This is a transcript of The Shadow Femme Show podcast. Click here listen to this episode.
You're listening to The Shadow Femme Show, a show about humans, our feelings, and the ways in which we make meaning.
I'm your host, Sarah, and I'm an astrologer, Human Design reader, and psychic medium.
I'm here with another installment of this series I've been doing on zodiac archetypes as we enter into Pisces season, and today I'm going to unpack the archetype of Pisces for you with the help of my guides.
So, in full transparency, I am feeling not all that together or coherent today as I'm recording this episode, but I'm gonna give it a go anyway, and I feel like the last couple episodes, I had a lot to say right off the bat, going off with my own thoughts about each each zodiac sign, and I kind of launched into a bunch of insights of my own, but today I'm feeling pretty scattered. And so I'm gonna start off instead by pulling cards and just seeing what my guides have to say.
A Yearning for Transcendence
So the first card I just pulled is Hunger.
And I was actually kind of surprised, like, first reaction to pulling this: I wasn't expecting it.
I don't immediately associate the concept of hunger with Pisces.
But what I'm getting from my guides is that this hunger has to do with a certain yearning that's associated with Pisces. So to give a little context, Pisces is the 12th sign in the zodiac. And it is a water sign. And it's also a mutable sign. And water has to do with things like the emotions, the subconscious, intuition, etc. And mutable signs are very adaptable, and flexible.
And I would say that Pisces is the most dispersive of all the signs. I would also say, in contrast, Gemini is a mutable air sign, and I would say Gemini is the most flexible and adaptable of all the signs because air is very quick, fast, light, and it's a mutable sign. For Pisces, with this mutable water energy, think of just the concept of mutable water, the flow of water, its ability to take the shape of whatever container it's in.
Just combine these two keywords in your mind—mutable, water—and you get Pisces.
So I give you that context and kind of the basics of that sign, to kind of explain, I think what my guides are relaying to me, which is about the sense of yearning, or longing, that Pisces energy carries. This yearning to sort of melt away and be subsumed by this greater sense of connection, a sense of something greater than the self.
There is a certain universal connection and flow that Pisces longs to hook into.
And with that, I think can also come a bit of a desire to melt away the self, the sort of limits and barriers of the self and of the distinctions between the self and the rest of the world, including other people, including plants, animals, beings of all kinds.
Pisces and the Undifferentiated Self
Related to that, I think Pisces and people with prominent Pisces placements often have a special connection with animals and sometimes with children.
Because when you think of it, animals and young children or babies, they have a more undifferentiated sense of self.
So like, think of when, developmentally, you’re a child, ages zero to seven—you actually don't differentiate yourself very much from your environment or from other people. It is not until the conscious mind starts to fully form around age seven, where you start to get that sense of, oh, I am a discrete, separate entity, from the objects, people and other living things I interact with. Like babies think of their parents or their environment kind of as an extension of themselves, right?
Side note: I find it really interesting that at that point at age seven, when the conscious mind forms and we start to developmentally create that sense of separation and differentiation, that's actually when our first Saturn transit happens in our life. So a bit of a tangent, but I just find it really interesting—you're probably familiar with the term Saturn Return; that's when Saturn in the sky returns to the same place as it was when you were born. It comes back around to the same sign, the same degree, as it is in your birth chart. That happens around age 28, to 30. But there are other Saturn transits that we go through even though that's the most talked about one.
You can think of Saturn transits in terms of squares, oppositions and returns.
At age seven, you experience your first Saturn square, which is an aspect in astrology, which means it's 90 degrees away, it's three signs away. And then when it moves to be 180 degrees away, that's called opposition. And then you move 90 degrees more, that's another square angle, and then 90 more degrees. And that is the Saturn Return. Anyway, you experience your first Saturn square at age seven, your first opposition at around age 14, another square around age 21. And then your first Saturn Return around age 28.
Saturn is the planet of limitation, restriction, order structure, differentiation and separation. It's a planet that that has to do with with borders, and delineation, meaning that it has this energy that's like, you are a separate entity, a discrete, separate entity. And you're interacting in a world of tangible objects and living beings, each of whom are their own discrete individuals who are separate from you and apart from you.
