invisible Planets” – and what that means is simply that we can’t see them unless we use a telescope.
The “invisibility” of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto is of course a literal reality, but it also provides a fine metaphor – we can only really get to the higher potentials of these three bodies if we use “unnatural means.” Here’s what I mean. Mars might do its job well simply by instinctive reflex – we see a bear and we run away, for example. Not so with our invisible worlds. To get each of them right, we have to go beyond the natural reflexes and instincts of our “monkey bodies,” and that never happens automatically. It takes something more than our inborn instincts – something that doesn’t arise naturally or spontaneously in us.
  • Uranus requires individuation – we must overcome our herd instinct and truly think for ourselves. Nobody does that on automatic pilot.
  • Neptune requires an expansion of consciousness. We must overcome our instinctive sense of our separateness from everything else – that means our reflexive identification with our physical bodies and our egos, not to mention their preservation.
  • Pluto requires brave inner work. We must overcome our natural defensiveness in relation to our own shadow, our wounds, and our unconscious mind. We must acknowledge the unknown and the uncontrollable. We must face psychic fear. We must recognize our own mortality. We must let our guard down.
All of this is familiar territory to any of our students who have gotten past our 300-level courses – and really, to anyone who has been studying evolutionary astrology for very long in any fashion. We’ve not yet arrived at my “light-bulb moment.” To get there, we need to add another layer to our thinking.
In my Chinese program, I told the story of how at some long-ago astrology conference, I was invited to be on a panel tasked with “finding God in the chart.” Lots of the panelists pointed to the Neptune, Pisces, 12th House family of symbols. In practice, that’s a helpful answer. But I disagreed. I told everyone to look outside the circle of the chart – the space outside it is what represents God to me. 


  • Everything in the chart represents your personality – your “ego,” in the technical psychological sense of the word. The mystery we call God lies beyond all of that. (Neptune doesn’t).  
  • Astrologically – or astronomically – that realization directs our attention to the space beyond Neptune and Pluto, or more properly, to the space beyond our solar system.
At the deepest level, the purpose of life lies in reaching a kind of mingling transparency with that vast spaciousness. Call it “God” – or enlightenment, salvation, heaven, satori, nirvana, cosmic consciousness. The words don’t matter – in fact, at that level of being, words only get in the way.
Everything I’ve said so far is material I’ve taught for years. Most of you are quite familiar with it. My lightbulb moment as I prepared my notes for that Chinese class, came when I realized there was a natural, step-by-step sequencing of Uranus to Neptune, to Pluto – and from there, into the Great Beyond. What I found was something we might call “the unified field theory” of the invisible planets.
I can make this clear most easily if I start in the middle, with Neptune. In The Book of Neptune, I introduced the planet as “the window” between the ego-mind and the deep space of consciousness itself. Neptune isn’t the soul – it works more like an interface between individual consciousness and the vastness of what lies beyond it. Meanwhile the light of the mysteries shines back into our lives through that same Neptunian “window.”


  • The paradox of windows is that they are both inside and outside the house – and that’s Neptune. It’s the part of the ego that can potentially look beyond itself. 
Looking through Neptune’s window gives us an entirely different perspective on what it means to be human. We realize that we are composed of consciousness. Flesh and bones are only substances we inhibit briefly (and repeatedly) on our deeper journey. From that Neptunian perspective, life looks totally different to us than it does to the rest of the human race. Probably the clearest illustration of that principle is that, from Neptune’s viewpoint, death isn’t really such a big deal – try popularizing that idea at your local shopping mall and you’ll see what I mean by thinking differently from the rest of the human race! 
To even begin to think in Neptunian fashion, we must separate ourselves from that collective, “shopping mall” mentality. We must, in other words, individuate – and that’s why everything in this invisible planet sequence starts with Uranus. I began to realize that, while Uranus has many meanings and applications, its most fundamental purpose is to be the first step on our journey to the “outer space” beyond Pluto. 
As we begin to think of ourselves as souls rather than as hungry, horny, angry monkeys, we have definitely left the “shopping mall.”


