Virgo, Heavenly Harvest Goddess

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

“The Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres,” The Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD. 

Common Associations

Zodiac symbol

Dates: August 23-September 22

Symbol: The Virgin

Element: Earth

Quality: Mutable (Sagittarius and Pisces are also Mutable signs, marking the transitions between seasons, suggesting these subjects are capable and versatile; and generally inclined to conform, going with the flow if it’s for the greater good.)

Ruling planet: Mercury (Travel and all forms of communication)

House: Sixth, ruling health, habits and routines

Colour: green, white and yellow

Body: Virgo rules the Intestines/Digestion

Birthstone: Carnelian

Flowers: all small, bright flowers, clover, buttercups

Tarot cards: The Hermit (introspection, perception, analysis, care for nature)

Also the Eight, Nine and Ten of Pentacles, beneficent cards to do with art, craft, and productiveness as a direct result of study, craft, diligence, application and direction of discipline, focus and a sustained effort

The Hermit from the Legacy of The Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

Astronomy

Public Domain

Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the sky after Hydra, and is the largest constellation in the zodiac between Libra to the west and Leo to the east, and below the Big Dipper.

In the northern hemisphere it is most visible in the evening sky May- to late June. In the southern hemisphere, it can be seen in autumn and winter. 

Find its brightest star, the brilliant-blue-white Spica, and you will work out the rest of Virgo with her feet pointing east.

Author’s own Image.

It might seem a bit of a stretch, but add in a few more of her stars, and you can see her lounging, dangling a sheaf of wheat from one hand (Spica.)

And now you see her.

Urania’s Mirror

 

Spica is actually a double star, brighter than our sun. Its name is from the Latin, meaning ‘ear of grain.’- also called ‘The Lonely One’ because it is so far from the others. Ptolemy imagined these twin stars as ruled by Venus and Mars respectively, mated together in a chaste, androgynous union, rather like the slightly remote purity of Virgo herself, even when she is a devoted human wife and mother.

The star Vindemiatrix is ‘the Grape-Gatherer.’ This star, once it was seen at daybreak, was taken as the sign that now it was ‘Vendemmia; -the time to start harvesting the vines.

Photo by M. Rohana on Pexels.com

The Virgo Cluster

It’s mind-boggling to consider that our own Sun is only one star of the Milky Way. It contains at least one hundred billion stars. And the Milky Way is only one of a collection of galaxies known as The Local Group.

And The Local Group contains three large spiral galaxies: the Milky Way, Andromeda, and the Triangulum Galaxy plus a few dozen ‘dwarf’ galaxies.

But The Local Group is only one member of the Virgo Cluster – a collection of more than 1300 galaxies stretching across 15 million light-years of space.

And The Virgo Cluster is just one cluster in the Virgo Super cluster.

Existential angst beckons at the very idea. I need to lie down with a damp cloth on my head.

There goes The Milky Way, zooming out, just one of many. The galaxies look like blood corpuscles.

History & Mythology

The Sumerians

Shala was an ancient Sumerian deity (in what was later Babylonia, the area now known as southern Iraq and Kuwait) She was the goddess of grain -and also compassion. Why link these two things? Famine is suffering.

Shala was married to the fertility god, Dagon, or the storm god, Ishkur, or possibly both. Virgo the Virgin is not about a state of physical virginity – but refers more to an attitude; a slightly elusive and rather refined quality, male or female.

Shala’s symbolism endures in the name of the star Spica, the ‘ear of grain’, even as the names of the deity changed from age to age, and culture to culture. The Shala Mons is a mountain on Venus named after the goddess Shala.

In Egyptian mythology, the sight of Virgo in the night sky was also associated with harvest time, and with the goddess Isis while in Indian (Sidereal or Vedic) astrology she was The Maiden, Kanya.

The Greeks

Shala, to the Greeks was the harvest goddess Demeter, also called Ceres, (root of the word ‘cereal’) and also, by association, her beloved daughter Persephone.

When Hades abducted Persephone and took her to live with him in the underworld, Demeter went into mourning. There was no harvest that year. People and livestock starved. Then the goddess of the Crossroads, Hekate, who took pity on mothers, told Demeter where Persephone was, and Demeter realized that Zeus had known all along.

In her rage, Demeter declared there would be no more harvests until Hades set her daughter free. Zeus, the king of gods, eventually intervened, insisting that Hades return Persephone to Demeter.

Painting by Sir Frederick Leighton

Zeus sent Hermes to escort Persephone home from the Underworld, instructing him that Persephone must not eat anything until she arrived home again. But Hades, not wanting to part with Persephone gave her a pomegranate to eat on the journey, telling her a few seeds wouldn’t matter, and knowing fine well how much she liked them. She ate some of the seeds on her way home.

Hades was lying, and because of the pomegranate seeds she was tied to the Underworld, and had to return to the underworld for four months of every year. Then Demeter mourned. Winter returned. The land slept.  

Photo by Kathryn Archibald on Pexels.com

The Decans

Painting by Samuel Palmer

The archetype of Virgo is The Craftsman, paying careful attention to every detail, taking pride in doing the job, whatever it is, to the highest standard possible. A vision does not just materialize. It must be created, executed, manifested. There’s no substitute for skill and hard work, according to Virgo. S/he combines the artist and the scientist. researcher

Of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Virgo personality. You are a unique individual. Your zodiac sign (also known as your sun sign) is a major keynote, but it’s by no means anything like the full picture in real life – or even in astrology.

