The Butterflies of Ma’at: On Libra

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month I’m talking to you about Libra. You can find previous articles discussing Libra in some detail here and here. If this post is valuable to you and you would like to help to ensure the continuation of this journal please consider becoming one of my patrons.


If you understand or if you don’t
If you believe or if you doubt
There’s a universal justice
And the eyes of truth
Are always watching you.

– Enigma, The Cross of Changes

For Erve

Upon first opening the box of Libra the eyes are greeted with a shining golden light, for inside sit a pair of ancient world market scales polished to aesthetic perfection. They are simple and unadorned but this simplicity, like their loving polish, is its own beauty. Unlike the other thrones of the zodiac, what leaps out is not a breathing animal or creature of myth but instead an object. Next to this lie other equally beautiful and artfully formed objects – a sublimely soft ostrich feather, an ornately carved spirit level, a silk blindfold, a quill, an ornate hand mirror, a spinning gyroscope, a pair of interlinked rings elegantly inscribed with an ancient script and a piercingly sharp sword with an emerald hilt. The mystery of what connects these objects together leads us further into the box where we come to understand the significance behind them, and the living truth hiding in the bottom, beneath the symbols that are its body and appendages. For there is indeed a living breathing animal dwelling in the depths of the sign, but to truly find it we will need not only to understand the magic of the Air Element, but also the more mysterious enchantment of Venus, we will need to strike a perfect balance between these two things and we will need to overcome our intellectual prejudices and our human biases in order to even perceive it.

In modern astrology Libra is perhaps the most virtuously portrayed of the signs, with most of its negative and destructive qualities being of a soft and Venusian nature. It’s important to understand however that these softer and often more socially polite vices can be just as devastating and destructive as the more recognizable and dramatic problems of (for example) Aries and Scorpio. Ask any Libra person just how problematic some of these issues can be and they will eagerly explain how they have impacted their lives. They just do so in a way which is more seductive and pleasing to those around us, factors which make it that much harder to transform them.

While it is by no means exhaustive the two columns below represent some of the more common manifestations of Libra in the human character. They are signposts and guides, not definitive or comprehensive facts. As I said before in previous articles note that these qualities are not opposites of one another like night and day, they are instead examples of how Libran qualities can manifest on a continuum of extremes. The opposite of being lonely is not ‘being cooperative’ – the undesirable result of ‘lonely’ is instead what we feel as a result of not being able to be cooperative at all, or cooperating with everyone and thus becoming untrustworthy when a dispute or difference emerges. ‘Moderate’ when taken to its extreme leads us to become negatively ‘uninvolved’. It is the stretching of a quality to its extreme which causes it to venture into its own negative territory. This is because the universe is fundamentally interconnected as a singular thing which encompasses all polarities and divisions and so any one thing exists alongside an equal and opposite partner which is its ever present and equally true shadow. Libra is The Balancer, perpetually engaged in a restoration of order to the scales of life. Ones greatest strength is invariably ones greatest weakness – everything depends on the context. More than any other lesson or truth, this is what Libra knows – any notion or idea, no matter how logical, valid or legal, not only has equal and opposite partners but actually becomes its opposites when taken to its extreme, like day into night and night into day. There isn’t any clear moment when this happens – there is instead a transition period of dusk or dawn – but the differences between one side and another are obvious. The end result of too much narcissism is in getting lessons that teach you about seeking real and genuine beauty in life and the end result of seeking beauty exclusively is a venture into narcissism. When you get to the end point of what makes you feel you are indecisive you have discovered a lot about being fair, but being excessively attached to being fair leads round to indecisive again. The rings are looped. The place of balance between the two is thus the refuge in which clear and fair choices and notions emerge, but more importantly it is the place of calm that is not torn between polarities, the point of equipoise in which grace and truth can flow. So, to watch the stars shining for brief minutes at dawn, to be the dusky mist hovering between activity and rest, earth and sky – this is the territory of Libra. Finding this ever shifting zone of twilight is much easier said than done, as we shall see. 


Seeking Beauty


Excessive consideration of others
Easily Influenced
Fence Sitting
Dependant and Clingy
Refusal of Negativity













The lore of a sign is intimately connected to the constellation of stars which share its name, even though they are not the same thing. In the case of Libra we have an interesting and unique situation to consider and one which helps us to understand the nature of Libra, as the story of these stars through time aptly symbolises the essential nature involved.

First, it is frequently said that the constellation of Libra came about at some point during the Roman era. It is not clearly known if this was the work of a single individual or something which occurred over a period of time but at some stage in this period of history the notion that the stars were a pair of scales connected to a goddess of Justice established firm roots in western astrology. Before this time the scales are often referred to as the claws of the scorpion, Scorpius. Note that I said ‘often’ – there is a commonly held misconception that the Romans “invented” the scales of Libra as a concept when in fact the reality is that they had already been known as, referred to or connected with scales and the concept of cosmic truth for thousands of years before then. We see this in the astrology practiced in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and India and in rare cases in the time of the Greeks. It seems more accurate to say that the Romans formalized a much more ancient tradition in their own way, as was there cultural practice with many of the things that appeal to them.

