Ancient Astrology: Part 6 – Virgo, the Seed Furrow
Ancient Astrology: Part 6 – Virgo, the Seed Furrow
Most people familiar with the sign of Virgo recognize the constellation as “the Virgin.” Many of its associations reflect this word’s innocent connotations. Words like “shy,” “modest,” and “quiet,” are often used to describe people who are born under this Sign.
These qualities were applied to the constellation by the Greeks, and subsequently the Romans. However, to the ancient Mesopotamian people, the constellation of Virgo had nothing to do with virginity, nor its supposed attributes.
AB.SIN: the Daughter of Sin
The Babylonian Star Catalogs list the Constellation Virgo as AB.SIN. The word can be understood as having two meanings. The first is ‘seed furrow’ – a direct reference to the constellation’s association with agriculture and fertility.
In ancient times, AB.SIN rose on the eastern horizon in the early autumn – the time of seed-sowing in ancient Mesopotamia. The constellation itself depicted a celestial woman holding a stalk of barley, representative of the harvest to come. The movement of the Sun, Moon, and planets through her region of the sky were used to predict the success and failure of crops.
AB.SIN’s associations with fertility can also be seen in the word’s second translation: the Daughter of Sin.
Sin was the Akkadian God of the Moon, and the father of one of most prominent goddesses in the ancient world, Ishtar. Tales involving the goddess are many, but if any one best illustrates her celestial associations, it is probably the story of Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven.
Ishtar was taken by Gilgamesh’s beauty and offered him her hand in marriage. But the god-king refused, citing examples of how her great love so often resulted in a things undoing. Ishtar’s great love of animals resulted in their domestication, or enslavement.
You loved the horse, so trustworthy in battle, but you decreed the whip, goad, and lash for him.
Humans she loved when struck by her often transformed into animals as well.
You loved the shepherd… but you hit him and turned him into a wolf, his own shepherd boys hunt him down and his dogs tear at his haunches.
Furious at hearing this, Ishtar demanded her father lend her Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh and destroy his city.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven, I shall strike… I shall set my face towards the infernal regions, I shall raise up the dead and they will eat the living, I shall make the dead outnumber the living!
Eventually, Ishtar’s father submits and gives her the Bull’s reins and set him upon Gilgamesh and his city. The Heavenly Bull was slain, however, and Ishtar called upon her cult of sacred prostitutes to weep over his headless body.
While Ishtar may have been young and beautiful, virginity and maidenly qualities were clearly not among her traits. The same can be said for her Sumerian counterpart, Inanna. Despite her additional associations with knowledge and wisdom, the “Lady of Heaven” was known for inciting violence. In fact, battle was often poetically described as “the Dance of Inanna.”
The Egyptian Isis
In ancient Mesopotamia, the constellation Virgo was represented by the most prominent and powerful goddess in mythology, and the same was true in Egypt.
To the ancient Egyptians, the constellation Virgo was associated with Isis. Her worship spread to both the Greek and Roman empires, and it continues to this day within modern Paganism.
Myths surrounding Isis are many, and far outside the scope of this article. Suffice to say, fertility, sexuality, procreation, and creative power in general were definitely her domain.
As mother of the god Horus, she was patroness of mothers. As wife and resurrection of Osiris, she was also patroness of wives, and held close associations to healing and magic, and wielded both powers of life and death.
Like Inanna, she was also associated with wisdom and knowledge, especially as it related to magic. However, unlike her Mesopotamian counterparts, Isis was rarely beset by rage and emotional instability. Generally speaking, she was an eternal nurturer and healer – the supreme incarnation of love and compassion.
As Christianity grew in popularity, the Virgin Mary replaced Isis as the Mother of God, and her virginal properties were superimposed onto the constellation of Virgo.
Virgo’s Ancient Associations
Considering this, we can safely conclude that the ancient associations of the constellation of Virgo were: animals, authority, beauty, conflict, creation, cunning, death, determination, domestication, emotional sensitivity, fertility, healing, health, the land, life, magic (metaphysical energy), marriage, motherhood, nature, nurturing, preparation, power, rage, resurrection, sex, sexuality, vengeance, violence, and war.
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