Here in New York from where I write you, on a rainy Sunday in September on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the Virgo new moon rises in the night sky and goes about her errands. The Virgo new moon has seen what this summer’s eclipse season wrought and unearthed; she’s witnessed the Pisces full moon pour her big light on whatever wounds lay exposed and soften them with grace. Whatever emotional work is left to be done is not the Virgo new moon’s business. Positioned in opposition to Neptune in Pisces, she knows that it’s time to get up, get out, and get right with the little things. She knows that the little things add up and, besides, true healing takes time, the measure of which is personal and often private. Instead, this moon tasks herself with putting our daily lives to rights. She is methodical in her endeavor, she moves from room to room in the house of our lives and notes what needs tuning, turning, greasing, and purging.
Mercury is direct in Virgo, too, and that’s no small influence, what with Mercury being Virgo’s ruling planet. Mercury is the god of information, technology, contracts, messages from on high, trade, wages, and winged shoes. Under the auspices of Virgo’s star, these things are examined closely, thoroughly, and with great interest. While Venus and Jupiter languish in Scorpio, re-reading old love letters and stirring sacral energy, the Sun, Mercury, and new moon in Virgo are filing ephemera away in accordance with Virgo’s sacred order. When I say sacred order, I mean Virgo’s knack for the kind of organization that is both effective and inscrutable to anyone else but Virgo. There is a mystery to their methods, a ritualized unorthodoxy, and yet their methods always work. Under the new moon, this kind of service appears as if out of darkness—a handsome black leather bag unzipped revealing a toolkit, a checklist, and some light provisions—all of it a relief.
There is no sign that can’t benefit from Virgo’s attentive responsiveness, even the most independent amongst us, even the ones who feel marked by our mistakes. Virgo has a forgiving influence, invested in studying the humanity in failure and the ways in which community is built out of our sincere efforts toward repair.
The Jewish people are a lunar people, and I come from them, although I was not raised religious or even spiritual. From an early age, Leonard Cohen was my formative Jewish education. A Virgo sun, Virgo rising, Pisces moon, Cohen sang love songs that were about Jewish rites and Jewish rites songs that were about love. The songs I loved most were the ones that made heartbreak into a sacred work, the ones that sang softly about two lovers' last day together: “Many loved before us, I know that we’re not new. In city and in forest they smiled like me and you. But, now it’s come to distances and both of us must try…”
In the depths of spiritual despair, Cohen once lived as a silent monk in the mountains of California. He wasn’t always a good man, he sustained himself on the hearts and talents of women, but his songs taught me how to make something good out of pain. Something salvageable. That’s a Virgo gift, and there are lots of Virgo musicians who have done the same for others, despite the difficulty of their own story. Think: Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Think: Amy Winehouse’s everything.
On Rosh Hashanah, we dip our apples into honey and wish each other a sweet year. This past week, in preparation for the holiday, I called my mother. Like most mothers and daughters, we have problems. Like most mothers and daughters, we forgive each other out of a sense of duty. For Rosh Hashanah, I asked her to teach me how to pickle watermelon and, for an hour or two, we stood side by side in the kitchen cutting the sweet summer fruit into small wedges and pressing those wedges firmly together. We mixed salt and sugar in vinegar water. We pressed cloves of garlic with the handle of a knife and sometimes with the heels of our wrist. We preserved something sweet for the cold months ahead, knowing it would not taste as it once did, and looking forward to what it would become.
No matter your practice or belief system, you will stand to benefit from treating this week as the beginning of something new. How do you prepare for something new? You do your research. You make a list of what you’ll need. You innovate when what you want is unavailable. Under this new moon in Virgo, reader, I hope you learn how to preserve something sweet and make of it a future blessing. Under this new moon in Virgo, may all your simple, daily rituals yield month-long spiritual rewards.