Though innumerable factors weigh into one’s success, it’s arguable that the ratio of effort to inspiration can make the difference between spinning one’s wheels, on the one hand, and ideas that never come to fruition, on the other. I see it all the time; there are people who work mightily who can’t seem to achieve, and those who believe it’s all in having the ‘right’ idea or attitude, who are puzzled as to why their plan for, say, potato chips on a stick hasn’t taken off. They’ll ask me why their great idea hasn’t caught fire; they’ve spread it around, and they don’t know why others haven’t done the development, publicity, and marketing work for them! Those at the other extreme barely look up from the grindstone long enough to notice whether all that work is producing sweat equity or just sweat. Astrologically, one of the best ways to gauge the way we naturally approach the effort/ inspiration balance is by inspection of the state of Mars and Neptune. These two bodies don’t have to be in aspect to deliver their power; but they do have to be used, preferably in a way that has them both working on a positive wavelength.
A good example of an effectively used Mars/ Neptune is found in the chart of Spanish architect and visionary artist Antoni Gaudi (25 June 1852, 9:30 AM LMT, Reus Spain). The man who was instrumental in fashioning Barcelona’s distinctive style of mosaic-laden construction of undulant, flowing lines devoted his energy almost exclusively to his work; he never married, and spent a notable period wandering the streets, begging alms for construction of his unfinished masterwork, the Familia Sagrada cathedral. Gaudi was known, as you may have guessed, for his eccentric personality, and for his outbursts–with a Virgo Ascendant and Mars rising, he was his temper! Mars opposes his 7th House Piscean Neptune, and here we can look at the ways this energy might have gone. With an opposition the two energies often start out at odds; many people bounce from one end of the opposition to the other, in this case possibly manifesting as action for action’s sake alternating with dreamy reveries, with the difficulty coming in marrying the imagination to implementation in the real world. Once these two began to find a way to work together, Mars could begin to shine in its command of detail (and what’s more detailed than a building covered in mosaic?) and Neptune could come to full creative bloom in its own sign.
Mars is part of an Earth Grand Trine involving Uranus in Taurus and the South Node in Capricorn; clearly, the impetus for action was focused on a material result. The GT reaches from the 1st to the 5th and the 9th, and connects personal endeavor with creativity and, in the 9th, both the exotic and religion, with Gaudi’s most famous creation being a church. Mars also trines Earth, Saturn, and Pluto, and sextiles the Sun, besides opposing Neptune. These contacts suggest that the ‘I will’ and action urge enjoyed excellent support; the material world, the propensity to build, the ability to destroy or dig deep in order to create, and the Soul intent all worked in concert with the ego and assertive urge.
Neptune, planet of creative imagination, communion with the Cosmos, and illusion/ delusion brings in some varied influences, notably a quincunx to the 2nd House Libra Moon, suggesting that the emotions needed to adjust to the creative urge, and vice versa, an opposition to Jupiter that perhaps shows some of the difficulty he had getting his creations accepted by the public as legitimate architecture, a sesquiquadrate to Pallas that implies he probably did best when he accepted some modifications according to guidance received, and a quincunx to Ceres that require some adjustment to the wishes of authorities. Neptune also trines the Sun, making the Soul an excellent creative conduit, and trines the North Node–this latter is involved with Neptune in a Water Grand Trine with Jupiter, and could indicate what an enormous place creative expression held for Antoni; it was likely somewhere between an emotional imperative (Water) and a religious belief (Jupiter).
Lastly we might note in Gaudi’s chart Chiron in the House of deepest Self, the 4th, at 00 Capricorn, conjunct 5th House Earth and South Node, also in Cap. The 00 placement indicates a strong impetus to actualize the energy, to get to know it, and in Capricorn the wound may have involved structure, Self-discipline, or thwarted attempts to build, either literal or figurative, perhaps springing from the family of origin (4th) and incorporated into the psyche. Connection to Earth and the South Node say that both the wound, and the Cap-related gift, have been ‘earned’ in the past, and need to manifest in the material surroundings; that says that Gaudi’s fantastical creations were more to him than just decorated constructions–they may have been quite literal representations of the workings of his creative mind.