(This article appeared in the September/October MidHeaven Magazine; the bi-monthly publication for members of Astrology Toronto)
The following piece of writing springs from years of observations and imaginings about the astrological sign of Virgo. When I realized that the fixed star Regulus would be entering Virgo some time in 2011* I became excited about how this combination might transform both Virgo and the influence of Regulus. Regulus is quite prominent in my own chart and so I am familiar with the themes associated with the King-Maker star. So I invite you to come along as I explore some cultural and mythical potentials of this combination of Royal Star and Servant Sign.
We live at the end times of a domination oriented age. For thousands of years the over-culture has reinforced the supremacy of the wealthy, the white and the masculine over the poor, the dark and the feminine. Most destructive has been the assumption that human beings have a God-given right to dominate the natural world. Collectively speaking, humans have lived for a long time with the notion that we are separate from nature and therefore in a position to understand and subdue it. This includes human nature as well as agriculture. (For more on dominator consciousness read the works of Riane Eisler and Leonard Shlain.)
It is difficult in a dominator culture to understand the essential truth of the sign of Virgo. Virgo is essentially about integration, which is the antithesis of domination. For domination to be successful it must destroy the integrating strength of Virgo. As Virgo is a mutable earth sign, we understand it to be about the mind/body connection. For Virgo, the mind and body are not really separate, but two sides of one integrated system. To understand one you can reference the other side. When mind and body are in synch, we are healthy. Virgo represents the innate understanding that the body is the temple of spirit.
The primary tool of domination is violation of the body.** Invading or owning another person’s physical self is a way to control them. When one falls under the control of someone else, one’s mind and body split apart in self-defence. To violate a person’s sovereignty over their own body is to damage their ability to integrate their life experiences in a healthy way. When that happens, the Virgo in us, which is meant to excel at integration, becomes instead a breeding ground for chronic illness, anxiety, and various self-defeating mental attitudes. Virgo’s wisdom, her ability to integrate her experiences, is then buried under a mass of denial and neurosis. At this time, in our world, Virgo is a sign which has virtually no healthy cultural mirror in which to see a reflection of its best qualities. (For a more in-depth look at the Virgo archetype read ‘The Divine Design’ by the author.)
There is no more powerful mirror for us down here on Planet Earth than the heavens above us. As astrologers, we are aware that the Sun, Moon and planets of our solar system are powerful mirrors through which we can better understand the workings of our lives. Astrology allows us to find our way to insights that are subtle yet extremely powerful. When we move beyond the solar system and out to the fixed stars, we can add another dimension to our cosmic mirror. Stellar reflections are extremely powerful and seem to be more universal in the messages they bring to us then the planetary reflections of our own solar system. (See BRADY’S BOOK OF FIXED STARS by Bernadette Brady.)
From our perspective here on earth, stars move so slowly (approximately one degree every 72 years) that their movement has negligible effect on an individual’s life. Regulus has been in Leo for the last approximately 2,160 years, and is said to be at the Heart of the Lion. Known as the King-Maker and the Watcher of the Gate of the North, Regulus is one of the four Royal Stars of Persia.
As fixed star folklore goes, Regulus represents the attainment of places of honour and influence which can be easily lost if the native has no understanding of how to manage the resources that are available in such elevated positions. The strongest message of this star is that revenge will destroy a king. (BRADY’S BOOK OF FIXED STARS p. 263) One could say that war is the ultimate act of revenge and dominator culture is nothing if not a culture of war.
When my daughter was little I enjoyed telling her the story of the genie in the bottle. But in my version, the Genie was a goddess who had been trapped for at least 5,000 years. When she was finally released from her tiny prison it seemed as though she should be grateful to her liberator. She wasn’t. She was in a very bad mood and wanted revenge on the first person she saw who was, of course, expecting to have three wishes granted. Scary stuff.
This brings me to the notion of the Bitch Goddess who I believe, in a whimsical way, presides over Virgo. For Virgo to survive through its long history of belittlement and abuse, it must have learned some strategies to get people to leave it alone. (In my experience as an astrologer and as an individual on my own journey, I have learned to recognize and honour the psyche’s intelligence in creating survival mechanisms. Often what works in childhood doesn’t work so well in our adult lives, but it is always to be respected as a noble attempt to protect oneself. Respect for our defences is a cornerstone in the building of healthier forms of behaviour.
