Virgo, the Divine Feminine
VIRGO, THE DIVINE FEMINIE
“Behold the worlds, oh soul!”
Sidereal Dates: Sept.17-Oct. 17
Tropical Dates Aug.21-Oct. 20
Spiritual Hierarchy: Kyriotetes
In our studies of the 12 signs of the zodiac and eurythmy, we have now arrived at the 6th sign. In accordance with ancient wisdom, we have seen the workings of the signs of the zodiac progressing through the parts of the body they have shaped:
Aires The head
Taurus The throat and larynx
Gemini Bilateral symmetry: shoulder and arms
Cancer The chest
Leo The heart
With Virgo, we will sink below the solar plexus, below the diaphragm, into the metabolic center of the body. In the deeds of our limbs, we change and affect the world around us.
Virgo is the sign of the Maiden and the Mother. It is also the sign of “Mater,” the Material world. The mystery of Virgo has been expressed in the course of time as thousands of changing images: the Virgin, the goddess and mother of the Earth, the Platonists’ goddess Natura, Parsifal’s Pieta, Demeter-Persephone and the Artemis of Ephesus, Athena and Aphrodite, Freya with the apples of eternal youth, the Mary listening to the angel’s annunciation and the Mary beside the manger with the animals ranged about.
In the Eastern mysteries, the female signifies the receptive “yin” energy, the vessel that has received the active “yang” energy, and carries it in the form of a seed.
The greatest of all Virgo Beings is known as Sophia, who, as a being of complete Wisdom, encompasses all other beings. We find her footprint in all of the sciences whose name contains the word “-sophy,” including philosophy (love of wisdom,) theosophy (wisdom of God), and anthroposophy (wisdom of the essential human being).
Even as we remembered the first beginnings of creation in our consideration of Leo, with Virgo we remember the second unfolding of creation in a phase known as “Ancient Sun,” the cosmos of Wisdom, born out of the activities of the great spiritual beings known as the “Kyriotetes,” spirits of wisdom. Sophia was the radiant spiritual being that encompassed all other beings in her Body. In Sophia, wisdom is identical with enlightenment, for it is without blemish or fault. Those who seek wisdom may awaken in understanding.
Sophia continues to guide us in our evolution as human beings, so that we, too, may awaken to our I-Am self. And on our pathway towards our awakening, Sophia is our constant mother.
We can characterize humans as those beings who need the solidity of the material world to awaken to self-awareness. (This is in contrast to all higher beings, who needed only the condition of warmth, or light, or movement to awaken). The material world was thus formed, created out of the condensed will and wisdom and activity of the creating spirits. Plunged into this world, we learn to see the handwork of the creator through our senses, and to speak back to the world: “Because you are, I am.”
Thus, as our earth-story began, and the world of Matter came into being, Sophia created the womb of the world, Nature, into which the seeds of creation could be laid. We may imagine the human being living most lightly upon the earth: Rudolf Steiner even suggests that as the world was still very young, still condensing, human bodies were first as “delicate as the molecules of smell,” and later as “ethereal as flowers.”
As the material world further evolved, spirit descended even deeper into matter. The Greeks experience the living world of Nature to be a goddess, Demeter, the spirit of the seasons and of harvest. Each year, at autumn (what we now know as the season of autumn), the outer vitality of nature –Demeter’s body—withered and fell, seed-like, onto the earth. From this experience, it was said that Demeter’s daughter Persephone was kidnapped by the god of the underworld, and was condemned to spend one half of each year (winter) underground. This signifies, among other things, that humans would be able to live not only upon the earth, but also in the world of matter.
Virgo-Sophia has had many other designations in the course of human history. Surely the most powerful image in esoteric Christianity is the picture of Mary, mother of the child Jesus. Here, the mother represents the divine womb into which the cosmic human spirit has been laid. Mary creates the vessel out of which the awakened, self-realizing human spirit will arise.
Here we can contemplate the picture of mother and child in the stable, surrounded by the plants and the animals. In their deepest senses, these, too are born of nature, even as the material foundation of our bodies is drawn from the material world. We are one with nature, and yet, through individuation, we evolve to a new level. The plants and animals around the manger behold the birth of the human being, and are amazed.
Virgo thus represents the original spirit of Sophia, as well as Nature, goddess of the natural world, and also Mary, the woman-soul who creates the vessel for the spirit ego. This designation is, of course, beyond all gender considerations, for each of us has a feminine nature, body-soul, that receives, embraces, and protects the engendering and individuating masculine energy of the Spirit-self. When we create and realize our archetype, we become whole human beings.
Here, where the human soul lives in the material world, we are no longer able to feed ourselves out of light and air. Here we have to have the ability to nourish ourselves out of the material world.
In the human body, Virgo rules the interior space of our digestion, the space below the diaphragm.
There, the organs of our digestion meet the outer world through eating. We must destroy what enters us, through chewing, liquefying, emulsifying, and “burning” it, until it is turned into chyme. Then, imitating the process of world-becoming, our inner solar system organizes the chyme and re-shapes it, turning the grains, fruits, vegetables and proteins we have eaten into human substance.
In the activity of eating, we do far more than merely internalize and excrete. We actually participate in building up the human body, the sacred vessel for human beings, we who are evolving to become the new offspring of Sophia.
After the radiance of Leo, the sign of Flaming Enthusiasm, the gesture for Virgo is one of quiet inwardness. The eurythmist stands quietly, holding herself still. She raises her left hand and holds it very quietly in front of herself, consciously feeling the space of the inner metabolism. The hand may very lightly touch the body, approximately on the front of the bony process of the hip bone.
Each of the zodiac signs “speaks” to us with the power of the consonants. Virgo has given us the power and the gift of two sounds: B and P. These are both earth sounds, that carry the gesture of making sheaths of protection.
We can imagine that before the first gesture of creation, before Time and before Space, the Divine source of all being was a source of unlimited and unmanifest possibilities. Then, in a gesture of love, the creator wraps its limitless Being around the Entirety of all that is, all that has been, all that will even be in a cloak of soft blue. We are forever held, in a mantle of love. B creates a sheathe, a skin, a robe of protection. In creating the B, I am an angel that protects my self. I am the mother that holds the child and I am the child held by the mother.
To create the B in Eurythmy, imagine yourself clothed in yellow light. Reach out your arms, and invoke a cloak of protection, woven of the sky. The spiritual world fills your outstretched arms with a rich blue cloak, present as it has always been, since the beginning of time. Imagine your cloak with a red lining, which gives you firm inner boundaries and strength. The B creates a safe wall around you, a place of protection that will give you form and definition.
We can find the rounded gesture of the B throughout the entire natural world. Even as your angel holds you warm, as a mother cradles a child so we are held in the embrace of the great cosmic spirit. You can explore big and bold B’s, and also tiny B’s. You can make B before you, behind you, above you, below you. You can discover B with your hands and with your legs. In nature your can find the gesture of B in boulders, bees and blossoms. B protects the small tender things of the world, wrapping itself around babies and embryos.
In B, the soul rests in the knowledge that it is safe when it makes boundaries. We often teach B in therapeutic eurythmy to help people who feel vulnerable. This can include people with low self-esteem and people who have been abused. On a more organic level, it helps children who are bed-wetters.
The B teaches us how the Creator has made the universe, and holds it in love.
Color: indigo, deep blue
Sound: B and P
Element of Sound: Earth
In the body: Metabolism
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