home articles forum events
glossary horary quiz consultations links more

Modern Views & Old Associations by Deborah Houlding

Who criticizes all she sees?
And would even analyse a sneeze??
Who hugs and loves her own disease???
It is the Virgo !!!



Read about

Sun's Transit:
Aug. 23 - 22 Sept.

(cool and dry)


Star lore

The Virgin Queen
by Sue Toohey

Virgo the Maiden Virgo symbol

Personality Traits | Dignified Planets | Typical Features | Traditional Rulerships | Traditional Definitions | Famous Virgoans


Personality Traits

Virgo often gets a poor astrological report. The poem on the left typifies the critical, hypochondriacal tendencies dwelled upon by those that define the sign as pedantic, frigid and shrill. But this is a sign of rare understanding with discerning mental vision and it is only by applying such Virgoan traits that we see beyond the dross to recognise the Maiden in all her glory. According to the ancient sources the gifts that she bestows are purity and grace; a charming turn of phrase, diplomacy, a mastery of words; a discriminating intellect and propensity for study; a talent for investigation and analysis; skilful creativity, and a keen appreciation of the mysteries of nature. Burdened by bashfulness in their early years, Virgos often undermine the value of such admirable qualities, shunning attention whilst holding a remarkable capacity to be comfortable in their own company.

The fundamental characteristics of Virgo are founded upon the productive creativity and practicality of the earth element, stimulated by the intellectual ingenuity and rapid movement of the sign's planetary ruler, Mercury. Both element and ruler characterise the sign as 'cool and dry', as does the calendrical association with autumn, when nature - having borne its fruit - recedes into conservation.

As a temporal humour 'dryness' inhibits emotional receptivity and many sun-sign profiles refer to Virgo's reputation for impassionate reactions and cool responses as a character-flaw, failing to appreciate that the ability to hold sentiment in check is the requisite of the intellectual clarity that sets this sign apart. Clear reason can only emerge when disentangled from the conflicting ties of emotional attachment; yet although it has a just reputation for control over passions, Virgo is not an unsympathetic or insensitive sign. Essentially gentle and thoughtful, consideration to others is a pronounced trait and figures strongly on their limited list of expectations and demands. Neither is Virgo lacking in intuitive recognition. Unlike the water signs, which pick up easily on psychic impressions, often absorbing moods that are poorly comprehended by reason, Virgo forms reliable instinctive impressions through a powerful gut-reaction, (their energy is seated in the gut), aided by their ready ability to analyse complexities and penetrate superficial presentations. The result is a talent for forming good judgement quickly and applying it to practical affairs. Having a sense for simplicity and harmony, Virgos move through their environment effortlessly rearranging, organising, and bringing order to chaos. From the Virgoan housewife who passes through a room picking up the clutter as she goes, to the business analyst skilled in recognising where communication flow becomes knotted, Virgos are adept at sorting out the 'little things' which, unattended, collect together to create big problems.

Coolness as a humour brings passivity and fixidity. This is less of a problem for Virgo than the other earth signs because of the stirring Mercurial influence which lightens movement, adds mental flexibility and allows a sharper reaction than can be expected from her Taurean and Capricornian colleagues. Grounded by the earthy qualities of practicality and realism, Virgos have little interest in abstract theories that defy application; nor do they strive towards the unrealistic levels of perfection that many accuse them of. As an earth sign Virgo is ultimately a realist not an idealist, and if they have acquired a reputation for being a perfectionist it is simply because of their proclivity for diligence and consistency. Virgos are unhappy with slack standards and being predisposed to working long and hard themselves it is to be expected that they will urge others likewise. However, the sign would not have the reputation for good judgement that it does were it not for the ability to balance ideals against available time and resources. In this Virgos are particularly gifted and can be relied upon to identify the most satisfactory expectations under any given set of circumstances, and to plan efficiently and work appropriately towards fulfilling them.

