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Scratch Some Virgo, Find Some Pisces

The late, great horoscope writer Patric Walker once wrote, “Scratch a Pisces and you’ll find a Virgo under their skin.” Though this was a cute one-liner that I read in The New York Post, Patric was alluding to a real astrological principle: the ‘opposite’ signs contain one another. In a sense, they’re not even really opposite; they are aspects of the same thing, and in this way a polarity works as one entity.

When signs on both sides of the polarity have planets or notable events in them, this is especially noticeable — and that’s what’s happening these days with Virgo and Pisces.

Mars is currently in Virgo, making an extremely rare eight-month visit that includes a 12-week retrograde. (The retrograde extends between January 23 and April 13.) Chiron is currently in Pisces, where it will be into 2019, and Neptune is due to arrive on February 3, and will remain there until 2025. Such events qualify as the ‘full activation’ of the Virgo-Pisces axis — what I will call the axis of practical imagination. Virgo expresses the technical side of nearly anything, based on its tendency toward integrated or applied knowledge; Pisces expresses the imaginative side of the psyche, which can often inspire the more practical modes of expression.

Think of the circuit board and all the ingenuity required to create it as an expression of Virgo. Think of the concept ‘Macintosh’ as an expression of Pisces. To get anything done, particularly anything creative, it’s necessary to have both ends of the polarity working. We’re definitely getting both right now, and we will be for a while.

Let’s start with a careful look at the Virgo side and come back to Pisces. Mars in Virgo is the mind on fire. This placement can represent a drive for integrity, impeccability or even perfection. Healing and self-improvement can become obsessions. There is the drive to fix things. If Mars in this sign turns on itself, the result can be a painful and even tortured neurosis. Casting Mars retrograde in Virgo in the best light, I see an inquiry of some kind, a questioning of conventional values, and an intellectual quest that continually questions itself.

For retrograde hunters, the last time Mars was retrograde in Virgo was in 1997, but part of that cycle happened in Libra, so we did not get the full effect. Mars did something similar in 1950, splitting a retrograde between Virgo and Libra. Mars spent a little piece of its 1995 retrograde in Virgo as well.

The last all-Virgo Mars retrograde was the famous one that took place in early 1965, famous in my mind, anyway, because Mars passed through the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. Doing so, it stirred up a lot of collective energy, helping spark what we think of as the 1960s. That conjunction, which happens less than once per century, combined the revolutionary power of Uranus with the evolutionary power of Pluto and set many things in motion.

In January, Lyndon Johnson made his “Great Society” speech. Two months later, he sent the first combat troops to Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement was on fire in Alabama, where James J. Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister was beaten to death. In April, the first anti-Vietnam War march, organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), drew 25,000 people, which was just the first of many impressive antiwar protests that year.

In May 40 men burned their draft cards at the University of California at Berkeley, and marched a coffin to the local Draft Board. Good thing, too. By July, Johnson nearly doubled both the ground troop count in Vietnam and the number of men drafted. (He also signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which provided for Medicaid and Medicare).

Births from this specific era of 1965 include Trent Reznor, Robert Downey, Jr., Eric Cantor and Sarah Jessica Parker. A piece of timeless artwork that manifested in this moment was the recording A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.

We are now having another all-Virgo Mars retrograde. What is interesting is that we are once again in a potent Uranus-Pluto phase — the square. This is the first Uranus-Pluto quadrature (90-degree type) aspect since the ’60s, and it’s pretty easy to feel the resonance between our era and that one. This retrograde will awaken Uranus and Pluto in the natal charts of many people born in the ’60s. It’s fair to say that for a while, the world will feel a little more like home to ’60s babies — though this isn’t just about Virgo.

This particular Mars retrograde also arrives with a Pisces awakening. At the moment, Venus and Chiron are in Pisces. Neptune is about to arrive, which will shift the story of the world, and allow the realm of imagination to be more tangible and accessible. When the question is one of method, we find a counterpart in purpose in its counterpart energy, Pisces. When it’s one of proof (in Virgo) we have a matter of faith (in Pisces).

