Crumbling Ruins and Underwater Palaces

My imagination has always been stirred by crumbling ruins and underwater palaces. Their symbolism is directly connected with the astrological Neptune, a planet which governs dissolution by water, getting lost in imagination, fantasy and reverie and being enchanted by inner visions. It evokes the transience of all things material and a general feeling of world-weariness. The twelfth house of the Zodiac, which is ruled by Neptune, is a primordial ocean, the birthplace of the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Out of its primordial waters all form is manifested, as it precedes Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac, which brings manifestation on the physical plane. Without this non-material and unseen realm of images nothing could ever be born.

Neptune is often called a planet of illusions because if it features prominently in a natal chart, a person may be prone to excessive fantasizing and escapism. On the other hand, I would bet that all the self-realized mystics must have had a prominent Neptune in their charts. While individuation requires finding ourselves in the world of form and hard matter and creating order in our personal universe, Neptune shuns artificial order and dissolves all forms. From a mystical point of view, it is the physical world of our everyday lives which is an illusion (maya), while the real world is hidden and can only be reached through the dissolution of the ego.

There is a richly symbolic story written by one of my favourite writers, Jorge Luis Borges called The Circular Ruins. It shows the paradox of reality and illusion. A wizard leaves the world and retreats to the circular ruins, a magical place that possesses strong mystical powers, where the god of Fire resides. His purpose is to create a human being from his own dreams. He dreams longer and longer every day and yet all his creative attempts are fruitless. But then one day he dreams of a human heart, and after that he is able to create a human, piece by piece. He prays to Fire god to give life to his creation. The god agrees but on one important condition: nobody will know the boy is not a real human, the wizard’s secret cannot be revealed to anybody. Thus the magician has achieved his ambition but soon his victory and piece became blurred with boredom. In the end, the ruins of the sanctuary of the god of Fire are destroyed by fire and the wizard sees that his death is coming. Here is how the story ends:

He walked toward the sheets of flame. They did not bite his flesh, they caressed him and flooded him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him.

I have always felt more at home in the Neptunian realm of dreams than in the physical reality. The words “My Kingdom is not of this world” have always resonated very true for me. How strange that I should feel more inspired and energized looking at the Venus of Milo with her missing arms than at any other sculpture, however perfect or colourful it would be. Similarly, the works of the impressionists in which everything vibrates and in which the form is not settled yet, as it was at the moment of creation, are very vibrant and alive to me. I guess I am enchanted by this moment of emerging form that can be so beautifully observed in Michaelangelo’s sculptures. Conversely, I am enchanted by the crumbling form on the verge of returning to the primordial Neptunian waters. Ruins as well as all forms of ancient and dilapidated building have always held a special fascination for me.


Michaelangelo’s unfinished (?) sculpture

I have recently read about two underwater ruins which quite captured my imagination. The first is the underwater palace of Cleopatra in Egypt. It was swept to the bottom of the ocean as a result of an earthquake. The beauty of it is breathtaking. The other one is the Neptune Memorial Reef, an underwater mausoleum in Florida. I was particularly impressed by the archetypal aptness of the name choice for this underwater cemetery. I used to live at the Polish seaside in the city of Danzig, five minutes away from a beautiful statue of Neptune. At that time I could pay daily homage to the god of the matrix from which all things arise. I often miss seeing him.


Cleopatra’s underwater palace


Cleopatra’s underwater palace


Neptune memorial


Neptune Statue in Gdansk (Danzig)

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44 Responses to Crumbling Ruins and Underwater Palaces

  1. such a wonderful post Monika! I have a very prominent Neptune and am a huge fan of fantasy and escapism and now call myself a part-time mystic ( my blog title). Every significant aspect in a chart can be prone to extremes. I luckly have saturn in capricorn or I would just dissolve into the ethers. I concur with your statement that pisces must precede aries. One house is incomplete without the other. Everything real/unreal helps birth its neighbor.

