As Water is to a Fish: On Pisces

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! Get naked, its time for a swim. This month I’m adding to the series on zodiac signs, four of which (Aries, GeminiScorpio and Capricorn) are already available for you to read. Today we are talking about Pisces, about which I have said relatively little so far.

David by Michelangelo Florence Galleria dell'Accademia

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”
– Michelangelo

For Wave Sweeper

In the ocean of life all things exist as reflections of one another. Every form and every experience looks back at us with our own eyes. We are invisibly tethered to everything. Everything is innately receptive to everything else and exists in a state in which it cannot be unaffected by its environment, especially its astral and emotional environment. This environment is in a constant state of flux and therefore causes a constant dynamic of change to occur upon our own astral and emotional body, thereby shaping the now moment through our instinctive and unconscious responses to it. The awareness most intimately cognizant of this truth is that of Pisces. In this message we will follow the currents of this aquatic being seeking not to hook it through the mouth but to let it swim free in this ocean, to free it from the marble it is concealed within. It can lead us through some very murky and dim depths, or to underwater palaces of enchanted beauty and colour. The twinned fish leading us to such varied places may swim in opposite directions, but they are never separated.

The fish is the most slippery of the zodiac’s animals, but also one of the most fertile. This fertility is most clearly and commonly expressed in Pisces through the fertility of its imagination. No other sign can compare to Pisces in this field. Pisces is a tap with only one position – on! – through which the world of the imagination continuously pours and must be captured in sacred vessels so that it can be shared with parched throats. The awareness of Pisces is so focused on what lies beyond the physical and the tangible world that it must do something with what leaks through or face a confusing ruin as the imagination takes over and dominates the ability to reason objectively. For Pisces, the entire world is a subjective realm of raw significance waiting to be shaped by interaction with conscious awareness. If Pisces does not see this for what it is it becomes quickly flooded by the input of invisible streams shaping it.

Pisces is the 12th and final sign of the zodiac, the last of the Elemental trinity of Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) and the last of the Reactive (Mutable) quadruplicity (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces). This positioning gives it an influence over the stage at which all astrological energy dissolves back into the mystical essence of the astral light. It indicates closure and dissipation, the disintegration of the individuality as it makes contact and merges with the infinite and eternal. The processes indicated by Pisces are osmotic ones – they gradually seep in and infiltrate through even the smallest of perforations, but the individual human awareness has many ruptures and yawning gaps through which Pisces can pour itself. These yawning gaps are the places where Piscean confusion play major roles, because the collective human awareness is not able to objectively perceive the realm within which Pisces as an entity exists. For now. Instead, what we perceive in its place are symbolic forms suspended within and clothed by the ocean of our imagination – angels, devils, devas, yogis, masters, spirits, faeries, ghosts and other ‘supernatural’ beings. That’s not to say these beings are imaginary. It’s to say their appearances and forms are imaginary. Pisces is the zodiac sign that senses this reality and is enchanted by its elusive mystery. It is a seeker yearning to pry the mask of infinite faces away from the world of the unseen to reveal the spirits behind the music of the soul. And more than any other sign, it is at risk of being swept away by what it finds, of being a vulnerable innocent lost in a terrifying and enchanted Wonderland.

Pisces is compassionate, sensitive, self-sacrificing, gentle, and intuitive. Unbalanced it can be escapist, idle, weak willed, apprehensive, impractical, neurotic, hyper- sensitive and gullible. Here is a list of reflective virtues and vices which can be attributed to the sign as an example of its qualities:



Tranquility, calm
Unconditional love
Deep feeling
Openness, rounded awareness


Laziness, lethargy
Flaccid, pushover
Suffering for others
Perpetual daydreaming
Unnecessary martyrdom
Unearthly, unable to deal w/reality
Plaything of spirits
Escapist, or lost in a maze
Emotional confusion
Inappropriate conflation
Formless blobbiness
Emotional coldness
Defenseless or chaotic identity
Lacking willpower
Fearful projection
Beset by unconscious meddling
Deceptive, Elusive













I present the qualities in this dualistic way because it can be helpful to meditate on how one can become the other and vice versa since this is what yields deeper insight into the nature of Pisces itself. Reflect, for example, on how having an empathic ability to connect with what others are feeling and to share in those feelings makes the soul both more defenseless and subjects the identity to chaotic influences. Repeat this with some other Pisces dualities that interest you. Such an exercise illuminates the connective tissue which helps us to grasp how the negative and positive are related and why the sign governs the capacity for qualities like compassion, self sacrifice, surrender or yielding of personal desires for the greater good, humility, seclusion, dreaminess, sympathy, loneliness, psychic comprehension, reflective consideration, meditation, reflection, osmosis, extreme receptivity, addictive or unconscious subjection to external influences (drugs, spirits, psychic atmospheres, etc.), karma, a weak willed lack of focus, laziness, spiraling debts, confusion of destiny and identity, escapism and various forms of isolationist institutions (hospices, prisons, hospitals). It helps us understand why astrology groups these things and many other analogies together under an umbrella it calls ‘Pisces’. The more time you spend with this exercise, the deeper you will grasp its wordless essence. Note that qualities are not necessarily or even commonly opposites – the opposite of ‘compassion’ is not ‘suffering for others’. Instead, what is shown are examples on a scale from a healthy expression to an unhealthy one. Note the themes that show up in the virtues, and the themes that show up in the vices, and meditate upon these as well. In the message that follows I will provide some guidance and further thought that you may explore Pisces with further, if you wish.