These archetypes, however, are based on thousands of years of observation, and your personal decan, which depends on where your birthday falls within your zodiac sign, digs a little deeper. If you don’t feel like a ‘typical’ Virgo, perhaps you are a second or third decan Virgo, rather than a ‘most typical’ first decan Virgo.

First Decan Virgo

Dates:  23 August-1 September

Planetary ruler: Sun

The Illuminati Tarot

Tarot card: The Eight of Pentacles: ‘Lord of Prudence,’ art, craft, industry, skill, concentration, application, studiousness, apprenticeship, crafts, heritage, buildings.

Look at him. This person is absorbed in his work, and he seems to be enjoying himself. This work has meaning and purpose for him. This is typical of this decan. There is a quiet warmth but a cool mind with a talent for incisive analysis; however this is expressed, whether artistically, commercially or scientifically, or in administrative tasks.

They see more than they say, but they have a mercurial talent for communication via the spoken and written word; making many of these subjects potentially great teachers. They are hard-working, industrious.

‘We reap what we sow,’ goes the old saying. This is not necessarily always true or fair. Misfortune strikes plenty of people who have done nothing to ‘deserve’ it. And plenty of wrong-doers escape justice. However, it is broadly true to say, that we can’t reap what was never sown. Even wild berries had to be first sown by the wind or by birds. First decan Virgo understands this better than almost anybody else in the zodiac.

Virgo is generally physically attractive and well presented, though not necessarily in a dramatic way. Neat, tidy and well groomed is their preferred style; slob is not in their vocabulary.

They are affectionate, faithful friends and partners, with a keen, if dry sense of humour. They are cheerful company, though they may be annoying at times, due to their tendency, whether you like it or not, to tell you how it is, at least as they see it. This can make them seem fussy, picky, or even a tad OCD if they don’t watch it.  

Second Decan Virgo

Dates: 2-11 September

Planetary ruler: Venus

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The Nine of Pentacles as a personification of both Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Vindemiatrix, goddess of the vines. She recommends the consumption of more fresh food, and less fast food. Slow cooking, a one-pot meal, is a delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly way to eat and feed a family. (The odd glass of wine doesn’t go amiss either, says Vindemiatrix.)

This decan is traditionally associated with Venus, planet of love, beauty –and money. A perfectionist; conscientious, devoted, and above all focused, they can turn anything they do into an art form in its own right.

Notice the hooded falcon on her wrist. She has ‘tamed’ wildness – or chaos. She has cultivated a home, a garden, a business, and made it thrive, healthy and beautiful. She is financially self- reliant and self-sufficient, but this did not come quick or easy.

She learned, sometimes the hard way, to control the wild falcon representing her impulses, wants and desires. She learned self-discipline and self-control, the power of deferred gratification.

A squirrel would have no nuts in the winter if it ate them all at once. This, the second decan of Virgo can make a most wonderful, conscientious provider for themselves and for others. They love to spoil their loved ones. But though they have learned to do without, and at times, they had little, they deeply value beautiful things.

Third Decan Virgo

Dates: 12-22 September

Planetary ruler: Mercury

Tarot card- Ten of Pentacles: keywords: ‘Lord of Wealth,’ commerce, messages, deliveries, Hermes, home, homeland, ancestry, genetics, inter-generational relationships, inheritance, gifts, legacy, bequests, town planning, art, museums, banks.

Smith Waite Tarot

Third Decan Virgo is both a creative and a practical thinker. These are proud people. Not vain but proud, dignified – this is a big difference. They need to be their own masters and it’s not about the money, or at least, not for its own sake. These people are careful, but they are not misers. They have a winning way with people and may work in the public eye; such is their talent for communication; personal, professional, artistic, written and spoken.

Notice the old man surrounded by family, adults, children, and dogs too – Virgo cares for animals. What he has built, he has created in order to share, to pass on, seeing himself as part of the bigger picture, a link in a chain of legacy. This could mean money. It could mean ideas. It could mean a place that means everything to them, their own home or their homeland. There is a sense of belonging, of being in the right place. To feel this way is a treasure beyond price.

These are family minded people, realists with an optimistic temperament and a ‘can do’ approach.  They enjoy family outings, a walk in the woods, or a trip to the seaside. They will organize it. Eco warrior is not really their style. But they do care about the environment.

Virgo has both feet on the ground, and yet, it is something of an artist, something of a scientist. Something of a sage.

Elizabeth 1

Elizabeth 1, ‘the Virgin Queen’ was a Virgo subject. Born 7 September 1533, a second decan Virgo, she ascended to the throne aged 25 following an exceedingly tough time during which at one point she was disinherited and imprisoned in the Tower on suspicion of treason in collusion with Wyatt against her sister Mary. She could have lost her life, like her mother before her .

But even as a girl of 20, outnumbered and beleaguered by statesmen decades her senior, ‘she hath a very good wit and nothing is gotten of her but by great policy,’ said one of her exasperated inquisitors.

Welcome to Virgo Season.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Further reading:

For more about the decans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decan_(astrology)

For more about The Chaldeans:  https://erenow.net/common/astrology-and-religion-among-the-greeks-and-romans/2.php

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Until next time 🙂

Author: Katie-Ellen

Intuitive Tarot reader, consultant and writer.

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