The Romantic Age – When Neptune served as Mankind’s Muse

Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog 1818
“The Wanderer above a Sea of Fog” by Caspar David Friedrich

“Ertrinken. Versinken. Unbewusst, Hochste Lust!” –
“To drown. To fully submerge. Unconscious, Utmost Ecstasy!”
-Final words from Richard Wagner’s Neptunian immersed musical masterpiece,“Tristan Und Isolde”.

Wuthering Heights. Civil Disobedience. Faust. Jane Eyre. Madame Bovary. The House of the the Seven Gables. Leaves of Grass. Moby Dick. The Charge of the Light Brigade. Dziady. The Raven. La Traviata. The Flight of The Valkyries. The Red Shoes.

What do the above have in common?

They are all works of High Art made during that particular time period of heightened human creativity better known as The Romantic Period, an artistic movement which spanned much of the 19th century that reached its pinnacle during the years following Mankind’s observational discovery of the planet  Neptune in 1846.

From a historical perspective, anything which defines a particular time of human history, be it art, architecture, clothing, and/or political propaganda, etc. can never be removed from, or taken outside of the context from which it was created.

Planetary gas-balled giants of the bluish-green variety are no exception to this timely rule.

In my piece which focused on Neptune’s discovery, I mentioned how there were more than a few occasions when the watery planet’s waves came critically close to breaking over the seawall of Man’s conscious awareness.  However, despite trickling through humanity’s fingers during those close calls of planetary discovery, the Law of Context dictates Neptune’s waters are forever pinned in the bell jar of Man’s Knowledge of the Working Universe with a base placard labeled “1846”.

Part of Neptune’s karmic legacy for the residents of Earth is that Mankind was “destined” to discover the watery planet’s existence at that particular time just before the mid-point of the 19th century.

For as above, is below.

The “As Above, Is Below” Conditional Effect Behind the Discoveries of the Generational Planets

It’s no cosmic fluke that Uranus, the planet which in Astrology embodies the archetypal energies of anarchy and rebellion was discovered in the year 1781, smack dab in the middle of two of the bloodiest revolutionary wars in Western History, the American in 1776 and the French in 1789. Nor can one say it was simply a matter of random cosmic timing when the planet which astrologically oversees all things taboo, forbidden, subconscious, and power obsessive, Pluto, was discovered. Mankind learned of the existence of the furthest orbiting planet within our Solar System in 1930, a time when organized crime was at the height of its power over American society by controlling anything made illegally taboo through prohibition and when the collective subconscious of entire countries were being brainwashed by the growing displays of rising totalitarian regimes in Europe.

Neptune’s Influence Strengthens, Then & Now

The volley of debate behind Neptune’s rightful discoverer is reduced to lesser significance when realizing not long after humanity discovered its existence, Neptune transited through its own sign of Pisces. From 1847 to 1861 the Watery Planet’s energies were at their strongest potency over the residents of Earth. A period of heightened creativity began where masterpieces were made within every creative art form known to Man otherwise known as The Romantic Age.

A similar influence of the Watery Planet’s energies is currently taking place now within the 21st century. This same cosmic current will be a major force of creative and cultural influence as Neptune transits through its own sign from now until 2025.

This same potency of Neptunian influence is happening once more in the modern day.  Neptune has again entered its ruling sign of Pisces as it did during the height of the Romantic Movement, however this will be the first time in Man’s recorded history that the watery planet is transiting its ruling sign after making a full orbital cycle around the Sun since its discovery.

Perhaps providing an overview as to how intrinsically Neptunian society became during the watery planet’s last dip in its own oceanic like sign might sway everyone into realizing the same influence of creative and spiritual potential experienced by the residents of Earth during the Romantic Age is once again within our reach as Neptune freestyles through the waters of its ruling sign of Pisces between now and 2025.

A Tidal Wave of High Art – Neptune in Pisces

In the decades following its discovery, the planet Neptune took the shape of Mankind’s Muse as evidenced by some of the most exemplary works of Art being made during this time from nearly every medium of human creativity –  Poetry, Opera, Painting, Literature, Ballet, Orchestral Music, Philosophy, & Written Prose. Astrologically, the range of years associated most with these exemplary expressions of Romantic ingenuity, namely from 1846 to 1861 are also known as Neptune’s transit through the sign of its rulership, Pisces.

“The Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings”

Despite most scholars believing the artistic movement known as the Romantic Period was said to have begun a half century before the watery planet’s discovery during the final years of the 18th century, its foundation is inherently Neptunian in essence all the same. Many theorize  Romanticism began in 1798 with the publication of “Lyrical Ballads”, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the preface, Wordsworth describes Poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”

A tad Neptunian sounding, no?

Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge

Many believe the Romantic Period began in 1798 with the publication of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge‘s joint poetic efforts entitled “Lyrical Ballads

The Romantic Movement validated the power of human emotion as one of, if not the authentic source of aesthetic experience and was rooted in the German “Sturm und Drang” movement, which prized intuition and emotion over Enlightenment rationalism.

Beginning with that most Neptunian of art forms, Poetry, and eventually washing across every other form of creativity we humans deem as “Art”, the Romantic Movement produced aesthetic works which many within the cultural elite still consider to be the highest standards of creative self expression to this very day.

A short list of just a few of the major innovators of the Romantic Movement emphasizes the cross cultural power the watery planet had over every artistic medium known to society in the mid 19th century:

Emily Dickinson, Marquis de Sade, Ludwig van Beethoven, Walt Whitman, Jane Austen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Goethe, Frederic Chopin, William Blake, Richard Wagner, Mary Shelley, Wilhelm Grimm, Hector Berlioz, Victor Hugo, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Thomas Carlyle, Alexander Pushkin, Gustave Flaubert, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Jean-Auguste Ingres, Caspar Friedrich, John Constable, James Fenimore Cooper, Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, John Everett Millais, Friedrich von Schlegel, Gaetano Donizetti

Romanticism not only stood as a cultural movement in its own right, it also was a sociological counteraction to the hyper-intellectualized periods both before and after which focused strictly on the Rational Mind that had previously occurred with The Age of Enlightenment and was to follow afterwards with The Industrial Age.

Returning once more to the aforementioned group of artistic masters who served as some of the Romantic Movement’s greatest sources of influence, a thread of commonality runs through the entire list of every artistic name provided.

Hint: It’s more than the obvious common denominator of all parties currently being dead.

Each and every notorious name of Romantic artistry listed above was born beneath one of the four “Mutable” signs of Gemini, Virgo, Pisces, & Sagittarius.

Astrologically similar in theme, all but one of the key players involved with Neptune’s observational discovery were born under Mutable signs, including the man who rightfully deserves the laurels of finding the planet of the intangible by the most intangible of means, Piscean, Urbaine Le Verrier.

Of the three astrological “qualities”, Fixed, Cardinal, & Mutable, Neptune’s un-real, intangible, formless essence can only be housed under the quality known for adaptability, change, and anything considered non-regimen, that being Mutable.

The astrological commandment “As above, Is below” fits in almost too tightly with Neptune, since the mutable planet displayed its most potent influence over our world through the numerous examples of incomparable Art made during the Romantic Period, a good portion of which were created by artists born beneath any of the 4 Mutable signs.

The Quintessential Neptune Captured in Romantic Music and Painting

Among the seemingly endless expressions of High Art created during the Romantic Period, I thought it best to highlight two works in particular. These masterpieces from the mediums of painting and music to me best embody the impassioned force of inspiration that raged within the hearts of artists from every form of expression during this Neptunian period of history.  The two works also capture the watery planet’s most powerful influence over humanity.  An influence that when inadequately put into words is best described as that moment when the self becomes completely immersed and thoroughly dissolves into “The Other“.

Both works of art were created by Mutable sign born artists and made within five years of each other, the first made five years following Neptune’s discovery in 1851.


John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851
“Ophelia” by James Everett Millais, 1851

“When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.”

– The death of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

English society discovered the detail rich, heavily Neptunian influenced art of John Everett Millais the same year Neptune was discovered, when the young Gemini artist first exhibited his work at London’s Royal Academy in 1846.

Millais paints one of Shakespeare’s most dramatic moments that isn’t actually witnessed on stage in his play, “Hamlet“.  Ophelia’s watery death is told to us in retrospect by Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, who witnesses the girl’s Neptunian demise from afar.

At the time of her death, Ophelia’s weak and overly sensitive mind has been driven thoroughly insane by Hamlet relentlessly harping on the girl’s fragile state of being . The young prince constantly questions if his former girlfriend’s virginity is in tact by barraging Ophelia with dramatic asides, at one point famously hissing that she should join a particularly  Neptunian establishment, “Get Thee To A Nunnery!“.

By the time Queen Gertrude witnesses the psychologically damaged maid from afar, Ophelia is so mentally removed from reality, she wanders about in a hazy Neptunian La La Land, singing sing songy rhymes only a child would utter. As she climbs a tree stationed by a heavily flowing river, the thick Neptunian fog of Ophelia’s misperception causes her to miss a branch in mid-reach, forcing her to fall deep beneath the river’s surface into a watery grave.

Millais’ portrait captures Ophelia just moments after crashing into the river when she is at first uplifted by Neptune’s element before the very stuff associated with human emotion and mental psychosis drags her beneath the waves, making her a permanent fixture in her own dream world of death.

