Happy Birthday Pisces! This season marks the last sign of the astrological year before beginning a new cycle on the Spring Equinox. Pisces is symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions connected by a string as depicted in the cover photo of a stained glass mosaic in the Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral in France. One fish represents the will of the individual rooted in the material world and the other represents the individual following divine guidance. The two fish are bound by a cosmic connection and their movement becomes interdependent. Pisces is a water sign, and all the water signs center around the fluidity of emotions. The life lesson of Pisces is learning to balance one’s personal emotions with the spiritual emotions that come from being part of a larger integrated whole.
Within the architecture of Chartres Cathedral there are many guides to integrating the sacred and the mundane planes of life. One of the distinguishing features of the gothic cathedral’s exterior is the large flying buttresses extending out from the main structure. These architectural elements are what made it possible to create huge stained glass windows that rise to great heights throughout the building. The glass mosaics tell stories about life in the 12th and 13th centuries and the relationship between Heaven and Earth. The mosaics were intended to be teaching tools for both scholars and the public. Chartres Cathedral housed a renowned school that was an important center of religious scholarship and theology. Spirituality was integrated with science, and astrology was considered part of the curriculum of medicine. Some of the theologians that studied at Chartres became pioneers of what became known as the 12th Century Renaissance, a movement that included social, political, and economic transformations, as well as an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots.
Among the intricate glass panels is a tall mosaic depicting the signs of the zodiac and the agricultural duties associated with the corresponding months. While most people think of astrology and organized religion as moving in opposite directions like the Piscean fish, these mosaics demonstrate an inter-connection between them. Astrology, astronomy, earth cycles, and divinity were perceived as being intertwined, and the zodiac represented the perfect order of the Universe created by God. The zodiac symbols and labors of the months are also carved into the archivolts of the left entrance of the West, or Royal Portal.
Chartres Cathedral also features an eighteen foot diameter astronomical clock! In the center are the zodiac symbols surrounded by starry skies and multiple arms that track both the Sun and Moon’s transits through the sky during the day and year. The clock was constructed in 1520 during the Renaissance, and highlights the significant connection between personal time and cosmic time. Following the movement of the celestial bodies and organizing one’s life with the current of energy they bring is still a valuable tool today that is often overlooked by our modern society. Another integration of heaven and earth can be found on the south facade where a sculpted angel holds a sundial.
One of the most famous features of Chartres Cathedral is the labyrinth built into the floor in the center of the nave. Labyrinths were integrated into almost all Gothic Cathedrals, but many were later removed. These long meandering paths symbolized the unforeseeable destiny that lay before us as we move through life. Unlike a maze, there is only a single path that can be followed and it leads to the center. Labyrinths have a long history of being used as meditation and prayer tools and are still relevant today. They teach us to focus on the journey and to know that the divine path is mysteriously, but purposefully, leading us to the center of wholeness.
The Pisces season is a perfect time to reflect on how your earthly life is connected to your spiritual life and for finding ways to bring the two into balance. It’s also a good time to delve into mystical subjects like astrology and study how the planetary cycles provide structure and can help guide you through the labyrinth of life.
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