“They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements. I prefer to believe that God created it, and that it is inhabited by a nymph”.
                                                                                                                    – (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)

Physical life on Earth emerged from the ocean, and may one day return to it. The sea is our primordial womb, its creatures our eldest kin. In a vast number of places across the ancient globe worldly life was intimately bound to the life of the ocean, which was teeming with fish and far stranger creatures and provided a staggering array of resources. Our genetic origins within its primordial soup, its great unknowable mysteries, its depths and its undulating horizons, coupled with this endless abundance being poured forth and sustaining the land, established the seas a central place in our mythology and sacred understanding of life. The existence of the human soul was made resonant with the physical waters of the Earth by this connection. That is the mysterious call, the stirring we feel when we stand upon the shore and look out upon the mother and father of us all, listening to the music of wave catcher as she plays. Beneath the waves live many exotic and mysterious forms of life, and Pisces as the natural inhabitant of this realm not only perceives these forms lurking beneath the surface of material life,it also expresses these qualities in its own nature as well. It is not only enigmatic, ethereal, otherworldly and spiritually illuminated by inner grace but sensitive and impressionable, and unlike land dwelling creatures the connection of an aqautic being to the world it lives in occurs not just through feet but through the entire being, the skin and body being completely surrounded by the “matter” it exists within, not upon. Unlike other beings, fish also extract air through water – a biological process which is akin to the way that Pisces extracts information from feelings. The logic of this sign is therefore often surreal and enigmatic to those who are unable to decode its psychic origins.


The stars of Pisces dominate the dome of the sky when they are visible, but they are very faint in comparison to other constellations so they can be tricky to spot, like a fish in a reedy pond. Around 2,000 years ago these stars began to appear to rise just before dawn on the vernal equinox (a time of great magical and ritual importance) signifying that the Age of the Fish was beginning. It was taking over from the Age of the Ram, the two millennia when instead the stars of Aries were seen rising at the same time and place. Throughout the Age of the Ram those animals were a favored offering and sacrifice, but this practice and its cults now faded away. During this transitional period (which lasted for centuries) a figure arose in our history who eventually came to symbolize this cosmic makeover – a ‘Fisher of Humanity’ whose early cult adopted the symbol of the Ichthys, an ancient symbol of the sea:


At the time this figure emerged, however, astrology as we know it today was also emerging and additionally astrologers then did not have the benefit of hindsight that we do today and so since the stars of Pisces were so big, ambiguity about when the ‘golden age’ would begin (or had begun) was widespread and had been ongoing for centuries. When a bright conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter eventually took place in the stars of Virgo the Virgin (and was visible directly over Bethlehem) within the general period of this celestial change of the guard, the scholars of the ancient world were agog with this rare and long awaited event and prophecy had already been made that it would herald a new age for humanity. In later centuries the Christian Church cunningly appropriated the controversial sky narrative of this time for their own purposes – a narrative that had already been ongoing for millennia and had a long established significance to the people of the ancient world.

To reach beyond this is to dive into murky and even more controversial waters because the theological whitewash of what existed before is near complete. The mythic threads here are connected with fish as sacred beings and with the ocean as a sacred pool of life, but the focal point of the stars is not with the fish, it is with the knotted cord that binds them, and it is to this we must turn if we wish to glimpse these deeper, murkier waters of Pisces.

046Fat_CelticKnot-262x265Descriptions going back as far as records exist refer to this entity as two fish bound by a cord. The fish seem to swim in opposite directions, but the cord is always lax. This denotes an inseparable but supremely flexible dualism in the stars, a pair of individual entities who are connected by an adaptable sacred bond. For millennia before Christ, fish were regarded as sacred beings and cared for in the pools of many temples, especially in Asia and around the Mediterranean. Livelihoods on many islands and at shores depended on the proper relationship to the fish deities and spirits and so in places like Wales tales of a sacred Salmon of Wisdom were passed down through Celtic lines. The Greek and Roman myth of Venus and Cupid escaping Typhon by turning into fish bound together so as not to lose one another is only a reflection of some very ancient lore connected with binding, connecting and joining things together in the turbulent astral sea of life, a focus on pulling things together in a sacred knot of loving wisdom – a mothers and her childs. The ocean is the primordial source of life, she is the mother, we are the child, forever bonded by an invisible tether that can never be broken. This is why the constellation is nearly always connected with soft, feminine deities, some of whom are depicted with fish heads – Venus, Simmah, Anunitum, Astarte – beings of loving wisdom and tenderness, compassion and kindness, tears which heal and soften the pain of loss; it is a reminder of the sacred thread that binds us all, of the umbilical cord and the astra-mental cords that weave us together in the ocean of life.