The evolved and unevolved powers of Neptune are simultaneously and equally represented in Millais’ painting. One may view Ophelia through the pitiful, martyr-like lens of the watery planet, and like Gertrude, regret the “poor wretch” had to even exist, or a very different perspective can be taken by seeing a mentally abused girl visually captured in a state of peaceful bliss, who relishes leaving this lonely plane of misunderstood existence as she is immersed to become one with Ecstasy, itself.

Wagner’s Liebestod – “The Death of Love”

Many of the Romantic greats turned to the past as a way of expressing their emotional core selves, with many looking back to the Middle Ages, a time rife with both magic and uncertainty. This most definitely was the case for German composer Richard Wagner when he wrote his operatic masterpiece “Tristan und Isolde” in 1857.

John William Waterhouse Tristan and Isolde
“Tristan and Isolde” by John William Waterhouse

T&I is for the most part “Romeo & Juliet” but with a whole lot of magic thrown in for extra tragic effect.  Rather than the action occurring within fair Verona’s walls, a more apropos locale for this piece would be Hogwart’s School of Wizardry from Harry Potter.

T&I, like R&J, are star crossed lovers, the son and daughter of two warring families in ancient Ireland. Whereas Friar Lawrence’s magic potions in R&J are  based on the monk’s knowledge of herbs, flowers, and plants, the foundation of T&I is thoroughly of a manipulative magic nature.  The Knight and Maiden unknowingly drink a powerful love potion and with their first gaze of each other, fall hopelessly and helplessly in a state of undying heavenly love.

And when one is in a state of rapturous joy from being blissfully in love and that emotional ecstasy is equally reciprocated – there’s going to be Hell to pay.  The two lovers become separated by force and with Tristan being that big Knight of a softie that he now magically is, cannot possibly see any reason to continue living if Isolde is nowhere within 500 ft. of his person. His only alternative is to stab himself in the heart. While in the process of shredding his love organ to bits, who should pay a surprise visit and come upon the gallant knight writhing in self inflicted misery but Isolde, herself.

Isolde is reunited with her Love of Loves …..only to have him expire in her arms.

Knowing that life is now futile without her Tristan, the Irish heroine whips up a powerful potion of her own and proceeds to down every poisonous drop of the deadly draught.

As her physical self sinks beneath the poison’s heavy grip, Isolde’s  spiritual self rises with inspiration, knowing she will be free of this veil of tears and soon to be reunited once more with her valiant Knight through the complete immersion of Death.

The last musical segment of the opera “Tristan und Isolde” is the “Liebestod”, in English “The Death of Love“, an aria Isolde sings as she dies in a state of transfixed ecstasy. The father of the modern full scale orchestra, Gemini Richard Wagner, begins the Liebestod with barely a whisper, Isolde sings the opening words with a hushed tone of acceptance, “Mild und Leise” , “Mildly and Quietly”. As Isolde’s consciousness begins to swoon, Wagner’s lush music expands into a sweeping sea of sound, completely surrounding the medieval maiden as she takes her last breath.

The opening lines of this article are the final words exclaimed by Isolde as she is washed away into the “utmost bliss” of unconsciousness, surrendering herself completely to the Neptunian “other”, while we the audience are swept out to the sea of the sublime with the closing chords which end Wagner’s opus of Romantic genius.

The video version of the “Liebestod” which can be viewed below is performed by the great Jessye Norman, a soprano who happens to be born under the mutable sign of Virgo. In other words, the piece is sung by a mutable signed artist interpreting the Neptunian influenced art of a mutable signed master of music. Ms. Norman’s interpretation of Isolde is Neptunian in every way. The soprano’s face expresses total and absolute transcendant bliss as her artistic self fully dissolves into “the Other”of oblivion with the final words “Unbewusst, Hochste Lust”. (7:21 – 7:40 of video)

Doesn’t get more Neptunian than that…….or does it?

As it did in 1847 through 1861, Neptune is traversing through the sign of its rulership, Pisces, from 2011 until 2025. While the watery planet makes its powerful presence known to modern society as it did during the Romantic Period, do we:

– allow ourselves to be swept away by the current of cultural change, establishing a never before witnessed artistic movement that is uniquely ours in the 21st century?


– do we get dragged far from shore by the undercurrent of individualized isolation, becoming lost at sea from Neptune’s jagged waves of societal chaos, confusion, & deception?

As above, is below……

The great Jessye Norman surrenders herself to the Neptunian waters of ecstasy as she sings Isolde’s death aria the “Liebestod” or “Death of Love” from Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” with the NY Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta conducting.

* Humanity’s discovery of Neptune and its subsequent Romantic Age which followed is such a crucial period of human evolution, Brad has written a book about it.  Entitled “The Discovery of Neptune & Its Ensuing Romantic Age” it can be purchased at  Click on the image of Neptune below to get a complete listing of all of Brad’s published work:


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