Throughout history full moons have always been associated with the Mother Goddess and indeed different goddesses have often been metaphors for the moon in its various phases. In particular, the Virgo full moon reminds us of the Goddess and the Eternal Feminine of all spiritual traditions and the third aspect of Divinity comprising Matter, Intelligence, and Light. She is Isis of Egypt, Minerva of Greece, Maya of India, Ishtar of Babylon, Lilith of Atlantis and Mary of Bethlehem. Virgo represents the embodiment of the exaltation of the divine feminine principle in creation and all the madonnas of the world religions are under her protection and tutelage. She is the archetypal Immaculate Conception and her gift to us, her children, is the purity and goodness that implies.
In ancient Greece, the constellation of Virgo was represented by Astraea, (the Roman Ceres) the goddess of Justice, and daughter of Jupiter and Themis. Astraea was the most beautiful of all the goddesses and deeply revered by all humanity as she walked among the people during earth's Golden Age and taught the laws of nature and life, including birth, change, abundance, and death. But as corruption came to dominate the Earth she left (although she was the last of the gods and goddesses to leave) but resolved to continue to assist and bless her beloved earth and humanity as the Queen of Heaven, the constellation Virgo. It is said that she still hopes to return and she watches longingly from the sky every night to see when earth will be ready to embrace her again.
Virgo is often depicted as a maiden holding a sheaf of wheat in one hand and Spica, the constellation's brilliant blue-white star also representing a sheaf of wheat - the Bread of Life - in the other. Esoteric tradition says that wheat was a gift to earth from its alter ego, Venus, and it is interesting that Alice Bailey suggests a strong relationship between Virgo, Venus and the femininely polarised Earth in Esoteric Astrology when she tells us that at the end of the age, Venus and Virgo, the Virgin, will be glorified along with Mother Earth. i Furthermore, she mentions another important link, "Virgo and Venus are together two aspects of intelligence. The symbolism of the descent of Spirit into the womb of the virgin mother is preserved for us in the astrological fact that Venus falls in this sign; esoterically, she disappears from view and vanishes into the darkness". ii It is when Venus reappears into the fullness of the light that she will be glorified as the Mother who has hid her face for so long. The goddess will be unveiled and will walk upon the earth once again to bless all creation during a new Golden Age.
As the Mother, Virgo represents the third aspect of the Trinity comprising God. This aspect is substance which is not only intelligent, but in its essence, it is intelligence itself. We are told that it is the negative pole of all manifestation, and that in its original state, it is completely quiescent, impressionable, and inert until it is impressed with a Divine Intent (the Will aspect) when it becomes active and creates out of matter the various forms in accordance with the intent of that Will. As this process unfolds, the son or consciousness is born. In other words, the mother produces the forms by which the Father can become conscious of Himself through the son who inherits the qualities of both parents ie Will and Intelligence as well as the ability to direct that Will, and to act intelligently through matter so that he, in turn, creates.
Virgo is the sixth sign which speaks of an entrance to new life through sacrifice and service to the collective purpose and plan, and spiritual discipleship and discipline. The seed which the Virgin brings with her becomes the Bread of Life to feed the many as she voluntarily subjects Herself, as the negative pole of Deity, to a lower vibratory rate in order that the masculine principle, the positive pole, may obtain forms though which to manifest. The feminine principle sacrifices herself to the world so that humanity might regain the light it lost and attain to a life more abundant. In this respect, her Son, the Christ, joins His mother in this task.
In the past, the patriarchal models of the spiritual have not been kind to the feminine principle. Consciously or unconsciously, the constructs that begin with spirit as the highest, and descend to matter as the lowest, have traditionally relegated women and nature to the bottom of the scale. In the Age of Pisces, the divine was perceived to be located outside the material universe and was fundamentally transcendent to it, and it was believed that our task was to subjugate matter to prevent it from holding us back as we aspired upwards to the Father. This catastrophic disassociation from the spiritual and the consequent estrangement of the feminine principle has been part of the Mother's sacrifice. Furthermore, whenever we try to enslave a divine quality, we ourselves end up its prisoner, and our conquest and subjugation of the divine feminine in our quest to master nature resulted in our becoming imprisoned by the very matter we were trying to transcend. The usual response was to try harder so that self-flagellation was the norm on physical, emotional, and mental levels on individual, community and planetary scales. But rather than free us, our strivings seemed to make the chains that bound us pull tighter. It is interesting that Corinne Heline tells us in her book The Bible and the Stars that in the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, Delilah represents Virgo who facilitates the defeat of Samson, representing the Son, as he seeks to possess her. iii The mythology is further explored in the story of the sixth Labour of Hercules. Hercules was required to obtain the girdle of the Queen of the Amazons and despite the fact that she willingly offered it to him, he killed her. His Teacher said to him, "You slaughtered that which cherished you and all unknown and all unrecognised gave unto you the needed love and power
.Why kill the mother of the sacred child?" Why, indeed, is the question we have started to ask ourselves on a collective basis as we consider planetary problems such as war, genocide, starvation, global warming, pollution etc.
