Scorched stubble shimmers in the pixilated August heat and as the harvest is gathered, the swallows swoop over bows weighted with blushing apples.
As summer slips into autumn and harvest festivals echo with the songs of our sunburned ancestors, the Sun moves into the sign of Virgo. Virgo is the harvest maiden, her origins threaded and bound to the earth’s ancient rhythms. Virgo’s arrival heralds the spring or autumn equinox on September 22nd and as the seasons change, we may sense a new momentum, a desire to spring clean, rearrange, prepare for a new rhythm in our own lives. Or we may simply be doing our best to keep the lights on, to make the best of things beyond our control.
The astrology of 2020 reflects the contraction of the economy, plans postponed, events cancelled, as invisible plumes of COVID-19 swirl silently through our communities. In this strange new world advertisers cheerfully remind us that “we’re all in this together”. And yet, for those who remain incarcerated in care homes, or stranded in cities far from home, worried about income, this a time of suspension. We may never have felt more alone.
Damien Echols (Mars in fiery Sagittarius) spent almost two decades on death row, mostly in solitary confinement. He survived the brutality and stagnation of prison life by exploring the practice of hermetic magick.
In his book, Life After Death, Damien writes “I have two definitions for the word “magick.” The first is knowing that I can effect change through my own will, even behind these bars; and the other meaning is more experiential—seeing beauty for a moment in the midst of the mundane.”
As the seasons change, as we transition from the confinement of lockdown into the restrained containment of this new way of being, we are challenged to shift our perception, to symbolically keep the lights on, even if we feel we are not making much progress. The last New Moon of August 19th (26° Leo) calls to our innate ability to see “heaven in a wild flower” as the visionary William Blake offers in his poem, Auguries of Innocence, though the astrological weather will be stormy these next six months as Mars marches through Aries to square the behemoths, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto, three times. As Mars squared Jupiter on August 4th, a devastating explosion mushroomed over Beirut, Lebanon.
Mars turns Retrograde on September 9th (28 °Aries) symbolising internalised anger and desire, subversive action, as well as an opportunity to reassess the way we negotiate our power.
Apathy, depression, paranoia, sexual anorexia, and enormous frustration emanate when Mars is in chains. Mars is also the Samurai, the Warrior, who embodies erotic energy and virility, and the ability to stand one’s ground, defend our rights, tame our own demons, conquer our self-doubt in the months ahead. Mars is Retrograde until November 13th (15° Aries.) A provocative Mars squares Jupiter once more—October 19th and January 23rd—Saturn August 24th, September 29th, and January 15th, and will make a confrontational square to Pluto—August 13th, October 9th, and December 23rd.
As frustrations build, and tempers chaff and fray against ever-changing lock down rules, and algorithms determine the fate of thousands of school leavers and university graduates, and carbon emissions continue to rise, we may ruminate or catastrophise, or use our innate capacity to focus on the present moment with gentle interest and kindness.
Mercury-ruled Virgo is also the alchemist and the magician who uses ingenuity and clear vision to guide us across the threshold of change as we engage in lessons of integrity. Joseph Campbell called the Magician archetype “the mentor with supernatural aid” and as Mercury moves into his own sign of Virgo on August 20th, we may be selling our skills, refining our self-worth, perhaps investing our time and our energy as we mentor someone, or become the apprentice as we learn a new skill.
We may feel worn out, weary, as the light of our faith begins to flicker. The Full Moon of September 2nd (10° Pisces) carries the injunction to tend to our spiritual practice. The Sabian Symbol for the New Moon of September 17th (25° Virgo) A Boy With A Censer Serves The Priest Near The Altar invites us to light a candle, perform a ritual that celebrates our spirituality and renews our faith.
Uranus in Taurus stations on August 16th and will move Retrograde until January 13th, 2021, upending everything that has become too rigid and stuck in our lives. Future-directed Uranus uproots the past; accompanies break downs and break-throughs, unexpected events and separations that fling us into fresh starts as we align our energy to what matters most.
Collectively, and personally, we are in limbo, which has it’s roots in limbus, meaning hem, border, edge. As we stand on the edge, we may feel uncertain, hesitant, stuck or confused. When Virgo walks through the sun-bleached fields, it’s the little things she notices—those things that clutter our lives, clog our bodies, erode our integrity. Virgo’s virtues are self-containment and discernment. As the Sun awakens our Virgo planets or illuminates that part of our birth chart that is Virgo, we may feel insecure, unappreciated. Our industriousness and attention to detail may not get the recognition or financial reward we need to pay the bills. Virgo’s shadowy traits emerge when we stumble into the seductive archetype of “The Harlot/Prostitute”, when we sell ourselves short, when we don’t honour the commitments we make to ourselves, when we collapse into the fear of survival and clutch onto security at any cost. When we serve others and like the foolish Virgin, we neglect to fill the oil or trim the wick of our own lantern.
At this time of transition, we may be seduced by the security of the old ways. We may try to continue as we did before. Yet there is another way.
“Where do we begin? Begin with the heart,” wrote anchoress Julian of Norwich who was walled up in a small cell built onto the church for most of her life. In so many ways, this woman who took on the name of the church she was quite literally attached to, epitomises the humility and reclusiveness of the Virgo archetype, the Magician, and the Warrior.
Dr Mary Wellesley writes, “at the moment of an anchoress’ enclosure, a priest would recite the office of the dead, which was the set of prayers said at a person’s funeral. This symbolised that the recluse was dead to the world.”
The exclusive mens’ club, which was the medieval church, was a dangerous place for an intelligent woman. “Julian” called herself a “simple creature that cowde no letter,” yet she courageously wrote Revelations of Divine Love. It was seminal writing, a daring act of self-expression, which could have been construed as heresy. As we explore the archetypes of Prostitute, Magician, Recluse, and Warrior this month, may the Wise Virgin hold up the lamp of inner guidance as we emerge into the world with humility. We may feel dead to the world and to ourselves. Yet, we can begin again, with the heart.
For astrology consultations, please get in touch: Ingrid@trueheartwork.com