Pisces, the 12th and final sign of the Zodiac represents the completion of a cycle of activity of the life power’s self expression. It signifies the end and the victorious return of the hero, who on his great journey through the stars has come again to where it all began, joining the Alpha and the Omega.
The Piscean symbol of the two fish shows us a duality within a greater unity. Two individuals, like in a school of fish, that act as one unit. So to is Pisces a symbol of the duality of divinity and humanity acting in concert as one unified whole. Both are separate and distinct from one another, but they are so highly attuned to each other that they are able to swim and flow in a precise kind of togetherness.
At this phase of evolution, the soul and the personality are so dependent on each other for their livingness, its as if they are the same thing. Though it may not seem this way, at least initially, the body and its driver are working in unison as two aspects of one greater unity.
Our instinct with our biological drives, needs, desires and intelligence is the vehicle through which the soul is enters the world. Through Aeons of evolutionary cycles, the life power has grown up our biological vehicles of consciousness so that it would one day become capable of union with its source and origin.
As endings and beginnings are united in continuous cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth, so to is our humanity and divinity united in a never ending cycle of evolution.
The story of Pisces tells us that through the faculties of consciousness that make us uniquely human, we are able to recognize that our very livingness, our very essence is spirit – incarnating into specialized form as us. Our person-hood with our uniqueness and individuality is ultimately, in the final evaluation, joined with spirit itself. Not as the same thing, but as two distinct things acting as one.
The myth of the Hero’s journey that the Zodiac tells, conveys an idea that is summed up in the esoteric wisdom of Pisces. That the fruit of all our labors, our courage and our sacrifice, results in the union of our soul and personality. The Hero who arrives home again after great tests and trials is not the same person who left. He has grown in wisdom through many victories and returns again transformed. His divinity and his humanity now work together in concert. Where one goes the other follows. And, it was this very cooperation between his divinity and his humanity that enabled him to overcome the insurmountable obstacles that beset him.
But his journey was not without its pains. In earlier phases of our evolution, our separateness gives rise to all manner of suffering. We are taken in by the appearances of the world, believing that we are set apart from the whole flow of life, and are something other than nature itself. The wisdom of Pisces conveys the realization that our very own self-hood, our sense of “I” with all our sorrows and joys is in truth the livingness of spirit itself growing itself toward the summit of evolution. We are not apart from what made us, we are now and always will be, the livingness of nature reaching toward the light.
Its been pointed out that Pisces is associated with the Christ, the Light of the World who taking on the yoke of divine communion made the ultimate sacrifice and completed the plan for humanity. Giving up his body, his person-hood and sense of mortality for the benefit of all humanity, Jesus Christ redeemed the world. So to is Pisces attuned to this sense of personal sacrifice for the good of the whole. It is that realization that in order for the personality to live in union with the soul, there must be a relinquishment of the self. Some would even say a death of the personality, although its not really a death but a transformation. The cost of such a transformation is our devotion to a higher calling than our own sense of personal welfare, our own personal desires and fears.
What else is a Hero than someone who willingly put their own self interests aside for a greater good? What story would there be if Perceus decided the labyrinth was too intricate a maze, or the Minotaur too ferocious a beast to be worth the trouble? How unexceptional the story would be if Apollo decided the leviathan wasn’t worth the trouble of defeating, and it went on terrorizing everyone? At times it can seem that the lower nature is an insurmountable obstacle. In one sense it is insurmountable to our own personal powers. Something far more adept than just us is necessary to win the quest. Enduring the slings and arrows of evolution is no easy task. But if the sense of separateness were easy to overcome, it wouldn’t require much heroism would it?
For the hero to be victorious then, he must sacrifice that portion of his nature that is uncooperative with the soul. He must place the welfare of the greater good and its larger plan above his own desires and fears. But to do such a thing, he must first realize a few things. He must understand that there is such a thing as a larger plan, and that it depends on him to accomplish it. He must, in a powerful way, feel a sense of what the greater good really is and a responsibility toward it. But with such a sense being so ineffable and in many ways beyond the reach of a rational understanding, the intuition gained through the lovingness of the heart must feel a profound calling to a higher truth.
But, as we enter into the intuitive heart with the sensitivity of Pisces, we often find a deep inner wound resides there. The sacred heart wears a wreath of thorns. It is the echo of the fall, the pain of separation from Source and all the ensuing paradoxes and tribulations of life, of duality obscuring our unity, time obscuring eternity, and our weakness obscuring our divinity. This wound calls us to a deep embrace and integration of each aspect of our being. And, with every victory we gain by overcoming opposites we are invigorated with new life, and new energy that draws us ever closer to union with the soul. Heroism calls for a big picture view of the whole flow of life and love, so that it can inspire in us a devotion to something greater than ourselves. This vista as vast and transcendent as it is, is like a dream. It is a shadowy landscape in the Moon light or a faint song carried on the wind who’s message foretells of the future destiny of Creation and evolution.
