“The Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres,” The Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD.
Date: August 23-September 22
Symbol: The Virgin
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
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, and all of these are beneficent cards to do with productiveness as a direct result of study, diligence, application and direction of self discipline, focus and a sustained effort
Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the sky after Hydra, and 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.
It might seem a bit of a stretch, but add in a few more of her stars, imagine her lounging, dangling a sheaf of wheat from one hand (Spica.)
And now you see her.
Spica is actually a double star, brighter than our sun. Its name is from the Latin, meaning an ‘ear of grain.’- also called ‘The Lonely One’ because it is so far from the others. Ptolemy saw 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 living human wife and mother.
The star Vindemiatrix is ‘the Grape-Gatherer,’ because once it was seen at daybreak, this was the sign to start harvesting the vines.
It’s mind-boggling to consider that our own Sun is just one star of the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is only one of a collection of galaxies known as The Local Group.
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 Supercluster.
And I do like to look up and see The Milky Way but enough already, existential angst beckons, and now I need to lie down with a damp cloth on my head. And a cup of tea and a biccie. No, scrap that. No biccy. Stop trying to tempt me, Spica.
History & Mythology
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, with one as her consort. This is significant. 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 was associated with the constellation of Virgo and vestiges of symbolism associated with her continue, such as the star Spica, the ‘ear of grain’, even as the deity name changed from age to age and culture to culture.
In 10th century BC the Babylonians called part of this constellation, “The Furrow,” referring back to the goddess Shala and 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.
In Indian astrology she was The Maiden, Kanya.
To the Greeks she 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 to live with him in the underworld, Demeter went into mourning. There was no harvest that year. People and livestock starved and Zeus, the king of gods, eventually intervened, insisting that Hades return Persephone to Demeter. But Zeus also stipulated that Persephone must not eat until her return, and Hades, not wanting to part with her, gave Persephone a pomegranate, knowing fine well how much she liked them, and she ate some of the seeds on her way home.
So Persephone went home to her mother, but because of the pomegranate she has to return to the underworld for four months every year, and then Demeter grieves; winter returns, and the land sleeps.
The Virgo Archetype- Personality
Virgos are practical but artistically gifted. They are hard-workers who love to better themselves. They love to analyse, and their perceptiveness means that they can always find or create order within chaos. They are honest friends although, being extra discerning, and analytical, they might have a tendency to analyse you, pointing out your strengths and also your mistakes and weaknesses. This can be annoying, very, though it’s usually well meant. They may also give great advice because of those same analytical abilities.
Their quest of self-improvement includes their appearance. They are perfectionists, highly concerned about the impression they make on others, but at the same time, generally kindly and ready to help others
The sign of Virgo is ruled by agile, communicative Mercury, and Virgo’s brain is in overdrive much of the time. These folk can do big things and get a lot done – if they don’t lose sight of the original vision, and don’t get too bogged down in detail.
Elizabeth 1, ‘the Virgin Queen’ was a Virgo subject. Born 7 September 1533 she ascending 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 even 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.
Virgo Season 2020
Keynote cards: Ace Pentacles Reversed and the Nine of Pentacles
The Ace Pentacles Reversed shows us coming in and out of our homes and places of work. This card also reflects the economic effects of global and UK recession still to come. The upright Nine of Pentacles offsets and counterbalances the negative message here to a degree and suggests that key developments in September may be clustered around, or be concentrated before this turning point of 22 September. The Nine of Pentacles is a good general omen in particular for the second decan of Virgo, 4 September-13 September. We need to get past that moody full moon first, with its potential for shadowboxing and doubtless, further incidents of social unrest and whatever the causes, historically, these have gone hand in glove with the aftermath of a pandemic and we are not yet quite in the aftermath, though getting there.
I’ve been getting the feeling there may be news of a mudslide or landslip this September, but maybe I am confusing it with a feeling I got on 12 August, triggered by the Ace Pentacles Reversed.
It seems to have been the Aberdeenshire train accident that I was picking up on. But it had already happened, and though I hadn’t heard the news yet, and did not know about it, or that it had been caused by a landslip on the line, maybe I was confusing it with events still to come in September, in which case I will be very glad to be wrong.
The finance, beauty, health and hospitality industries are specifically associated with this earth card, as are interior design, architecture, financial services, schools, universities; food production and horticulture. All of these, though of course, many other industries besides, will face a major effort this September as they work to recover lost ground and we restart the national engines, although localized lockdowns and lifting of lockdowns may be a pattern that continues for some time to come, at least until Christmas 2020 or into Feb/March 2021.
This is a card of women in power, and individually may refer to Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s new Vice-President. It suggests there is tremendous focus here, and self-discipline; a serious work ethic, though it may be that her greatest gifts are executive rather than presidential. This appointment may help Mr Biden’s chances, and the polls seem to think it will, but I can’t see it as anything like THE deal-maker for the Democrats come election time.
In the UK
In September children will be returning to school, and more parents will be returning to work as the government furlough scheme starts drawing to a close. This could prove unsettling and tensions may arise at home, anxieties and a sense of disorientation, as suggested by the appearance of The Hanged Man, reflecting the effects of the Full Corn Moon on 2 September in dreamy, moody, Neptunian Pisces.
The Nine of Pentacles suggests we navigate this transition, staying focused on the known facts and the immediately available information, taking things one day at a time, focusing only on what is within our direct personal power to control, just as the lady in the Nine of Pentacles controls the bird on her gauntlet.
Things seem to settle again somewhat during the middle two weeks of September, as collectively as well as personally, we start to find a new footing.
Virgo rules the concept of routines and also hygiene. The Roman goddess Hygieia is another of the many faces of Virgo. Click here to find out more about her.
The return to school is a major milestone in the return to normal routine but frequent hand-washing continues more important than ever, and may also reduce cases of seasonal flu which also claims many lives each year. These strains of flu which can kill but which we more or less take for granted now, may have caused pandemics when they first appeared in humans. A pandemic of the 1200’s which killed an estimated million people in central Asia is known as the Russian flu and is thought to be the ancestor of one of the common modern flu strains
The Nine of Pentacles as a personification of both Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Vindemiatrix, goddess of the vines, recommends the consumption of more fresh food, and less fast food. Slow cooking, a one-pot meal, is a delicious, nutritious and seriously budget-friendly way to eat and feed a family. (The odd glass of wine doesn’t go amiss either, says Vindemiatrix.)
“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 🙂