The Romans associated these stars with their goddess of Justice, Justicia, who often appeared with her sister Prudentia (Prudence). These deities were based on the Greek equivalents Astraea, Themis and Dike, who in turn were probably based on or shared a common origin with the Egyptian goddesses, Ma’at and Isis (in ancient Egypt the stars of Libra are formed into a boat, the vessel which delivers the soul to the judgment of Osiris, or as a scale beam, representing the magic technology which tracked the level of the Nile). Well before the time of the Romans this part of the sky was associated with the idea of light or a lamp representing the Assyrian God Nusku, a god of fire and light believed to inhabit the stars. From what we know of the Assyrian people, which is extremely fragmentary, the closest analogy we have is probably a mix of two deities, Shamash (god of truth and justice who holds the scales as a sacred symbol) and Nusku (god of light and patron of the arts and civilization). Rome largely reduces these mostly feminine figures to objects, but retains the feminine figure wielding them – a sword of truth, scales of justice and balance, philosophical robes and a blindfold to signify not blindness but an inner eye with the ability to see the truth behind appearances, the truth within.

So in an earlier time the Scorpion either held the scales in its claws or the claws were themselves the scales by which things were measured. To understand this connection you must consider the way a scorpion uses its own claws to investigate things and peel them apart. The connection with the Scorpion is deeply significant in terms of the understanding of Libra because it also shows that the sign has a connection in ancient thought to the mysteries of death, the afterlife and the judgment of the soul that is to come for all of us. In more ancient cultures the concept of justice and truth was connected to this, but by the Roman era this concept has become distinct and separate all of its own and this is the period in which our modern legal structures emerged, institutions which are dedicated to seeing that justice is done. Faith had withered and systems were perceived to be necessary in order to see that the will of the gods was done upon the Earth. In this respect it’s interesting to note that the Romans also tell a tale about Astraea being the last of the gods to leave the Earth following the disappointment heaped upon them by the actions of humanity. This is an important point to understand if you are a Libra – it’s the Romans that made you responsible for seeing that justice is done! Before that time, the role of Libra was a spiritual one focused on revealing truth through an understanding of cosmic laws.

Justicia, Astraea, Dike, Themis, Isis and Ma’at are all associated with a pair of scales, but in ancient times the celestial form of these goddesses was often more represented by the constellation of Virgo (a powerful, wise woman). So what we can understand from this is that the constellation of Virgo was mythologically associated with scales many thousands of years before the Roman period, and that during the Roman period there was a conflation of different deities into a more homogeneous one. Part of this was that there was not just a conversion of the spiritual claws of Scorpius into the more mundane scales of Libra, there was also a borrowing of the scales from the concept associated with the constellation of Virgo.

In effect, Libra’s creation borrowed something from each of its neighbours – claws from Scorpius and a pair of scales from Virgo – and its essential nature is a balanced and equal infusion of both halves. This balanced fusion of qualities from each of its neighbors encapsulates not just its stellar nature but also it’s zodiacal nature.



“I is another” –  Arthur Rimbaud

Libra the balancer is the sign of equality and even splits, the pioneer of the Air Element and its aspiration for total neutrality. It is an Active (Cardinal) Air sign and the Electric expression of Venus and it symbolises a creative astra-mental process which leads to balance and harmonisation on the astral (i.e. personal) level of experience. It is among all the Air signs the most Neutrally charged (referring to the Fluids) because it seeks to find the middle ground between all couples and pairs of things, but behind the cool and often calm exterior there is an emotional heart, as sensitive as a Stradivaris violin and easily offended and upset, merely pretending to be indifferent to matters. Libra maintains composure in us. It’s what we need when our day goes down in flames because there was no coffee that morning, the car window is fucked and we can’t afford to pay for it, we lost our house keys and the police have just stopped to hassle us. Wherever it falls in a chart (check the temples) and whatever planet it processes it is much harder to fluster us there, and there is a greater spirit of compromise, tact, poise, serenity and equanimity, but problems of nervousness and extreme indecision arise from taking too Airy an attitude and not paying enough heed (or the wrong kind of heed) to the whispering song of Venus in the wind – the feelings. It implies a subtle but divisive distrust of feelings (because being subjective they lack a balanced objectivity on judging what is factual and therefore true) when the feelings are in fact a source of strength that need to be trusted because the feelings are just as much a vehicle of truth as the facts are, they just communicate another equally important side of it. We understand and possibly even pardon it when a person being tortured kills their tormentor. We do not understand it when they kill out of boredom or fun. What people feel as they act places judgment of their actions and of facts in context. Sunder one from the other and you no longer have justice. So there are two equal sides here too, one concerned with keeping a level head, the other concerned with discerning what people feel about things, and the two must work in tandem without interfering with one another for the scales to balance properly. It is true for personal relationships and it is the same in the law courts which are almost everywhere adorned with the symbols of this signs essential meaning. You are Air, dear Libra, but your heart is Venusian and it is beautiful and trustworthy. Embrace it. There is spiritual equipoise there, not chaos.