Pisces then is related to the lunar side of our nature. It is that intuitive aspect of our inner sense of understanding that feels the essence of nature and what lies beyond its beauty and pain. Connected with the element water and the moon, it is that aspect of our inner vessel that receives into it the hidden light from above. In a similar way that water is receptive in its nature and the moon receive and reflects the light of the sun, our Piscean capacity is that which receives into it, sense impressions from the soul and can respond to them instinctively and automatically. Along with this ability to sense what is around us, to empathically feel both our environment and the influx of guidance from the soul, is the inclination to subordinate or surrender our individuality to the larger human family.
Our inner Pisces capacity is our empathy and intuition. When we are intuitively and instinctively responding to the soul’s promptings, we are exercising the faculty of receptivity that helps us to know and feel the pains and joys of others. Pointed inward, it helps us to know and feel the desires and guidance of our own soul so that we can follow it like a horse who follows and carries its rider. It’s what guides our instincts for survival, but in its more developed form, it is also what allows us to perceive the hidden wisdom, through faith beyond reason. This is why Pisces is often associated with psychic ability.
When schooling fish are observed in nature, their movements are so intricate and so synchronized that it appears as if they are one organism. Each individual is in perfect harmony and responsiveness with the community. Each one is sensing into its neighbor, responding in effortless coordinated action. Scientists are still fairly unskilled at predicting collective behaviors like what we see in schooling fish and starlings. One of the reasons for this is that there are emergent components that you wouldn’t expect coming from the individual units.
Somehow, complex sensory perceptions are being taken in and translated to movement decisions automatically. This happens in fractions of a second, from information coming in locally. By some not fully understood mechanism, these creatures are able to flow in concert with each other. It would appear that out of a simple set of rules, (like turn right when your neighbor is 3 inches from your left and visa versa) very complex patterns of behavior can emerge, and they’re always incredibly beautiful.
Pisces then is that facility in us that can feel and respond automatically to subtle sense impressions, intuitions and guidance from our environment and our higher centers of consciousness. The requirement necessary for us to become increasingly able to enact this higher order power, is to prioritize the whole movement of life, the larger community of humanity and its ultimate destiny above our own individuality. When we do this we are giving ourselves to God, to the higher self and soul as a cooperative vehicle and servant for the sacred plan of Creation.
In truth our individuality is never lost, in fact it is quite the opposite. In our surrendering our personality to a deeper level of being, it is made more whole and more capable of what it is tasked to do. In surrendering our personal will to the divine will, we are made vastly more capable of doing what our soul is here to do. In schooling fish it is observed that an one individual can influence the entire group. One fish can alter the entire course of the collective movement. One powerful will, supplied with the right information can set a whole new pattern of activity into motion. This can be seen when one fish becomes aware of a danger, and though the others are not aware of this danger they respond in a like manner following the one who knows. On a spiritual level, when one individual gains a certain new kind of information he can initiate his community into a whole new type of activity.
If that individual is of the mind that says, “I of myself can do nothing”, there is no limit on what can be accomplished.
The Myth of Pisces
In the myth of Pisces, the story goes that one day Aphrodite and Eros were playing in the Euphrates river when all of the sudden the great serpent monster Typhon charges them. According to the wisdom traditions, Aphrodite is our Love nature and Eros is our desire nature. With these stories we are always being shown some aspect of our inner nature interacting with others, working out the difficulties of the evolutionary process. Here we are given a clue as to the alchemical inner work we must perform in order to bring about a Victory in this aspect of our being.
Typhon who is a kind of serpent, represents the primal force within us often referred to as kundalini in the eastern tradition or the mars force in the west. It is that aspect of the life power which governs the survival and reproductive drives of organisms. Typhon represents the most primitive energies and the very same energies involved in driving the process of evolution forward. Untamed kundalini is a destructive force. On the path of initiation however, we learn to harness this force in such a way that we become capable of directing it, so that as it rises to charge the various centers of consciousness with its energy, it does not spill out of its boundaries and denigrate the vehicle.
To escape the monster Eros and Aphrodite transform themselves into fish to help them move more swiftly through the water. But they also tied themselves together so that they wouldn’t lose one another in the dark depths of the river. They escape successfully and are remembered as two fish joined together by a cord, as is shown in its glyph.
In order over come the destructive impact of the serpent force as it fills the vessels of consciousness with raw life energy, we must tie our Love nature and our Desire nature together.
In Tarot Pisces is assigned to Key 18 The Moon, symbolic of the automatic consciousness and what is called the corporeal intelligence. It is that instinctive intelligence of the body-mind or vital soul. It is that part of us that performs the countless thousands of chemical and biological operations to build and maintain the body. It is that part of us that climbed out of the primordial ocean as simple organisms and over the millennia built finer and more complex vehicles for life to exist within.