What our era has in common with the mid-’60s (indeed, nearly the whole decade) is once again the presence of Chiron in Pisces — something that blended the focusing power of Virgo with the softer light of Pisces. I think of Chiron in Pisces as being the side of the ’60s that was about love, peace and beauty. This was a spirit represented, among other manifestations, by The Beatles, who provided a soundtrack and embodied a peace-loving, creative ethos available beneath all the turmoil of the era.

We’re now entering a time of history that will make the ’60s seem like a day at the shore. The Uranus-Pluto square describes an extended phase of awakenings, creative expression and surges forward in many necessary aspects of life. Yet this radically progressive astrology is taking shape in a world where the human spirit has been all but legislated out of existence or subsumed in advertising. Still, we have the strength to wage ideological battles and attempt to prove our points either intellectually or with intellectual bullying.

Beneath the hashing out of supposed right and wrong, of evidence and proof, there is a softer reality. Amidst the chaos, there is a calm voice speaking and asking reasonable questions.

Check out Eric’s new blog at the Reality Check website.


  1. Thank you, Eric…

    I love how you synthesized these two..hope for “a softer reality” indeed.

    • Maybe because I have Pluto at 9 Vir. in the 1st natally trining transiting Pluto in Cap., I don’t quite see this manifesting in the same way. Of course, it’s certainly possiible. I think there’s “some” potential for all this Pisces energy (Nep. & Chiron) to end up as evasion and delusion of some sort on a global basis. I think that globally, some may be able to think outside the box and tap into creative solutions to the problems that affect some nations. But a real downside in my opinion, is a collective slide into avoidance of problems (or the inability to deal with the true reality of the problems) until they reach critical mass at which point they may be exacerbated five fold.

      I apololgize for being a downer about this but as we head into the squares between ’12 – ’15, a keen eye towards objective, analytical thinking blended with collective compassion will be critical, in my view. I think we should examine the “softer reality” to see just how pliant it really is.

  2. That explains a lot! Explains why I’ve been seemingly acting out of character.

  3. I can really resonate to this, since I was born a Pisces in that 1965 Virgo cluster: I have Sun, Venus, Saturn and Chiron in Pisces, all opposing Moon, Mars (16º), Uranus (12º), and Pluto (14º) in Virgo. So this article was definitely pertinent.

  4. Been reading MA for years, and love the blog. As a Pisces Sun with Virgo Moon gal, I’ve lived with the polarities all my life, and am really enjoying the current and upcoming aspects. Find I have so many Virgo friends, and really have been amused to hear so many struggling with the idea of the polarities. Like all forms of individuation, our coming to wholeness as individuals and collectively as well, requires that we not slip into illusion and escapist and exoticism. It’s too easy to slip into trying on new levels of spirituality thinking we simply discard the old. We have to engage, integrate our parts, heal our wounds, face our shadow sides, starting with ourselves, and then joining in to help collective efforts. Already, however, there is a lot of repetition of the 60s short-sightedness and exploiting of ideas. We just need to be vigilant, and honest with ourselves as we move on through the passages ahead.

  5. Thanks, Eric, for your article. It hit the spot!

  6. Great piece Eric
    It validates my own finding: that with time I am acquiring Taurus qualities

  7. I am a Virgo sun, Pisces moon, mars in Virgo.
    Umm, does this mean my dreams will come true?!

    Aaalways LOOKING FOR THAT.
    Interesting start of ur new blog, Eric 🙂

    What might it mean this for peeps w this combo? Tell me now 😀

    Or peeps w combos that match world events (future blog?)

    Yeah, I live in a forest and meditate on growth w my day, lol. Finishing a book i’m writing on it: ‘Youthenize Yourself’
    I superwant to create a trip in
    the next couple months for me & Leo Sun (Sag rise, Gem moon), by returning to paid journalisms.

  8. my aquarian daughter has virgo asc & mars, we butt heads when I used to see her anyway. oh yea workaholic incl holidays…She’s an EMT.

