THE END OF THE ROAD
Pisces is a mutable WATER sign. Like each of the WATER signs, there is pain, sadness and loss, their quality varying with the sign they’re in. Emotional issues tend to be daily with Cancer, accompanied by rage with Scorpio, and felt by everyone in Pisces. The symbol of this sign is the FISH. The keyword I use is subconscious (the traditional keywords are “I believe,”) with a range of interpretations that run from the subtle to the obvious. Starting with WATER, this sign rules the Pacific Ocean which covers half of the planet all by itself. Add to that the Atlantic and Mediterranean and we quickly can see that this element dominates the majority of the Earth’s surface, together with all its implications.
That’s the obvious.
The subtle represents those currents that run beneath our awareness, such as sleep, dreams and the spirits that leave the body when one dies. These energies are more ethereal, as are the ghosts who pass through “The Land of Dreams” on their way to their final resting place.
Let’s start with the fundamentals. If this is the WATER sign that rules the oceans, then we should find a damp dance with the sea close by as a framework upon which to build our stage.
Hearing the news, your mother, Thetis, rose from the sea, (line 50)
immortal sea-nymphs in her wake, and a strange unearthly cry
came throbbing over the ocean. Terror gripped Achaea’s armies,
they would have leapt in panic, boarded the long hollow ships
if one man, deep in his age-old wisdom, had not checked them:
Nestor- from the first his counsel always seemed the best,
and now, concerned for the ranks, he rose and shouted,
Hold fast, Argives! Sons of Achaea, don’t run now!
This is Achilles mother rising from the sea
with all her immortal sea nymphs-
she longs to join her son who died in battle!’
That stopped our panicked forces in their tracks
as the Old Man of the Sea’s daughters gathered round you-
wailing, heartsick- dressed you in ambrosial, deathless robes
and the muses, nine in all, voice-to-voice in choirs,
their vibrant music rising, raised your dirge.
Not one soldier would you have seen dry-eyed,
the Muses’ song so pierced us to the heart.
For seventeen days unbroken, days and nights
we mourned you- immortal gods and mortal men.
The ocean, sea, sea-nymphs, the Old Man of the Sea’s daughters gathered round you, wailing, heartsick . . .
How much WATER do we need?
The muses in choir (muses in music) represent Venus in its exaltation in Pisces. It does well- beautifully, rhythmically, musically- in this placement. Their voices blend harmonically as One, even in a dirge.
You got to lose if you’re going to play the blues.
Silver footed (an epithet more often used in the Iliad) Thetis is the Moon in Pisces. The Moon is rising in the east. This is what that means. Major emotional loss, potentially family, collective panic felt by the multitudes, in this case the sea-nymphs and soldiers.
Her loss is their loss and so they mourn together.
As we have seen repeatedly, it is not only the sign and planetary rulership that comes into play throughout Homer’s compositions, but also the detriment, fall and exaltation. Collectively they are called the dignitaries. In general, the rulership and exaltation do well and excel, while the detriment and fall don’t interpret the potential skills and talents as well.
This chapter is a case in point. Although we will see examples of Jupiter’s rulership of Pisces, it is Mercury’s detriment in Pisces that immediately comes to the fore. Mercury (Hermes to the Greeks) is the guide to the Underworld. The souls that are being led away have just had their lives ripped from them under traumatic and dramatic circumstances. Like the silver dollar, there are two sides to every coin. Mercury does well in detail oriented Virgo which it rules, but does not do as well in mystique oriented Pisces.
From the first line of Chapter 24 we find Mercury (Cyllenian Hermes) hard at work, putting souls to sleep??
Now Cyllenian Hermes called away the suitors’ ghosts, (line 1)
holding firm in his hand the wand of fine pure gold
that enchants the eyes of men whenever Hermes wants
or wakes us up from sleep.
With a wave of this he stirred and led them on
and the ghosts trailed after with high thin cries
as bats cry in the depths of a dark haunted cavern,
shrilling, flittering, wild when one drops from the chain-
slipped from the rock face, while the rest cling tight . . .
