February 19/20 - March 20/21
Mutable Water: Compassion Ruler:
Jupiter (co-ruler: Neptune)
Objectively: Winter's melting. The socially conditioned personality enters its disintegrative phase. Sun moves north at an accelerating rate. The growing, but not yet dominant, light of consciousness illuminates shadows of a receding dreamscape.
Subjectively: Predawn glow. Unfinished business and hidden vulnerabilities come up for review. The consequences of past sins surface, to be forgiven or to betray. Ego dissolves in voluntary acceptance of a larger destiny, or compulsive martyrdom to it.
Pisces: Sorrows. Redemption. Self-undoing. Surrender to the Will of God.
In Pisces individuality breaks loose from collective obligations (Capricorn) and aspirations (Aquarius). It is no longer concerned with the social order, realistically (Capricorn) or idealistically (Aquarius). It bears witness to the human condition and seeks to redeem it by self-transcendence:
'I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.'
As the last sign, Pisces summarizes a whole cycle and mirrors its spiritual meaning. A mirror has no content of its own; it reflects what is out there. Yet, clear and properly curved, it can focus the farthest starlight, making visible and known the nature of our universe. Pisces concentrates diffuse currents of the unconscious background into an explicit synthesis. Not through ego assertion, but by centering the unspoken yearnings of a community or an era. Its will is the general will.
Cancer describes the personal fantasy motivating subjectivity. Pisces embodies a communal dream projected through an individual. A tribal yearning for redemption, or a group psychosis, designates an agent to enact its hidden agenda, a developing sensibility struggling to be born. This is too subtle and complex to be grasped by the prevailing consensus consciousness. Pisces represents it for the community. In its final phase personality has spent its passion, does not lust after power, is not enthralled by desires or ideas. Thus it provides a blank screen upon which the group-mind can project what it needs to learn.
Pisces feels the pregnant stirrings of a coming rebirth (Aries). It can imagine the unseen possibilities of a renaissance. It has not yet attained this new state of being, but psychically senses it. Thus it connects collective need with a misty premonition of an emerging future. This vision swirls as a nebulous longing, a fuzzy first approximation. It is still germinating, not yet ready to face the world's harsh demands. But face them it must.
These subtle impressions are initially evasive, too faint to articulate themselves in tangible form. For example, even the most vivid dreams usually evaporate upon awakening. Eventually such evanescent glimmers coalesce into a critical mass of intuition. This then acquires enough energy to infiltrate and re-orient the conscious attitude.
These vague signals implicitly challenge an established structure. Ineffable prescience subverts accepted interpretation. Anticipation of renewal undermines confidence in present arrangements. Power begins to notice the rising tide. The conventionally successful are comfortable with things as they are. They will move to destroy any new ideal, and its exemplars, before it comes to fruition.
Thus Pisces' association with hidden enemies, betrayal, treachery. It acts as a lightning rod channeling the release of ignored potential or denied forces whose time has come. It evokes an unresolved dilemma and points to a solution outside the box of normal thinking and values. This generates a violent reaction. Pisces must die to make its point (not necessarily literally). By doing so it elicits a tragic sympathy. Thus it succeeds: not for itself, but for others.
The same process occurs subjectively. Other signs explore or enact their dreams. Pisces must outgrow them. It learns to realize their essentially delusional nature so that it can recognize a more profound truth. The death of dreams hurts. Through such painful disappointment Pisces also learns to avoid the snares of illusion set by others, or propounded by society. It begins to accept guidance by a higher will, to believe in a greater form of love. At best it lets the seductions of worldly temptation or ego tripping wither away so that it can ascend to a more encompassing plane. At worst it takes substitute gratification to extremes in an effort to evade the emptiness that must precede becoming filled with soul.
Pisces demands unconditional faith because it involves complete loss of identity. A singular energy signature merges with a shared stream of consciousness. Something may emerge out of this baptism. But it won't be you, or any variation of you. It will be something truly new (Aries). Pisces does not give to get. It is about giving until nothing is left. In that absence God appears. Only in silence can one hear the Word.
To other signs this seems impractically mystical. Or a sad excuse. Indeed, Pisces' breakdown and sublimation often takes a destructive course. Intoxication, masochism, an inability to fight and hold its own, a lack of concern for its defeat, leaves others bewildered. Or contemptuous. How can such a weakling survive the selection pressures of a brutally competitive world?