The typical approach of a Libran planet is to be fair and balanced taking into consideration the thoughts and feelings of others with a view to exploring and embodying principles of balance, justice and harmony. It tries to remain calm and tranquil at all times. This is a big reason why Mars is kind of chained up by love here. Libra needs to acquire the ability to be assertive and make firmer decisions, avoiding procrastination and fence sitting in its desire to be fair and impartial. It is an Air sign and thus naturally attuned to mental levels of awareness so it will tend to approach things with a view to the ideas and thoughts that it conjures, in particular weighing things up as if evaluating their measure on a pair of scales. This polarity of thought, a division between one thing and another, is always viewed from the perspective of bringing together into harmony, of similarity and degree of balance. It is a romantic and just perspective that seeks to give everything its proper place and consideration.

However, looking at life this way can lead to doubt and confusion about decisions that seem pressing or serious, since there is a sense of no turning back with dire consequences in such cases, and Libra is in love with turning back or at least being able to turn back, and shrivels from visiting dire consequences on anybody even in a polite and socially acceptable form such as a competitive game. The Libran in us does not want to do anything to others that we would not want done to ourselves, and so it is often timid in acting at all. A time inevitably comes to act, and this exposes the Libran Achilles heel. Mistakes or poor decisions are felt as miscarriages of justice since the Libran outlook is to be as impartial, diplomatic and fair as possible. The thought of a ‘wrong’ decision is often enough to paralyze the entire personality into inactivity, which can ironically be worse than either choice before it. Even with a ‘right’ decision (you went right in Firetop Mountain and missed the deathtrap!), Libra is still haunted by the equal potential of the other choice (“what was the deathrap guarding, what was at the end of the left corridor?”), and with severe moral dilemmas it often seems to have no option but to pretend to itself that there was no choice. And so often the Libran dance is a graceful but dizzying waltz from yes to no and back again, with no end in sight until something acts upon the paralysis to cause a definitive and long dreaded choice to be made, often at a time where it feels like the worst time to make the choice. It is, because the right time to choose was long before it reaches that point.

682px-Themis_HK_LegCoConnection to Libra often also brings involvement in the arts, in music especially, but also to all forms of expressing aesthetic beauty or feelings, such as cosmetics, marriage guidance, or care work. This is the influence of the signs planetary ruler. Ruled by Venus, Libra is the equalising aspect of Air and is appropriately even-handed, charming, harmonious, artistic, tactful, balancing, gentle, diplomatic, and possessing an integral and strong sense of fairness. It can be over- compromising, indecisive, appeasing, pleasure seeking, judgmental, and too inclined to sit in the middle ground doing nothing, just sitting on the fence between two sides. It relates to the sacrum chakra (as attention to ones self, relationships based on sensuality, creativity), and to the heart centre (as loving contact, balanced force bringing circulation of energy, and harmonization). In the body it resonates with the buttocks, kidneys, adrenals, ovaries, fallopian tubes, urinary system, excretion through skin and skin tone, lumbar vertebrae and the circulatory system (what goes around comes around). In colour it is typically pale, pastel and subtle in tone and has analogies to yellow, orange, olive green and black/white combos, among others. Its astrological direction is due west, its season in the northern hemisphere is autumn, its musical tone is F and its places include bridges, arches, portals, pillars, art museums, cultural centres, quiet places like libraries, all places where there is an airy, light, open and spacious atmosphere so that the air is crisp and clear, thus to mountains and places where the activating power of the wind is harnessed like windmill farms, as well as being traditionally linked to places where wood is cut or stored such as barns or outhouses. Indoors it points to places near windows, chambers and rooms within rooms (such as walk in wardrobes or larders in a kitchen), the upper rooms and the air conditioning or ventilation ducts, dressing tables, mirrors and cosy sofas for two. Libra also connects on the Hebrew Tree to the Hebrew letter Lamed (meaning ‘Ox-goad’ or more profoundly ‘instruction’), the 20th Path of Wisdom (the ‘consciousness of Will’) and the magic of Justice (major arcana of the tarot, depicting the magic of illuminating and transforming the emotional nature through the light of the Individual will, the ‘consciousness of Will’), also with all flowing or gentle music, a light easy feeling, alchemical sublimation (the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas state without passing through an intermediate liquid phase) and beautiful works of art. In mundane astrology it is connected with the Sun sign in the current charts for Cambodia (1993), New Zealand (1907), North Yemen (1962), Botswana (1966), Tuvalu (1978), Belgium (1830), Fiji (1970), Uganda (1962) and Lesotho (1966). Well known individuals with strong Libra in their astrology include Arthur Rimbaud (Sun, Moon and ascendant), Louis XIII of France (Sun and Moon), Jimmy Carter (Sun and ascendant), Derek Jacobi, Lech Walesa, Bruce Springsteen (Sun and Moon), T.S. Eliot (Sun and ascendant), Leonardo DiCaprio (Moon and ascendant), Rudolph Valentino (Moon and ascendant), Karen Silkwood (Moon and ascendant), Elizabeth Barret Browning (Moon), Emily Dickinson (Moon), Nikola Tesla (Moon), Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (Moon), Bertrand Russell (Moon), H.P. Lovecraft (Moon), Agathie Christie (Moon), Walt Disney (Moon) and Justin Bieber (Moon).

