In the corner of the zodiac we call Pisces, Aries and Taurus, there has been a heroine’s journey unfolding that is now in its final leg. The story of Psyche I’ve already pointed to in a previous post; now consider the similar (less R-rated) one of Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”, as told by the transits through those signs in the past month:
(2/16) Mercury stations retrograde in Pisces: A tornado sweeps you away *over the rainbow* to an alternate reality of Technicolor wonder and poppy-induced dreams. You are given a hero’s welcome by strange, tiny people and a lovely woman in a magic bubble.
(2/8-3/3) Venus in Aries, Conjuntions to Chiron, Lilith and Eris: You receive your talisman in the form of sparkly ruby-red shoes and follow the call to adventure. Along the way, you meet friends who share your misfit identity, but you are also beset by a wicked green-faced witch, angry that you have stolen what she believes to be rightly hers. You and your friends set off toward the Emerald City, each hoping to satisfy an individual desire from the all-powerful Oz.
(3/8 & 3/11) Sun conjoins Neptune, Mercury stations direct in Pisces: When you finally arrive and pull back the curtain, you learn that there is no magic wizard and that what you were seeking has been within you the whole time. You gain clarity and continue to move forward on the path that leads you right back to where you started. You have been confronted with aspects of your own psyche seeking integration, that show up in the people closest to you. Your actions have taught you courage, wisdom and love, and shown you your true mettle.
(3/4 & 3/9) Venus enters Taurus, conjunction to Uranus: You are now *out of the woods* and reminded of deep and simple truths. You see things differently. “Home” is a state of mind, and is where your heart is. You are changed for the better, and exactly who and where you’re supposed to be. You can now appreciate the friends, new and old, who carry you through life.
In this metaphor, we are all Dorothy, regardless of gender identity. And wherever Mercury and Venus have been traveling through your chart, a process of learning has been taking place. Perhaps it has come with discomfort, frustration, confusion or self-doubt, but in the end we will find ourselves back on track, moving forward with more purpose and more clarity. Taurus, like a loyal Toto, reminds us of our animal nature and our most precious bonds. In the upcoming month, ask yourself: what are the things I value most, in myself and others? How have I surprised myself lately? Who and what am I grateful for, and where do I have unconditional love? And then tell yourself: I am deserving of comfort and pleasure and the goodwill of others. I have earned it.
Animals often show up for me as themes in birth charts, and when they do, I find it useful to turn to mythology for an understanding of how the human psyche has interpreted the nature of whatever it might be. What does it symbolize culturally and what does it symbolize to the individual? And what can the animal teach us? This past week, it has been the horse, and specifically the mare.
The horse has had a longstanding symbolic connection to kingship and sovereignty in many traditions. In mythology, horses often feature prominently in the birth stories of culture heroes or divine twins. To the ancient mind, the mare was a representative of the Earth Goddess, and as such, had the power to confer royalty to whoever she deemed (or whoever proved himself) worthy of protecting her land and her people. Both in ritual and in oral tradition, the man who successfully captured or tamed the wild mare, and married her, became ennobled.
As attitudes towards women and power shifted, stories of the Mare Goddess took on a darker aspect. The Welsh Rhiannon, the beautiful and elusive woman atop a white mare, marries the king and bears a son, but then is falsely accused of killing her baby and is sentenced to stand by a mounting block and carry visitors back and forth to the castle on her back while recounting her shameful story. Macha, in the Irish tradition, brings wealth and happiness to her husband as long as he promises never to mention her name to anyone, so when he brags that his wife can outrun the king’s horses, the king summons her to court, and commands her—heavily pregnant!—to run a horse race. She wins, and then lays a curse upon all the men of the land for the next nine generations. The Greek fertility goddess, Demeter, in one of her vengeful aspects, was called “Mare-headed,” because she assumed the form of a horse to escape Poseidon, who raped her. The Roman Epona, harvest and earth deity, came to be linked primarily with the realm of warfare, cavalry and utilitarianism. As concepts of chastity and virginity took root in culture, and as women’s sexuality became problematic within the dominant power structures, the Great Mare was reduced to an abused beast of burden; the bountiful mother became the devouring mother; and the fertility goddess was transformed into the temptress or the lecherous witch, all while maintaining their equine associations. The wild beauty and free spirit of the mare, and the feminine power she represented, became a dangerous eroticism to the masculine psyche. A woman, whether astride a horse, a broomstick or a man, was a woman in control of her sexuality. And to many, it was a flagrant inversion of the expectations of feminine submissiveness and passivity, and needed to be repressed or demonized. How sad.
Let’s leave humans and our complexities aside and go back to the animal itself for guidance. Regardless of your gender, if the horse is a totem for you or feels like a kindred spirit, there is a part of you that resists domestication and needs freedom to run. There is gentleness and playfulness, strength and stamina, power and fecundity. You embody ancient royalty, as the archetype of kingship and queenship run through your story. You are one face of the Earth Goddess, who is asking to be remembered and redeemed. Don’t let them tame you.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
(February 18 - March 19)
We are now in the season of the two fishes. A mutable water sign, Pisces is fluid and slippery, chameleon-like. It is ruled by Neptune, God of the Sea and planet of alternate realities, and Jupiter, God of the Sky and planet of boundless appetites. It is the archetype of the Dreamer, the Mystic and the Poet.
Born with one foot in the Otherworld, Pisces knows instinctively that the Self is an illusion and that we really are all One. Because of that, it is a natural empath and possesses a rare generosity. But also, it must protect against self-sacrifice and energy vampires. Being a water sign, Pisces natives are sensitive, but not in the same way Cancers and Scorpios are sensitive. If Cancer is the river and Scorpio is the well, then Pisces is the ocean: vast and infinite. It doesn’t just feel its own feelings; it feels everyone else’s feelings too.
I think of Pisces as the tofu of the zodiac (I love tofu), picking up and absorbing the flavors of whatever else is cooking in the pan with it or whatever sauce it’s simmering in. But in all cases, these natives will need periods of retreat, meditative rituals or hobbies that allow them to disappear from themselves for a bit. Coming back can be a challenging task, but it is an important one. Addiction, escapism and loss of self are pitfalls that must be vigilantly avoided. We can be influenced by others, we can experience moments of transcendence, but we must not dissolve.
A big part of the story of Pisces is the ambivalence of being alive. Being confined to the body leads to an (often unconscious) on-going attempt to get back to the Source, or touch the divine. For Pisces, God is not a castle in the sky, or an endless party, or pearly gates or a garden of paradise. It is the ouroboric womb: safe, contained, submerged, timeless, rhythmic and hypnotic. It is the primordial liminal fluid of pre-memory and pre-consciousness where all is symbiotic. These are romantic, idealistic and highly spiritual principles. If one is careful not to be too easily deceived, and with grounding influences from either the rest of the birth chart or from other people in the life, this rich imagination and deeply feeling nature can contain enormous creative potential.
For all of us, where Pisces falls in the chart will be a less defined, more porous, potentially confusing, area of life. And that area is what is being highlighted for the duration of the Sun’s time in the sign. Try to cultivate acceptance around the idea that not everything needs to be structured and predictable. But also remember that defining and maintaining your boundaries is necessary for a healthy relationship to Self and Other. So, by all means, swim out into the watery blue expanse, but take a buddy with you, wear a life jacket, and don’t lost sight of the shore.