Feb 22 – March 21
Please note – the date will be varied slightly among the sources
He’ll play pliant on the surface because it’s easier;it’s not that important to draw blood.
From the book “Astrology for Lovers” written by Liz Green.
The range from Einstein to the ranks of junkies queuing at midnight in Piccadilly Circus for their weekly methadone is a pretty broad range. So is the range from the Fish, that for two thousand years has symbolized the mystery of Christ, to the sad, scruffy, ineffectual figure which Vivian Robson once described in an astrology text as ‘the dustbin of the zodiac’. But this bizarre combination of paradoxical things is typical of Pisces.
In an attempt to understand the real motivations of the Piscean (a thing which is impossible right from the outset, but which one must, irresistibly, try anyway), I once asked a Pisces friend what he thought about it.
‘Well,’ he replied with a perfectly straight face, ‘it’s a well-known fact that every Pisces secretly longs to be given the fishing rights to all the dustbins in Oxford Street.’
And there you have it. Take the dustbin literally or symbolically as you please. What the rest of humanity discards, ignores or cannot comprehend, Pisces pursues. In the midst of the waste and wreckage of human dreams and the heights of disappointed fantasies, he will fish….and fish….and fish.
Pisces is ruled by Neptune, who in ancient mythology is represented as the god of the oceans and the underground waterways of the earth. Dripping with seaweed, brandishing his trident, he is unpredictable in behaviour: sometimes friendly to sailors, offering them smooth seas and a calm wind, other times strangely inimical, raising destructive storms and calling monsters out of the depths. The figure of Neptune tells us something about Pisces right away. This sign is connected with a realm that has no boundaries, no measurable depths. ‘From water all life comes,’ the Koran tells us. And nothing less than the source of life itself is the real secret for which Pisces fishes. No wonder, if he fails, that he reverts to the disillusioned, deluded escapist.
It is sometimes said that Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, contains a little bit of all of the others. And watching a typical Piscean, this certainly seems to be true. No one is as much as a chameleon as Pisces, a natural actor. The theatre and the film industry are full of fishes, playing their parts. There is a marvelous fluidity and complexity in Pisces people which can be alternatively enchanting and irritating, for they are so many people that you begin to wonder when the real Pisces will stand up. The secret is that there is no ‘real’ Piscean. He actually is everybody. And if you think it’s easy to live with that kind of empathy and identification with the human race, think again.
It is also said that Pisces incarnates either to serve or to suffer. This, too, seems to be true in its fashion, although it is a little extreme. But the tendency Pisceans to become the people with whom they are strongly involved causes many of them to be subsumed. Sometimes texts refer to Pisces as ‘wishy-washy’, because there is a passivity, a kind of inertia in these people that shows most clearly when a crisis is upon them. Watch a Pisces in a dilemma that calls for quick decision and action. You’ll go grey waiting for that positive move. Decisions, if it is to be quick, means you have to exclude one choice for another. To Pisces, the problem is that so many choices are available, and if you look at all of them carefully, why, they all contain some truth. How do you choose when every choice is a right – and a wrong – one?
This is one of the keys to Pisces’ often enigmatic behaviour: everything is relative. Like all the other zodiacal traits we have explored, this one is double-edged. Seeing the relativity of truth is a great gift, because it breeds tolerance. If men throughout history have possessed a few more truly Piscean traits, there would have been no Spanish Inquisition, no Nazi holocaust, no Salem witchhunts, no bigotry and persecution. If everything is relative, then you can’t condemn others for their viewpoints. The problem with this attitude is that it can be incredibly lax. Pisces has sometimes been accused of immorality. But that isn’t strictly true; to be immoral, you have to have morals to break. And the calm wise indifference with which Pisces greets human transgressions not only applies to his own. He will sit quietly while his wife leaves, his children insult him, his employer heaps abuse upon his head, the taxman takes half his income, and his landlord throws him out of his flat. It can drive you to frenzy – watching the complete blank acceptance – as though they were born to it, expect it, welcome it. And maybe they know something the other signs don’t – that all this suffering, all this misfortune, means little if you’re not attached too strongly to life.
