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As promised, we’ll now look further into what makes Mars/ Neptune a driving force within the natal horoscope. One thing we must understand is that, as with any aspect, just having it in the chart doesn’t guarantee a particular outcome, event, or level of manifestation; and this prompts us to look for what factors may distinguish the chart where the creative impulse to action is extraordinary from the chart where it manifests in a more moderate way, likely overwhelmed by some other factor.

It’s easy to see Mars/ Neptune when it reaches a high level of manifestation in the life of an artist; a perfect case in point is artist, visionary, and writer William Blake (28 November 1757, 7:45 PM LMT, London England). A trained engraver, Blake left his native London only once in his entire life. One of eight siblings, Blake’s family was steeped in mysticism and to a lesser extent, politics, and this permeates his creations–and they must be called ‘creations,’ as his illustrations, engravings, poetry, and prose present an otherworldly perception that reflects his Mars/ Neptune conjunction in Leo, succinctly defined as acting for the glory of God and the Self as creative forces. A Placidus House chart puts Neptune in the 1st and Mars in the 2nd, and we see this as, after a seven year apprenticeship, Blake opened his own engraving and printing shop in the hope of generating income (2nd) to sustain the publications of his personal visions (1st), but he was never able to create a steady flow of income. Perhaps it was the darkness and chaos of his vision (Mars/ Neptune trine Pluto in Fire), or the way he would not compromise his vision or action (Mars/ Neptune opposed Vesta and Saturn), that lead to an inevitable suppression of popularity. The vision and the action to reveal the Cosmic vision (Neptune) were sacred to Blake, and choices based on this might have made Blake feel oppressed or otherwise disregarded (Vesta/ Saturn). He chose to communicate through words and images–Mercury in Water squares Vesta, perpetually stirring conflict between the need to communicate and commune and the need to respect and revere that which he saw as sacred. We have a clue in Mercury’s Water placement as to the driving force behind the impetus to communicate: emotion, and find a 29 degree Cancer Ascendant and a 12th House Cancer Moon sesquiquadrate Mercury as highly descriptive of the ’emotional engine’ behind Blake’s work.

It may be more interesting, though, to inspect the charts of those who were highly creative in fields other than the Arts, and it’s illuminating to note how this aspect manifests repeatedly through families; the state of the aspect picture is often directly indicative of the impact (or lack of it) of the individual along the outlines of accomplishments in the family vein. We see the Mars/ Neptune aspect in significant numbers of family members in the industrialist/ Fiat Agnellis and the shoe manufacturing Ferragamos, but I thought the Bonaparte family offered a good example of the way an aspect that can power greatness (of a kind) in one family member can be less than stellar (that’s an astrology joke!) in another.

Napoleon I (15 August 1769, 11:30 AM LMT, Ajaccio Corsica), who set out to conquer Europe and very nearly succeeded (and who believed himself to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great), had Mars conjunct Neptune in Virgo in the 10th of public reputation and career (and we musn’t forget that the public nature of the 10th can translate career as ‘one’s impact on the world’). The conjunction shares the 10th with Pallas, the Sun, and Ceres, all in Leo. Our attention then jumps to the Moon at 29 degrees of Capricorn, with Saturn ruling the 3rd and the Moon ruling the 9th–this man had the emotional imperative to conquer something! Conjunction ruler Mercury in Leo and Moon ruler Saturn in Cancer (thus placing the Moon and Saturn in Mutual Reception) oppose the Moon, and here is the fuel for the creative engine, the accomplishments manifesting in the 10th arena. We should also note the exact conjunction of the South Node and Vesta–whether this stems from a former life as Alexander or not, this man felt his past was sacred, and perhaps felt a compulsive desire to duplicate it; clearly he identified with it, as SN/ Vesta sextiles the Sun/ Ceres exact conjunction exactly!

His son, Napoleon II (20 March 1811, 9:00 AM LMT, Paris France), known as the ‘KIng of Rome,’ also has a Mars/ Neptune conjunction, also conjunct Vesta, in the 6th of everyday duties–so he likely found the life of a ruler a sacred one, but was only moderately fired up about it (another astology joke!) with placement in the Mutable Fire of Sagittarius. Napoleon II’s Moon is also of note: at 00 Aquarius, widely sextile Nars/ Neptune, and involved in an out of sign Grand Trine with Jupiter and Earth. He clearly had the desire to affect the world, but his chart lacks the assertive outward impetus of his father’s.

The aspect skips a generation and surfaces once again in the chart of Napoleon IV (16 March 1856, 3:30 AM LMT, Paris France). He has a Libran Mars in the 8th of other people’s resources and interests quincunx Piscean Neptune in the 2nd, where it is also conjunct the Sun and Pisces’ ancient ruler, Jupiter. Here the Cancer Moon is exactly trine the Pisces Sun; this can make for a very emotionally satisfied individual–so we can surmise that emotional need was unlikely to be fuel for this Mars/ Neptune. Almost all the chart energies (exceptions: South Node/ Mars conjunction, Earth, and Moon) are below the horizon, making for a nature that processes experiences and the world largely internally; but, with Mars above the horizon, we may see someone who must show himself to be personally assertive, whether he truly has interest in this or not. This is exactly what we see in his demise: Napoleon IV literally acted out the Warrior, meeting his death fighting the Zulus at the Battle of Ulundi, and bringing to an end the hopes of those who still wished to restore a Bonaparte to rule in France.

What might we tentatively conclude from this brief study? We could guess that the state of the Moon, as well as the significant presence of Vesta, could be instrumental in utilizing a Mars/ Neptune contact to the fullest. It’s a starting point that may emphasize the necessity for emotional involvement and a sense of awe/ the sacred in successfully realizing life potentials.