So yeah, that was a bit of a tangent, but I just, I find it very interesting that that happens around age seven, and coming back around to what I was originally talking about, in terms of hunger, longing, yearning, this yearning that Pisces has to be connected to something larger than the self...
The Most Evolved Zodiac Sign? It's More Complicated Than That
I think that it's interesting that that makes me think of childhood, ages zero to seven. Because I think, well, I think Pisces gets talked about in modern astrology, in some ways, as like, the most evolved zodiac sign.
You might have heard that some astrologers believe that the zodiac progresses in a cumulative way, meaning that each sign learns from and builds upon the next. The belief is that Aries is like a fresh new baby entered into the world and each following sign is like, more evolved than the one before it, because it has learned from the previous sign or some people believe like, if you are a Pisces, that means that you already experienced life as all the other signs. But yeah, it just feeds into this idea that Pisces, as the 12th sign of the zodiac, is the most spiritually evolved. And I don't think that's necessarily true. Like, I find it kind of strange to put, you know, the whole zodiac on the sort of upward hierarchy almost. And I feel like any sign can be evolved or not evolved, and it just depends on the energy of the individual.
But I just feel like Pisces, though, has the potential to carry this energy that's actually both very young and innocent, and also very old and wise at the same time.
And that's not to say that all Pisces are this perfect mix of childlike playfulness and old soul wisdom. There are also Pisces that carry these young and old characteristics in a way that is not very evolved.
But I think that this combination is pretty unique to Pisces energy.
The very, very young and the very old, this energy that's present both in very early childhood and in old age. And it kind of makes sense, right? When you think about a lifetime, we've already talked about how very early in life, like you enter into this world as more of an undifferentiated being. And in old age as well, some people believe that it's almost like a return to, I don't want to say a childlike state, because you could think of it very literally in the sense that the very old often need to be cared for—physically cared for—perhaps like you would care for a young child. But that's not the meaning that I'm focusing on here.
What I'm getting at is that, towards the end of life, I feel like some people can start to gain this perspective, or rather, return to this very early childhood perspective of maybe letting the ego dissolve away a little more. And feeling like the individual self is maybe not as important in the big scheme of things. I think there is a certain perspective that comes as one gets older, and in theory, closer to death—like that proximity to the end of life mirrors the proximity to the beginning of life, where you start to take this perspective, maybe on your existence and on the world, where it's like, “I am I am an individual that's actually part of this larger tapestry of life.”
A Theory About Narcissism
I just wanted to return really quick to something I said earlier, which was about how young children, when their conscious mind hasn't formed yet, and they’re thinking of themselves as kind of undifferentiated beings. They think of things in their environment and people in their environment as sort of being extensions of themselves. And with that comes the reactions that you see in babies and young children when, let's say, their parents don't give them what they want. And all of this just makes me think of an analogy that I've come up with before to actually explain what narcissism is like.
Just some quick background, I feel like I have a really extensive layman's understanding of narcissism—not being a psychologist myself, but just from my own experiences with narcissistic abuse in my family. And in my childhood, I've been someone who's nerded out on learning lots of things about narcissism as a personality disorder. And one way I've described it before, is that a narcissist sort of thinks of people in their immediate orbit as being extensions of themselves, and the narcissistic rage that gets triggered when someone close to them doesn't do what they want, kind of comes from this intense outrage at the sensation of…
So my analogy is like—imagine you tried to pick up a glass of water from the table, and your hand wouldn't move. Or instead, your hand went and grabbed something else. Or it slapped you in the face.
When someone doesn't do what a narcissist wants, they can react with this incredible amount of anger. Because it's this fear and outrage and just disbelief that they're experiencing because it's almost as if their brain commanded their hand to do something and the hand didn't do it. That would be horrifying to experience. And anyway, that's the analogy I've come up with before, to sort of explain to myself the extreme anger I've experienced from some narcissistic people who feel that they've been disobeyed or scorned or something like that.
But looping that back to my thought on young children, it just made me—again, without being an expert on this or a developmental psychologist or anything, just having sort of a layman's understanding of this—my analogy on narcissism just made me think as well of the reactions of babies and young children when, let's say, their parents don't give them what they want.
