The Radical Virgo

Virgo/Pisces and Chiron

In my article, “A New Look at Virgo: Shifting from Mercury to Chiron” (The Mountain Astrologer, April 1990), I presented an updated image of Virgo with Chiron as its new ruler. An abundance of positive responses (and synchronistic connections) poured forth when I put out my concept of what Virgo is becoming.  Certainly, Virgo ruled by Chiron was not new.  Barbara Hand Clow developed this idea fully in her 1987 book, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets.


Now I want to expand some of my more revolutionary ideas about Virgo, especially its connections to sexuality (which needs to be healed in order for us to fully evolve), work, and enlightenment.  Mentoring the hero within (our positive male energy), just as Chiron mentored countless mythical heroes, will save our planet in these turning-point times.  This means finding our right work in the world.  It also means incorporating the Pisces portion of the Virgo/Pisces continuum, a word I now use instead of polarity.  The key to the times is marrying the extremes within us: virgin/whore, masculine/feminine, peace/war, form/formlessness, Virgo/Pisces, etc.

Pisces and Virgo, never exactly the stars of the zodiac, have much to teach us about correct service and giving, leading to the balance of Self and Other (Aries/Libra, the next continuum).  Virgo and Pisces must learn the lesson of all “professional givers”—to let someone else have the joy of giving for a change.  This paired sector of the zodiac must master learning to receive, and to give to themselves in the same unabashed way they give to others.

In two years, my ideas have shifted and refined.  I now lean toward the concept that Chiron rules no sign in particular, since his humble nature would be inconsistent with being King of Anything, even classically modest Virgo. [1] Some say the astronomical confirmation of Chiron as a comet supports this conclusion, since comets have not been considered ruling bodies in astrology up to this time. [2] But Chiron acts like an outer planet, despite its shooting star origins, captured between Uranus and Saturn—if only temporarily.  I still believe Chiron has the most resonance with Virgo for now.

So, why Virgo, and why now? Because there is so much work to be done to clean up this planet, the skill for which Virgo is notorious!  The work needed is both on and off the face of the Earth—to mend our ecosystem and the broken souls that have neglected it.  To do this service, the key Virgo/Pisces lesson requires learning not to give ourselves away completely, or we are like the comet that gives totally, burns out fast, and abandons humanity and ourselves with still so much left undone.  The new Virgin must overcome the early savior complex she shares with Pisces, and to become savvy enough to also save herself.

Virgo is the last sign before we come to Libra, the Other.  We cannot give ourselves without first possessing Self—that is the lesson of Virgo.  Pisces is the last sign before we come to Aries, the Self.  The Pisces lesson: Until we lose ourselves, we cannot value ourSelves.  How to make these seemingly circular ideas make more sense than two fish swimming in opposite directions? Let’s look to the Chiron myth for hints.

Pisces is Virgo’s “shadow.”  (I prefer the term “recessive sign,” which can incorporate both its light and dark traits.)  If the Virgo affiliation with Chiron is lit up now, it is probable that the Pisces parts of the Chiron myth have been the most overlooked to date by astrological writers.

The Pisces imagery in the myth comes from Chiron’s maternal lineage.  Born of the sea nymph, Philyra, Chiron doubtless shared his mother’s gifts of prophecy, as the sea nymphs were known to be extremely psychic.  Along with his talents as an astrologer, Chiron likely used his channeling abilities [3] when guiding the many heroes under his tutelage toward finding their proper place in society.

Seldom mentioned are Chiron’s musical talent and his use of art as a medium for healing.   He played the kithara, a predecessor to the guitar.  Based on his original research on the Chiron myth, astrologer Dale O’Brien proposes that Chiron mesmerized and enthralled his visitors in the forest with both storytelling and song. [4]

So, what does the Pisces portion of the Chiron myth suggest that the “radical Virgo” incorporate into his/her evolution in order to become the best this sign has to offer?  I believe it is a balance between practicality and dreams, between mundane tasks and soul expression, between form and formlessness.  A good illustration came up recently: When we’re still relatively new astrologers, some of us tend to over-prepare—to run the chart in several house systems, to stack up pile upon pile of transits and progressions, and to Virgo/analyze ourselves into a near dither. Then we meet the person behind the chart.  The original plan for approaching this reading may be totally inappropriate once we hear the client’s concerns and/or sense the level of information he or she is open to receiving.  If we are an “old Virgo,” we’re likely to cling to Plan A like our life depended on it, but the “new Virgo” is ready to chuck form at a moment’s notice, shift gears, and trust intuition.