But the sea can be a cruel and cold master and mistress, too, capricious and fickle in his mood, filled with terrifying unknowns and able to tear down ships and swallow whole families, and so there are turbulent, stormy, uncontrollable deities and entities, gods to be feared and appeased as well as those we dream of. Her tides could drag children playing on the shore to their quiet dooms, her drownings are marked not by thrashing and noise but by eery silence, and she could deposit the strange deformed corpses of monsters at the feet of the land like gifts bought in by a loving pet.

The knot and cord of Pisces also leads us to the net and the technology of fishing, the harvesting of the abundant fruits of the seas, which were once thought to be endless. In fact the knot is the true focus of the energy of the constellation, but by the time of the Greeks the awareness of the significance of the knot is mostly lost as the mythology offers no explanation for the cord (other than that it allows a mother and son – Aphrodite and Eros – to stay together in a turbulent time) and the story focuses instead on the transformation of Aphrodite and Eros into fish – an alchemical symbol relating to astral transmutation. As we reach back into the murky story of Pisces we must also remember that it is located in a part of the sky that is filled with aquatic entities and that it is therefore connected to the flood mythology which is enshrined in this region. Eros and Aphrodite are turned into fish while desperately seeking an escape from Typhon, and so again (see Capricorn) what we are seeing is a mythology which remembers a horrific catastrophe that ravaged the world and left it waterlogged. The knot is emphasizing something important – something deeply sacred – that holds things together in such times of calamity, loneliness and sorrow: mutual love. This is the essence of these stars, and the zodiacal sign is illuminated by this essence.



“I can’t stand innuendo. If I see one in a script I whip it out immediately”.
                                                                                                                         – Kenneth Williams

As I hope the above has shown the connection of Pisces to matters of spiritual importance is a historical one with far greater history than that of the recent attribution of Neptune to rulership of the sign. The traditional ruler of the sign, Jupiter, also resonates with this spiritual theme. There is a certain thematic sense to connecting Neptune with Pisces since Neptune in mythology is a god of the oceans, and this link makes a nice pattern with Pluto (ruler of the world under the ground) and Uranus (ruler of the world not upon but above the ground). In other words the three new planets have suggested they have connections to geophysical territories within the material realm where different clades of biological life evolve – aquatic, aerial and subterranean. This also suggests a clear connection to the three planes, the physical, astral and mental.

However as I said in various other places I believe that the connection between the new outer planets and the signs are not a rulership in the traditional sense but a completely new level or dimension of analogies which I have chosen to call ‘collective rulership’. This means that Neptune’s ‘rulership’ of Pisces is focused on our collective relationship to the sign and its mysteries. My contention is that this collective rulership transforms our collective relationship to the astral plane by transforming our relationship to Pisces. The same is true of Uranus/Aquarius regarding the mental plane and Pluto/Scorpio regarding the physical. I will leave this matter for another article and another time, and concentrate instead on the traditional rulership of Jupiter in this message.

Pisces as a Water sign is soft, wet and cold and these properties (which are to be considered metaphysically more than physically) represent its connection to Jupiter very aptly. The essential nature of Jupiter is inclusive and fertile because its principle is connected with commonality and alikeness and with growth through assimilation and absorbency, and so the softness and the wetness of Pisces facilitates this process while its coldness acts to magnetically draw things in. The fluidity and malleability of the form of water also demonstrates Jupiter’s expansive ability to completely and utterly fill any space. There is also an ability to mimic through absorption, much the same way that water can mimic the form of any object by filling its interior, and this is incidentally why we see many Pisces people with great talent for mimicry and impressions. Their talent is based on the ability to psychically connect with the personality they are observing and to assume its form from the inside out by feeling their way towards that personality within themselves.

Jupiter is also the ruler of Sagittarius, but its rulership of Pisces is Magnetic and nocturnal rather than Electric and diurnal. This means that via Pisces its sense of faith and scope is internally rather than externally sourced, so it voyages just like the Archer does, just as fish swim endlessly without rest through the sea. Both signs are seekers. Pisces seeks fertile sanctuaries and larger bodies – schools of other fish – with which to merge, just as stallions and centaurs revel in a drove. When Jupiter is the ruler of a Pisces temple it emphasizes the growth of the imagination in that area and the fertile, philanthropic, charitable, emotionally considerate qualities of the sign are bestowed. There are very rich but flexible emotional bonds and a lot of empathy and compassion generally in that realm of experience, as well as a yearning for ‘the right school of fish’. 


