The first published sources for Neptune being granted rulership of Pisces
– December 18th, 2014
The earliest literary references I have found assigning the astrological Neptune its domicile in Pisces so far are, in chronological order:
1. J. T. Campbell, letter to the editor, P. Powley, of the astrological journal ‘The Astrologer’, pp. 119-120 of Vol. II of the journal, which is No. 5, November 1888:
“A friend informs me that Neptune’s house and habitation are in Pisces, and his detriment and fall in Scorpio. Can any student add anything pro or con to this?”
2. Nemo (pseud.), regular columnist for the astrological journal ‘The Future’ (edited by A. J. Pearce), in his column ‘Astrological Notes No. 1’, p. 29 of Vol. I, which is No. II, March 1, 1892, writes:
“One suggestion has been made that, as these planets [Uranus and Neptune] are more remote from Sun than Saturn, they should have the same dignities as Saturn; while another would depose Saturn from Aquarius and Jupiter from Pisces, and declare that Uranus and Neptune respectively reign in their stead. Both these suggestions involve serious difficulties, nor do they settle the question once and for all with regard to any planets of our solar system yet to be discovered. It seems incredible that planets of such diverse natures as Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune (to say nothing of any still more distant), should all bear equal rule in the same two signs. Furthermore, to depose Saturn and Jupiter from their thrones, pre-supposes a grave error on the part of the ancients, whose teaching on this point has been handed down with complete unanimity from the dim past; it, moreover, necessitates a further process of dethronement and a further ignoring of the teachings of antiquity, whenever further planetary discoveries shall be made. Consequently I am compelled to reject both of these hypotheses”.
But he goes on to compromise:
“The difficulty in which modern astrologers have found themselves involved, seems to have originated in their error in rejecting the ancient division of the houses of the planets into the diurnal and nocturnal. By observing this distinction, Uranus and Neptune easily find their houses, with room to spare for their yet undiscovered brethren. Thus Aquarius, which is the diurnal house of Saturn, is the nocturnal house of Uranus. Virgo, which is the nocturnal house of Mercury, is the diurnal house of Uranus. Pisces, which is the nocturnal house of Jupiter, is the diurnal house of Neptune. Gemini, which is the diurnal house of Mercury, is the nocturnal house of Neptune.”
Thus, in summary, he gives Neptune diurnal rulership only over Pisces, and nocturnal rulership over Gemini. This is a half-way measure compared with the friend of J. T. Campbell or indeed the anonymously attributed second suggestion referred to by Nemo at the start of the first paragraph I quoted above.
3. Thomas Burgoyne, writing in ‘The Language of the Stars’, first published 1892, month unclear, writes:
“The planet Neptune, so far as I have been able to find out, gives very beneficial rays when in Pisces, but the reverse in Aries, and therefore Pisces is a natural sign for Neptune, so it seems to me”.
But he stops short of specifically making it the domicile ruler of Pisces!
4. A correspondent going by the pen-name “Sagittarius”, in an article called ‘The Houses and Exaltations of the Planets’ serialised over multiple issues of “The Astrologer’s Magazine” Vol. 4, argues, in the March, 1894 issue, p. 170 of Vol. 4, for Pisces being “the chief house of Neptune”; and adds that adds “poor old Jove must be satisfied with Sagittarius in future”:
“It is admitted by all astrologers that Uranus has great influence in the airy triplicity (Gemini Libra Aquarius) and that his chief domal dignity is Aquarius, also that Uranus is of the nature of Mercury and Saturn combined, and it has been repeatedly proved that Uranus evolves negative electricity (like Saturn), and always lowers the temperature when in aspect to Sun, Venus, Mercury, or the Moon, therefore since the discovery of Uranus and Neptune, modern astrologers have acted wisely in dethroning Saturn from Aquarius (Ptolemy’s system), and giving that sign as the chief house of the eccentric Uranus. Pisces for the same reason is the chief house of Neptune, and poor old Jove must be satisfied with Sagittarius in future. The following are no doubt the reasons why Uranus should rule in Aquarius and Neptune in Pisces.