In order to do this, we must trust the Piscean gift on the other end of the Virgo/6th house continuum—our 6th sense.  It’s as though the Virgoan side of Virgo is an expert at rehearsal (which is why Virgos tend to love classical music with all of those predetermined notes).  Whereas the Piscean underside of Virgo is the improviser—the person who plays by ear (which is why s/he can hear Spirit).  Each talent is appropriate at certain times, and complementary, but either can be useless noise if taken to extremes. In that case, there is form without feeling or feeling without form.

From this place of enlightenment, not only does your gift itself help heal the world, but also your bliss permeates everything and everyone you touch.  Enlightenment has a divine domino effect.  Take care of Number One, get yourself to heaven, and the chain reaction will heal the world.

What is a Radical Virgo?

At the beginning of this article, I promised to discuss the “radical” Virgo’s connection to sexuality, work, and enlightenment.  Before I do that, let’s define the word radical.  I mean it in these dictionary senses: positive Virgoness carried” (1) to the utmost limit, extreme; or a Virgo known for (2) favoring or effecting extreme or revolutionary changes…. [5] I would modify definition #2 to say: A radical Virgo favors and effects extreme evolutionary changes. S/he does this especially in the areas listed below.


The Radical’s Realms

Sexuality.   The Radical Virgo is beyond whether or not s/he has sex and onto whether or not sex has him/her.

There is nothing like watching a young Virgo’s struggles with virgin/whore syndrome.  Virgo is, after all, an earth sign.  Combine earthiness with a mission to learn discrimination, and one is likely to see a pattern of wide swings between promiscuity and celibacy, as s/he gets beyond the struggle and puts sex into proper perspective, as just one way of expressing the life force.

As discussed in my previous article, the concept of Virgo as prudish is absurd.  The term virgo has been bastardized over the years by partriarchal power mongers who control both men and women by cording them at the second chakra.  In other words, the Church has had an invisible energy leash around our etheric bodies, in the genital zone, making sure our kundalini energy dos not rise naturally to empower us with our own Eros or life energy.  Hence, the handy separation of Virgin and Magdalene (whore), and the withdrawal of the very love of God for being erotic or alive.

For a complete discussion of the natural rise of the kundalini energy at the Uranus opposition), read Barbara Clow’s The Liquid Light of Sex: Understanding Your Key Life Passages.   In the preface, Clow talks about cultural historian William Irwin Thompson’s concern about her thesis that kundalini rises in all people around age 40, timed with the Uranus cycle, and that this could mean all people could attain enlightenment at that time.  Clow and Thompson agree that it doesn’t necessarily accomplish enlightenment.  Both feel this cannot exist without compassion and the opening of the heart. [6]

The Radical Virgo knows that all people can reach enlightenment eventually—this is the perfection s/he strives for.  S/he evolves naturally to raise the kundalini beyond the sexual center, through the heart and upper chakras, to harvest his or her life force through the fruits of service.  Consequently, s/he ultimately learns to choose her partners carefully.  As astrologer Jackie Hoag has said, Virgo is concerned with efficiency in relationship.  While at first that may sound cold, it really isn’t at all.

Virgo is a tender, sensitive soul.  S/he is also very focused on service, and when s/he can find a love who looks in that same direction, or even shares his or her work, that’s the ultimate.  Otherwise, service and relationship will always be rival loves.  The Radical Virgo simply has too much to do to flit from lover to lover.  S/he couldn’t be him or herself without performing those works, and a monogamous relationship that supports his or her reason for being is “it.”

To sacrifice Self, s/he has learned, is too painful.  Martyrdom has been done before.  S/he would prefer not to be in a relationship at all—yes, even give up sex—rather than give him- or herself away.  This means only one thing: a relationship with someone mature who doesn’t rely on this Virgo for sole sustenance, one where mutual growth and support is the keynote.  The lucky soul who teams up with a Radical Virgo will find, despite all fears to the contrary, that this person has plenty of time to devote to their relationship, and plenty of erotic energy, for Virgos are recharged by sex within the boundaries of consensual commitment.

Work.  The Radical Virgo is beyond “workaholism” and onto work as holism.

