Dear Friend and Reader:
El Sol is now in Virgo; it made its ingress to the sixth sign of the zodiac Thursday at 7:02 pm EDT. Virgo is the mutable earth sign (the only one). Mutability is a form of changeability; earth is a form of stability. We have some tension manifesting through that contrast.
Of course, the Earth is in a constant state of flux and change, especially in our era of Earth changes. We live with that tension, as we expect the climate and geography to be reasonably stable, though so often in our moment of history it’s anything but.
Virgo is the third sign of the summer up here in our part of the world; as a mutable sign, it’s the disseminating phase of the season. (Note that all the seasons end with a mutable sign — Gemini ends Northern Hemisphere spring, Virgo ends summer, Sagittarius ends autumn and Pisces ends winter.) That is part of what makes the sign mutable: it arrives in a moment of transition. Mutable signs can also express themselves as a cardinal sign or as a fixed sign — another example of their changeability.
Associated with Mercury, in the traditional ruling planet we get another image of changeability. Mercury changes directions six times a year, more than any other planet (three stations retrograde, and three stations direct). Its speed is varying constantly, and it accelerates and decelerates (in and out of its stations retrograde and direct) more quickly than any other planet.
If you look up Virgo in a dependable old text, you’ll find that it’s associated with dairy production, cornfields, granaries, malt-houses, or places where barley, wheat, peas, cheese and butter are stored. In other words, going back to the significant agricultural roots of astrology, Virgo is the sign that’s about having enough to eat. Not surprisingly, given the time of year that it occurs in the Northern Hemisphere (where our astrology was developed), Virgo is the sign of the harvest.
Virgo is also associated with libraries and studies — revealing of the scholarly traits that modern astrology books associate with this sign. Fred Gettings, in his excellent astrology dictionary, describes Virgo as a sign “deeply committed to the intellectual process.”
Those of us who know and love Virgos are familiar with intelligent, clever, somewhat nervous people who can never seem to do enough. And it’s difficult to figure out where you stand with them, since like the motion of their ruling planet Mercury, every day is a little different.
You can think of this as Virgo in its outer form — how it expresses itself in ways that we can observe with the senses and eat for breakfast. Then there are the deeper layers. We can find something about this in a 1951 text called Esoteric Astrology by Alice A. Bailey.
“The sign Virgo is one of the most significant in the zodiac,” Bailey writes in her introduction to this sign, “for its symbology concerns the whole goal of the evolutionary process, which is to shield, nurture and finally reveal the hidden spiritual reality. This every form veils, but the human form is equipped and fitted to manifest it in a manner different to any other expression of divinity and so make tangible and objective that for which the whole creative process was intended.”
She describes this process as being conveyed in three female figures from mythology: Eve, Isis and Mary. Each of these goddesses conceals and gestates the inner spiritual quality of humanity until it’s born in human form as Jesus, the Christ. I don’t think she means this literally as much as she is presenting a metaphor of spiritual development, and a model of the feminine being what gestates a deeper quality in humanity.
Eve “took the apple of knowledge from the serpent of matter and started the long human undertaking of experiment, experience and expression” of our journey on and with our planet. Isis “stands for this same expression down onto the emotional or astral plane.” Mary “carries the process down to the plane or place of incarnation, the physical plane, and therefore gives birth to the Christ child.”
Many things are going on here, in the midst of the anachronism of these three figures; one of them is that Bailey is describing Virgo as an expression of the threefold goddess, which takes many other forms. Another is that she is describing Virgo as a sign that, through a series of steps, brings humanity closer to its essential spiritual nature — the one we know exists at least in theory and more probably as a spark of light within us — being born in real life, as a physical manifestation.
An idea becomes real; a potential manifests. The germ of life inside the seed of grain is protected, and when the conditions are right, it emerges and grows. That is the essence of Virgo, where we see so much in the way of intellectual expression yearning for a place to take form. To do this, it’s necessary to honor the life within what we’re doing, and the deeper life within ourselves. This takes patience and care. It requires living in service of that inner light, until it’s fully born.
