The Archetype of Virgo
by Jef Bartow
With Virgo, we again swing from a masculine archetype to the feminine archetype. This time, instead of a symbol of the divine mother, it is a symbol of the virginal divine feminine. Except that this divine feminine is not without experience in matter, but the emergence of the divine feminine through purification and renewed innocence. Mythologically, Virgo has been identified with a number of gods and goddesses. This is due to much of astrology considering Mercury (Hermes) as ruling Virgo. I conclude that Chiron rules Virgo and therefore Chiron is one mythological masculine representation that applies. The other is that Virgo represents both the divine virgin and the virgin carrying the Christ child. Three female goddesses apply here including Astraea, Persephone and Artemis. Chiron had the typical appearance of a centaur, body and legs of a horse, arms and head of a man. Unlike other centaurs, he was very wise, "for he was learned in music, medicine, hunting and warfare" and the art of prophecy. He was noted for his wisdom and gentleness. He instructed the youthful Achilles who became one of the greatest warriors in mythology; his downfall only coming because of his Achilles' heel (a key Chiron symbol). The lesser known Astraea was considered the "goddess of innocence and purity." She was linked to justice by many, but this is because her mother was Themis (Justice). Astraea was the last immortal to leave earth, and did so because of the corruption of Man and the resulting corruption of nature. She is considered the "just virgin" with a "complex character, fertile and barren at the same time; orderly and righteous, yet tinged with oriental moonecstasies." Both Artemis and Persephone are linked here because of their virginity or chastity. Interestingly, the term virgin is now heavily misused. The term virgin or virginity actually symbolizes the "purified emotions, or purified lower nature;" and the "immaculate one, who consecrates herself to the purpose of bearing and bring forth the Christ." Even as used in the Bible, virgin does not denote being single or not having had sex. The actual keynotes regarding virginity are keys to the archetype of Virgo.
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Positively conditioned, we obtain from Virgo a craving for perfection, an inquiring mind, efficiency at times of crisis and an ability to focus on a project all the way through to completion. The positive traits of being practical, useful, systematic, considerate, reliable and industrious epitomize a key symbol of Virgo: "adaptable practicality." This demonstrates through the ability to be "absolutely honest and un-glamorized with the "ability to adjust itself rapidly to any new situation." Further keywords here include analysis, discrimination, purity and self-integrity. Before we have purified our emotions, we express the instinctive side of Virgo as being self-centered, critical, skeptical, finicky and high strung. As part of our Personality, we are influenced to be indiscriminate, overly analytical, aloof, and overly obedient to methodology. At the extreme we flee into ritualized or obsessional behavior. More subtly, we face the "conflict between the safe, well-paid and barren external compliance and the fertile but often lonely path of inner loyalty."
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The key to this repolarization and purification is technique. "Self-purification is the essential means to technical mastery." By reorganizing our desires and reorienting our impulses, we can become devoted to spiritual discipleship. What this brings is a "reflective, analytical understanding" with the power and purity to fulfill purpose and destiny. Our focus on emerging from the control of matter, we learn to become the healer or shaman of ourselves and others. As Virgo represents the Christ-life, latent and unexpressed, we must embrace the alone-ness of the human soul in order to realize our soul potential through some new tangible form. This soul potential is symbolically represented by living the Christ life.
Living a Spiritual Life
Our Christ Self is ultimately both masculine and feminine, the divine hermaphrodite. Virgo represents the feminine part of this in many ways. To live our divine feminine through Virgo is to become inclusive, pure and potent, focusing our power and purity to the fulfillment of purpose and destiny. As we bring order out of chaos within our material and spiritual life, we not only receive but become the grace of divinity. As a synthesis of the feminine, we live the virgin mother through at least one part of our life. The subtle and magical power of the Feminine gives us the gift of divine grace and wisdom. Living the spiritual archetype of Virgo, we in the light of God wield the sword of discrimination to help cleanup the cosmos while nurturing and helping to reveal the hidden spiritual reality to those we contact and/or take responsibility for in our service to God.
Individuating the Self: the Search for Meaningful Service
As already mentioned, the archetype of Virgo is characterized by externalizing a divine feminine from our entrenched emotional nature. This part of our spiritual Self comes from a "repolarization of the emotional nature itself." Through discrimination, self-purification and balancing the mind and body, we become devoted to spiritual discipleship. As a spiritual disciple, we learn to "criticize dispassionately and without prejudice" in becoming objective to our own ways of behavior.
Before the spiritual Virgo is actualized, it demonstrates many characteristics of the feminine immersed in nature and matter. This feminine is linked to the nurturing mother, gestation, fertility and barrenness at the same time. Similar to the ideal mother of the family, Virgo represents and conditions us to be the industrious planner, with a flair for organization and setting up schedules. Feeling our own vulnerability, we tend to be modest, patient, humble with a meticulous attention to technique and procedure.