by Terri Smallwood
Welcome, star watchers, to September, and to the first anniversary issue of Metamorphosis. Weve come one full turn on the wheel of the zodiac, stopping each month to look at the signs and aspects that dominated the skies. Astrology is inseparable from the natural laws that govern our universe; as the planets rotate and whirl over our heads, the Earth, underneath, mirrors their dance.
Stepping through the signs last year, we looked at many of these relationships, such as how the beginning of winter corresponds to the dark night of the soul that is Scorpio. Mars, the bringer of life, brought us spring during the reign of Aries. Sagittarius, the convivial and philosophical Archer, held court during a season filled with cultural and religious observances. In each sign we see qualities and traits that mirror the rhythmic and unchanging dance of the seasons. And now that we have come full circle, it is time to look at the zodiac in a different light, to extend the comforting but closed circle into a limitless spiral. In this light the astrological signs become far more than simple points along the way, and instead become gateways to expanding our consciousness - and catalysts for living our best life while here on Earth.
When we look at the sequence of the signs as a metaphor for the evolution of consciousness, it is useful to look first at one of the most basic ways of grouping the signs, which is that the first six fall under the horizon in the natural chart wheel and the second six are situated above it. The personal signs, Aries through Virgo, are the first collection. As a group, they are concerned mainly with the growth of the individual and with the experiences and structures that form our daily lives.
The signs of the second group, Libra through Pisces, are more concerned with the outer world, and their activities are often strongly influenced by others - marriage partners, co-workers, teachers and so on. In the evolutionary theory of sign development, these signs are generally seen as more objective then the first six, the idea being that each of the more public signs has already integrated the lessons of its partner on the opposite side of the wheel. For example, Cancer, as ruler of the family and household, creates a strong and safe foundation for her opposite, Capricorn, to go out into the larger world and create wealth and success on a grander stage.
As we enter September, we find ourselves under the reign of Virgo, the sign that bridges these two groups. Virgo is the sixth sign of the zodiac and the last of the signs concerned with personal and subjective issues.
An earth sign, Virgo is concerned with gathering resources, but unlike the other earth signs, Virgo does not gather resources for the sake of holding tight to them or watching them increase in value. Her mutable nature gives her the mission of gathering and then disseminating. The quick-witted mental acuity of her ruler, Mercury, means that Virgos gifts are more mental and oriented toward swifter action than those of her more grounded fellows. Mercury bestows Virgo with a glib tongue and discerning eye, but with those gifts comes Virgos biggest pitfall - a tendency to see faults in everything around her and communicate this through sharp criticism. The challenge for all Virgos is to learn to balance this need to critique with tact and diplomacy, a lesson that becomes complete in the transition to Libra, which completes the journey from the inner world below the horizon to the public arena above.
Virgos position as the bridge between these two hemispheres carries with it another unique challenge: the need to learn how to put self aside in the interest of serving others. The five signs immediately preceding Virgo are seen as concerned with the integration of ego. Ego carries with it many negative connotations, and indeed an overblown ego can be the cause of many problems in ones life. However, the development of a strong sense of self is not a bad thing and provides an important foundation for everyone. Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, begins the journey as a strong leader who bravely projects his identity and beliefs for everyone to see. Taurus is concerned with money and resources, and gathers things to herself in order to build security and safety. With these needs met, Gemini has freedom to begin a mental exploration of the world, which is why Gemini is often associated with school-aged children.
Cancer continues Aries work as a leader, but has developed a maternal sensibility that suits her work as caregiver and the mother of the zodiac. Cancer begins the transition from being wholly occupied with self-interest and expands her realm of influence to her family, which she views as an extension of herself. The development of ego is completed in Leo, whose grandiose and kingly manner takes him ever farther away from the personal world created by the first four signs. Some would say that in Leo the development of ego has in fact gone a little too far. This is where we find Virgo, whose talent and drive for service to others checks the growth of ego and reminds us that we are part of a bigger whole.
In the natural zodiac, Virgo rules the 6th house, which, among other things, is associated with the skills and hobbies that ideally form the basis for the professional life, which is denoted by the sign ruling and planets residing in the 10th house. It is to the 6th house that we should look to determine what skills and resources we have that could best be used in service to others. Utilizing practical skills to assist others is Virgos forte. One archetypical representation of Virgo is that of the servant behind the throne, that person who acts to better the interests of another party. This can also be seen in some typical Virgo occupations: secretary, nurse, research assistant, and repairman. Virgo excels at tasks that require precision and a keen eye, and occupations that utilize these talents are a good fit for Virgo, especially if the job also seeks to benefit others in some way.
In this sometimes troubling and chaotic time of transition from the Piscean Age to the Age of Aquarius, the concept of service is an important one to understand. During the Age of Pisces, the idea of service was sometimes confused with martyrdom, and as we have begun to shift consciousness from one age to the next, the idea of sacrifice becomes ever more foreign to our natures. The Age of Pisces began with the example of what many see as the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, in which he is seen as having given up his life in order to give eternal life to imperfect humans. Jesus embodied the highest qualities of the servant, washing the feet of his disciples and reminding us that to be great one must first be humble. But the duality of Pisces and the haziness of Neptunes oceans can be seen as having distorted the message of the humble world servant. The Age of Pisces venerated the martyr, and to some the concept of service has become nothing more then an exercise in self-glorification. Instead of helping others for their sake, service has in some ways become a passive-aggressive exercise, sometimes reeking of manipulation and giving ideals like charity and service a bad name. This is an example of the lowest possible manifestation of the ideals of the Virgo/Pisces axis, and the slowly rising Aquarian energy wants none of it!
Learning to serve lovingly and graciously, and without the expectation of reward, is a concept we all need to embrace if we are to fulfill the Aquarian dream of a united community of humanity. This is where the lessons of Virgo become lessons for everyone interested in raising the vibrations of our planet.
Virgo asks us to check our egos at the door and use a fine eye for detail and a strong mind for problem-solving, and do something good for someone else - for no reason at all. By graciously caring for the needs of the people around them, their families, co-workers, friends and neighbors, Virgos are preparing themselves to take on the next challenge. As Virgo rises above the horizon into Libra, she extends herself out of the personal arena and enters public life. With the importance of service to others now deeply ingrained into the psyche, Libra starts the next revolution on our spiral of consciousness - bending the absolute rule of the ego created in Leo to give and receive love in partnership with a mate. Virgos role as servant becomes an integral component to balance Libras scales, and forms the basis of ideal marriage - love that gives without seeking reward; a relationship built upon the solid foundation of doing for one another. Teaching us to serve each other joyously and graciously is Virgos gift to the zodiac, her niche in the spiral.