Even in the most ordinary themes of Virgo we see these qualities expressed — for example, the undeniable emphasis on service that Virgo so often presents. When a person with strong Virgo in their chart is in conflict or crisis, it would be a good idea to check for the extent to which they are honoring and are in harmony with that inner life. Note: service does not necessarily mean being a nurse or a teacher. It means doing what one came here to do; it means following one’s true calling, which almost invariably serves humanity.
Notably, many people alive today have unusually powerful Virgo signatures in their charts — for example, everyone born between 1957 and 1972 has Pluto in Virgo (there will be some small exceptions on the far ends of that date range, when Pluto was transitioning between signs).
Through the core of that era Uranus was also in Virgo, as this sign was the scene of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-1966. That conjunction has a wide orb of influence, spanning at minimum from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. And we are experiencing a manifestation of that event today, as Uranus and Pluto are now making their famous square aspect — the defining aspect of our era.
One recent manifestation of the deeper nature of Virgo came with the discovery of Chiron in 1977. While Chiron is not the ‘ruling’ planet of Virgo, there are many associations between Chiron and Virgo, and Chiron does indeed seem to have transformed our notion and experience of Virgo.
Chiron is physically a massive comet. At 160 to 180 kilometers across, it is thousands of times the size of even the largest comets we can typically see — but too far away to resolve even for most telescopes. Chiron orbits our Sun in a 51-year egg-shaped path that crosses Saturn’s orbit and goes out nearly as far as Uranus.
The discovery of Chiron, and considerable early enthusiasm about it, raised much speculation about what sign this new planet might rule. This notion was based on an assumption that new planets rule anything at all. But by 1977, the modern planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) were said to rule Aquarius, Pisces and Scorpio respectively. So when Chiron came along, astrologers were ensconced in the dubious habit of thinking that something new had to rule a sign.
While this issue is potentially debatable, Chiron certainly has a lot to say about Virgo and a close affinity for it. Chiron’s dedication to healing, service and perfecting the human experience is related to Virgo rather impeccably. Chiron always seems to be struggling to bring something from a ‘higher level’ into the physical plane.
Chiron will do whatever it needs to do, again and again, until it gets our attention. If you track your lifetime Chiron transits, you will see this in action. It is not easy integrating the energy of one level of experience into the other — anyone who has tried to bring loving vibes into their place of work might know what I’m talking about — but with persistence, it can be done. And Chiron is persistent if nothing else.
Chiron of Greek mythology was a surgeon and the primary teacher of Asclepius, the god of medicine. There is not a lot of room for error in these distinctly human fields of work. The roles of both teaching and nursing have long been associated with Virgo.
The mental obsession that Chiron can bring helps us see through Virgo in a way that’s helpful. As Barbara Hand Clow has pointed out, this obsessive quality is one of the most important links between Chiron and Virgo, something that tricksterish, often annoyingly neutral Mercury could not really explain fully. Chiron is no messenger, and he’s not neutral; he is someone with a mission, who speaks through action.
That mission has been likened to the Christ from the earliest days of astrologers interpreting Chiron, so we might speculate that Virgo has given birth to the Christ energy in the form of this new planet. Many of the early astrologers who considered the mythology of Chiron, which involves an immortal who experiences death and resurrection, have made this connection, particularly Zane Stein. But what exactly does this mean, in a world where the mythology of Jesus is twisted in ways that are used to preach intolerance, hatred and mass murder?
It means that a) we had better start thinking of Jesus a bit more compassionately (Christians: stick to the red letters), and b) that Chiron is going to push us to become whole, authentic people, whatever it takes.
Chiron is now in Pisces, the sign opposite Virgo. It is therefore influencing everyone with planets in any mutable sign.
But it’s especially significant for those with any strong Virgo signature — such as the Sun, Moon or ascendant, and anyone born during the Pluto in Virgo era. This is a second activation point of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the long and deeply influential era we call the Sixties.
Speaking of goddesses, Virgo, Chiron and Uranus-Pluto, Betty Dodson turns 84 on Saturday. Betty is the patron saint of sex education here at Planet Waves. The author of the first factual book about masturbation (with a focus on women), Betty has spent the past 40+ years working and playing as a sexual revolutionary. She was one of a very few people who were willing to break the silence on all matters of sexuality, not as an expert or scientist but in her role as human being — especially on gender-queer and masturbation issues.