So with their high, thin cries the ghosts flocked now
and Hermes the Healer led them on, and down the dank
moldering paths and past the Ocean’s streams they went
and past the White Rock and the Sun’s Western Gates and past
the Land of Dreams, and they soon reached the fields of asphodel
where the dead, the burnt-out wraiths of mortals, make their home.
Hermes the Healer. Mercury in Virgo. Here in Pisces he’s a long, long way from home, his celestial strength weakened.
From this point we hear from various subtle shades. We also saw quite a bit of Underworld action in Chapters 8, 11 and 20 (portents gather- which underscores pagan interest in being able to cross this barrier for guidance when needed), but in those chapters it is because Odysseus wanted to gather information, to learn about the future and their way home. Here, in Chapter 24 the game is over, the deed is done. There is no more to talk about. Down and out.
Doom, death and dying dominate much of Chapter 24, as do the rituals surrounding them.
“So we died . . . our bodies lie untended even now, (line 206)
strewn in Odysseus’ palace. They know nothing yet,
the kin in our houses who might wash our wounds
of clotted gore and lay us out and mourn us.
These are the solemn honors owed the dead
So they traded stories, (line 223)
the two ghosts standing there in the House of Death
far in the hidden depths below the earth.
You in your day have witnessed funeral games (line 94)
for many heroes, games to honor the death of kings
when young men cinch their belts, tense to win some prize-
but if you’d laid eyes on these it would have thrilled your heart,
magnificent trophies the goddess, glistening-footed Thetis,
held out in your honor. You were dear to the gods,
so even in death your name will never die . . .
Great glory is yours Achilles,
for all time, in the eyes of mankind.
The feet are ruled by Pisces.
Pisces is also our inner perception, the third eye. It is how we ‘see’ things, but see inwardly. If I were to describe a situation in the future, one that hasn’t happened yet, you would begin to put together a mental picture of what it would be like. When what we see properly projects just how things turn out, we’re said to be intuitive or precognitive. When, however, the image we perceive does not lead to a correct interpretation, or when the picture is intentionally depicted incorrectly, then we’re said to be deceived.
She neither spurned nor embraced a marriage she despised, (line 137)
no, she simply planned our death, our black doom.
This was her latest masterpiece of guile
Three whole years (line 155)
she deceived us blind (inner eye), seduced us with this scheme . . .
and we caught her in the act- unweaving her gorgeous web. (line 160)
So she finished it off. Against her will. We forced her.
Telemachus first in fact, Odysseus followed, (line 171)
later, led by the swineherd, and clad in tatters,
looking for all the world like an old and broken beggar
hunched on a stick, his body wrapped in shameful rags.
Disguised so none of us, not even the older ones,
could spot that tramp for the man he really was
The picture you’re ‘seeing’ is not in alignment with the truth.
The obvious literary advantages of looking at both sides of the coin is that it gives us multiple angles to better understand its nuances. By playing the beggar, “long-suffering great Odysseus” (line 194) would not trigger anyone’s suspicions while he looked over the situation in his palace himself.
By playing the king, Odysseus could be himself and reap all the rewards that an honored man of his legendary standing was entitled to, not to mention rest and relaxation, a break from his marathon Heraclean adventures. In this manner we might better ‘see’ how Odysseus can be bald in one chapter, with lush coily curls in another.
That’s how the energy manifest in different spheres of life. But there is one other quality which Pisces can call it’s own, and that is peace. Through their compassion, surrender and understanding this is the sign of peace. In the final lines of the last chapter,
“Hold back, you men of Ithaca, back from brutal war! (line 584)
Break off- shed no more blood- make peace at once!”
So commanded Athena.
So she commanded. He obeyed her, glad at heart. (line 598)
And Athena handed down her pacts of peace
between both sides for all the years to come-
In this, the final chapter representing Pisces, our work draws to a conclusion. While Mercury has been our guide, we will look to one final dignitary, Jupiter’s rulership over Pisces. Simply put, the Lord of Thunder is the the highest authority,
the answer to our prayers! (line 442)
From my place of wisdom, to you.
Welcome- health! The skies rain blessings on you! (line 446)
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