On August 23, 2023, the Sun will leave its place of rulership in Leo, turning attention toward its more humble journey through the mutable earth sign of Virgo. The blazing fire of the higher self that erupted in Leo season now settles into your heart as a kindling flame of conscience.
And as the raw power of the Sun’s fire takes root in the earth, everything begins to come into fruition. The triumph of the Sun’s generosity is witnessed in the abundance of fruit and flowers that will continue to flourish from now until harvest. In Virgo season, the light becomes majestic, as blazing hot yellow deepens into amber, bringing a blush to the bright palette of summer. Green figs darken into sensuous purple. And pomegranates blaze into glossy red.
A Tale from the Decameron by John William Waterhouse (1916)
The mood of Virgo season is romantic and melancholic. It’s touched by exquisite beauty and, because Virgo knows that the ripeness and colors of the season are ephemeral, a wistful sigh pervades. And like all good things, this glorious summer will soon wither and fade. The Virgin must hold the abundance of the earth without clinging.
In Virgo, the mysteries of matter are explored, summoning the knowledge of the eternal spirit that underlies all of nature’s rhythms of bloom and decay: ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
Beatrice by John William Waterhouse (1915)
Virgo is the Latin name for “virgin.” In the ancient definition, a Virgin was a priestess who embodied the wisdom of the earth. They were whole unto themselves and lived to understand the language of nature and how eternal spirit entwines with finite matter. Virgins were priestesses of divine order, messengers of uncorrupted wisdom. This is why the planet Mercury finds rulership and exaltation in this sign, for this is a place of translation between matter and spirit, human and divine.
The echo of the ancient Virgins can be felt in all those born under this sign, who light up like the Sun when you ask them for advice and who seem to have an uncanny sense of rhythm, proportion, grammar, and harmony. Whether you were born under this sign or not, when the Sun is in Virgo you can embody more of the ancient Virgin’s attributes. The wisdom of the earth speaks through every subtle vibration and the fractal patterns of creation. Nature is a language. Can’t you read?
The Virgin’s gaze is also diagnostic, burdened by the responsibility to find flaws, correct mistakes, and uncover the root cause of disease. In the Virgin’s mind, life is a process of purification and refinement. This is why Virgo is associated with alchemy and medicine, which coax the healing powers from the earth.
Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse (1911)
2023 Virgo Season
This will be an especially esoteric Virgo season. It begins with a quiet and retrospective mood because Mercury stations retrograde mere hours after the Sun’s ingress. As the Sun journeys through Virgo, the wisdom of earth will reveal the mysteries of matter.
Paradoxically, the element of earth is bound by temporality and reveals the light of the eternal to those who look deeper. These mysteries of earth were observed by William Blake when he wrote:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand.
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand.
And Eternity in an hour.”
The Sun in Virgo will trine Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto in earth signs, expanding its gaze beyond the immediate surroundings to inspect the larger social order. There the Virgin will find the dark heart that beats within every vision of utopia and all the tyrants and fools who’ve made science into a religion.
Portrait of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Virgoan Wisdom for the Ages
“My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bound of reverie.” (1)
The underworld journey that will unfold this Virgo season will call for some deep contemplation upon the mysteries of matter. And to satisfy this calling, I invite you to consider Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was first published in 1818.
Handwritten draft of Frankenstein (1818)
Born on August 30, 1797, with the Sun in Virgo conjunct Uranus and opposed to Pluto, Mary Shelley was touched by genius and keenly aware of the darkness that lurked beneath the utopian promises during the Age of Enlightenment.
Shelley claimed that the story of Frankenstein broke upon her in a “waking dream.” (2) With her penetrating gaze, she became one of history’s greatest myth makers, dilating upon the moral tension of the new science that was being born.
As a novel, Frankenstein is medicinal, a distilled essence of Virgoan wisdom born from Shelley’s darkly prophetic vision of the modern world. More than a century before the atomic bomb was even imagined, she foresaw the monstrous impulse in science to dominate nature, by any means necessary. And she recognized the danger of a technology-driven society where matters of life and death were no longer sacred.