I think of Betty as the ultimate incarnation of Virgo, from the level of personality (her immaculate home, her impeccable attention to detail especially in her art and writing, and her somewhat fussy personality) right out to how she expresses her deepest mission, as an incarnation of the healer-initiate.
When she entered mainstream public consciousness in 1973, she was willing to go where no outspoken person had gone before: advocating female masturbation. It’s easy for us to take this for granted now, when the topic is a favorite of popular sexual cinema (i.e., ‘porn’), a bona-fide fetish and something that nearly all women do. She offered the idea that they could love that fact, and express it openly with one another and in their intimate partnerships. Her publishing debut was an August 1973 article in Ms. magazine that her editors made her rewrite more than a dozen times over two years before they finally published it.
It wasn’t always that way. Indeed, when Betty published that article in Ms. and her subsequent (associated) pamphlet, Liberating Masturbation, the topic was verboten, even disgusting and disgraceful; it was easier to get information about ancient pagan rituals, the Illuminati and the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola. You could probably could have gotten a good few doctors to agree that having the mumps was healthier for you.
For any woman who today complains that any man in her life, or men in general, are into women’s masturbation, thank your lucky stars. You don’t want to go back to the old days, when it was a criminal act of moral turpitude, a disease, an embarrassment and a betrayal of relational fidelity. (Note, some people still feel this way; I encourage you to arise from your slumber and get with it.)
To the extent that people today think that female masturbation is a beautiful thing (or that it exists at all, and is a healthy, necessary expression of sexuality), we can personally and individually thank Betty Dodson. Trust me: this took guts, determination and intelligence. And she brought all her talent as a writer, artist and activist to the project. She took big chances and was made an outcast many times along the way.
To the best I’ve been able to research the topic, the assault on masturbation started with a 1612 book called Onania, and this work of demonic propaganda is not answered until Betty comes along and openly corrects the record and offers a new set of teachings. [You can read more about Onania in this article.]
When you look up “sex-positive feminism” in Wikipedia, you find out that, “also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism, [it] is a movement that began in the early 1980s that centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom.”
Betty was opening up the topic long before the 1980s. During second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, sex was not a welcome topic or point of serious consideration; feminism was generally an intellelctual political movement, and the main role of sex within politics is scandal.
It was rare at that time to associate masturbation with liberation or personal growth, but consider how logical it would have been: if feminism is about liberating women from the bonds of and dependency on men, a significant part of that dependency involves sex.
The fact that young women can have access to information about masturbation potentially saves them from all kinds of sexual mishaps early in their erotic maturity.
For all it attempted, pretended and succeeded to do, the sexual revolution overlooked masturbation — except for lil’ ol’ Betty Dodson, who had a marvelous way of keeping the message coming.
Today sex-positive feminism is an established movement (even if it’s something of a boutique item most places) and an essential part of what’s called third-wave feminism — the “not your mother’s variety” of feminism. To the extent that we can have a genius sex educator like Laci Green offer us the Freaky Labia video, we have Betty Dodson to thank for going there first. Most young sex educators have heard of Betty but don’t necessarily know the vacuum of ignorance that she was speaking into and how far we’ve come since she first did so.
Betty is also aware of how far we have to go — and how much backsliding into propagated ignorance and fear has happened under the American Taliban in recent years. We have yet to fully assess the damage caused by three decades of abstinence indoctrination, obsession with premature marriage and prosecuting minors for having sex with one another.
Betty’s chart is the essence of Virgo: with Virgo Sun and Neptune in the ascendant, and Chiron on the North Node, she is born of pure determination and devotion to her mission. It’s not easy to be a sex education pioneer in a society that is devoted to guilt, shame and exploitation — and it’s taken the kind of spiritual strength indicated by this placement to help her get there.
Sun-Neptune rising gives her the chart signature of a documentary filmmaker; she has made many such films. Even though most of her other films feature many scenes of individual and group female masturbation, my favorite work by Dodson is called “Her Life of Sex and Art,” which is now available free on YouTube.