It does so because evolution does not proceed through enhancement of strong, well adapted adult forms. Rather it develops through prolongation of the juvenile stage in which maturation takes another route to a new identity. Through retention of larval characteristics, which grow up differently. Through the impressionable flexibility of youth.
Pisces flourishes because, as in a circle, its end is also a beginning. Its wilting can shrivel into degeneration and dissolution. Or revert to the embryonic state, like a pluripotent stem cell returning to renewal. Pisces serves as the embryo to Aries' birth. An embryo is utterly helpless. Yet it holds the future. It seems passive. Yet its growth and inner development are more rapid and profound than at any other period of life.
Only nakedly is one reborn. Only in ignorance, without preconceived opinions, does one learn. Only a defenseless openness can take in the world. And thus become it.
Pisces portrays the paradox of strength through weakness, gain through loss, victory through defeat. It recognizes that every process reaches an endgame, a stage where it can go no further. It must die, dissolve, fertilize its regeneration with the ashes of its former character. Pisces lets go of all that was once loved and is now a burden.
After the fiery prophetic truth of Sagittarius, the cold eminence of Capricorn, the cosmic concepts of Aquarius there is only peace: the 'Peace that passeth all understanding.'
Everything melts away. The collective passions of righteous principle, actual achievement, utopian vision have spent their force. All is quiet.
Pisces immerses in the dreamtime. It finds refuge in a regenerative empty space. Later, new life will burst out of it in Aries. For now, it diffuses into a sea of memories and longings. These recombine in the miracle of genesis. A new soul begins to take shape. It is not focused, but rather distributed, like the surface tension on a body of water. It shades off into unconscious depths below, and to a spiritual dimension above. It expands horizontally to encompass the entire plane of human experience. And beyond to a poetic appreciation of the magic behind reality.
As the last sign Pisces integrates what has come before. It gathers all the energies of the ending cycle and distills them into a seed pattern for the coming spring. This is not the clear, articulated mental blueprint, or archetypal equation, of Aquarius. It contains too many feelings, the residues and consequences of past acts. It embodies an emotionally charged condensation of all prior history and belief.
In Pisces the lengthening daylight of individual consciousness illuminates unconscious issues. It must reconcile with painful memories from the past. And assimilate festering ambiguities of the present. Thus Pisces deals with karma, whether defined as a legacy from prior incarnations or as a psychological inheritance of instinct, infantile experiences and the habits of a tribal context.
The contrast between Pisces' brightening glow, and what it reveals within the still prevalent dark, gives it a dualistic character. This sign is symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions. It demonstrates extremes: salvation and degradation, temple and tavern, transcendence and disintegration. Disintegration creates the conditions for transcendence. The old must release its binding energy to make it available for a new synthesis.
One can get stuck at this stage, overcome by fumes given off in the heat of decay. Intoxicated by delusional raptures that mimic transcendence: chemical dreams, false glamors, indulgent fantasies. The self-sense generates powerful waves of illusion to sidetrack soul from the agony, and the ecstasy, of true ego death. Pisces must navigate them all the way to that end.
Every act involves forgoing alternative possibilities. Pisces emphasizes the principle of sacrifice that makes progress possible. Pisces, at the end of a round, subconsciously remembers all of its options. It resonates to some, discards others. Just as an embryo activates a single set of genetic potentials out of a vast lineage, so Pisces, adrift in a sea of choices, selects among them according to a subliminal set of priorities boiled down from the lessons of previous experience.
The twelfth house, Pisces' subjective correlate, and any planets in it, shows self-sacrifice and surrender to a higher Will. Voluntarily or not. The house cusp that the sign of Pisces occupies indicates the area of loss, and perhaps of resurrection. The position and aspects of Pisces' ruling planet, Jupiter, provide insight into the experienced circumstances of that dissolution and the nature of what is coming to pass. Pisces' transpersonal ruler, Neptune, points to the spiritual aura surrounding this rotting and ripening, along with the illusions it entails.
Of all signs Pisces is most sensitively attuned to an invisible reality behind the phenomenal world. It does not identify with consensus consciousness. It instinctively understands that intangible forces shape events. The momentum of its past decisions is already committed to a spiritual trajectory. Not a predetermined fate but an opening to a more inclusive state of being.
This requires the loss of attachments, qualities and attributes. Ambitions and opinions, career and family, welfare and standing - all must go to clear the way for a larger life. Renunciation on such a scale is painful. Few undertake it voluntarily. Thus Pisces generates deprivation. This seems, and often is, unjust in terms of the present situation. But the Pisces experience is about liquidating that existence to create space for a new emergence.
