Virgo: The Virgin Mary
According to the Origin of the Zodiac – in the last twenty centuries the sign of the Virgin has aged thirty years. “She used to be a pretty girl of fifteen, and now she is represented as a hard selfish ‘old maid’. How has this come about? One might expect that so long as the signs of the zodiac are unaltered their characters would remain the same century after century. Astrologers would certainly think so. But on what, in fact, is their character based? The sociological value of the writings of astrologers is the picture they give us of the mental attitudes of their epoch, the social structure, the professions and so forth. All this is observed. But other elements in the character of each sign are provided by the symbol and its attributions, to which astrologers feel that observations should somehow be made to fit. Since Claudius Ptolemy decided to regularize the distribution of signs between the four ‘elements’ (fire, earth, air and water) and the three ‘qualities’, it has been necessary to think of Virgo as the mutable sign of the Earth; and since Earth is considered a cold, practical element, Virgo had to be represented as cold and practical…Further, the ruling planet of Virgo is Mercury, the messenger of the gods, whose realm of activity covers writing, thinking, commerce and communication; so the Virgin had no choice but to be intellectual and the perfect secretary, whose gift is for dealing with the subtleties of things. …They comprise in large part of the following typical description of Virgo, to be found in Vivian Robson’s Student’s Textbook of Astrology, printed in 1922:
Cool, Practical, Discriminating, very critical, often destructively so, Impassive, Faddy Over Little Things, Very Inquisitive, MODEST, RETIRING, faithful, Intellectual, strong opinions, fond of Art, Literature, Science, and Mathematics, fond of collecting, Good Memory and Reasoning Power, not very original, slow to anger and forgiveness, QUIET, Persuasive, Very Good At Detail Work, fond of Gardening, Reading, COOKING AND NEEDLEWORK, etc.; often servile to rich and distinguished people, fond of telling people their faults, worry over Little Things but brave in emergency, insist on respect, often rather OLD- MAIDISH
This description differs quite remarkably from the descriptions of fifteen or twenty centuries earlier….This may be the description of the typical old maid of fifty…but it is far from the pretty maid of fifteen who was the original symbol. The pretty maid was an angel – she had wings….No wonder that her natives were described as helpful and charming in the zodiac! But Ptolemy, when he made a Virgo a sign of Earth, could not help but cut off her wings; so now we are presented with this cold, selfish, viperish old maid!
The above text on Virgo is fascinating to read, and although it’s not a totally new observation we can certainly observe the different variations of the Virgoan type. The constellation has long been seen as a goddess. The arrangement of stars suggests a woman holding a corn-sheaf. Still, some women born under this zodiacal region are forever ‘hung up’ on the old maid image, perceiving it negatively. In fact, some of the oldest associations of the sign are associated with fruitfulness and fertility. The astrological material written about Virgo is about virginity as symbolic of a woman who is “self-possessed” and with no need to fill any kind of wifely duty. In The Knot of Time, the authors describe Virgo as the sanctified Virgin, Queen of Heaven and the woman who lives in obscurity; she was in every woman.
Virgo in the mind of modern astrologers believes the sign to be symbolic of the quiet beauty of the soul, and a personality focused upon the immaculate pruning of their inner and outer world. A Virgoan is the summation of feminine matter, psychological wholeness and retains a mysterious power. It is Virgo’s careful study of the physical world and ability to distinguish, discriminate and differentiate which develops the right skills to be of helpful service. Some Virgos suffer from shyness and a lack of social ease and confidence. As the bride of Pluto, Virgo is often associated with Persephone, daughter of the earth-goddess, Demeter. One of the most powerful lessons found within this beautiful maiden’s life is the immense focus of their energy on self-development.
Virgo also reminds us of the woman M. Esther Harding describes as “one-in-herself”.
“The woman who is virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does, not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another, to catch his interest in love, but because what she does is true. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. The Theme is further developed in The Pregnant Virgin: A process of Psychological Transformation.