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Astro-Tarot Series

Part 2:  Virgo and Veiled Isis

Elbert Benjamine

Eve was driven from the Garden of Eden, together with her consort, because she possessed an irrepressible curiosity. She was the first experimental scientist. A lot of theory was current as to how the forbidden fruit tasted, and what would happen to anyone who ate it. One is reminded of that fervent Dutch naturalist of the seventeenth century, Jan Swammerdam, who first made exhaustive studies of the bee. Not content with counting the facets of the eyes, and discovering the three other eyes, which are simple like our own, and that the sting of the worker is straight, is wanting in the drone, and is curved in the queen, he had to know also all about its venom. He thrust the darts into his arms, rolled the poison on the tip of his sensitive tongue, and finally swallowed it.

It was to be expected, as came to pass, that Swammerdam should die young; but in true Virgo fashion, he made a careful record of each of these ardently pursued experiments, so that his contemporaries were given exact information about bees and many other insects that would long have remained unknown except for Jan's many health-breaking adventures. And it was to be expected also that Eve, and those like her who followed, would get into difficulty, but the world is vastly richer in knowledge for their prying into things.

Taking the premise which has since found no improvement, that mental expression, which the planet Mercury rules, is the commencement alike of an activity by man or the evolution of a universe, it seemed to the Wise Men of old that thought, instead of an abstraction, was always about something. In fact, all existence seemed to be divided into that which acts and that which is acted upon, into positive and negative polarity. The Chinese expressed this idea of a male and a female potency in the familiar cell-like Pentacle. The Bible draws this line of distinction at its very start when it says God created; and then refers to that thus formed as the heaven and the earth.

Now if Mercury, the planet of thought, represented more closely than other orbs intelligent force controlling will, what best represented that which was acted upon? This was both a philosophical and a practical problem to the ancient initiates.

That it was solved before Bible times is clearly indicated in the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The most outstanding characteristic of those born under Virgo, the earthy and practical sign ruled of Mercury, is their determination to know 'how' things can be done. Virgo, the sign of the garden of fruits, of the harvest, and of labor, adjoins the autumnal colure the sun crosses into the winter signs of the zodiac, into the cold of the great annual day. But while the sun is in Virgo the days yet exceed the nights in length, so that poetically, at least, its position there well may be called the cool of the day. Thus, zodiacally, it was quite consistent that after the transgression in this garden sign, Adam and Eve should hear the Voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.

It was quite consistent, too, because this harvest sign Virgo belongs to the triplicity of earth, that out of the ground of this garden the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food, and also the tree of life as well as the tree of good and evil. Yet because of certain actions on his part, man was not permitted to partake of the tree of life; but he did partake of the tree of good and evil, through the advice of Eve; and thus the woman in the sky still holds the palm branch in her hand.

This sign Virgo, however, has rule not merely over gardens where dates grow on palm trees, but over labor and harvests of all kinds. Therefore, when Adam, and the woman who was called Eve because she was the mother of all living, were thrust from the parental environment to shift for themselves, it was said that in order to live they must till the fields and raise crops, not all of which would be wheat, as thorns and thistles are mentioned. Furthermore, to keep them warm they had to make clothing, which also is ruled by Virgo.

All of these things required just such labor as the zodiacal sign governs; and people still sweat to get the bread they eat, such bread as is signified by the ears of wheat held in celestial Virgo's hand.

Because that for which the thoughts of Mercury work is to secure the fruits of effort, because people born with the Virgo influence prominent are noted as harvesters of information, because it was considered that the purpose of the soul on earth was to gain a harvest of experience, and because the sign was found experimentally to rule grains and other foods, it was quite natural that to express the sign hieroglyphically a sheaf of wheat should be used. Such is the origin of its symbol as yet used in the ephemeris.

