February 18th, 2022
The final sign of the zodiac is here as Aquarius dissolves into the ocean of eternal life, or the season of the fish. Pisces is here to help us integrate all of the lessons we have learned throughout the zodiac and unite them into a transcendent vision for our start of the next turn of the wheel.
Pisces is a feminine sign ruled by Jupiter and Neptune, and is balanced and complemented by the opposite sign of Virgo, ruled by Mercury. Immediately we have a problem: a profoundly feminine sign ruled by two male gods. Something is amiss, but as we’ll see, it comes down to the usual tale of patriarchal gods taking over from the earlier goddess cultures.
The constellation represents two fish, lying back-to-back and yet tied together either by a cord or a ribbon. This symbology of duality is at the core of Pisces, ‘as above, so below’. Along with fish, Pisces symbols include dolphins, whales and other sea mammals as well as non-animal symbols such as wine, the vine and the ichthys, which was used by both Christian and pagan cults, as well as some ancient cultures of prehistory.
The ichthys was adopted by early Christians as a secret sign of their faith but the symbol predates Christianity. The word means ‘fish’ in Greek and the symbol comes from the Vesica Piscis which means ‘bladder of a fish’. The intersection of the two circles represents the joining of two worlds, the divine and the human. The figure of Christ can be an example of that union but it was originally used to represent the Great Mother goddess. It stands for the yoni, the entrance to the womb, which is also the entrance to the afterlife or spirit world.
Up until recently, the earliest depiction of the Pisces constellation was on an Egyptian coffin lid that dates to 2,300 BCE, but that has now been shattered with an incredible discovery in India of petroglyphs that date to 10,000 BCE. While one of the carvings doesn’t represent the constellation itself, it does show two fish back-to-back joined by a band or cord. While we don’t yet fully understand what it meant to those who carved it, we do know the idea of connecting fish to the afterlife and the gods is prevalent.
In Babylonia, Pisces was represented by a bird connected to a fish by a cord and was sometimes depicted as a mermaid. In Syria, Atargatis, the fish goddess of water and fertility was also often depicted as a mermaid and when the Greeks adopted the story they changed Atargatis and her son Ichthyes, into Aphrodite and Eros. Here the Greeks believed that the two fish in the constellation of Pisces, rescued the goddess and her son when they jumped into the ocean to escape Typhon on Mount Olympus.
Pisces represents the collective unconscious and includes everything from the transcendent to the dark and destructive. It tries to avoid a confrontation with the unconscious by retreating into the intellect. They may deny the spiritual and embrace materialism and rationality, but the chaos is still there, lurking in the subconscious, always threatening to overwhelm the structure of life. The two fish swim in opposite directions and represent the endless paradoxes of Pisces: the spiritual fish and the material fish, rational and irrational, victim and redeemer. The cord that binds them, shows they can’t be separated because they’re interdependent, you have to honor both.