This person has worked on him- or herself. S/he knows s/he’s okay and doesn’t have to perform constantly to prove it.  What an entirely new perspective that places on work!  Work becomes not an arena to pump up self-esteem, but the place to contribute one’s gifts.  And the Radical Virgo simply does not hang out where s/he is not appreciated, or where his or her gifts are not valued by the powers-that-be.

Work becomes a canvas for self-expression and positive giving.  If s/he is particularly Chironic, s/he may have several jobs and need them all because they express his or her multifaceted nature.  This is different from work as addiction—doing to feel worthy.  It is work that supports expression of self in a positive way.  Often, work is play for these folks. (“People actually pay me to do this?”)

Enlightenment.   The Radical Virgo is beyond Lysol and which toilet bowl cleaner deodorizes best and onto saving the world from going down the toilet.

Linking onto the issue of work, this new Virgo tends to have “big picture” jobs like ecology and counseling—jobs which help the macrocosm by profound interactions with the microcosm.  His or her jobs have purpose, or s/he won’t play.

Clow calls the 6th house, traditionally ruled by Virgo, “the awakening point for most people.” [7] She entitles the 6th and 12th house sectors of the zodiac: “Be here now” (6th) and “Bliss” (12th). [8] I love her title for the 6th house because of my belief in Chiron’s current resonance with Virgo.  Chiron has so much to do with coming into incarnation.  As Clow has stated before, Chiron teaches us “not to jump out of our bodies.” [9] If Chiron were a movie, it would be called Being Here.

Paradoxical as it seems, it is through being here in our work that we ultimately get to bliss and enlightenment. “ … Most people first discover how to be in the moment during engrossing work projects that enable them to filter out all their conflicts as well as the undeveloped aspects of self.” [10] Anyone who has ever been deeply focused, “losing themselves” in their work knows just what this means.  It is the antithesis of what I call Worrygo, hovering over every detail.  For the Radical, work instead becomes a mantra and mandala for letting go.  Emptied, we have made sacred space so that light can flood in.

This reminds me of the word avoidance.  Until we commit to the temporarily painful path of growth, most of us do “a void dance,”  dancing as fast as we can to avoid the void, the empty space where we might (God forbid) really have to look at ourselves.  Thank God for work, where the void might just sneak up on us with a blast of bliss, tempting us to sign up for the entire trip to enlightenment.

So, the 6th/12th house and the Virgo/Pisces continuums are intimately connected: the reward of right work is ecstasy.  To get there requires Radical P and V (Pisces and Virgo), an evolution to the highest expression of these signs versus being stuck on false roads to heaven (like drugs, alcohol, and romantic co-addiction).  Usually, these are temporary highs but long-term hells because they deplete the life force for giving.

Clow also talks about the seeming contradiction that to get to bliss and timelessness, we must fully enter into time.  “The way to move into the present moment is to give your gift … every time you totally offer your gift to the cosmos, you go into bliss.” [11]


How to Recognize a Radical Virgo

A Rad is likely to have Chiron prominent in his/her chart with a good dose of Aquarius or aspects to Uranus (to overemphasize already radical tendencies).  Radical Virgos are not limited to Sun Virgos, but can be found among anyone with strong Virgo, Chiron, or 6th house emphasis, or any Virgo planet (or Chiron) in the first house or on the angles.  Radical tendencies seem to come especially from the latter degrees of the sign.  While any of these factors may point to a Rad, they don’t guarantee it—it’s a question of evolution.  I know Virgos born days apart where one is a Rad and the other is far from it, simply because of differences in development.

What to look for: good at many things (versatile); is often described as “one of a kind” because of a totally unique perspective on life.  He or she tends to “get away with a lot,” bending the rules with authority figures or telling the truth to those who usually will not hear it, often because of humor or some unique perceptual skill that enables him or her to push to the limit without going over the edge.

The Radical may be so busy creating new order in the world that his/her household is in constant disarray.  S/he might have a strong tendency to be buried under papers, books, and magazines, because of Virgo’s love for words (and the need for all Radicals to be highly educated and up-to-date).  This person is committed to healing the planet and may literally be a healer.  A Radical Virgo is a heart person, and yet able to detach and see the larger patterns in life.