The constellation traced among the stars, depicting a Virgin Mother, who in Egypt was called Isis, tells more about the principle related to the sign thus portrayed. Yet what could thus be told by the starry picture was limited. Therefore to give additional information the ancients wrote it in the language of symbolical pictograph on one of the tarot cards. This tarot card, because earth was considered the feminine of creative mental activity, the mother, or matrix, upon which Mercury (number 1) operated to bring forth an immortal harvest, was given the number 2, and was called Veiled Isis. The picture, as the Egyptian initiates designed it, with the stars of the constellation Virgo above as they appear in the sky, is here illustrated.

Every object and relation here set forth speaks in no uncertain terms of some attribute of the zodiacal sign Virgo. They summarize both the philosophical concepts and the practical information those who designed the picture had gained through long years of careful research. But before speaking further of this picture of Veiled Isis, let us get some insight as to the esteem in which Isis was held in many lands, and especially in Egypt from whence these tarot pictures were derived.

Each of the face cards of the common playing pack represents an individual born when the sun was in a different zodiacal sign. The Queen of Spades is the card thus representing the influence of Virgo. Each of the four queens of our playing cards bears in one hand the blossom of a flower. We do not need to speculate upon the significance of such blossoms, because the Hopi Indians of America still employ it in its original significance. Hopi girls, from puberty until marriage wear very attractive coiffures. With elaborate pains the hair on either side of their heads is built into a representation of a squash blossom. Only those of marriageable age who are as yet virgins are permitted to adorn their heads in this becoming fashion.

The snake dance ritual of these Indians is always commenced when the sun is in the sign Leo in August; for not only is the snake the symbol of creative energy, but the very symbol of the sign Leo, in which the sun exerts its greatest power, is a representation of a snake in the form it takes when held in the mouth of a snake dancer. And with similar significance, as representing masculine creative power, is the serpent pictured in Egypt at the brows of their most enlightened characters.Not only does the snake dance ceremony commence while the sun is in the sign of greatest virility, which also is natural ruler of the birth chart house of love (fifth), but it always ends a few days after the sun has passed into the sign of the zodiac pictured in the sky by the Virgin.

Virgo is the harvest sign, and in its more exoteric meaning the snake dance is a ceremony to protect the harvest and to assure a bounteous yield. And on the sidelines during the time of the public exhibition stand antelope initiates shaking an instrument which has its counterpart in shape and function in the harvest ceremonies of Egypt.

Isis represents the feminine principle in nature. Its most characteristic attribute, and the one held most sacred, is pictured by tarot Major Arcanum 2. This Virgo function is that of motherhood. Even today we recognize it as woman's crowning glory; and it was represented both in Egypt and in America by an instrument representing the uterus wherein Nature performed her most holy work, that of developing new life.

In the pageants and processions in honor of Isis the Egyptians carried this musical instrument, called the sistrum. It was a thin metal frame of characteristic shape through which were passed rods of metal so that when shaken they would jingle. These rods were given a curl at either end to represent the serpent symbol of the adjoining sign, Leo, and thus to signify that the solar force — even as the heat of the sun must fall upon the earth and warm it if the planted seeds are to grow — is an essential to new life, as well as the mother principle symbolized by the sistrum. The white gourds filled with seeds, which during the snake dance the antelope priests continually rattle, are identical in shape and in significance to the Egyptian sistrum. Likewise, each of the queens of our playing cards bears the blossom of a flower. But only the Queen of Spades, representing the sign Virgo and the Virgin Mother, bears also in her other hand a lighted torch, to indicate that she has conceived by the solar power, that is, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

The ancient initiates, to whom we are indebted for the pictures on our playing cards as well as those on the tarot and those traced in the sky, were interested not merely in man's fortune here, but also in his after-life possibilities. To them, in their quest for soul knowledge, the earthy sign Virgo represented the earth as the womb of Nature. This they depicted in Major Arcanum 2. The sun entering this zodiacal sign symbolized the descent of the soul into matter, explained the necessity of physical incarnation, and indicated the glorious future it would harvest as a result.

The Chaldeans and the Egyptians in their oldest traditions relate the immaculate conception. Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs was virgin born, as was Montezuma of the Pueblo, Mojave and Apache Indians.