Pisces is the sign of the mystic. And this mystical streak means several things. For one thing, many Pisceans are deeply religious – although not necessarily in an orthodox way. But they have a longing for, and a sense of, some other reality, something transcendant, magical, elusive, that makes ordinary life seem drab and meaningless. Truly a vale of tears. For another thing, Pisces has a deep wisdom about the futility of so many human desires. Intense ambition, powerful passion, covetousness, greed – the ordinary human motives that drive us all – pass through him and pass out again, for none of them have that much power over him. He is as capable of these emotions as any other sign. But somehow, somewhere deep down, he doesn’t really take them all that seriously. After all, it’s only maya, as they say in the East – only illusion.
Pisceans seem to have this strange and cynical wisdom, about life and people, even from childhood. Pisces belongs to the element of water, and, like Cancer and Scorpio, is deeply sensitive to the secret undercurrents that lie behind the mask of ordinary human behaviour. It’s hard to fool a Pisces. But the difference between the Fish and his two watery fellows is that Cancer and Scorpio, being more strongly attached to their own emotions, will act on their reactions. Cancer, sensing that someone is a little untrustworthy, will move to protect himself and his loved ones. Scorpio, sensing the same thing, will usually attack the enemy, to teach him a lesson, or withdraw in strong disgust. Pisces will look, see, feel saddened, and forgive. And will generally let himself be taken advantage of or cheated despite his insight. Why? Well, I’ve asked Pisces people that, when they’ve got into the classic Pisces bind of being the sucker. ‘It doesn’t really matter that much,’ they say. Or, ‘Well, he needed it more than I do.’ Or some other remark which reminds you once again that this world is not the real one for the Fish. He hears a different drumbeat.
The Fish is a creature which lives underwater. And Pisces does too. He moves in the depths of a world which is difficult to fathom if you are an airy, earthy, rational type. Everything is seen double, or in quadruplicate, nothing is ever simple or clear. Every thought and action has thousands of associations which ripple out into infinity. Pisces does not understand boundaries. He will frequently eat until he makes himself sick, or drink until he collapses, or get so loud and extroverted that he offends everybody, or go so quiet and withdrawn that he terrifies everyone. Everything to excess. It’s because he doesn’t really understand how to discriminate, how to limit, how to choose. If you have ever kept a tank of tropical fish, you will know that you cannot just leave a week’s worth of food and go away on holiday. A fish will simply eat and eat what’s in front of him until he kills himself. There’s no sense of moderation in Pisces. How could there be? He’s a creature from another world, unsure of and unused to the laws by which the clear, cold world of matter and facts operates.
What he has to compensate for this rather disturbing failing is a boundless imagination. For here too, the Pisces has no limits. He can envision anything. Einstein was a Pisces, and a good example of where a brilliant intellect can go when it is not hidebound by conventions and dogmas. Many great musicians and painters have been Pisceans; their imagination know no bounds. Anything is possible. Pisces holds the secret to the source of life, the realm of dreams and fantasies. Psychology calls this the unconscious. Pisces has a key to this world – one given him at birth, as a gift. He can come and go as he pleases. The trouble is, he often finds it difficult to come back.
Pisces has a real problem coping with reality. That is, with the one bound by time and space and structure and facts. Although his intuition may be lightning-quick, and his intellect brilliant, he will often overlook something simple, like the electricity bill. Pisces has a bad reputation with money. It’s not that he is ‘impractical’ in the ordinary sense. He may even display bouts of meanness, and have some pretty shrewd, canny ideas about how money might be made. It’s more that he can’t – and won’t – bear limitations. The whole concept of being limited by time, space, and other people is intensely irritating to Pisces. His mind is on larger things.
This can be infuriating to more earthy types, or airy types who like everything planned, structured, and explained. Although Pisces, as a water sign, often finds himself in relationships with the air signs, they see reality in very different ways. For Pisces, these things are not important. He would rather decide on the spur of the moment to take a quick plane to Tahiti, or to suddenly buy a Porsche, than he would plan six months in advance a package Thompson holiday and a good, sensible Mini which uses less petrol and a smaller insurance premium. All this has led to Pisces being called childishly irresponsible. This is rather unfair. He’s responsible enough with the things he cares about. It’s just that his conception of what’s real may differ from that of other people’s. Quite radically.
Pisces is also an incurable romantic. He may have many defences to hide this innate tendency, but romantic he was born and romantic he will die. And romance doesn’t just mean about love affairs. It means about everything. The house he lives in must be a castle, with moat and drawbridge; the car must be exotic, the bed revolving with platforms and coloured lights….well, you get the idea. He lives in his imagination. In his imagination, everything is not only like a set piece out of Star Wars, but it also changes constantly. Pisces gets bored more easily than any other sign. The constantly changing landscape of the depths is not easily replaced by the unchanging banality of life on dry land. Pisces needs a little theatre in his life. If you can’t provide it, he’ll create it. Often to his own destruction. But that too has a dramatic ring.