Charming, artful, reconciliatory and serene, Libra is perhaps the most composed sign of the zodiac – whereas its opposite partner, Aries, concerns itself with raising a ruckus in order to get things started, Libra is about calming things down so that creative power can emerge through cooperating in harmony. It is very concerned with how the personality is perceived by others and seeks to be involved in relationship or partnership for maximum self expression of being and life – it is itself one half of something and so it seeks completion and wholeness. Thus, it is prone to feel the touch of loneliness and isolation that much more acutely than other signs and to agree when it really thinks that it does not, for the sake of peace.

Emotions as I have indicated are usually a source of confusion because they muck up the delicate balance of the scales, the mind which weighs everything in the balance being inadequate for objectively assessing the weight and value of even the most seemingly trivial feeling. Libra thus needs to learn that feelings and passions cannot be weighed and judged objectively like this, or that this weighing establishes little of significance. Concepts, ideas and thoughts can be weighed up on the scales, but personal emotions break them or just give off wacky readings. The only way to know if a feeling is really ‘from the heart’ is to embrace it wholeheartedly, like Scorpio, the sign that follows Libra, but Libra is very often afraid of losing its valued objectivity in such passion and fears losing its ability to judge correctly without the golden scales to guide it. It has too much Virgo to be Scorpio and too much Scorpio to be Virgo.

As an Active sign Libra understands that the peace and tranquility it seeks is not won without some kind of action. The act of balancing the scales is an act, they will not balance themselves, therefore Libra is not to be dismissed as a passive witness to events, it is a participant in the truest sense of the word since a participant is a partner in something and Libra is most definitely the partner of the zodiac. The serenity of Libra is therefore not an innate quality but one which they must tinker with. They have to constantly take into account the reactions to their actions and adjust their behaviour accordingly. They are for this reason consummate people watchers who spend much of their time studying the behaviour of other people and their reactions to events. Unlike its sibling Air sign, Gemini, Libra is not just a social butterfly flirting with one flower to the next out of curiosity (although it is subtle and graceful enough to make it appear that way), it is instead involved in activity designed to bring harmony and reconciliation where there is difference and discord. Even when it is not consciously trying to make things smoother for everyone around it, it is unconsciously doing so both internally and externally. It is exhausting and draining work, just as sparring and being combative is draining for Aries. The most tiring days are those which involve having to make lots and lots of difficult decisions involving different people, especially under pressure. For a Libran, this is like being in a war zone.


In ‘The 26 Keys’ I tag Libra as a “Creative, Internalizing, Force emanating, Air, Active sign of the Astra-Mental plane”. Along with Aries it is a creative sign involving itself in acts of creation. The process with Aries is like a blastoff or an explosive burst of energy at the beginning of creation, while the process of Libra is more of an ongoing act of beautifying creation, aesthetically readjusting creative self-expression in harmony with a creative expression of others or a muse. Libra adores its muses and they love it back, rewarding it with its greatest treasure – a moment of peace. The creative impulse of Libra is deeply connected to its need for peace and serenity, because when we look upon, smell, or otherwise perceive beautiful things we feel an immediate relaxation and sense of tranquility. Libra spends a great deal of its creative energy beautifying its environment, needing clean sheets and clothes and a pleasant environment much more than other signs, and there are definitely exceptionally talented artists in the tribe. However, the primary act of creation which Libra involves itself in is the creative act of relating to others, and it is often the most draining too. It is an internalising sign (Gemini, Cancer, Libra, Scorpio, Aquarius and Pisces) because it references the external world and then makes an internal adjustment based upon what it encounters – the flow is from the external towards the internal, towards a centre of power rather than away from one. This internalizing nature is very aptly shown by the blindfold on the goddess of Justice. There are deeper layers to this internal focus however which we will come to at the end of this message. Force emanating signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius) are involved in organizing essential meaning into manifestation as energy output rather than as a forms and structures. We can think of Force emanating signs as quantum wave states and Form building signs (the other 6) as particle states. Note that the other two Air signs are Force emanating and internalizing too, because the four Elements actually draw many of their shared qualities from these relationships (all Fire signs are externalising and Force emanating, all Water signs are internalising and Form building, all Air signs are internalising and Force emanating and all Earth signs are externalising and Form building). To my knowledge this is not something you will read about in any other astrological books of today because it is an insight that arises from the practice of magic. I will go into this in more detail later, for now it’s important to know because this is the reason why I have tagged Libra as an astra-mental sign. The Active or cardinal nature of Libra has already been discussed – peace and harmony do not just ‘happen’ but require our agency and activity, relationships being a prime example of this.

