"75 wishes" project
/after The Fisherman and the Goldfish/
CD-ROM and Multimedia Screening Project
ventsislav zankov

"75 wishes"  on




 The fish symbolizes, naturally, the watery depths where it lives. It has been portrayed in the lower part of statues by the Khmers in order to state that they sink into the deep waters of the underworld. It can thus be viewed as something that rises from the chaos of the water element, therefore impure. That is the claim made by St. Martin, based on the fish’s undivided head and body.  The Levites, nevertheless, did not accept it as a sacrifice, but used the fish as food, the only one among water creatures.

A symbol of the waters, ridden by Varuna, the fish symbolizes birth or cyclic renewal. The act is performed on the water’s surface. The fish is a savior and a device for revelation.  The fish is the Avatara of Vishnu, who saves Manu, the redeemer during the present cycle from the flood, then instructs him in the sacred laws called the Vedas. But although Christ is often pictured as a hunter, whose fish are the Christians, because water from their baptism is their natural habitat and the device for their resurrection, he is often symbolized by the fish himself. For example, Christ is the fish that leads the holy casket, the way Avatara leads Manu’s coffin. In Cashmere, it is said that Matzyndranat, who must undoubtedly be interpreted as the fisherman, and who is identified with Bodhi-Satva Avalokyteshvara, was enlightened by Yoga after he turned into a fish.

The sacred fish of Ancient Egypt, the Phoenician Dagones, and Oannes of Mesopotamia can vouch for such symbolism, especially the latter, specifically known as the Consecrator. Oannes is even considered an image of Christ. The theme of the savior is known in Greece also, where the dolphins saved Antinium from the shipwreck. The dolphin is connected with the cult of Apollo and the town of Delphi is named after it.

On the other hand, the fish symbolizes fertility, because of its countless eggs and the ease with which it procreates. A symbol that can, of course, be carried over to the sphere of the spiritual. In the art of the Far East, fish are in couples and therefore symbolize the unity (DANA, DURU, ELIY, CHAE, CUES, MUTT, SAIR). Islam also connects fish to fruitfulness. There are prayers for rain in the shape of fish; the fish is associated with prosperity; if you dream that you’re eating fish, it is considered a good sign.

In Indo-European iconography, the fish, an emblem of water, symbolizes abundance and wisdom. Hidden in the depths of the ocean, it is impregnated by the sacred force of the abyss. Asleep in lakes or crossing rivers, it brings rain, humidity, and floods. That way it balances fruitfulness on earth.

For the Indians in Central America, the fish is a symbol of the God of Corn.  According to Hentze (HENL) it is a phallic symbol: that is evident from the engravings on bone from the age of Magdalen. In Sanskrit, the god of love is the one whose symbol is the fish. In the religions of Syria, the fish is attributed to the goddesses of love. In ancient Malaysia, Anaksymander states that the fish is mother and father of all people and for that reason it is forbidden to eat its meat.  It is often seen inside a diamond-shaped figure, as in the cylindrical seals of Babylon. Marcel Griol claims that the circumcision knife of the Bozo tribe is called the knife that cuts fish (GRIB).  

In China, the fish is a symbol for good luck, along with the stork (longevity) it signifies fortune and happiness. 

In Egypt, fresh or dried fish, which is regularly part of the menu of the people, was forbidden for any holy man – king or high priest. According to an ancient legend, the heavenly creatures turn from Bouziris to Chromis, which explains the enforced abstinence from fish. One goddess called herself Perfection among Fish, a name given to the female dolphin. Despite the multitude of variations on legends and rituals, the essence of the fish often remains unclear: silent and disturbing creatures, hidden, glimmering inhabitants of the green waters of the Nile, eternal participants in great dramas. Thus every day in the bay at the end of the earth, a Chromis with pink-rimmed fins and a sea-blue Abgon secretly assumed the shapes of fish – and harnessed to the boat of Ra, announced the appearance of the monster Appopis.  A Chromis amulet ensures happiness and protection.

