Virgo is a complex sign which takes some thinking about, because, although it is an earth sign, it is also mutable and has Mercury as its ruler. The constellation of Virgo is that of the original archetypal great goddess before she was split into the many different aspects of the feminine. Ultimately the great goddess is virgin, which means self-contained, 'complete and whole unto herself'. This is a description of mother earth, the feminine aspect of the life force itself, which doesn't need anything or anyone else to complete it. Another aspect of the feminine life force is Sophia, the archaic goddess of wisdom, who is said to have existed before the emergence of any male deities.
The Mercury ruler of Virgo describes the intelligent and analytical nature of this sign, but as an earth sign, this intelligence is used in a practical way, working with matter and substance in order to perfect and heal it. From this point of view, Virgo is concerned with the maintenance and perfection of the body, through diet, routine and healing practices. Equally, Virgo is the sign of all practical crafts devoted to creating something workable which is also useful, beautiful and refined. Virgo rules all rituals, and bringing to perfection the rituals of work and of the body are a feature of this sign. There is a strong mythic connection between the Mercury which rules Virgo and the god Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes, who taught all the practical skills and crafts to mankind, such as writing and medicine. Virgo is also the sign of the alchemist, whose task is to purify, refine and perfect base material.
Audience: Wasn't Thoth the scribe?
Clare: Yes. He was the inventor of language and of writing and functioned as the scribe, or record keeper of the gods. This is the difference between the Mercury which rules Gemini, which is the messenger of the gods, and the Mercury which rules Virgo, which is the scribe of the gods - a more earthy, practical figure. The function of record keeping gives us some important clues about Virgo. There is a sort of ritual about record keeping, isn't there? It has a pleasure of its own. If you are wired in this particular way, the construction of neat columns of figures can be particularly satisfying, as can the feeling of creating order out of chaos, sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Virgos like things to be categorised and classified in an orderly way. They will usually have all their books in alphabetical order and know exactly where to find something in a drawer. Virgos are masters of practical common sense. Without this sign in the zodiac, there would be no order or attention to detail and none of us would be able to find anything. Virgo is modest and self effacing, at its best when it being useful, attending to the small things of life. Virgos tend to have a horror of carelessness and crassness, and a remarkable ability to spot an error or even a chip in a cup at fifty yards.
Audience: I can certainly relate to that.
Clare: I think the point is that Virgo can be really offended by imperfections, which they notice more than any other sign. They can also be more distressed by chaos and mess than other signs, which is what motivates them to sort and clean. If we imagine the scene at a party to which fire and earth signs have been invited, it is likely to be the Virgos who are going round cleaning the ashtrays or in the kitchen washing up, while the fire signs are in full flow. Virgos are practical and like to be busy. They enjoy doing what needs to be done. They would often actually prefer to wash the glasses than to be fully involved in all the noise and confusion of the party itself.
Audience: I am a Virgo and I have never, ever done that!
Clare: Well, these descriptions are just caricatures, and nobody is all Virgo. Perhaps you function more on the Pisces end of the Virgo/Pisces spectrum? If so, you may decide to go with the flow and have a few drinks, but no doubt you will analyse your behaviour the following day.
Audience: Yes, I am certainly very analytical and critical.
Clare: This is certainly one of the major features of this sign, but I think this is an extension of the fact that they are extremely self-critical. They expect nothing less than perfection of themselves, which tends to get extended towards criticism of others. If they can gain a sense of perspective, however, Virgo has a gentle, self-deprecating sense of humour and makes extremely amusing, pleasant company. Physically Virgo rules the intestines, the function of which is to discriminate between what should be absorbed by the body and what should be eliminated. Virgos have very sensitive digestive systems and strongly psychosomatic constitutions. Everything needs to be carefully analysed, sorted and digested, and if they take on too much at once then they tend to become stressed, and the body and digestive system will suffer. Virgos are prone to nervous exhaustion, and need to learn how to say no, how not to take on too much, and how to establish healthy boundaries in order to protect themselves. They can be accused of being unfeeling and ungenerous, too workmanlike and 'cut and dried', but this can simply be an indication that they have learned to protect themselves from being overwhelmed.
The integration of Jupiter and Venus, traditionally in their detriment and fall in Virgo, can help to balance what can otherwise be an 'all work and no play' approach to life. Jupiter can keep the wood in mind as well as the trees - in other words, help to put all the Virgoan attention to detail into a larger and more meaningful context. Venus can give permission to live simply and to enjoy the small details and rituals of life for their own sake, without the anxiety or stress which can so easily accompany such tasks.
Planets in Virgo
Audience: I have Moon in Virgo.
Clare: I would imagine that you really need to feel in control of your daily life and of your work.
Audience: Well, I can certainly relate to a need for rituals. I always get very anxious and even quite obsessive when I break my normal routines, and that can extend to my diet as well.
