About the Virgin of the Sky
The Sun enters the constellation of Virgo on 23 August. Below is a summary of what we know about the constellation of Virgo, from its mythical golden age history to the cult of the Virgin Mary. You will also get a glimpse into the mystery of the month of September: creation-decay, harvest and preservation, life and death. This exciting turn of the year is best understood as we move from the lush richness of summer into the barren, bleak winter.
“The Virgin who holds in her hands the gleaming grain of wheat. Whether she is the daughter of Astraeus, who is said to have been the father of the stars, or of any other, may her path be untroubled! But there are other stories, too, of how she lived long ago here on earth, meeting people face to face, never despising men or women, enthroned among them, though immortal. The people called her Dike, or Truth; she called the leaders together, whether in the market-place or in the broad streets, always urging them to pass judgments favourable to the people. In those days, people were not aware of hateful feuds, petty rivalries, the noise of battles; they lived simple lives. The cruel sea was far from them, and it was not yet ships that brought them food from afar, but cattle, the plough and Dike herself, the Queen of Nations, the source of all that was just, who supplied all their needs. As long as the earth nourished the Golden People, her dwelling was on the earth. But she was with the Silver Woman but little, and not with full will, for she coveted the customs of the old people. Yet in that Silver Age she was still on earth, though she came from the echoing hills in the evening, and no longer spoke kindly to any man. When she gathered them together in great multitudes, she scourged their evil ways with threats, and declared that she would no more lift up her countenance to any man, though they prayed in vain. “Behold, what a people the fathers of the Golden Age have left behind them! A far lower race than they themselves were! But you are creating offspring even more vile! Surely wars and cruel bloodshed shall come upon man, and bitter sorrow.” Thus she spoke, and departed into the hills, leaving the people staring after her. And when they also were dead, and the bronze nation was born, far more wicked than the first, which was the first to forge the sword of the highwayman, and the first to eat the flesh of the ox that drew the plough, Dike hated that nation, and flew up to heaven, and chose it for her home; there to this day, by night, men see the Fire.” – Aratus
The cycle of nature and the constellation Virgo
Every moment in time has a quality, and there are also characteristics that characterise longer periods. Of these, the twelve months, which recur in an annual sequence, are particularly significant. The stages of this cyclical process are associated with changes in nature that are closely analogous to the human condition.
September is the turning point: nature’s annual life cycle is coming to an end, and the months of the inanimate are next. The earth releases its harvest, the result of the work and growth of the previous months, and receives the sprouts of life of the next period, and then becomes barren for a while.
All this corresponds to a stage in human existence. A soul has reached “September” – the autumn – in its life’s journey when it has almost completed its earthly mission of a material nature. He has used his powers, achieved his goals, shaped his environment, unfolded his potential. The decisions and actions of youth and adulthood have paid off, the results have been reaped (he who sows reaps what he has sown). As nature ends its life in September, the resources and potential of the person begin to diminish. He can now only rely on what he has gathered before. Old age begins, the decline of the physical body. Observation of bodily processes and intervention to help them comes to the fore. This time of year, and the forces behind it, have been associated from the earliest times with the largest formation in the ecliptic, Virgo. We will briefly look at the manifestations and main modes of Virgo, its dominance over matter, and its duality of decay and restoration.
The goddesses associated with the Celestial Virgin appear in all major religious traditions, essentially as benevolent figures who care for humanity. These include the Hellenic Astrea, the Athena of Pallas, Demeter, the Egyptian Isis, the Roman Ceres, the Mesopotamian Istar and the Hindu Saraswati. These goddesses appear in three main roles: firstly, as guardians of knowledge, teachers of humanity, sources of intellect, inspiration, the arts and archetypes of purity. Then, the patrons of the harvest, of agriculture in the broad sense, the forces that nourish and protect humanity, the rulers of the life cycle of nature. Finally, the great goddess, mother of all – the original creator of the cosmos.
At times, the goddess has a consort who appears in a complementary, subordinate role, such as Tammuz, or Persephone. These deities embody the life force of nature, and their periodic imprisonment in the underworld explains the period of death that occurs during one half of the year.