Pisces is connected in the occult anatomy to the feet and the small intestine acupuncture meridian. It is also connected to the Ajna or brow (Third Eye) chakra and the Crown chakra as higher guidance but also to the solar plexus and chest as feeling states (love, acceptance, inner tuition) to the colour spectrum through lilac, soft violet, white, amethyst and all glistening, reflective tones, to the realms of mythic imagination and mystical union, in the Western Hebrew Tree to the Hebrew letter Qooph (‘Back of Head’, referring to the subconscious mind), to sleep, dreams and the astral body, the musical tone G, the higher magic or major arcana of The Moon (the magic of the transformation of physical matter through the application of spiritually guided feelings directed by reason, mastery of the magic of mental influence over matter as well as mastery of meditation and mental states which connect to brain activity), the Path of Hod to Malkuth in the Tree which is called the ‘Perpetual Consciousness’ because it “directs the movements of the Sun and Moon according to their natural order, each in its proper orbit”, to alchemical projection (effectively the often metallic transmutation of a lower or grosser state into a more sublime or higher one, like lead into gold), to the seas and oceans and all water based plant and all marine life, known and unknown. It is furthermore analogous to the direction north-west and to the present day Sun sign energies embodied by Nepal (1975), Gambia (1965), Mauritius (1968), Tibet (1959), Mongolia (1921), Bosnia Herzegovina (1992), and Ghana (1957) and in the great outdoors and within buildings to all places near water, such as lily ponds, wells, shores, fishponds, boathouses, lagoons, damp corners, springs, waterwheels, rivers, fountains, moats, marshes, swamps, bathrooms, aquariums, pumps, sinks, water tanks and so forth. It also connects with temples, monasteries, holy sites, sacred groves and other locations important to spiritual practices or retreat from the mundane realm. Some famed individuals with Pisces as their Sun sign include Enrico Caruso, Edgar Cayce, Albert Einstein, Frederic Chopin, Pierre-August Renoir, Nicolaus Copernicus, Voltaire, Elizabeth Taylor, George Washington, Rudolph Nuryev, Michelangelo, Victor Hugo, Prince Andrew, Dick Emery, Kurt Cobain, Nina Simone, Michael Caine, Kenneth Williams, L. Ron Hubbard, George Harrison, Drew Barrymore, and Karen Silkwood.

Fish also lack a voice that humans can perceive, and so Pisces is also classed traditionally as a ‘mute’ sign, along with its Watery cousins Cancer and Scorpio (Libra should really be mute as well, but mute is a Water quality). This characterizes the sign with a silence and lack of words as well as difficulties with verbal fluency. Along with this muteness Pisces is ultimately the most passive of the creatures inhabiting the Earth Zone because unlike any of the other animate signs it lacks a method of aggressive attack, it can only rely on sharp instinctive responses arising from its acute electrically charged skin sensitivity to environmental movements and react by fluidly, swiftly, swimming away or evading. Therefore it is often at a disadvantage when direct and willful self focused or aggressive action is called for and is often paranoid, reacting to threats or dangers which are only the imagined responses to movements in the astral deeps, or shadows of clouds across the Sun. But sometimes, the monsters of the deep are really there. Pisces must acquire the discernment that comes from knowing its own emotional state. 


In The 26 Keys I tag Pisces as a “refining, internalising, form building, Water, Reactive sign of the astra-physical plane.” By refining I mean that it is about extracting a purified essence from something or causing motes of imperfections to be removed. Virgo is another sign of refining processes, but Virgo focuses on material forms and Pisces on astral or emotional ones. An internalizing sign acts to project its energy inward towards a centre or locus. Other internalizing signs are Gemini, Cancer, Libra, Scorpio and Aquarius. This is not the same as introspection, its about the flow of essential meaning towards a centre of power. By form building I mean it is involved in organizing that essential meaning into manifestation as forms rather than as a force. Form building signs are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio and Capricorn. Water and Reactive or Mutable are commonly known astrological terms which I discuss in this message extensively, but the connection to the astra-physical plane only becomes clear when you consider the Tree of Life, where Pisces shares a place with Aquarius as one of two zodiacal anchors and channels that flow into Malkuth, the physical universe (see later illustration).

As a zodiac sign Pisces describes the supremely fluid and mutable nature of Water, its constantly shifting shape and motion, which remains receptive until frozen (in human terms, until we are frozen out emotionally, at which point Pisces becomes very cold and throws up an ink cloud of deception that tries to fool onlookers into believing that it has nothing left to feel). It is reflective, pacifist, compassionate, yielding and sympathetic to suffering. It is also the most weak-willed, subtly deceptive, elusive, emotionally sensitive and disorganized of the zodiacal archetypes, a sign where the essential meaning of things is falling away from form and is being diluted or suspended in a shapeless liquid, and is thus analogous to the transformative essences or powers of alchemical tinctures. It seeks to encompass life with healing emotion for all that suffers and is much affected by astral vulnerability, mysticism and dreams or nightmares.

Since Pisces is the most fluid of the 12 signs, the most impressionable and the most emotionally sensitive, its placement over the temples or houses of the sky points to deep but highly subtle emotional patterns adopted in this area of experience. These impressions are sensitive to the unconscious currents and tides of mood and feeling that continually move through that zone of life experience and will often manifest themselves as dilemmas (the two fish pulling apart). Pisces is apt to see everything as a predicament or a dilemma and in this case this feature often applies itself to make its temple matters wriggly and slippery. This temple tends to exist in a continual state of flux and astral sensitivity which makes the direction of events more inscrutable and the experiences and attachments very sentimental and emotive, perhaps influenced so that you see life in this area as a process of self sacrifice for the greater good. It may be that you also have a highly imagined or dreamed up perception of this temple, in which case life will strip you of these illusions. Any idyllic views you have of the temples affairs may prevent you from seeing them as they really are and therefore even you from seeing who you really are.