One thing that jumps out of Betty’s chart is that she was born during the Uranus-Pluto square of the early 1930s. She was born in 1929 but that was well within range of the square — she has Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Cancer. We are now experiencing a Uranus-Pluto square once again, only this time Uranus is in Aries and Pluto is in Capricorn. Uranus and Pluto together bring out revolutionary tendencies, and Betty surely qualifies.
In a similar light, she’s having her Uranus return — the planet with an 84-year orbit has returned to its natal position in her chart, having completed one full cycle in her lifetime of stirring the pot, speaking truth to power and inventing the notion of legitimate female orgasm.
There are many gems in her chart (most of them involving asteroids), but the crown jewel is Chiron conjunct the North Node in Taurus in the 9th house. This combines the physicality and self-focus of Taurus with the healing mission and pointed determination of Chiron, coupled with a global spiritual calling of the 9th house.
It is worth mentioning that she took aim at the religiously indoctrinated body shame that pervades all of modern Western culture to some degree or another (usually deeply) — an expression of Chiron in the religiously-oriented 9th house as well, with the added determination and momentum of the North Node — a deeply karmic mission.
One last thing. This week, Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley, came out as transgender. This goes out over the wire services, we look at the story and think: gee, that’s interesting. And some people think: that’s fantastic. Even the FOX News dwellers know that her decision to choose her gender is part of the fabric of life. Can you imagine this happening 10 years ago, much less 40 years ago?
Betty was one of the first people to openly advocate gender-queer, long before there was any culturally accepted notion of such a thing. Chelsea, if by some miracle you’re reading, Betty is proud of you and is grateful for what you’ve taught us and who you are.
So are all of us at Planet Waves.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscopes for September 2013, #963 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — One challenge of the coming weeks involves discerning self-interest from your calling or desire to support others. Ideally there would be no separation of those concepts. That we can and so often do play games that have one winner and many losers is a problem. That we tend to lack the idea of ‘the greatest good for all concerned’, or what are called win-win scenarios, is the deeper issue. It’s essential that you bear this in mind now. Your interests are not separate from the people you care about, and in truth they’re not separate from those of anyone else. Understanding this requires reaching a new level of consciousness — which you’re reaching for, capable of and where you may already be. In this scenario, it will help to know what you want, and at the same time you must also know about (and care about) the wants and needs of the people with whom you share space and time. To do that, you’ll need to ask, listen carefully and listen to what people say when they’re speaking freely. Simply put, you’re being called upon to be fair, to the point where you set aside competition in exchange for creating a mutually beneficial situation. This calls for a heightened level of honesty, first with yourself and then with others.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You’ve been through a lot recently — and I am sure you’d be grateful if things would cool off. Take any opportunity to slow down, remove commitments from your schedule and give yourself a chance to focus inwardly. Consider each of the past five or so episodes in your life and notice how many would have benefitted from extra introspection beforehand. Events in the early part of the month will repeat that reminder, serving as encouragement to understand yourself before you engage too deeply with others. This is the best way to keep your center and also to prevent yourself from getting into situations that are so deep you cannot see a way out or a way through. At the same time, you’re being invited to go deeper with others, or with someone in particular, and it may seem like you have to make a decisive move before too long. I would remind you of a fact often overlooked in our romance-obsessed world: your first relationship is to yourself. That statement may be the ultimate blasphemy against the prevailing relationship mythology, though it’s based on the notion that you cannot relate to anyone unless you have a self to do that relating with. Once you do that habitually, it will be clearer what to do with others.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You may go through a few more emotional twists and turns before you figure out how safe you are, and how much freedom you have. You could go a long way by recognizing there is not a narrow formula for emotional security. You cannot just check off the points on a punch list and be done with it. This is not a technical matter; it’s a spiritual one. It also seems that your sense of confidence in your surroundings, and a sense of belonging, arise as a result of your own ability to tune in and be present, rather than from some external factor. It would help significantly if you were less obsessed with security and instead considered the many ways you can explore life and love. If I may offer some confirmation, your astrology is saying you’re ready to do that. Yet there’s another message about being called further, into true courage, creativity and doing something that honors your passion for life. That involves taking emotional risks. Each time you heed this calling, you may be confronted with a new occasion to admit, confront and go beyond another level or type of fear. Most people would take this as an opportunity to back off, give up and go home. I don’t think you will.