-Nikki Harper DMS.Astrol Author of Moon Surfing for Teens
How to Soothe a Virgo: Real Life Guidance on How to Get Along and Be Friends with the 6th Sign of the Zodiacby Mary English
Real-life strategies on how to get the best from the Virgo in your life.
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Real-life strategies on how to get the best from the Virgo in your life.
-Nikki Harper DMS.Astrol Author of Moon Surfing for Teens
- Hunt, John Publishing
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How to Soothe a Virgo
Real-life guidance on how to get along and be friends with the 6th sign of the Zodiac
By Mary English
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2013 Mary English
All rights reserved.
What 'is' a Virgo? Well, if you read the papers or magazines, the dates for Virgo are generally 24th August to 22nd September. I say 'generally' because it does depend on which publication you read and also where in the world and at what time you were born. This is because the orbit of the Earth around the Sun isn't exactly the same as our calendar.
In fact it takes 365.26 days for the Earth to go round the Sun. Our calendar is 365 days long, so every so often we have to have a leap year to straighten things out and sort out that .26 of a day!
In Astrology we don't have to worry about this because we work things out from the perspective of us looking up at the sky and seeing the Sun move round the Earth (which it doesn't do in reality).
If you were to imagine that we have divided the whole of the sky above us all around the Earth into 12 equal portions, one of those portions is called Virgo. We start the calculation from the spring solstice (in the sign of 0° Aries), a measurement relating to how the Earth spins on its axis. As it spins it moves from side to side, and as it moves nearer and further away from the Sun this creates the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. By the time we get to August/September the Sun has reached the part of the sky that's the 6th division ... and we call that Virgo. So a Virgo Sun sign just means that the Sun, that shiny ball of fire in the sky, is in the bit of the sky that we've called Virgo, and Virgo is shorthand for 151º–180º away from the bit of the sky we've called Aries.
Astrology uses astronomical data to make the calculations necessary to say what sign is happening at which month of the year, but as the orbits have nothing to do with our clock time on Earth, the sign of Virgo changes at different times of day and night.
To make sure (because we are working with the analytical and precise sign of Virgo!) we have the right data, we are going to be using a Swiss website. More about that in Chapter Two.
Each sign of the Zodiac has a planet that looks after it. We call it its 'ruler', and the ruler for Virgo (and Gemini) is Mercury.
Mercury the Speedy Extreme Planet
Mercury's orbit around the Sun is four times as fast as the Earth's, so its year is only 88 Earth days long. However, it spins so slowly on its axis that one day on Mercury is equal to 59 days on Earth. It is also the smallest planet in our solar system and is not so easy to spot, the best times being early evening in the spring and early morning in the autumn in the northern hemisphere.
The American Space Agency NASA sent a probe called Messenger to explore the planet in 2004 and it became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on 18th March 2011. It was going to cease its investigations in March 2012 but has secured funding for an additional year of research.
So far, they have discovered that the surface of Mercury is covered in volcanic explosions, craters, and evidence of flood volcanism. The surface temperature is of two extremes. On the sunny side it reaches 430° C and on the dark side of the planet it goes into deep freeze with temperatures reaching a low -180° C. Hmm, don't fancy living there!
Mercury the Go-Between
If we look at Mercury in our solar system, we see that it stands between us and the Sun, and I agree with Christina Rose, who writes in her Astrological Counselling:
Mercury, positioned closest to the Sun, stands rather as one who introduces the solar energy to all the other planets, and vice-versa. Thus, his function is that of an introductory link, transmission, connection and we may liken Mercury to a go-between, an agent or courier between the Sun and the rest of the solar system. On an incoming wavelength, this function is experienced within the individual as recognition, perception and awareness. On an out-going wavelength, it is that which spurs us toward the communication of those perceptions and awareness.
Astrologers therefore think of Mercury in the birth chart as something that acts as a mediator or negotiator and helps with communication.
Mercury the Messenger God
In myth, Mercury is named after the god that the Greeks called Hermes. And Hermes replaced the Babylonian god Nebo and then later the Romans named him Mercurius. Already this poor god has had a number of name changes.
In the Greek myths, soon after being born, Mercury set off in search of the cattle belonging to his brother Apollo. He made their 'hooves go backward, the front ones last and the back ones first' and hid them in the cave of the sun god Apollo.
He is also known as the 'trickster god' because of all the naughty things he got up to.
