Two fishes

Pisces the Fishes guides you through the fluid, ambiguous Unknown. Ruled by Jupiter and Neptune, this part of you seeks surrender to something greater than yourself and Universal Oneness.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery. ~ Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching

Pisces glyphThe Universe! Unfathomable, limitless, infinite in every direction. In the zodiac sign Pisces we leave the bounds of the known world and expand until we encompass the stars, the ether, everything that is. But what is everything? How can one talk about "everything" and not tell a lie? You'll never gather a complete list, and even if you just try to describe what you know of, you'll never know the complete nature of anything, anyway!

This is the murky dreamland of Pisces, in which we reach beyond physical reality, beyond social reality, beyond the unconscious, beyond everything that is known. What do we find, out there? Only Pisces knows and she's not telling ....or is she?

From Beginning to End

Who are you?

Now: before you answer, bear certain things in mind. First, remember that we've now been around the block (zodiacally speaking) in our exploration of the signs, in Transitions. Hopefully, each of us has learned something about our multi-faceted nature, existing simultaneously on many levels. In Aries, you're a warrior, thrusting your spirit outward to encounter whatever you find there. In Taurus, you're a pragmatist who seeks to stabilize the volatile spirit in the world of form. In Gemini, you are a multiple leveled being who learns that information exchange with others echoes and transmits who you are.

In Cancer, you are an emotional being, full of the need to bond with others in order to establish a home base and a foundation from which to grow. In Leo, you shine your light of individuality for all to see, basking in the creative glow that both reflects and nourishes you. In Virgo, you are a humble creature who seeks to perfect yourself and the world around you, reaching out to others that you may serve a purpose greater than yourself.


In Libra, you are half of a pair, forever searching for that special someone who can mirror, validate and co-experience your world. In Scorpio, you're full of passion and the drive for intimacy and inner reality, determined to get to the bottom of whatever crosses your path and transform it into a source of empowerment. In Sagittarius, you are a truth seeker, expanding your horizons and disseminating your knowledge, ever searching for the patterns that form the big picture of existence.

In Capricorn, you are serious and practical, determined to manifest something concrete from the abstract knowledge you've accumulated thus far, grappling with authority, responsibility, discipline and ambition. In Aquarius, you bring that autonomy to the arena of group consciousness, and stretch your potential to connect with all that is essential in yourself and the world that was previously excluded.

We've explored our roots and our identity. We've encountered "The Other" in the form of family, partners, cultures, leaders and the larger community. We've examined our spirituality through our basic existence, our interaction with our environment, our emotional flow between our conscious and unconscious selves, and through our accomplishments and ambitions. What could possibly be left?

The only place left to go is the Unknown – beyond The Self and The Other, past our immediate surroundings, farther than consciousness itself. We must go to the source of all Being, to merge with All That Is and thereby become fully synchronous with all of existence.

Whither the Land of the Gods...

Which way to the Land of the Gods, please? If you can just point the way, I'm sure I'll be able to get there. Is it left, right, up, down? Inside, out? Beside, at right angles to? Is it another dimension, or maybe a different planet? Can I get there through a wormhole in space, or maybe I can just think myself there? Which way, please?

The trouble with Pisces is that as soon as you try to describe its archetypal energy, you've lost it. How do you specify the ambiguous? How do you articulate that which is beyond words? Can you imagine something with no shape, no form, no substance, no direction, no time, no reference points?

