This month I watched two very ‘Virgo’ series. One was the BBC’s Extraordinary Rituals and the other was an online series called Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness, which was mainly about plants that can be used as medicine and in some cases food. It’s a fascinating and well produced series that you can still purchase if you happen to be interested (see links below). As with all the zodiac signs, Virgo can be seen as an archetype – in other words a group of things, concepts and psychological themes that belong together. The way I use these archetypes in practice, is to ascertain where and how they are being used on a scale ranging from positive to negative. Being aware of this provides insight into how we can make use of them to improve our lives. If the Virgo theme is strongly present in any chart, either your own, or in your company or country, then you will have to be involved in Virgo themes. Whether they manifest in a positive or negative way depends on your level of consciousness.
Both rituals and herbal medicine fall under Virgo’s auspices. A positive use of ritual can be helpful to create a sense of order, however, taken to extremes it can mean a diagnosis of OCD. Herbs can be used to great effect – ancient civilisations knew this – but take too much and some herbal remedies can kill you! So it is about balance. This is not only within the Virgo scale but also with the opposite zodiac sign, Pisces, as there is always a connection. Opposing signs operate together. This axis is ‘order vs. chaos’ (Virgo/Pisces which I have written about several times before).
Often, the first things that come to mind when rituals are mentioned are religious or spiritual ones. There are ceremonies for marriage and also for rites of passage in many cultures. Sadly, these rites are often lacking in modern western society. Yes, church marriages have ritual, but frequently those who marry in a church don’t attend services very often. Do they have any connection with what is being said?
Then, of course, we have ceremonies, and these have rituals that are often associated with ‘time’. Annual events such as birthdays, Christmas, solstice festivals, harvest celebrations are just a few. Astrologers feel at home with these! Other rituals that are very Virgoan in nature are our daily ones. The order in which we do things when we get up, such as washing, teeth cleaning, coffee, meditation – and these days social media checking – are very personal to us. I know I have a certain routine that gets me going in the morning, which happens to include a very noisy cat! Virgo likes to have a list to stave off chaos and these daily routines ground us and get us ready for the day. Virgo is an earth sign, so having a daily routine to help become grounded makes sense. Rituals help us find a sense of safety.
The BBC’s Extraordinary Rituals were indeed extreme and, to people unfamiliar with them, quite bizarre. What is clear in many rituals is that pain is inflicted. Why? – I always wonder. Often the idea of this is to prove devotion – another Virgo idea. Pisces also includes devotion, but that has a more emotional nature. Virgo is physical and pain in the body is what is sometimes required. Interestingly, many devotees go into a trance (Pisces) to endure the pain. I’m afraid I’ve never understood why being devoted needs such a degree of pain or sometimes danger. In the BBC series, a good example of this is the Jain nuns. From the link below: “Jain nuns follow a path of extreme austerity in the belief it will liberate their souls. They own nothing, have no home, and aim not to hurt any living creature. At their initiation they must give up all family ties, and let go of all personal desires by allowing the hair on their head to be plucked out by hand.” The plucking of hair happens at regular intervals!
Certain spiritual and religious rituals have been preserved over time and one theory is that by not changing the way they are performed, we can connect to our ancestors. Rupert Sheldrake is one who agrees and suggests that his morphic resonance theories support this idea. From his article (Link below) “Ritual acts must be performed with the correct movements, gestures, words, and music throughout the world. … So rituals have a kind of deliberate and conscious evocation of memory, right back to the first act. If morphic resonance occurs as I think it does, this conservatism of ritual would create exactly the right conditions for morphic resonance to occur between those performing the ritual now and all those who performed it previously. The ritualized commemorations and participatory re-linking with the ancestors of all cultures might involve just that; it might, in fact, be literally true that these rituals enable the current participants to reconnect with their ancestors (in some sense) through morphic resonance.”
There is a sense here that rituals connect us to something larger. To the earth and to all who have gone before us. One of the articles below suggests that rituals change all the time and that we should adapt old ones and constantly make new ones to fit our needs. A very exciting video below shows a ritual that surfers perform before tackling huge ‘impossible’ waves. Interestingly, the ‘big wave surfers reset ritual’ is performed to connect them to something greater by focusing body and mind – yet another Virgo concept. The huge sea and the meditative process are Piscean. So this ritual balances the physical body with the raw power of the ocean.
Astrology has always had a link to health and, since ancient times, parts of the body and processes have been aligned with planets and signs. Plants have associations with signs and planets too. Medical astrology assumes knowledge of these connections.
