Right back to Babylonian times Pisces, the twelfth Sign of the Zodiac, has been linked to the Constellation of The Fishes. The Fishes has many references to its origins, but in Greek terms, it relates to Aphrodite and her son Eros. In the story of Capricorn we saw that after the Olympian gods overthrew the rule of the Titans, in the battle for sovereignty of the world, they came upon the monster, Typhon. There are some discrepancies over whether this was at the Nile or the Euphrates River, but in the story of Pisces, Aphrodite and Eros jumped into the river to escape the monster, as the other Gods did. In Capricorn we saw that Pan turned himself into a Sea Goat, half goat and half fish. Aphrodite and Eros turned themselves into two fish and it is these two fish that were placed in the heavens as the Constellation of Pisces. This is said to be why the Syrians regard fish as taboo. Another story is that Zeus was in a cave nearby, seducing the nymph Pluto. This gave Typhon the chance to steal Zeus’ thunderbolts, which held his great power, while he was preoccupied making love. When the other gods saw that Typhon now had Zeus’ power, they fled to Egypt. As they fled they turned into various animals. It was at this point that Aphrodite and Eros turned themselves into fish. Here the powerful forces of love and desire were powerless against this monster. For in Greek mythology even the mightiest of gods trembled in fear at the prospect of encountering this monster, that dwelled in the deepest reaches of the cosmos.
As the monster closed around the helpless body of Zeus he cut out the sinews on both his hands and feet, leaving Zeus helpless and defenceless. Cadmus came upon the scene, armed with nothing but his intelligence. It was then that Cadmus remembered something that Apollo had taught him – music! He went to a nearby grove of trees and began to play a tune on some pipes. The sound so intoxicated the monster that its many arms and its only human head (he had 100 heads, but only one was human), came to the mouth of the cave in search of the source of this music. Realising the power of the music, he challenged Cadmus. Cadmus’s music verses the thunder and lightening bolt he had stolen from Zeus. With his newly found power, Typhon offered to give Cadmus any goddess he chose, except for Hera, even the virgins Athena and Artemis.
Cadmus, even though he was frightened, boasted ‘What would you do when I strike out a hymn of victory on the harp of seven strings to honour your throne’? ‘Forget the pipes’ Cadmus said, ‘I’ll play the harp whose seven strings play the music of the seven spheres – the seven sacred vowels’. Cadmus said he could do this, but he didn’t have any sinews to make the harp. Pumped up by this time, Typhon disappeared into the cave and came out carrying Zeus’ sinews and gave them to Cadmus. Cadmus built the harp, but he used the sinews from the bark of a tree instead, safely putting Zeus’ sinews under a rock. Then he began to play the harp. The monster heard the tune, but didn’t understand it, so came closer, straining to hear the composition that Cadmus had promised him, an opus to celebrate overcoming of the Olympian gods. He came away from the cave entrance to get closer, to hear the music, with all of his 100 heads distracted. Just as he did, the music fell silent. Not hearing what he expected, he rushed back into the cave to get the thunder and lightening bolts, but found only an empty cave. Zeus had turned himself into a bull and found his sinews. With his power restored, Zeus chased Typhon back to Sicily and finally killed him by throwing him into Mount Etna. What is left of the monster is the volcano that continues to erupt to this day.
From a leap into the water, in fear, by Aphrodite and Eros, ending with the restoration of order to the entire cosmos and all because of the intoxicating allure of music. For Pisces, love is mightier than the sword. The two fishes that form the Constellation of Pisces swim in different directions, bound by a cord. The Constellation of Pisces lies between the Constellations of Aries the Ram and Aquarius the Water Carrier, but they are widely separated in the sky, with the north eastern fish lying just south of Beta Andromedae and the south western one, headed east towards Aquarius and Pegasus. One fish faces east and is swimming upwards, while the other swims west and horizontal. The ancients saw this as representing the dual nature of the constellation and the duality of human emotions that we find in Pisces. This represents the dual nature of the Sign, with opposite qualities that cross, but are bound together forever. The eastern Fish swims up and is said to represent an ascent to heaven and spiritual matters, with the western Fish swimming towards human alignment in the everyday mundane world. This is how the ancient world viewed Pisces the Fish, but when Christianity came along, it claimed Pisces as its own. For the last 2,000 years the Fishes have come to represent ‘Christ’. The bible makes many references to fish. Jesus is called the ‘Fisher of men’. It was 2,000 years ago, at the time of Christ that the Equinox Point moved through the Constellation of Pisces, passing through the first Fish as the Christian Church was founded and Christianity developed.