Additionally Pisces is escapist and swims away from reality when that reality gets too murky, predatory or turbulent for the gentle fish to bear. Thus, it moves on leaving some dreams behind it. Sorrows surround Pisces like a cloak of mist. Suffering and grief pierce its heart like a spear through water, lancing it with no resistance, and the reaction then is to immerse the soul in something more beautiful, a fantasy world or a dream life, some deep watery realm far from the roiling currents of the surface. For this reason, dependence on drugs (medicinal or recreational) are frequently associated with Pisces, and there may have been a need to escape some things related to the temple. Music can be a profound help here. However, as an adult we tend to wash out any pain in this area by remembering only the good times and making excuses for others, excuses that can turn us into a martyr. We may try to create an idyllic idea of the temple and if we cannot do this in material form we will probably imagine one into being.

The Pisces temple in your chart should be a place in which you can retreat and/or let your imagination flow out, a place where you can both dream and indulge in your emotional sensitivity. You need to feel this area of life to be filled with a sense of empathic connection with everything around you, as well as a place where you can disconnect for a time from harsher realities outside the ‘tank’. Pisces is deeply attuned to the hidden waters of the astral realm and is therefore highly sensitized to the surrounding environment. Just as a fish feels movement in the ocean directly on its entire body through the rippling medium of water, so too does the Pisces sign feel the waters of the astral world upon its astral ‘skin’, and often reacts instinctively to any sudden movement in the ambient atmosphere with paranoia (what is really going on?) and a stunningly swift flight when truly threatened. When Pisces is the sign founding a temple/house this will be especially true in connection to that area of life experience. You need to be aware that shielding yourself from the unwanted influences of the non-physical world in this area of life may help you to remain clear and unconfused about what is going on and what has happened. Try to ensure that any lingering influences you sense are cleared out, resolved – loose ends are more of a bane here. Utilize your own imagination and the power of the Water Element in magical work with respect to the temples affairs. Embrace the ocean of that temple, in effect learning to swim in these deep waters and to keep swimming (Pisces always involves a total immersion in deeper and more inclusive feelings).

Mystical Mythical Creatures Unicorn Fairy Tales



“Oh, what’s the point?”
– Kenneth Williams, final diary entry

No other sign can sink to more clingy and quicksand like states of depression from which there seems no escape. The innate awareness that Pisces has of the way the world should be – a sensitive, caring place in which the collective imagination guides us to our dreams – collides hard with a human society that essentially rewards aggression and punishes passivity. Pisces is also afflicted by the sheer emphasis on material form over spiritual essence and by the myriad ways in which the modern pharmaceutical industries provide ways to suppress astral connection and empathy. Alcohol, tranquilizers, narcotics and mass availability combine into a lethal cocktail that can easily poison a Pisces life. Entertainment is now also in the early stages of stepping up to take this role with the introduction of VR. It can be easy for an extremely Piscean person to turn to these things as a means of escape from the numbing, unending drudgery of the average mortal existence, and then to become lost in a murky labyrinth from which there seems no return. Loneliness can also carve deep into the Pisces soul whispering coldly that ultimately every person is an island. VR provides an illusion of presence and physical contact, but the mind knows it is being fooled. Additionally, leaving VR aside, the unending tumult of change, reaction, change that causes life to swirl into a chaotic kaleidoscope and the identity to lose its moorings in the ocean currents can erode any sense of meaning until, as Williams wrote, there seems ultimately no point to any of it. This is about as far away as you can get from seeing Pisces as the portal through which we can glimpse the infinite invisible worlds beyond our senses, worlds literally shining and alive with true meaning.

Two deeper kinds of darkness of Pisces that often accompany depression, negative avoidance or escapism, addiction and loneliness are deception and martyrdom. Deception often arises initially from a lack of individual identity. A lack of clarity on who you are becomes exacerbated by environmental sensitivity so that the identity morphs according to situation. As this complex develops self-deception bleeds into the deception of others since it is not clear to us who we are and what we as an individual feel separate from what others around us feel. Beyond this, Pisces can become intentionally deceptive towards others seeing this as an advantage and a useful counter to its innate lack of defences (which it sometimes needs an armored Cancer or a weaponised Scorpio to lend it). Depression, negative avoidance, addiction and loneliness can act as the fuel or motivation for this deception. In a few more notorious examples the deceptive potential of Pisces become such a conscious tool that it results in famous frauds, many of whom go unmasked.