The snake dance of the Hopis and the Isis pageants of the Egyptians were not merely rituals to assure an abundant harvest. Their initiates believed and taught that only through the harvest of experience on earth could the soul gain the love and wisdom which would enable it to inherit everlasting life. The sistrum and the white gourd rattle, as well as the symbol of Mercury traced upon the bosom of Veiled Isis, were more than symbols of physical fruitfulness. They also expressed the spiritual significance of the immaculate conception; that physical existence is a place of gestation for the soul, limiting it by the narrow walls of three-dimensional existence.

Passage of the soul to the next life is its deliverance into a region of wider freedom for the expression of its desires and abilities. And finally, according to the wheat held in the hand of constellated Virgo, and according to the grapes prominently pictured with Veiled Isis, it was held that every soul properly garnering its harvest of love and wisdom is immortal, and in its turn becomes the seed of a future universe.

Veiled Isis, as here shown, is figured by a woman seated at the threshold of the Temple. She is seated between two columns, the one on her right signifying the realm of spirit, and the one on her left indicating the realm of matter. The Book of the Secrets of Nature upon her lap is half hidden under a mantle adorned by the vine and the fruit of the grape. Instead of apples which tempted Eve, we here have grapes; and instead of a Tree of Good and Evil, we have here a Pillar of Good and a Pillar of Evil. But the Book of Nature she attempts to read indicates this to be merely one version of the old Bible story.

Quite in conformity with our present knowledge of the operation of natural law, only one part of the book wherein is inscribed the manner in which Nature operates on all things is apparent to unaided observation. This is the portion adjacent to the dark pillar, representing the world of atomic matter. In fact, that crass materialism from which our more enlightened men of science are fast emerging would have us believe that this left-hand side of Nature's Book explains her completely. But we who study astrology, and compile statistics of the observed effects of the influence of the signs and planets not merely upon human life, but also upon all other material objects and forces in so far as such studies have taken us, know that the left-hand, or material, side of existence is less important.

Some grapes there are, to be sure, pictured beneath this left-hand side of the book, but they are few in comparison to those on the mantle which covers the right-hand, or invisible, side of this scroll of Isis. Some fruits of effort are of the material kind, but those more abundant and lasting are the outgrowth of character: a harvest stored not in the warehouses of the material world, but in the organizations of the finer body which persists after the three-dimensional physical form shall have perished.

It is this mantle which covers the knowledge of the operation of natural law on the four-dimensional plane, where mind and character reside, which we astrologers are attempting to lift. Some of us may not be entirely aware of the nature of our effort. But when we tabulate the observed influence of the signs and planets as affecting physical life and destiny, we begin to peer beneath the cloak of appearances and read the writing about the world of reality.

People think they take a short journey, for instance, because suddenly they feel the inclination to make such a trip. And so far as the left-hand side of this book is concerned this is true. But the right-hand side shows that invisible energies from the planet ruling the third house in their birth charts is reaching the thought-cells in the third compartment of their astral bodies at this time in unusual volume. They are making the journey because they feel so inclined, but they feel so inclined because certain factors within their characters are receiving an abnormal amount of energy. When the third compartment of their astral bodies does not thus acquire an unusual amount of planetary energy they do not feel inclined to take a short trip, and they do not take it.

How do we know so much, especially as this half of the book on the lap of Virgo is concealed? It is because, in regard to this matter, and in regard to matters pertaining to each of the twelve compartments of the four-dimensional form, we have used the typically Virgo method. We have not been content to accept the findings of the psychic faculties without further proof. But we have not scorned to use the psychic senses, have not looked with contempt upon the pillar at the right of Isis. Two realms are clearly indicated, and it is the Virgo function in reference to each to ask 'how?' But of all the zodiacal signs Virgo is most critical, most painstaking in the use of discrimination.

Such discrimination implies that the left-hand pillar should be weighed in evidence against the right, that what is contained on the easily visible part of the scroll should be compared with what is written on the part from which the cloak must be removed.

