Pisces is constellation of the twelfth and last of the zodiac signs. It is found in that region of the sky known as the Sea. Near Pisces are several other constellations with water symbolism, including the Whale and Aquarius, the eleventh zodiac sign. Unlike other constellations like Orion and Leo, Pisces is difficult to observe since it is very faint.
This constellation is visualized as two fishes. It is what the word “Pisces” means in Latin. There is supposed to be a cord joining the two fishes by their tails. The two creatures are swimming in opposite directions.
Discovery and History of Pisces
Who discovered the constellation Pisces? Well, the Babylonians were the foremost astronomers and astrologers in the ancient world. It is from them that many other constellations have come down to us. Pisces was most likely another one of their discoveries.
But the best account we have of the ancients’ view on Pisces comes from the Greeks. The earliest astronomers in Greece did not think of Pisces as a pair of fishes. Instead they imagined it was a bound man. Perhaps with another starry fish, Piscis Austrinus nearby, they didn’t want to make another one.
Yet the most widely accepted story of Pisces does link it with fishes. The tale is set at the time when the Olympian gods were warring against their predecessors the Titans. They felt the latter had ruled for too long and thought it was time the younger generation got its turn. Of course the Titans were opposed to this. But the Olympians were far too strong for them. One by one the Titans fell until only Gaea, the Earth, was left. She mated with Tartarus, the pit of the underworld. Then she gave birth to the monster typhoon.
Typhon frightened the Olympian gods. In fear all but one of them retreated to Egypt. Pan jumped into the water and turned himself into a sea-goat, Capricorn. Aphrodite and her son Eros did the same thing and were changed into fish, Pisces. A cord was tied to both their feet so that mother and child wouldn’t be parted. Meanwhile Zeus fought Typhon until finally he killed him with the thunderbolt. Zeus’ victory left no doubt among the gods who their new king was.
Symbolism of Pisces
The fish symbol was later adopted by Christians as a symbol of their faith. Interestingly the advent of Christianity coincides with the Age of Pisces.
Pisces is one of the “double bodied” signs in the zodiac. The two fishes swimming away from each other may suggest the war between the higher and lower self. In astrology the planet Venus (Aphrodite) is exalted in this sign.
During this period, the Vernal Equinox occurs when the sun is in this sign. In other ages it would have been a different sign. Astrologers believe that the Age of Pisces is passing to give way to the Aquarian Age.