Fische by Anthony Louis
On February 18, the Sun began its month-long voyage through Pisces, the sign of the zodiac assigned to the eighteenth trump of the tarot, the moon card. Pisces has a traditional ruler Jupiter, associated with the tenth tarot trump, the wheel of fortune, and a modern ruler Neptune, linked to the twelfth trump of the tarot, the hanged man.
Neptune is the ancient god of the seas, and the Moon, depicted on the eighteenth tarot trump, controls the ocean tides. Appropriately, the sign Pisces belongs to the water element. The tarot’s watery suit of cups illustrates scenes related to love, friendship and vicissitudes of human emotions.
The symbolism of Jupiter and the tarot’s wheel of fortune card was discussed in a previous article about Sagittarius and the tarot. This month, the focus will be on Neptune and the sign Pisces.
The Constellation Pisces and the Sign of the Cross
The constellation Pisces is formed by a set of dim and scattered stars that trace the images of two widely separated fish joined by a knotted cord. One fish, swimming upward, faces east toward Aries, while the other fish swims westward toward Aquarius along the plane of the ecliptic. The directions of motion of the two fish form a cross, the symbol of the Christian religion—the upright line of the cross representing spirit and the horizontal line signifying matter.
Babylonian mythology tells of two fishes that pushed ashore a giant egg, from which emerged the fertility corn-goddess Atagratis and her lover-son Ichthys, who dies and is reborn annually. The myth of Ichthys and the sign Pisces later became connected with Christianity. Directly across the zodiac from Pisces lies the sign of Virgo, symbolizing the virgin grain goddess of ancient Greece and also connected with the Virgin Mary of Christian mythology, whose birthday is liturgically celebrated on September 8, when the Sun crosses the midpoint of the sign Virgo.
Ancient Greek Fishes and the Monster Typhon
Typhon, the youngest son of Gaia (mother earth) and Tartarus (the infernal regions), was a devilish fire-breathing monster with a hundred dragon heads. Typhon’s name derives from the Greek word for ”violent wind,” and is also related to the word typhos, meaning vapor. We now call violent storms ”typhoons,” and medical history documents typhus as one of the great disease scourges of human history, presumably spread by the noxious breath of the monster Typhon.
For a brief period, Typhon wrested control of the heavens from Zeus (Jupiter) by stealing his thunder while Zeus lay defenseless during the act of love-making. To escape Typhon, the gods of Mount Olympus changed their form into various animals and fled. The god Pan became the half goat-half fish of Capricorn. Aphrodite and her beloved son Eros (Venus and Cupid, love and desire, agape and eros) transformed themselves into fish, bound themselves together with a cord and escaped into the Euphrates river.
This eternal union of love and desire was immortalized in the constellation Pisces. The astrological glyph of Pisces depicts two crescents, symbolizing fish and resembling crescent Moons, facing in opposite directions and joined at their centers by a line.
Zeus, with the help of Cadmus, was able to subdue Typhon and bury him under Mount Aetna on the isle of Sicily, where Typhon periodically erupts in anger even to this day. Cadmus used tricks he had learned from Apollo and the lure of music (ruled by Pisces) to outwit Typhon and allow Zeus to conquer him, thus restoring order, love and desire to what had been a terrifying universe.
The Moon Trump and the Hanged Man of the Tarot
The Rider-Waite-Smith moon card (linked to Pisces) shows two dogs baying at the Moon. One dog is dark and the other light, symbols of matter and spirit. A crayfish emerges from the sea, perhaps a reference to the ancient Babylonian tale of the egg containing the grain-goddess and her lover-son Ichthys. The moon card is often interpreted as a warning that the querent is not seeing clearly or is being deluded in some way. These are also negative manifestations of the sign Pisces.
The Rider-Waite-Smith hanged man (linked to Neptune) depicts a man hanging upside down with his legs assuming the form of a cross. When it appears in a tarot reading, the hanged man advises the querent to pay attention to the spiritual dimensions of the situation.
Tarot Meditations While the Sun Is in Pisces
The period when the Sun transits through Pisces is an excellent time to meditate on the tarot’s moon, hanged man and wheel of fortune cards, as well as the suit of cups of the minor arcana. Where in your life are you not seeing clearly? Are your actions motivated by love or by desire? Do you need to act with more compassion rather than like a fire-breathing dragon? Are you neglecting your spirituality for material gain?
To prepare for mediation, sit or lie in a comfortable place and allow your body to be free of tension and distractions. Pay attention to your breathing. Feel your breath go in and out as you inhale and exhale. If distracting thoughts enter your mind, simply observe them and allow them to float by as you gently return your attention to your breathing. When you have established a steady, comfortable rhythm of breathing rhythmically in and out, turn your focus to the tarot card you have selected for meditation.
Observe the card and contemplate its images. Imagine yourself as a character or element in the card. In your mind’s eye, enter the card and become part of its scene. What are you thinking and feeling? What questions are you asking of the other characters in the card? What do they expect of you? What is the story that underlines the scene on the card? How does that story relate to your own life? Take your time playing out the story as if you were in a dream. When you have completed your meditation, you may wish to record your observations in a tarot notebook for review later on.
If you are interested in the connections between tarot and astrology, here are some books you may find useful.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack, Element Books.
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Thoresons Publishing
Tarot and the Journey of the Hero by Hajo Banzhaf, Weiser Publications.
Tarot Companion by Tracy Porter, Llewellyn Publications.
Tarot Plain and Simple by Tony Louis, Llewellyn Publications.
What Is the Tarot?
The traditional tarot consists of 78 cards divided into 22 major arcana cards (greater secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards (lesser secrets). The major arcana cards depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion. The 56 minor arcana cards are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing cards and consist of four suits containing ten pip or numbered cards plus four court cards in each suit. The most influential tarot deck of the past century, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, was conceived by Arthur Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and published by Rider in 1910.