Virgo the Maiden

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

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

sign symbolism & general traits | traditional rulerships | famous Virgos
Sign symbolism

Virgo the Maiden

by Deborah Houlding

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Virgo generally gets a poor rap. The ditty quoted above typifies the critical, hypochondriacal tendencies dwelled upon by those that define this 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 refined Virgoan traits that we see beyond the dross to recognise the Maiden in her true finesse.

According to the ancient sources, the gifts the Maiden bestows are purity and grace; a charming turn of phrase; diplomacy and 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 symbolic qualities of Virgo are founded on 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, the season when nature – having borne its fruit – recedes into conservation.

As a humoural quality, ‘dryness’ inhibits emotional receptivity. Many sun-sign profilers assess this negatively and refer to Virgo’s impassionate reactions and cool responses as a character flaw. This fails to appreciate how 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 confusing and conflicting ties of emotional attachment.

Although Virgo has a just reputation for control over passions, it is neither an unsympathetic nor an insensitive sign. Essentially gentle and thoughtful, respectful consideration to others is a pronounced Virgoan trait which figures strongly in their limited list of expectations and demands. Nor is Virgo lacking in intuitive recognition. Unlike the water signs, which tune in to psychic impressions and readily absorb moods that may be poorly comprehended at a rational level, Virgo forms reliable instinctive impressions through a powerful gut reaction (their energy is seated in the gut) aided by an extraordinary gift for analysing complexities and penetrating superficialities. The result is a talent for forming good judgement quickly and applying it to practical affairs – their keen insight generating exceptional acuity. The ‘common-sense’ of Virgo is not merely a grounded stance based on simple perception of facts, but the original, philosophical recognition of the unifying consciousness that draws information gleaned from all other senses together, allowing everything to be put into the most harmonious and productive order. Virgos abound in good common sense, which is regulated, the philosophers explain, by their ruling planet, Mercury.1

Having a sense of simplicity and harmony, Virgos move through their environment effortlessly rearranging, organising, and bringing order to chaos. From the Virgoan housekeeper who passes through a room picking up the clutter and straightening anything out of place without stopping to think about it, to the business analyst skilled in recognising where communication flow becomes truncated or illogical, 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 Taurus and Capricorn. 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 pragmatist, not an idealist!

If Virgo has acquired a reputation for perfectionism, it is simply because of this sign’s proclivity for diligence and consistency. Virgos are unhappy with slack standards and predisposed to working long and hard themselves; it is expected that they will urge others likewise. However, the sign would not have a reputation for good judgement without 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 abundant material success. Yet Virgos are rarely driven by the accumulation of power or wealth and, for the most part, take complete 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 usually seeks to avoid centre-stage at all costs. They adhere to responsibility but do not like to assume it.

Being of a modest nature and apt to underestimate their own abilities, they are too cautious to engage in the gambles and ‘devil may care’ risks required of the entrepreneurial spirit. Instead, they lean towards 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. 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 the ‘Virgin Queen’, Elizabeth I,2 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 keen discrimination can leave them unimpressed by false personas that elsewhere gather a lot of attention, but given the right conditions Virgos are as passionate and romantic as any other sign of the zodiac. The problem is that Virgos are decidedly uncomfortable in love affairs that challenge the practicality of 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 classic romantic drama Brief Encounter, Virgos decline self-indulgence where it conflicts with duties they hold in good conscience. And lacking the drive to take inappropriate pleasure where another will take discomfort, they will settle for the practical solution that concedes best to the needs of everyone involved, usually accepting the burden of self-restraint rather than the distress they would feel pursuing self-interest. Other signs may be persuaded that we only live once and must put our 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 – that could hardly be expressed without an inner motivation towards synchronization. Such recognition inclines them to pursuits that call for integration of the mind, body, and soul, 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 complementary 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 activities that centre around taking stock of resources and planning for the season ahead, based on the knowledge that what is available is limited, possibly declining, so driven by instincts to plan and secure provisions for upcoming needs and future generations.

Consequently, this sign abounds in expressed creativity, its essence being to put to good use what is most freely accessible, and to preserve and employ available resources carefully, without exploitation, with the knowledge that balance requires all things to decline as well as increase. Hence, we understand the otherwise contradictory element of Virgo’s definition as a ‘barren’ sign, by which it is used in decumbiture as an indication of infertility. Virgo is conservative energy and conservatism is a trait that applies to every element of Virgo self-expression. The concern with methodical categorisation is one manifest aspect of this, acutely observed by traditional astrologers who listed objects and places of storage as one of the sign’s major themes of signification.

Returning to our opening ditty, Virgos are not, in fact, focused on exploring illness; they are focussed on restoring health. With their Mercurial leaning towards crafts and ‘handiwork’, combined with heightened curiosity and a notable prowess in esoterica, this is the sign of the true artiste, for whom nothing brings greater satisfaction than concocting an artefact using natural products to ingenious effects or whipping up (witch-like) a home-made brew, using nature’s remedies to restore ailing humours to a natural balance.

A love of history is embedded in all the earth signs, and that adds to their thrill when preserving, crafting, upcycling, repurposing or restoring worn-out items to former glory. But it is their exquisitely understated talent for the arts that turns some Virgos into pure virtuosos, who delight in bringing perfection to other arts, such as singing, dancing, acting, word-smithing or working with digital art and innovative modern technology. Too sharp, too astute to be easily manipulated, this sign is agile enough to bend in many directions, but cannot be bought. It is willing to sacrifice ‘for the sake of the art’, but never in a way that compromises integrity or leaves a negative deficit elsewhere.