  2. A joy to read. And yes, my guess is that most flaming mystics do have Neptune prominent. Great insight!

  3. Wow, those pictures are amazing…

  4. Wow indeed!

    “I am in this world but not from this world.” 😀 The statement can be escapism or it can be used to expand one´s view and letting go in a positive sense. Which meaning the sentence takes depends on the “how”, with what energy it is used, like so many other things do, too.

    With thanks from “Neptune conjoining Sun / 7th House, Pieces rising” (tropical astrology)

  5. You chose discerning words, sharp even in focus, for an ethereal subject. Neptune, especially in Pisces, is an elusive archetype and yet you have captured some of it’s essence tangibly with your words here. I have not previously heard of Cleopatra’s underwater realm- simply stunning.

    • When I saw these photos I knew I had to write about them and the words just came. On the other hand, I frequently have doubts about some phrases or words because I am not a native speaker of English. I am grateful for your comment.

  6. OMG ~ Fabulous blog post. I love all the lost cities and artifacts that are just now being “found” again. It is all very cool and interesting for sure. I love that you put a question mark after Michelangelo’s sculpture – it could very well be unfinished and intended to be this way… us… humans breaking out into this world, that could very well be a dream and real at the same time. Thank you.

  7. I just read some of the comments and love the multiple conversations that are being sparked by our friend Neptune. If in fact English is not your native language, please congratulate yourself on your mastery. I would never have guessed as you converse so skillfully 🙂

  8. MartsArts Poetrypictures says:

    Hello SR. I think you removed my comment though. Was it not right? Dont you want my reactions anymore. I will respect this. Let me know.

    • Which comment? I really did not. I do not think you commented on this post. Can you repost it? And let me tell you that I value your comments. I checked my email box and there was no notification of your comment, so perhaps it got lost somehow.

      • MartsArts Poetrypictures says:

        OK. I’m glad about that, because I really like your blog and to think about your ideas on symbols, (un)consciuosness, Jung, astrology etc.
        I think my post has got lost in the collective unconsciousness than 🙂 I will rewrite it. But my latest haiku is inspired on your neptune-migelangelo-meeting.

  9. MartsArts Poetrypictures says:

    Here my rehearsel of the earlier try for comment: I complemented you of course for the beautifull hymn on what I call the ‘unreal reality’. Indeed it’s a question if we are living in a long dream of maybe even in a game played by someone we don’t know. This as already imagined in a fabulous way in the movie The Matrix of 1999:

    Another thought comes from a recent article I read of the popular cosmologist Lawrence Krauss:
    He writes about the explanation of the arise of our universe out of ‘nothing’. The ‘nothing’ is than a state of ‘bubling balance’ of postive and negative energy out of which suddenly universes could emerge.
    Very interesting I think, and in some way very much an anology on the ‘primordial ocean’ from which all meaning, symbols and concepts could arise.

    So I had different haiku-associations on this rich blog-post of yours.
    The first one is an old one on which I dont have a photopoem yet:

    Truth isn’t half what
    reality seems to be;
    The shine of beauty

    The second one is also an older one and on my blog. It’s about being, dreaming and the matrix:

    The last one I made yesterday, inspired by your describing of the inbetween state of a sculpture of Michealangelo. It’s about the indeed undescribable way how form could arise from non-form of ‘nothing’. This needs a realy free spirit i think; the essence of creativity,
    So this one you found already on:

    I thank you for the spark for this one. SY, Mart.

    • What an inspiring comment. Love that article in NY Times, especially the positive and negative energy bubbling together like jin and jang. Matrix is also one of my favourite movies. Glad you took the time to write all this.

      • MartsArts Poetrypictures says:

        With pleasure.
        I think we’re living in a time in which science, religion and and spirituality are nearing eachother. Very special to experience.
        And also very special to live in a time with new media to find other people to talk about this 🙂

  10. Gardengypsy says:

    In a very recent web exploration, I found an article on the very subject of mystics and Neptune, and you’re dead-on: Strong Neptunes all around, usually supported in some way by Saturn (and sometimes Jupiter) if they carried it into the world to help others. If I ever find the article again, I’ll pass a link on.