Pisces brings crushed hopes and denied benefits; loss of status, things and friends. All of this serves to strip the psyche bare in preparation for the next level of negation: death of personality, voiding of emotional perspective, cancellation of dreams. All must be given up. Or will be taken away. Thus Pisces has always been associated with involuntary servitude: perhaps objectively in an institution such as prison or hospital, perhaps subjectively in an invisible net of despair. It may occur overtly through a life changing trauma or betrayal. Or as a silent scream within. Then it drowns in ennui, or in booze, turned off by the frantic circus or stifling monotony of life.
Pisces washes the soul of everything it was or had. It breaks one down so that God can take possession of the vacated premises. Or the Devil. Sometimes Pisces is absorbed by the darkness. It is not just about redemption - it is also about that which must be redeemed.
One might object that this is overstated: most Pisceans are gentle souls, many with a delightful sense of the ridiculous. True enough in that most do not fully experience the nature of their energy zone - just as most Taureans don't get rich, most Leos don't become famous, few Capricorns make it to the top, few Aquarians are brilliant. A sign describes a challenge and an opportunity. Most people of any sign keep their heads down, partake of a standard issue cultural identity and only partially engage the full promise of their birthright.
Pisces inherently means surrender to a greater Force. It can manifest as a dancer possessed by the dance, a public servant dedicated to the needs of others, a compassionate soul consecrated to a cause. Or as a political prisoner in the Gulag, a drunkard in the gutter. Whatever the circumstances Pisces requires that ego be broken in order to approach the mystery of God.
This often creates a victim consciousness. Pisces then wallows in self-pity, becomes demoralized by misfortune. This is exacerbated by its low energy state. Pisces is like an invisible dark energy expanding the universe as a whole rather than a point of light exploding within it. It glows as the diffuse cosmic background radiation from which all things originally condensed. Thus it does not assert or defend its self because it identifies with all selves.
Pisces receives rather than sends. With its innate lack of boundaries Pisces responds to the unspoken vibrations of its environment. Given human nature many workplace, institutional and family settings seethe with hostile and negative feelings. Pisces must take them in and take them on.
It does so through empathy. Rather than applying logic, or general principles, to a situation, or extracting significance from its component elements, it learns by sympathetic resonance. Pisces experiences its environment by adopting it. It walks in the other's shoes. Assimilates their qualities.
Such impressionability is our primal and most effective form of education. This osmotic sensitivity can generate an all-embracing consciousness and care. Compassion brings depth and subtlety of insight. Ironically, innocence = profundity.
Or a flood of feelings and sensations can inundate the central organizing principle of identity. Then only a chameleon-like acquiescence to stimuli remains. An amorphous codependence on whomever one talked with last; a go with the flow lack of character. Pisces then becomes a sounding board for others' thoughts. A doormat for their aggression. A target for malice they cannot acknowledge in themselves but will gladly project onto a compliant victim.
The vulnerability of one willing to open up without reservation invites attack from predatory elements. Pisces is often devoured by those at the top of the food chain, over-awed by fiercer egos, dominated by more intense wills. Thus its ancient association with slavery. It can flee into the escapism of an alternative reality. Or create the world anew through the power of imagination. It can be forced into exile: to wander, a stranger in a strange land. Or transcend inevitable injustice with a generosity of spirit that astonishes the universe. And changes it forever.
What would Christ have been without the crucifixion? By unconditional acceptance of a higher Will he transformed a personal injustice, easily evaded, into a redemptive opportunity for all. By creating a new context, he turned a seeming triumph of evil into the spark of rebirth.
Rebirth implies prior death. Pisces, as the last phase, must always face spiritual death at the hands of those more powerful in this world. It is too old and too embryonic, too nuanced and too naive, to compete on their terms. It can win only by changing the very definition of victory. To do so it must first redefine itself by embracing its own annihilation.
Will it become a martyr to pathos? Or in hopes of some future payoff? Or will it offer everything it has as an act of love? Love that is willing to die for the beloved.
Pisces drinks deeply of despair. It understands that no political agenda or social reform can wipe away the oceans of tears already shed and yet to be. It feels the fullness of sweet melancholy, yet trusts in an ultimate benevolence. Its sensitivity to the world's woes is exceeded only by faith in their redemption.
Pisces is the sign of sorrows. It would rather serve with compassion in Hell than rule with glory in Heaven. Thus it is the sign of Love beyond all particular affections. In the end that Love can only say 'Thy Will, not mine, be done.'