Just like Goddesses, Gods are the deifications of archetypal energies within the human psyche. The mythology of any religious tradition is, therefore, an attempt of that particular culture, to explain human behaviour and thought structures in a narrative, a storyline that is as entertaining as it holds deeper meaning on a physical, a mental/emotional and a spiritual level. If you'd like to find out more about other Gods, click here: God Meditations.
The Roman God of the Sea
Neptune is the Roman God of the Sea. In Latin, his name is Neptunus. What is less commonly known is that he was also the God of fresh water, as he is usually associated in our minds with the ocean, mermaids and the typical trident. His wife was Salacia, the Goddess of Saltwater, whose name is the root of our modern word salt, salis in Latin.
Neptune was one of twelve deities (Dei Consentes) who were especially venerated in Ancient Roman religion. These dozen deities, 6 of each gender, were in Roman mythology with their Greek counterparts: Jupiter – Zeus, Juno – Hera, Minerva – Athene, Vesta – Hestia, Ceres – Demeter, Diana – Artemis, Venus – Aphrodite, Mars – Ares, Mercurius – Hermes, Neptun – Poseidon, Vulcanus – Hephaistos, Apollo – Apollon. The Roman historian Livy paired these deities in the following manner: Jupiter-Juno, Neptune-Minerva, Mars-Venus, Apollo-Diana, Vulcan-Vesta and Mercury-Ceres.
Neptune had two brothers, Jupiter and Pluto. Together, the reigned over all dimensions, symbolising the heavens (Jupiter), the mundane world (Neptune) and the Underworld (Pluto). This trinity also represents the higher consciousness, the material and intellectual realm and the subconscious.
It is supposed that Neptune was first a freshwater God before his association with the sea. However, he was also associated with horses and horse racing which can be traced back to the story in mythology that tells of him helping the Goddess Minerva to build a chariot. His Greek predecessor was Poseidon.
The root of the name is more of a mystery, although lots of theories have been brought forward, none of which can be proven. It is most notable to say that all seem to relate to moisture, wetness or water in some form or description, which is in perfect alignment with the symbolism and elemental association of this deity.
Lust & Virility
Neptune, like other Gods, is also said to be the progenitor of a Latin clan or tribe called the Faliscans. Some clans had ascribed such noble descent to their origins to justify their positions of power and being part of the ruling classes by ascribing their origins to divine sources. In this respect, Salacia represented Neptune’s virile force.
This explains the modern English adjective’s origin and meaning: salacious. There is also another female form attributed to him, which is Venilia and is the calmer, more tranquil side of water, the quiet lakes and gently flowing rivers and streams, whereas Salacia is the wild and untamed side, the lustful, pairing with the loving longing and desire of the loving, maternal Venilia.
Neptune’s father was Saturn and he ate his six children to avoid them turning against him. However, Jupiter succeeded to slay him in a war after all and Creation was divided into three parts among the three brothers as outlined at the beginning of this article.
Mythology tells that Neptune saw his wife Salacia first on the island of Naxos. However, she didn’t want him and ran away to the Atlas mountains, preferring to remain the virginal sea Goddess. But Neptune was the persistent type and so he found the dolphin king Delphinus and charged him with the task to persuade the object of his desire to marry him.
Delphinus succeeded and the couple went on to have three children together, Benthesicyme, the nymph of the waves, Rhodes, the namesake of the island, and Triton the infamous merman. However, the lustful Neptune went back to his wayward ways and had many affairs again. He was also known to rape a female when she didn’t give herself to him willingly. Thus, he also fathered many more prodigy with other women, including notable figures such as Atlas, Orion and the Pegasus.
This story explains why Neptune is associated with dolphins besides horses and the famous trident which helps to control the waters. However, Neptune is also associated with the bull and is one of only four Gods whom it was appropriate to sacrifice bulls to, the others being Apollo, Mars and Jupiter, although Vulcan was also allowed the offering of a red bull or calf.
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Symbols & Urges
Neptune is usually depicted as a bearded old man riding a chariot made from a seashell that is drawn by sea horses. The symbolism of the trident he holds is very interesting as well. The cross at the lower end of the trident symbol stands for the root of things, the essence of nature, the energy from which all material things are formed.
The three prongs can have various meanings, such as mind, body and spirit, or birth, life and death. The trinity in relation to the divine is not an exclusively Roman or Greek concept. It spans across the world in all religions and spiritual pathways, as it is the representation of the life cycle, as well as the three dimensions of our existence.
The reason Neptune is associated so closely with dolphins, rather than fish or other sea creatures, is because of Dolphin’s uncanny ability to move in and out of water, and in an out of different dimensions. The bull is in association with the story of the Minotaur of Greek mythology involving Neptune’s Greek predecessor God Poseidon.
Neptune is also the God of earthquakes and there are a few sources referring to him as earth-shaker. His volatile nature had to be appeased by seafarers fearing violent storms and people on land fearing earthquakes equally, as it was believed that earthquakes originated in the sea and were attributed to Neptune’s ill and sour temper.
Looking at how this God’s archetypal energies are mirrored in our own psyche, it is clear that Neptunian characteristics are the baser animal instincts. Our desire for physical pleasures, the pursuit of those material gratifications without any moral compass to temper and regulate those urges, are what Neptune symbolises.
Anger, Determination & Persistence
He is also that bad temper, the anger and volatile eruptions we have when being triggered. A woman who comes from a background where she has been disregarded as less important or less intelligent may get very angry when she is faced with people who treat her with the same kind of prejudiced inconsideration again, even if she has distanced herself from those people in her past who were the initial sources of her emotional trauma. A man who, as a child, has watched his father beat his mother regularly, might do the same to his own spouse in adulthood when he has not learned another way of dealing with aggression and conflict.
Neptune energy is volatile and aggressive, but it is also very human on a basic level. We all have those baser instincts and reflexes, those parts that are governed by our reptilian brain. In essence, having emotions such as anger and aggression can be life-saving and also means that we can meet our needs even in the face of adversity.
This is NOT a call to rape, of course! It means that we have physical desires that we can meet even in the face of opposition. Romeo and Juliet are a perfect, albeit a rather tragic example. Their love would have remained unfulfilled had they not had enough drive, determination and desire to disregard the orders of their families and meet in secret to be with each other and besides emotional longings, also fulfil their physical desire for each other.
When we have urges and desires, we may not meet them if we are too concerned about the opinions and sanctions of others or society in general. However, with some Neptunian energy infusion, we are capable of standing up for our desires and needs and find a way to meet them, even in the face of adversity.
At the same time, we must also visit our shadow sides here and look more closely at the things that cause us to plunge into a bad mood or get our tempers to rise in a surge of rage and anger. We must ask ourselves what triggers us and where these triggers come from before we are able to channel this energy into more productive and constructive outlets. For example, if you get triggered into anger, you may want to take a walk around the block or punch a sandbag at the gym, rather than shout and rave at your partner or friend – or worse, physically attack anyone.
When you learn to control and direct the energy and force of Neptune within you, it can lead to you gaining much in personal power and allow you to go for the things you want in life with determination and the persistence needed to achieve your goals.