Virgo is the archetypal location for our cellular memory of once having had sovereignty over our bodies and then having it taken away. Over generations of brutality in a dominator culture, Virgo’s innate strengths have become more and more marginalized. In every generation there have been some who stand up for wholeness and the little things. Many of these people have been silenced in ways that we can only shudder to imagine.
Being a slave, being raped or burned at the stake; these are obvious forms of violation. But there are a myriad of ways that a culture can keep people from owning their own lives. When one is not allowed an education, is forced to have too many children or to kill another human being in a war one does not believe in, one’s ability to integrate life experience in a healthy way is damaged or destroyed. The dominator culture is set up to force certain segments of the population into poverty, and then blames them for being there. Often, when these kinds of traumatic events and circumstances happen to an individual, it leads to the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (Read Judith Hermann: Trauma and Recovery). When dominator culture abuses an entire planet, you have a world in chaos.
But what happens when an archetype is systematically abused and diminished? One of Virgo’s greatest gifts is its fine analytical mind. When the peaceful integrative strengths of Virgo are marginalized and dismissed, its sharp intelligence is driven to a pattern of hyper-criticism, over-analysis, and chronic complaining. The Bitch Goddess is born. The epidemic of auto-immune diseases which plague our world at the moment are also evidence of Virgo’s failure to fulfill its healing integrative function in our lives.
Virgos defensive strategies of bitching, fretting, over-analyzing, etc. seem to be desperate attempts to make people go away. I’ve observed that those with the Moon, Venus or Ascendant in Virgo are the most likely to express themselves in these dysfunctional ways. They are usually not aware that they are trying to push people away. One may not be able to overpower a bully who threatens your daily existence, but you can withhold approval, or simply become too weak or anxious to function. You can collapse or find some other way to make sure there is very little sweetness in the dynamic between you and your tormentor. Virgo is the sign of the Virago, as well as the Virgin.
Now, imagine that this beleaguered entity we are calling Virgo is suddenly visited by Regulus, the King-Maker, who is now coming to knock on Virgo’s door. Remember that the main theme of this star is that revenge will ultimately destroy power. Repression won’t work. Virgo isn’t about repression in any case, it’s about integration. And we could say that Virgo has a lot to be vengeful about.
We could say that the Earth is exacting revenge upon us through the nightmare of climate change. But it would clearly be an anthropomorphic projection for us to ascribe vengeful emotions to the Earth. The environmental emergency is not a judgment from above, not a punishment from the King, but rather the deleterious effects of our own actions. If we change our actions, we will, eventually, experience different effects.
I believe that, as Regulus moves through Virgo over the next 2,160 years, we may come to see many things differently. Most importantly we will have to learn to deal with the small stuff: growing and distributing food equitably, celebrating and integrating diversity, seeking wholeness rather than monoculture. The notion of a king will, I believe, give way in time to the truth that one person or group of people at the top of the heap making all the decisions is ultimately an unworkable model of governance. We are poised on the brink. The world is slowly waking up to the fact that we have to learn to deal with the small stuff. It is time for a true integration of the voices of the many into a wisdom that gives birth to a more wholesome and balanced way of life.
Regulus in Virgo promises to transform a culture run by kings and leaders into a culture learning how to live as an integral part of the Great Round of being. We are growing up as a species, and these apocalyptic times are our growing pains. As all wise adults learn sooner or later, there’s not much point in crying over spilled milk. The damage is done and now we simply have to clean up the mess and, if we are lucky, we will learn something. In the end, living well is the best revenge.
*According to calculations done on Bernadette Brady’s Fixed Star Software, Starlight and Solar Fire it appears that Regulus will enter Virgo some time between September and November of 2011.
**Please understand that as I use the notion of dominator culture I do not actually call it patriarchy because I don’t think it can be seen as something that men did to women. It is a phenomenon of our growth as a species, and men and women both participate in it. A core principle of dominator culture is that might-makes-right. And when it comes to might, men have more physical strength than women. Although it appears that men hold the upper hand in our world, I think it is very clear that they are as damaged by the system as women. And women have other strengths, strengths that can change the world. Truly men and women are all in the dance of our current planetary changes together.