The basic structure of the universe, matter is feminine. It is also the creative force that creates it and under whose influence it is. Just think of the meaning behind the words mater-matter or mother-matter. This force is called sakti in the Hindu tradition.
The Virgin symbolises an autonomous creative principle, which, although it receives its “mandate” from God, is completely autonomous in its activity. She is responsible for the creation of all that is material. What has form, we could say, is the product of the feminine creative power. God is an immaterial and incomprehensible reality – a masculine quality. But all conceivable created things with material bodies are the result of the working of the feminine principle, the independent – virginal – shakti.
The Virgin is the originator of all forms, the possessor of the image of right forms. That is why she appears at the end of the process – the life cycle – as its controller, shortly before the triumph of the forces of Death. Creation is then completed, the forms fully unfolded. The work is over, the – perfect – end result is born. From here, the path leads downwards.
If we look at the legend of Astraeus [daughter of Astraeus – see above], we see that the goddess is teaching the knowledge and understanding necessary for a harmonious life in the old divine order to a humanity that is less and less worthy of it, and is in spiritual and behavioural decline. All that was natural to the man of the Golden Age. In vain, however, he cannot stop the decline: in the Silver Age he still walks among men and teaches, but with the advent of the Bronze Age he becomes fed up with their wickedness and goes to heaven. He becomes the constellation Virgo.
It is important to understand what Astrea, the prototype of the Celestial Virgin, is actually experiencing as a teacher who preserves knowledge. What causes her upset, her dissatisfaction?
Astrea knows precisely about the dislocation from the human primordial state, about decadence. She wants to correct this by bringing humanity back to the right understanding and the right way of life.
The Ascension of Astrea, the phase marked by the constellation Virgo – the period of September – coincides with the finalisation of eccentricity. Perfection is a thing of the past, and the reign of Death is at hand. The key question is whether the harvest will be good, whether there will be those worthy of the coming spring – metaphorically, whether the lessons of the Golden Age will be preserved for humanity. Correct knowledge, knowledge of the laws of nature, continuous work, the ability to diagnose, to recognise disease, become essential. The abandonment of the primordial state, the subhumanity of modern man, is a disease — spiritually, but also physically. Spiritual decline also causes physical symptoms of ill health. Ageing is also a symptom of illness, a consequence of going astray. So is any kind of dysfunction. Astrea knows all this, but one does not listen to her.
September is therefore about the weakening and decline that begins after a vibrant spring and summer. But the Goddess, who has performed the act of perfect creation, senses exactly what is happening and tries to resist this damaging process. Since her primary purpose is to nourish humanity, to sustain creation, she experiences the decline as a shock. It revives in her the desire to return to a state of perfection. The Celestial Virgin knows the difference between healthy and unhealthy, perfect and imperfect, the diagnosis. She tries to cure the disease.
The desire to cause perfection and to restore the primordial state is present. To this is added only the ability to give perfect form, to fully unfold. All this, taken together, is characteristic only of the Celestial Virgin. The result is the Son of God.
The Virgin: the Mother of God
The birth of the Son of God is conditional upon one precondition – the leaving of the divine order, the primordial state. The sign of the primordial state, the Golden Age, is Leo, which is associated with the month of August. After its passing, in September, in the sign of Virgo, the decline begins. Virgo notices this and seeks to cure the condition by creating the perfect form. This is why she gives birth to the Son of God.
As the Exalted One says: “Whenever righteousness declines down here, and wickedness gains strength, I will descend and take flesh.”
This quotation gives the time of the Virgin – the month of the Mother Earth – as the cause and place of the appearance of the Divine Restorer, and also makes clear the manner of his incarnation. The very word “incarnation” is a reference to the Virgin, the sakti. If the invisible God is to manifest Himself, He can only do so through sakti: He must be born.
The Son of God: the culmination of creation, the most perfect creation, the conceivable God. He who brings the imperfect back to the primordial state of perfection from which he has fallen. The One who was begotten by a mother, namely the Virgin Mother, the feminine creative principle.
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