Hokusai’s woodcut captures that a wave becomes a mountain if it is frozen in time, that energy is in constant motion that they eye does not see. To notice that underlying vibration and power of water we might need the eyes of a Piscean who won’t have any issues in switching dimensions, but might have problems boiling an egg.
Hokusai, a Libran, had both the Moon and Saturn in Pisces. What else manifests in waves? Sound – and therefore music which is all energy, frequency and vibration. The music of the spheres is not created by the planets but by the intervals in between – We are in Pisces territory and it is Pisces season. Through thumbnail biography ranging across styles and centuries, I’d like to capture the brilliance of the shimmering light that reflects off these waves.
I am calling Pisces the ultimate as it is the last of the zodiac signs and mutable water- of heightened emotions. It cascades within itself because every label thrown at Pisces just rolls right off. Adjectives are useless- hence they are indescribable. They are not always diaphanous artists, poets and mystics, they might be an accountant or a bus driver, but if they born at this twilight period just before the onset of spring, they contain accumulated potential of the Ouroboros eating its tail- a symbol of infinity.
Pisceans have a fervent desire to go beyond and be away with the faeries. They might be arch performers-illusionists like Derren Brown (Feb 27th, 1971) or uncompromising artist-activists who nail their scrotum to the pavement at Red Square- Pavel Pavlensky (March 8th, 1984) or suave yet steely actors like Sidney Poitier (Feb 20th, 1927) who had the Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Uranus all in Pisces. Two pianists/composers I knew from the Royal Northern Music College were both Pisces sun signs. They dedicate their lives to classical music and one of them could improvise sonatas easily at the piano impressionistic style- and it actually sounded like flowing water. They mood swing from extremes and dualism collapses and a book about Piscean Michaelangelo (March 6th, 1795) was actually called ‘the Agony and the Ecstasy’.
Rock star Lou Reed was also born this season (March 2nd, 1942) and one of the most Piscean statements he made was “ I turned to alcohol to get off drugs” -the ultimate addictive soul with nebulous boundaries. This is also Dionysian, as Dionysus, divine son of Zeus and Semele was god of the vine, the ‘grape,’ but also ‘twice’ born. Anyone rehabilitated from serious addiction can feel ‘born again’ when they get their lives back. Dionysus is associated with Pisces as revelry transports people to ecstatic and altered states that can propel them to spiritual insight close to but not quite madness. Liz Greene in ‘The Astrology of Fate’ says Dionysus is “a Christ with a phallus, for he himself, like Christ, is both victim and redeemer.” Pisces is linked to the dolphin as animals which have a well recognised friendly, caring and healing nature -not for nothing is the dolphin held to be sacred.
Lou Reed and towards the end of his life practised martial arts. He wrote freeform music that flowed along with Tai Chi movements- the wave in slow motion. If you are the ineffable, you float above the rest on the clouds in the floating world holding the tension of this physical world with the nether world – the two fishes or dolphins swim in different directions at the same time.
I Put My Spell on You: Nina Simone
Nina Simone was a Pisces but might at first be a firebrand activist kind of Aquarian- there is this overlap as Aquarius morphs into Pisces. She had Aquarius rising with Saturn right there on the Ascendant guarding the portal, and a Moon in Capricorn, considered quite neglected and the truth was she was touchy and difficult. But it did not stop her expressing fierce emotions. She suffered for art, and perhaps wanted others to suffer equally. She was capricious, truculent, willful and very unpredictable as a performer, often appearing late. With Mars in Virgo working hard at her craft opposite sensitive psychic Mercury in Pisces there is huge tension in her words. Her Pluto in Cancer squares rebel Uranus in Aries, so this turbulence is not surprising. She could fight for what she believed.
This is the problem of having standards as high as a Pisces sun sign. They are placed beyond most mortals. Nothing satisfies. Her bodyguards joked that they were there to protect the fans from Nina and not Nina from the fans. People disappoint the Piscean sooner or later. It is as though this world just is not made for them. She has asteroid Vesta conjunct her Chiron, in Taurus on the IC, so dedication and pain were joined at the hip. But her voice was soulful, drew devoted crowds and could rouse anticipation and excitement in her audience. There is no-holds-barred quality, something raw and emotional to the way she sings that touches a nerve – perhaps the Sun conjunct Ceres cemented her role as mother of the civil rights movement, radiating compassion for her ‘people’ as she was there soldiering on with Martin Luther King and James Baldwin.