As to what is said on the invisible side of the book in reference to people when they make a short journey that is outstanding enough to cause it to seem rather an important event, it is difficult to prove that the thought-cells, or character factors within their unconscious minds, residing in the third of the twelve departments of their astral bodies are given new planetary energy at the time such a trip is taken. How these thought-cells, operating from the four-dimensional realm they occupy, can bring things to pass is difficult of three-dimensional demonstration.

But when we turn to the other side of Virgo's book, and deal with things which can be observed with the physical senses, our statements become more positive. Out of 100 persons who sent us the time of day, as well as the date of their birth, and the date on which they took a short journey, there was a major progressed aspect, heavier than the progression of the moon, and within one degree of perfect, to the ruler of the third house in the birth chart in every instance. This analysisenables us to say that people only take short journeys when such a progressed aspect is present.Two pillars are shown in the pictograph of Major Arcanum 2, even as to acquire all information both the visible and the invisible world must be explored. But in addition there are two well-recognized symbols to indicate the means to be used in such complete investigation. Mercury, the planet of objective thought, of statistical analysis and of reason is inscribed on Virgo's breast. But surmounting her crown, or tiara of three stories, is the crescent symbol of the Moon.

The Moon is the ruler of the Mentality. That is, in a birth chart it maps the most open avenue by which impressions reach the unconscious mind. Because the impressions from the sign in which the Moon is found at birth thus reach the unconscious mind in greater volume than other impressions do, this Moon-sign gives the key to the mental capacity. Mental capacity, ruled by the Moon, and Mental Expression, ruled by Mercury, are two quite different things. Many who possess great wisdom are poor hands at expressing what they know, while the chatter-box who tells everyone he meets all thoughts that pass through his mind may create an impression of erudition quite unwarranted by fact.

Every planetary position in the birth chart maps a receiving set through which impressions of a definite kind reach and influence the unconscious mind or soul. But because the Moon terminal is the most receptive to impressions coming from either the external or the internal plane, and thus is responsible for so much that influences the unconscious mind, it may be said, more than any other planet, to rule the unconscious mind, or mentality. Thus has it been used as the symbol of the soul.

The soul, as symbolized by the crescent in the pictograph, is perched atop the tiara, showing that it has triumphed over the three planes, physical, astral and spiritual, represented by the three distinct stories. And this supremacy of the Moon symbol, related to the unconscious mind as distinct from the objective mind of Mercury, shows that the faculties and senses of the unconscious mind, the psychic senses, are employed in this conquest. The crowning glory of Virgo is to employ the four-dimensional senses indicated by the Moon, to acquire information not merely from one plane of existence, but from all planes.

But this is only part of her work. The Moon relates to impressions and feelings, and to those manifestations of the unconscious mind that bring up into the realm of objective consciousness what commonly lies well below its threshold. But information obtained through such psychic channels is all too easily subject to misinterpretation. And critical Virgo can take no avoidable chances on being wrong.

The planet Mercury, signifying conscious reasoned thought is inscribed not well above her head, not in a realm where common faculties falter and breathe confusedly in the too rare atmosphere. It is inscribed on the very middle of her being. She may be said to revolve around it. Whatever the psychic Moon faculties bring to her attention, whatever is seen on the pillar at her left or on the pillar at her right, and whatever is read from either the right-hand page or the left-hand page of the book she holds, in the end to be true to her nature, and to be true to the science she represents, she devises methods by which reason based upon experiment can prove or disprove what she is inclined to believe is true.

Eve was not content with current theories about the apple. She had to know. If those who ridicule astrology were as intelligent, they would cease likewise to be content with scholastic theories and would bite into stellar art to taste it for themselves. Finding it of a different flavor than they had anticipated would bring them the work of readjustment, even as the Bible Virgo incurred a life of labor. But thus to partake of the tree of knowledge would well be worth it.

(This concludes part 3 of 23)

To purchase The Sacred Tarot by C. C. Zain (student format, hardbound)

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