Pisces, ruling planets Neptune (modern) and Jupiter (traditional), and the 12th House are linked to these concepts:

  • the unconscious, dreams, fantasy, visions, romance
  • deception, slander, lies, (dis)illusion, subtlety
  • spirituality, spiritual source, non-physical realm
  • imagination, creativity, artistry, ecstasy, serenity
  • universal oneness, universal love, ultimate beauty
  • compassion, empathy, sympathy, vulnerability
  • enmeshment, rescuing, scapegoat, projection
  • victimization, suffering, martyrdom, sacrifice
  • disintegration, melting, dissolving, surrender
  • service, devotion, covenant, consecration
  • miracles, magic, mysticism; non-rational, feelings
  • drugs, alcohol, escapism, addiction
  • avoidance, denial, privacy, isolation
  • no boundaries, oneness, ambiguity

And yet, after listing all these keywords, we still don't know the true nature of Pisces! Alas, Pisces is to be experienced, not simply described. So take off your ego, leave your Saturn at the door, and let us enter into the realm of Pisces...

In Perpetuity

Nothing is distinct. This is not simply a philosophical game, nor a matter of allegory. It is True. Think about it: at what point does your skin become air? We take for granted that Saturnian definitions are the final, ultimate reality, but when you get down to the molecular, even atomic level, at one point does our skin cease to be skin and become the air around it? At a certain point, it's an arbitrary decision as to where the boundary of skin leaves off and air begins.

It's similar to the debate that exists in sidereal astrology regarding where one constellation ends and the next one begins. Do we take it to be the midpoint between their closest stars? Do we take into account the faint stars that are visible only through a telescope? How about the midpoint between the stars that intersect the ecliptic? What about constellations that overlap (e.g., Aquarius and Capricorn)? Or the tiny signs (e.g., Aries) that take up a fraction of the space the others do?

What had seemed to be a straightforward problem now appears impossible to resolve fairly or meaningfully. You can apply the same analysis to the boundary between skin and air, at the molecular or atomic level. In the hazy area in between definite things, there exists a place of ambiguity, obscurity, ambivalence. This is Pisces territory!

It's not so easy to envision! We're used to understanding everything within us and around us as being distinct, separate and solid. When we're confronted with the fluid infinity beyond the world of form, and the arbitrariness of physical boundaries and definitions, it's easy to want to retreat back into the familiar world of Saturn, where everything is finite and reality is... well, real! And if we have trouble figuring out where one thing begins and another ends, imagine how confusing it is when we look at people, personalities, emotions and issues!

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you will have ceased to live.~ Mark Twain

To venture into the Piscean realm is to lose track of which way is up, down, forward or back. It is to abandon our cherished root assumptions (see the Sagittarius article) and shatter the fragile omnipotence of reality. To those of us who cling to the world of form, it can be a disorienting, confusing experience at best, and a terrifying ordeal of insanity at worst. To those blessed Neptunian souls who are at home in the freeform ambience of infinity and universality, it can bring ecstatic, visionary rapture at best, and a disorienting, confusing detachment from the surrounding world at worst.

Neptune glyph Jupiter glyphMany people report that the most difficult outer-planet transit to undergo is not pulverizing Pluto, nor explosive Uranus, but nebulous Neptune. Although we are challenged to surrender our ego control to each of them (albeit differently), Neptune bids us surrender our entire grounding and sense of what is real. This is more than the average person can endure without his/her bedrock sense of security and reality beginning to erode away. One has no control over the Neptune experience because there is nothing to control! The only thing to do is surrender oneself to the magic carpet ride into the Void which can be distressing, indeed!

On the other hand, there are those who really enjoy the Neptune experience; who look forward to an opportunity to let go and let God (as the 12-step saying goes). They treat a Neptune transit as a vacation from the confines of the world of limitation an occasion to celebrate the spiritual side of life and surrender themselves to the cradling arms of the Universe. The Neptune experience is a chance to go back to the godhead, back to our spiritual source, beyond our attachments, desires and other ego-based appetites. It is a time to reorient our alignment with the Universe, to stretch beyond our physical existence and embrace our meta-physical nature. If you want a taste of this perspective, surrender yourself to some rapturous music, or let yourself fall tumbling into the exquisite beauty of a sunset.

To Catch A Cloud...

