Pisces: Diving Deep into the Mystic Ocean

“And the seasons, they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captured on a carousel of time…in the circle game”. I find Joni Mitchell’s sublime lyric quintessentially Piscean and it always reminds me of this phase of the year as the Sun journeys through Pisces and returns symbolically to the ocean of possibility from which new life can emerge in the Spring.

Pisces epitomises the ups and downs of the circle game better than any other. It is traditionally considered the 12th and final sign of the zodiac, and is the third sign of the winter triad returning us to Spring Equinox where the astrological round will begin again in Aries. In Pisces, the contracted crystalline forms of winter are dissipating and becoming less defined. The ice is melting, and as the earth begins to warm up again, ground water breaks the surface and rivers flow. Nature is softening her brittle edges and dissolving her winter identity.

Pisces is a sign that is full of paradox and apparent contradiction. It is famously associated with struggle, the two fish tied together pulling in different directions, yet is also the sign of surrender, where we sacrifice our attachment to a particular identity and learn to accept what must be. To sacrifice really means ‘to make sacred’ – or to return to what is sacred – through giving up something of significance to which we have become attached. In the Christian calendar, the Pisces phase corresponds with the season of lent, the season of fasting, traditionally a time to go on retreat or retire to a meditative or reflective place so that we might become ready to receive the new creative shoots of life that break forth at the Spring Equinox.

Pisces is associated very strongly with the poetic impluse, where attempts at reason and logical deduction must be suspended if we are to be granted access to the mystery of who we really are. The Piscean phase of the journey resonates with the idea that the truth can only be reached through myth and metaphor. Pisces is synonymous with a profound ambiguity where nothing is certain. It is the phase of the journey where we might be well advised to seek guidance from those in our society whose perspective might normally be overlooked – the underdogs, the mystics, the artists, the storytellers, the disenfranchised and disadvantaged in society, for they may understand something that we have forgotten in our quest for distinction and success, clarity and order.

The dreamtime of aboriginal Australians is far from delusion or escape, but rather connects the tribe to its origins, and to its deepest more-than-human reality. Our over-rational western biases tend to marginalise the importance of dream time and reduce the imaginal realm to mere thought projection, thus explaining it away in the rather narrow terms of humanist psychology. Yet the Piscean injunction is to truly to surrender rational control and open ourselves to the diverse possibilities that emerge from the mystic ocean. We can learn from nature at this time of the year, just as the crystalline forms of nature dissolve and dis-integrate, so we might which explore aspects of our own hard shelled identity we might be willing to relinquish.

In numerous ancient mystery traditions from cultures spanning the globe, it was the task of the initiates to pass through astrological twelve gateways of experience in order that they might truly come to know themselves from the rich diversity of perspectives that the zodiac presented them with. Each sign of the zodiac carries within it the potential for philosophical transformation and as we journey around the year, consciously embracing and embodying these 12 archetypal energies, we are in essence, enacting an ancient, alchemical mystery play. By entering into the mysteries of the astrological wheel, with its ancient symbolic coherence, we can reconnect us to a paradigm of meaningful co-respondence, which Jung called synchronicity. Indeed, the enchantment that the zodiacal wheel casts on our imagination can liberate us from the suffering we experience from our attachment to the carousel of time.

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