  9. Wonderfully written!

    Thanks, Eric. I like that “the mind is on fire.” I can feel that with my mutual reception of Mars in Virgo quincunx Mercury in Aries. . .

    Keep writing, Eric. You are brilliant with words.

  10. Virgo/Pisces is trapped in the USA Sibly chart. We need a new chart if we want to achieve this ‘softer reality’.

    60’s values were squelched- particularly environmentalism, the anti-war movement and feminism.

    The ‘American dream’ is the trapped Neptune in Virgo. It is unreachable except through Hollywood or Madison Avenue…or perhaps social media.

    Our desire for change through the coming squares may only be able to be manifested by utilizing the hopes and dreams of our immigrants and outsiders with strengths in Virgo/Pisces. Or if Americans can begin to act more vigorously as ‘Citizens of the World’.

  11. Thanks for the article Eric. There is another era that has some bearing on this astrology. Believe it or not, everyone born in the 1930’s has Neptune in Virgo. Except for about 7 months in 1930, all those Neptune’s will get a shot of Mars 3 times this year. This could mean some of those born in the early to mid years of the decade could be catching the Chiron opposition, and now the Neptune opposition too. These are people who were very young children during WW2 and most would have memories of the rationing, blackouts, patriotism and seeing family members off to war.

    How do you think a transiting Mars conjunct one’s natal Neptune and opposite trans. Chiron might express it’s energy when we have no house reference, etc? Possibly fear? Delusion? Maybe they would even feel empowered to be of service.

    The imaginative aspect coming from Neptune as well as the Pisces planets might serve a purpose by helping the younger generations to accept and work with the difficulties of coping with future shortages we face. These were people, now in their early 80’s and mid 70s, who grew up without television, computers, cell phones and sometimes sugar and butter too. Often I run across old recipes in cookbooks that utilize other ingredients to substitute for what wasn’t available during war time.

    It might also serve as a way to get back to the land for younger generations who have had no training or experience in gardening, farming or the like.

    Grandparents often seem to be able to relate to grandchildren better than their own children on the whole. I suspect there are several reasons for that, some that even show up in comparing birthcharts. Design might be another reason. Seniors feel they have the time to listen to young people and young people who are familiar with their seniors are less defensive than with their parents. Perhaps even great-grandparents have a connection to great-grandchildren which could provide a link to surviving and thriving and even healing during the coming tough times.

    Who knows what could develop from this Mars in Virgo period. Neptune knows there are no boundries; it might just be a blessing in disguise.

    • hi barbk …thanks you for your comment re: our age group…I feel like the proverbial voice in the wilderness if referring to the 1930’s WW II and my emotional wounds. But indeed, personal rapport with grand daughters/gr.granddaughters is so much easier (probably applies to all generations since as mothers we are disciplinarians) but in WW our mothers had no means of rewarding us, were forced to be distant out of necessity. We are now approaching the polarity Neptune Virgo/Pisces and Mars in Virgo Retro till April 14th..must say am dubious about predictions but a rosy future? more suffering? At the same time we are discovering a multitude of new planets, huge telescopes in the making, scanning the skies..Uranus Aries/Pluto Capricorn..a square..scary. we keep on keeping on, plenty of science,water,fire, and Saturn in air till Oct, then into Scorpio. We live in interesting times!

      • johanna,

        Thanks for your reply and observations. Maybe it’s just the natal Neptune, but I think the times are not only interesting but exciting and even evolutionary. Like you say, we just keep on keeping on!

  12. EF is Fantastic. EF’s teaching/research on Chiron, the healer, and other centaur asteroids through the years has been lighting the way as we slogged through time and space in some deep global psychic darkness.

    Today I’m happy to find EF’s blog at THE MOUNTAIN ASTROLOGER. I’m with Tem…”Right on, Eric!”

    (Note, also, that transiting Psyche is currently retrograde in Virgo, heading back to the “lover” Eros and sacred Vesta and Ceres are joining Chiron in Pisces…I believe we are being catalyzed to again collective-ize. We need the evolutionary spark, like always, to make this next leap…to collective consciousness, to see the collective as the super-power, as H. Ruckert says.