If you like safe, solid people who always mean what they say and also mean it next week and the week after, stay away from Pisces. The only thing which is truly consistent about him is his love for, and longing for, change. That and the closeness he has to the world of dreams, which is far more important to him than the ‘realities’ of the welfare state where food, shelter and free medical care plus a visit to the local every two nights means happiness. Not for Pisces. Give him hyacinths for the soul anytime. He is remarkably adaptable, and can manage in a garret; but garrets are romantic. Council estates aren’t.
The Pisces Lover
You might expect that all the qualities we have mentioned about Pisces would be in abundant display in his love-life, for Pisces is usually in love. If not with a human being, then with a cause, or with God, but he is usually in love. It is in his nature to give, and since this is a water sign, a sign of feeling, it is impossible for Pisces to conceive of a life alone – unless it is a kind of aloneness which the monk or the nun elects in exchange for union of a different kind.
You may see the sensitivity, the gentleness, the tendency to devotedness in abundance. You may also see the overcompensation of many Pisceans to their own need for people, exhibited in coolness and a deliberately forced detachment. You may see the Piscean tendency always to put the other person’s wishes first, and to blossom under any show of affection or tenderness. Or you may see the shadow side take over, where the partner must always be in the position of the servant catering to the lord’s whims. Either way, the root is the same. If Pisces can trust, he will give everything. Not necessarily tomorrow, or next year. Fidelity and structure are not part of his nature. But today, now, in this moment. And if you string together a long string of moments, you may discover that it’s been a lifetime.
One of the more disturbing qualities about Pisces is that he is so ready to enter into a relationship with just about anybody on a certain superficial level that people misunderstand his motives. He’s not really coming on; he’s listening with sympathy. He’s also easily seduced, not necessarily only literally. You can’t cage Pisces; his extroverted side flows out easily to other people that you may as well get used to it. But this is, remember, a wise soul. He sees through people very quickly. And although he’s led often one way or the next out of sympathy or flattery or a stronger personality, he has the capacity to recognize what’s really of value to him.
This is not likely to be a lover who only notices one man, or one woman. That’s impossible for Pisces; he’s not only interested in everybody, he’s often attracted to everybody. His morals are his own; better find out what they are first, so you aren’t surprised later. Don’t take him for granted. But the curious detachment in this sign is in evidence even in this highly fraught situations, when he says it meant nothing, and it would be better if it meant nothing to you too. If you’re the really possessive type, you’re in a little trouble. He may be technically faithful; his imagination certainly isn’t, and never will be. Not likely that he’ll be either. But it depends upon whether you value technical fidelity, or a depth of understanding and tacit communion which no other sign can offer.
There is also a quality in Pisces, like Virgo – the opposite sign – which is essentially untouched and unpossessable, no matter how formal the contact is, no matter how long you’ve known him. Some part of Pisces will always belong to the cosmos, to his own inner self, and not to you. Unlike the simpler signs such as Aries or Taurus, Pisces is simply not capable of saying, ‘Here I am, a simple soul at heart. I’m yours.’ He may give you forty-five of the sixty-eight selves he’s discovered that week. Don’t expect all of them. There will be dreams, visions, that he can never communicate. If you keep asking a Pisces what he’s thinking about every time he gets that vague, dreamy look in his eye, you’ll drive him and yourself crazy, and never get any satisfactory answers. The real truth is that he probably doesn’t know; he just went off, and if left alone, will undoubtedly come back again. Many of Pisces’ ways of communicating are nonverbal; it’s not a sign that excels in debate and defence. Many Pisceans are completely inept at explaining themselves or their feelings. They rely on touch, atmosphere, a subtle communion that is almost telepathic. Try to force them into rigid explanations and definitions and it’s like holding a handful of water; it slides through your fingers and it’s gone.
