Virgo (♍) is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Virgo is the second-largest constellation. It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 22 and September 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Virgo from September 17 to October 17. The constellation Virgo has multiple different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. In Greek and Roman mythology they relate the constellation to Demeter, mother of Persephone, or Proserpina in Roman, the goddess of the harvest. However, some tell tales of the Greek story of Parthenos, which means virgin in Greek, which explains how the actual constellation Virgo came to be. The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea. In Greek mythology, she was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth.
Parthenos is a daughter of Staphylus, king of Naxos, and Chrysothemis, and sister to Rhoio and Molpadia. Rhoio had been impregnated by the Greek god Apollo, and once her father found out that she was pregnant he automatically assumed it was from some random suitor. Greatly ashamed, he locked her in box and threw her in a river. After the terrible fate of their sister, Parthenos and Molpadia were naturally fearful of angering their father. On one evening, Staphylus left his two daughters in charge of a bottle of wine and when they both fell asleep one of their pigs swine broke in and smashed the bottle. In terror f their father, the two sisters fled to a nearby cliff and threw themselves off. Seeing this, Apollo caught them and delivered them to safety, allegedly transforming them into goddesses. Parthenos was worshipped in the Karian (Carian) town of Bubastos and her sister Molpadia ended up in Kastabos (Castabus) where she changed her name to Hemithea and was also worshipped as a local goddess. According to the story, Parthenos died at a very young age and after her death Apollo set her among the stars as the constellation Virgo.
While this is only one story in one myth of the origin of Virgo, she is seen throughout all matter of myths. In the Egyptian myths, when the sun was in the constellation Virgo it was the start of the wheat harvest thus connecting Virgo to the wheat grain. She also has various connections with the India goddess Kanya, and even the Virgin Mary.
The Virgo archetype symbolizes both the quest for the ideal of perfection and the negative side of being to rigid. While we recognize that “God is in the details”, we know that perfectionism sucks the joy out of work. Virgo is a very important archetype because it is a transitional archetype. It’s interesting that while people may be a complete masters of detail in a particular area, they are ignorant and uncaring in others. The psyche needs to balance somehow, trying to manage details in all life areas leads to mental stress, so allowing relaxation is necessary. Perfectionism and logic to the point of rigidity and compulsion is counterproductive. True masters of arts (including martial arts) report a combined state of relaxation and focus.
In astrology, Virgo is the mutable earth sign, the fragility of the material things necessary for our survival. It’s the time of harvest, which can go this way or that – depending on the whims of nature as well as on the soundness of our own previous preparations. We are reminded of the need to take proper care of things. One archetype of Virgo is the craftsman, paying the greatest attention to every detail, making as sure as possible to reach the intended outcome. There’s no substitute for skill and hard work. Nonetheless, from an astrological viewpoint an awareness of detail (Virgo) needs to be balanced with the need to see the whole picture (Pisces). Perhaps this is the goal of the Virgo path, to become so good at the details, they become automatic, and we then have the time and energy to widen our focus.
Ruled by Mercury, the same planet as Gemini, Virgo is ruled by Mercury’s “shadow”; the hidden, unused, mundane and disregarded aspects of communication. It is often seen that many people become stressed, uncomfortable, or even angry at the prospect of having to create systemic efficiency out of something that is broken, unpredictable, and messy. Virgo is not simply content to postulate, this is the archetype of understanding and mastery, and of being able to follow complex processes, knowing how to move to the next step without faltering, realizing where it goes wrong and why and figuring out how to fix it, fixing it consistently, t achieve the maximum efficiency and harmony in the system
The Virgo archetype wants control of its domain, and not the other way around. When we wander through life mindlessly and without analyzing the effects of our decisions and belief systems, we often fall victim to unnecessary chaos that keeps us from advancing and developing. Our ambitions, goals, and dreams, all require a cold analytic eye which can readily see “this is not working” or “this is working well” and most importantly, can answer that question on its own behalf .
Virgo’s second realm is social and worldly. The demanding details of life are often left to multiply and grow like weeds by those who find logic/analysis too difficult to digest. Many times, our societies and organizations, as well as individuals, continue in dysfunction and archaic mentality simply because of tradition, There is a fear that questioning our reality would require a new paradigm and that the change would be indigestible. The Virgo archetype is the analyst, but is not the passive observer. Rather it is the archetype of the questioner, seen in all of us when we are young and persistently ask why, why, why.
Those who do not have this snuffed out in childhood are often seen later as the ones who mutter, “This doesn’t work well at all. There must be a better way.” and who analyze, create and perfect whatever it is that is needed for that better way. These are the ones who question religious belief systems, especially those that limit our ability to think critically and limit our capacity to realize personal autonomy. These are the ones who question laws and bureaucratic policies, observing their influence over daily life. To embody the Virgo archetype means questioning ourselves, creating accountability and discipline where there was chaos, inefficiency and problems.