When the Sun is in Virgo, the ruling planet, Mercury, is constrained to be in the same sign, or the one before or after it. So there are basically three types of Virgo: those with the sign-ruler oriental (more masculine/active/outwardly projected) in fiery Leo, adding a more dramatic, flamboyant or colourful edge to their manner of expression; those with the ruler occidental (more feminine/passive/internally processed) in airy Libra, adding a softer, subtler and more melodious or artistic mind that leans towards harmony and artistic expression; and those where Mercury joins the Sun in Virgo, integrating everything mercurial into the expression of the inner spirit, and adding an exclamation mark to everything written above.
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Dignified Planets

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.

Debilitated Planets

Jupiter: Jupiter  - by detriment.
Venus: ♀  - by fall.

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, the nose long, the forehead may be high, with the eyes small and piercing, often hazel. The hair and complexion inclines to darkness. 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:  South-west. All earth signs relate to the south; as the most westerly of the earth-signs (in a natural zodiac that places Aries on the ascendant) Virgo signifies south tending towards the 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 but their natural interest in herbal remedies and dietary intake makes them well equipped to understand their bodily needs and self-medicate accordingly. A disturbed digestive system will have a strong effect on 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. From this, the 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 in becoming become ill with no due cause.

Places:  Like all the earth signs, Virgo governs places that are low down and near the floor. It also rules places connected with agriculture, harvest and agricultural storage, in particular dairies, granaries, malt-houses 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 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.

Animals:  Birds generally, and especially intelligent or loquacious birds such as magpies, crows, patrrots. It is also said by Al Biruni to be associated with bulbuls, sparrows and large serpents.

Traditional Definitions:

Humane:  Humane signs are those represented by human figures, which are also referred to as ‘manly’ or ‘courteous’. They are renown for social graces and intellectual skills and include Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius, (Libra on the assumption that the scales are held by a human hand).

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, meaning signs that partake of shared characteristics or present elements that bridge things together.

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.

Virgo - FAMOUS VIRGOS - Virgo

Al Biruni 4 Sep 973 (JC); Khiva, Uzbekistan; 5:05 am LMT (RR:A) View biography | chart ⇨
Queen Elizabeth I 7 Sep 1533 (JC); Greenwich, England; 2:20 pm LMT View biography | chart ⇨
Johann Goethe 28 Aug 1749; Frankfurt, Germany; 12:30 pm LMT (RR:AA) View chart ⇨
Mary Shelley 30 Aug 1797; London, England; 11:20 pm LMT (RR:AA)View chart ⇨
Agatha Christie15 Sep 1890; Torquay, England; 2:14 pm GMT (RR:AA)View chart ⇨
Mother Teresa26 Aug 1910; Skopje, Macedonia; 2:25 pm MET (RR:DD) View chart ⇨
Peter Sellers8 Sep 1925; Southsea, England; 6:00 am BST (RR:A) View chart ⇨
Sean Connery 25 Aug 1930; Edinburgh, Scotland; 6:05 pm BST (RR:AA) View chart ⇨
Leonard Cohen 21 Sep 1934; Montréal, Canada; 6:45 am EDT (RR:AA) View chart ⇨
Freddie Mercury 5 Sep 1946; Zanzibar, Tanzania; 5:37 am BGT (RR:X) View chart ⇨
Michael Jackson 29 Aug 1958; Gary, Indiana; USA; 7:33 pm CDT (RR:DD)View chart ⇨
River Phoenix 23 Aug 1970; Madras, Oregon, USA; 12:03 pm PDT (RR:AA) View chart ⇨
Amy Winehouse 14 Sep 1983; Enfield, England; 10:25 pm BST (RR:A) View chart ⇨


Plate from Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, 1690

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

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Notes & References:
1 ] The term is defined in An Astrologo-Physical Discourse of the Human Virtues in the Body of Man, a Galenic treatise tansmitted in Nicholas Culpeper’s English Physician and Family Dispensatory, 1653. This defines all the humours and virtues in the body and tells us that the senses are part of the ‘animal virtue’ which is sensitive and divided into two parts:

Common sense is … that which gives virtue to all the particular senses, and knits and unites them together within the Pia Matter. It is regulated by Mercury … and its office is to preserve a harmony among the senses.

Particular senses are five, viz., seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. These senses are united in one, in the brain, by the common sense, but are operatively distinguished into their several seats and places of residence.
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2 ] For an astro-profile see Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen by Sue Toohey.
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Deb HouldingDeborah Houlding, creator of Skyscript, is based in the UK and has worked as an astrologer since the late 1980s. Founder of The Traditional Astrologer (1993 to 2000) and STA School of Traditional Astrology, she is the author of the STA Practitioners-Level Horary Course, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, and (with Oner Doser) Soru Astrolojisi: Horary Astrology (2015). She is also the editor of a modern retype, annotated edition of William Lilly's Christian Astrology and Griffin's Astrological Judgement Touching Theft.

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Audio provided by J. Lee Lehman PhD (triple Virgo)
Content development 2022: Deborah Houlding