Virgo is said to rule part of the digestive process and in particular the small intestine, which has the very Virgo function of analysis – discerning what is useful and what is waste. What I also found interesting in the Remedy series was the discussion about our microbiome, the definition of which is: the collection of all the microorganisms and viruses that live in a given environment, including the human body or part of the body, such as the digestive system. We are actually a host for a colony of all sorts of things which are peculiar to each of us. We need all these tiny creepy-crawlies to keep us alive. The Remedy series discussed how we need to look after them. Antibiotics are known to be harmful and that’s why probiotics are often prescribed after a cure to get the good guys back – particularly in the digestive tract. There are many different organisms that all need different food and so eating the same things each day might not be helpful. Here again we see a Virgo balance needed. How do we combine a daily routine such as a morning croissant with a wide range of food?
Plants are there to help and they give us clues as to their usefulness. There are many examples of plants looking like the organs they support. We have ignored plant intelligence for far too long. I found one fact particularly fascinating in the Remedy episode on Lyme disease. When Lyme started surfacing in parts of the US, there was an invasion of Japanese knotweed. This plant is very helpful in the treatment of Lyme! Virgo suggests we should pay attention to the link between mind and body. We should use our minds to support our bodies – not only because how we are mentally affects our health – but also because by looking at the world and using our analysing abilities we can make use of what the earth freely provides to support good health!
Is there a Virgo link between ritual and plant medicine?
So why am I putting these two topics together? Virgo and Pisces reflect the connection between parts, details, pieces (all Virgo) of the whole (Pisces). When we take plant medicine it is often done as a routine, such as three times a day. If we are what we eat, we are connecting to the earth’s richness. Our daily herbal tea grounds us and connects us to the whole. Ritual does the same thing. Physical pain is also a way of getting us back into the body and stopping us worrying! Being a Strictly Come Dancing fan (yes, it’s started again!) a comment from a past participant made me think of this post: “I asked my partner to punch me before I went to perform so I would stop being terrified!” Maybe the surfer’s ritual is better! A daily prayer or meditation reinforces our place in the universe and provides a sense of safety.
So the question for you this month is: Do your routines and rituals both at home and at work support you or do they add to your stress and anxiety? Is it time to change, adapt or create new ones?
Websites of the month
Here is an example of the Remedy series – a good one for Virgo – it’s about anxiety! If you are interested you can see details for ordering and there is an interesting site with some free resources too.
Rupert Sheldrake’s article Mind, Memory, and Archetype: Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious has 2 parts – part 2 contains his ideas on rituals.
Why we need rituals in our lives – an article by Donna Henes in the Washington Post.
Some wonderful images and a video from the BBC on various rituals.
On rituals to gods and ancestors
A video of a modern ritual for surfers!
Quote of the month
“Over centuries, people have practised religious rituals to mark rites of passage such as birth, marriage, and death, to mark certain times of each year like the end of the harvest season, to please divine powers, and to ward off misfortunes. Rituals impose order and structure to our lives, and assure us about our place in the scheme of things.” Utpal M. Dholakia from an unlikely source: ‘Brands Are Behaving Like Organized Religions’, Harvard Business Review, February 18, 2016.
And just because
“Oh, it’s a bad, bad ritual
Oh, but it calms me down”, Timber Timbre, ‘Bad Ritual’.
I have Venus Virgo1, Pluto Virgo25 and South Node Virgo21. (4 planets in Libra as well Saturn in Taurus so Venus runs the chart!)
I am an Ayurvedic herbalist and have a clinical practice using food, regime and herbs as curative measures. I have a Master degree in Religious Thoughts, specifically Indian religions. I have been fascinated with temple rituals since my 1st trip to India to study yoga.
Your article is spot on. I do think, however, that the ritual connection has another angle – the homological connection. Most rituals, particularly religious or spiritual, creates a bridge between different cosmic planes. In the Vedic tradition, the sacrificial rite is a way to talk to gods as well as enacting a cosmic order. In the tantric tradition, it is to channel powers amongst different realms and to embody deities.
For me, it speaks to the Virgoan need of order, to make sense of the empirical reality.
I once heard that in Roman times, “Virgo/Virgin” means those women who did not belong to any man. Commonly there were only 2 types- prostitutes and temple priestess who were the expert in rituals and how to communicate to the gods.
Hi Rachel Thanks for your comments – fascinating! Indeed rituals were often performed to make sure the cosmic order was maintained. Contact with the gods in the form of prayer has a more Pisces feel for me but of course they go together because ritual acts are often part of that too.