If you just want to read about Virgo, skip this intro.

This was one of the O.div’s more popular posts, and it received a fair number of comments. I never however, got around to posting “Part Two” before the blog died. It was going to be a longer post (as if this one wasn’t long enough!) about N. American Trickster cycles, which I completely did not understand when I first read them.

I now view the Trickster cycles as psychological documents of the process of becoming human. They are not simply “symbolic” but also magical, in that I believe they are recounting human psychological/existential development made manifest in reality which is to say, they are far more complex than just symbols of Jungian dynamics or what have you. (After living with people who thought “magically” and who also had their own Trickster cycle, I have come to believe that the fabric and material of reality are not nearly as constant and simple as I was educated to think…)

If you would like to read about the Trickster cycle, I highly recommend Paul Radin’s book, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology. I also think these cycles are very well worth reading in conjunction with existential psychologists or existential philosophers who had a great deal of psychological insight. In this regard, I would recommend Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, and Martin Heidegger.

Anyways, the whole point of Part Two was to expound on this notion of becoming human and to relate this process to the idea that Mercury is both in its dignity and exaltation in Virgo. The title I had cooking sounded something like “Virgo Part Two: From Trickster to Magus.” Oh, and my room these days is usually neat as a pin… (You’ll understand that last sentence after reading the post.)

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Original Title: Virgo Part One: From Subservient Secretary to Ritual Priestess
Original Post Date: March 18, 2006 @ 3:22pm

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Virgo for awhile. But before I proceed, I must add the disclaimer that this post is simply a collection of my thoughts and my own analysis of the sign and is not based upon any traditional astrological teachings.

Susan Seddon-Boulet

Oh maligned Virgo, you’re possibly the most boring sign of the zodiac. By now we all know the old sun sign drill: she’s overly critical, prudish, frigid, anal-retentive, borderline OCD. At best, the sign is characterized by a highly efficient, analytical worker drone with superior attention to detail. At worst, she’s a rigid, aseptic, unfeeling perfectionist more suited to life in the Borg collective than with humanity.

While this focus on hyper-perfectionism may be common, this is NOT what Virgo is about. This is what Virgo is about in a society that has no sense of worship or magic. [1] I’ve thought long and hard about the Virgo-Pisces axis, trying to find connections between the contientious neat freak and the spiritual space cadet and I believe both signs represent pathways to the spiritual world. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Virgo is possibly the most magically inclined sign, far more than the usual suspect, Scorpio.

This dawned on me after living with my father (chart ruler in Virgo) for almost two decades. This is a man who would actually take out the dishes I’d put in the washer to put them back in because he had a more logical and efficent system that would fit more dishes. Of course, I never understood this focus on cleanliness or details with my Mercury in 12th aspecting Jupiter, no Gemini, no Virgo. My room always looks like a mini explosion has gone off. But after watching my father clean up the kitchen after a 10 hour day at work for the hundreth time, I realized his desire for order had nothing to do with any kind of logic. It was like my father would have some sort of internal crisis if things weren’t “in their place”; it was a deeply rooted psychological need to have things in order. It then occured to me that there was something more profound to this Virgonean obsession with having everything spic and span.

The key word to understanding Virgo is RITUAL: ritual based on “magical thinking”, which is to say crudely and oversimplistically, that your internal intentions affect and manipulate your external environment. There is a danger in magical thinking however. If you imbue your rituals with too much meaning, you may be left with pure superstition, or childish beliefs that may eventually kill the “free will” component of ritual, the thelema that breathes life, your consciousness and your intent into the magical act. [2] Disruption to this type of superstitious ritual may lead to irrational psychological stress (e.g. I lost my lucky ring, I’m not going to perform as well) and rigidity of behaviour. Which brings us to the other side of the coin: when you strip ritual of its meaning and power, when it is only comprised of “free will”, you also kill it. For all you end up with is routine or empty tradition – which is what most Virgos are known for today: their fastidious routines, schedules and lists, their hypersensitivity to social propriety. More “enlightened” folks may find this emptiness more rational, but take note that for the worshipless Virgo, if anything falls too out of place, a very irrational psychological unease may begin to set in despite its apparent lack of spiritual or religious meaning.