  • Uranus allows us the freedom to get to Neptune. With it, we escape the materialistic “common sense” illusions of consensual reality.
Gazing through that Neptunian window into the mysteries beyond it is tricky. That’s because the window is dirty. It’s cluttered with what Buddhists call “obscurations” – or what a modern psychotherapist would call “our personal issues.” This is where Pluto enters the story. 
Say there’s a woman who actively identifies herself as being “on the spiritual path.” She’s the real deal. She’s sincere about it – but let’s also say that she hates her father, maybe with good reason. Still, fairly or unfairly, her unresolved hatred of her father “dirties her window.” If she could get past that hatred, she would see through the window more clearly. None of this is about morality. None of it is about right or wrong. It’s simply a fact – dirt on a window makes it harder to see through it, period. Philosophy has nothing to do with it.
Our Neptunian windows are always dirty, one way or another. We all have unresolved karma, in other words. That’s why we’re here in these monkey-bodies in the first place. If something scared us in our childhoods (or in a prior life), when we look through the window we see fearful things. If we were conditioned by easiness and a coddled existence, we expect evolution to not require effort. If we were embattled, we project “war” onto every process and experience. 
Obviously, there’s a place for the south node of the Moon in our thinking here, but let’s just file all of those karmic issues under “our obscurations.” The point is that dealing with them is Pluto work. That’s how we clean our windows.
Here’s the sequence. With Uranus, we begin to look beyond the normal human reality of life lived unreflectively and instinctively. We began to sense that the tribe may have missed something truly fundamental about the purpose of life. “Normal” people – the ones dominated by ego, hunger, fear, and aggression, in other words –  may, in fact, have missed the whole point of human existence. 
With Neptune, some light starts to shine through that muck, flowing in from the higher realms – and, fascinated, we begin to turn our attention in that beguiling direction. The more we see that great light, the hungrier we become for it – and that soon brings us face to face with resistance: our psychological and karmic issues. We realize that our journey to the Light must route through the Darkness. 
Pluto work is difficult, but as we loosen the shackles of our own madness, we stop wasting energy on life’s dramas. With that energy redirected, we become powerful enough to make the great leap into the vastness – a vastness that has been our true nature all along, only we didn’t know it. 


  • In that “empowerment,” we feel the shamanic dimensions of Pluto. 
With the discovery of Eris in 2005, the realm of the “Trans-Neptunian Objects” – the TNO’s – opened up. Pluto is really one of them – that’s mainly why the astronomers downgraded it from a full planet in their nomenclature. Rather uniquely, Pluto weaves in and out over Neptune’s orbit. That orbital quirk is a big subject, but it provides us with what I think is the reason we experience Pluto with such power and intensity – again, it’s like a shaman journeying to the Underworld, then coming back to the “village” of our everyday minds with some heavy, but ultimately empowering, messages.
I believe that the TNOs are emerging as a map of the unconscious mind and the archetypes which animate it. That’s a big subject too. Suffice to say that beyond the realm of the TNOs – which is the karmic and psychological minefield we must navigate as we liberate ourselves – we meet the realm of deep space. We meet the thing that since the beginning of human time many of us have called God.
So here in skeleton form is the model that dawned on me as I was preparing my Chinese class. I think of it as the “unified field theory of the invisible planets:”


  • Uranian individuation allows us to realize that “the obvious, common sense truths of life” are mostly an illusion.
  • That liberating Uranian realization gives us the freedom to “get weird enough” to believe the insights, experiences, and information we sense streaming in through Neptune’s window. We stop dismissing them as “craziness.” 
In our desire to see through that window more clearly, we feel compelled to clean it. We begin to deal with our own issues – mostly the fears, angers, resentments, and desires that separate us from the rest of life. That Plutonian process simultaneously clears us and energizes us enough to make a leap in consciousness – one that takes us eventually beyond these bodies and entirely beyond this time-bound, three-dimensional world.
Steven Forrest
January 2024