Hermes was also the only god capable of travel to the deadly Hades underworld and back again. This is similar to the reality of the planet's surface temperatures being so extreme. Hot/cold. Mercury is depicted as a god with winged feet, travelling great distances at lightning speeds, being the messenger of the gods. It is these attributes that we mirror in Astrology. We're not saying that the attributes of Virgo are exactly the same as the planet Mercury, just that they're similar, that they have alike qualities. Mercury has a dark and light side: Virgo can be analytical and seemingly unfeeling on one hand, and attuned to health and healing on the other. It's these qualities and dichotomies we'll now discuss.
Virgo the Virgin
As the glyph representing Virgo is the maiden/virgin, we must not confuse Virgo qualities as being totally 'pure'. This is not virgin as in chastity but virgin as in not beholden to any man: 'Virginity is to a woman what honour is to a man, the symbol of the fact that she is not a slave.'
So, Virgo is about thinking 'outside of the box', being free to think ... and think they certainly do. If you want to tire yourself out, get a Virgo to record everything they think in 30 minutes. This is different from Aquarius thinking, which just goes into weird and wonderful places; the Virgo thought goes into great detail about the subject under consideration.
Here we have H.G. Wells, the science fiction author, who had Aquarius Ascendant (freedom loving) and Moon in Aquarius (also into emotional freedom), talking about his Virgo thinking in his Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain in 1934:
I need freedom of mind. I want peace for work. I am distressed by immediate circumstances. My thoughts and work are encumbered by claims and vexations and I cannot see any hope of release from them; any hope of a period of serene and beneficent activity, before I am overtaken altogether by infirmity and death. I am in a phase of fatigue and of that discouragement which is a concomitant of fatigue, the petty things of to-morrow skirmish in my wakeful brain, and I find it difficult to assemble my forces to confront this problem which paralyses the proper use of myself.
I am putting even the pretence of other work aside in an attempt to deal with this situation. I am writing a report about it – to myself. I want to get these discontents clear because I have a feeling that as they become clear they will either cease from troubling me or become manageable and controllable ... I write down my story and state my present problem, I repeat, to clear and relieve my mind.
As he says, he's writing his autobiography for one reason alone: to clear his mind.
So what sort of minds do Virgos have and what goes on inside them?
Mother Teresa, a wonderfully humble Catholic person and charity worker, had a crisis of faith early in her religious career. She wrote about these failings in her journal which we can glimpse into:
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on Whom I can cling – no, No One. – Alone ... Where is my Faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no Faith – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart – & make me suffer untold agony.
She thought that 'God' wasn't listening to her and that she was alone in the world. This caused her, as you can tell from this brief extract from her diary, an extreme amount of mental angst. She wasn't fighting demons; she was fighting her own thoughts, which were driving her to distraction.
As Eckhart Tolle quite rightly says, the only thing that is a problem in life is our thinking.
It's only by thinking that we 'make it so'.
In fact Shakespeare put it beautifully in Hamlet:
Hamlet: What have you, my good friends, deserv'd at the hands of Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?
Guildenstern: Prison, my lord?
Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.
Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.
Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.
Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.
Hamlet: Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
Hamlet thinks Denmark is a prison, but Rosencrantz doesn't ... the only difference between the two views is their thinking.
But before we get too tangled up in Virgo thoughts and thinking, which we'll discuss in Chapters Six and Seven, let's find out a bit about Astrology and how useful it is to help us understand each other.
Characteristics of Virgo
So we have a ruling planet that speeds through the Zodiac and around the Sun with one side boiling and the other freezing; we have the god Mercury in myth, intent on getting his message across; and we have what astrologers call 'attributes' – things that have been handed down over the years as life qualities for Virgo the sign. She is also a female sign, as she would be, being a Virgin ...
Let's see what Herbert Waite, writing in 1917, says are characteristics of Virgo:
This sign is of the element Earth, and of mutable quality. Virgo individuals are shrewd, discriminative, diplomatic, quietly active and reserved. They are often thought harsh and taciturn, but the fact is, they conceal behind a cold and matter-of-fact exterior the peculiar nervousness of their negative, mercurial temperament. They are extremely kind and sympathetic, yet so nervous and retiring that, many times, when expected to say a word in consolation, they refrain for fear the mention of the subject should revive sorrowful remembrances in their friends; in some cases their fear is that they may appear too sympathetic and not sufficiently worldly and businesslike. They, more than those born in any other sign, usually feel the need to bolster themselves up and even repress some of their finer instincts in order to keep their equilibrium. It may be said that they maintain their cool and dignified attitude and often impressive presence at the expense of an ill-deserved reputation for coldness of feeling; and thus their true nature is rarely, if ever, seen. When in authority over others they are rather too exacting, though just to a fault.
Hmm, sounds rather harsh to me.