With such perceptive insight, enviable application and diplomatic expression, we might consider this sign exceptionally well equipped for manoeuvring into authoritative positions and gaining an abundance of material success. Yet they are rarely driven by the accumulation of power or wealth and for the most part take full satisfaction in providing the wind beneath the wings of other high-fliers. The dry disposition which feeds their talent for analysis rejects public attention and seeks to avoid centre-stage at all costs. They adhere to responsibility but do not like to assume it. Being of a modest nature they are apt to underestimate their own abilities, are too cautious to engage in the gambles and 'devil may care' risks required of the entrepreneurial spirit, and cling to convention, preferring to operate within established frameworks where they can evaluate themselves against predetermined criteria. Too often dismissed as ideal 'secretarial material', Virgos can and do excel in managerial positions, but usually within the directives of a large corporate identity where there are established procedures and a higher level of authority to defer to. It's not that Virgos seek out positions of support but placed within them they find contentment and they can gather great pride and self-respect in offering themselves to the service of something that appears to play an important role in society. For some this will be a marriage vow; for others the principles of parenthood; or it might be an industry, institution, charity, religion, political cause, or area of study. Even the most outstanding Virgo individuals can be seen to express this trait, a classic example being Queen Elizabeth I who achieved great personal glory and held the highest position of command, but drew her strength from the Virgoan aspiration of honouring her responsibilities and serving the needs of her country.

So it is with love. It is often claimed that Virgo's cool ardour is the result of such impossibly high romantic ideals that few are able to rouse the sign to heights of passion. Certainly this is not a sign to 'put it about' and their natural discrimination can leave them unimpressed by false personas that elsewhere gather a lot of attention, but given the right conditions Virgo can be as passionate and romantic as any other sign of the zodiac. The problem is that Virgo is decidedly uncomfortable in love affairs that challenge the practicality of their everyday life and responsibilities. Temptations may be strong and sincere, and painful broken-hearts may be involved, but of all the signs Virgos are least likely to give up everything that defines the structure of their life in the hope of emotional fulfilment with the partner of their dreams. Like Celia Johnson in the romantic drama Brief Encounter, Virgos decline self-indulgence where it conflicts with the duties that they hold in good conscience. And lacking the will to take inappropriate pleasure where another will take discomfort, they will settle for the practical solution that is most acceding to the needs of everyone involved, usually accepting the burden of self-restraint rather than the distress they would feel pursuing self-centred interests. Other signs may be persuaded that we only live once and we must put out own needs first, but not Virgo. The realisation of being integrally bound to everything around them anchors them, for better and for worse.

In many ways this is the true beauty of the sign. Virgos are blessed with a natural sense of harmony and that could hardly be expressed without an inner motivation towards synchronization. Such recognition inclines them to pursuits that call for integration between the mind and the body, fostering a particularly well suited interest in astrology (where creative intelligence and the cycles of nature are married in the study of heaven and earth), herbalism, natural therapies and many forms of complimentary medicine. With the urge to 'do' and 'make' as forceful as their urge to 'think' and 'analyse', Virgos in fact delight in all crafts where they can create something useful or beautiful out of raw materials and the application of ingenuity. The sign has a deep connection with the produce of the earth and taken as the herald of the harvest Virgo expresses the principle of gathering in and organising the fruits of labour. From the zodiac's origin as a device to record seasonal activity, the Virgo month is symbolically attached to the activities that centre around taking stock of resources and planning for the season ahead based upon the knowledge of what is available and the expectation that there is 'no or little more to come'. Consequently, although the sign abounds in expressed creativity, its essence is to put to good use what is currently accessible rather than the expectation of increase. Thus we understand the otherwise contradictory element of Virgo's definition as a 'barren' sign, which is used in decumbiture as an indication of infertility. Virgo is a conservative energy and conservatism is a word that can be applied to every level of a Virgo's self-expression. The concern with methodical categorisation is merely a manifest aspect of this, acutely observed by traditional authors who listed objects and places of storage as one of the sign's mayor themes of signification.

Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Virgo:
Mercury   as sign and exaltation ruler
Venus  as day-time triplicity ruler. (Although Venus gains some strength in day-time charts, it is still heavily debilitated in Virgo, the sign where it experiences its fall.)
Moon  as night-time triplicity ruler

Planets Debilitated in Virgo:
Jupiter   by detriment
Venus   by fall

More on planetary dignities and debilities 

Typical Features

Virgo is a sign of average height, but being ruled by Mercury the build is slender with straight, angular features. The lips are thin and the forehead may be high, with the eyes small and piercing. The hair is typically dark. Movement is light and quick, the voice is small becoming high pitched (or shrill) when raised. The Virgo style is neat, discreet, simple, conservative and under-stated.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All earth signs relate to the south. Virgo describes south by west.
Anatomy:  Virgo principally governs the abdomen area including the diagphragm and the soft tissue that lies beneath it, and the spleen. Cancer takes rulership of the stomach, although Virgo has some significance here, and resumes the major rulership over the organs that lie below the stomach, including the belly, bowels, and small intestines.
Illnesses:  Virgos have a sensitive digestive system so their natural interest in herbal remedies and dietary intake make them well equipped to understand their bodily needs and self-medicate accordingly. A disturbed digestive system will have a strong effect upon their all-round physical health and if they are suffering from worry, anxiety or illness their disease will manifest most readily through ailments connected to the belly and bowels. Thus this sign is prone to general belly-ache, stomach ulcers, wind/cholic, gastro-enteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and obstruction in the bowels. It is also traditionally associated with worms in the guts (and internal parasites generally), dysentery, and melancholy hypochondria which results in depression, lethargy, and heightened anxiety over worries that may be difficult to identify through reason alone.