Evasiveness is a word often used to describe Pisces. Deceptiveness is as well. But it isn’t the calculated statesmanship of the Capricorn, or the deliberate secretiveness of the Scorpio, or the mental gymnastics of the Gemini. When you see thirty different things, how can you explain one? Especially when the chances are that the other person can’t even comprehend what it’s like to see thirty? And ambivalent emotion – well, that’s equally difficult. How to explain when you love and hate someone, when they’re ugly and beautiful, when everything shifts and changes, and takes new shape faster than you can say chameleon? For all these reasons and more, Pisces is an elusive partner. You take the feelings as they come, and let them go as they go. Attempting to define and freeze them into structures is a futile exercise. Many people are badly hurt by Pisces, not because the sign is cold and unfeeling, but because the other person expects a conventional linear expression of love, like ‘I love you, I always will, and that’s it’, when a phrase like that is downright ridiculous to the Piscean who knows that love is a very varied state, that it has many meanings all of which change all the time, that everything is relative, that you can’t plan the future, etc. etc.
But if you know enough of the world and yourself to allow for motion rather than stasis, basking in the flow of a Pisceans’ feelings can be the most healing and regenerative relationship you’ll ever have. The trick, perhaps, is not to ever trample on his dreams, nor ever think you understand him completely. Just when you do, he’ll change on you. If you dislike change, pick a Taurus or a Leo. But if you like unexplored regions, and unclimbed mountains, and futures that are shrouded in mist and beckon, and magic castles and unexplored treasures, then don’t fear Pisces. Only don’t think you’ve got only one person. You’ve got everybody. A cast of thousands. What better way is there to learn about life?
You may have observed that Pisces is a strongly feminine sign. Feminine, that is, in terms of its feeling bias, its imagination, its softness, its compassion. Many Pisces men are extremely masculine, and perfectly capable of what Jung calls, ‘Knowing what you want and doing what you have to do to get it’. But all in all, the combination of being a man and being a Pisces is a slightly uneasy one. Largely, once again, because of collective pressures and social expectations.
There are a great many turntypes among Pisces men. They compensate in a thousand ways for being Pisceans. Some of them run in terror from the depths of their underwater visions, into an extreme and brittle kind of rationality which calls for statistics, definitions and proofs. They are the dogmatic material scientists, attempting to stamp out in others what they fear in themselves. They have no tolerance for what they call ’emotionality’, and cannot abide moodiness in others because their own threatens to overwhelm them.
But if a Pisces man has the courage to face his own vulnerability, and to see that it can live happily side by side with his manhood, then you have a rare creature. And he’s able to maintain his manhood without disappearing underwater into the realm of escape, that is. This is the hero of so many books and films, the antihero, the gentle fighter, the sensitive lover. It’s perhaps closer to our modern myth of man than any other, since it’s a peculiar marriage of male and female. The Pisces man who has accomplished this has a rare charisma, a drama about him that makes him endlessly fascinating both to men and women alike.
Sadly, many more Pisces men hit the extremes. We’ve mentioned the rationalist, the Pisces who hates being a Pisces and wants desperately to protect his own sensitivity. The opposite kind is also common enough. He’s the fellow who loves strong women, especially women who can support him financially; who can take care of him while he’s writing the eternal half-finished novel, while he’s contemplating the job he’ll never take. He’s the passive victim, abused and betrayed by a cold, brutal wife, looking for pity and sympathy and playing for all its worth to the maternal instinct of some poor foolish woman who thinks all his romanticism is true tenderness and feeling. These are pathetic Pisceans and their wives and lovers are frustrated women who have to be men most of the time and chafe violently against it. Many Piscean men of this type gravitate toward the powerful signs in women: Leo, Aries, Scorpio, Capricorn. They have no strength of their own, and seek it in a partnership.
As you might guess, Pisces tends to run to extremes. It’s rare that you get a neutral Pisces. It’s generally one extreme or the other.
The Pisces man generally needs to feel ‘understood’ more than anything else. This isn’t so much a sign of physical passion as it is a sensuous sign, a sybaritic sign. Dragging the woman off by the hair to the cave isn’t generally Pisces’ style. Allowing himself to strike up a warm, sympathetic conversation and then allowing himself to be seduced by good wine, soft music, satin sheets and erotic underwear is much more his style. Pisces is as happy being passive as a lover as he is being, literally or figuratively, the one on top. It’s his particular brand of masculinity. Often he will make himself the buffoon, the clown, the victim, for he works a lot from sympathy and empathy. Women love to protect him. He can protect himself perfectly well. But it isn’t always in his interests to let you know that.