The two squares from Libra to Cancer and Capricorn are actually very different. The first square that Libra throws behind itself towards Cancer is simply loaded with sensitivity and vulnerability and is prone to troubles between family and intimate partners, or to be torn between a need for privacy and a need for close company. This square plays upon the emotional nature of Libra, throwing Venus into a turmoil of worry and anxiety about the future and her ability to protect herself and/or those she loves from a turbulent and chaotic world. The other square which Libra throws forwards into Capricorn is instead loaded with responsibility and the need to keep things orderly and running smoothly. There is often an excessive emphasis on the need for wisdom which can easily become preachy or sanctimonious and supercilious. It seems more prone to produce troubles in balancing ambitions with relationships. In both types of square the natural skepticism of Capricorn or the extreme caution of Cancer act to complicate the indecisiveness of Libra to degrees where nature sometimes has to field a lot of pressure to force a choice to be made. The opposition to Aries is probably one of the easiest oppositions to understand – Aries is about doing what it wants, Libra is about doing what other people want. The tension between these two signs is ripe for creating problems and troubles when it comes to relating to other people and being ourselves.



“The soul is so far from being a monad that we have not only to interpret other souls to ourself but to interpret ourself to ourself”.
                                                                                               – T. S. Eliot

We’ve already touched upon some of the darkness in this sign – indecision and nervousness, difficulty asserting itself over others, haunting loneliness and a restless search for calm and peace in a turbulent and chaotic world – and in my examples at the top of this article I provided a list of some of the more destructive vices of the sign. In many ways, the problem of Libra with darkness and tragedy is that they exist – despite the signs ability to embrace polarities and equal halves the human management of the sign invariably results in a reticence and sometimes an extreme terror when it comes to facing up to negative possibilities. It’s almost as if looking ahead of itself Libra gazes upon Scorpio and recoils from the swirling darkness of Mars, while behind it Virgo is busy prognosticating everything that can and probably will go wrong. This is very often then the arena in which much of Libra’s battles to win that calm and tranquility are fought. If a Libra person can actively win through to the point where they are no longer troubled constantly by thoughts of unhappy endings to happy situations they will have made a great stride towards overcoming much of the darkness that they encounter. Reaching a place where you are able to feel calm under any circumstances is like drinking from the holy grail of life itself for this sign.

Another key factor in undoing the hold of darkness over the sign is to let go – to a degree – of the impulse to micromanage the fairness and justness of events in the external world and instead look within to the equilibria that exist unending within the human awareness and to set about bringing balance there. When the individual reaches a place of balance within itself the Libra within us is that part which reaches out automatically into the world to also bring it into balance, both with us and with itself. A magician with a strong emphasis on the sign can act harmoniously with others in a way which encourages them to find their own equilibrium. She or he can bring into balance the energies of the physical, astral and mental body of other individuals or things simply through the strength of their own Elemental equilibrium. Thus, the problem solves itself by reversing the polarity from being focused on the dilemma riddled task of making adjustments on the scales to simply being the balance.

Earlier I said that there is too much Scorpio in Libra for it to be Virgo, hinting that there is a sterner edge to its character, and indeed hidden within the soft velvet glove there lies an iron fist (or claw). Libra is no pushover. It may be gullible in romance, have difficulty asserting its desires over the desires of others and problems with conviction, but it is no sap. Push it far enough and it will push back, just like a seesaw. Unfairness, rudeness, inconsiderate behaviour and cheating will cause the placid, easy-going nature of Libra to evaporate in a second. They will not sit idly by and watch others be taken advantage of, mistreated or abused. Their first concern will typically be for the victim of such behaviour, but they will initially show this by countering the threat as much as they can. Direct assault is more the style of Mars in Aries, instead Libra prefers to lay down the law and when that fails to either attempt negotiation or to neutralise the danger. Neutralising things is one of Airs major tactics. Sadly, the power to neutralise things is often a negative trait – Air can dismiss serious matters with “it doesn’t matter”, “I’m not talking about that”, or just plain saying nothing when an awkward question is asked – but when used strategically the trait can be a virtuous one that neutralises danger, such as when the Libra person neutralises a domestic fight by letting someone sleep over on their sofa.

This brings up the question of timing, because it is good timing that makes neutralization strategic and helpful, and it is also the secret of good timing that can help Libra to overcome its indecisive potential. In every situation there comes a time when a choice must be made and Libra must learn to recognise when these times have come and accept them as the way to move forwards, without regrets. A verdict must be delivered before justice can be served. Therefore, the timing issue with Libra is to do with knowing when enough evidence has been collected in order to form that verdict. At this point, Libra must not waver. There will be time for further cogitation later, but these moments are not those times. These are the times for the sword and the quill, for the signing of contracts and the delivery of judgment. Without a verdict a trial is a torment for all concerned, thus it is an act of mercy when done correctly.


