The Enigma of Pisces
Stop a moment and think about the Pisces people that you know. How would you describe them in three to five words? Can you do it? I would love to see your lists!
Pisces is not an easy sign to describe instantaneously. It’s a bit of an enigma quite frankly. Why is that? I’m going to do my best to try and explain. For starters the time of the year that we say is under the influence of Pisces falls generally between February 21st and March 20th. Here in the Northern Latitudes we are experiencing the shift from winter to spring with some days becoming mild and almost balmy, while other days are wild, stormy, and freezing. Such extremes can be unsettling. Dane Rudhyar says in his book The Pulse of Life, “Pisces is an era of storms and of wholesale disintegration.” This apt description implies the dilemma of the soul incarnated into this sign. The journey of the Piscean’s life must often be one of moving through periods when everything seems to be falling apart and nothing yet has come together into a new form. The future may beckon, but the past is still unraveling.
The glyph often used for Pisces is the two fish tied together but swimming in opposite directions. Here is the symbol of involution and evolution. Does the Pisces soul descend into flesh or ascend into spirit? Perhaps the Christian ethos of ‘being in the world, but not of the world’ attempts to integrate this paradox. It certainly can be both a struggle and a quest for one actually living out this dualistic path.
So think, again, about those Pisces people in your life. Aha! They’re not quite so dreamy, mild, and wishy-washy as one would stereotype them to be. Pisces is a Water Sign, and the kind of water most associated with this sign is the Ocean. Start describing the ocean and you’re getting closer to describing Pisces. Words like vast, deep, powerful, ever-changing come to mind perhaps.
Where does the cliche of Pisces being wimps come from? The elusive quality of this Mutable Sign, Pisces can certainly give that impression when issues of confrontation are at hand. Many Pisces would prefer to evade head-on collisions and leave the head butting for their Aries kinfolk. They, also, often prefer to be in the background rather than center-stage like more fiery types. But never underestimate the power of a Pisces, for like the element of Water, Pisces can gather a formidable force of watery emotional strength, when necessary, and move through, over, or under any obstacle.
I remember well an early boyfriend who certainly reflected some of the dreamier qualities of Pisces. He loved to dance in candlelight trailing long chiffon scarves after him like Nijinsky in Afternoon of the Faun. One time, however, I got a glimpse of that deeper power and strength. My roommate’s boyfriend had been drinking and was getting abusive and violent with her. Mr. Pisces calmly and quietly walked over and pinned the man’s arms behind his back and started twisting. Without fanfare he told him to leave if he knew what was good for him. End of story.
The key here is how the Pisces individual harnesses the great collective force they are born with which can, at times, overwhelm them like a tidal wave and make them feel lost and afraid. Developing their opposite polarity, Virgo, through some specific skill or technique will help to stabilize and focus their emotional body into a form that can be used in service to others. It is then that they can truly shine and feel good about themselves.
I think of a famous Pisces type, Elizabeth Taylor. She was hot stuff when I was young and considered one of the most beautiful actresses to light up the silver screen. She certainly did characterize the oceanic in all the variety of roles she played as an actress, the endless personal dramas she got swept away with, and the countless times she struggled with her own tidal forces of loss, suffering, and amazing rebounds. However, it was when she fully harnessed her vast emotional body into the Virgoan task of championing AIDS that she gained the balance and sense of humanitarian service that she is now acknowledged for. Good for her. She did it.
Pisces are the great chameleons of the Zodiac. They often survive through the art of camouflage. Well, doesn’t Water do that? Bodies of water take on the qualities and characteristics of their surroundings, the climate zone, etc. A fjord in Norway is one kind of water. A blue lagoon in the South Pacific is another. Both are water, but what a difference in kind and quality.
The great mythological stories, which have evolved since ancient Babylonian times, have many versions of the myth of Aphrodite and her little boy, Eros, acting out the art of evasion and shape-shifting that Pisces is known for. One version of the story tells of a ghoulish monster, Typhon, who is destroying eveything in sight. Aphrodite, in her love for her child, binds him to her with a cord and then magically turns them into fishes so that they can escape below the surface of the water to elude this demonic force wrecking havoc amongst the gods on the surface of the earth. Of course, Zeus, one of the ancient rulers of Pisces, ends up both rescuing them from their watery deep darkness, and rewarding them, which is what he loves doing best, by sweeping them up into the starry sky as the constellation of Pisces.
Initially every young Pisces learns to survive by blending and adapting to their surroundings and circumstances. As they age, however, this can become a problem for they don’t really know who they are. A number of years ago Patty Hearst, the heiress, was captured by the SLA and later emerged in a photograph while robbing a bank. She’s the perfect example of how Pisces survive as chameleons. First she’s this pampered girl from the newspaper dynasty family, next she’s playing Bonnie and Clyde in full regalia with her abductors, and finally—yep—she marries her bodyguard and settles into yet another role.