Trust him and you’ll bring the best out of him. See only the shadowy side of him and he’ll have a devil of a time trusting himself. He never trusts himself anyway; he’s brutally realistic, beneath all those visions. He needs the trust and loyalty of another person to bring out his own – the realistic trust, that is. Accuse him of something, and he’ll happily go out and do it, just to please. His way of fighting is not to fight; it’s to bend so far backwards that you fall on your face. Impotence is also his way of fighting. In this, you’ll see the feminine side of the sign in strong colours. Passive resistance is a technique dear to the Piscean heart.
You might think he can easily be dominated. Think again. In fact his world doesn’t include dominant or submissive. He’ll play pliant on the surface because it’s easier, because it’s not that often important enough to draw blood. Beneath that pliant surface, it isn’t that he needs to control; he just wants to be left alone. Try to dominate, and you’ll discover you’re empty-handed. He’s simply drifted away, without a fuss.
If you are the type who likes to have all your decisions made for you, don’t choose a Pisces. On the other hand, if you want someone to henpeck, pass on this one too. Now you see him, now you don’t. No promise or marriage contract means anything to him if the fundamental values of the relationship have been abused. And he’ll see through all the games pretty quickly. He just won’t be there the next morning. No note, no phone call. Just gone. Like the fish.
But if you want a relationship which is more nearly like the ideal vision of what the so-called ‘liberated’ woman seeks (and these are rare animals as well), you will find that Pisces is not one of your diehard male chauvinists. Being strongly emotional himself, he usually has immense empathy for women. He generally gets on with them better than men. And with his profound understanding of human nature, you’re not likely either to be the housekeeper or the sex object. You get to be a person. And that’s worth quite a lot.
The Pisces Woman
Many paeans have been written to the Pisces woman, for her mystery, her gentleness, her compassion, her elusive charm, her pregnant silences. And she may be, indeed, the archetypal feminine. The lovely, gracious princess of the fairy-tale castle, waiting for the suitor to rescue her and cherish and protect her, is modeled on Pisces. The Pisces woman has a unique ability to make a man feel terribly masculine, because she seems so often to need protecting, cherishing, and tenderness. Because she has such a changeable range and depth of feeling, she often gives the impression of being slightly unformed. It brings out the Pygmalion tendencies in any would-be artisans. Many men think they can shape her into what they choose. In part, it’s true. The qualities of devotion and gentleness and softness are in abundance in many Piscean women. But blank slate she’s not.
Like the Pisces man, she’s unfathomable, and possesses a soul which no one can ultimately reach. Although eager to please and rarely argumentative, she also has the gift of defence through submergence. Now you see her, now you don’t. She may physically disappear, usually with a lover; but more likely she’ll be physically present and simply psychologically disappear, gone to the underwater realms or to someone else in fantasy. It’s a very peculiar feeling when she’s gone. No one home.
Romanticism runs very high in the Pisces woman. She expects, and needs the poetry and tenderness and style that any fairy-tale princess merits. Starve her of these and you will drive her either to another lover or into herself, where she may transform into the martyr. Provide them, and your princess becomes a queen. Simple. Yet astonishingly difficult for many men, since Pisces, as a watery sign, seems to attract airy types who believe they can impress her with their sparkling intellects and long for the exhibitions of feeling she herself provides without realizing they must give in exchange.
And make no mistake, the Pisces woman, if she is disappointed, will not hesitate to deceive. Remember Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton? Being good to her isn’t enough. You must enter her dreams with her. Ignore them, patronize them, and you do so at your own risk. There is a strong theatrical element in the Pisces woman. She has a unique gift for getting herself into the most dreadful dilemmas and crisis which no one could possibly sort out, and then going about among her friends asking for advice which is never taken since her need to suffer and sacrifice is fed by the dilemma. A perplexing creature.
But meet her in later life, and all the compassion and wisdom which come from having seen the seamy side of just about everything yield a glow and a richness which is far more meaningful than the unshaped marble which Pygmalion sees in her late teens and early twenties. In this, the last of the signs, the Wise Woman emerges – with all the instinctual wisdom of her sex and all the human insights of her sign. Often she is almost mediumistic, preferring to shelter herself from life because this gift is so dubious and so difficult to bear. There is also more than a touch of the witch in Pisces; whether it is white or black depends on whether she has been badly bruised, and how badly. A Pisces woman gone wrong is a vampire, playing on the fantasy life of others, and draining their strength. Never underestimate her, because she may be inarticulate or reluctant to explain herself. Neptune is an enigmatic god; to love him is to love the ocean, for all its moods and changes, its anger and its peacefulness, its destruction and its beauty.