You may have observed that Pisces is a strongly feminine sign. Feminine, that is, in terms of its feeling bias, its imagination, its softness, its compassion. Many Pisces men are extremely masculine, and perfectly capable of what Jung calls, ‘Knowing what you want and doing what you have to do to get it’. But all in all, the combination of being a man and being a Pisces is a slightly uneasy one. Largely, once again, because of collective pressures and social expectations.
There are a great many turntypes among Pisces men. They compensate in a thousand ways for being Pisceans. Some of them run in terror from the depths of their underwater visions, into an extreme and brittle kind of rationality which calls for statistics, definitions and proofs. They are the dogmatic material scientists, attempting to stamp out in others what they fear in themselves. They have no tolerance for what they call ’emotionality’, and cannot abide moodiness in others because their own threatens to overwhelm them.
But if a Pisces man has the courage to face his own vulnerability, and to see that it can live happily side by side with his manhood, then you have a rare creature. And he’s able to maintain his manhood without disappearing underwater into the realm of escape, that is. This is the hero of so many books and films, the antihero, the gentle fighter, the sensitive lover. It’s perhaps closer to our modern myth of man than any other, since it’s a peculiar marriage of male and female. The Pisces man who has accomplished this has a rare charisma, a drama about him that makes him endlessly fascinating both to men and women alike.
Sadly, many more Pisces men hit the extremes. We’ve mentioned the rationalist, the Pisces who hates being a Pisces and wants desperately to protect his own sensitivity. The opposite kind is also common enough. He’s the fellow who loves strong women, especially women who can support him financially; who can take care of him while he’s writing the eternal half-finished novel, while he’s contemplating the job he’ll never take. He’s the passive victim, abused and betrayed by a cold, brutal wife, looking for pity and sympathy and playing for all its worth to the maternal instinct of some poor foolish woman who thinks all his romanticism is true tenderness and feeling. These are pathetic Pisceans and their wives and lovers are frustrated women who have to be men most of the time and chafe violently against it. Many Piscean men of this type gravitate toward the powerful signs in women: Leo, Aries, Scorpio, Capricorn. They have no strength of their own, and seek it in a partnership.
As you might guess, Pisces tends to run to extremes. It’s rare that you get a neutral Pisces. It’s generally one extreme or the other.
The Pisces man generally needs to feel ‘understood’ more than anything else. This isn’t so much a sign of physical passion as it is a sensuous sign, a sybaritic sign. Dragging the woman off by the hair to the cave isn’t generally Pisces’ style. Allowing himself to strike up a warm, sympathetic conversation and then allowing himself to be seduced by good wine, soft music, satin sheets and erotic underwear is much more his style. Pisces is as happy being passive as a lover as he is being, literally or figuratively, the one on top. It’s his particular brand of masculinity. Often he will make himself the buffoon, the clown, the victim, for he works a lot from sympathy and empathy. Women love to protect him. He can protect himself perfectly well. But it isn’t always in his interests to let you know that.
Trust him and you’ll bring the best out of him. See only the shadowy side of him and he’ll have a devil of a time trusting himself. He never trusts himself anyway; he’s brutally realistic, beneath all those visions. He needs the trust and loyalty of another person to bring out his own – the realistic trust, that is. Accuse him of something, and he’ll happily go out and do it, just to please. His way of fighting is not to fight; it’s to bend so far backwards that you fall on your face. Impotence is also his way of fighting. In this, you’ll see the feminine side of the sign in strong colours. Passive resistance is a technique dear to the Piscean heart.
You might think he can easily be dominated. Think again. In fact his world doesn’t include dominant or submissive. He’ll play pliant on the surface because it’s easier, because it’s not that often important enough to draw blood. Beneath that pliant surface, it isn’t that he needs to control; he just wants to be left alone. Try to dominate, and you’ll discover you’re empty-handed. He’s simply drifted away, without a fuss.
If you are the type who likes to have all your decisions made for you, don’t choose a Pisces. On the other hand, if you want someone to henpeck, pass on this one too. Now you see him, now you don’t. No promise or marriage contract means anything to him if the fundamental values of the relationship have been abused. And he’ll see through all the games pretty quickly. He just won’t be there the next morning. No note, no phone call. Just gone. Like the fish.
But if you want a relationship which is more nearly like the ideal vision of what the so-called ‘liberated’ woman seeks (and these are rare animals as well), you will find that Pisces is not one of your diehard male chauvinists. Being strongly emotional himself, he usually has immense empathy for women. He generally gets on with them better than men. And with his profound understanding of human nature, you’re not likely either to be the housekeeper or the sex object. You get to be a person. And that’s worth quite a lot.
Many paeans have been written to the Pisces woman, for her mystery, her gentleness, her compassion, her elusive charm, her pregnant silences. And she may be, indeed, the archetypal feminine. The lovely, gracious princess of the fairy-tale castle, waiting for the suitor to rescue her and cherish and protect her, is modeled on Pisces. The Pisces woman has a unique ability to make a man feel terribly masculine, because she seems so often to need protecting, cherishing, and tenderness. Because she has such a changeable range and depth of feeling, she often gives the impression of being slightly unformed. It brings out the Pygmalion tendencies in any would-be artisans. Many men think they can shape her into what they choose. In part, it’s true. The qualities of devotion and gentleness and softness are in abundance in many Piscean women. But blank slate she’s not.
Like the Pisces man, she’s unfathomable, and possesses a soul which no one can ultimately reach. Although eager to please and rarely argumentative, she also has the gift of defence through submergence. Now you see her, now you don’t. She may physically disappear, usually with a lover; but more likely she’ll be physically present and simply psychologically disappear, gone to the underwater realms or to someone else in fantasy. It’s a very peculiar feeling when she’s gone. No one home.
Romanticism runs very high in the Pisces woman. She expects, and needs the poetry and tenderness and style that any fairy-tale princess merits. Starve her of these and you will drive her either to another lover or into herself, where she may transform into the martyr. Provide them, and your princess becomes a queen. Simple. Yet astonishingly difficult for many men, since Pisces, as a watery sign, seems to attract airy types who believe they can impress her with their sparkling intellects and long for the exhibitions of feeling she herself provides without realizing they must give in exchange.
And make no mistake, the Pisces woman, if she is disappointed, will not hesitate to deceive. Remember Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton? Being good to her isn’t enough. You must enter her dreams with her. Ignore them, patronize them, and you do so at your own risk. There is a strong theatrical element in the Pisces woman. She has a unique gift for getting herself into the most dreadful dilemmas and crisis which no one could possibly sort out, and then going about among her friends asking for advice which is never taken since her need to suffer and sacrifice is fed by the dilemma. A perplexing creature.
But meet her in later life, and all the compassion and wisdom which come from having seen the seamy side of just about everything yield a glow and a richness which is far more meaningful than the unshaped marble which Pygmalion sees in her late teens and early twenties. In this, the last of the signs, the Wise Woman emerges – with all the instinctual wisdom of her sex and all the human insights of her sign. Often she is almost mediumistic, preferring to shelter herself from life because this gift is so dubious and so difficult to bear. There is also more than a touch of the witch in Pisces; whether it is white or black depends on whether she has been badly bruised, and how badly. A Pisces woman gone wrong is a vampire, playing on the fantasy life of others, and draining their strength. Never underestimate her, because she may be inarticulate or reluctant to explain herself. Neptune is an enigmatic god; to love him is to love the ocean, for all its moods and changes, its anger and its peacefulness, its destruction and its beauty.