Over 2,000 years ago, in Babylon, ancient cultures seeking answers to life’s mysteries looked up to find their answers. They studied the motion of the stars in the heavens and the nature of human psychology, and they came to conclusions that still circulate to this day. This ancient study was the beginnings of astrology, an of the 12 classical zodiacs (not including Ophiuchus) - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces - which roughly correspond with constellations at every 30° of celestial longitude. To this day, many people believe that studying the position of the constellations and planets at the time of a person’s birth can provide invaluable insight into that individual’s personality, approach to relationships, and identity.
Today, we will focus on the last, but certainly not least, of these zodiacs: Pisces. Pisces may well be the truest of water signs, as its mutable nature reflects the ever-changing state of water and its ruling planet is Neptune, named after the Roman god of the sea. Those with birthdays between February 19th and March 20th are born under the constellation Pisces, which spans 330° to 360° of celestial latitude. Its history and mythology is interlaced with mysticism, artistic spiritualism, and creativity so strong it verges on illusory powers. Pisceans - creative, empathic, and sensitive - live by the mantra “I believe.”
In this article, we will discuss…
If you’re familiar with Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender, then you are familiar with the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. This separation of the natural and spiritual world into subsets has been a prevalent mindset for centuries, with many cultures individually coming up with similar categories. Our modern understanding of the four categories likely comes from the Greeks, who also provided us with much of the mythology surrounding the zodiacs. Each of the 12 zodiacs is ruled by one of these four elemental categories, and displays the corresponding types of personalities. Earth signs tend toward being stable and rational. Fire signs are prone to being passionate and expressive. Air signs might be adventurous and light-hearted. Water signs, our focus today, are sensitive and intuitive.
Interestingly enough, these four elements as they relate to the zodiacs also fall into two larger categories: negative (yin) elements, and positive (yang) elements. Don’t be discouraged by the name; negative signs are in no way inferior to positive signs. Just as with yin and yang, the two must exist in balance with one another to be healthy and effective. Fire and air signs, the “positive” elements, focus their energy outward in active and dynamic ways; earth and water signs, the “negative” elements, focus their energy inward, and are more likely to be introspective and receptive. Each approach to life balances out the other, ensuring a healthy middle ground.
This is not the only way that the zodiacs are split into categories. The signs are also categorized as cardinal, fixed, or mutable, depending on where they show up in their respective seasons. In simple terms, cardinal signs, at the beginning of the four seasons, are forceful initiators; fixed signs, falling squarely within their respective seasons, are willful bedrocks; mutable signs, closing out their seasons and bringing in the new ones, are flexible adaptors. How this presents itself will be different with every sign.
Pisces is a mutable water sign. Water signs inherently have a higher capacity for emotions and empathy. Pisceans are compassionate and deeply intuitive, their emotional sensitivity allowing them to have keen gut reactions that are usually a good idea to listen to. In fact, Pisces have been known to have such a strong connection with emotions - both their own and those of the people around them - that they drain themselves in an effort to both help and keep themselves balanced. Pisces often feels the urge to help those around them; not only does their attunement to emotions often make them ideal candidates for the job, but they also embody the tendency for water to be the element that helps everything else stick together. While the connection to water makes Pisces highly attuned to emotional states, those born under this sign must remember to keep themselves grounded lest they become overwhelmed.
As a water sign, Pisces is also a negative zodiac that focuses its energy inward. True, a Pisces may be quite likely to help and soothe those around them, but they are ultimately focused on inner awareness and the inner journey, whether that be spiritual, emotional, psychological, or anything else. Pisces are sensitive souls who get along well in small groups of people, but they often need to spend time alone to recalibrate, because their internal and external selves have a tendency to become disconnected. Pisces may work well with friends, but they still tend toward introversion, and need time alone to recharge. After all, they are in the 12th house, which is the house of isolation, confinement, and retreat. A Pisces alone is not a lonely Pisces.
Their mutable nature makes them highly adaptable to their surroundings. Pisceans are born at the tail end of winter, meaning they are born into a world newly melting into a veritable cornucopia of new possibilities. This instills them with a sense of growth and renewal they will carry with them in some form or fashion throughout their entire lives.
The planetary associations for the zodiacs have changed over the years as new planets are discovered and their locations and properties are pinpointed. Originally, Pisces and Sagittarius shared a ruling planet, that being Jupiter. As tended to be the case for signs that shared a planet, one sign represented the “diurnal” aspects of the planet (here Sagittarius), while the other represented the “nocturnal” aspects (in this case, Pisces). Jupiter’s nocturnal side, Pisces, was classified as being sensitive and soulful, much more prone to privacy and mystery than its diurnal counterpart.
In a fascinating turn of fate, the discovery of planet Neptune closely mirrored many aspects common for Pisces. For one thing, Neptune was discovered based on a certain amount of faith. Astronomers calculated where another planet was likely to be based on irregularities in Uranus’s orbit, meaning that Neptune was discovered with faith in scientific calculations. Furthermore, the point in the night sky that ultimately turned out to be Neptune had for some time been considered to be a distant and unmoving blue star. Pisces is marked by its relationship with illusion, intuition, and mystery; it is fitting, then, that this was how its ruling planet was discovered. It is also fitting that the planet is named Neptune, after the Roman god of the sea, seeing as how Pisces is a water sign represented by two fish.
But the origins of Pisces’s fish and mythology actually have very little to do with Neptune (or with his Greek counterpart, Poseidon). Although the details of the myth vary, as is the case with all myths, it goes something like as follows: Aphrodite and Eros (known in Roman mythology as Venus and Cupid), gods of love and beauty, were walking along a river when they were attacked by Typhon, an ancient sea monster with a hundred dragon heads and the strength of any Olympian or Titan. Depending on the telling, Aphrodite and Eros either turned into fish or were rescued by two koi fish in the river. Either way, the fish were immortalized in the night sky to commemorate the day love and beauty were saved. This mythology presents itself in Pisces as an affinity toward the arts, creativity, and escapism. The two fish swim in opposite directions, representing the balance Pisces must maintain between fantasy and reality, a balance often made difficult by their active imaginations and relationship with dreams and illusions.
As with all other signs, a lot of traits - good and bad - go into the standard mix that makes a Pisces. Some positive traits include…
On the other hand, some negative traits include…
As a water sign, Pisces have a deep connection with their emotional sides. They are compassionate, gentle, and friendly, but these same traits can lead to sadness and fear if not monitored. Pisces are highly empathic; in relationships, this means they run the risk of becoming unhealthily codependent, but it also means that they tend to bring deep spiritual exploration to their relationships.
So why are Pisces not constantly overwhelmed by emotions? Because along with a strong relationship with empathy and gut reactions, Pisces are also highly intelligent and know how to assess their gut reactions and face the world rationally. They have strong internal senses of right and wrong, but also live by the motto “live and let live” when it comes to the convictions of those around them. Additionally, their intuitive understanding of the cycle of life aids in their relationship with others and bolsters their emotional awareness.
If there is one overarching trait that is prevalent among Pisces, it is their talent when it comes to the arts. Pisces are highly imaginative, which is part of the reason they don’t mind being alone; they are plenty equipped at amusing themselves. This creative passion sometimes goes overboard and presents as a desire to escape reality, and Pisces can find it difficult to translate their creative thoughts into functional action, but their sense of exploration and unique expression ultimately serves them well. They use their art to express their spiritual and emotional thoughts and externalize their internal journeys, and the result is truly a gift to those around them.