To remain calm and yet to be sensitive like Libra is its own puzzling challenge. It is exhausting work because the awareness is not only vulnerable to the radiations of others (even other objects) but also has to keep a lid on its own emotional distress. Libra has to continually monitor its stresses and induce relaxation when the warning signs light up (first having learned what those are) so that a chain reaction of tension and frayed nerves does not disable it. When you consider the many other delicate balancing acts that Libra has to pull off on a daily basis – the balance between its Air and its Venus and the balance needed in various relationships that exist in any individual’s life, for example – you can begin to appreciate what Libra has to deal with. It becomes hugely important for the Libra in us to restore its equilibrium once it has been disturbed, and this is usually done by retreating to a place of peace and quiet or to a trusted significant other. Without this retreat when it becomes necessary the imbalance in one area of life can quickly cause every other area of life to go out of kilter. In some ways, the Active nature of Libra is like a toddler in a room full of spinning tops that they have to continuously pump fresh energy into in order to keep all of the tops spinning at once. When things go bad, for example when going through a rough patch in a relationship, Libra can just stop pumping all of the tops and then when they start winding down without their input they get depressed and ask themselves why they have to be the one who keeps pumping all of the tops. These are signs that the Libra person has not taken enough time out to restore their own inner balance, that motivation has been eroded by unpleasantness and disappointment. When the environment is in disharmony (i.e. when all of the tops have stopped moving) there is no beauty and therefore there is no peace or calm, so the degeneration of Libra’s motivation is a vicious cycle – the inner being of the Libra within us is linked to the harmony present in our external environment, so external disorder and discord and mess bring no internal peace. The room must be tidy before you can really relax in it.

But which spinning tops to pump? That’s the nub. Does she have feelings for me? Is this relationship worth it? Will this job satisfy me? Knowing something about the answers to these questions before you start pumping on the spinning top connected to it is the key, because once started it’s hard to stop, that feels unfair to others involved. Then there is knowing when to just let the energy wind down on something and focus on something else. This too is a skill that would greatly benefit Libra in facing its darkness. All of this has to do with cultivating the discernment required to judge when, where and how to invest ones own precious energy. It is the Venus side of Libra that plays the most important part in gathering this discernment, but over time the Air contributes a great deal of insight into human nature and ones own needs that also helps to move the Libra through this area.

Perhaps trickiest of all for Libra is the difficulty of living with the knowledge that truth, like beauty, seems to exist only in the eye of the beholder. What is true for me may not be true for you, and will not be true for everyone. This is a disaster to Libra because it means that objective truth is either elusive or, catastrophically worse, a non-entity. Even what might seem obvious truth to others is fraught with doubts to Libra . Sure, red is red and you and I can agree on whether or not a thing looks red. But we have no way of concretely knowing whether what you see as red is exactly the same as what I see, we just assume that. Furthermore, red can have a hugely different significance to different people. When you think about less material objects like relationships, feelings and ideas, you realize that the truth of these is even more subjective, but Libra sees that phenomena at work everywhere. When you feel that it is your task to promote fairness and equality and justice, not being able to know what the essential truth of anything is becomes a major handicap. If other peoples lives hang in the balance as a result of your decisions, that can be hell. Yet Libra will still step up to the podium and hear the arguments for and against, because it feels there is no one better suited to the task, and it is most often correct in this.

Ambiguous truths, then, are a terrible bane that fuels many of the Libran quandaries and problems. In the face of it Libra largely resigns itself to the fact that there is no solution to the dilemma, and you just have to do the best you can. However, mercifully that is not all there is to do – objective truth is merely elusive not non-existent, and Venus has prepared a bridge to it in Libra.



“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles”
                                                                                                                                        – Jimmy Carter

Earlier traditions (primarily the Egyptians, but basically pre-zodiac era) see the stars of Libra as a gateway to the underworld, the entrance to the mental and astral realm inhabited by the recently deceased. This is partly because the Sun passes through these stars as it approaches Antares, the heart star of Scorpius, by which point the landscape of the northern hemisphere had been touched by decay as autumn is in full swing. At least, that is the thinking today as we do not really know why the association with the underworld came to pass.

Along with this came the connection to truth and justice formerly mentioned, since the soul would be judged truly and fairly. Given that Libra is awareness that all wholes are composed of complementary halves – every truth is balanced by an equal but opposite truth – there is an essential meaning of things tipping in the balance, of equilibrium and judgment following on from endings and decay, of shedding light into dark caverns and passages and of justice and fairness. We also see a theme of things being divided and weighed up. This essential meaning is the astrological root of the sign of Libra.

