I’m undergoing something of a spiritual key change.
I’m playing variations on the same material I always have, but as my understanding has deepened and broadened (and as Jupiter has been transiting my 9th house in Scorpio), I find that these days I’m playing this material at a new pitch level that’s requiring any number of adjustments to compensate for the untold variety of different harmonics and intonations that my life’s song is generating at this new pitch. In fact, it’s almost as though there needs to be a pause for re-instrumentation, because some instruments can’t play in A major as easily as they can play in B-flat major, if you’ll allow my overblowing of the metaphor.
The Blessed Virgin has a hold on the scruff of my neck that doesn’t seem to let up, regardless of how my spiritual schemata continue to shift and grow and change under Jupiter’s enervating influence. She’s been in my corner for quite a while, as far as I can tell. Which is why this particular Virgo season has me thinking more deeply about the connection between the sign of the Virgin and the person of the Virgin, both as an archetypical reality and as a means of interpreting things going on in Mercury’s nocturnal home.
The association between Virgo and the BVM is a facile one, and I’m well aware that there are any number of myths undergirding both the sign and the constellation of the same name—most notably Astraea and her Eagle—but, for me, the connection to the BVM mythos is doubly strong because of my particular religio-cultural context. I’m also a Virgo Sun, so, I have lived the bulk of my life growing into an understanding that a fundamental ego purpose of my existence is to adapt and to perfect within the material realm.
While listening to commentary on Virgo placements during an episode of my friend Melanie’s podcast, I suddenly found myself thinking once again about this connection between Virgo and the BVM not because of any sacred baggage we might attach to “virginity” but rather because of the idea of “adapting to material learning” that Demetra George uses as a byword for Mercury’s purposes in Virgo.
Virgo is, when you’ve gotten down to the heart of its significations, primarily about making things real. This is why Jupiter struggles so hard here, and most Virgo Jupiters I know skew towards a particular kind of over-examined rigidity whether in faith or in skepticism. Mercury, however, rejoices to make things real, taking ethereal concepts like words and meaning and value and transmuting them into material things that we can pick up and share and carry around with us and distribute and hoard—things like money, or books, or words, or even ideas themselves. Mercury transforms the extraordinary things of our hopes and dreams and wildest imaginations into the ordinary stuff of everyday life, but in the most extraordinary of ways.
With this movement towards reality in mind, I want to look again at what I consider one of the peak moments of the story of Mary in the New Testament, namely, her song of exultation after having shared with her relative Elizabeth what has happened to her, viz., being told by the angel Gabriel that she is to give birth to a messiah:
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
(Luke 1.46-55, KJV)
There is a lot that could be said here, but I want us to think about this: the story of Mary, a peasant girl from a nowhere town with no social prospects, who has become pregnant out of wedlock and has an unbelievable story about precisely how that happened, who is part of a people group who live under the thumb of oppression, has every reason to expect that her wildest dreams will never come to fruition and to linger in Piscean/Jovian dissolution. To wit, she is easily the first candidate for someone we would imagine would have no recourse in this world but to escape into flights of fancy.
But if we notice how the writer of Luke’s gospel has recorded Mary’s words, we notice one thing: nothing is in the subjunctive. All of her declarations are in the perfect tense; they have been accomplished, and there’s nothing left to wait for or to let remain the purview of dreams. Notice too that Mary’s Mercurial song of transmutation and magnification takes an easy potshot at everything Jupiterian or Piscean: “[God] hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” After all, magnification is the very process by which the small becomes visible.
Mercury has transmuted what we would expect to be Piscean idealism and dissolution into the here and now, and not just the spiritual here and now, but the real socio-political right here, right now—what Mary sings of is not “salvation” as in being removed to some far away place, but rather the kind of salvation that manifests in corrupt governments being overthrown and the last and the least being given, at last, justice and equity in their plight. Adaptation to material knowledge, indeed.
Virgo scatters imaginations and flights of fancy to magnify the utterly real day-to-day stuff; Mary’s song draws the reader’s attention to that which is most on the minds of this oppressed and colonized people group and states, in no uncertain terms, that what was once the exclusive purview of dreams and prophecies has become as matter of fact as the sky’s being blue. That seems to be what it is that Virgo does, and likewise what the BVM does with all of us who have a connection with her ancient and archetypical image: she magnifies and realizes, leaving us unable to let that which is most important to us remain the exclusive purview of some far-off hope.
I’d also add briefly that Mary serves an important role as psychopomp and intercessor between humanity and the divine. Considering the overlapping function of Mercury within Greco-Roman mythology, this is not something to overlook. I surmise that this is one of the reasons that the BVM-as-Virgo archetypical notion serves to reinforce the idea of the priorities of Virgo being servile and helpful. If Mercury in Gemini is a fleet-footed go-between, Mercury in Virgo is much more strongly connected to the idea of advocacy and assistance—an “in” with the divine, so to speak, which is precisely the BVM’s function in non-Protestant religiosity.
Perhaps this is another one of the reasons that I have such a devotion to her. Because I was socialized believing that God is fundamentally “male” (even though that’s not a defensible position theologically) and, after all, I’m afraid to talk to men. But I can talk to Mary any time with the ease and facility of talking to an old friend’s mom at the dinner table. This ease and facility is another one of Virgo’s key significations, for Mercury here can adapt immediately to any incoming information or material and get it precisely to where it needs to go in order to be most effective, just as Mary and other such psychopomp figures can route incoming souls, prayers, magics, etc. to precisely where they will be most effective.
It’s with all this in mind that both my spirituality and my astrological practice continue to grow and reorganize as I draw close to my next solar return—which will ensconce the perfecting Mars/Uranus square as thematic of the next twelve months, and Mars rules my 9th. All that to say, what key this life-music will end up in by next September is anyone’s guess, but at the very least my Virgo sun will know what to do with all of that information when I get there.
Featured image by Jochen Rehm | Alamy Stock Photo