Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pisces, the Fish

Happy Birthday, Pisces friends and family!

Depending on the source, the astrological sun sign of Pisces
occurs between February 19th and March 20th
or February 20th and March 21st. 
That means today we have entered the sign of Pisces,
the two fishes swimming in opposing directions.

image from

I hadn't realized before that in many sources, 
the two fishes swimming in different directions
are actually bound together by a connecting thread.
That lends a sense of unity to their seeming discord;
in other words, they may be swimming in opposite directions,
but at some point, they must return to one another.
Maybe that is why the sign of Pisces is sometimes associated with love.

constellation of Pisces, image from

Astrological sun signs are said to influence the personalities
of the people born within those few weeks.
Those who are born under the astrological sign of Pisces 
are said to be creative, sensitive, and reasonable.
They are also mysterious and dreamy.
But according to Mabel Shoemaker in a 1904 book called Astrology
(cited in, they are also  desperately afraid of ridicule
and a little capricious.
[Picture: Pisces]

image from

But researching Pisces today, 
I learned a lot about other aspects of astrology.
For example, astrology has an historical component.
According to the 1993 book Mythical Astrology by Ariel Guttman,
Gail Guttman, and Kenneth Johnson, cited in,
the earliest zodiac sign on record was Pisces, 
dated to 2300 BCE on the lid of an Egyptian sarcophagus.
And astrology is also part of Greek mythology;
In Zodiac, a book published by the Wikimedia Foundation,
Aphrodite and her son Eros were transformed into the Piscean fishes
to hide from Typhon, a great and terrible monster.

photo from

I learned from Wikipedia that the sign of Pisces
 is also seen in the stained glass windows of
the medieval cathedral in Chartres, France.
It seems an odd choice for a stained glass window in a Catholic cathedral.

This Cathedral was the site of a 12th century excavation by the Knights Templar
because it was said a crypt there contained the Ark of the Covenant.
Today, pilgrims come to the Cathedral
to see a woven veil said to belong to the Virgin Mary.
Perhaps it is these holy associations
 that explain the presence of the symbol of Pisces,
said in some interpretations to represent Christ.

 an inscription of Greek letters signifying the Christian fish symbol
image from 

I wonder sometimes how much we can really learn
about ourselves through astrology.
For many reasons, it seems unlikely that we are influenced 
so completely by the stars and the planets.
As Shakespeare said: 
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.
But then again, our bodies and the tides 
are influenced by the phases of the moon, so who knows?
Another Shakespeare quote, this one from  Hamlet, says:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosphy.

As a Pisces myself, I could go both ways on the question.

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