©2-13-2011 by Donna Cunningham
A very popular series here on Skywriter last year was my series of tests designed to measure the strength of various chart features including the planets, the elements, and the modes. There was just one I never got around to—the test for the element earth. The reason for this gap is that the rulerships of two of the three earth signs—Taurus and Virgo—seem questionable. This makes it hard to come up with an estimate of that element’s score.
In AstroDebate—Which Sign does Venus Really Rule? I challenged the rulership of Taurus and considered the possibility that it was ruled by our own planet Earth. (Mother Earth in your Chart—What on Earth Would It Mean?) I may not have swayed many readers with that suggestion, but at least gave them something to ponder.
The rulership of Virgo, however, has been vigorously debated for years, at least since I began studying it in the late 1960s. Many astrologers had a longstanding discomfort with Mercury’s dual rulership of Gemini and Virgo. Mercury just never felt right for Virgo.
I had to agree. How I fathom the nature of any planet is to observe people who have it prominent in their charts in one of the following ways, ranked from the strongest on down:
- Conjunct the Ascendant
- Conjunct the Sun
- Conjunct the Moon
- Conjunct the Midheaven
When I observe people with Mercury in those positions, they’re like Geminis on steroids—they can talk you to death. They’re not grounded, focused, and practical like Virgos.
One theory about the ruler of Virgo in those Linda Goodman days when so many of us began studying astrology was that there was another planet yet to be discovered between Mercury and the Sun. Astronomers believed it was there, gave it the name Vulcan, and kept watching for it during eclipses. Some even swore they caught glimpses of it.
Many of us younger astrologers rooted for Vulcan—Star Trek was still in reruns, and who didn’t love the very Virgoan Dr. Spock? Later, when space exploration and better telescopes failed to show any trace of such a planet, that theory was regretfully discarded. (LATER: Mitch Lopate sent me a link to this interesting post on his blog that ties this era all together: Gene Roddenberry meets a Vulcan .)
My next crackpot theory (of which there have been many) was that Virgo was ruled by the asteroid belt as a whole—all those details, you know? Then people started using dozens and dozens of individual asteroids in charts, which made me dizzy. My ultimate conclusion was that perhaps the asteroid belt ruled the mutable signs.
Chiron was discovered on November 1, 1977. (See the discovery chart here: Chiron and Friends – Chiron’s Discovery.) Astronomers tend to name newly discovered heavenly bodies after one of the Greek or Roman myths, and astrologers rush to fit the qualities of that body in the chart to the mythical being it is named for.
We take the myth, point by point, and affirm that those are the qualities associated with that planet, never simply starting with observation rather than jumping to conclusions. That was the case with Pluto, which we hardly knew what to do with in those early days, and it has been the case with Chiron. I predict that it will be true of Sedna and Eris as well.
There’s a problem with that hurried approach. When we start with a theory—a preconceived notion of what is true—then we interpret everything we see in the light of our theory. When events or personality traits don’t really match the theory, we spin it until it does.
It’s human nature to want instant closure, to be uncomfortable with uncertainty, but what would be wrong with a wait and see approach? What if we simply gathered data on what people were like with certain planetary configurations or what happened under transits of that body? Lots and lots of data, over the course of several years, without cherished theories to distort what we are seeing?
We’ve done some great data gathering on a number of things here on Skywriter—like our series last summer on minor aspects. Joyce Mason is starting to do that with her Chiron Research group.
Speaking of Joyce, who’s done a brilliant job leading two Chiron related Q&A sessions for us this month, she DOESN’T claim that Chiron rules Virgo. Here’s what she had to say in her session on natal Chiron:
“In a nutshell, I believe Chiron rules no sign in particular but rather the Virgo to Sagittarius sector of the zodiac, which I term the Chiron Sector. Read more about it in, “Wholeness and the Inner Marriage: The Chiron Sector” which details my theory on Chiron’s rulership: http://radicalvirgo.blogspot.com/2009/05/wholeness-and-inner-marriage.html.”
Myself, after 30 years of mostly ignoring Chiron, I’m gradually coming to pay attention and to think that possibly, perhaps it rules Virgo. More so than Mercury, anyway. So I’m about 65% convinced, but am perfectly comfortable with not knowing for sure.
So what about you, Readers? What heavenly body do you think rules Virgo and why? Leave your vote in the comment section. And if we reach some sort of conclusion, I’ll do the test for measuring the earth element in your chart. Deal?
Update: a vigorous (or virgo-ous) debate ensued, in which even more possibilities were proposed, with over 130 comments. See a sample of the most thought-provoking here: The AstroDebate about Virgo’s Ruler: An Opinion Sampler.
- From Joyce Mason: Chiron Quiz: How Strong is Your Chiron?
- Chiron Potpourri—a Q&A Session with Joyce Mason
- Chiron Transits—a Q&A Session by Joyce Mason
- WHAT IF….Virgos Ruled the World?
- Mother Earth in your Chart—What on Earth Would It Mean?
- AstroDebate—Which Sign does Venus Really Rule?
- How Strong is Your Venus? Here’s the Score!
- How Strong is your Mercury? Here’s the Score!
- A Terribly Tentative Test for the Earth Element in your Chart
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