The second and midpoint of the Air signs (as well as of the zodiac), Libra has a unique position in the wheel of the zodiac, as it has two special properties. First, as the 7th sign, Libra is the midpoint of the energy flow around the zodiac and also within the moderating Air triplicate, which puts it at the midpoint of the cycle of the zodiac, as much as the continuous infinity of a circle can be measurable; it thus marks the point of exchange between the inner ‘self focused’ first six signs to the outer ‘other self focus’ of the last six. As an example, Aries, the first sign in the natural zodiac, and Libra’s polar opposite across the wheel, is primarily concerned with personal goals and individual achievements, (I am, I will) whereas Libra is concerned with relationships of all kinds and the balancing of opinions and partnerships (We are, we shall). Libras unique function as the balancing point between the two halves of the zodiac must be understood if one is to grasp the deeper occult significance of the sign. The very first Sabian symbol of 01° Libra expresses this midworld energy very strongly: “Pierced by a dart of light, a butterfly is ‘made perfect’.” Note that this is not a dead butterfly pinned into a macabre collection, it is a butterfly pierced by a dart of light that perfects. Here the Sabian oracle is hinting at a deeply esoteric and magical dimension of Libra which the Gra Tree also sheds light upon.

The Air Element, being ElectroMagnetic, mediates between the extremes of the Fire (pushing apart) and Water (filling up) poles of the Creation, being the ephemeral middle ground (the space that is created by the Fire for the Water to fill), and this is embodied in its role as an equalizer or moderator by Libra. Libra is conscious of the dangers of too much and too little, and always tries to find the perfect balance. Libra tries to mediate between opposites and bring them into harmony, being motivated by a feeling that fairness and equanimity are important, and does this excellently in the human social sphere for example when diplomatically defusing a tense argument, but Libra does not do so well when it comes to weighing up and evaluating ideas or in decision making, because it tends to get hung up on endless evaluation seeking the ‘middle ground’. In terms of a firm decision and generally as a concept, ‘middle ground’ is nebulous and has no precise boundaries (like Air).

Libras connection to this Air leads to a perception of basic polarities in the universe – men/women, good/bad, fair/unfair, you/me, us/them – and the guidance of ruling planet Venus leads to an effort to smooth over the differences implicit in these polarities and consequently to an approach that is always trying to find the perfect balance and peace between them. However, there is no point at which this process comes to rest, it is a butterfly, a perpetually moving and infinitely creative balance, not a static one that can be reasoned out or measured, but one which requires an emotional, feeling based approach. As I have said earlier this is the source of a large part of Libra people’s dilemmas. They try to reason out the answer to dilemmas and choices, the most fair and harmonious and balanced response, when they should really just trust the feeling of fairness that guides them, the dart of light, and go with it. This is often manifest in situations which challenge Libran senses of fairness, justice and equality and is the source of the uncertainty and doubt and indecisiveness that can plague them. Libra is conscious of the polarity existing in all things and seeks to balance and equalize it. This leads to a quest for fairness and skill with diplomacy, as well as giving them a strong moral sense of justice and the importance of truth telling.

Further clues to these mysteries of Libra are found in an exploration of Libras second unique property in the zodiac – its inanimate nature. Of all the signs (which are centres of living meaning focused as symbols which show their essential qualities), Libra is the only one represented by an inanimate object – a pair of balancing scales. The others are all living, breathing beings. It lies opposite the most active and energized sign, Aries. Here is hinted at some secret detached objectivity within (or aspired to) by the sign itself, as if it is the only one capable of impartially weighing up the living animal-emotional matters of the others, which goes some way to explain why Libra involves itself so frequently and sincerely in the affairs of companions. The search for this ultimate objectivity, the ability to perfectly and precisely weigh things up, without personal emotional or mental bias tipping the scales, is a part of the secret heart of Libra intelligence. It knows itself to be tactful, impartial, cooperative and considerate of others and is offended when others suggest otherwise.

Cygnus Wall NGC7000

The butterfly may well be Libras secret animal, but the plethora of inanimate objects associated with Libra point to a deeper truth hidden beneath them. It is perhaps Libra’s ultimate gift. When we look upon these objects – the golden scales, the soft feather, the shining sword with emerald hilt, the blindfold and the mirror, the interlinked rings inscribed with a promise – they have no mouths but they speak to us, do they not? They are symbols of things which live in their inanimate nature. The rock, the sky, the violin, the book, the tree, the pen, the thing – it’s all alive. The magician knows this, and so does Libra. Objects may not be animals in the sense that you and I and the monkeys are, but they are still animated by an inner Light and are aware of their own existence. When you can treat all things as equally alive, then and only then have you entered the heart of Libra. Within this sacred chamber of awareness, we can look out upon the gyrating and ever-changing universe as our co-creative partner and all things we perceive become inseparable and equal parts of our own being. As the magician develops and grows she or he learns how to adapt to changing circumstances and what results is a continual flow of magic between them and everything that they interact with, not just in their human relationships but in their relationship to all things. To some degree, I believe that the Libra in us comes prepared to meet this reality altering truth. I think it’s the real reason that Libran people get upset when other people smash things against walls in frustration.

