Hello, everyone.

We’re continuing our series on Leadership through the Signs with Piscean George Washington.

According to Wikipedia, George Washington:

This 1772 painting by Peale of Washington as colonel of the Virginia Regiment, is the earliest known portrait. (Source: Wikipedia)

… was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775–1783, and he presided over the writing of the Constitution in 1787. As the unanimous choice to serve as the first President of the United States (1789–1797), he developed the forms and rituals of government that have been used ever since, such as using a cabinet system and delivering an inaugural address. As President, he built a strong, well-financed national government that avoided war, suppressed rebellion and won acceptance among Americans of all types, and Washington is now known as the “Father of his country”.

Pisces Attributes

George Washington is a fascinating study in Piscean leadership.  This is a list of the textbook attributes of Pisces we are using as our springboard for our learning and discovery.

  • Each sign has its keyword, a phrase which captures the essence of the sign.  The keyword for Pisces is “I believe.”    At the highest level, Pisceans operate from an instinctual, connected space, tapped right in to the wisdom of all.
  • “The only true freedom for Pisces comes through spiritual orientation.  When they are true to their real nature Pisceans have a high and holy destiny and are the true saviors and servants of mankind.” (Isabel Hickey, Astrology A Cosmic Science)
  • “Pisces is the most sensitive sign of the zodiac and emotions are strong and deep in this sign.  They are moody and introspective and hard to understand.” (Ibid.)
  • “Pisceans need to be alone and …retreat from contact with the world in order to retain their equilibrium.” (Ibid.)
  • “[Pisceans] never feel that they do enough so they often overwork, putting stress and strain on the physical body.” (Ibid.)
  • “The mutable signs (Pisces is the mutable water sign) express themselves as a desire to find knowledge; and with their flexible and adaptable approach, they are not only able to find new knowledge but also have the ability to use it. They bring new ideas, new facts and new ways of seeing things into the world view of the tribe.” (Bernadette Brady, The Zodiac:  Urban Tribes)
  • “Pisces is a water sign, thus [they are] empathic, [they feel] the emotions of others or of patterns. They can empathize and understand, blending their energy with all things. To them the world and its events are a feast of omens and signs.” (Ibid.)
  • Mutable water indicates the quality of…nourishment – flowing everywhere, without limitations, distinctions, or judgments. (Eric Meyers, Elements and Evolution)

(The sources cited in this post are listed at the bottom of this article.)

Depiction by John Trumbull of Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief. (Source: Wikipedia)

“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country”

The first two points on our list above were certainly true for Washington.  Washington’s life was devoted to service, much of it in opposition to his personal desire for the life of a planter and farmer.   He believed that, “There is a destiny which controls our actions, not to be resisted.”  (1)  He forever characterizes the Pisces willingness to subordinate narrow, personal interests to a larger cause.

He also expected the same of his countrymen.   In his Farewell Address announcing he would not seek a third term of presidency, he pled for a politics of consensus and warned against single-issue political movements and against the separation of America into racial, ethnic, or gender-based constituencies. (2)

“I had rather be in my grave than in my present situation”

Washington also had his share of the third point, the point about being moody, introspective, and hard to understand.  He was a sensitive, complex figure, full of pent-up passion. (3) He was also consistently self-deprecating.  When he accepted formal command of the Army in 1775, he said, “I beg it may be remembered … that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” (1)  In his final two years after retiring from the presidency he lived with the fear that his vision for the country for which he had sacrificed his life would be undone by sectional interests and the union would fail. (2)

He was known for his rare, but unassailable, temper and for depression during command of the army. (4)  You can hear his weariness as well as a measure of self-pity while addressing his officers, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.” (1)

Biographer Joseph J. Ellis says that Washington was “an inherently stiff and formal man who cultivated aloofness and possessed distancing mechanism second to none.” (2)  And Biographer Ron Chernow adds, “From boyhood, Washington had struggled to master and conceal his deep emotions. When the wife of the Brit­ish ambassador later told him that his face showed pleasure at his forthcoming departure from the presidency, Washington grew indignant: ‘You are wrong. My countenance never yet betrayed my feelings!’” (3) This is a common face of the Pisces character:  the ultra-sensitivity masked by aloofness and practicality.

