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Garry Phillipson

Garry Phillipson

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by Garry Phillipson

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I am Garry's Mars in Pisces

Garry Phillipson's Mars speaks directly about its experience of being a hot, assertive planet in a wet and sympathetic sign.

Pisces is a curious place for a planet like me to be, let's face it. After all, I am Mars - my job is to assert, to differentiate, to leave a mark. Yet Pisces is all about transcending the individual will, merging, states of non-differentiation… not at all the kind of neighbourhood I feel comfortable in. You may well be puzzled about how this little combination works out; I know that Garry often is. Stick around, and I'll give you my side of the story.

I guess the first thing to say is that this is not a salubrious combination if you want to compete. You wouldn't believe how bad Garry was at sports when he was at school, for instance. What would happen would be - well, nothing to be honest; he would just give up. And this was never a clearly thought-out strategy; he would just come over feeling all conflicted, experiencing volitional gridlock, making it impossible for him to do much of anything. It strikes me that this is one facet of the Pisces symbol of two fish swimming in opposite directions; emotional stuff (to use the technical term), going off hither and thither, a lot going on but all cancelling itself out and producing precisely nothing.

I wouldn't say, on the basis of my present experience (over half a human lifetime of being in Pisces), that people with this combination are inevitably no good at sport. But I think the trick is, that it's no good for one versus one sports; you have to put your Mars-in-Pisces-Person (from this point on called MIPP to save space) in a team, and emphasise to them that they are playing for the team, not for themselves. Or I guess it could also work if you convinced the MIPP that they're fighting for the greater glory of God. You know how some boxers, for instance, will start proclaiming that they 'Wanna thank the Lord' when they've just succeeded in pummelling an opponent half to death? If you wanted to coach a MIPP to have any success in the ring, that's how you would want them to be; believing that they aren't boxing for their own advancement, but for the glory of God. Or country… the point is, there has to be something greater at stake, otherwise the MIPP isn't going to get it together.

Give them a transcendental ideal - even if it's only that of winning for the team - and they can suddenly get themselves into gear. I have seen this happen. Not, it has to be said, with Garry - but there are complications in his case, not least of which is a Libran ascendant, making it particularly difficult to get him up and motivated when a decent bit of ordinary self-assertion is needed.

Organisation is another thing we might look at. When he was a kid, Garry was pretty much of a shambles; disorganised, floor of his bedroom covered with a layer of comics a couple of centimetres thick. This never really left him, and he went through his adult life - up as far as his first Saturn return - with the idea that it was best to be a bit chaotic, because that way you were operating at an intuitive level, which was better than the intellect, more spiritual. Daft, I know, but that's the way he thought.

The thing that really challenged this was when he re-trained as a computer programmer. He got through a good deal of the course running on 'intuition' - which meant, if a program he'd written fell over, he'd just look at some random part of it, find something which looked suspect, and throw it back at the computer, hoping it would work. This only worked up to a certain level of complexity, though; a time came when he was wrestling with a program that was so involved that he just couldn't take this approach. He finally did what he'd been told to do all along; spread out a printout of the program (which went right across the living room, across the landing, down the stairs and back again) and started going through it line by line.

I think of this as being the moment when I gained honorary membership of Virgo. Garry says that, so far as it seems to him, Pisces and Virgo cross over more than any other pair of opposite signs; so you'll often see Virgos who just can't handle the amount of detail they are aware of, and react by ignoring all of it, slobbing out completely; and similarly you'll see Pisceans who get all fastidious and pernickety when they have a task to accomplish.

It's certainly true to say that I become pretty Virgoan when complicated work needs to be done. In fact, these days Garry's day-job is one where his organisational skills are the main reason he was hired. Like he says: Pisces can cross over to Virgo. In fact, I think that Pisces takes its filing more seriously than does Virgo; after all, Pisces knows that if it doesn't get things seriously organised from the outset, it won't have a chance of sorting things out further down the line.

What else can be attributed to me? Well, it gets a little tricky; I wouldn't want to claim things that belong to another planet. For instance, when Garry left university he made no effort to find a job; his entire agenda was that he was going to go somewhere and just 'be spiritual'. As I remember it, continuing to drink large quantities of beer was also a big feature in the agenda. He did eventually go into a Buddhist monastery and stay there for six years; but whilst I'm sure that my residence in Pisces helped the endeavour along, I can't claim all the credit. His Sagittarian Sun would be most unhappy if I did.

It's certainly safe to say that, within the monastery, Garry achieved a lot more, learned a lot more skills and just applied himself a lot better than he'd ever done before. At school the typical comment he attracted was 'could do well, but needs to apply himself'. He was reminded of this many years later when, during one of his periods working in an office job, he made some stupid joke instead of telling his staff what to do; one of them said, 'Oh, you're wasted here, Mr Phillipson', then paused a moment, and added, 'Mind you, you'd be wasted anywhere.'

I'm not suggesting for a moment that it's the destiny of Mars in Pisces to be wasted in the real world; the point is that, as I've already said about sports and competing, it's very important to give Mars a context that engages it, so it really feels as if it's working for the group, for something bigger than its own gratification.

A corollary of this is that Mars in Pisces is unusually susceptible to teacher's pet syndrome. It's well-recognised that if a teacher praises a child, the child will perform better. Well, Garry's always been a complete sucker for praise. If he feels he's facing an uninterested or hostile audience, he will be vague, non-committal and withdrawn. If he feels that people are on his side, he starts to perform. I know this is true of everyone; my point is that it's more extreme with Mars in Pisces than it is with most configurations.

And one more thing to do with this Piscean lack of definite boundaries. Garry has been prone to psycho-somatic illnesses. And I'd have to claim a big part of the responsibility for that. At times in his life when he's been stuck and frustrated, he's developed a range of symptoms which I won't trouble you with now, all of which have cleared up as soon as he's taken the decisions he needed to take. So although he didn't thank me at the time, and in fact hasn't thanked me since, I actually helped him to grow as a human being by making him ill.

So, in conclusion: Mars in Pisces? It's capable of most things, but the motivation is key. Things have to serve some common cause, some greater good, otherwise the MIPP is going to zone out. And it can be a ferocious organiser, but Mars in Pisces needs to overcome the idea that you just have to 'tune in' to the cosmic mind, or what have you, and everything will flow. Once it has finally become convinced that this doesn't work - that it's fine to trust Allah, but you should tether your camel first - it should work just fine, and you will be assured of many happy years of trusty service from your Mars in Pisces too.

© Garry Phillipson's Mars in Pisces, May 2004

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