Martyrdom, by which I mean the willingness to give up what we need for the sake of some greater need, can become misguided by this deception. The Pisces person can martyr themselves for something which they have only deceived themselves into thinking is important but which is too often only illusory or what others feel they want (not even what others need). In this way the habit of martyrdom can develop a self-fulfilling prophecy in which depression and loneliness isolate the Pisces person even further and lead to a deeper need for negative avoidance or drive the recovering Pisces back into the hollow arms of its addiction.

That addiction can also be harder for a Pisces person to break away from because they do not have the capacity to set clear boundaries, something which other people often take for granted. A Pisces person addicted to alcohol has a nest of problems beyond their chemical addiction. Their addiction is a complex of nebulous emotional factors which they have often unknowingly picked up along their journeys and trying to make sense of it is often futile. Instead the remedies often involve detoxification and dilution or gradual weening away from the substance being abused. Additionally there are complications that arise from the astral realm wherein a Pisces person in a state of addiction is more vulnerable and attractive to entities seeking to feed from their suffering. The hold these beings have over a Pisces person can be very much like that of an octopus with many tentacles wrapped around the soul which need to be individually peeled away, or a handful of particles cast into a liquid and stirred – not easy to separate, in other words. Often, a more successful tactic will be to transmute the entity so that the person it is attached to gains control over it and gives it an expression in the physical world which constitutes a new purpose for that being. For example, an alcoholic painter can gradually transmute dependence upon alcohol into artistic inspiration which literally arises from and gives expression to their struggle with the entity outside of the context of drinking. In this way the ‘victim’ is not led down into murky depths, and the upward swimming fish leads the way. Many redemptive faerie tales illuminate this theme. 

Madness is also an extreme darkness of Pisces although not exclusively. Madness is such a general word anyway. The type of madness or insanity connected with Pisces is related to loss of boundary in the identity, the influence of the invisible world, the content of the unconscious such as repressed memory and the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. It has an emotional content to it which can bring about hysteria and panic or fugue and catatonia. Mental or emotional disturbances which are sourced in some form in Pisces can often be assisted through music therapy and/or by spiritual intervention. Ocean contact can also be a surprisingly effective therapy. 

FL1142, K Aitken; Humpback Whale Under Water


Why is Pisces driven to sacrifice itself so much? Is it merely a lack of self-esteem, an inability to assert the ego over others without feeling guilt or confusion? Or is that just the surface upon which the amethyst waves churn, stirred by something deeper beneath? The Scorpio in me says, dive.

Through Pisces all invisible karmic effects are resolved, dissipated and disintegrate back into the primal oceans of pure consciousness. It is where everything is reduced to a quintessence and projected back to the Divinity. This is the true meaning of the word sacrifice – to redeem or make sacred again. The zodiac is a map of the processes through which energy travels along a continuum in the astra-mental zone girdling the Earth, from its highly Electric conception and creation (Aries) to its eventual highly Magnetic return to the source and the essence from which it sprang (Pisces), so to burst forth in a new cycle. Those souls who incarnate with Pisces strong are seeking to merge their essence with something which transcends the material world; this is the sign of ultimate resolution and thus frequently they are here now attempting to distil the essence of lifetimes and comprehend the secret of the Eternal Now, the moment of consciously living and realised Oneness, as well as to rid themselves of the illusions they have acquired which cloud the waters. This does not mean that other signs are not involved in similar processes, for they are, it means that Pisces is left with little choice – it must do it or it will always feel confused, lost and victimized in the material realm. The Piscean people literally yearn for self liberation, they can feel it and they yearn to touch it. Often this expresses itself healthily in the form of deep and vivid imaginations and fantasies which they share with others, provided they make it clear these are only fantasies of course, but even then there will be times when the yearning manifests as disillusionment, despair, confusion, and a deep feeling of being lost. Only the path of spiritual development can bring an end to this malady. It does not matter what that path is.

Seen in this light, the habit that Pisces often forms of sacrificing both itself and the things it cares about (often unnecessarily and in a negative way) can be seen as a psychological response to encountering the reality of an extremely materialistic and blinkered world when one has been given the gift of perceiving something moving behind it. Following the loss of childhood Pisces sets about trying to remedy the situation it perceives, instinctively seeking to return the sacred to a world that has lost sight of it and which refuses to acknowledge it in anything but entertaining fantasies, children and daydreamers. The kinks in the process seem to occur when this noble aim is thwarted or worse perverted, so that the attempt to return the sacred to the world is defiled. Unrequited love is often an influence in this developmental experience. This can open the door to the depression already mentioned, but more importantly however in terms of the development of the trait of sacrifice such experiences are bitter to Pisces because they cause the notional definition of sacrifice to twist away from its original meaning and towards being about loss and sorrow.

In essence, the trait that Pisces has of sacrificing itself is a distorted and confused expression of its innate and natural need to restore the sacred order of life to our senses. The closer glimpse of unity communicated by contact with astral realms and the mystical awareness (often unconscious) gained from previous incarnations leads Pisces to deep waters of feeling, imagination and compassion for all suffering, to immersion in astral reality and thus to escapism from mundane reality. Additionally, the wide openness to (and lack of detachment from) the astral constitution of the Water realm makes them vulnerable to emotional states that originate externally as much as internally. Therefore psychic astral shielding is strongly recommended as a focus of study. The main point I want to make here however is that the solution to self-sacrificing behaviour which is a bad habit may be for Pisces to recognize again its own innate need to bring the sacredness of life to our senses, especially its own.