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Mars transiting the angle of your chart that addresses self-esteem is pushing you to act as if you had the confidence to do what you want. There seem to be plenty of details involved, though you have options for how you handle them. I suggest that you work your way from the big picture inward to the specifics, which is to say, in the order of priorities necessary to accomplish something. A large goal is always made of many small parts. Many small parts do not automatically add up to something meaningful. Therefore, stick to your vision, which your chart suggests you’ve been cultivating in its current form since around early 2011. Meanwhile, there’s likely to be some necessity that you encounter, one that makes you question whether all the effort you’re exerting is really worth it. You will feel better for having met this challenge or answering this question yourself, rather than giving up or getting someone else to do it for you. If this involves a financial matter, trust that you have the determination and maturity necessary to make it happen. This is not a test of your maturity — it’s an opportunity to cultivate and deepen it. It’s not about proving your creative power, but rather about putting your natural gifts to work for yourself and the world.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — If you encounter something that seems immovable — a person, a situation, an emotion — it’s more like a floating object than a stationary one. It will move, if you apply energy in the right direction; but I suggest you proceed more like a tugboat than like the Titanic. But do you really need to move this thing, whatever it is? Do you need to exert so much energy? Or would it be better to organize your life around its presence for a while? What you have over the next few weeks is an opportunity to determine the size and scale of the situation, and to make an assessment of how it’s influenced you in the past. That’s really the question — what you’re going to do about something that already happened, perhaps long ago, and potentially reaching into past generations. What you’re doing that your predecessors have not done is acknowledge its existence. What you seem to be dealing with is a secret of some kind. There are at least two levels to any secret: one is figuring out that it exists, and the other is figuring out what it contains. It may seem nearly useless to know that there is some concealed information but to not know what it is. But in truth, you’re more than half the way there.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Exerting too much control is the best way for things to go out of control. I suggest that you embrace the uncertainty factor, especially the part about not knowing the impact people will have on your life, or the influence that you will have on them. One thing is for sure — that you and someone significant will shape one another’s experience and worldview. I can also tell you that the way to make this the most positive experience possible is to focus on communication. What feels like the impulse to take charge, get a handle on things or to attempt actual control will best be sated by an exchange of ideas. That’s the whole point, anyway — and what makes this such a positive opportunity. In order to do that, you will need to develop the skill of responding rather than reacting. There are instances when you may be seized by emotions that seem to demand the latter — and the best thing you can do is pause. If something, or someone, seems like it might hurt you, I would urge you to remember that your astrology is saying that no matter how polarized a situation gets, that’s unlikely. To sum up: communicate rather than control. Respond rather than react. One last: in any exaggerated situation, keep your sense of humor.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — I’ve written before that most of the problems that people face can be traced back to self-esteem. Your current astrology says that any question, issue or emotion that you experience will come back to this same theme. This has been going on for a while, though it’s a special focus right now. I suggest you focus on who in the past has gone out of their way to make you feel less worthy of love or of any benefit or reward of life. What you’re dealing with is not an actual fact of worthiness — it’s a feeling, and that feeling did not emerge from a vacuum. Meanwhile, I suggest you be conscious of the people around you and what influence they have on you. While it’s true that on one level how you feel about yourself is your business, it’s also true that others have an influence on you, and they will at times run their own agenda. If you have to push back against that, then do it in a creative and positive way. Rather than rebel, set out to achieve something that you want to do, and give yourself credit for having done so. In the end, though, how you feel about yourself is a choice, and I would remind you that nobody is your judge and jury.