Why is the zodiac sign of Virgo called the virgin?

Why is the sign of  Virgo called the virgin?



This question raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one historical period/cultural phase to another. Within our current culture the word virgin when applied to humans generally means sexually intact. However, in ancient times when matriarchal religions were practised, the word virgin and the astrological sign of Virgo held a deeper and more complex set of meanings.

For example, the priestesses who served the ancient virgin goddesses Atargatis and Artemis were anything but virgin in our contemporary sense of the word. They were women who belonged to themselves and the goddess(es), whose duties to the temple were paramount and who owed allegiance to no particular male partner. Indeed, it was commonplace with those priestesses who had children to foster them out. They were too busy with their sacred duties to have much time for motherhood.

(Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago!)

The eminent astrologer, writer and teacher Dr Liz Greene expresses the essence of what the sign Virgo is about in her “Astrology of Fate” p 215:

“….this issue does not deal solely with sexual matters, but embodies an entire view of life….I would understand it more as an openness to the flow of life, a willingness to trust the natural order, an acceptance of penetration and change….”

In the chapter “Myth and the Zodiac”, pp 211-220, Liz Greene offers a very full account of the complex, paradoxical mythology and symbolism connected to the sign of Virgo. I commend it to you!

If you’d like to read some more factual aspects of this topic, try this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(astrology).


300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

15 responses to “Why is the zodiac sign of Virgo called the virgin?

  1. Hi Anne, Very good explanation for the word history of Virgin/ Virgo, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have solid experiences with people of this zodiac, because my 2 sons, sister, nephew, two nices and mother-in-law are Virgos! They are misterious people, love their solitude and sometimes difficult to catch their emotional mind. I found it complicate sometimes for leaving them like they are, because they are clear and methodical thinkers and so self sufficient…Love and light Sabine

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodto hear that!, if you like, check out on my blog my zodiac descriptions. Small texting for each of the 12 signs, but in my own words on sabinesastrocoach.com. Love & light Sabine

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Page Amber O'Reilly

    Hi Anne, thank you for another stimulating post.

    My Virgo can be unsympathetically and ruthlessly tough on me. I passionately resonate with the symbolism of your words which has provided me an opportunity to reframe my thinking once more :

    ‘Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago’.

    My South Node is in Virgo in the highly visible 10th house and I have spent a lifetime beating myself up if I perceive I haven’t achieved the epitome of perfection. And it may be over something as simple (and stupid) as the grammatical function of a word, that is, having a change of mind or thinking I could have ‘done it better’ after the horse has been let out of the yard.

    We are wise to celebrate the beauty of the lessons of the South Node, to develop those precious qualities which identify us on our journey to fulfillment. The human experience has allowed me to recognise that my Virgo has served me well in past lifetimes, yet sometimes less graciously. As I carefully trek towards my Pisces North Node, the tempest calms enough to allow me to see how I have manifested some of those Virgo traits in this lifetime. I am learning not to be so harsh on myself but to claim my rite of passage, that is, to more deeply understand compassion – for myself and others – as I tread this spiritual path.

    Until again . . . . best wishes Anne.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love this facet of Virgo Anne, it expands and deepens our understanding of the sign tremendously.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, Carole, when I came across Liz G’s description of Virgo’s historical, more profound meaning it struck a deep, true chord in me – and has done on many occasions since, with women astrology clients with whom I have shared this older perspective. It has helped a number of people to become more accepting of facets of themselves which didn’t necessarily fit in with contemporary cultural values…


  6. Via Facebook:
    Judith Burke:
    I enjoy your writing, so long or short is good with me. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Judith, kind of you to say so – your regular comments much appreciated!


  8. Via Facebook:
    Candice Smith:
    I love your writing so do what pleases you and thanks for asking.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anne Whitaker Candice, thanks so much for this affirmation. It means a lot 🌈


  10. Via Facebook:
    Elaine Seefeldt:
    Interesting post, l guess l never really thought about Virgo as having a greater explanation but l grew up with 2 Virgos as parents, 6 years of difference but born on same day AND totally different, my Mum was a Virgo to a T, was once so pernickity with her cleaning & perfectionism that during a meal where my parents had invited friends, she got up midway to dust the coal in the coal skuttle..lol. Needless to say, l grew up and rebelled against being tidy.

    I think both long and short posts work, a bit of both.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for this interesting and illustrative feedback, Elaine! Both my parents were Aries Suns with Virgo Rising…that explains most of my upbringing….!!


  12. Via Facebook:
    Jamie S. Walters:
    We all have our audience, Anne. I appreciate your unique perspective and want more quality and depth than quick sound bite posts allow (though I’d read the posts, short or long). Maybe a little of each, to meet the interests of each audience? Occasional shorter pieces might invite some readers into the longer ones. There’s one idea. I’ve contemplated (and done) that ‘some of each’ approach as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks, Jamie – it’s useful and welcome to have this feedback from a fellow seasoned blogger! I like the idea of a ‘some of each’ approach, especially since I don’t always have the time – or the inclination – to write anything longer. Will ponder upon your suggestion, thanks.


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