However, as soon as we leave the familiar Earth-plane, we run into problems because we no longer have the usual rules and laws of the solid, defined world to use as reference points. How can we know for certain that there is life after death? Is there a God? Are there several? Are psychic phenomena real or the result of a creative, intuitive imagination? How can we incorporate belief and faith into the world of fact without contaminating the facts, or restricting our beliefs to the point of rendering them little more than quaint psychological crutches? How do we acknowledge our 'sixth sense without referring to the other five?

Indeed, to truly espouse any of these Piscean phenomena, one must either take them blindly on faith, or personally venture into the ethereal realms and directly experience them. Either route lands us on dangerous ground when we attempt to justify and validate our views. If we blindly accept something, how do we know we're not deceived or misguided? And if we want to report our spiritual adventures, we have no way to prove their validity beyond our say-so.

Sometimes the best way to figure out who you are is to get to that place where you don't have to be anything else. – Dave Matthews Band

This is similar to the dilemma astrologers face when confronted by skeptical scientists. In astrology, we are dealing with a system that is evident only through its practice and observation. However, being so complex, and in the absence of a solid theory as to why it works, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to present convincing proof that astrology is anything more than the power of suggestion. Few sceptics are prepared to take the time, or risk the personal investment, to learn the intricacies of astrology, enough to form an opinion that isn't based on their own supposition and conjecture.

In Pisces, we're always faced with the predicament of determining if our belief in things non-rational is more than mere wishful thinking. By the same token, we must also question if our scepticism is just inflexibility, rooted in a physio-centric bias. It's not enough to think we can hide under a Saturnian rock in order to avoid confronting the Neptunian question. Even our so-called objectivity and detachment are suspect, since they could be motivated by prejudicial rigidity rather than a genuine desire for purity or clarity.

The trick with Pisces is that we can never be sure if what we're seeing is valid or an illusion. There is a facet of reality within the realm of Pisces, but it doesn't conform to the usual laws and rules of the material world. As such, it resists scientific scrutiny and clear description. In Pisces, we must wrestle with the phantom of unconscious motivation and the spirit of longing for something greater than ourselves.

Saying Goodbye

Pisces is significant indeed; essential because it brings us to the wellspring of our being. It brings us back to the source; to the root of all that we are and all that we can be. It renders us empty that we may be galvanized once more by the thrust of Life.

Archetypally, Pisces ends one cycle and brings us to the brink of a new one that starts again in Aries. In order to embrace something new, we must empty ourselves of all that forms a barrier between us and that 'something new. This means letting go of the old way of doing and perceiving things. It means sacrificing our security and attachment to what has become familiar and comfortable, so that we may prepare the way for new growth. And we must surrender to this process or risk carrying over attachments from the old cycle that will contaminate the new one. It would be like pouring clean water into a glass that still contains the residue of yesterday's milk.

Ironically, by clutching the old cycle we also risk losing the fruits of our hard work from that same cycle. It's like moving to a new house but refusing to pack up our things. We'll leave behind what we have accumulated when it's time to move on. If we resist the closure process of Pisces, we may not retain the rewards we have harvested. The end is at hand, whether we march through it like a portal or whether we're dragged through it kicking and screaming.

Becoming Empty

Closure is rarely easy, whether we are ending a job, finishing a project, saying good-bye after a visit with a cherished friend, or grieving the death of a loved one. In western culture, we are taught to get over it as quickly as possible. Places of employment usually only give about three days for bereavement after a death. And we are continually exposed to TV sitcoms that gleefully resolve every dilemma known to humankind in the span of half an hour.

Often we don't know how to do closure. How do we say good-bye to something that has been in our lives? We expect that all we must do is put it from our minds and all the emotions, concerns, fears, anger, resentments and insecurity will magically disappear. We believe that 'time heals all wounds.And indeed, the passage of time does bring us to a place where old realities seem relatively minor and small against the expanse of the past. 'that was then, this is now, as the saying goes. Situations change, circumstances adjust, priorities shift and what was once prominent retreats into the distance, while other conditions emerge to be dealt with.