The Fishes were both a Christian and a pagan symbol. The ‘Creation Myths’ all have different versions of how the Creation unfolded, but in one of them, we meet Atagartis, a love goddess. She pushed a giant egg out of the water of the Euphrates River, from which she emerged and from where she, her son and lover Ichthys took the form of fishes. This parallels the story of Aphrodite and her son Eros, god and goddess of love and desire. However, it’s in the Atagartis myth that we get the pagan origins of Easter. In the early Fish cult that surrounds Atagartis, the mother goddess and her son die each year and are reborn. This birth and return takes place in the dying month of the old year (Pisces) in order to be reborn in Aries. Nearly every ancient civilisation links the ending of the old astrological and calendar year with the Constellation of the Fishes. Since ancient times the Constellation of the Fishes (Pisces) was under the care and protection of Venus but ruled by Jupiter. Now it is ruled by Neptune, but Venus still has a strong association with Pisces. Even without the story of Aphrodite/Venus' dive to safety in the Euphrates River, Venus herself came from the sea. Sir Thomas Brown, 17th century author and physician, said ‘who wilt not commend the wit of astrology? Venus, born out of the sea, hath her exaltation in Pisces’.
The Constellation of Pisces has been known as Venus et Cupido, Venus Syria cum Cupidine, Venus cum Adone, Dione, and Veneris Mater and as the Sarmatian Aphrodite. All coming from Venus aka Aphrodite’s pivotal place in the story of this constellation. On a more mundane level the constellation derives its history from the fact that the Sun moves through the Constellation of Pisces during the rainy season. In Astrology, Pisces is the most mystically inclined of all the Signs and being the last Sign of the Zodiac, represents the return of all energy into the great ocean. It is seen as dreamy, gentle, creative and intuitive and slightly hypnotic. In the ancient world fish were sacred, in reverence to Aphrodite, however, it is also found in cultures as diverse as Scandinavian mythology. Freya, the Scandinavian counterpart to Aphrodite and Venus, gave her name to Friday (Freya Day), a day that Christians later adopted as a day on which they ate fish rather than meat. Friday is also sacred to the followers of the Prophet Mohammed. Even the word ‘nun’ means both fish and growth and the name is given to the female ‘brides of Christ’. Across all times, religions and cultures, the shared symbolism of Venus and the Fishes has brought Pisces its qualities of spirituality, religion, beauty, music and love.
Neptune is the eighth planet out from the Sun and the fourth largest. It is often called Uranus’ twin planet, for both share a distinctive blue colour. It was discovered on the 23rd September 1846. In true Neptunium style, it was nearly discovered 200 years early, by Galileo. In 1613 Galileo saw Neptune very close to Jupiter, but he thought it was a star. On the nights following he noticed that it had moved slightly, arousing his speculation that it was in fact a planet. Over the next few nights he wasn’t able to observe it, because of cloud cover. By the time he had a clear view, Neptune had moved below the horizon where it would stay hidden for another 200 years. Had Neptune been discovered then, which it would have if not for a fluke of nature, it would have predated the discovery of Uranus by 100 years. How typical of the planet of illusion that it would hide behind cloud cover. However, I’m of the belief that it wasn’t its time, as each of the modern planets were discovered in a time that reflected its influence.
When Neptune was finally discovered and given rulership of Pisces, the most spiritual of all the Signs, it was a time when people were questioning their spiritual beliefs. Up until then religion was akin to politics, yet in the 19th Century people were looking to other means of spiritual enlightenment. We were starting to recognise that we were individual spiritual beings. There was a rise in the psychic and spiritualist movement during that time, but also in social awareness. Slavery was abolished and the rights of women and the disadvantaged took on an almost religious fervour. Even ether, the gas that made painless surgery possible and sent the patient into a state of intoxicated unawareness, was discovered the same year that Neptune was discovered. Neptune was given rulership of Pisces, as it was considered to be the planet of inspiration, dreams, illusion, psychic ability and spirituality.