    As Robert Wilkinson blogged in Aquarius Papers about this year of 2012: “We will need to embrace balanced approaches to restore fairness or justice personally and socially, a sense of discovery, and a willingness to exchange information while staying open to other points of view.” Sort of like virgo and pisces as flower children.

  13. I have found that my Virgo ascendant-Pisces descendant manifests itself as a struggle to balance ora et labora (the old monastic tradition of prayer and work). I seem to vacillate between the two; volunteering and taking careof business and then recharging in solitude. I definitely feel the Mars energy pushing me to work, work, work right now; but I know it is only a matter of time until I burn out and need to retreat from outer obligations to nourish my soul (maybe when Neptune enters Pisces?)

  14. Since Washington DC is a Virgo city, it should be highlighted this year due to these configs. David Ovason did a good job revealing the Virgo nature of DC in his book, “The Secret Zodiacs of Washington.” David has a stellium in Virgo, I’ve heard. I did a couple of public talks on this material in 2010-11. What I showed was that because there were so many Virgo symbols in DC, that there must be the polarity–Pisces symbols also. And this is true for all to see, if you are looking for it. One very Virgo building is the Washington Monument. It was damaged last August in the earthquake. They expect to close it this August for two years for repairs. I expect they will wait until late August to do this when the Sun will be in Virgo again.

  15. I have the ’66 Uranus/Pluto exact conjunction at 16VIR. Transiting Mars will conjunct this the day of the Transit of Venus..6/6 (15GEM42) after doing it at the end of Febrary.

    This Mars Rx trip opposes my 23/24PIS Luna/Chiron/Saturn/Pallas conjunction twice, too.

    Many ’66 folks with these conjunctions will also be having a Mercury Return the day of their Solar Return this year (ok, give or take a degree on either side for some).

    I’ve been watching Jimmy Wales, JJ Abrams, John Cusack, and Daniel Pinchbeck who all have this happening thru the multiple Saturn-Uranus passes just completed. All also have the ’66 Saturn/Chiron conjunction in Pisces. This is a big year for them all.

    Pisces me feeling the ToV date come in like a high tide. That day alone — Jupiter will conj my MC, Mercury my 10H Jupiter, Chiron my Pisces Venus, Neptune my Pisces DC, Saturn opposes my Aries Sun/Mars conj, with t-Mars conj my Uranus/Pluto conj.

    And there’s my Virgo ASC keeping track of it all!?

  16. Welcome to my World! Mars Virgo House 1 will pass by my Uranus/Pluto conjunction again when it goes retrograde! Thanks for the connections. “The last all-Virgo Mars retrograde was the famous one that took place in early 1965, famous in my mind, anyway, because Mars passed through the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. That conjunction, which happens less than once per century, combined the revolutionary power of Uranus with the evolutionary power of Pluto and set many things in motion.”

  17. Much thanks to Eric for his article. I ask you all to remember that Neptune in Pisces infers lots of falling and roiling water. Parts of Asia and Australia are experiencing all this excess water now, including rivers backing up and overflowing the land because of unquiet seas. And also please to remember that Chiron also infers wounds that will later need healing after the lessons of the woundings are learned, assuming the wounds were not fatal to the body and you are still alive and in good enough health and sanity when the Pisces/Virgo polarity within the influence of Mars Rx (and the Pluto/Uranus 90° configuration) has come to its end. We live in interesting times.

  18. What I find interesting is that you mention Robert Downey, Jr was born during the 1965 Mars retrograde in Virgo. He and his wife just had a son, born 2/7/12 at 7:24 AM — he too has Mars in Virgo retrograde. I haven’t analyzed their synastry in any depth, but a standout right away is the reverse nodal connections — 11 Gem/12 Sag (and their wide squares to natal Mars). I have an exact natal Mars-Node square (Gem/Virgo, 15 degrees). Definitely picking up the action of the retrograde Mars in Virgo transiting my 7th house…hoping for balance in Pisces in my 1st (and any softer side it may offer with relationships).

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