Goddess of the Wheat

No one familiar with astrology will be surprised that Virgo doesn't get that much attention. Nestled between bold Leo and sociable Libra, two outgoing, yang signs, the mutable Earth sign can get kind of lost. Even when it is brought to prominence - say by the Uranus/Pluto conjunction in the 1960s or Saturn's passage through the sign a few years ago - we tend to downplay or just miss the Virgoan side of what's going on.

If you look, though, Virgo is all over the news these days. Astrologers aren't making the connection to the sign of the virgin all that often, but there some prominent Virgo themes in the news, and none is more obvious than the ongoing and bitter battle over genetically modified (GMO) foods. Monsanto, the St. Louis company that is the owner/manufacturer of many GMO crops has been - with justification, in my opinion, - been cast in the role of dark Sith Lord in the evil Empire. But we can step aside from the politics and look at the astrology to try to gain a wider perspective on what's going on.

First, in 2011 or thereabouts (for such things are never entirely clear), the fixed star Regulus precessed into Virgo. Regulus is the royal star, and it had been in Leo for thousands of years (we're talking tropical zodiac, by the way - the star is more or less "fixed" with regard to the constellations). This is a major symbolic shift that will take a while to really integrate into our consciousness, but the idea is that star that symbolizes royalty and all the regality that goes with it has moved from a Fire (spirit) sign into an Earth (material) sign, from a masculine sign to a feminine sign, and into a sign that is symbolized by a goddess holding a shaft of wheat (agriculture).

The transition works on many levels, but we need symbolic events to tune us into the shift in energy. Environmental degradation and our detachment from the physical world is a major theme we need to work out if we are going to survive on an increasingly crowded planet. In a planet that has topped 7 billion people, nothing can be more of an Earth issue than our food supply. Concerns about toxins like pesticides in our food have been prominent for a while, but GMOs represent a whole new level of difficulty as the actual genetic material of the food is changed.

Now, to the astrology. The environmental movement really took off during the passage of Uranus and Pluto through Virgo in the 1960s. The issues have never really gone away, but they came roaring back to prominence with Saturn's passage through Virgo, beginning in 2007 (e.g., the fallout from the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth). With Pluto's move into Capricorn in 2008, it's no surprise that the focus in on the role of corporations and the government in manipulating Virgoan issues around food and the environment (the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is another side to the story).

From late 2012 though the fall of 2013, Saturn has been sextiling Pluto. On one level, this is the transformation of power structures, but in the short term it is the consolidation of power. Saturn and Pluto are in each others' signs, making for a very cooperative relationship, which can be seen for example in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Monsanto. For many, it appears that the United States has become a Plutocracy, with the wealthy and powerful interests running the show.

At the same time, the Uranus/Pluto square truly is challenging existing power structures. Just last week, South Korea put a temporary block on U.S. wheat after detecting GMO wheat in its imports. Some people, companies, and countries are going to dig in to hold the status quo, others are going to mount an overt challenge. The outcome is likely to be different than either side would expect or like.

One last consideration - the backlash against GMO food and Monsanto is being led largely by the hitherto quiet Pluto-in-Virgo generation that was born during the 1960s. We might have expected this generation to continue the revolutionary spirit of the era they were born into, but in general this generation has been very subdued. With Regulus now in Virgo and Uranus and Pluto again in hard aspect, this cosmic sleeper cell is waking up.