What about other astrologers' views? Let's ask Rae Orion in her Astrology for Dummies:
Nothing gets past you. You have an eye for detail, an inborn sense of efficiency, and a supreme sensitivity to the implication of language. You also have extraordinary analytical abilities, a rare clarity of mind, an enviable capacity for concentration, and on top of it all, an appealing modesty. You know you're not perfect – but you're doing everything you can to get there some day. As an earth sign, you are patient and industrious. Yet you're also an idealist and a perfectionist of the first order. You know how things ought to be, and you're certain that you can make them that way, one detail at a time. You're organised and disciplined – or you wish you were. And you push yourself to the limit. When other people try to wriggle out of unpleasant tasks, you step in, make a meticulous list of everything that must be done, and check off every item on the list. More work ends up on your desk than on anyone else's because, guess what? You're more competent than anyone else.
Yes, that sounds a little more like the Virgos I know.
Let's ask the wonderful Linda Goodman in her Love Signs about her views on Virgo. They weren't (I'm afraid) top of her 'likes' list and she explains why.
She starts by describing a prayer she made (as a joke) to St Anthony, asking for her book to be widely read so that people would understand how to love one another through Astrology, both by recognising their own failings and by sympathising with the different, but equally ingrained, bad habits of others. She then goes on to ask for her book not to be banned by Virgos because Virgos make up more than one twelfth of the entire reading public, and as it was an Astrology book she also prayed that the Catholics wouldn't ban it, and the 'squeaky-clean' Mormons ...
The thing is, Tony, that I have no idea what the printer's Sun Sign will be. Of course, I could get lucky, and he'll be a Virgo. But just imagine if he should be an Aries! Could you maybe nudge him a little when he's setting the type if he seems to be about to miss a comma, or a period, or get the page numbers reversed, stuff like that? You just wouldn't believe the stacks of mail I get from Virgos, criticising a couple of author's mistakes and printer's typos in my first book, Sun Signs, and it's given me a complex. So I respectfully beseech you to guide both me and the printer of unknown Sun Sign origin in making these pages absolutely flawless.
I agree with Linda on this point, which I didn't discover until I'd had my first book, How to Survive a Pisces, published, when a Virgo mom wrote this review on Amazon:
'... as a (Virgo) copy editor, I'm somewhat discouraged by the poor copy editing/proofreading that was done with the Kindle edition. I hope the print version is cleaner, because this one is difficult to read.'
Reading and critiquing something is a lot easier than actually writing it. But in fairness we need both aspects in publishing, the providers and the editors.
How about asking another astrologer – a male one – about Virgos? Let's hear what Laurence Hillman has to say in his Planets in Play:
Serving, organised, healthy, industrious, critical, pedantic, sensual, humane, sceptical, picky ... Many Virgo traits can briefly be described as detailed-orientated, efficient, having discriminating taste, and being rational.
Bit of a theme coming through.
Here's Marcia Starck writing in her Healing with Astrology:
Virgos tend to be overly critical, seeking perfection in themselves and others, and are often too attached to purification and cleanliness. The positive qualities of Virgo manifest in service to others, a fine discriminating intellect, and a good grasp of earthy, practical needs.
I think we can safely say that keywords to describe Virgo would be: orderly, analytical, perfectionist, health-aware ... and anxious.
So for the sake of balance I asked a few real Virgos for their opinions.
Victoria is an astrological author and writer. She lives in a quiet suburb of a large city with her husband and child. I asked her how orderly she is:
'Mentally, I'm very orderly. I hold a lot of plans in my head, mentally divided into different subjects, goals, areas of focus etc., and I spend a lot of time thinking methodically about how to do x, how to organise y and how to make sure z happens – and to be fair to myself, the things I organise mentally usually work out very well indeed.'
Grant is in his late fifties and lives and works in a rural location in South Somerset:
'I think I am fairly orderly as I have a place for most things.'
Janice is a mum and therapist and lives and works on a canal barge in the West Country:
'Very orderly. I always know where everything is at home/work.'
At the other end of the scale we have Deirdre, a lady in her forties who works as a healer and who is very orderly:
'Everything is filed/stored logically. (I'm self-employed and the office is the loft of the house so it's all somewhat combined.) I know where all my stuff is, but if I need something my husband also uses, I may have to search for it. It occasionally drives me nuts that after 15 years my husband still can't unload the dishwasher and put things back in the same place I've had them since we moved into this house 8 years ago; places, I might add, that are almost identical to the previous house. (I don't say anything, just sigh to myself and replace whatever it is.) And yes, tidy is a must. The house may not be clean but it is always picked up. Including the cat toys (a never-ending chore).'
Excerpted from How to Soothe a Virgo by Mary English. Copyright © 2013 by Mary English. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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