The shape of this symbol will be most familiar to most Christians, as it will encapsulate either Jesus or the virgin Mary inside. In Christian Iconography it is termed as a Aureole or Mandorla, when the aura or halo covers an entire figure. An explanation for this is ‘the mandorla tends to be used for particular manifestations of God’s power, such as the Transfiguaration, Ascension, or Second Coming’. Richard Taylor explains in his Book ‘How to Read a Church’. This does not help us in understanding why it is shaped as it is or for that matter its actual pagan history as a sacred sign. Books like Taylor’s are heavily biased in presenting only favourable Christian symbols and deliberately leaving out the pagan origins. I have a lot of beef with How to Read a Church, mainly because it doesn’t do its job properly. Its audience will be largely Christian, but that should not stop the book resulting in wish-washy portrayal of some of the most fascinating symbols that Christianity endorses. It’s almost as bad as Raymond Buckland’s Signs and Symbols. Its one of the worst books you could ever get on symbolism. It explains nothing, nothing!
Vesica piscis is Latin for ‘fish bladder’, or the ‘passage of the fish’. AS part of its shape makes the Christian symbol of the fish. Fish in Greek translates as ‘ichthys’ which is an acronym for Jesus Christ.
The shape of the two overlapping circles to create the almond shape. Taylor explains this as ‘Almonds are also associated with the Virgin Mary, because of their symbolism of divine flavour, the pure white of their blossom, and the womb-like shape of the almond’s nut’. And that ladies and gentlemen is as far as Taylor will go in explaining the pagan and sexual symbolism of this shape. The almond shape represents the vulva, it is a yonic symbol. (yoni is the female equivalent for phallus). The vesica piscis represents the birth passage of Mary and the divine feminine. It is associated with the waxing and the waning moon phases, the moon being a strong feminine element. Its link to the almond is its white blossom is the purity and holiness of this colour.
Sacred geometry plays a significant feature here as well. The two circles overlapping can be used to create a hexagram and several equilateral triangles. The triangles have a divine aspect to them already, as they represent the perfection of God, the hexagram also has that sacred element to it, as the seventh space is located within the hexagon of the hexagram. Seven is a divine number. There are many other geometric anomalies that the vesica piscis has that I don’t have space for here.
The link between the Virgin Mary and fish is an interesting one, besides the link between Jesus as a fish. Catholics have been known to eat fish on a Friday, ‘Friday’ comes from Freya/Frigg’s day from Norse mythology. It was common custom to eat fish on Fridays in honour of Freya, who was a Norse goddess of love. Fish are symbolic of the sea, and water is a feminine element. Think of the goddess Venus, who is depicted naked coming out of giant shellfish. Water-nymphs, selkies, mermaids and sirens are all commonly depicted as female water creatures. That have a strong female element to them, particularly a sexual one. They are half-fish and half-human.
The divine female passage that gives birth to life itself is flooded with light, a halo. This light represents the divine female wisdom, and gives the vulva a sense of sacredness and purity. It is also a fountain of youth in a sense, as this is were “water” is deposited (sperm) and comes forth a baby through the fountain, before the child passages through the “fish” the waters must break. Also urine passes out of the vulva, hence why it is a fountain and also a ‘fish bladder’. The ‘fons vitae’ is the fountain of life, or the fountain of youth. often linked to ‘aqua vitiae’, the water of life.
The sexual symbolism behind this reveals that the two come together to produce life, the mystical journey in search of the fountain of youth is often carried out by knights or hero’s in search of its life giving properties. Now we can understand it in a completely different light. The vesica piscis is the passage for youth, and holy waters. I can give two interpretations of the meaning behind what the water is. Either the water is sperm to pregnant the female/fountain, or urine. Urine was a common medical cure among monastic monks during the middle ages. It is still being hailed as a medical cure today.
A fascinating link between Christianity, urine therapy and the Vesica Piscis is when Jesus says in Proverbs 5:15, ‘Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well‘. I simply love the next few lines in Proverbs, 5:16-19, when he mentions ‘thy fountain’. I will leave you to ponder the meaning of Proverbs 5:18-19.
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.