This guide covers the shadow themes of the outer planets Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. These planets can be viewed in a separate grouping from the inner planets as the outer planets are slower moving and spend more time in each zodiac sign, making them symbolic of larger sections of time. The outer planets relate more closely to the symbolism of generations and sub-generations as opposed to individual experience. Outer planets become personal when closely aspecting one of the inner planets or a sensitive point in the chart. To read about the inner planet’s shadow themes click here.
The shadow in this context is symbolic of the rejected parts of society/the world we have trouble facing and dealing with. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are representative of shadow work that may take place across time and through ancestral lineages. The meanings listed here are the broad reaching often systemic issues faced in various ways. For some people these issues become very personal or someone’s life work for others the societal shadows may be present but ignored or felt on an energetic level.
The experience of the outer planets in shadow will vary greatly from person to person or group to group especially when zodiac sign, house, and aspects are taken into account. This article is a general guideline based on my observations and understanding of astrology and not hard and fast rules. It is best to also use your own intuition when exploring these themes in astrology and the planets.
You can read more about my perspective on ‘The Shadow’ archetype here.
Please Note: The interpretations here are some of the ways the Planet’s shadow aspects can be interpreted. There are many ways to interpret a placement and a complete interpretation integrates other planets, aspects, and signs to uncover the bigger picture. Please use love and personal discretion when embarking on a shadow work journey. This information is not meant to replace medical/professional advice, please seek out those services if needed.
Spends 14 years in each zodiac sign and takes 164 years to go around the entire zodiac.
Neptune has a very fascinating and often mystifying orientation. The meaning of this planet in astrology represents the dream realms along with the allure and depth of the human spirit. Neptune helps us explore the human condition through culture, art, relationships, religion, experimentation, substance use, sleep, and escapism. When Neptune is viewed from a shadow perspective we are looking at societal addiction, misinformation, misguided + confused behavior, and the overall societal treatment of disadvantaged individuals. We can observe how the use of religion has been used and can be used for mass manipulation, escapism or rejection of reality on a mass scale, the obsession with celebrity and glamour, cults, afterlife, following false leaders/ideas, false appearances, lies, mistrust, and group think/confusion. Neptune’s shadow can be related to over prescribing of medications or misunderstanding on how to provide treatment. This planet can represent the ways in which society treats and understands mental health issues and addiction. It can represent self-medicating, escapism, substance use, and rejection of the needs of the physical body. The shadows of Neptune represent the ways in which we fabricate our reality and our group experiences to better cope with the challenges of existence.
Spends 7 years in each zodiac sign and takes 84 years to go around the entire zodiac.
The fastest moving of the outer planets, Uranus, is symbolic of the unpredictability of our life experiences and social structures. Some major moments in life that coincide with Uranus transits are at age 21 and again in the early to mid 40s. During these transitions we can start to feel unsettled and pushed to make dramatic life shifts or experience major changes in life. On a social level Uranus is often associated with unrest, revolution, and reform. The shadow side of this planet will depend on what is going on politically and globally at the time. Who is in power, who is rising up, and where does inequality exist. Uranus energy will take on these difficult themes and fight for brotherly love and unity. This planet brings us through the theme of destruction and re-building, reinventing, or starting from the ground up.
The shadows encountered here can be inability to accept change, sudden upsets that are difficult to face, denial that a radical change needs to take place, living in the mindset of the past without honoring the past, missing a window of opportunity, difficulty connecting to the zeitgeist of the time or finding one’s people/group/tribe/or social support system, confusing family ties, trauma, or ancestral memories, difficulty in accepting ones sexuality or sexual orientation, the darker side of technology/globalism/environment, and getting absorbed by bias or phobia about others.
Spends 10-20 years in each zodiac sign and takes 248 years to go around the entire zodiac.
Pluto is a very dense and slow-moving planet. As it spends so much time in each zodiac sign the energy of this planet has become significant in identifying generational themes. In general, Pluto is a shadowy planet, representative of our compulsions and obsessions.
Pluto can help us understand the repeating patterns of the past and what needs to be addressed on a societal level in the present. Some shadow themes we can explore through this planet are taboos, obsessions, power and control, the need to dominate others, abuse, anger, and rage. Pluto can represent secrets and intense experiences of the past that have been left to fester. Some currents to explore through Pluto are sexuality, the occult, magic, belief, power + influence, death, regeneration, causality, manipulation, destruction, sabotage, extinction, and endings. This energy will be experienced as a gradual evolution over time as opposed to a sudden shift. It is easier to see how Pluto has taken shape by reviewing the past and less so understood in the moment.
Pluto can help us unlock our deepest motivations for being and what drives our selfish desires for survival, success, and authority over our own lives. When we go through Pluto themed shadow experiences we often lose our ability to have autonomy over our lives and will need to work through difficult challenges to regain our sense of self, self-governance, and personal power. Entire generations will help society work as a group through the ups and downs regarding the most guttural, real, and vivid experiences of the life cycle.