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Modern Views & Old Associations by Deborah Houlding

who prays and serves,
and prays some more ?
and feeds the beggar
at the door ??
and weeps o'er love
long lost before ???
poor, pisces !



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The Lord of Plenty



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Sun's Transit:
19 Feb - 20 Mar

(cold and moist)


Star lore

Pisces the Fish
Pisces the Fish glyph for Pisces

Symbolism and Profile | Dignified Planets | Typical Features | Traditional Rulerships | Traditional Definitions | Famous Pisceans


Symbolism and Profile

Pisces represents two fishes swimming in opposite directions, bound by a cord. The dualism implicit in its symbolism is a weakening principle, because the fishes strain against each other rather than support each other's motion. This adds an element of vacillation to the way a Piscean thinks and acts, but it also suggests the ability to receive influences from multiple sources which, whilst tending to undermine self-will, gives the capacity for rounded awareness and instinctive understanding of how gain in one area results from loss in another.

As such a trait suggests, Pisceans are not known for being quick and decisive problem solvers. They are apt to see everything as a dilemma, riddled with numerous options and shades of possibility. A complex and idealistic sign, Pisces sets a high store on conscience and consequence, with the fear of causing upset to others often gaining the upper hand over the desire to assert one's own interests. Highly sensitive and impressionable, Pisceans are either commended for their compassionate humility and sympathetic consideration, or berated for being weak-willed, gullible and lacking in focus.

Kindness, trust and a 'willingness to believe' has contributed to Pisces' reputation as one of the most spiritual signs of the zodiac. This is not some modern derivation from the attributes of Neptune; its ancient history is riddled with allegiance to spiritual principles, and the symbol for fishes is often taken as an icon for churches and priests, predating the sign's traditional connection with Jupiter, (itself a significator for priests and religious matters); and the adoption of the sign of the fish by Christianity, where it is seen as an emblem for gentility, peace and denial of the ego in favour of the collective's needs.

The notion of meekness arises from the creature's easy representation of the pacifist - the fish is not an aggressive animal and has no natural defences except its fluid movement, coupled with an instinct to swim away from trouble. Its astrological reputation acknowledges the noble attributes of personal sacrifice and resolution to suffering without retribution, but it also recognises that human beings seldom live up to highest principles - timidity often appearing at a lower scale under the guise of cowardice, avoidance of personal responsibility or, as Lilly would have it, 'idle effeminacy' 'representing a party of no action'.* Pisceans certainly don't fit comfortably in the role of challenging hero who rushes headlong into battle. Their strength is borne from reflection, consideration, and resistance to actions that perpetuate pain.

But pacifism only represents one element of Pisces' spiritual reputation. A deeper significance lies in the fact that the fish is a creature of the ocean, which since ancient times has been taken as the symbolic realm of emotional and spiritual energy that lies beneath physical existence, where all is connected and nothing moves without creating a tide of motion that pulls or pushes against another. The sea as the magna mater, the primary source, signifies the boundless essence of soulful creativity and elemental life force from which everything emerges and eventually returns. Fishes, as intrinsic parts of this fertile yet deeply mysterious realm, were regarded as sacred representations of the soul and the spiritual connection that animates society.

Being natives of the world of water, Pisceans are highly responsive to their environment, easily influenced by the moods and expectations of others. The element of water signifies dissolution of personal barriers that exist to detach us from the physical pain and emotional suffering of others. Lacking the hardened shell of Cancer and Scorpio, Pisces has least resistance amongst the water-signs to surrounding impressions, making them almost as responsive to excitement, fear, anticipation, joy, hurt and laughter originated from without as that generated from within. If they see tears they will cry, if they see a smile they will smile back; no other sign is so prone to the infectious nature of human emotion.

