much to their cost.  Virgo contains all the stages of individual development.  He's been through the rash impulsive courage of Aries challenging life.  He's been through the building and acquiring stability of Taurus.  He's been through the curiosity and fascination with ideas of Gemini.  He's been through the need for warmth and family and roots of Cancer.  He's been through the need to be creative and individual in Leo.  You can see a sort of matter-of-fact 'Yes, I've done that' quality in many Virgos when they watch those other signs.  It's as thought it's stored somewhere in their memory banks.  And their job, their business, is about taking all those different stages and kinds of experience and not specializing in one but rather making a refined and well-functioning whole out of it.  It's one of the reasons you find so many Virgos obsessed with health and diet, and equally many obsessed with psychology and self-help.  They're trying hard to knit the whole thing together, to become the efficiently functioning person who can deal with any experience.  But because Virgo is the final summation of the first cycle, any experience means any personal encounter, not an encounter with a group.  Virgo isn't ready to go out into the bigger life of society.  He keeps himself to himself.  That's Libra's job.  The compulsive self-perfecting that you find in so many Virgos, the endless stream of books and workshops and talks and lessons about how to be healthy, how to learn this, how to master that, all these things have a deep symbolic root.  It's the need to prepare the vessel, to craft it, shape it, refine it, for some vaguely sensed next phase for which Virgo waits without really knowing what it is he's waiting and preparing for. 

All myths are profound, and unless we make a little effort to think on a level of life other than what's for dinner, and on a level of astrology other than that Virgos make good typists, there's nowhere out of the snakepit of meaninglessness we have built with out own smallness.  As we watch our Virgo friends and lovers and children busily rushing about with their dietary fads, their psychological self-development techniques, their new methods of do-it-yourself house building or auto repair, their obsessions and compulsions, we can see here - as with every other sign - a deep drive and a profound myth trying to express itself.  Ashtray-emptying aside, the Goddess as self-contained nurturer of life is a fitting and noble image for this underplayed sign. 

Virgo is also connected with the strange picture-language and concepts of medieval alchemy.  Every Virgo, in some way, little or big, is an alchemist.  Now, medieval alchemy doesn't really have anything to do with the practice of making gold, any more than Virgo has to do with virginity.  If you read old alchemical texts, you'll hear them constantly saying that alchemical gold isn't ordinary gold.  It's transmuted substance, inner gold, spiritual gold, creative gold.  It's about purification, of taking something clumsy and crude and base and transforming it so that the real potential shines out of it.  Whether it's his car or his body or his psyche, this laborious process of transmutation goes on throughout Virgo's life.  One way or another, whether it's himself or other people or the disorderly world, his business, his environment or the products of his skilful hands.  Virgo is attempting the alchemical transformation.  It isn't really the outside world he's trying to order and synthesize.  It's life.  And life, ultimately, is himself. 

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