Zodiac Mythology, Virgo the Maiden

In my research of the astrological sign Virgo, I found something peculiar. The Virgo myth is not only A) wide spread and connected to many different figures throughout many cultures but also B) comprises several smaller myths which are often told separately. Since all of the stories so far have been Greek, I will stick with their zodiac mythology. The Greek myths hold the most information for symbolic analysis which I believe serves the purpose of these articles the best. Let’s get into the first part of the story of Virgo!

Part 1 of the Virgo Myth: Prometheus and Epimetheus

The start of the Virgo myth goes all the way back to the Greek creation stories. Before any humans existed there was a race of giants known as Titans. They served the gods in many ways, but were also very strong. Strong enough to challenge the gods, but that’s another story. The titan Epimetheus was tasked with creating animals on earth and giving them each their qualities. He gave the creatures things such as claws, wings, tails and so on. It is said, when he got to man he had run out of unique qualities to give them. He then asked his brother Prometheus to help him. This resulted in his brother deceiving Zeus and stealing fire from him. 

He then gave the fire to man so they could warm themselves, cook food and ultimately create the society we have today. Naturally, Zeus was furious. He chained Prometheus to a rock. Then each day a crow would peck out his liver and each night his liver would grow back. This was sentenced to continue forever as his punishment for stealing fire from Zeus and giving it to humans. It’s not much mentioned why Epimetheus was not punished for this but we can infer Zeus was more upset about being stolen from than giving man fire. This is the first section of the Virgo myth, so let’s break it down.

Symbolism in Prometheus

Virgo is commonly connected to stories of fertility and harvest. This is because of the time it takes place in. It is the last zodiac sign before Libra, which is the official start of autumn with the Fall Equinox. Fertility and creation stories are strongly linked (arguably the same thing) because of the overarching symbolism of birth. Within the larger cycle of creation and the human race, there are smaller cycles of creation within every generation. 

Virgo is also the only zodiac sign to be represented as a female. There are signs that are considered more “feminine” such as water and earth elements, but the constellation for Virgo is literally a human female. This again, brings home the idea of it being tied to a creation story. 

The second major symbol I drew from this part of the myth is the connection to fire. In alchemy, fire is the element of creation. It is the life force energy of God which manifests the physical reality out of spirit. By stealing this fire, Prometheus essentially made humans more than animals, he made them god-like.

Now ask yourself, what separates humans from animals? If you guessed our intellect then you’re correct! Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury which influences our ability for rational thought. The strength of our mind is what enables us to create the society we have. 

However, when a fire burns too hot it can hurt us. Prometheus deceived Zeus to obtain the fire. As punishment, a crow pecks out his liver for all eternity. We can safely assume Zeus was never meant to find out. This situation arose from the fire (intellect) of Prometheus. His greatest gift had become the source of his undoing.

Part 2 of the Virgo Myth: Pandora’s Box

After man had obtained fire from Prometheus, Zeus began plotting how he could even the playing field. As we just analyzed, human’s gained a power which could rival the gods themselves and Zeus did not approve of this. He began discussing with the other gods what they could do to make sure humans never arose much higher than where they were. 

Then one day, Zeus gifted a woman named Pandora with a box. He told her never to open it, knowing the curiosity would be too much for her. Eventually, she couldn’t resist and opened the box. From it all sorts of horrible things came out, disease, famine, fear, sadness. Essentially all anything bad you can think of. Although, one thing didn’t leave the box. This thing was hope. Ever since Pandora opened the box, humans have had to endure suffering here on Earth. However, it is hope that keeps us going. Hope things will get better. Hope things will change. 

After plagues and negative emotions had been released on the Earth, the gods gradually left their homes to go live on Mount Olympus. One by one they left and with them took all their power. They still influence the Earth from high on their mountain, but their connection to the humans gradually diminished. The last to leave was Astraea, the goddess of innocence and purity. With her departure, the constellation of Virgo was formed. This way, the humans would at least have a reminder of the purity which once existed. Even if it was scarce in their daily lives.

Virgo, zodiac, astrology, symbolism, mythology
Image by Gordon Johnson

Symbolism in Pandora’s Box

The connection between Pandora and Virgo is related to the function of the sixth house. Virgo is natural ruler of the sixth house of Health, Work and Service. With this, Pandora’s box contained both plagues for the body and plagues for the mind. Interestingly enough, Virgo’s are prone to making themselves physically sick if they are mentally overworked. Pandora was also, unknowingly, working in service of the gods. Zeus knew she would be unable to resist the curiosity (a very Mercurial quality) and open the box.

There is also the very obvious symbolism of Astraea in this story. She is the literal goddess of innocence and purity, which is why Virgo is known as the Virgin. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with innocence. This is one of the strongest traits of Virgo. When the person is acting from the place of an evolved Virgo, their actions focus on helping others. An easy way to spot a Virgo in their shadow is how many of their habits are self-serving.

In Closing

The sign of Virgo holds some very idealistic standards for living. Although, it is fitting as Virgos are always seeking perfection in their daily life. Even though we will never achieve perfection, there is always value in self improvement.

One of the greatest benefits astrology brings us is self awareness. Once we have awareness of our flaws we can then work on improving them. I strongly recommend meeting with a professional astrologer or putting in the time to learn more about your own natal chart. With that, we have concluded another chapter in the zodiacal mythology tales!

To my fellows, may your seeking be fruitful and your findings bountiful!