Babies burst into tears, or children throw tantrums when they don't get their needs met, or their wants met. And in a way, some of that is necessary. Like, babies need to make a fuss, in order to alert their caregivers, that they need something sometimes, but that's something that developmentally we grow out of.
But at the time when we're zero to seven and we’re more undifferentiated, I wonder if there's a similarity there with what narcissists experience where, if a young child who thinks of the environment and of other people as sort of extensions of themselves, if that hand or that extension of themself doesn't do what they want, or meet that need, there can be this intense reaction to it, and it made me wonder if there's a connection there.
Hopefully, this is making sense. Like, I feel like this is very Pisces episode in that, I feel like these are somehow good insights that just feel very scattered right now and on a sort of sub-verbal level, I can, myself, understand how all these things are connected, but it's really hard for me to express them in words right now. But I kind of want to connect all these thoughts back to Pisces, so…
"Selflessness" as a Neutral Word
I feel like Pisces has the potential to be both the most enlightened signed sign or the most insidiously narcissistic sign. That's a pretty bold statement. And hopefully, I don't offend any Pisces out there. I have a Pisces Moon myself. So this is not just an ignorant attack on Pisces, but this also comes from my personal experience interacting with Pisces people in my life.
I feel like related to all this, or to to explain what I mean by all this: I feel like in some New Age-y circles, self-help-y circles, there is talk of “overcoming the ego,” “destroying the ego,” “dissolving the ego,” and of selflessness as being the epitome of good. All that is good and pure.
And I don't think that all that is necessarily true.
We have our ego for a reason. And egolessness and selflessness don't necessarily go hand in hand. And I also feel that selflessness is not the epitome of Good; I feel that selflessness is maybe more neutral than we make it out to be.
Like, if you sort of break it down: “self-less”—without self, or without a sense of self.
I don't think that that is an inherently good thing. I think that having some sense of self is definitely healthy.
And I also think it's important to understand how we connect to other people and to the collective. But I feel like Pisces is often the most selfless sign. And I do mean that in a very neutral way.
Meaning that it can manifest in good ways, and in bad ways, depending on the person, and depending on which planets fall in Pisces in their charts.
I think that selflessness, and specifically in a Pisces way, can come out in the way that we normally associate it and the way that we normally think of it, which is in a “Good” way, meaning it can come out in a very generous or altruistic and kind way. It can be expressed in terms of a really strong, tuned-in affinity with the collective unconscious and the collective energy. It can be expressed in a way that's very spiritual and wise about the way in which the cosmos work or the ways in which the universe works, or it can be attuned to the similarities we share as humans, the universal longings and the universal qualities we all have, as opposed to focusing on the differences.
I think that those are a lot of the positive ways that that Pisces selflessness can manifest, and on the flip side, I think there is also a negative to a certain selflessness. And I think that that can show up, especially for Pisces, in the form of over-giving, having poor emotional boundaries, taking on the role of the martyr, in relationships, and basically, doing too much for other people in order to feel worthy of love, or in order not to hurt other people's feelings.
I also feel that interestingly, coming back to what I said on narcissism, there is a certain brand of, quote unquote, “selfless” narcissism that I've come across in some people with Pisces Suns or other Pisces placements. And I think that can show up as selflessness in two ways. One, meaning, like, a weak sense of self, because narcissists actually don't have a really strong sense of who they are. Often due to childhood trauma, they have sort of frozen and calcified their sense of self and built this wall around their, quote unquote, “True Self” that they show to the world like this seemingly perfect exterior, or an exterior that they gaslight everyone into thinking is perfect, in order to protect what is actually a fragile ego, from things like rejection or feelings of being unloved. And so even though a lot of narcissists can come off as really confident and charismatic, there is actually an easily damaged ego, and a weak sense of self and a poor connection with the true self that is there. And there is actually a big focus on what other people think of them, of regulating their reputation, and how they're coming off to other people. And so, in a way, there's actually this hypervigilance, that's attuned to the environment, the collective, to other people.
And the sense of self is actually based on other people, and on other people's opinion of the person. So I say all that to mean: that is actually an interesting example of selflessness. Like being without a strong concept of self, and not necessarily in a positive way.
I think that, more specifically, the way that this can manifest for, let's say, Pisces narcissistic person, could be a narcissist who actually adopts the persona of being really philanthropic, really giving. But it actually is just a way to try to feed their ego.
