© 2019 Dena DeCastro, LLC

Working with Virgo: Mercury Retrograde and More

As I write this, we have four planets in Virgo: The Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter. Venus aligns with Jupiter in Virgo on Saturday the 27th. Mercury (ruler of Virgo) stations retrograde in its own sign of Virgo on August 30th, and spends the entire retrograde and shadow periods within the sign. On September 1st, we have a Solar Eclipse in Virgo. Additionally, Mercury in Virgo will make the second of two conjunctions to Jupiter on September 2nd (the first conjunction happened earlier this week.) And Jupiter is wrapping up a year-long transit through Virgo over the next two weeks, ending on September 9th. (Please see all Virgo-related dates at the bottom of this post).

In short, we are in a heightened period of Virgo energy. When so many things are lining up in one sign, I get the feeling that the Cosmos is speaking to us in the equivalent of “all CAPS,” ending in an exclamation point. It seems to be a very focused message. So what does it mean to be immersed in a very-Virgo time?

Here’s a Virgo story. As I walked to my mandolin lesson this morning, I reflected on the fact that I’ve been at it for 9 months now. I’ve been going to lessons consistently every two weeks, only missing once the whole time. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Indeed, it is an accomplishment for me to have stuck with something as frustrating as learning a musical instrument from scratch, with no previous music training. I thought I was doing pretty well on this one tune I’ve practiced for over a month. But as soon as I started playing along with my teacher, who was accompanying me with the flute, it was apparent that I had a major problem spot in the tune. I kept stumbling over it. So, he helped me take it apart note by note to see what I was doing wrong. The cause was a seemingly insignificant detail. I was placing my fingers on the fret board incorrectly, and it was causing me to stumble and make it sound bad every time. It was also hurting my hand. I had been breezing past that measure of the tune every time I practiced, avoiding it because it was challenging.

I probably should have asked him about it at our last lesson. But I got caught up in wanting to impress the teacher with my progress. I didn’t want to open myself up to his criticism right away. But in the end, he wasn’t critical. He was just helpful. After he demonstrated what I was doing wrong, and how to correct it, I practiced the new technique over and over again for several minutes. At first it felt awkward, like I was learning to play all over again. But gradually, I could hear improvement. Then he said something very-Virgo in his pithy style: “The good news is, you can fix things.” He then told me to continue to practice the new technique until our next lesson.

Playing the same thing over and over again is not fun. Frankly, it’s tedious. But I will do it because I’ve seen the improvement that eventually comes from all that repetition. Eventually, I start to sound pretty good, and it becomes fun to play a tune. But the process of developing a skill requires the ability to submit to repetition. The reward does come. With enough practice, we eventually realize we’ve become competent, or even good at something. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from working on a craft or set of skills over time: this is Virgo medicine. Getting better at something also requires the ability to zero in on what isn’t working. We need to see clearly what is wrong so that we can fix it. This is never pleasant. But it is also Virgo's aim: to clearly discern what isn’t working so that it can be be repaired.

There is also the shadow side of Virgo: over-attachment to perfectionism. I once had a teacher in college who embodied shadow Virgo. I and all the other students experienced the wrath of the red pen. He didn’t merely correct our papers -- he practically re-wrote them. Almost every sentence had a correction. It was rarely an actual error that he was putting right; it was more that he didn’t like the way it was written, and he was saying: “Here’s how I would have written it.” He never gave encouragement, nor did he explain why he thought our words were so wrong. I came to the conclusion that there was no pleasing him. And indeed, he was rather a sour character. The archetype of the joyless taskmaster is an expression of shadow Virgo. What is worse is when we turn this energy on ourselves. This is when “The Inner Critic” runs amok. When we focus mostly on what is wrong, what is broken, we lose hope in our own creations. We lose confidence in our skills. And we remain in what I call “Virgo Paralysis.”

During this Super-Virgo time, particularly with Mercury retrograde in that sign (Aug. 30th - September 22nd), here are some questions to consider. Choose the one(s) that most resonate for you, and leave the rest:

-What is a skill you have that you’d like to develop further? What steps do you need to take to improve?

-What isn’t working right now in the structure of your daily life? What steps can you take to fix it?

-Where are you being too hard on yourself? What can you do to shift that energy?

-Where are you being too hard on others? What can you do to shift that energy?

-What does your Inner Critic say to you? How does it stop you from sharing your gifts?

A Mercury Retrograde is often not a time to take decisive action. It is instead a good time to sit with these questions, contemplate them, and notice your thoughts and feelings in response. Perhaps think of a few small details you can begin to rearrange. Be patient with yourself in the process. You’ll receive more clarity, and the ability to move forward on the awareness you gain, by early October.

Virgo Dates August - October

Mercury entered pre-retrograde shadow - August 10th

Sun in Virgo - August 22nd through September 22nd

Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Virgo - August 22nd, September 2nd (retrograde)

Venus conjunct Jupiter in Virgo - August 27th

Mercury stations retrograde in Virgo - August 30th

New Moon / Solar Eclipse in Virgo - September 1st

Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse in Pisces (Sun in Virgo) - September 16th

Mercury stations direct in Virgo - September 22nd

Mercury exits post-retrograde shadow - October 6th

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