Neptune is very similar to its sister planet Uranus. However, Neptune’s winds are the fastest in the solar system, racing at almost 2000 km/hour. Like Jupiter and Saturn, it has its own internal heat source and emits more energy than it receives from the Sun. Like Jupiter, Uranus and Saturn, Neptune has rings. The outermost one is called ‘Adams’ after one of the men influential in Neptune’s discovery. This ring has three prominent arcs that bear the names ‘Liberty’, ‘Equality’ and ‘Fraternity’, all Piscean concepts and all relevant to the time that Neptune was discovered. Neptune has 8 known Moons.
Poseidon is the ruling god of Neptune. After Zeus and the Olympian gods won their battle over the Titans, one of the first things they did was to release the Cyclopes and the ‘Hundred Handed Ones’, from the underworld, where Cronus had held them captive. It was Cronus' three sons, three brothers, who were instrumental in their release after they had killed their father - Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. In gratitude they gave Zeus the thunderbolt as a weapon, Hades a helmet of invisibility and to Neptune they gave the trident. After the war Zeus set up council at the Oracle of Delphi in order to divvy up their joint control of the world. Zeus gave himself rulership of all the heavens, Hades was given rulership of the underworld and Poseidon of the sea. Humans got rulership of the land itself. All three brothers are equal in divinity, but not in superiority, with Zeus appointing himself lord of the gods. But Poseidon’s power was immense. He ruled the oceans and brought storms and crashing waves to destroy those who displeased him and granted safe passage and favourable winds to those that pleased him. Therefore, he was a god that all the Olympian heroes tried to please, but just like the oceans themselves, he was often unpredictable and unruly. As a god he is unstable and often sent great floods to wash away whole cities if they displeased him, until the other gods forbade him. Poseidon did leave the sea from time to time, even though he wasn’t allowed to. When he did, he took on the disguise of a horse, usually a wild stallion that would charge across the countryside.
Of all the Water Signs Pisces is the Sign where emotions runs the deepest. As the last of the three Winter Signs Pisces presides over the end of one astrological year and the preparation for the new astrological year that will soon begin in spring. By the time the Sun reached the Constellation of Pisces in ancient northern hemisphere times the days were already starting to get longer and as the temperature started to rise, so to did the hopes and optimism of humans. It was a time to give thanks to the gods that protected them through the long, dark winter months. Underground, the frozen earth begins to thaw and water begins to flow as the water tables once again find their balance. Deep within the ground, dormant plant life begins to stir and deep within the ground, growth is taking place that won’t reveal itself in an outer form until spring. Rivers start to flow as ice melts. Moisture is so abundant you can smell it in the air, with damp soil giving up its hold on this essential life force. As a mutable Sign, it’s a time of change and of an impending change of season and it's one of the most pronounced. The old year is in its dying phase and the new year is tantalisingly close. The cycle of life goes on.
In Pisces we find one of the deepest and most emotional of Signs. From the constellation we get the Fishes, one pointing up into the heavens and the divine and the other down to the mundane world of human life. Pisces energy is able to transcend the two. The Fishes play an integral part in almost every religion, from pagan times through to Christianity. Therefore, it is the Sign that rules spiritual themes. Pisces has strong and ancient links to Venus/Aphrodite in all her forms and across all cultures. Here we find the Piscean love for beauty, peace and gentility.
Lying deep within a part of the sky known as the ‘Great Sea’, Pisces arises from the very depths of our primordial past. It is ancient and its energy goes back to the emergence of life itself, from the sea. The planet Neptune and when it was discovered gives Pisces its sense of mystery and illusion. Neptune itself managed to avoid discovery for over 200 years, simply by hiding behind clouds on the critical days that it would have otherwise been discovered. As a season it is full of water, both in the ground where frozen water is melting and from rain. As the last Sign of the Zodiac it embodies the essence of all the 11 Signs that go before it, assimilating the energy of the astrological year so far, in order to begin the a new year. Of all the Water Signs, this is the deepest and the most emotional. Poseidon energy lives down in these emotions as they run unpredictably, sometimes diving deep down with the Fishes themselves and at other times galloping forward in the form of a wild stallion.