Every year, in the Northern hemisphere, as summer comes to an end, there is a slight shift in the angle and quality of the light, imperceptible to many of us unless we’re paying close attention. But our biological clocks recognize it. The Sun too knows that his power is starting to wane. There is no nostalgia, no particular sentiment about it, just acceptance that this is the natural course of events. All life on earth follows an internal and external rhythm. To everything there is a season. There is an underlying order and mechanism by which the world operates, and we humans are cogs in a vast and highly complex machine. This is the story that beats in the heart of Virgo.
In the zodiac, Virgo is depicted as a winged maiden holding a sheaf of wheat, an image that hearkens back to the earliest agrarian civilizations. Virgo is aware of its place in the vast machine, however small it might be. And like the grain that gives of itself for us to eat, it has an understanding of sacrifice as a necessary part of the circle of life. Its symbol of the virgin can tell us something about the psyche of Virgo, if we can look beyond the conventional definition of that word. Removing any moral of value judgment we may attach to “virginity”—jettisoning the question of sexual experience entirely—what we are left with are deeply spiritual sensibilities of purity, ideals and virtue. Virgo is, perhaps more aptly, the archetype of the Uninitiated. It represents the aspect of us all that has not yet crossed the “threshold.” But in anticipation of doing so, Virgo, like the novice priestess, keeps herself prepared and in a state of readiness to be given over to the gods. This has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with being “whole unto oneself.” Coming from the earth and dedicated to the earth, a humble servant and a divine vessel in one.
Virgo is ruled by Mercury—the mage, messenger, and god of small things. It’s a sign that perceives the world in terms of intake and output, and operates behind all the processes that make our lives livable. It concerns itself with the material, corporeal, quantifiable aspects of humanity. Virgo is happiest when doing good and useful work, always analyzing, optimizing, improving and helping. It is meticulous, methodical, and often masterful, with an eye for detail that is unmatched. Lurking in the Virgo shadow is perfectionism and idealism that can lead to eternal striving, anxiety, equating worthiness to productivity, or inevitable disappointment, if things or people fall short of their expectations. Often, they are their own worst critics. Virgo’s giving nature can also carry with it the archetype of the martyr, and so learning boundaries around work and service are key to preventing depletion and self-sacrifice. From this pure-hearted sign, we learn that it is better to give than to receive, and that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Virgo makes the world go round, and for that we owe them our eternal gratitude.