It’s the perfect time to work with dreams. Last week (Sat 17th of June 2023), Saturn stationed retrograde in Pisces. It’ll be joined by Neptune on the 30th, for the next 5 months (until Nov 4th). Neptune will be going direct a month later, on Dec 6th. They are two generational planets, which means they cover themes of importance to the collective. However, we are a part of the collective and so they affect us too.
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I wrote about Pisces in Witchy Musings back in February, as dreams are a major theme in my life. These two planets both have a relevance to it as S3 of the podcast focuses on Manifestation as well. Today, I’m going to talk about these two planets, and drop some advice from my friend and guest April Dawn Scheffler. If you didn’t catch our conversation back then you can listen to it wherever you listen to your podcasts.
April is a poet, author, and host of the Sandbox Podcast. She came on the show wearing her hat of the dream translator, but she has her fingers in a lot of spiritual pies like all my favourite people. On her website Aprilific.com she calls herself a mirror of yourself, which I think is just beautiful.
Retrogrades, irrespectively of the planet, are a time for going inwards and reviewing things. When it comes to Saturn, which rules boundaries, limits, responsibilities, discipline, and authority, it can be quite a liberating time, although it can also be a tough one where we come face to face with life lessons we may not have fully learnt or integrated. Roya Backlund, writing for Stylecaster, suggests this transit is about “reconstructing our world in an empathic, nebulous, emotional and idealistic water sign. This transit has been encouraging us to look beyond the fantasies we escape to so that we can find a more grounded and practical truth in our spiritualities and imaginations. Saturn in Pisces does not want us to stop dreaming, but it does want us to dream more effectively, meaningfully and intentionally.” You can read the full article to see how this will affect your sign.
In my conversation with April, I started with a question around working with dreams, even when you’re someone who doesn’t dream. One thing I struggle with personally is how a lot of advice about magic is around visualisation, and I can’t drop down into that kind of deep meditative state unless I’m sleeping. Many things in magic have to do with the dream state, like lucid dreaming and astral projection. Often, though, witches focus on activities that still come from the conscious mind and we don’t talk about it enough. Even just the power of standard dreams in telling us what’s going on for us emotionally beneath the surface, which is a timely conversation for Cancer season too.
Embracing the liminal
In our society that over-glorifies rationalism, we tend to see dreams in the negative. This transit is a time to reckon with why that’s limiting our full potential as humans. Rigorous logic is partly a Saturnian theme. Logic itself, being a mental discipline, is ruled by Mercury. Still, one look at how Saturn shows in Gemini and Virgo, or how Mercury shows in Capricorn (and Aquarius if you use the traditional rulers of the signs) shows us the overlap. Saturn’s time in Pisces asks us to re-examine what we consider knowledge, since knowledge is power.
Our brains process information really fast, and they metabolise and store everything that happens to us during the day through our dreams at night. Dreams relate to everything our brains carry around like they’re a national library.
One way to use Saturnian energy with our dreams is to realise its a helpful and powerful symbolic language, both when it’s fully subconscious and when it’s a daydream, or escapism, or images that come to us in meditation/visualisation. Where does our mind go? That’s useful information to take into account when we work consciously, whether it’s just mainstream goal-setting or we’re doing magic (in my opinion they’re the same, just one is conscious about it being the case).
Neptune is the modern ruler of Pisces (which is the second Jupiter sign traditionally), and is considered a planet of feminine energy. She symbolises what’s ideal, noble, transcendent, nebulous, and spiritual in our lives. As all signs and planets have light and shadow, she also represents how we encounter illusion, delusion, addiction, and loss.
While for some it’s a time of blurred lines, this retrograde transit can have the effect of bringing clarity by looking inwards (a theme of the High Priestess in the Tarot, as well as the Moon and the Queen of Cups). I was raised to believe that being delusional was always a case of delusion of grandeur, but Neptune can show us the places where we think of ourselves too small, too. It was perfect timing that Kelly Dawn (who was my guest in S3 E1 of the podcast earlier this month) dropped this episode of The Feral Woman podcast as I was thinking about the themes of these retrogrades.
Even before we look at the interplay of these two planets, we can see a strong emphasis on the subconscious, since Neptune and Pisces rule the XII House. As Barney+Flow puts it in my favourite quick reference for the houses: “the House of the Subconscious and the Hidden. This is where our subconscious thoughts, beliefs and fears are born. It is our self growth and our undoing.”
People who don’t want to face the darkness in their XII house may resort to dreams as escapism (which can be a helpful coping mechanism in the right dose, no shame), while people who face it can easily get stuck thinking the world is much smaller than it is because the darkness doesn’t show what’s really there. Self-growth can never come with a one-size-fits all approach.
Two planets in one sign
Before you look at your individual birth chart to see what areas of your life to focus on with this transit, it’s worth mentioning that having more planets in one sign, even if not a conjunction, makes it a prominent theme. If you don’t know your time of birth and therefore your house placements, it’s still worth sitting with the themes of the XII house, and they likely will illuminate areas that may be reflected in your full chart if you had it. If not, it will still illuminate the areas you need to look at. I will drop some further resources at the end for you to look into astrology and shadow work.
If you want to look at your birth chart, the signs and placements of your natal Saturn and Neptune are areas of focus. Are there any aspects between your natal placements and these transits? You can find out with a free transit chart.
Four tips for working with dreams during the Pisces retrogrades
Dreams are a symbolic language
In our conversation, April said that it can be helpful to approach dreams like we approached poetry in school. “Poetry is all about symbolism. So to me, there was no it was seamless, like going from poetry and like in your if you’re sitting in a literature class in school and they’re having you break down the symbols. OK, what was the poet actually trying to convey with this poem?”
Poetry and fiction, like dreams, deal in archetypes and symbols. Learning to read between the lines, so to speak, and see what we can infer beyond the superficial is the point of dream work.
Don’t worry if you don’t dream, it does not make you any less spiritual. And just because you have a dream, you don’t have to work with it. Some times you wake up with a strong feeling that you need to explore, but otherwise a dream diary can help you spot patterns, even when it isn’t the same recurring dream.
Active dreams and passive dreams are both valuable
One of April’s recommendations was the book by Robert A. Johnson “Inner Work” about doing inner work using dreams and active imagination for personal growth.
While dreams may seem lofty, working with it requires structure. Step one is associations. Write down everything in your dream that you can remember, like colours, what the people look like, the places you’re in, if you smelled anything, and then you write the associations for those things. just throwing stuff against the wall. You can do this for visualisations, too, because they still give you specific images in response to the prompts you give them.
There is no one and only right interpretation
You can take some of the pressure off of yourself: there isn’t a holy grail of dream meanings. You can find yourself with multiple ways to look at the same dream that are all valid. It’s overwhelming to look at all these options though, so there are ways to narrow things down. In the book, Johnson says that our psyche is not going to waste our time to tell you something that you already know and have integrated. So April suggested we ask ourselves, “what is something that might be true at first, a little hard to accept, or what is something that I haven’t been willing to look at that kind of points you in that direction?” That’s where we want to zone in.
Your inner critic will come up, but you can silence it
As someone who struggles to read tarot for herself compared to reading for others, I asked April about this when it comes to dreams. Her advice was that if you are concerned you are too close to a situation or adding a meaning to things that is coming from a place of controlling the narrative rather than receiving a harsh truth, you bring someone you trust in for their perspective. They might provide you with valuable input, or just information you can glean from your reactions to what they say, which is as helpful as the content of the dreams themselves.
Further resources for inner work during the retrograde period:
My post on whether you should be re-wilding