Somewhere in between superstition and routine lies the world of ritual, the thelemic world of the magical practioner, who must walk that thin line between too much and too little meaning. So what can practical Virgo teach us about magic and the synthesis of mind and heart, free will and fate?

Firstly, Virgo doesn’t approach the divine like Pisces with a complete dissolutionment of ego; for Virgo it’s about the discipline and rigorous training of the mind which is attained through the repetition of ritual and a keen attention to details. Of course, the magical practioner knows that this training is not directed towards building oneself up to some power trip; like Pisces, Virgo is born to serve others. Virgo’s control is not about a rigid ego – which is often the case these days – but rather, it’s to train yourself to be strong enough to submit to the gods which is when you reach Pisces.

Virgo also shows us how the repetitious day to day rituals of purification in preparation for working with the divine are tied to the quotidian. Crowley likes to stress how even the tiniest details of the most mundane actions, like beginning each letter with “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”, can aid your magical training. Not surprizingly, the astrological house associated with Virgo – the 6th – governs routine, and in particular, daily service. Nowadays, this translates to the workplace although the worshipful Virgo serves at the alter and her service is in the daily maintenance of the temple and the body, for 6th also governs health. Virgo relates the act of physical cleansing to spiritual cleansing. Crowley writes, “For in ritual Magick, it will of course be the first care to get everything balanced and tidy” (MWT 167). Virgo teaches us that it is imperative to have your physical space in order, your head space in order and yes, your body in order with proper diet and exercise. Virgo can be labeled the hypochondriac, but when the health conscious sign is given a magical outlet, you realize why so much psychological importance is given to health and hygiene for the typical Virgo. You can’t properly practice magic rituals with a runny nose and throat infection anymore than you ought to do the LBRP in a cluttered room.

Virgo is also the winged virgin. She’s pure, untouched, sealed. Paradoxically, Virgo shows us that while magic is in a sense, so base as to be considered as a part of an almost automated and forgettable “everyday life”, it must also be elevated about that. Your rituals are also sacrosanct, holy. Crowley writes, “… it is of immense advantage to have a room specially consecrated to the Work, never used for any other purpose, and never entered by any other person than yourself, unless it were another Initiate… Everything is to be removed from the room which is not absolutely necessary to the Work” (MWT 168). Like The Hermit of tarot (associated with Virgo by the GD) who retreats from the world, like the alchemist who must work in isolation, so too does the magical practitioner benefit from working in a Hermetically sealed space. As above, so below; one’s body and mind too may benefit from banishing all impurities. And those of you who think or thought of your virginity as something to carelessly cast away, you may want to consider the immense power you can have as one who exists in an orobouric state of pure potentia and the wholeness that comes from being completely sealed off from the world.

Virgo also teaches us that practicing magic is a practical task. You absolutely must be grounded if you are serious about magic. If you can’t accomplish this, stay away from it. As noted in an earlier post, even something as seemingly innocuous as a tarot reading can throw an ungrounded person off! Be practical and exercise common sense, that’s what Virgo does.

Speaking groundedness, we must remember magic is not simply about esoteric and abstract theorums, it is also a viceral, physical thing. For it is in the material world we once derived mystery, we once detected the divine. Let us not forget the intimate ties between Western tropical astrology and the changing of the seasons. Virgo afterall, represents the transition from summer to autumn, and as such, she has been related to various earth-mother goddesses and myths of female descent, rich material worthy of its own post! But to begin to understand the true depth of Virgo, consider the ties between agriculture, the harvest, the Eleusian mysteries/Dionysian cults, and ponder the relation to magic. For those who need to brush up a little on the relevant myths, try this excellent Virgo page over at Skyscript.

Stay tuned for Part Two, in which I’ll talk about the ruler of Virgo, Mercury, and continuing thoughts on Virgonean magic.


[1] For those who want to get on my case for spelling magic without a k,
don’t bother. At this point, I don’t think we need the extra letter to realize I’m not talking about the sort of magic you find at children’s birthday parties or conjuring tricks and the like.

[2] Interesting enough, this type of thinking surfaces in some sufferers of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – the psychological disorder Virgo is sometimes associated with. e.g. if I don’t step on any cracks, I can prevent harm from coming to my family.