Pisces and the Meaning of Sacrifice

This is  a personal piece.

I have Sun and Mercury both in Pisces, and five planets in water signs in my chart. I think by emotion, and I feel my way into things. When I am dealing with ideas in astrology I am feeling for a certain sense of symmetry, balance and wholeness.

I’ve always been bugged by the usual definitions of Pisces, traditional and modern both. In some of the older material Pisces is the garbage bin of the zodiac, dissolute wastrels destined to come to an ill end.

In more modern material you will often read about how Pisces is a sign of self-sacrifice, giving oneself over to the larger whole. Part of me completely rebels against that idea. Inside I do not feel like the self-sacrificing type at all.

If anything, the inner feeling is the opposite.

I have always had a sort of background natural sense of our all being interconnected, part of a larger oneness. That larger sea of oneness is the reality I swim in. My challenge feels like the opposite; I need to work at getting a sense of who I am as a separate individual, distinct from this oneness – not separated, but distinct.

It took me many, many years to figure out that our mainstream Western religious culture is very much slanted towards the virtue of a selfless, self-obliterating sacrifice to a greater good. I’ve never felt comfortable with that notion, but it has only been in the last couple of years that I realized that particular moral value was not a given fact of the universe, but a human assumption, an opinion.

When I figured that out, I could stand back and question the value of selfless sacrifice. I could weigh it and make my own value judgement.

I have weighed it, and I find it wanting.

I do not think we can ever be self-less; I think it is a contradiction in terms. We can hide who we are, we can deny who we are, we can pretend we are something else – but, we cannot obliterate who we are.

We are each created as individual selves, and we were created as individuals for a reason. I think our challenge here as humans on earth is to truly become, embody and express who we really are as individuals, as unique creations, as unique points of view within a larger universal consciousness.

We are stars.

If you think of the night sky, you look up at it, there is no way to escape a feeling of unity, of universal wholeness. Once you embrace that darkness it contains everything else like a womb.

That night sky is filled with stars – beautiful, distinct, shining stars. The sky would not be more completely one if all the individual stars were obliterated, and there were only darkness. Each star has the being, the task, the obligation, to shine into the sky, or from the sky. The star offers itself, and is part of the greater oneness of the sky..

Unity in diversity, not unity in sameness.

I hear calls to selfless sacrifice being used as a way to ask people to give up who they really are and conform to some external authority. That is self-obliteration, and I think it is spiritual poison.  “Sacrifice yourself for the greater good” too often means “shut up and do what I tell you”.

I am convinced that, for wholeness in spiritual life, there needs to be a balance and complementarity between Individuality and Unity.  There is indeed a need for us to develop as individuals, but this does not mean that we stay separate as individuals, over against or opposed to the larger unity. Rather, I think the challenge is to find a way to completely be ourselves, and let ourselves feel our oneness with the larger whole. The individuality then becomes a gift we give back to the collective; we let our own individual stars shine each in their own way.

To use a an older metaphor or parable, denying our individuality is putting a bushel basket over our light so that it cannot be seen. You can only “let your light so shine” if you accept it, and that light is who we uniquely are as individuals.

Our job is not to be perfect. Our job is not to conform to some external perfect standard where we are doomed to fall short. That is false spirituality.

Our job is to simply and completely be ourselves, and to share who we are with the world around us.

I think that our culture has misunderstood the meaning of sacrifice for a very long time. If you look at the etymology of the word, it doesn’t mean to give up or destroy, it means to make sacred, or to perform a sacred rite. I think that sacrifice in the positive sense means to be completely who you are and to offer or give that to the larger Unity – not to obliterate it, but to share it.

It is a star shining in the night sky filled with other stars.

Shining in the night sky, self-offering, self-giving ,unselfconsciously accepting and being who we are – if that is what Piscean sacrifice really means – that I can accept.


Pisces and the Meaning of Sacrifice — 4 Comments

  1. Beautifully said. Clearly, you have a pleasing way with words, as in “not separated, but distinct”. Unity in diversity is the challenge before the USA right now – how to be aware and not judge (including oneself). So Pisces is not called to sacrifice one’s authentic self, but to demonstrate the release/burning away of the ego/false self/cultured self so the true sacred self shines through, like stars in the sky. Showing the way.

  2. Good definition. I am seeing many posts elsewhere that are questioning traditional decisions. This is good because I think word usage has changed dramatically over the centuries.

  3. brilliantly said – it resonates in many ways- not least because as a Virgo with a heavy earth quotient it is worth examining as the flip side .

  4. I am a Pisces with a Grand Trine in water, but also a hefty amount of air signs and Virgo in key places. I see what you are saying, however, I think you are missing the deep meaning of self-sacrifice. I think you’ve put it a little out of context. And I would suggest you are resisting it’s most profound lesson.

    The astrological wheel and other systems like it are largely archetypes of human behavior and the spiritual lessons contained within the limitations of that human awareness. These signs are often taught as progressions and re-cyclings, the perpetual turning of a wheel. The wheel is not in my opinion a wheel of suffering. It is about infinite movement and variation, and is innately tied to the dimensions of the world we live in. To understand what it is to be a human being living on the earthly plane.

    To believe in astrology is to entertain the idea of reincarnation. It never made much sense to me that one life would provide enough information, given all the variations in belief, race, orientation, locations… it would take may lifetimes to understand humanity. An understanding of individuality is just one thread in a glorious weave. The wheel allows us to see how we come back again and again, striving to understand the finer points.

    In regards to being Pisces – that lesson is specifically about endings – the completion of a turn of the wheel. It is about understanding that all life on earth depends on death – the ending of another life. Not good or bad – just is. But with every death is the promise of new life – new possibilities – the quality of that depending likely on the quality of the death it sprung from. It is very important to understand our own mortality and come to grips with it. It is very important to understand what we leave behind and what may come of our dying. It is very personal and profound and a deep responsibility. It is not a responsibility to be offloaded to anyone else. Each must learn to bear the weight of this themselves ultimately. That alone takes a lot of trial and error – many lifetimes I suspect – to gain the faith and trust that lets them know they will change but that they will also endure. And that their change gives new life and allows the wheel to turn once more. It is not something anyone can tell them – it must be felt and believe internally. To know also that this is paying it forward – because someone had paid this same price in order for their possibility to be.

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