“The Sun fountain of light and life to our system rules in Leo as his own house; the first planet revolving round him (rejecting the inter-mercurial planet Vulcan of R. A. Proctor) is Mercury who consequently gets Virgo the next sign to Leo, as Mercury’s sphere is next to the Sun; then comes Venus next in order, who, of course, gets Libra for her house; passing the Earth, the next in order is Mars who gets Scorpio; the next sign in rotation then, omitting the asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, etc.) in toto, Jupiter gets Sagittarius the next in order; then comes Saturn who follows on with Capricornus the next sign. Here Ptolemy turns around and goes backward Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc., from the circumference to the centre, but we moderns who have Uranus and Neptune to complete our system and deal with, must advance and not recede as Ptolemy did for he knew nothing of these two planets Uranus and Neptune; therefore the next planet in the order of nature to Saturn who has Capricorn only is Uranus, who must of necessity have Aquarius; the next sign, and the last of the spheres is Neptune, so he for the same reason must have the last sign (Pisces) for his “domal” dignity. Aries, the vernal equinox and the first sign of the circle, is given to Mars who is akin to the earth in nature, the principle of wrath and selfishness predominating over the principle of love, hence Mars gets Aries next to Pisces in the zodiac. Returning to the Sun Leo the sphere of Venus comes next, so she gets Taurus the next sign for her other house, then below Venus is Mercury, so consequently he gets Gemini for the same reason. Then comes the Moon, swiftest of all the heavenly wanderers, so the fair Luna gets the next sign Cancer for her house, then the Moon joins the Sun Leo, and from the conjoint principles of heat and moisture in union another gestation commences and so on ad-infinitum.
” “Steady, my friend,” says an objector, “why should the inferiorplanets Mercury and Venus and the small planet Mars (with his two recently discovered moons) have two houses allotted to each of them?” Why, my friend? because they move so swiftly. Mercury is only about a fortnight in a sign when not stationary in it, and for this reason has two signs for houses, and Venus likewise, and Mars, although really a superior, as he moves beyond the earth’s orbit, must, as far as his swift motion and small magnitude is concerned, be considered an inferior, unless he be stationary, being only about six weeks in a sign, hence Mercury, Venus, and Mars being swiftly moving planets, compared to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, have for the aforesaid reason two houses each allotted to them, but the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, on account of their slow and ponderous motion, have only one house each. The Sun and Moon being passive planets, and, according to Ptolemy, the most essential significators translating the influences of all the planets to our earth, have for this reason one house each only, even though the lesser luminary is the swiftest in motion of any of them.”
In the second part of the same article, starting p. 241, “Sagittarius” argues for the exaltation of Uranus in Gemini and the exaltation of Neptune in Scorpio, concluding:
“To summarise, Uranus is in his own house in Aquarius, in his “exaltation” in Gemini, and in triplicity in Libra. Neptune is in his own house in Pisces, in his exaltation in Scorpio, and in his triplicity in Cancer.”
So, unlike Burgoyne and Nemo, “Sagittarius” is unambivalent about making Neptune the sole ruler of Pisces. Thus, his position is identical with that of the anonymous friend of J. T. Campbell as cited by Campbell in source 1 above. But it’s stated directly by the person who believes it, in first party form, and at length in a proper article, so it’s arguably the first proper exposition of this position in print.
In conclusion, and until and unless anyone can advance on this, the pioneers of the modern movement to accord Neptune its (sole) domicile in Pisces are both anonymous, the first being the friend of J. T. Campbell in November, 1888, the second “Sagittarius” in March, 1894.
Nemo’s contribution in the pages of “The Future” in 1892 was also considerable but different in its analysis and conclusions from modern practice.
PS: The first substantial article on astrological Neptune was that of R. H. Penny, writing under the pen-name “Neptune”, in Urania (edited by Alfred Pearce), in 1880, but its focus is limited to mundane astrology and it does not make any attempt to accord dignities to Neptune.
PPS: James Herschel Holden, writing in ‘A History of Horoscopic Astrology’, cites John Ackroyd as the source of the primary account of astrological Neptune in the literary record.
The account attributed to Ackroyd by Holden is a letter penned by a Prof. J. A. to Sheffield-based astrological publisher John Story, and published in Story’s 1890 reprint of W. J. Simmonite’s main work, as retitled by Story as ‘The Complete Arcana of Astral Philosophy’. [Story re-edited and republished four of Simmonite’s works posthumously in the 1890s, changing most of their names in the process; and some of the new editions went through further reprints over the decades to follow.]
J. A., in his letter to Story, is ambivalent, stating simply (p. 8 of the appendix to Story’s edition of the aforementioned work by Simmonite):
“According to Ptolemy’s theory, Aquarius should be Neptune’s house, but Scorpio or Taurus might answer well, as they are both of an obscure and mystical nature, but it will require more experience, observation, and practice to settle the matter”.
Thus, J. A.’s account of Neptune’s dignities is non-committal and has nothing in common with the consensus of the contemporaneous writings I referred to in 1 to 4 above. It can therefore be safely disregarded as an atypical anomaly in the early literary record on astrological Neptune, at least so far as its advocacy of Neptune’s dignities is concerned.
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