This is our twelfth sign, or constellation if you prefer. Three thousand years ago, the era when the Odyssey was composed, the two were one.
This twelfth division corresponds to Pisces, a mutable WATER sign ruled in contemporary times by Neptune (Gk- Poseidon), and in antiquity by Jupiter (Gk- Zeus). Venus is in its exaltation in Pisces, Mercury is in its detriment. At its best, spiritual peace and understanding is embraced at our essence; we know we are all One. Venus in its exaltation is also artistic excellence and sensitivity. Think of it as spiritually inspired architecture, crafts or music.
Issues relating to the subconscious are typically sympathetic to the vibration of the Two Fish. Behind the veil are spirits such as our ocean, sleep and dreams, escape, doves, fog, mist and even praying. If you read the chapter independently, watch for these clues being subtlety woven into the story line.
I struck inland, (line 358)
up the island, there to pray to the gods.
The chapter opens. At the end of the very first paragraph the men are all fast asleep. They’re exhausted. They have landed on the island of the Sun during the night. Odysseus makes his men swear an oath not to touch (kill in order to consume) the cattle of Helios,
. . . the god of the sun who sees all, hears all things. (line 281)
Later in the chapter (lines 393-401) Odysseus calls forty winks both ‘soothing slumber‘ and ‘fatal sleep,’ opposite ends of our perception of the spectrum of restful passage. It is while Odysseus is asleep that he drops his guard and his men, famished for food, do exactly what they have sworn not to do, sealing their fate.
All of these images and more are to be found weaving their web throughout this chapter, many of which would later (centuries later) become associated with Christian themes. Jesus was considered to be twice-born. Dionysus (Bacchus) was thought to be twice born, and here, in Chapter 12, we find the crew of the Odyssey being twice born. There is mystical meaning contained within these lines.
Ah my darling, reckless friends! (line 22)
You who ventured down to the House of Death alive,
doomed to die twice over- others die just once.
Come, take some food, drink some wine . . .
In chapter 12 we see the opposite side of Venus in Pisces, as feminine charms seduce and overwhelm the passions of any ordinary man.
First you will raise the island of the Sirens, (line 44)
those creatures who spellbind any man alive,
whoever comes their way.
These are beautiful, talented women whose craft impresses, seduces, and sweeps men off their feet.
Take me now.
To see Venus in its exaltation in Pisces in a more favorable light, let’s check out line 343.
When young Dawn with his rose-red fingers shone once more (line 341)
we hauled our craft ashore, securing her in a vaulted cave
where nymphs have lovely dancing-rings and hold their sessions.
Women in caves by the ocean doing secret things. Venus in Pisces.
In Chapter 12 Odysseus stops the ears of his crew with earwax and has the crew bind him securely to the ship’s mast.
I stopped the ears of my comrades one by one. (line 193)
They bound me hand and foot in the tight ship-
erect at the mast-block, lashed by ropes to the mast-
and rowed and churned the whitecaps stroke on stroke.
We were just offshore as far as a man’s shout can carry,
scudding close, when the Sirens sensed at once a ship
was racing past and burst into their high, thrilling song;
‘Come closer, famous Odysseus- Achaea’s (the Greek’s) pride and glory-
moor your ship on our coast so you can hear our song!
Never has any sailor passed our shores in his black craft
until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips,
and once he hears to his heart’s content sails on, a wiser man.
We know all the pains that Achaeans and Trojans once endured
on the spreading plains of Troy when the gods willed it so-
all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all!’
For Homer, all that happens on the Earth is ordained by the Will of Heaven (Zeus). Time and again the craftiness of Odysseus is able to outwit the fates, or at least the odds. This Greek role model is what all young male Greeks should aspire to. What self-respecting mutable WATER sign, whose very symbol is multiple fish, would not teach you how? Here’s another example of what Pisces ‘rules.’
Just as an angler poised on a gutting rock (line 271)
flings his treacherous bait in the offshore swell,
whips his long rod- hook sheathed in an oxhorn lure-
and whisks up little fish he flips on the beach-break,
writhing, gasping out their lives . . .
While Odysseus and Circe discuss the various options that lie in Odysseus’s upcoming path, he falls back on his greatest strengths, that of being a crafty warrior, a champion in battle. But Circe’s advice for the contest with Scylla warns him to run away, escape, to flee from the contest, because, if he doesn’t, he’ll lose. These creatures are engendered by the Gods.
Such is the destiny of Pisces.
Don’t be there when the whirlpool swallows down- (line 117)
not even the earthquake god could save you from disaster.
No, hug Scylla’s crag- sail on past her- top speed!
Better by far to lose six men and keep your ship
than lose your entire crew.’
but tell me the truth now, goddess,’ I protested.
‘Deadly Charybdis- can’t I possibly cut and run from her
and still fight Scylla off when Scylla strikes my men?’
‘So stubborn!’ the lovely goddess countered.
‘Hell-bent you again on battle and feats of arms?
Can’t you bow to the deathless gods themselves?
Scylla’s no mortal, she’s an immortal devastation,
terrible, savage, wild, no fighting her, no defense-
Just flee the creature, that’s the only way.
Different paths have different fates assigned to each of them. There are three main obstacles Odysseus has to face in Chapter 12. He has to beat the clashing rocks (which only a dove, the bird of Venus’s exaltation, has made it through), slip by the Scylla’s groping reach with her six necks and heads, and by-pass Charybdis sucking down and vomiting up all the waters in the immediate vicinity generating a huge tidal surge.
Each of these engagements involves competition with an island, land only reached by sea. Clashing Rocks? Outside the boat. Scylla? Outside the boat. Charybdis? Outside the boat. While there is one.
This is a watery world. These may represent overpowering life events such as natural disasters that are simply beyond our control, yet we must deal with them as well as we can. Personally, I suspect the western and northern fish of Pisces are Scylla and Charydbis, but, other than the destructive nature of their personalities, that is more of an intuition than grounds for empirical fact.