On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, it is assigned to Qoph meaning the “back of the head” and is the path that connects Malkuth, the world of form to Netzach the Venus center or our emotional nature. In considering the insight that initiates us into the wisdom of this center, we are given a clue that mastery of the serpent power in this sphere of activity is achieved by the joining together of the Love aspect and Desire aspect of our inner being. In key 18 we see a domesticated dog and a wild wolf on either side of the path and both of them are baying at the moon. This shows us picture of the two aspects of our nature, the wild and the tame harmonizing together under a light reflected from above. Such is the activity of cooperation between the personality and the soul. Tied together, linked in community like those schooling fish, like Aphrodite and Eros we reach to higher levels of empathy and spiritual intuition and develop greater capacities to enact heroic deeds.
The Hebrew letter Qoph – the “back of the head” refers to the region of the brain where the spinal column connects the cerebellum – the oldest part of the brain. Its often called the reptilian brain because all vertebrates, including reptiles and fish have this anatomy. Its highly involved in motor control and regulating fear and pleasure responses.
Another part of the brain at the back of the head is the visual cortex, which is situated just above the cerebellum. The visual cortex is in an advantageous position in relation to the cerebellum since creatures are able to instantaneously react to visual cues and get out of the way of danger without the need to fully understand the nature of the threat. Signals can be sent directly from the visual cortex to the cerebellum without the need for any of the higher brain functions to be involved. In other words its involuntary.
We have experienced this capacity at work any time we have seen a stick on the ground that we have mistaken for a snake. We all have perhaps jumped in a bite of fear at one time or another to get out of the way, only to laugh at ourselves later when we realize it was only a stick. This reactivity, which is rooted in the deepest part of our body-mind is there as a mechanism of survival. It is the vestigial anatomy of an earlier phase of development, at least in so far as we have used it. It is our own inner fish we might say.
Jordan Peterson points out that crayfish have a primitive form of the dopaminergic system. The dopaminergic system is that system which governs or regulates reward and behavior. Dopamine causes a feeling of reward, or a high, which then leads to psychological reinforcement. When we receive a desirable response from our environment for our behavior, that activity is reinforced. Carried out to its more complex expressions through human life, it is this activity which helps us to organize ourselves in society and sets up the motivations and rewards that give us a sense of fulfillment in relation to others.
Its this neurotransmitter that is involved with the regulation of desire and voluntary activity. When the dopaminergic system is disrupted by the depletion of dopamine supplies, and cells no longer manufacture it, the motor control regions of the brain, like the cerebellum, cease to function normally. This is the reason dopamine depletion, like what occurs in Parkinson’s disease results in involuntary movements or tremors of the body.
There in key 18 we see the crayfish crawling out of the primordial pond to begin the long journey up the path of evolution. To bring this mechanism of reward under our conscious control involves the development of our capacity to have volitional control over the reactive level of our instinct. Put simply, we must learn to discipline our automatic responses to desire and fear.
As mentioned earlier, the Christ represents to us that capacity to sacrifice one’s personal desires for the greater good of the whole for a future outcome. It is that within each of us that is able to voluntarily act against the instinct of our self protection and desire impulses. We each obviously have this capacity to one degree or another or we would be not be able to function in society. If our impulses where entirely out of our control we’d run a muck and not make any friends or hold down a job.
We are often making sacrifices of an immediate gratification for a future reward, or acting courageously despite the presence of fear. This is the Christ Mind in you. Any time we choose a vibrant salad over a heaping pile of brownies so that we can reap the future benefits of physical health we are exercising this faculty. Anytime we go for some kind of exercise pushing against the inertia of our comfort, we are applying volition to direct the activity of desire. Any time we take inspired action despite our fear of failure or act without the calculation of a personal benefit we are disciplining this part of the mind.
On the spiritual level, the most intense reactivity which we must learn to apply this faculty to, is in our reaction to the fear of death. Our biological memory of the desire for survival is deeply rooted. In our yoking ourselves to the unseen, to the soul and the realms beyond form, we sense the undoing of our personality. The instinct and intuition held at the level of our corporeal intelligence holds the memory of the great tragedy of the original separation form Source and the long journey of pain and suffering endured on the path of evolution as a result. This reflex causes us to fight against the will of the soul, because we believe that to surrender our autonomy to an unseen force spells certain death.
The wisdom of Pisces then helps us to return to the storehouse of our ancient memory and heal the original wound of separation from Source. It can teach us to use our intuition to remember the divine purpose of the plan of Creation and to know its perfection and the certainty of its completion in time. With this knowledge we can surrender more fully into the wise guidance of the One who drives our vehicle of personality, and give our selves to the One Life who’s plan is as certain as God. Because with the knowledge of the plan we also know that never was there a time where we were born, nor will there ever come a time when we will die. To return again to the source of all being we arrive at the direct knowledge that the end and the beginning are one.
Please join us every full moon for the Meditations Beyond the Zodiac where we explore the trans-personal meaning of astrology and work in virtual community to bring about the alchemical union of the personality and soul.
In this meditation I guide us in a creative visualization process to the beginning of time where we reconnect with First Cause and its final effect in order to better know and feel the divine plan, and heal the wound of the original separation from our Source. Traveling on our timelines all the way back to the big-bang, we will come to a broader understanding of the purpose of Creation, thereby letting go of the sense of pain and anguish resulting from the toil of evolution. ~ Asa