To put Pisces (or any sign) in context we can compare it to the signs either side. Whereas Aquarius relinquishes and rebels against restrictions, Pisces prepares to emerge from them into eternity, just as the child in the ocean like environment of the womb awaits emergence into the world. This subtle difference between Aquarius and Pisces energy manifests itself in the characteristics of the outer planet rulers of these 2 signs, Uranus and Neptune, for Uranus can be said to represent the freedom of the individual self, whereas transcendent Neptune represents freedom from the individual self (see Stephen Arroyo).

Pisces governs withdrawal from life, passage into the ‘void’, and the loneliness and mystical wisdom of old age. In the mystical practices of the East it was traditional for people in old age to terminate their worldly attachments, give up their families and friends, and retire as penniless wanderer-beggars (saddhus) in the mountains, often seeking a cave in which to contemplate and meditate on the Divine as death approached, but just as often simply wandering until time came to claim them. This was a symbolic giving back of themselves to nature and a recognition they were on the verge of returning into the great womb of the universe, from which all life comes and returns. This wandering may go some way to explaining the connection of Pisces to the feet; perhaps, when you are next walking in nature, and you look down at your feet, you might meditate upon the fact that what you are walking on your body will ultimately be buried in or scattered upon and so become an insoluble part of, and that your feet, like your soul, provide the foundation for all your earthly travels. From death comes life, all things are a part of the Great Wheel, which is ever turning, like Yin and Yang, or two fish swimming in opposite directions.

This also shows us a weakness in that Pisces has a difficult time handling choice and duality, for it is somehow receptive to more than one perspective on each and every matter, and is pulled in two directions – for it is through Pisces that we feel unity and thus irrevocably know that one souls gain is often another’s loss. This brings about empathy, the need to evaluate and act based on compassion for all that lives or suffers, and this quality partners nicely with those of Aries, the first sign, which follows it (passive-aggressive, cold-hot, slow to anger/quick to anger).

As I have stressed here, the fish are in fact bonded by a cord that connects them mouth to mouth. This emphasizes the emotional connectivity of Pisces, the ability to feel what others are feeling, as well as the fundamental nature of astral realities, the astral Elemental kingdoms beyond and within the physical, for in these realms nothing acts or moves without creating a tangible ‘wave’ or ripple which affects all other things within the medium. The vast nebulous mystery of the sea speaks of the primal source, the astral foundation of the physical universe, within which all living things are suspended as objects in a sea of breathing and living forms, surrounded by it at all times, subject to its tides, dependent upon it for the very breath of life, yet forever unaware that it is even there, as invisible to us as water is to a fish.

The Piscean nature seeks to encompass the oneness of life and thus transcend the mortal and temporal world for something far greater. It is often deeply disturbed by mans (or woman’s) inhumanity to others (including non-humans like animals, oceans and plants) and the disappointing and often terrible realities of the world. Pisces senses that it is a mere mote, a speck floating in endless unknowns and at the mercy of the tides and currents it can only vaguely sense, if at all, and this sense, coupled with a deeply intuitive feeling that things should not be the way they are and that life holds an unfulfilled promise, can lead it to forms of escapism (alcohol, drugs, fantasy worlds) or to the experience of visionary dreams, bardic lore and walking between worlds (musician, shaman, vision maker, mystic). In both of these directions, escapism or transcendence, something of a hermit’s life exists.

The astral nature of Pisces is directly connected with the way the personal form of our mind shapes and is shaped by the medium in which it exists. The mind must judge what it perceives in the endless flow, it is compelled to ascribe meaning to significance, and this act of judgment is one of the inner esoteric mysteries of the Pisces sign – its process gives birth to the physical body and the physical universe from the astral. As the personal mind experiences things and is immersed in their astral nature, their significance, it is compelled to assign them a meaning, to judge them personally, and this assignation is shaped by unconscious aspects of the personal mind as well as by conscious aspects, but it is usually the unconscious aspects that form the root shaping and that cause trouble. The reason this is the case is that we have collectively become habitual in our exercising of this personal judgment – it operates all the time without our notice and so represents a barrier to self awareness. Spiritual instruction and meditation lead us inward to confront these unconscious aspects of ourselves and by changing them our assignation of meaning to significance clarifies and our mundane experience becomes guided by an intuitive sense that there are spiritual agencies in the universe.

The dualism of the sign and the cord can therefore be seen as relating to the back of the head, the connection to the personal unconscious, a ‘slippery fish’ that brings vacillation and dilemma because there is the task of navigating ones own judgments to identify how the unconscious might be shaping the manifestations in our world. Thus it is often vital for Pisces to enter into the imaginary worlds and experience their reality in activities like meditation, daydreaming, the arts, music, poetry and other metaphysical pursuits. In his book ‘The Inner Sky’ astrologer Steven Forrest puts it this way –

“What we take to be the world is an electrochemical phenomenon occurring in the folds and creases of our brains. Only a play of images. Only a dream. Pisces observes the mind observing the world. The objective universe evaporates. All that remains is a vast network of subjective reactions. All that remains is a dream.”