Culpeper attributes 'hardening of the spleen' as a medical problem associated with Virgo; the spleen being seen as the seat of the melancholic humour and associated with the retentive virtue. All earth signs, being of the melancholic humour, suffer from retentive illnesses such as constipation and blockages. It is from this that the traditional medical term 'hypochondriac melancholy' arises - the hupokhondrion being the abdomen area beneath the breastbone, including the spleen, which the Greeks originally defined as the seat of the melancholy humour. Hence, hypochondria as applied to Virgos refers to anxieties and illnesses that express themselves through a gut reaction rather than suggesting a groundless conviction that one is likely to become ill where there is no due cause.
Places:  Like all the earth signs, Virgo governs places that are low down and near to the floor. It also rules places connected with agriculture, harvest and agricultural storage, in particular dairies, granaries, malt-houses (and breweries), cornfields, hay-ricks, greenhouses, places connected to barley, wheat or peas or where cheese and butter is churned or stored.

Inside the house it signifies areas and objects used for study, accountancy, or storage; the former includes libraries, book cases, or places where books, pens and reading/writing instruments are kept, (typewriters, word processors and computers), study halls, office areas and items used for book-keeping. The latter includes cupboards, pantries, closets, cabinets, drawers, medicine cupboards (and drug stores generally through its association with health).

Virgo will also signify objects or areas that serve a purely utilitarian purpose - places or things that are used to store, restore, or repair, such as sewing instruments and machines (also knitting and spinning equipment), tools, and servants quarters in homes that have them.

Modern authors associate the sign with places connected with pets, small animals and veterinary services.
Countries & cities:   Include Turkey, Southern Greece, Athens, Iraq, Baghdad, Croatia, Africa, Jerusalem, South-west France, Toulouse, Paris, Lyons, Rhodes, Heidelburg in Germany, Basle in Switzerland, and Brindisi in Italy.
Colours  Lilly associates Virgo with the colour black speckled with blue. Other authors have associated it with white. In general Virgos avoid strong dynamic colours in decor and personal attire, preferring subtle hues and muted greys and earthy tones.
Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with Mercury, Virgo is often linked with agate, sardonyx and stones of diverse colours. Agate seems particularly suitable, since its metaphysical property is said to aid digestion and offer eloquence in writing.

Traditional Rulerships of Mercury 

Traditional Definitions:

Humane:  Humane signs are those represented by human figures. (Libra is included here on the assumption that the scales are held by a human hand). They are renown for their social graces and intellectual skills. They are also referred to as 'manly' or 'courteous' signs. They include Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius.
Double-bodied:  Double-bodied, or bi-corporeal signs are those represented by two figures. All the mutable signs are double-bodied - Gemini: two twins; Virgo: maiden and bird; Sagittarius: man and horse; Pisces: two fishes. They represent the months that join the seasons and signify a dualistic nature that is easily adaptable and can be one thing or another. For this reason the mutable signs are referred to as 'common' signs in traditional terminology.
Barren:  The barren signs are Gemini, Leo and Virgo. These can suggest difficulty in conceiving children, or few children when placed on the 5th cusp of the chart.

Famous Virgoans:

Queen Elizabeth I
Born: 7 Sept 1533
  View chart & biography
Sean Connery
Born: 25 Aug 1930
  View chart
Michael Jackson
Born: 29 Aug 1958
  View chart
Mother Theresa
Born: 27 Aug 1910
  View chart & analysis (ext)
Al-Biruni (astrologer)
Born: 4 Sept 973
  View biography & chart

Constellation mythology and star lore of Virgo 

© Deborah Houlding, August 2004

The Zodiac
This week's horoscopes
Aspect Meanings in the Birth Chart
sponsors link
Terms and conditions  
All rights on all text and images reserved. Reproduction by any means is not permitted without the express
agreement of Deborah Houlding or in the case of articles by guest astrologers, the copyright owner indictated