Clare: David has both Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, which is a particularly interesting phenomenon shared by everyone born in the mid 1960s. With a few brief periods of retrogradation, Pluto was in Virgo for fifteen years, from October 1956 to October 1971, and Uranus was in Virgo from August 1962 until September 1968, with the two planets closely conjunct during the mid 1960s. Uranus and Pluto form conjunctions every 125 years, and if we look back through history, these are often periods of intense and radical collective change, the destruction of the previous order and the birth of powerful new ideals. Radical thinkers whose ideas become very powerful and influential to later generations are often born at these times. However, the particular interpretation of each Uranus-Pluto conjunction will be different, since it depends upon the sign it falls in.
It is actually worth spending a bit of time on that Uranus-Pluto, because I suppose it is the most powerful, radical generational influence around at the moment. What makes the picture more complicated is that those born in the mid-1960s also have Neptune in Scorpio, as well as Chiron and Saturn in Pisces opposite the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. It would, of course, be quite possible to spend a whole term discussing this configuration, but for the time being we will just have to focus on Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. The point is that every generation in its own way breaks the old mould and brings in something new which is taken for granted by subsequent generations.
If Virgo describes work, service and health, then we can anticipate that Pluto's transit through Virgo will intensify all these issues, bring any underlying problems to the surface, put them under great stress and change them forever. The simultaneous transit of Uranus through Virgo will bring radical change to these areas, innovations and breakthroughs. So we would expect the world of work and service and the area of health to go through a period of disruption and upheaval.
The 1960s has become famous as the decade of social and political upheaval. The civil rights movement was gaining strength, student demonstrations were taking place throughout Europe, the collective disillusionment with the Vietnam war was building and many former British colonies were establishing their independence. If you have a look at old film footage of these years you will easily be able to appreciate what a remarkably disruptive and radical period this was. J. F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, which was possibly the most shocking thing which had happened in American history until then. A technological revolution was occurring, with the development of the fibre optic cable and microchip which heralded enormous advances in computer technology, and the first telecommunications satellites which brought in instant communication across the world for the first time. In the world of health, the development of the contraceptive pill enabled women to be free of their biology and to have real control over their reproductive cycles for the first time in history. New technology was increasingly introduced to produce more crops and animals and to make them grow faster.
Audience: This is all very uncompromising, isn't it? I suppose that with Uranus and Pluto, change is inevitable, but these changes seem to have had the effect of cutting us off even more from nature and from the natural cycles.
Clare: Yes, exactly. Uranus gives us sudden, radical freedom, and of course there is no going back. This is a very far cry indeed from the concept of trusting nature to provide.
Audience: So this is actually a reversal, the destruction of Virgo in a way.
Clare: That's right. As a generalisation, we can describe the people born with this placement as intelligent, skilful, analytical, and sensitive, and very modest on a personal level. There seems to have been a powerful evolutionary technological leap in the mid-1960s which explains the fact that anyone born then and afterwards has an instinctive ability to understand and use technology in a way which is simply not possible for those born before this time. This generation tends to be collectively disgusted by the way things were managed before the 1960s, particularly in areas which concern work and the working environment as well as the unthinking destruction of the earth's natural resources. They are born to be radical, political and subversive, particularly when it comes to issues around food, health and ecology.
It is this group which has seen the destruction of our ties to nature and to work. They will never know 'from the cradle to the grave' employment as it used to be, as companies and organisations are streamlined and stripped down, becoming leaner and meaner. We can no longer rely on earning a crust or receiving our Virgoan daily bread. But equally, we could say that this is also a generation which has reacted against the old norms of work and service.
At the same time, Pluto and Uranus indicate that compensatory ideologies will be born. So this is a generation with strong ideals about work, health, ecology and the feminine. At worst, individuals from this generation can be cut off from an instinctive connection with their own bodies and become obsessed with diet and health issues, but because they have Uranus in Virgo they can simultaneously abuse their bodies. This sounds strange but it is not uncommon for those with Uranus and Pluto in Virgo to be obsessed with health issues and at the same time starve themselves or abuse their bodies by taking drugs or not getting enough rest, in spite of having shelves full of books about eating right and cupboards full of supplements and vitamins. Or perhaps at the same time they will join radical and subversive movements and protest against, for example, animal experimentation, at the same time as treating their own animal bodies with a great deal of cruelty.
Audience: I can certainly recognise this. It's really tricky.
Clare: Exactly. Jung was very clear about the dangers of identifying with collective movements. We will inevitably resonate to them because they are in our charts, but unless we have a strong enough sense of self, we can easily become identified with them, which means that on a human level we will suffer. Provided we have a good enough ego structure, we have a choice. We can always choose to serve the collective, but there is a great difference between a conscious choice and being possessed by an unconscious, archetypal force which means that our own lives will be sacrificed to a collective ideology.
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
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