I love using Tarot to make Astrology a little more accessible. I was doing a reading for a client just the other day, who is a Virgo rising, as am I, and something occurred to me. (You will find over time that I am a nut for words and their etymologies.) By the end of this post I am going to connect the two Tarot cards that represent Virgo using mythology and etymology. But first, let's talk about Virgo and her corresponding Tarot cards.
Virgo and Tarot
Virgo is latin for Virgin, or as one translation put it, Maiden. I actually prefer maiden because it doesn't have the sexual overtones but either one works when you look into at least one version of the history and etymology of virgin. There is a line of thinking that a virgin wasn't necessarily chaste, sexually speaking, but she was complete unto herself. She didn't NEED a partner to fulfill her, although she may or may not have chosen to have a partner. Author of Tarot and Astrology topics, Corinne Kenner suggests that in Latin, Virgo means unmarried or self-possessed but not necessarily celibate.
The vestal virgins of Roman mythology were priestesses and servants of the goddess Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. This is probably where the idea of service and daily tasks comes from with regard the astrological 6th house. There is also an idea of perfectionism in Virgo, whether it is what the goddess demands, or as we shall see later, what her intentions are.
Virgo: duty, work, service to others, analytical, rational, practical, high standards, resourceful, organized, perfectionist tendencies, critical of self and others,
The Tarot card that corresponds to Virgo is the Hermit, suggesting a quiet leadership, dedicated to service to others. The Hermit doesn't really have a virginal connotation, so it begs some questions. The priestly service connection seems to makes sense, as does the idea of wholeness - the hermit withdrawing and going within for completeness.
The Hermit is known for a reclusive nature, and maintains a collection of universal wisdom and learning. With regard to our Virgo maiden, perhaps this would be similar to a cloistered nun, but one who would find ways to serve their community in some way as well. The Hermit holds a lamp of wisdom, but we might suspect that the lamp is a symbol of inner light as much as outer light.
Hermit: wisdom, prudence, illumination, philosophy, introspection and meditation. Solitude, silence and leadership by example.
The Tarot card that corresponds to Virgo's planet Mercury is the Magician. (Mercury is the Roman god counterpart to the Greek Hermes.) Having studied alchemy, I immediately make a connection to Hermes Trismegistus, a veritable magician by all literary accounts. Is there a relationship between the Virgo's hermit, and the Magician Hermes?
The Magician is a master of the elements and knows the power of mind over matter and manifestation. A living symbol of Hermetic principles and an embodiment of "As above, so below." The magician helps us to understand the world of matter through correspondences with higher powers, greater than ourselves, as well as with systems of energy patterns, astrological and archetypal.
Magician: master of space, time, and cosmic energy, mind over matter, manifestation. Messenger, communication, emissary.
Now I want to finish by exploring the link between the Hermit (Virgo) and Hermes (The Magician)
Etymological link or coincidence?
Hermit comes from the Greek ἔρημος and Hermes also presumably comes from the Greek Ἑρμῆς. Look at how similar they are. But etymology is, if anything, only a glimpse into the depth and history of language. So much has been lost to us and we may never know the answers to the questions we ask.
Some interesting things to note: the word hermit is said to have roots that mean "desert dweller." The root of Hermes has been said to mean "stone heap." There could be relation here if we remember that a desert isn't always a place of pure sand, but a place that receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year. By that definition, there are areas of the ocean surface that qualify as desert, and also places where stone heaps would certainly be present.
A few more meandering thoughts:
*Hermit - recluse, person of the desert, to be quiet
*Hermes - a word of unknown origin, herm is a square pillar of stone, Hermes was known as the god of roads, among other things, the roads may have been marked by pillars of stone (cairns). He was also the god of commerce (Mercury means market) which was only made possible with roads, most likely through arid desert lands.
Most will argue that there is no provable connection between hermit and Hermes, and that's fine. My goal isn't to prove anything but to wonder, ask questions, and imagine. To some it could simply be a meaningless similarity, but to me it's quite a meaningful coincidence.
Putting It All Together
So I am seeing in my mind's eye a solitary figure, completely at peace in an arid place with heaps of stones, perhaps standing by one of these stone constructions marking a crossroads. I might be far off, but I do find the correlations very curious. It also changes my view of Virgo and what she can bring to the world. She is not a slave, but a powerful being, who chooses to bring her gifts to the world. She has the skills and nature of Hermes, to retreat for inner wisdom, and to make amazing things happen for her benefit and for those around her.
Another interesting correlation is the son of Hermes and Aphrodite was called a hermaphrodite - meaning a union of both male and female. The Virgin would have been a hermaphrodite in the sense of being complete unto herself. Alchemy is about taking two things that are opposite (bland and white, or male and female for example) and making them into something whole, and better than the sum of the parts.
Thank you for meandering with me. If I had to choose Tarot cards for my brain activity it might be these two cards from the Witches' Wisdom deck.
Final thoughts: As for Virgo being a perfectionist, I go back to the alchemist image and I think of the need in science for controlled processes to generate the outcomes desired. I recommend revisiting Abby's post Perfectionism, Virgo and Life for more on the bad rap Virgo gets in this respect.
What do you think? Do you think there could be some lost link etymologically here? Do you find the links interesting, especially given that they are cards chosen for the same astrological sign?
I'd love to hear your thoughts,
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