People think this person knows everything, so they come to him or her for counsel.  This comes from two characteristics: a Radical Virgo’s versatility and wide-ranging knowledge, and a strong sense of commitment, which puts much power behind his or her words.  This tendency for people in trouble to come to them for help may have begun at a very early age, and led naturally to a career in the helping professions.

Finally, this person is not only perceived as one who knows everything, but one who does everything.  A litany from those around this Virgo is, “I don’t know how you do it,” meaning accomplish so much.  The Radical Virgo is so attuned to synchronicity, and so comfortable in the Pisces alter ego, that s/he can do so much because Spirit takes care of a lot of the details; most old Virgos would still be obsessing over them, and therefore, accomplishing nothing.  S/he knows when to put down the day planner and tune up the heavenly hearing aid.

And speaking of Pisces, s/he draws them like bees to honey.  Perhaps in the past, before owning his or her own Pisces flip side, only the drugged, drunk, or spaced-out variety applied.  Now, he or she is blessed with a number of Radical Pisces—the enlightened variety, those who see their oneness with all and approach life with beauty, sensitivity, myth, ritual, and song.  The real giveaway to spotting a Radical Virgo is that this Virgo has gotten over cringing at the mention of the 12th sign and has “gone Fishing.”


Radical Virgos We All Recognize

The three that jump to mind instantly are Michael Jackson, Lily Tomlin, and Madonna.  (No, Madonna isn’t a Sun Virgo like the others, but with Venus conjunct Pluto and the North Node all in the V-sign, she definitely belongs to this club.  This explains why she sang, Like a Virgin, Like a Prayer, and shares a name with the most famous Virgin of them all.)

Michael Jackson.   Born in Gary, Indiana, August 29th, “on a late summer night in 1958,” according to his autobiography, Michael is a Moonwalking, talking example of the Virgo/Pisces continuum—his Sun/Moon opposition.

His struggles to balance masculine and feminine are so overt that they make many people downright uncomfortable.  One article about him is entitled, “Blurring the Boundaries of Gender,” [12] and few people would deny that his androgynous persona is both beautiful and talented beyond belief.

One writer states that despite links with actresses like Brooke Shields and Tatum O’Neal, “ … in the past he has apparently not established any long-term relationships, and expression of his sexuality seems limited to the stage.” [13] Michael’s controversial autoeroticism in his recent “Black and White’ video is a good example.  Nonetheless, while this man may be driven by his erotic energy, he is by no means hooked on sexuality.

His own revelations on the subject are both poignant and revealing of his Mars/Venus/Chiron T-square: “My dating and relationships with girls have not had the happy ending I’ve been looking for … They want to rescue me from loneliness, but they do it in such a way that they give me the impression they want to share my loneliness, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody, because I believe I’m one of the loneliest people in the world.” [14]

Michael’s other Radical Virgo characteristics are endless, especially his extravagant service and generosity.

Lily Tomlin. A Chiron-in-the-1st Sun Virgo (Detroit: 9/1/36), Lily has been making us laugh and enlightening us for years.  Considering Chiron’s connection to “meaningful coincidence,” I love the start of this description of her magnificent one-woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe: “If you believe in synchronicity, which Lily Tomlin surely does…” [15] Jane Wagner, Lily’s long-time writer, says, “The concept behind the show was to talk about consciousness in a way that hopefully nobody would know we were talking about higher consciousness.”

Lily the Rainbow Bridge more than succeeded.  In a versatile performance that spanned a wide assortment of characters from Agnes Angst, a teenage miserable, to Trudy the Bag Lady (who talks with ETs and claims she didn’t have a nervous breakdown but a nervous breakthrough), Lily is at her best in the realm of sexuality.  Her portrayal of a woman’s first love experience with another woman in the early days of the feminist movement is tender and uproariously funny.  Equally well, she portrays the wife in a full-circle story of a happily married, hippie-esque, heterosexual couple—from their first meeting to their divorce.

I cried at her ability not only to find the signs of intelligent life in the universe, but also to flash them in neon and strike tender chords of oneness with the modern struggle for meaning.  Called a “passion play about metaphysical fitness,” [16] here’s a woman whose kundalini/Eros is definitely on full-tilt boogie.

Madonna.   There’s a lot I could say about Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (Bay City, MI: 8/16/60), but I’ll stick to what’s obvious. This woman makes the powers-that-be squirm because she undoes their evil deed of separating sex from spirituality.  In her wonderful irreverence, crucifixes and cleavage bared, she not only thumbs her nose at her strict Catholic upbringing, but also provides a delicious parody of why society is so screwed up, pun intended.