And it's also a way to control other people, and to control their own image, as in, being seen as a good person.
That's a whole thing that I could go into, but I'm not going to go into so deeply right now. But I have encountered multiple examples of this kind of person in my life. And I find that interesting. I actually, I think I'll link the video as well in the show notes to explain a bit more about what philanthropic narcissism actually is, because it's a thing, but I just wanted to kind of go through all these different facets of selflessness because I just have seen—anecdotally, and also just out on the internet—very different perspectives on Pisces as a sign. I feel like some of them skew really far towards this idea of Pisces as a saint, a martyr—a beautiful, evolved, super spiritual, giving, altruistic soul. Or, for instance, anecdotally I've heard people just be like, ‘Oh, my God, I hate Pisces, like, they're the worst,” which is really surprising to me to see those really polar opposite reactions. And every sign has its own extremes.
But I just wanted to take a bit of time just now to maybe unpack why this particular sign gets such different descriptions attached to it. Another theory I'll add into the mix is just that it is hard to exist in this world as a very emotionally sensitive person, and as someone who is much more in touch with the collective than with the individual self. And I just think that those are things that are not well supported in a lot of societies, especially Western societies. And without the proper support, I feel like people with Pisces placements can just really end up forming their own sort of coping mechanisms for moving through the world with that kind of sensitivity and with that really dispersed sense of self. And that can show up in different ways. Like I mentioned, one extreme example is narcissism, which is a reaction to childhood trauma, or it can come up in in terms of just general mental health struggles.
Like, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a psychiatrist, and I I also don't specialize in medical astrology, but just anecdotally, from my own life and from people I've encountered, I just feel like Pisces placements can maybe predispose someone to things like mental health issues, mood disorders, things like that. Or it can just make for a highly sensitive person, which comes with its own struggles in the world.
Just speaking from my own life, I have ADHD, and I have a Pisces moon, as well as multiple other placements that I think, correlate with this in my birth chart. With my ADHD comes a certain scatteredness, and also a difficulty in regulating emotion. I feel things very strongly, and I especially feel rejection or perceived rejection very, very strongly, which is a common symptom of ADHD: about 40% or so people with ADHD have something called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, which is this extreme emotional reaction to real or perceived rejection.
Belonging to Something Greater Than the Self
And sort of bringing that back to my particular Pisces placement: I said I have a Pisces moon, and with the moon being associated with the emotions, the things you need in order to feel emotionally safe and fulfilled—with my moon being in Pisces, I think one thing that comes along with that, is this real emotional need to belong to something greater than myself, to feel like a part of the collective. And I think, just one of the ways in which my RSD or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria shows up in sort of this Pisces Moon way, is the fact that when I feel rejected, it's like this painful thing to think of being separate and almost exiled from the collective and from this sense of connection and belonging. But at the same time, some of some of my most transcendent experiences have come from feeling incredibly emotionally connected, whether to one other person or to a shared experience with a larger group.
I'm even just thinking like, live outdoor concerts—the feeling of sharing this experience, listening to the same music, moving, dancing, and really feeling it with this group of strangers who are nevertheless, sharing this common bond in a particular moment. That feeling of experiencing music in a visceral, transcendent way with a group—I feel like that's a very Pisces thing. That's a very Pisces example.
Okay, I feel like there is so much more I could say about Pisces; I feel like I've only just explored one little corner of this sign. But I guess the beauty of these episodes is that they're not like a cookie cutter rundown of a particular sign, because you can find good basic astrology info anywhere on the internet. But what I guess what I end up talking about in these episodes is my own particular opinion and my guides’ opinion on facets of the signs that maybe you haven't thought of yourself. So all that said, I just went to pull another card, and the card I got was “Stop.” And I was like, what does that have to do with Pisces? Fine. What I'm getting from that is like, stop the recording. Like you're done. This is good. It's good enough.
But recording this episode actually has been really interesting reflection on what I've been going through lately. And, and in the process, I hope it made for an interesting episode for you to listen to, and hopefully it gave you a perspective on this sign that doesn't get talked about as much. So anyway, I hope you liked it and have a great rest of your Pisces season. I'll see you next time.