“To quit a peaceful abode”

The fourth point about the need to retire periodically was a very strong feature of Washington’s life.  He retired to his farm several times after accomplishing a duty for his country’s cause, and he regularly swore not to return to public life.  His fellow countrymen constantly drafted him back to service.  He finally retired only two years before his death.

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart. (Source: Wikipedia)

As he was about to assume the office of President for the first time, he commented to General Henry Knox, “My movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties.” (1)

“To compare the opinions of those in whom I confide”

The last three bullet points above are illustrated by Washington’s reliance on collaboration.  From his earliest days in the Army he developed a methodology of gathering contributions from his advisers as a means to decision-making.  The Cabinet still used today in the U.S. Presidency was established by Washington to pursue his familiar method of information gathering and decision-making.  He said, “I am anxious, always, to compare the opinions of those in whom I confide with one another and these again with my own, that I may extract all the good I can.” (2)

And this reliance on collaboration formed the bedrock of his belief in the ability of thirteen separate states to operate as a union.  He wanted Americans to think of themselves as a collective unit with a common destiny.  In Piscean fashion, he could see that the nation’s “essential interests are the same…its diversities arising from climate and from soil will naturally form a mutual relation of parts” and serve as the formulation for “an affectionate and permanent Union.” (2)

“The external trappings of elevated office”

Now we’ll start to develop some other attributes which are clear from Washington’s leadership style and test them against the subsequent Piscean leaders we will study.

One of the most interesting aspects about Washington was his deep understanding of himself as a symbol for the country.  In his day, he was the most popular and familiar face in the country.  His image was everywhere, in paintings, prints, lockets; on coins, silverware, and plates. (2)  He “clothed the revolutionary rhapsodies in flesh and blood, American’s one and only indispensable character,” and he knew it.  He drove around Philadelphia in an ornate carriage drawn by six cream-colored horses. (1)

He completely understood though that his power belonged to the office the people had given him and not to him personally.  Because of his periodic retirement from public life, he was a “leader who could be trusted with power because he was so ready to give it up.” (2)  In his own words he demonstrates his understanding that his life is a symbol for the collective consciousness of the people when he says, “All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the luster which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.” (1)

He did not use the power of the office to seize personal power as he could have.  As Scott Simon of NPR says, “George Washington could have been a king. He decided to be a citizen. No crowds massed. No bands played.” (5)

Thank you, George

A life like George Washington’s cannot be summed up in a few bullet points.  But I think we can begin to see Piscean leadership in action:  spiritual orientation becomes the willingness to operate within an institution to serve the whole; sensitivity and need for retreat becomes the need to harness emotions and retire often to places of refuge; the flexibility inherent in all of the mutable signs becomes collaboration; the ability to blend with everyone and everything becomes the ability to carry a position of authority without personal interest.

Please leave your comments, questions, and further points on Pisces leadership.  I’d especially love to hear from Pisces people as to whether you resonate with the qualities above.

Readers made excellent points in the introductory piece of this series.  If you missed them, be sure to check them out.  Here’s the link to that post.  Piscean Leadership – Dipping our Toes in the Water


(1)   Wikipedia, “George Washington”

(2)   Founding Brothers, The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis

(3)   Washington, A Life, by Ron Chernow

(4)   “’Washington: A Life’: The Person, Not The Persona” by Glenn C. Altschuler, NPR

(5)   “George Washington:  Strong Man, but No Strongman” by Scott Simon, NPR

To see the other posts in this series, see these links:

Pisces Leadership – Dipping our Toes in the Water

Aquarius Leadership – Yoko Ono

Aquarius Leadership – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Aquarius Leadership – Sarah Palin


For an Intro to Sun Signs and Leadership see this link to my other blog!

Have you seen my new blog? Discussing all things astrological, for anyone interested in real-life astrology, check out Ellen Longo’s Astrology Blog.

Do you have a question for Ellen? See the “Work with Ellen” tab at the top of this site for my Straight to the Point Response service.

For an overview of the month, see the Astro4Business Month Ahead – February 2011

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.