The 'boundless ocean' represents a very open and fluid environment where instincts reign. Changeable and unpredictable, it lacks structure, control and conformity. So too the Piscean finds it hard to cope with discipline, routine and order. Their emotional capacity gives a strong imagination that often finds expression through escapist tendencies or dreamy, hopeful visions. Capable of great inspiration and idealism, they are often accused of lacking realism and being too trusting in the conviction that the power of belief, hope, or love can transcend all bounds and borders. Jupiter, as the traditional ruler of the sign, promotes the urge for freedom from restraint and mundane obligations. But Jupiter struggles to find conscious direction in Pisces, where the emphasis falls upon faith over reason, and freedom of the soul through denial of earthly shackles. Unless a proclivity for self-imposed structure and regulation are suggested by more earthy qualities in the chart, Pisces often wastes its potential by failing to give lasting definition to its latent creativity. It will 'go with the flow' and when interest or energy levels drop, so too does application. Pisceans are great starters of projects and initiators of ideas, but they lack the sustained energy that is required to fulfil many of their long term objectives.

The same is suggested by Pisces' highly fertile reputation. Pisces and Jupiter are both prime significators for fruitfulness, easy conception, an abundance of offspring, creativity and ideas. Whilst offering a blessing for pregnancy matters, multitudinous fecundity suggests problems through being too easily impressed, too quickly receptive to a host of potentials - to the detriment of the one worthy project that demands singular attention. As the fish spawns numerous eggs, Pisceans are never short of creative possibilities to explore and develop. Most will admit that they abound with inspirational ideas and imaginative thoughts, but they lose motivation once projects begin to require more mundane maintenance than creative investment.

This can present itself as restlessness and unreliability. Most professional Pisceans need to find a career path that allows for flexibility and a constant exploration of new interests and emotional stimulation. They excel in design and development, but suffer in management and administration. Their fields are the arts and the caring professions, where they can fulfil their urge to nurse, heal or soothe, or absorb and reflect the power of the psyche. Although they may be unreliable in time-keeping, often best when working to their own agendas or allowed flexible hours, once roused to action they will give their all, because everything they do is invested with feeling and emotion.

The modern rulership of Neptune over the sign demonstrates the close affinity that exists between Pisces' soft and subtle nature and the observable effects of this nebulous outer planet. Neptune's principle is dissolution into collectiveness. Although often marvelled as a planet of great spiritual mysticism, mundane astrology accepts that part of its influence is to weaken vital force and strive towards communism, where all are equalled, segregations and barriers are broken down and no one shines brighter than the rest. Neptune can bring depression and Pisceans are known for having low vitality which makes them easy prey to lethargy. Their temperament is defined as phlegmatic, which is associated with delicate constitutions, pale complexions and inertia. The poor generation of heat describes the sign as one that is slow to rouse to temper, but easily susceptible to emotional hurt. Other negative Piscean traits include carelessness, inattention to details, manipulation, and an easy dependence upon drugs, alcohol, and artificial stimulants. Part of the latter problem is due to a casual disregard for regulation and self-imposed limitation, the rest is due to their extreme sensitivity which makes them readily responsive to addictive substances. The reputation for manipulation arises less as a result of an inclination towards dishonesty, but as reluctance to deal directly with uncomfortable issues that feel too painful and distressing to tackle head-on. Instead the Piscean will introduce a softening principle, distorting little realities so that the truth seems easier to swallow.

Pisceans are rarely motivated by pure self-interest but they are easily distracted, effortlessly led, and subject to the powerful temptation of aroused emotion. Venus has played an important part in the ancient myths surrounding the constellation Pisces and is considered exalted in this sign because its delicate and tender nature is so responsive to romanticised visions of love and attraction. Pisces needs a soul mate, and they take no greater pleasure than when sacrificing everything for that which they find attractive and beautiful. Unfortunately, Pisces is not a sign of clear and rational vision. When they fall in love they often, quite literally, fall into an abyss of intense confusion and distorted reality that allows no room for critical reasoning. Pisceans can make the most generous, open and tender-hearted lovers but they can suffer in relationships, either by clinging to false dreams that bear no basis in actuality, or through the inability to deal with the practical rules of engagement that remain in relationships once the initial blush of romantic sensation has faded.

The modern world, with its message that anyone can have anything they want so long as they demand it aggressively enough, take no prisoners and impress their will firmly upon everyone else, can be a hard and hostile environment for the gentle, non-confrontational Piscean. But this sign has been blessed with great intuition and a deep spiritual source from which to draw calm resolution. The cord that binds the two opposing fishes shows that although they are open to a wide range of emotions and psychic impressions, they are forever tied to the process of centring themselves and bringing equilibrium to their own lives, and those of others around them.

Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Pisces:
Jupiter   As sign ruler. (Modern astrologers have assigned the outer planet Neptune as a co-ruler for Pisces but this is disregarded in traditional techniques that require use of the full dignity scheme).
Venus  by exaltation
Mars  daytime and night-time triplicity ruler.

Planets Debilitated in Pisces:
Mercury   by detriment and fall

More on planetary dignities and debilities 

Typical Features

Pisces inclines to shortness, with the body marked as fleshy, plump, and sensitive to swellings and water retention. The face is large and full, the complexion pale and often not very clear, being subject to skin disorders. There is a tendancy towards slouching rather than an upright composure and overall there may be a sense of lethargy or a lack of vitality.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All the water signs relate to the direction north - Pisces specifically relates to north-west.
Anatomy:  Pisces rules the feet
Illnesses:  Pisces is known in traditional texts as an 'effeminate, idle and sickly' sign because it often denotes a poor constitution, lack of energy and low vitality. It governs the feet and can be taken to indicate all diseases and afflictions that relate to them - athlete's foot, gout, aches and pains, lameness, ingrowing toenails, bunions, etc. It is also associated with colds, flu and all 'moist' illnesses - those that make eyes stream and the nose run. The moist Piscean temperament makes them susceptible to swellings and water-retention, and offers poor resistance against contagious diseases, dependency on drugs and negative psychosomatic complaints.

Because this is a sign of low vital spirits, it is associated with afflictions caused by corruption of the blood; those that result in a poor sense of all-round health and vitality, and cause the complexion to suffer. It signifies many kinds of skin afflictions including eczema, acne, and boils. Pisceans often suffer from lack of exercise and poor diet making them vulnerable to ulcers or medical problems that accumulate as the result of a long period of neglect. With a slap-happy attitude to hygiene, and a proclivity towards being 'influenced' by others, the sign is traditionally associated with scabies, lice and skin infections caused by contamination.

Pisces is a fertile sign and may show a leaning towards multiple births. As a 'mute' sign it can also indicate problems related to the ability to offer clear verbal communication.
Places:  The places that Pisces rules are primarily related to its watery element and include fishponds, rivers, springs, watermills, water pumps, wells, marshy or watery ground, moats, springs, the ocean, and all places near to water inside or around the house. It also signifies hermitages, monasteries or places of seclusion or retreat. Al Biruni gave it rulership over Holy places and 'abodes of angels'.
Countries & cities:   Include Portugal, Normandy, northern Egypt, Alexandria, Rheims in France, Calabria in Sicily, Worms and Ratisbon in Germany and Compostella in Spain
Colours  White and glittering colours
Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with Jupiter, Pisces has affinity with crystals, amethysts, clear shining stones (sapphires, emeralds) and marble. Aquamarine, a member of the Beryl family, whose name means 'sea water' seems particularly appropriate to the symbolism of Pisces.
Tradtional Rulerships of Jupiter 

Traditional Definitions:

Fruitful:  Unless afflicted, Pisces shows a propensity for many children or easy pregnancy.
Mute or slow of voice:  Pisces is not known for verbal dexterity

Famous Pisceans:

Albert Einstein
Born: 14 Mar 1879
  View chart
Elizabeth Taylor
Born: 27 Feb 1932
  View chart
George Harrison
Born: 22 Feb 1943
  View chart
Prince Edward
Born: 10 Mar 1964
  View chart
Liza Minelli
Born: 12 Mar 1936
  View chart
George Washington
Born: 22 Feb 1732
  View chart
Jean Baptiste Morin
Born: 23 Feb 1583
  View chart | biography
Nicholas Copernicus
Born: 28 Feb 1473
  View chart & biography

Constellation mythology and star lore of Pisces 

* - William Lilly, Christian Astrology, 17th cent., p.99.
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© Deborah Houlding

The Zodiac
Aspect Meanings in the Birth Chart