Today scientists are confirming what the Wisdom teachings have always said - the lines between spirit and matter are decidedly blurred and as Helena Blavatsky famously noted, "matter is spirit vibrating at its lowest frequency and spirit is matter vibrating at its highest frequency". Increasingly we are realising that we cannot separate the forms from the spirit they contain and we are reclaiming parts of ourselves that we have disowned and reviled in the past. And as we do this, we also find, sometimes to our amazement, that we come to experience the divine in all its aspects more fully as the glory of God is revealed.
The Virgin as the expectant mother bestows qualities to assist us undertake the task of revealing the God within our form life. She shows us the limitations of the triumphant human ego of Leo and points us towards the prospect of giving birth to a human soul, a soul which she carries deep within the darkness of the womb of her form nature and which, when born, will glorify her by restoring her to her rightful place.
One of those qualities is purity. The idea of purity is so misunderstood and often loaded with ambivalent and confusing ethical and traditional images. To be pure is to not be tainted or diluted with extraneous material. Pure water is water which has not been contaminated with impurities such as dirt or microbes; it is no more, no less than its chemical description - H2O. Similarly, for us to be pure means that we are true to our essential nature and to be impure means that we have extraneous material that is contrary to the vibration of who we really are. These impurities weigh us down and make it more difficult for us to reveal and live according to our essential natures. They make us like cars which have dirt in the petrol. We do not drive well, we stop and start and get out of tune and eventually we break down. The goddess, Virgo, tells us that if we look beyond ourselves our impurities will disappear. Dane Rudhyar in his book The Pulse of Life said Virgo's message is "Look beyond yourself. Reorganise your desires, re-polarise your emotions, re-orient your impulses. Your energies are not yours; they are life's. You hold them in trust for humanity as a whole. Be sure they serve a purpose greater than your littleness, greater even than home and family. Consecrate them to the Greater Whole". iv Virgo tells us that it is only by serving the whole by distributing the Bread of Life that we can become pure.
This purity protects us from the potential harm of our unredeemed lower nature. One of the early Virgo glyphs was of the Virgin closing the mouth of the lion (perhaps the lion of the preceding sign of the egocentric Leo) and goddess iconography often depicts the goddess standing on a serpent having mastered the lower nature but still connected to it.
Associated with purity is the concept of the Immaculate Conception, a common theme in goddess mythology. With respect to Christianity, some Christians believe that it concerns the Christ being born from a virgin but it is actually about the church, concerned about the insistence of its followers to worship Mary, the mother of Jesus, making a strategic pronouncement that she must have been born without original sin to be able to give birth to the Christ. Many in the church were unconvinced and the matter was heatedly debated for hundreds of years and it was not adopted as an article of faith until 1854 when Pope Pius IX said that every Catholic was to henceforth believe that Mary "at the first instant of her conception, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin by the singular grace and privilege granted to her by Almighty God". v It is interesting how the underlying mythology of archetypal beliefs persists from tradition to tradition, even in the face of logic and scorn. The reason for this is that the myths speak of higher truths and the higher truth relating to the Immaculate Conception is the purity - the sinlessness - that we can achieve as we raise the Mother to her rightful place by merging our form nature with our spiritual nature to reach greater and greater levels of consciousness. Mary the Mother of God and her son are our forerunners and role models.
