The cycle of the zodiac ends with Pisces, the twelfth sign, ruled by Neptune. Some common descriptions of the fishes range from being over sensitive, artistic and with no definite shape, soft and indefinite. Death is related to Pisces, and it makes sense, since, being the final sign – it represents dissolution, disappearance, and fading away. The weakening of the identity, loss of form, boundaries falling down are all a part of their poetic landscape. Tiredness is so often felt in Pisces that, leads to inactivity, and there is often a loss of Self.

Psychologists make the comparison of sleep (Pisces ruled) as being similar to death, the loss of control, falling into unconsciousness, losing a grip on the ego. We all slip away each night, into a Pisces universe. Sometimes people fight sleep in the same way they struggle against the psychological death symbolized by the fishes. The more we value individuality we cannot loosen the Self and allow consciousness to fall fearlessly into unknown waters.  Being of a Piscean nature, it was not unusual to find my favourite chapters in The Difficulty of Being were the parts On Dreams and Death.

 What strikes me is that, from one second to the next, our ego of the dream finds itself projected into a new world, without feeling the astonishment which this world would rouse in a waking state…we ourselves remain in another universe, which might suggest that when falling asleep we are like a traveller who wakes with a start…The past, the future no longer exist; the dead rise again; places construct themselves without architect…it can only be described as supernatural…We consent without regret to live there among strangers, entirely separated from our habits and our friends. This is what fills us with dismay at the sight of the face we love, and which is asleep. Where, at this moment, stirs the face behind this mask? Where does it light up and for whom? This sight of sleep has always frightened me more than dreams…Emerged from sleep the dream fades. It is a deep sea plant which dies out of water. It dies on my sheets. Its reign mystifies me. I admire its fables. I take advantage of it to live a double life…What it teaches us is the bitterness of our limitations. By Jean Cocteau

Let’s take a typical reading of Pisces and it usually involves being sensitive, imaginative and intuitive, but it’s really the imagination which is truly important as it allows one to fully escape, and the doorway is always open. But astrological gifts can be abused and there is the famous Piscean gift of slipping away when things get tough, and their ability to fade into the background and become a part of the wallpaper.  The intuition part is usually Pisces fishing around in the unconscious, although Liz Greene’s interpretation also elucidates on the fishes searching through garbage. Whatever people discard a Piscean will find value in almost anything. The sensitivity aspect brings to mind one of my favourite expressions by Bernard Fitzwalter describing how this energy works.

Next time somebody tells you they don’t understand you, tell them you are like the film in a camera; you are sensitive to, and will faithfully represent, anything you are exposed to, even if it is only light and shadow, and only for a second.

This is a water sign, and one ruled by Neptune, and this reveals a lot about Piscean boundlessness, and as ruler of the sea, it also has a connection to the mythical great flood that wiped out the earth. A great flood wiping the slate clean, ready for spring to emerge once again (and this slate cleaning is something akin to both Scorpio and Pisces). In Liz Greene’s’ book on Neptune, this flood is also feared when a Pisces or Neptune type, dares to live an individual life, and there is a terror that the “flood will come and one will be destroyed.” The great flood has been compared to the abyss opening and the great tidal rising and everything disappearing beneath. A Piscean has immeasurable depths and destructive waves and all kinds of dark creatures from the depths of the ocean.

A common thread involving the water signs entails some kind of “sacrifice” and it is often a watery death, especially in Pisces. And the greatest conflict between matter and spirit as they are always pining for the spirit/ afterlife, in the same way that an alcoholic is longing for his next drink. The River Lethe of forgetfulness is Piscean, describing this washing of the memory clean, and the sign also rules the place of the departed. Walter H. Samuel calls this the home of the vanishing, where all things merge and melt into the Universe.

The Knot of Time explains Pisces, death and ultimate recreation:

The salmon swim upstream once a year to spawn and to die in the place where they were born. His journey back to the beginning symbolises the process whereby Pisces enters into her past to know herself better, to allow old and unwanted parts of herself to die and to allow new parts to be created. Pisces has the ability, paralleled only by Scorpio, to recreate her own life. She is open to many forces of healing, and this openness is ultimately the way for her to reach a place of even deeper wisdom and understanding than she knew before. By The Knot of Time