The restless chair on the empty field at sunset

I used to feel astrologically cheated out of that zany and enlightened experience known as Pisces. I’ve thought about how fun it would be to bliss out during kirtan chanting, trip the light fantastic astral traveling, communicate with Spirit beings… but my reality has been far more mundane. Pisces holds only a small footnote in my fifth house, staking a far larger claim in my sixth (also home to a Mars-Pluto opposition). The textbooks say ‘must have creativity and imagination in your work situations’. I’d surely climb the walls without that. I’ve also sacrificed my health for a nameless and faceless job that didn’t care about me, and barely lived to tell that tale.

As such, in the past, I pulled on my Pisces like you would a medical prescription – to counteract burnout and stress. Until the day that stopped working. Pisces needed to be honored, or else. I had to squarely face the fact that as long as I was out of alignment with my work-life, I would never be well. As astrologer Dana Gerhardt says of this house, “In the 6th we notice life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We can drown in our failure. Or we can do something about it. We can either suffer or grow.” My Mars-Pluto has the work ethic of a migrant field worker in the final days of harvest season, but with Pisces along for the ride, a thimble’s worth of consciousness is far mightier than effort and exertion. I had to grow more flow, surrender, intuition and creativity into my routines and work. I had to serve others in ways that were appropriate for me, for this body.

The Fishes ways aren’t easy to wrap one’s head around. Into the area of life Pisces falls we may struggle with a seemingly irreconcilable conundrum that ties us in knots. The current of illusion is strong, here. Always, we are faced with a choice, although at first appears with the cryptic message ‘There’s No Way Out Of This One, Buddy”. The romantic siren song of pain, separation, confusion can drown out our inherent intuitive connection to truth. Where we find Pisces (and Neptune) we are vulnerable to getting caught up in an emotional drama, to struggling with the wrong problems or asking the wrong questions. The lens of what’s real and what’s unreal, what’s yours and what’s mine, bends like taffy. Take the missive of this area too seriously – with ego, striving, a need to understand or be right- and you’ll suffer more than necessary. Some things in life are far too important to be taken seriously.

Pisces intrigues us with its promise of connection to Spirit, a soothing panacea for our human experiences of separation and alienation. Each of us have different mediators into personal awareness of our connection to a greater consciousness–some lovely and some dark. My friend Emma has Venus, Jupiter and the South Node in the twelfth house, so I wasn’t surprised when one day she relayed her life-changing story about an ecstatic experience involving trance, dance and slipping between the veils of the world. Knowing her chart, I’d already imagined this type of experience came easy to her. Yet in comparing our experiences with the twelfth house (Pisces) we both found common ground. I have natal Pluto in my twelfth house. One night many years ago, I walked into the great dark Pacific with the intention of never coming back. Standing there, knee deep in that cold, dark water, I ran through only two scenarios: I could leave or I could stick around. Words fail to describe the magic that happened next, but somewhere in the futility and confusion and the cold dark water, I surrendered into nothingness. That humbling moment changed everything. Then an inkling of curiosity arose. I realized I really wanted to see how it all turned out. After all, what else did I have to do with my time?! Suddenly, life appeared to be a game, one that I needed to take far less seriously. I had been so invested in how I wanted things to be, as if that mattered. I focused on the courage of this human life and curiosity about what would happen next. These realizations flooded my senses with calm. They made me want to laugh!

My friend had received guidance at the right moment through ecstatic dance. I had been baptized in the waters of the great Pacific. On the highway of a life that was no longer working for us, we had each reached the “last exit” sign –a greater power through surrender. Maybe I experienced the death of my ego-consciousness. As I walked back to shore, I returned with the consciousness that my life was my own, yet I was so much more. When the small “I” broke, consciousness flooded in. Returning from my water-fire baptism, I began approaching my life from the perspective that I was not alone. No one who knew me would’ve known anything had changed, but me. Brought to my knees by Pluto, I broke that invisible cycle of impossible futility by surrendering to and acknowledging a greater power within and surrounding my self. From that day forward, I knew I was connected to Spirit.

So this is what I’ve come to learn about Pisces: The areas under Pisces’ sway can be our own private Idaho or a mystical experience. Probably both. Creativity or madness? Irrational nonsense or poetry? Illness or healing agent? Suffer or surrender? Wound or teacher? Hypersensitive hell or empathic connection? Take your pick. Perplexing, maddeningly confounding as with any double-bodied sign (Gemini-Sagittarius-Pisces), you will need to reconcile one-or-the-other/either/or thinking here. And you will learn that the harder you try to solve the riddle of Pisces with ego schemes or fear, the harder life becomes.

You’re living in your own Private Idaho

Living in your own Private Idaho

Underground like a wild potato.

Don’t go on the patio.

Beware of the pool,

blue bottomless pool.

It leads you straight

right through the gate

that opens on the pool. – B52’s Private Idaho

This Pisces Full Moon Eclipse connects with Chiron. Chiron, the wounded healer, holds all the parts of our human experience that feel unjust, unfair and painful. In myth, immortal Chiron sacrificed his immortality so he could be put out of his chronic pain; the only way out of chiron-ic pain is death. Like Pluto, Chiron can connect us to the part of our self that cries, “This is too hard! I want this to end, I want out!” Yet pain is necessary part of the human experience. My source of pain isn’t the same as yours, yet it is something we all share, feel, have in common.

Pisces also connects us to the mystical experience. Here, you can give something larger of your self. Here, you can truly and deeply serve humanity by honoring the sacred in your self. Here, ego-sacrifice, when made intentionally, is a high calling. In this area, faith is your rocket fuel, intuition and imagination your able guides. In this area you will be divinely inspired, disillusioned, lost, redeemed and deeply challenged to see your self clearly. Here, as Martha Beck lovingly writes, we may experience the Storm Before the Calm (not the other way around) so that the horrible loss, failure, ache or shame can give us exactly what we need.

Like a Houdini magic trick, when you’re all tied up in Pisces’ ropes, it’s hard to believe a shift in consciousness is exactly what you need to untie in a millisecond what you’ve been struggling with for years. But it can. I don’t claim to have the magic formula for you, but I can suggest a few things. Start by surrendering to what is. This is your human experience and it’s meant to be happening. If you haven’t done so yet, courageously, humbly, honestly face your self. Finally, remove all seriousness. Add in a smidgen of absurdity. Then relax and laugh at the zaniness of it all. Now you’re in the right frame of mind, what we might call Buddha Mind, to alchemize your own Private Idaho into your own Mystical Experience.