The Piscean path leads into this dream world and so must evolve a means to navigate it and, when necessary, keep it at bay so that it can be objectively perceived. In order to do this Pisces must know its own inner world almost like a fish knows its environment, in a way which is supersensitive and highly evolved. Without this inner knowledge of its own astral nature Pisces is extremely vulnerable to being shaped by external factors rather than being the shaper of material forms, which is its ultimate purpose.

Misc Gra - special.pdf-41

Image by Rawn Clark

In the Tree of Life we see that Pisces is placed on the path which terminates the pillar of Form in Malkuth, meaning that it is the ultimate passage through which physical world happenings are shaped. The magician will clearly understand this as being analogous to the way in which the mind and the imagination, once brought under control and the unconscious elements are transformed or purged, can be employed to guide specific forms of significance into material manifestation in the now moment. Pisces therefore has a mystical and magical connection to mental mastery of the physical plane, which is why it is often associated with meditation and practices such as yoga.

Yet the deeper magic lies in that cord which binds all of life together as a knot in the heart of the astral realm from which all life emerges. The physical and the astral realm are inseparable. The greatest magic of Pisces only emerges when the soul embraces this reality wholeheartedly and lives life as an expression of this truth, with thanks for its immensely bountiful mystery. Then, the heart is touched by Divine Providence and its yearning for spiritual enlightenment becomes a yearning to share it. The eye sees the angel in the marble and both yearns and knows how to set it free. 

22 comments on “As Water is to a Fish: On Pisces

  1. Hi David, thanks for this article! This gave me some new insight into my Pisces 10th Temple that I hadn’t considered before.
    Also I feel a bit confused about the part on Pisces on the Gra Tree, about the distinction between personal significance, and the assigning of personal meaning or judgment of significance; the difference between quantifying significance in Splendor, and giving importance to significance through the path of Pisces. Maybe some example to illustrate? It is starting to make a bit more sense, but still feels a little slippery in my mind.

    • It IS slippery 🙂 ok think of it this way – In Hod, you have your own storehouse of personal data and opinion. In Malkuth, you have the physical universe eternal Now moment. The Now moment cointinues to change as it expresses infinity and eternity. With every new now moment, your Hod makes a host of judgments. This happens mostly unconsciously, except in a magician. Thats Pisces, the interaction between Hod and Malkuth. It is a major way in which our material experience is shaped.

  2. Ahh ok, yes it helps to think about it more in this dynamic interactive way, ever changing. So then our Malkuth experience is simultaneously the result of these personal judgments, as well as being the basis or precondition that enables or gives occasion for these judgments to take place? Seems like a cyclical thing with no real beginning or end. But then perhaps that’s the physical universe in its eternity, totality.

  3. As usual, you wrote something really amazing! And this writing is one of the best. My knowledge about the Signs is improving. Thanks so much brother

  4. Why is Mercury in both detriment and fall (pretty drastic!) in Pisces? All the water submerges intellectual Mercury?


    • Mercury is really interesting from a dignity perspective, he doesnt have a fixed role in sect, he has an exaltation in one of his signs of rulership, and as you say is in both detriment and fall in Pisces. He is playing the field, as it were. There is no old text saying “this is why this planet is dignified thus here” – there are numerous ancient voices trying to explain it all, it was a mystery 2000 years ago and thus has been mysterious a long time. Astrology does not know the origin of these associations, but several convincing guesses have been made. So you may get a different answer to this question depending on where you go and I cant claim to have the original one. If you read the above article on Pisces you will see that the sign is steeped in the workings of the unconcious mind. Mercury is rational and the unconscious interferes with rational assessment because of its subjective content. Additionally, Pisces is the dual bodied sign (Gemini and Sagittarius are the others) wherein the decision making process is most slippery.

  5. what a beautiful article. i love the imagery of pisces as a child in the womb connected to his/her mother by the umbilical cord as an analogy for its symbol, the two fish connected by a cord. it makes me realize that this sign, which is usually associated with endings and returning back to the source, is just as equally about beginnings. the 12th house, rather than being thought of as a prison, can be imagined as a place of gestation! planets within are sort of…. growing. indeed they are hidden, but i dislike thinking of this temple and whatever may be within negatively. i have 3 personal planets in the 12th, after all. 4 if you ditch placidus.

    hmmm, i’ll really have to analyze this further on my own time… 😁 can’t wait to hear your thoughts on aquarius!

    • Sorry for the long delay in my responding but there have been a storm of comments in the last year! Thank you for this feedback, and these enlightened comments on the 12th. Yes things in the 12th are ‘preparing to be born’. How exciting is that?! I hope you enjoyed the Aquarius post, more to come as I am working on Saturn in Aquarius. Stay safe and much love!

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