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Neptune & Psychological Fusion, The Astro Psyche Podcast, Ep. 6

Welcome! In this Episode 6 of The Astro Psyche Podcast, I explored:

  • Neptune in astrology as a symbol of psychological fusion

  • What psychological fusion means in Bowen Family Systems psychological theory

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Disclaimer: this video may feel therapeutic but it is not therapy. This video and/or discussions about astrology and depth psychology cannot substitute for legal, medical, business, or financial advice, or professional mental health care.


Hey there, welcome to The Astro Psyche Podcast. My name is Shawna Marie McGrath. I'm an astrologer in San Diego, CA. And this is my podcast. This is episode six of The Astro Psyche Podcast. I want to share with you my thoughts on Neptune and psychological fusion.

This is based on a an article or paper that I wrote for a family systems course in my MA in counseling program. And I wrote this a while ago and I knew that I wanted to share it at some point and today's that day.

Side note, I love synchronicity as some of you know. And I had been thinking about this particular topic and this paper and I pulled it out this morning. And when I pulled it out, I happened to look at the chart of the moment. And Neptune was right on the ascendant, so when I'm recording this it's about 11:50 AM. in San Diego on December 16th, 2022, and I thought that was such a perfect calling from Neptune that it's like, yes, talk. Talk about me now.

I wanted to talk through this a little bit. I'm not sharing the entire article, but I want to share the parts that I think that you may find interesting and that you may resonate with or see either in your own life or maybe people that you know.

As always, take what is helpful and chew on it. Sit with it. And I always love hearing from you and knowing how things click or how things resonate with you.

I was inspired to write this topic because the prompt for this paper was to write about our own personal experience with our family system and apply a family systems psychological modality to our experience. When I was looking at this, I chose Bowen Family Systems. There's many different theories and ways or models of viewing family systems. Bowen is one particular style.

Bowen Family Systems especially looks at the family from a multi generational perspective. So it looks at the family, not just from a systems perspective, as in when an individual comes in with a certain problem or symptom. We're not just looking at the individual, we're looking at the whole family as sort of like one big psychological organism. Which is really cool and Bowen Family Systems does this: they look at several generations. And to me this is very astrological because it's basically looking for patterns. It's looking for psychological patterns of behavior that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Bowen Family Systems also highly emphasizes the balancing between individual autonomy and relational connection. That's their big thing is that we want to have both. We want to have the ability to have our own sense of secure self and power within ourselves. And our ability to understand what's mine versus yours versus theirs. That concept in Jungian terms would be called individuation. And then we also want to cultivate this ability to stay connected to one another. Even in the face of conflict or disagreement.

I wanted to bring in Neptune here because I saw this Neptune theme when I was considering my family system. When I'm saying this, it wasn't that I saw Neptune in the charts of my family members. Though that could have been the case, and I think that's definitely if you have consent from your family members, it's very interesting to look at their charts and yours and the synastry patterns that are happening there. But this is more what I'm more saying is that when I was looking at the relational dynamics. You know, the little bits that I know from one generation to the next, I was like, oh, there's a lot of Neptune here. I'm seeing and feeling and hearing this psychological pattern that is very reminiscent of Neptune. And this is so important for me because astrology is a language that helps me understand things more, and so that's why I wanted to get at it this way, because Neptune really helped me unfold and understand more of my family system and my way of being within the system.

To bring in more of the planetary archetypes, the cultural historian Richard Tarnas wrote in his book Cosmos and Psyche that planetary archetypes are considered to be both Jungian (psychological) and Platonic (metaphysical). So this means that they are, he said, universal essences, or forms that are at once intrinsic to and independent of the human mind. That they are not only timeless universals, but that they are also co-creatively inactive and recursively affected through human participation.

So that was kind of a mouthful. What he's basically saying here is that is that planetary archetypes are universal. They are present in all times in all places. They are always present. Both in our human mind and in the natural world. And not only that, but that they are, he said, co-creatively enacted. So what he means by this is they are living and experiencing in this participatory way of expressing as well as receiving archetypal themes. I think this is so cool as it's like we're experiencing. I see and I feel and I hear Neptune in these stories. And then also my way of being is expressing Neptune. And it's elaborating the archetype itself, so it's kind of this like feedback loop, if that makes sense. That might be really nerdy, but I find it super interesting.

