124: The Vesica Piscis and Initiation
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the Vesica Piscis (Latin for “fish’s bladder”) as “a pointed oval figure, the sides of which are properly parts of two equal circles passing through each other at their centres.” One can also turn this figure on its side, so that the two intersecting circles are above and below each other; the figure formed by their intersection now looks like the body of a fish. Put this way, the higher circle symbolizes Spirit (pneuma), the lower is Matter or Body (hyle), and the Vesica Piscis itself, the intersection of Spirit and Matter, is Soul (psyche).
The two circles also represent a specific stage of the intermarriage of the Higher Self (Guardian Angel, Daemon or Christos) and the Lower Self (personality, eidolon or Magdalene), created as the Higher Self descends and the Lower Self ascends through our psychospiritual plexi, or chakras. What stage — which Initiation — does the Vesica Piscis depict?
If we bisect the two spheres with a vertical line, the spheres intersect the line at four points: (1) at the lower circle’s bottom, (2) at its center (the upper circle’s bottom), (3) at the upper circle’s center (the lower circle’s top), and (4) at the upper circle’s top. These four points divide the vertical line into equal thirds. Subdividing the line again into sixths gives us seven points, the cerebrospinal seven chakras — all of the body’s nine chakras except the extreme bottom (Foot) and top (Crown): the two transcendental chakras. This leaves us with (1) Base, (2) Sex, (3) Navel, (4) Solar Plexus, (5) Heart, (6) Throat, and (7) Head (Brow). Now we can see that the Lower Self or Magdalene has ascended to embrace the Base (First Initiation), Sex (Second Initiation), Navel (Third Initiation), Solar Plexus (Crucifixion or Fourth Initiation), and the Heart (Fifth Initiation). Likewise, the Higher Self or Christos has descended to embrace the Brow (First Initiation), Throat (Second Initiation), Heart (Third Initiation), Solar Plexus (Crucifixion or Fourth Initiation), and Navel (Fifth Initiation). The Vesica Piscis is thus the result of the Fifth Initiation, or Mastery. The symbol proper embraces the Navel, Solar Plexus, and Heart: the three chakras of the Soul (psyche); the Soul now knows itself to be thoroughly the product or Child of the marriage of Spirit and Matter. Please see my Spiritual Autobiography for more on the Initiations.
The proportions of the width and length of the Vesica Piscis are 153 to 265, significantly containing a very close approximation of the square root of three (1.732…). This figure in turn is integral to the construction of an equilateral triangle, and to the proportion of the width and length of the hexagon. The number 153 in conjunction with Fish clearly codifies the Vesica Piscis; the story of the risen Christ, the apostles and the miraculous catch of 153 fish was apparently borrowed by the Gnostic Christians from the Pythagoreans (see Freke and Gandy’s The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?). John Michell’s brilliant work The Dimensions of Paradise reveals much more on the Vesica Piscis, the fish-net, sacred geometry, and gematria or name-and-number codes in early Christianity; what I wish to point out here is that even in the Christian mythos as handed down to us in the Bible, the story involves the Risen Christ, i.e., portrays an Initiation after the Crucifixion — probably the one immediately following, i.e. the Fifth.
In our own Tradition, the Christos (Higher Self) is Crucified on his crossing or descent into the Lower World, on the Fall Equinox (0 degrees “Libra” or Taurus-Equinox Scorpio); he begins his Fifth Initiation or Mastery at 22.5 degrees of “Libra” or Taurus-Equinox Scorpio, and completes it at 15 degrees “Scorpio” or T-E Sagittarius. (Please see Alignment of the Nine Muses and Chakras with the Solar Day and Year; the Nine Great Initiations of our Inner Christos and Inner Magdalene.) He thus begins his Fifth Initiation in a water-sign (T-E Scorpio); the Solar Symbol of the Gift of Scorpio is the Knotted Cord, or (Fowling or Fishing) Net. Moreover, this Initiation includes the High Feast of New-Hallows (0 deg. T-E Sagittarius), ca. October 24-26, which celebrates the betrothal of the Magenta Forestress (Sulevia-Nerthus) to her brother-lover the Blue Planter (Dionysus-Amaethon-Taran) and the death of their mother the Yellow-Green Enchantress. The Christos completes the Fifth Initiation a fortnight later at 15 degrees T-E Sagittarius, High Samhain or Mid-Hallows, when the Magenta Forestress (Sulevia-Nerthus) marries the Blue Planter (Dionysus-Amaethon-Taran) as their mother the Yellow-Green Enchantress (Freya-Brigit) completes her descent into the Underworld. The Magenta Forestress’ zodiac sign is Pisces; her brother-lover the Blue Planter’s sign is Sagittarius; they both occupy the Divine Sex chakra, and as the Higher Self (Christos) descends to occupy the Navel in this Initiation, we can say that with the Vesica Piscis of Mastery the Higher Self begins to move towards mastery of the Sex Chakra now.
Perhaps even more aptly, the Christos’ counterpart the Magdalene (Lower Self) is Crucified on her ascent into the Upper World, on the Spring Equinox (0 degrees “Aries” or Taurus-Equinox Taurus); she begins her Fifth Initiation or Mastery at 22.5 degrees of “Aries” or Taurus-Equinox Taurus, and completes it at 15 degrees “Taurus” or T-E Gemini. This Initiation includes the High Feast of May-Start (0 deg. T-E Gemini), ca. April 21-23, which celebrates the betrothal of the Yellow-Green Enchantress (Brigit-Freya) to her brother-lover the Orange Mage (Gwydion-Wodin) and the death of their mother the Magenta Forestress (Sulevia-Nerthus); and concludes with High-May (15 deg. T-E Gemini) a fortnight later, which celebrates the marriage of the Enchantress and the ascent of her mother the Forestress. When the Forestress’s mate the Blue Planter (Dionysus-Osiris-Taran) dies at May Day, his death is sometimes considered the death or transcendence of his Lower Self, symbolized by his Animal, the “lustful” Horse or Ass: thus the traditional hobby-horse dramas on May Day. Likewise the Forestress’s death can be considered the death of her Lower Self, symbolized by her Animal, the Fish. (Again,the Planter’s zodiac sign is Sagittarius, the man-horse centaur; the Forestress’s is Pisces, the Mermaid or Fish.) Vesica Piscis, the “bladder of the fish,” is probably a euphemism for the “vagina of the fish,” as the Planter and the Forestress’s divine center is the Sex chakra. Like the Fish in general, the Vesica Piscis has long been associated with the female genitals, which are venerated as the gate between heavenly wisdom (Sophia) and material manifestation. And as the age-old Maypole erection worships the phallos of the Planter, the age-old Maytide Well-decorating ceremonies (with flowers, etc.) worship the Vesica Piscis of the Forestress. The Vesica Piscis symbol (bisected by a vertical line!) adorns the wrought-iron cover of the sacred Chalice Well of Glastonbury; the cover was designed after WW I by the clairvoyant architect Frederick Bligh Bond. This well has been respected since prehistoric times for its healing properties; its water (because of its high iron content) is peculiarly reddish, and must have reminded ancient pilgrims of the lifegiving blood of the Goddess. May fertility rituals required both the seed of the “dismembered” Planter and the bloody waters of the “wounded” Forestress, who die into each other to produce new life. On another turn of the spiral, we can see these rituals as celebrating the death and transcendence of our own Lower Selves, as we are reborn in the eternal bliss of our spiritual Higher Self.