The symbolism of the fish has spread into Christianity with some of its typical characteristics, while other interpretations must, of course, be overthrown.  The Greek word for fish has been accepted by Christians as an ideogram (ICHTHUS – fish: Iesous, Christos, Theou, Huios, Soter) every letter of which stands for a word translated as Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. This is where the countless symbolic depictions of fish come from in ancient Christian statues, especially on gravestones. 

Although symbolism remains connected with Christ, it sometimes takes on a different aspect – as food (the risen Christ ate fish, LUKE 24,42) it becomes part of communion, often laid beside the bread. 

Finally, because it lives in water, its symbolism has been carried even further – it is connected to baptism, born from the water of christening, the Christian is compared to a fish, as is Christ himself (Tertian, Birth.)

The rich iconography of Christian artists has been greatly inspired by the fish – if it carries a ship on its back, it symbolizes Christ and His Church; if it carries a basket of bread, or is itself some kind of vessel, it represents communion; in catacombs, it is a symbol of Christ.

In astrology, Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20) is the twelfth consecutive sign of the Zodiac; it appears right before the vernal equinox. The fish symbolizes the psyche, the unknown inner world of humans, through which they communicate with God or Satan. A character known in horoscopes as lacking stability, easily penetrated and influenced by its surroundings.  It is traditionally ruled by Jupiter, and, as soon as it was discovered, by Neptune. 

The water trinity as an astrological sign can be identified with the influx of waters on earth, with the all-engulfing waves of a clarifying deluge, as well as with the constantly moving nameless mass of the oceans into which everything flows. Humidity has full force as a power here, it splatters, splits, envelops, merges parts into a whole, which in turn grows from the liquid borderlessness that surrounds us into the ocean of the cosmos. Traditionally, the zodiac sign is pictured as two fishes head to tail, connected by their mouths into something of an umbilical cord. Under its protection, we become part of the world’s flow and human kind, like drops of water in the ocean.  It also places us within the realm of the unknown, the inexplicable, the obscure, the bewildering, by eliminating specifics and presenting the unlimited, in order to get from zero to infinity. This sign was placed under Jupiter as a process of enlargement, and under Neptune to benefit from it as an archetype of splitting and uniting the world, from vulgar mire to the final merging. The hidden essence of the fish type character is its ultimate physical flexibility. Its inner self, where all knots are untied, all forces of wholeness obscured, all outlines blurred, there rules a susceptibility to influence which alleviates this personality’s penetrability, relaxation, expansion, emotional exaggeration. With the help of these qualities, the Pisces flows outside its own self in order to blend with the conscience of belonging to values that surpass it and envelop it by incorporating it into a more wholesome state of being…




Myths, rituals, and works of art are full of fishing scenes; sailors cast their nets, hauling catches of fish into boats, etc. Thanks to fishing, in Egypt Osiris regained his wholeness. The same way the Moon, the eye poked out of the sky’s choir, was found in a fishing net, and God’s severed arms – in a fishing basket. Jean Jojot questions the catch of blessed cripples, pictured in a tomb in Tibet, as an answer to the idea of eternal bliss.

“Fisherman of human souls” is the name given to St. Peter in the Gospel. It means he will save humans from damnation, because he was sent by the Savior. In this case, fishing symbolizes preaching and apostledom: the fish to be caught is the mortal who must be incorporated into the Christian religion. This has nothing to do with the fish as a symbol of Christ, which is nothing more than an anagram of his name: the Greek ICHTHUS means fish, but as was already stated, the letters stand for the name of Christ in Greek: Iesus, Christos, Theou, Huios, Soter, which means Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. For that reason Christ is often portrayed as a fish, especially in catacombs. 

From the point of view of psychoanalysis, to “go fishing” means a kind of anamnesis: uprooting certain elements of the unconscious not through a deliberate or rational test, but by letting the spontaneous forces flow, thus collecting evidence. In such cases, the unconscious is compared to the watery depths – the sea, the river, the lake, where treasures lie; anamnesis must draw them to the surface like a fisherman who hauls up a net full of fish.