This shift is taking all of us from fire to earth, from our spirits to our bodies. Ruled by Mercury, the planet of the mind, Virgo loves using its strong intelligence to take excellent care of the physical body and to see fine details that others miss. That makes this month a good time to look closely at your life, notice all things small, and seek clarity about what works and what no longer serves you.
Virgo, watercolor on paper by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
When the Sun travels through Virgo each year, it brings an earthy, methodical energy that inspires us to take practical steps to improve ourselves and our lives. We move away from Leo's fiery drama, exuberant expressiveness, and childlike innocence to the Virgin's orderly world of good health, devotional service, and useful work.
Virgo's desire for perfection pushes us to analyze, scrutinizing facts and physical objects in order to compare and contrast so we can detect patterns and minute flaws. If we avoid this sign's tendency to information overload or relentless criticism and keep in mind that data is a tool in a larger, spiritual process, we can gain valuable knowledge that allows us to make smart, informed decisions. For example, this month offers a good time to streamline and organize our daily routines to support new learning as well as review our goals and current skills to determine where we may need to improve work methods or whether we need to learn new subjects or techniques.
If taken to excess, Virgo's energy can feel picky, demanding, and perfectionistic and leave us feeling forever behind or unprepared, overwhelmed from endless (and lengthy) to do lists, or even incompetent. In frustration, we may become workaholics or turn Virgo's critical nature outward in judging or verbally abusing others who fail to meet our impossible standards. At its best, though, Virgo's quick mind helps us see precisely how to fix or improve everything from relationships to work processes to the world at large, and its sharp sense of humor helps ease tension and make work more fun.
Virgo is ruled by Mercury, named for the ancient Roman messenger god who could travel swiftly thanks to the wings on his sandals and cap. As a result, this mutable sign tends toward restlessness and constant thinking and talking. Because Virgo is an earth sign, this mental energy tends to be expressed in practical ways via constant work or other physical activity.
Apple, watercolor on paper by Anne Nordhaus-Bike
Mercury carries a staff called a caduceus, a rod around which two serpents twine. This object, long a symbol of the human spine and nervous system, points to Virgo's high nervous energy and preoccupation with health. This energy may manifest as hypochondria, health fads, or excessive strictness with diet or exercise; at its best, though, a sensitive nervous system helps support health by allowing us to feel immediately when life has gone out of balance so we can take sensible steps quickly to restore equilibrium.
Virgo's symbol, the Virgin, does not indicate sexual inexperience but rather someone who is independent and complete unto herself or himself. As a feminine, yin, or receptive sign, Virgo tends toward introspection, with a self-contained quality that encourages us to become more serious, dependable, and competent. These qualities come just when we need them, at the end of summer and the start of a new school year; when days grow shorter in Virgo time, even people long out of school can feel the shift away from midsummer's playtime to late summer's need to "get on with it" and get things done.
Virgo also comes at harvest time, during the annual process of "separating the wheat from the chaff." The Virgin's thoughtful expression and her stalks of wheat indicate this sign's skill at reaping a good and helpful harvest in every area of life: with sharp observation, we can discriminate between what is best for us (the wheat) and what harms us (the chaff). In doing so, we steadily purify, improve, and evolve so our talents become more useful and our efforts become of ever greater service.
This astrological month brings more major shifts and a return of the Uranus-Pluto alignment that is making 2012 a time of ongoing pressure to change and transform. Although this can feel extremely challenging, the Sun in Virgo can help us tap logic to monitor emotional responses and then express our passions in prudent, helpful ways.
* On August 23, the day after the Sun enters Virgo, Mars leaves airy Libra for watery Scorpio. In ancient times, the warrior planet Mars ruled both Aries and Scorpio, and it retains an affinity with the Scorpion. During its time in Scorpio, Mars will focus our energy, drive, and passion on Scorpionic themes of life and death, transformation and regeneration, and obsession and compulsion. Although potentially volatile, this placement can provide the sheer power and endurance needed to remove obstacles, dig deeply within ourselves to face the truth, and surrender to necessary change and rebirth. The Sun's position in Virgo can help us use our minds to make sense of this process and apply its energies constructively as we take practical steps to maintain health and a strong nervous system.
* On August 29, the North Node amplifies this urge to transformation when it leaves expansive Sagittarius for intense Scorpio, where it will remain until February 2014. The North Node indicates our collective destiny or path of growth and positive evolution. In coming weeks, notice any intensity you experience, confront your inner darkness as much as possible, and determine how your personal transformation can assist humanity's current call to a greater and more spiritual future.