Karmically, Libra is about all forms of opposite number, so its fundamentally about the choices we have made in relationships and often embodies as ones enemies, opposite numbers of all kinds, lovers and partners from previous lives, relationships which need balancing, and the search for justice and equality in some area – encounters which lead to atonement (at-one-ment) with the principles of peaceful emotional accord, balance, and individual beauty. In all areas of life but especially in relationships Libra is learning to assert its instinctual emotional nature by expressing its individual consciousness and bringing it to life by shining its individual will through it. The sign is a process of transforming our emotional nature through bringing peace to it and reflecting this serenity in our relationships, and in this way with every new person we meet we are continually learning about how to be at peace with ourselves through our interactions with others and learning about ideas by weighing them against their opposite.

As the astral principle of karmic balance, universal Justice and Harmony, the forces which automatically adjust and maintain equilibrium throughout the multiverse, Libra has its hands full on Earth right now. The relationship between self and other is one of the human manifestations of these balancing laws in action, for none of us can escape the truth that we are all interconnected as one, and therefore what is done to you or by you is done to us all and resonates throughout the multiverse. What we see in one another is first perceived within us, or we could not recognize it.

The Scales of Maat of Egyptian temple lore are the scales that weighed the hearts of the Egyptian dead against a feather, an act which either released the enlightened soul to the freedom of the cosmic heavens or stripped it of all unnecessary weights before reincarnating the soul in a new body on Earth. This is symbolic of the weighing and eventual equalisation of the souls’ mental and emotional qualities as the spirit refines what is inharmonious and unjust (in other words, what is not expressive of its Light) until it reaches a point of balance with the cosmic order. Unfortunately, once struck, such balance is rarely maintained for long for balance is not the same as equilibrium, being a see-saw which can easily be acted upon at any point at which point the balance will be lost. Equilibrium, on the other hand, resists such influence because it is present at every point along the scale, rather than just struck at a midpoint between two ends. Thus, in essence Libras mission is not just to balance and equalise but to move beyond such temporary states of balance into a state of equilibrium by living in greater emotional harmony with the universe, i.e. with the inner and outer self. That is why it is so important for Libra people to listen to their feelings.

Gra01.pdf-40On the Gra Tree, Libra is shown positioned as a path emanating down from Gedulah (Mercy) to Yesod (Foundation). This shows its origin in the forces of the mental plane (Gedulah) and its destination in the heart or core of the astral plane (Yesod). In other words it is one of the influx of energies that power the astral realm. The particular influx of energy that Libra brings to the astral plane stems from the property of the mental plane which causes things to be like one another or similar to one another and to thereby find a connection (Gedulah), and so what it brings to the seat of the astral awareness (this being the heart of the soul in terms of an individual, or the entire astral realm in a universal sense) is a sense of mercy or compassion, because that which we find connection to and a sense of similarity with evokes empathic responses in us. On a universal level this influx of Libra into the astral plane holds the entire astral realm in equilibrium, one action always leading to an equal and opposite reaction on an infinite scale. At the collective and individual human level this influx of empathy from the mental realm is hugely significant because the astral realm is dominated by polarizing personal concerns.

Gra01.pdf-15Furthermore, we can understand this matter more deeply by considering the influx of Leo into Gedulah from Tiphareth and the emanation of Sagittarius from Yesod to Netzach. From the Leo path the Light of the individual Self (the radiance of our spirit, the force of our unique being) is radiated outward to find connection and similarity with other individual selves. In other words, the shining of the individual self illuminates the connectivity of that self to other selves, forming Gedulah, which in turn transmits this Light to Yesod (the personal self) via Libra (the ‘dart of light’). In this first arc the Light of the individual self is transmitted to the personal self and so the task of the personal self is to receive that instruction (’Ox-goad’) and adapt its personal expression to that teaching or goading. Gra01.pdf-72The result of this is then radiated ‘down’ towards Netzach via Sagittarius, and so the second arc sees the Light that has been adapted to reflect the individuals merciful nature in the astral realm being cast throughout the astral. For any practicing magician of IiH, there are clear parallels with the practice of maintaining the Elemental equilibrium, the source of all true magic. Note that both Leo and Sagittarius are in sextile to Libra astrologically.

The magic of Libra is often said to be in forming lasting bonds or breaking couplings, hence to binding, to bringing about a swift and fair verdict in a trial or court of law, to reconcile or to dispense diplomacy, to calm things down or to contact artistic muses, but in essence what we encounter in the magic of Libra is a communication from the spirit to the soul about how to live in harmony with other beings. Libra is equilibrium through the shaping of the individuality of the soul by its harmonics and commonalities. When we wander up this path the astral awareness loses its sense of personal isolation and begins to perceive its deep and majestic connection to all that is, while returning the other way brings an acute awareness of the importance of that connection in our personal expression. This is the heart of the magic of Libra and justice, art, partnership, equilibrium and peace are its children. The Libra in us is that which Ma’at has placed in our breasts to lead us there, an inner eye which recognizes the objective truth within itself and so within all things.

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. 

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