Time to Clean Up

Welcome to Pisces, the third sign of winter and the last sign of the zodiac. After the intellectual efforts of our time in Aquarius, we now connect with ourselves and others on a deeper emotional level. More than any other sign, we are oriented towards letting go. Here are some ideas for foods that correlate with this time.

Since the symbol of Pisces is two fish swimming in the ocean, the first food is exactly this. When the Sun is in the water signs of Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio, we eat more fish and other sea foods. These are loaded with nutrients and for many people some of the few wild foods eaten.

Yet because we have polluted our oceans and lakes, we have to take care to avoid mercury and eat fish from cleaner waters. Here's  an excellent resource that helps you avoid contaminating your body. Unfortunately for sushi lovers, both hamachi and toro are on the occasional list.

Cultures around the world have fish soups with legendary restorative and aphrodisiac powers. James Peterson's Fish & Shellfish gives all the recipes for these and other seafood dishes you could ever want.

Fish naturally goes with rice, the most watery of all grains. Try experimenting with different varieties and recipes this month.  

For some climates and constitutions, though, fish can be too yin and cooling for the cool and damp Pisces season. If you tend to be cold or live in a northern climate, other animals happy in the water are duck and waterfowl. People who eat well (including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse) know that potatoes cooked in duck fat is one of the most scrumptious things you can eat. Here's a simple recipe from another fan.

As the Sun moves through Pisces and approaches the spring equinox, we'll naturally know it is time to clean up. Don't wait for spring to spring clean; the best time is now. This applies to our homes and our bodies. These weeks of the Sun in Pisces are some of the best of the year for a detox diet or fast. As our environment is more more polluted, a period of detox is becoming essential to maintaining health.  

Here are some ideas for timing this year. Monday 2/20 to Monday 2/27, especially the last few days, takes advantage of the inherent letting go of the waning moon. We'll also be naturally oriented towards purity from Sunday 3/12 to Tuesday 3/14, the days around the full Moon in Virgo. A final option is the weekend of the equinox, 3/17-20, when we can bring balance to our lives in whatever way it is needed. The entire month is good for cleaning up.

Choose your detox or fast with knowledge of yourself and constitution, and preferably with guidance from a health professional who is both open to the concept and who knows you well. One person's poison is another person's medicine - a juice fast could be a liver saver for one, but put someone else in a diabetic coma. Be wise.

The essential principle is to rest the liver. While I'm a big fan of protein and saturated fat, when we stop eating these foods for a little while our liver will naturally clean house. To repeat: the main idea is to rest the liver. Eating vegetarian will not accomplish this if you are eating lots of nuts or hunks of cheese. If you need protein to function, it is better to have the fish and cut back on other fats.

Astrologically speaking, this 'rest the liver' idea is especially true for anyone with an afflicted Jupiter. This means retrograde at birth; in hard aspect to Mars, Saturn, South node, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto; in the signs of Capricorn, Gemini or Virgo; and if it rules or is placed in the 6th, 8th or 12th houses.

Here are some ideas for a detox diet. I am not advocating this as a regular eating, simply a time of detox. Decide for yourself how long is appropriate. A detox will work better if we have healthy blood and organs. If someone is severely deficient, it might be better to have steak, liver and greens for a week. For more information check out Elson Haas' book The New Detox Diet.

1. Eat less meat, have fish and lighter proteins instead.

2. Eat less animal foods, go vegetarian.

3. Limit fats, even the good ones.

4. Drink less alcohol, or eliminate it entirely.  

5. Drink more boiled water. Boiled water is the very first medicine in the Tibetan medical tantras. There is something about gently simmering water for 10-15 minutes that makes it more available to the body, so our cells are more easily hydrated. This also helps tight muscles relax. Try it and see. This is a good idea throughout the year, especially in the autumn and winter months.

6. Do a 3 day juice fast.

We can make our detox more effective by cleansing our skin with a loofah brush, going to a steam room or sauna, taking hot baths and drinking detox herb teas. There are many on the market; look for one that includes dandelion root, known for centuries to have liver cleansing powers. Milk thistle is another herb that can help the liver regenerate. If you like stronger stuff, skip the dainty tea bags and just buy roasted dandelion, commonly available in health food stores. Gently simmer 1 Tb in 12 oz water for 5-10 minutes & sweeten with honey to taste. This drink has a strong effect - my skin gets extra clear after drinking. It is diuretic though, so don't overdo.

Speaking of sweet, when planets are in Pisces many people are more tempted towards sweet in various forms - alcohol and sugar are most common. It is natural to eat a bit more sweet in Pisces than in the two Saturn months of Capricorn and Aquarius. Instead of refined white sugar, try enjoying healthy sweets. Honey is the love juice of flowers and bees and has been used as medicine for centuries. For people who need to build blood, blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron. Here are some more ideas for healthy drinks and sweets.

1. Apple cider vinegar (Braggs is great) and honey. Warm water, add honey and stir to dissolve, add 1 tsp vinegar. This has a cleansing effect on the liver. A favorite workout drink!

2. Kombucha tea is another sweet-ish beverage with detoxifying properties. In the Bay Area there are a few authentic brands available at health food stores. It is a bit of a project to make your own.

3. Some people doing a detox have enjoyed the 'Master Cleanser' - water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne. This can also be good anytime.

4. Rose hip tea. Soak rose hips overnight, then gently simmer for 30 minutes. One of the best sources of natural vitamin C, a natural cure-all. For sweet add honey and for extra special rose treat, add a few drops of rose water or heat and steep one last time with a few organic rose petals.

5. Fruit juices. At the Bay Area farmers market there are all kinds: fresh organic pomegranate juice, apple and blends like apple-cherry and my latest favorite, blackberry juice from Italy. If straight fruit juice is too sweet, dilute with water. While most people overdo the sweet taste in the US, fruit juices are much better than soda.

6. Figs, dates, other dried fruits. If you cut white sugar out of your diet, these can taste like candy.

7. Chyavanprash is an Ayurvedic jam made from the amalki fruit in a base of sugar, honey and many other ingredients. It has a rejuvenative effect. Pisces time is a good for a bottle, especially if you are doing a detox.

In the body Pisces rules the feet. Give your feet some attention this month - exfoliation, foot baths, reflexology, whatever you like. The humble foot is amazingly important - it allows us to walk! On a more symbolic level, to have comfortable feet means we are walking our path. When our feet are flexible and getting good circulation, we'll be more grounded as well.

In this time of the last sign of the zodiac, we take time to let go so we start spring and Sun in Aries with fresh, clean energy. This means slowing down and creating conditions supportive of inner work. Pisces time is also excellent for spiritual retreats. Pisces isn't the sign of great accomplishments; they come later. When we take time to allow our creative mind to wander, we'll naturally find our fountain of inspiration. Then when Aries comes, we can hit the ground running in exactly the direction we wish to go. If we don't take time out in Pisces, then when Aries lands we'll feel like charging but won't know where. Pisces is the last sign, but in this respect it is the first sign. We have to have our inner direction before having success in our outer action, and Pisces is one of the best times of year to find it.

May you have good health with Sun in Pisces. Watch for the next column when Sun enters Aries on March 20th.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of the author]
Jonathan Pearl is a traditional astrologer with a special interest in living with harmony with nature and time. For more information and his free weekly astrology column, please visit http://www.starpearls.com/.

Disclaimer: Consult your health professional (modern Western and/or alternative) for all health related inquires and issues.



[painted photo of fish lunch by Jane Sherry, pisces clip art, photo of Jonathan Pearl provided by the author]

Foods for healing