From this understanding, this archetypal energy is universally present within humanity, and it's emphasized in diverse ways based on our actions. The planetary archetype of Neptune in particular, according to Tarnas, it's associated with with alternate states of consciousness. He said these are things such as dreams, visions, mysticism, religious devotion. And also humanitarian issues such as universal compassion.

Tarnas also pointed out Neptune's challenging correlations, which some of you may be familiar with, so these are, I'll say, his words, and then we'll unpack it a little bit. So he said the impulse to surrender separative existence and ego control, to dissolve boundaries and structures in favor of underlying unities and undifferentiated wholes. And states of psychological fusion. Now what he's basically saying here is that the challenging experiences of Neptune are this desire to totally surrender your own separate or egoic existence to completely dissolve boundaries. To do that in a desire to merge with one another. To totally give over control of yourself to someone or something else and that it can . . . Neptune, is both associated with mystical experiences where there is this experience of the divine, where the ego dissipates. He's saying that that can also be problematic, and that in order to be a human in the world to take care of our families to pay our bills to nourish and feed ourselves, we do need to have an ego.

I chose his words for this piece, particularly when he said undifferentiated as well as states of psychological fusion. I was like, oh, this is totally speaking to Bowen Family Systems because Bowen Family Systems, one of the concepts that they highlighted so strongly, is undifferentiated versus differentiation. Again, if you're familiar with Jungian psychology, differentiation I think is sort of akin to Jung’s concept of individuation. Let's see, I want to. I want to elaborate on this a little bit more . . .

I wrote that these challenging archetypal themes of Neptune are reminiscent of Bowen Family Systems’ idea of the undifferentiated family ego mass. What the heck is that? So that term undifferentiated family ego mass essentially describes the process of a multi generational transmission where there is excessive emotional reactivity or psychological fusion in families and it's passed down from one generation to the next. In Bowen Family Systems Theory, fusion refers to a blurring of psychological boundaries between self and others. It's this kind of blending with emotional reactivity and an inability to have a clear sense of thought that it's kind of like . . . I don't know if you've ever had this experience where you get like flooded by emotions. In Jungian psychology this would be maybe called being overwhelmed by a complex. Where there's like so much emotional reactivity and I think fusion also can be explained where it's like . . . Fusion is where when someone does something or is a particular way it affects you at a deep level in your inner being, and it means something about you. So when someone maybe gives you feedback about something, or they make a comment that it distresses you and affects you at a very personal level. Now this could be like maybe someone gives you feedback on your work and it feels like they're changing a part of you.

Now this is different than being a highly sensitive person or an empathic person, though I think those of us who are highly sensitive and empathic definitely have a challenge with boundaries and fusion, but it's kind of, it's more than that. It's more than being highly sensitive. It's like there's a fusion of my sense of Self with others. Another way that this could manifest in with fusion is that sometimes again, I don't know maybe you've had this experience where, where you take on the feelings of others, or maybe it's difficult to differentiate between what someone else is feeling and what you're feeling. It can also manifest as not having clear preferences or desires or feelings within yourself things feel kind of like ambiguous or like a chameleon. You're very influenced by the people that you're around. I hope that makes sense, let me know.

Another way and sort of a broad theme, among other things that I noticed is that fusion, this blurring of psychological boundaries in a family system with Neptune, can sort of look like where psychological boundaries are confused or mistaken for unconditional love and compassion or even caretaking. I'm also thinking of the phenomenon of codependence, and when I say codependence, I mean something very particular. I mean codependence is where a person feels responsible for the feelings and actions of others in an excessive kind of way. And so oftentimes that can look like compassion and unconditional love, when in fact, it's this blurring of psychological boundaries. And in fact, maybe that's a really excellent example of a blurring of psychological boundaries is when I feel responsible for the way that you feel or the actions that you take. I feel hat there is something that I can do to have control over the way that you feel, which you know to some extent that that's true, but at the end of the day we have no control over how people feel, how they perceive us, what they do, or how they act and. So that phenomenon is very Neptunian, because there's this blurring of boundaries, and then it's also very connected with Neptunian themes of unconditional love and massive compassion, and even innocence to a certain respect as well.

And so, what can happen? There's a few different things that can happen when there is strain on a family system because of this. Because of this fusion, sometimes there can be triangulation where the classic example is that there's two partners they have a child, the child gets triangulated into being seen as the problem with the child is the one that has the sympto