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You need to set your sights higher. When I say need, I mean it’s actually a matter of necessity: commit to something more challenging, demanding more of your personal resources, experience and talent. I see you involved in something visible, that makes a difference in the world. Yet doing something challenging means encountering challenges. They may seem like they’re worldly in nature — involving your circumstances. In truth, all the territory you’re covering is personal. You’re being called to some new and potentially unexpected form of leadership, one that you’ve known for a while you were aspiring to in theory. This month you go from theory to action. Action means taking charge, staying grounded and bringing both a dynamic, even dramatic quality to what you’re doing at the same time you call forth your deepest maturity. As you know, maturity is useless unless it’s put to good use, and this is the order of the moment. As you see the rewards of this way of doing things, I suggest you reinvest them rather than take them as profits. What you need more than anything is momentum toward a tangible goal. Part of that quality is bringing yourself fully into what you’re doing, creating and expressing — and every inner challenge you overcome will get you one step closer to that spot.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Every time I see the charts from the point of view of Sagittarius, I want to write about sex. Maybe that has something to do with your ruling planet being in your solar 8th house — the one that represents the sex you want the most. Yet it may also represent what you fear the most, where you must encounter the most compelling aspects of relationship and where it’s possible to get lost in another person. That may indeed be your concern, and it could be valid. You may be wondering what to do: go deeper, or extricate yourself? I suggest you start with a good meditation on Be Here Now. Jupiter is also in Cancer, the sign of nourishment and comfort. This is a meaningful place to be, and I can say with some confidence that at least it’s not boring. And you’re getting more of what you need than you may recognize. In fact you could get a lot more of what you need, and share with others what you have and that they need. If relationships are about exchange, then you’re in the ideal place to do that. You have plenty to give, you have lots that’s being offered and all you need to do is be open — especially to doing that elusive thing known as receiving.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — How much are you willing to reveal about yourself, and why would you hold back at all? There seems to be some tension between what is ‘really going on’ and what you want to be known in some public context. I don’t think the paparazzi are after you, but it may feel that way. You could entertain yourself with paranoia about what might come out, though if you’re hanging out there I suggest you ask yourself what you want the world to know about you. I don’t mean what soap you use. I mean what would ordinarily be considered entirely inappropriate, presumed to be damaging to your reputation or image, and even dangerous. The flirtation is between hold back and let go. There may be a diversity of opportunities you have that you want to explore and the deciding factor may seem to be what people might think. You have some options here: one of them is to blow the doors off and be happy that they might discover anything and everything. Assuming felonies are not involved, that could work out well for you. The obsession with secrecy is one of the things that is choking not just your experience but that of many, many people, and I would count the urge to set ourselves free as a healthy impulse.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Will you depend on others to push you, or will you allow yourself to do what you want? Will you play a game of resisting, perhaps to make some point to yourself or to them, or will you say yes when yes is appropriate to say? By that I mean: you have the option to do what you want to do, without a lot of drama, and it’s enough that you want to do it and nobody else’s influence needs to matter. Yet what I see in your chart is that you may decide it’s easier to allow someone else to provide the initiative or motivation, and you come along for the ride. You have that option but it won’t be as much fun. This is akin to the difference between reading something in a book or discovering it yourself — or seeing a picture of someplace as opposed to going there personally. Which has a deeper influence on you? You will have a deeper experience of someone or something if you make the choice yourself, rather than allowing yourself to be pressured or seduced. The only question is what you want, though this is not as urgent as you think. This is about tuning into your feelings. It’s also about not being a control freak, though you would be surprised how much these two things have in common.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Emotional material will be easier to move through than you may think. You may have the fear or expectation that going deep will mean having to process or respond to something you cannot handle. Ordinarily the astrology evoking this feeling might be more challenging, but there are mitigating factors — particularly, such an impressive collection of planets currently in the water signs. That’s providing you with plenty of your most important element. Said another way, you have what you need to have the emotional, relational and sexual experiences you want. It seems more a matter of putting the ingredients together, and responding to your circumstances appropriately. One hint I can give you is to use emotional tension productively. If you have friction with someone, that is potentially a helpful indication that you have some energy with them. Take the risk, go beyond your prejudices and first impressions, and go deeper. Those prejudices might involve the residue of moralism from whatever source. This needs to be seen for what it is, which is a philosophy that will eventually determine that any human pleasure is wrong. This is more than unhelpful; it’s void on its face, and I suggest you treat it that way and move onto your mission of making contact with whoever focuses your attention in a lusty, sparky, appealing or provocative way.