On September 9, the new moon arrived in Virgo—the symbol of the woman and derived from the word virgin. While modern thinking classifies “virginity” as about sexual experience and, specifically, valuing chastity in women, this common definition has strayed far from the word’s original meaning.
Virgo comes from Latin meaning “unwedded girl, maiden.” It wasn’t until around 1300 that it was used to denote a lack of sexual experience or imply chastity. In Greek translations, the word virgin meant “one unto herself.” Similar to many words in English, the original meaning became lost as Western culture became more patriarchal in nature.
With this evolution of language in mind, virginity actually means freedom, self-sufficiency, and wholeness. One of my favorite authors, Nancy Qualls-Corbett goes on to say a virgin is “untouched by man, or … the laws of man.” In this way, virginity is not something that a person could “take” or “give away.” Virginity instead belongs to each of us as an expression of wholeness and divinity and the stories of the virgin goddesses remind us of the power of our own sovereignty.
In Greek and Roman traditions there were often three main virgin goddesses: Vesta/Hestia, Minerva/Athena, and Diana/Artemis. Regardless of gender or gender-nonconformance, I believe each of these goddesses speaks to an aspect of our own wholeness and virginity. Understanding these archetypes in an astrological context gives us important clues about how their archetypal energies show up in our lives and our soul patterning.
The asteroids and dwarf planets are often named after goddesses and invite a complexity not found with the more popular planetary bodies in our solar system. While the names are gendered, I don’t think of them as unique aspects to any gender; instead, I think of them as different energies that move through us at different times.
How can we work with these archetypal, virginal energies throughout the next month? For me, the answers lie in our natal Vesta, Pallas Athene, and Diana asteroids.
Here’s a rundown of each of their meanings in the collective and personal astrology charts:
Asteroid Vesta—named after the Greek goddess of hearth and home
The second largest asteroid, Vesta, was discovered in 1807 and was in the news more recently because the satellite Dawn completed its orbit around it. Vesta perhaps ignites the sacredness of expanding our horizons both mentally and physically.
- Claim to fame: Vesta the goddess refused to marry Apollo or Poseidon, though may have taken them as lovers. The vestal virgins of ancient Rome kept the sacred fires burning and were honored for their chastity.
- Aspect of virginity: Represents how we channel sexual energy and the blending of both the sacred and profane.
- Astrological energy: What we hold sacred; how we connect through spirit with ceremony, routines, or personal rituals; sexual potential or sacred sexuality practices such as tantra.
Asteroid Pallas Athene (Athena)—named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, craft, poetry, and war
The second asteroid, Pallas Athene, was discovered in 1802. It’s the third largest asteroid and was named after Athena. The asteroid is likely shining a light on our desire to learn or highlighting our unique version of genius.
- Claim to fame: A warrior goddess born from Zeus’ head in full armor, Athena even had an entire city named after her (Athens). She fought with Jason and the Argonauts and wore Medusa’s head on her breastplate.
- Aspect of virginity: The light of the intellect and ability to think for oneself as well as the internal balance of masculine and feminine energies and head and heart.
- Astrological energy: Ability to perceive and understand patterns, which require the integration of both intuition and intelligence … as wisdom. Can reveal gifts of creativity or identification with the “know-it-all.”
Asteroid Diana—named after the Roman goddess of hunt and nature
Discovered in 1863 by a German astronomer, this asteroid is small compared to the other virgin goddess asteroids and isn’t even within the top 20 when it comes to size. At points, Diana creates a grand trine with the other two virgin goddesses. Together, these asteroids uplift and empower feminine energies.
- Claim to fame: She begged her father Jupiter to liberate her from marriage and motherhood, though in Greek mythology she had 50 daughters with the handsome shepherd Endymion. She also had the power to talk to and control animals in the forest, and there is even a branch of Wicca dedicated to her.
- Aspect of virginity: Freedom and the relationship to wild nature as well as the connections between women as a part of our unity under patriarchy.
- Astrological energy: Where and how we yearn for our own freedom, perpetual “hunt” for something, our ability to nurture “sisterly” relationships, connection to the wildness in ourselves.
Virgo and the asteroid virgin goddesses remind us of the power inherent in our own life force energies and self-possession with or without our sexual relationship to others. A facet of self that beckons us into being whole, complete, and unfettered by the man-made laws and expectations of the gods or patriarchy.
During this virgin season, may our inward experiences and attitudes not be dependent on others for definition or happiness. We shall be whole unto ourselves—the way Vesta, Athena, and Diana would have wished.