She’s bawdy, unpredictable, and prefers a man able to acknowledge his feminine side.  Madonna says, “I think I have a lot of masculinity in me.  Macho guys don’t really go for me.  They’re frightened of their own femininity.” [17]

Aside from the fact that the above quote is from an article with the Chironic title “Magnificent Maverick,” the Material Girl has always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and in this same interview, she says, “Having money is just the best thing in the world.  It gives you freedom and power and the ability to help other people.”

Others.  Because the archetype is still so new, some Radical Virgos are more “under construction” than others.  If the above Virgos aren’t your cup of herb tea, try: Blues great BB King (9/17/35); controversial filmmaker Oliver Stone (9/15/46); or Shirley MacLaine (29 degrees Virgo Rising).


Reasons to Become Radical

It’s good for your love life.  Rads strive for a kind of relationship we’ve never had before, based on equality, maturity, and concern for the world where their love must live.  Since the old ways of relating haven’t worked worth a darn, this is definitely worth a try!

We are so wounded in our sexuality that it should be no surprise that Virgo and the 6th house of healing are becoming the Masters & Johnson of the zodiac. So many of us have been damaged in this energy center, especially by the splitting apart of sex and spirituality by religion and the patriarchy. This is the primary cause of our more direct grief: molestation and rape as children, sexual (and emotional) dysfunction, and AIDS as adults. We need to get well in the way that we give ourselves and our “fertility.” We need to learn Virgo discrimination, saving ourselves for the right kind of soil and weather in relationship.

Heart and sexuality are biologically connected—in the Chinese medicine system, both are a part of the fire element. When Chiron moved into Leo (the sign that rules the heart) on July 21, 1991, Venus and Mars were conjunct in Virgo—no small hint that we need to reunite love and sex and heal the separation from which few of us have been lucky enough to fully recover. And no wonder Venus and Mars were in the sign that’s becoming radical, for this healing will definitely revolutionize the world. Full of our own Eros/Life Force, it is impossible to be a victim.

An interesting note: Chiron is at perihelion when in Libra. Could Libra be where Doc Chiron is heading next, on to healing the next continuum? We’ll know that Chiron’s focus has shifted to the Self/Other continuum if we suddenly uncover more mythical information on Chiron’s rather vague relationship with his wife, the sea nymph Chariclo.

It’s cutting edge and it’s TIME. As we enter increasingly into the mega-trend of information overload, the Virgoan talent for separating the insignificant from the germane will be a key survival skill. When we purify our decision-making process, choosing more often what is helpful, healthful, and whole as opposed to harmful, and when we heal our sexuality and bring our work to the level of gift-giving, the harvest is enlightenment and a whole new world.

We are strong, we are invincible, we are Virgos. What other sign could single-handedly accomplish a global reorganization? So, Virgos of the world, UNITE! Get radical. After all, it’s your job.

– by Joyce Mason



[1] This concept was well-articulated by Dale O’Brien in his June 1991 presentation at Planet Camp, “The Myth of Chiron.”
[2] Zane Stein, Essence and Application—A View from Chiron, Third Edition, Preface.
[3] Barbara Hand Clow, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, p. 4.
[4] O’Brien, “The Myth of Chiron,” Ref. #1.
[5] The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1982, p. 1021.
[6] Barbara Hand Clow, The Liquid Light of Sex: Understanding Your Key Life Passages, Bear & Company, 1991, p. xiv.
[7] Ibid., p. 33.
[8] Ibid, p. 27.
[9] Clow, Chiron … see Ref. #2, p. 197.
[10] Clow, Liquid Light of Sex (Ref. #7), p. 33.
[11] Ibid., p. 30.
[12] Nicholas Jennings, “Blurring the Boundaries of Gender,” MacLean’s, July 23, 1984, p. 44.
[13] Quincy Troupe, “Michael Turns 30!” Essence, July 1988, p. 54.
[14] Michael Jackson, Moonwalk, Doubleday, 1988, p. 162.
[15] Tracy Young, “Tomlin/Wagner,” Vogue, November 1985, p. 396.
[16] Ibid.
[17] David Ansen, ” Magnificent Maverick, “ Cosmopolitan, May 1990, p. 311