Remember, Pisces is the very last sign and thus all of the other signs are contained within it. No wonder it gets confusing being a Pisces! So how does a Pisces ever figure out who they really are? I always encourage my Pisces clients to spend time either alone or out in nature. Either way they will gradually separate out subject from object and gain a deeper sense of themselves in the process. The practices of contemplation can help Pisces: stilling the mind, being quiet, listening to the small inner voice. These are ways to come to know themselves better. Once they connect with their core, they can then turn outwards again and help a lot of people.
Serve or suffer is yet another famous cliche for Pisces. I remember a dear happy Leo woman saying once, “Oh you Pisces just lo-o-ove to suffer!” Certainly there was a ring of truth to what she said. Yet suffering is common to us all. It seems to be part of life here on planet Earth. What Pisces do best is to address that suffering and serve those who do. I know so many Pisces involved in the Healing Arts. One woman is a fine Acupuncturist with the most up-lifting sunny attitude. She has a lot of Aries fire in her nature to bring inspiration and spunk to her bedside manner. I know another Pisces who is a Homeopath. He has the patience and technical knowledge to listen quietly and assess accurately the right remedy from the thousands possible. He has more Aquarian planets to meld with his Pisces Sun. I know another amazing healer who works with sound. Her business card says “a harmonic approach to well-being”, Acutonics’ Sound Therapy.
A lot of Pisces are drawn to music and the performing arts. Here all the Dionysian qualities can often be expressed where mystical ecstasy and madness can be unleashed through sound, lights, and multi-media effects. Jon Bon Jovi and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (what a Piscean name!) come to mind in the music world. In the world of dance both Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev expressed the fluidity and power of this sign. There are so many very fine actors and actresses who are Pisces: Glen Close, Holly Hunter, Bruce Willis, Billy Crystal, Glenda Jackson, Joanne Woodward, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Binoche, Queen Latifah, etc.
Michelangelo was a Pisces, but if you want to see a wonderful contemporary artist who totally conveys the nature of mysticism through his magical works, visit the site of Ernest Caballero. Ernest is a Pisces through and through. He epitomizes the Pisces who has found a Virgoan container, his sculptures, for his visionary connection with the unseen realms.
There are many myths and stories connected with this sign, but I have especially always liked the fairytale Cinderella. It’s such a classic Piscean tale. The humble Cinderella serving day and night the harsh and greedy stepmother and her daughters. The enchanted visitation by her fairy godmother from the astral realm. The handsome, utterly romantic Prince of her dreams. The dancing until the stroke of midnight when the enchantment ends. The dropped glass slipper. The search for the right and true foot.
Shoes, feet, slippers are all under Pisces’ ruler ship. Last, but not least, the feet. They support the rest of us. They are under us. Pisces must learn to Understand. And, of course, this fairy tale ends with the happy ever after redemption theme that is such a part of the mythos of Pisces. Take a look at Ernest Caballero’s Risen Christ. There is the perfect image of Ascension and Redemption that Pisces yearns for even as the inevitable descent is taking place. There is a longing for absolute oneness and bliss in this enigmatic of all signs, Pisces.
I would like to close by bringing your attention to possibly the highest aspiration of Pisces, Kuan Yin. She is the female Goddess of Compassion known far and wide in the East as “The One Who Hears the Cries of the World.” The Lotus Sutra translated by Kumarajiva, possibly a Pakistani prisoner sold into slavery in China, somewhere between A.D. 397 and 415 introduced her and from there she evolved into the accepted role of the divine feminine by the 9th Century AD.
Kuan Yin epitomizes the qualities of Pisces, a Yin sign, as its best. Her compassion knows no boundaries and extends universal love to all, including animals and plants. Her appeal is that she extends her compassion and love to ordinary people. There are so many myths and stories abounding that tell of her great deeds of grace, but none are more fitting to our theme than her connection with the sea.
Tales are often told of her ability to calm the turbulence of typhoons as she descends from the heavens in her flowing white robes. Here is a quote described in one such tale from a beautifully written book about her, Kuan Yin, Myths and Prophiscies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion by Martin Palmer and Jay Ramsay with Man-Ho Kwok, “… Closing her eyes, she raised her hands before the raging waters, which immediately ceased their turbulence. Turning to face the winds, she opened her eyes and the winds died down and the storm clouds dispersed” Then she disappeared.
Peace, Love, and Compassion: these are the highest qualities that Pisces aspires towards. To get to such a lofty goal they must often wallow through a lot of mud and storms along the way. That is why Kuan Yin is often depicted standing upon a full blown lotus flower. Perhaps there are really no words now to further attempt to define what can only be contemplated. I leave you, dear readers, with that beautiful image. Who or what is Pisces must perhaps ever remain a mystery, an enigma.