Just as an aside, no single person promulgated the concept of original sin more than St Augustine. Philip Sherrard says "it is one of the paradoxes and one of the tragedies of the Western Christian tradition that the man who affirmed so strongly the presence of God in the depths of his own self
have been responsible
for consecrating within the Christian world the idea of man's slavery and impotence due to the radical perversion of human nature through original sin". vi It is a tragedy of almost equal proportion that the revelation of the Mother that Augustine experienced late in life did not occur in time to redeem his conviction of his own, and humanity's, innate sinfulness. He lamented, "too late came I to thee, O thou Beauty both so ancient and so fresh, Yea, too late I came to love thee. And behold, thou wert within me, and I out of myself, where I made search for thee. vii
We are assisted in this process by the Mother on an even higher turn of the spiral as the Holy Spirit. Perhaps few people realise that the "Comforter" that the Christ said he would send his disciples to assist them was the Mother aspect which could not descend on earth until he had completed His mission. Lucille Cedercrans talks about the Holy Spirit (or Ghost) in her book The Disciple and Economy, "the Holy Ghost aspect is the risen body (redeemed substance) of that total state of consciousness defined as the Christ. It is the One Life within which the Lord Maitreya and His Hierarchy of Masters live, move, and have Their Being. Being composed of the finest frequency of intelligent substance toward which man can reach, It is oft-times referred to as the Divine Mind. The devic lives which make up this great and Divine Being, for such It is even in Itself, are of a very high order; and while they have been seen by many, and interpreted by some as angels, saints, etc., they constitute in their sum total the great Spiritual Mother of this planet. Within the Mother, as within a great and perfect life-giving planetary womb, the Father acting through His Son, the Christ, plants His Seed; that is, here His Will becomes visible as a perfect form of manifest expression". viii Little wonder then that the Mother is so often associated with the devic kingdom.
The incoming 7th ray also has a close association with the devic kingdom and during the Age of Aquarius it will assist the latent divinity that underlies all form to be bought into the light. Thus the activity of the 7th ray will closely support the objectives of the Mother.
Alice Bailey elaborates even further and says "Matter, overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, the third Person of the Trinity, brings to the birth the second Aspect of the Trinity, in the Person of Christ-cosmic, mythical and individual" ix - the mother giving birth to the son. This is the same Holy Ghost who works with the Christ to baptise His disciples with fire, speaking of the fire of the kundalini which being matter, is a gift to us from both the son and the Mother.
Virgo, through its three planetary rulers, x is related to eight other signs of the zodiac and if we count the sign of Virgo itself, this brings in the energy of nine, nine being the number of completed gestation and birth. The only signs not related to Virgo are Leo, Capricorn and Libra - three signs that are particularly related to the Father aspect. It would seem that the Mother needs all the help she can get! Because of this inflow of energies, Virgo is sometimes called the "sign of reception" ie it is a receptacle for the spirit and protects and nurtures the Christ within. To be receptive involves the ability to listen, to be silent, and to agree to be guided by a higher power. As Mary of Bethlehem said, "be it done unto me according to Thy word", an attitude emulated by her son when He affirmed, "not my will but Thy will Lord".
In her book From Bethlehem to Calvary, Alice Bailey notes that the seven statements made by the Christ on the cross are words of power that "summed up for us the Word that inaugurated the kingdom of God". xii The third word of power he spoke has been translated into the following phrase addressed to Mary, His Mother, and John, His closest disciple, "Woman, behold thy son!", then to John, "Behold thy mother!". Bailey goes on to say, "John typifies the personality which is reaching perfection and whose nature is becoming irradiated by divine love, the major characteristic of the second Person of the divine Triplicity, the soul, the son of God, whose nature is love. As we have seen, Mary represents the third Person of the Trinity, the material aspect of nature which cherishes and nurtures the son and gives birth to him in Bethlehem. In these words Christ, utilising the symbolism of these two persons, relates them to each other, and practically says: Son, recognise who is to give thee birth at Bethlehem, the one who shelters and guards the Christ life. To His mother, He says: Recognise that in the developed personality there is latent the Christ child. Matter, or the virgin Mary, is glorified through her son". xiii
Thus we are presented with the true esoteric significance of Virgo: "Christ in you; the hope of glory" and we come to that experience not only through the Mother but by becoming the Mother. Man must again become a "Virgin." The past must be forgotten and eradicated and we must become pure and receptive so that like the Mother we all share, we can give birth to the Christ within. And we do not have to do this alone as the Mother feeds us with Bread of Life during the gestation period until, like her, we present the new life to the Father. Humanity as a whole is undergoing the first initiation which is the birth of Christ in the heart and like most births, it involves pain and suffering. St Paul tells us in the book of Romans that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God". xiv When this takes place the Mother will remove her veil to allow her glory to shine forth, and Virgo the Queen of Heaven will once again become the Queen of the Earth.
As we behold the face of the Mother, the face that St Augustine saw with his inner sight at the end of his life, perhaps we will join with T S Elliot to say, "and the end of all our searching shall be to return to the place where we started and know it for the first time".
May we all embrace the energies of the divine feminine during the Virgo full moon and labour with her to give birth to the Christ, both within ourselves and collectively.