She declared that her goal when she sings was solely to move the audience. She sang from intelligence and instinct and only began to touch the piano keys when she was poised enough and when the audience was ready, so if that meant making them wait, then the bleeders just had to wait, or be scolded. This was the ‘Nina Simone’ experience: the star and the woman, the activist and the classical pianist were all rolled into one. You had to take the rough with the smooth. She sang from an inner fire as fire ‘moves things.’ With a Moon opposite Pluto, she had difficulties with women in the family, including her daughter, and she could not stand Billie Holliday (an Aries with a stellium in Pisces).
She was often paradoxical and irascible (Mars opposite Mercury) as an interviewee: she said she didn’t sacrifice anything for her music yet at the same time sacrificed her whole life for her music, running rings around the interviewers. Pisces is resistant to labels-they can mould themselves in different directions. ‘Be like Water,’ the advice given by Martial Arts master, Bruce Lee makes no sense to a Pisces as they already more flowing than water and to become more earthbound has no appeal but they often need grounding by a Taurus, Virgo or a Capricorn. Religion was also deeply ingrained in her blood, but Simone believed in all religions. She studied yoga, Buddhism, Islam- all of it. Simone said the USA was too racist to live following a tradition of Josephine Baker and James Baldwin.
They felt more at home in Europe. Her unique style of music she called ‘black classical music’ which is a fusion of gospel, pop, jazz and classical so it is essentially the labels do not stick. This is the Neptune (or Poseidon) element- is it the droplet in the wave or the wave in the droplet- or both? She felt martyred and was paranoid with good reason as the FBI had a file on her.
Pisces can be about loss and feeling abandoned. She lost the rights to her songs as she sold them too soon, aged 24 . Her song ‘My Baby Don’t Care For Me’ which boomerangs back into fame from time to time, and is a perennial for advertisers to exploit. But Simone didn’t get any royalties and was abused at the business level. Hers was a dedicated artistry that demanded her whole self. Pisces can be about madness and Simone had a troublesome combo of Mars, Jupiter and Neptune on the South Node in the seventh house. She had an unstable period where she suffered paranoid episodes and hallucinations – and was diagnosed as manic depressive, just like the lyrics of the song as if she ‘intended to be independently blue.’ There is a sad, poignant feel to her work, but it is ultimately cathartic and affirmative.
The Piscean Flavour in Russian Romantic composers
Turning to a previous century, I ask what makes a Pisces particularly Piscean? Composer Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov, born March 18th, 1844, is such a case of intense concentration of Pisces energy. He had Mercury, Jupiter, the Moon and the Sun, all in Pisces. Asteroid Eros, is nestled in the middle of this stellium and Jupiter – the old ruler of Pisces- is conjunct Chariklo. He worked for others often finishing off works of his friends after their death. Before becoming an orchestrator of music, and composer of operas, he had considered a naval career and had travelled the world. He wrote a memorable symphonic suite Scheherazade (1888)- the narrator from One Thousand and One Nights using sounds he had heard in Tunisia. Because of his synaesthesia, he could make instruments expressive with idiomatic tones and colourations. He believed art was above reality- a given for Pisces sun-sign- and he managed to bridge many conflicting trends in Russia.
He spent a lot of his time doing things for others. Pisces love to be self effacing, putting put themselves to one side. His life-long friend was another composer Modest Mussorgsky, born in 1839, who came to depend on him, not just to complete his unfinished works.
Mussorgsky wrote the epic opera Boris Godunov giving flesh to the Russian soul in music. Mussorgsky was given a birthday on the date of his baptism, March 21st, but he most likely shared a birthday with Korsakov 5 days earlier when he was actually born. This hints that Mussorgsky was also a Pisces. This might make sense if his depression and inner turbulence lead to his death through alcoholism is taken into account. Even in the portrait he looks inebriated. But I would keep an eye on the Aries birth chart too, yet he feels like a Pisces.