  11. Just visited your page and read this post. It was enthralling! I love Borges, but don’t recall this story you mentioned. Must re-read him. Lovely pictures of Cleopatra’s underground palace treasures! Thank you for visiting my page and liking my posts! You sound like someone with whom I could easily be friends — I like Jung, used to dabble in astrology (not anymore, though), and love the mystery of existence. I love your open and questing mind!

  12. wonderful , Thank you . Glad to have come upon your beautiful blog !

  13. Cody McCullough says:

    Great read. I’ve always been fascinated by Neptune too. The photos of Cleopatra’s underwater palace are amazing.

  14. I too am always taken into these underwater ruins and walk the streets in a parallel time and space. If it is mere imagination, I have a very good one but I trust that it is more than that. I don’t think you have read my post on one of my blogs where I am using the Napoleon Hill technique called the Invisible Councillors. I will link it for you. I hope that is cool but anyway the point and regarding this post is the space it is in. I started out with a rectangular conference table as Hill suggested in a white space. The space quickly morphed into a beautiful Grecco Roman atrium or patio, with stone columns and vines growing, covered and cool. Then the council suggested that the table be round, so as the table changed the space also changed to a round shape, same beautiful columns and vines, with a valley below. The round temple you described just another of the myriad of synchronizations with friends here at Word Press.

    My post:


    • So interesting! I did a Silva course a long time ago and I believe we tried something similar with advisors. I will check the Napoleon Hill method. You have the time for more than one blog?? 😉

      • I don’t worry about maintaining my blogs, I just post to them when I want to. lol Bluebutterflies is my primary blog but I have 7 or 8.

        I am about to mention and link this post on P&P.



  15. Pingback: The Realm | Peace & Peanut butter

  16. contoveros says:

    After your visit, I decided to come here. And I’m glad I did.

    I resonated very much with the first article, particularly the line that you’d, ” bet that all the self-realized mystics must have had a prominent Neptune in their charts.” I’m a self-styled Mystic-in-Training and I have only recently learned to meditate with my eyes partially open. A new reality has emerged. I’ve gain so much equanimity, I have been seeing myself from the third person, not getting angry, not getting happy. There is a calm, peaceful feeling that exists where my mind controls my reactions as if “I” wasn’t even there.

    By the way, the Romans stole Neptune from the Greek gods, and changed the name of Zeus’ brother from Poseidon to that of a Disney character.

    I like you.

    I mean, I like this space here. OK, You too!

    michael j contos,
    Conshohocken, PA USA

  17. ptero9 says:

    Love your insight into the fascination with crumbling ruins. I hadn’t thought of it in awhile, but years ago, after a forest fire, a friend and I went walking through the burnt woods. An amazing sight those woods stripped bare and turned to black, almost, but not quite destroyed. An eerie feeling permeated the place, but I found it drawing me in, which surprised me. I really appreciate your ability to describe the Neptunian world and its necessity. Thanks!

  18. starcounsell says:

    Love your post Monika.

  19. herongrace says:

    Thank-you for such beautiful photos. I love ruins too although I have not travelled overseas. I would love to see them. The lions and Michelangelo’s Man emerging from rock/ matter are equisite. It reminds me of Da Vinci’s Man in pentagram. I’m sure they were both saying the same thing.
    1 of my all time favourite books, [which I read years ago…] is Axel Munthe’s “The Story of San Michele”. Where as a young man he dreamt that an Angel came to him and told him he would own an old palace and find a pair of stone sphinxes underwater. He planned his life around this dream and eventually bought a ruin on San Michele which was Tiberius’ summer palace. A few years later whilst snorkelling in the ocean, he discovered the 2 stone sphinxes.
    Come to think of it, that almost encapsulates what it’s like living with a strong Neptune in 12th House!

    • Amazing! I mean especially about the book. The sphinx is my number one friend in the realm of symbolism. Thank you so much, also for complimenting my English. I am glad Michelangelo found a passage to your heart here.

  20. herongrace says:

    BTW, I also meant to agree that your English is perfect!

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