Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Bringing in the harvest

Warm, sunny Leo has moved on, bringing us into the time of harvest in the northern hemisphere, overseen by Virgo (astrologically, the sun moved into Virgo on August 22nd, 22.20 UT).  Virgo is the Latin word for ‘virgin’, and the constellation was linked, in ancient Greece, to Astraea, the Greek goddess of innocence.   Perhaps more familiar is Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, but also known as the virgin goddess.  Her arrows found their mark, hitting their target – getting right to the point. That can be translated as the sharp, critical faculty associated with Virgo.

 ‘Virgin’ also refers to a free woman, which we also see reflected in the constellation; Virgo is the only female figure in the sky who is free – Andromeda and Cassiopeia are both chained.  The brightest star in the constellation is Spica, representing a spike of a grain of wheat in her left hand. An early Roman astrologer referred to the constellation as Erigone, linked to wine-making by association with Dionysius.  So Virgo has come to represent the harvest - and the time when things start to shut down, ready for winter and rest. 

Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the swift-footed messenger of the Roman gods. Like his Greek counterpart Hermes, he was also god of trade, in particular of grains. He carries a caduceus, a symbol of trade and commerce. The caduceus is also often incorrectly associated with medicine – the correct symbol is not Mercury’s winged staff and two serpents, but the single serpent-entwined rod of Aesclepius, a Greek god of healing.  Nevertheless, Virgo is often associated with issues of health, in particular nutrition and diet – perhaps through its bodily rulership of the intestines (where things are broken down), as well as the nervous system.  The ability to work with lots of information and finding a way to make them fit – like working with jig-saw puzzle pieces – can also be connected to healing, particularly holistic medicine.

‘Virgo Harvest’ ©Alison Coals
Virgo is one of the three Earth signs, along with Taurus and Capricorn. It’s the mutable one – taking what’s been established in Leo and turning it into something useful. It combines earthy practicality with the sharpness of Artemis’ arrows and the swift thinking and dealing of Mercury, resulting in great organizing skills, the ability to design in great detail - and with deliberation and discrimination.

So how does Virgo fit into the tarot?  Like the other signs, it’s associated with a card from the Major Arcana, at least one court card, and three cards from the Major Arcana.  We’ll start with... watch this space!

‘Virgo Harvest’ comes from my AstroArt series, inspired by walking the Glastonbury Landscape Zodiac.

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