For composers, I like to note the position of asteroid Euterpe– the muse of music. Not just Euterpe as each muse confers a flavour to the artist. Mussorgsky has Melpomene, the asteroid of tragedy, conjunct his Sun and North node at 24° in Pisces. His work expresses a tragic mode, being solemn and funereal, and Boris Godunov especially is marinated in a peculiarly Russian kind of melancholia unique to the Russian temperament. It is a mood that grows organically from the soil that stretches across the monotonous baleful landscapes. It elevates suffering beyond its grittiness in the real world. He was bold and original with his dramatization into music. As for Euterpe herself, she is at 10° Aries conjunct Mussorgsky’s Descendant and amplified forcefully by Pluto conjunct Venus there too. It energizes that point so this music has a power and a cathartic beauty that can transform listeners. It is how his music is perceived. Klio, muse of history, also pops up as opposite the Moon and Godunov tells its historical tale with psychological depth.
The Piscean signature
So there is this Piscean signature to this flourishing of the romantic spirit in classical music, not just from Russia, as Chopin and Rossini were also born under a Pisces sun. The ability to compose music itself is not from one sign alone. But it does have a strongly emotional tone when expressed by a Piscean sun sign, making some of the most memorable pieces that still render emotion through orchestral tones.
A modern example would be Paul Horn (Mars, Mercury and Sun in Pisces) a flautist who recorded intense vibrational elegies on alto flute inside the chamber in the great pyramid of Giza and the subtle reverb is nerve-tingling – a pure frequency. He also recorded music for Zen meditation and music for Yoga.
Artists can be all signs as the variety of Russian composers shows: Stravinsky was a Gemini; Shostakovitch was a Virgo; and both Tchaikovsky and Prokovief were Taureans. Looking for creative signatures covers a huge range of signs and aspects. Piechoski’s study showed that the Moon plays a big role in fostering that creative spark. If the moon is in Aries, or if Aries is on the MC, it gives boldness to follow the artistic path. But the signature is there also if the Moon combined with Neptune, Neptune square the Moon, along with trines of the Sun to the Ascendant or to Jupiter, and any planets in the 3rd House and so on- the list is endless. To attempt to nail down a definite ‘creative’ signature would be to overlook where it continually sprouts all over the zodiac.
Everyone is Creative to varying degrees and astrology can locate which aspects and in which house this might flourish should you wish to activate this potential. Pisces and the 12th house is still regarded as the realm of poetry, mysticism and music which often require privacy and seclusion be that ashrams, cloisters or sanatoriums or just staying in bed. They are the ultimate bourgeois bohemians and when the sun is in Pisces we too can vagabonds between worlds, about to invite us in the the 5th dimension.
As we move into Pisces season it is good to attune to the mood of Neptune who will connect with the Sun on March 11th. Venus also enters Pisces on February 25th and that could bring a touch of soul love into all these vibrations where they ideals are set very high. She conjuncts fixed star of Persia, Formahault, on the Full Moon on the 27th enhancing that high-mind state and Neptune on March 14th which brings blessings, not always money, but quite possibly more artistic and out there. To get a flavour of how that might, you could do worse than listen to Alice Coltrane’s Journey in SatChitAnanda– which means Being-Consciousness-Bliss.
Even Jupiter (the traditional ruler of Pisces) will dip into Pisces on May 14th which could reinvigorate the vastness of the imagination, expand your feeling of benevolence, and boost any creative project that may have dwindled. It could also enhance that sense of an inner guru giving direction and guidance.
What to do in Pisces Season
If you are at a loss for what to do, first consider doing nothing- this is the Zen and Taoist approach. Doing and Being are two different things continually poised in tension, yet if action is required, above are some suggestions of how to capture the Piscean wave. It is what you might do at any time of the year, but especially good fine-tuning to engage in while the sun in Pisces. Just remember to keep your toes on the ground.
© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, February 20th, 2021.
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