Astrology is one of the earliest disciplines through which humans attempted to understand the cosmos, not merely through descriptive means, but through interpretative means. Astrology as such is a hermenutical discipline, and not purely empirical – as it does not seek to describe, but rather to interpret. In the time in which we live astrology has been rendered banal and reduced to a stereotype. My own approach to astrology has generally been Jungian – not in context of oracles, predictions, or even character traits, but rather archetypes that are present in the zodiac. Within the patterns and the theme.
I have seen a lot of talk surrounding the recent Pisces Full Moon, and as we are in the Virgo season, I have decided that it would be interesting to explore these two archetypes.
In Jungian terms, Pisces and Virgo are each other’s shadow. That which symbolizes Pisces is completely opposite to that which symbolizes Virgo. Pisces simply put represents the transcendental, the invisible, the illusory, imagination, art, and expansion within. Virgo represents the logical, the daily, the mundane, and the habitual. We shall take a look at the mythology and archetypes surrounding these to understand them better and how they manifest in our lives.
The story of Pisces is closely related to the myth of Venus or Aphrodite. Aphrodite transformed into a fish in order to escape the monster Typhon. In another myth, an egg fell down in Euphrates, and it was the fish that rolled it to the shore. Doves then sat upon the egg, and soon Aphrodite emerged. In both versions Aphrodite placed the fish in the sky as a sign of gratitude. Pisces is also brought in connection to Vishnu, who appears as avatar or in incarnation as Matsya, the fish, and very often Jesus Christ is also seen as the archetypal Pisces. In Mesopotamia, Apkallu and Abgal were sages who were part men and part fish. The fish is a common symbol of depth, mysticism, otherwordly wisdom, and transcendental knowledge. It represents going within in order to find “God that is incarnated in everyone“.
Pisces is a universal, collective archetype – its final consummation is dissolving of the boundaries and dissipation of everything into the ocean, where there is no longer differentiation between the water drops. Jupiter and Neptune are rulers of the Pisces, and understanding these two planetary archetypes can also help understand the symbol. Jupiter represents expansion, philosophy, religion, and the humanities. But, unlike Sagittarius who is also ruled by Jupiter and expands outwardly (fire), Pisces expands inwardly (water). It seeks to expand the inner, spiritual world in order to point at the primordial emptiness or water.
Richard Tarans says the following about Neptune, Pisces ruler: “Neptune is the archetype of the transcendent, of ideal reality, of imagination and the spiritual. It represents the ocean of consciousness that dissolves all boundaries between the self and other, self and universe, self and God, and between the concrete reality and other realities. In perinatal terms Neptune has much to do with the intrauterine condition in which the child’s being and consciousness are not yet differentiated from the mother’s, where there is a symbiotic union, a melting oceanic feeling,“
However, the other side of Neptune is that of illusion, deceptions: “For it can both illuminate one with the highest spiritual truths that transcend the everyday world, and yet lead one into fantasy, illusion, and delusion. Neptune represents Nirvana, the supreme state of mystical bliss where all the divisons and structures of this world are transcended: yet it also represents the Maya, the divine play which produces the many illusions of reality that enchant consciousness“. So we see that Neptune can both help one to see the cosmos within, but also become so introspective as to never see anything but our own reflection.
Whenever we feel the need to disappear, to not exist, to escape the “I“ (ego existence) we experience the Neptunian, the Piscean. Every time we desire to become intoxicated into self-oblivion, we are inviting this archetype. It represents the death of ego, and absolute union. It is an experience of death, and yet it feels sweet.
On the other hand, Virgo, who’s season is late summer and early autumn, is ruled by Mercury. Here, Mercury is not the airy, swift thief and communicator as he is in Gemini; here he is earthy, studious, a scholarly hermit (in Tarot “Hermit“ is the card of Virgo). Mercury sees mental clarity, precision, reason, logic and classification. It is easy to see that this is completely opposite to Piscean or Neptunian desire to dissolve every reason, logic, and classification into the ocean. The Virgo archetype is afraid of these Piscean waters, and Piscean waters seek escapism from the mundane represented by Virgo. Virgo and the 6th house are also connected to daily habits, health, and routines – everything that a Piscean archetype would find horrible. Virgo, in image, is often shown as a beautiful woman, carrying a cornucopia. She looks similar to Roman goddesses Abundantia and Ceres, connected with agriculture, abundance, and harvest. It relates to wealth that comes as a result of hard labour, of working consistently for the whole year. It is the accummulation of concrete efforts and day by day work. In that kind of preoccupation with the daily, the Neptunian world of mysticism and dreams is probably the least of concerns, yet there is a glimpse of it even then.
In “Anna Karenina“, Tolstoy’s Levin has this Neptunian experience while doing very mundane work – working in the fields with his serfs. He describes in great detail how he is completely consumed by the rhythm of the work, in which he ceases to think, ceases to be obsessed with tomorrow, or yesterday, or even next moment, and all that matters is the movement.
Perhaps, this month, in the interaction between these two (Pisces full moon during a Virgo season) we can be reminded that the mystical, extraordinary and outstanding, can be found in the most mundane, and what better unity of the two than to work in the fields.
“Another row, and yet another row, followed – long rows and short rows, with good grass and with poor grass. Levin lost all sense of time, and could not have told whether it was late or early now. A change began to come over his work, which gave him immense satisfaction. In the midst of his toil there were moments during which he forgot what he was doing, and it came all easy to him. In the very heat of the day the mowing did not seem such hard work to him. The perspiration with which he was drenched cooled him; while the sun, that burned his back, his head, and his arms, bare to the elbow, gave a vigor and dogged energy to his labor; and more and more often now came those moments moments of unconsciousness in which it seemed not his hands that swung the scythe, but the scythe mowing of itself, a body full of life and consciousness of its own, and as though by magic, without thinking of it, the work turned out regular and well-finished of itself. These were the most blissful moments. He thought of nothing, wished for nothing, but not to be left behind the peasants, and to do his work as well as possible. He heard nothing but the swish of scythes, and saw before him Tit’s upright figure mowing away, the crescent-shaped curve of the cut grass, the grass and flower heads slowly and rhythmically falling before the blade of his scythe, and ahead of him the end of the row, where would come the rest.“
– Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
→ Orphic Inscendence instagram