However, the unresolved issues of the past have a way of coming back to haunt us. Traumatic events must be dealt with directly in order to heal and recede into the background of our lives; they don't just go away conveniently by ignoring them. We find the problems of yesterday that we thought we'd left behind have now resurrected in a different form. For instance, the person who once suffered traumatic violence, yet insists that s/he only needs to put it behind him/her, may experience intermittent flashbacks of fear. They may find their whole approach to life becomes contaminated by a phobic avoidance of risk. When we don't do closure, the prevalent issues don't melt into the background of our past, so much as they become camouflaged in the murkiness of the unconscious.

As important as it may seem, we often become confounded when faced with the task of closure. What is to be done about a loss or ending that one is powerless to change? We typically see ourselves as helpless in the face of such inevitability and, hence, tend to surrender to the helplessness, rather than to the process of closure. But it is not a case of doing something about the ending, so much as doing something with it. We must grieve the losses, celebrate the benefits, and let what has been pass through us into the past. And we must garner faith in the Universe to carry us through the Void of letting go.


How To Let Go

However, we cannot let go of something we haven't yet embraced. In the archetypal cycle, the closure process is actually performed throughout the 4th Quadrant (in Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces). In Capricorn, we take inventory of the reality and solidity that we've created, and build a containing structure to retain what we've accomplished. In Aquarius, we long for liberation and begin to detach from what has been, separating what is truly important from what has merely been the vehicle for acquiring it. And in Pisces, our drive for liberation becomes a longing for emptiness, as we fully let go of the shell of that vehicle in order to make room for the new cycle. If we haven't done our work through these stages, in one form or another, we'll probably bring unfinished business with us into the next cycle and lose much of the benefit we've attained in the current one.

Only by participating in this closure process can we mindfully and openly distill that which is real (transferable into the next cycle) from that which is not (the shell that merely facilitated the formation of what is transferable, but is not the form itself). That distillation is the essence of the Piscean role in the cyclical drama. Pisces impels us to dissolve the attachments that bind us to the apparitions in our lives, and surrender to Spirit which forms the raw material that will seed the next cycle.

Transitions Magazine has always included a description of each of the four primary lunar phases with each New Moon article. In giving suggestions as to how to best work with the prevailing energy in each phase, readers have always been encouraged to do some sort of closure ritual or assessment in the final or Last Quarter phase. This article on Pisces has hopefully given you a better understanding of why this closure process is so important.

Closure can be done in many ways, some overt, others subtle. You might clean our your closets (symbolically emptying your life of unnecessary baggage). You could write down everything you've done, experienced, learned and acquired during the cycle that's coming to a close, and then burn the list (embracing each one before letting it go). You can sit in meditation, in silence, or listening to dreamy music, and ponder all the things that you've gone through during the last 4 weeks. You could also talk with a friend, sharing what you've learned and what is left to work through in the issues and areas that have been active during the current cycle.

Closure involves not just taking stock of what has been, but also anticipating what can come from what has been. In the Last Quarter phase, we also tend to dream (sleeping or daydreams) about what we'd like to see evolve out of the activities and events of the past cycle. If the current cycle has focused your attention on wrestling with problems in an intimate relationship, for instance, you may find yourself thinking of what you'd like to do after the dust has settled. If the current cycle has brought out some difficult realizations about an area of your life, the Last Quarter phase will call you to shed the experience of learning, while retaining the learning itself, and look toward ways that you can integrate and utilize your realizations in other areas of your life.

If life is a journey meant for learning, then we must find a way to bring each learning process to a close so that we can go on to learn more. We must graduate from our current grade, committing its events to memory and facing the next grade with increased knowledge and an open mind. It is a time to grieve the loss of what we cherished about the current time and celebrate the benefits we've harvested from it. In this sense, Pisces may be the most important part of the zodiacal progression.


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