The character of Victor Frankenstein embodies the arrogance of the Enlightenment. He’s a “genius” that’s devoid of wisdom, falling prey to an obsession with wrenching life from dead matter. The tragedy begins when Frankenstein finally succeeds in bringing his creature to life and his only reaction is “breathless horror and disgust.”
“I was unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created.” (3)
Frankenstein’s Creature by Bernie Wrighton (1983)
Upon waking, Frankenstein’s monster is abandoned. But despite the creature’s ghoulish appearance, he reveals himself to be more sentient, more feeling, and more intelligent than his creator. The creature loves deeply and perceives the spirit and soul in creation.
Illumined by the ancient mysteries of matter, the novel offers a wealth of Virgoan wisdom to contemplate. The story demonstrates nature’s sentience — earth wisdom spoken through the creature, emphasizing how nature is not passive, inert, or “dead” matter. The Virgoan wisdom in Frankenstein reminds us that, like any sentient being, when nature is violated, she takes corrective action. And the creature’s bloody revenge against Frankenstein is the divine retribution for the injustice committed.
This philosophically rich and poetic critique of the Enlightenment era has only become more relevant in the 21st century, now that cloning, experimental gene therapy, and artificial intelligence are no longer just science fiction. Over the past three centuries, humanity’s natural congruence with the divine has devolved into humanity’s infinite aloneness. And that forsaken perspective has resulted in a deluge of nihilism.
In ancient alchemy and natural philosophy, knowledge, or “gnosis,” represented the discovery of the true nature of things, leading toward greater meaning and meaningfulness. Whereas in modern science, knowledge is what’s leftover when quality, soul, and spirit, — ultimately, meaning — are cut away.
In the Virgoan myth of Frankenstein, the mysteries of matter can be rediscovered through eternal symbols and dream images. The novel inspires modern readers to wonder when science will seek to understand the language of nature once again, revealing the spirit in matter and the sacred purpose of life.
From across the centuries, the ancient mysteries call for a return to the gnosis of the alchemists, who sought to discover the presence of the divine in every atom. This doesn’t have to be a regression or an archaic revival, but a true progression into knowledge tempered by wisdom. Or as the Virgoan philosopher Goethe once said,
“Science arose from poetry … when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.”
The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse (1911)
Virgo Decan 1: August 23–September 2
The beginning of Virgo season is deeply introspective and contemplative. External progress will seem slow as you place attention upon purifying your thoughts and clarifying and refining your sense of meaning and purpose.
August 23: Sun enters Virgo and Mercury stations retrograde
Hours after the Sun’s ingress, Mercury stations retrograde at 22° of Virgo. As the ruler of Virgo, Mercury’s retrograde symbolizes an exploration of the underworld. Mercury’s journey is a descent into deeper strata of consciousness, summoning the power of myth, symbol, and rhapsodic awareness to blossom into a sense of meaning.
Mercury’s retrograde through Virgo will purify your mind, refining your method of questioning and improving the quality of your perception. On this point, Nobel Prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg said,
“What we are observing is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. And how do we question? All of our methods of interrogating nature depend on language — and it is the very nature of language to refer to things.” (4)
August 27: Sun in Virgo opposes Saturn in Pisces
The Sun will oppose Saturn, increasing your awareness of devouring time and the weight of gravity. And yet, you’ll be able to dilate upon an important issue with tremendous focus, like a slow shutter speed that takes in available light. This develops into a meditative perspective that allows the chaotic threads of facts and assumptions to weave into an elegant form of understanding.
August 31: Full Moon in Pisces
A process of internal alchemy begins at the Full Moon in Pisces, as the darkness of repressed emotions are brought out into the light. The Moon in Pisces will be conjunct Saturn, summoning a dark and stormy mood. But the purifying rays of the Sun in Virgo will cleanse the fear and pessimism that’s dredged up.
However vulnerable it may feel, there’s true catharsis and transformation available. During the next two weeks of the waning Moon, you can dissolve the hardened thoughts and negative feelings that have been holding you back.
Ophelia by John William Waterhouse (1889)
Virgo Decan II: September 2–12
The middle of Virgo season begins with Venus awakening from her retrograde in Leo, where she begins her ever-brightening climb into the morning sky. And it contains the climax of Mercury’s retrograde at the cazimi, where your mind is purified by the rays of the Sun.
September 3: Venus stations direct
When Venus stations direct on September 3, you can begin something that feels inspired by genuine pleasure. Over the last 40 days, Venus’s retrograde revived your soul’s deepest desires, putting you back in graceful alignment with relationships and interests that bring pleasure. It’s time to enjoy this renewed alignment with your heart and soul.
September 6: Sun conjunct Mercury
On September 6, Mercury will make the inferior conjunction, also known as cazimi, in Virgo. Cazimi translates to “the heart of the Sun,” where the purifying rays bring renewed vitality and clarity.
The Picatrix describes the second decan of Virgo as “a face of desires and of wealth and tribute.” The middle of Virgo is the earth at its peak of fertility, where the fruits of your labors can be harvested in abundance. And so, this represents a magical moment to receive many blessings for your devotion and service.
September 8: Sun in Virgo trines Jupiter retrograde in Taurus
Following the fortunate cazimi, a bountiful earth trine between the Sun and Jupiter retrograde will give rise to a feeling of optimism and celebration. This summons a spirit of generosity, in which you will be called to be the giver and receiver, inspiring a sense of meaningful service — the deepest desire of the Virgin fulfilled.
Sweet Summer by John William Waterhouse (1912)
Virgo Decan III: September 13–22
The final days of Virgo always have a melancholic tinge, for it begins the death of summer. As summer fades, you may yearn to stop time. But the wisdom of the Virgin will inspire you to make much of the time you have left.
September 14–15: New Moon in Virgo and Mercury stations direct
At summer’s end, the New Moon in Virgo will inspire a wild sense of abandon so you can embrace one last explosion of joy. This New Moon is trine Uranus retrograde in Taurus, summoning an electrifying current that will catalyze unexpected inspiration and a sense of adventure. Uranus is the planet of primordial chaos, breaking into the mysteries of matter that are so lovingly protected by the Virgin. There will be a flood of pure potential, unbridled creative flow that will give you a sense of meaning and purpose for the season ahead.
The next day, Mercury stations direct in Virgo, bringing a feeling of rebirth and renewal to your mind. Knots untangle. And the connection between your mind and heart is restored.
September 21: Sun in Virgo trines Pluto retrograde in Capricorn
Virgo season draws to a close with a thudding bass note as the Sun trines Pluto retrograde in Capricorn. This influence will purge any remaining impurities and transmute many poisons into medicine. A positive emotional transformation now ushers you into the next season.
September 22: Autumn equinox
On September 22, summer fades into memory when the Sun enters Libra. The wheel of the year turns to the equinox, the moment where day and night become equal. Now, the Sun’s light begins to fail, heralding the beginning of autumn.
(1) The Guardian
(4) Lofkoe Institute: How Our Language Determines Our Reality
Rachel is the creator of Aeolian Heart Astrology, a voice that speaks to free spirits and free minds. She illuminates the timeless wisdom of Hermetic philosophy with a unique blend of pop culture, history, and art. She believes that astrology is magic because following the rhythm of the planets reveals life as a graceful dance. Her natal chart readings awaken the soul, reigniting one’s passion, purpose, and flow. Since 2015, she’s been sharing the light of the stars through her writing and teaching. And she has inspired thousands of clients and students to get back into alignment with who they were born to be. Click here to sign up for the Aeolian Heart Astrology newsletter!