Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gardening with the sun: A Virgo in the garden

Agricultural astrology has a long history, dating back thousands of years. When using astrology, gardeners pay attention to the path of the moon across the zodiac as well as the phase of the moon. The lunar sign and phase determine the best days for planting, weeding, pruning, harvesting, or dealing with fruit, roots, or leafy crops. The moon moves quickly through the zodiac, so it only stays in a given sign for one or two days.

Gardening by the moon has its validity, particularly when paying attention to the phases, as the waxing period is good for growth and waning is best for rest and preparation. However, I've found it's not critical to success. My astrology hobbyist's guess as to why this is true: a lot of energies, as represented by the current planet locations, are affecting fertility—the moon is just one factor. These universal energies constantly interact with our own, as signified by the placement of planets in our natal charts, so each of us have our own influence on fertility. This effect will vary from year to year, and sometimes from day to day.

What is most useful to me is to consider which zodiac sign the sun is in and if and how gardening activities are aligned with the energies represented by that sign. Since the sun remains in a zodiac sign for a month, these activities are broader than tasks dictated by the moon cycle.

As September begins, we are in the domain of Virgo. Called the "harvest goddess," Virgo is often associated with gardening, similar to Taurus. What is not stated enough is exactly how Virgo accrues such a bountiful harvest. Virgo is successful because she started planning a good year ago, giving careful thought to the tasks she can handle the upcoming year.
Megan Riley at M R Gardens, by Vickie Burick
Without a strong Virgo influence, new gardeners commonly wait until spring energy hits in March before they start thinking about the garden. In early March, the sun is in dreamy Pisces, when our visions, albeit for the greater good, have a tendency to be a bit unrealistic for this moment in time. Cooped up all winter, itching to be outside, we think we can take on the world in one season, leading us to order a bunch of seeds that we end up not even using.

Then, the first day of spring, we jump into ambitious Aries. The energy that it takes for a seed to burst into new life is in us too. We run to the nursery and buy plants without considering timing or placement, drag the tiller out of the shed, and then tear up the soil so we can feverishly get the plants in the ground. We use the drive of fiery Aries to try to realize a watery Pisces dream, but without a key ingredient: the realism of an Earth element like Virgo.

The end result: by summer, we've burned out. We've planted more than we can handle maintaining, and, when we fail, we assume we don't have a green thumb and give up.

This wouldn't happen if we use the energy of Virgo to plan ahead. Back in September, Virgo was not only harvesting, but also thinking about the upcoming year, designing her landscape, and detailing a timeline. She was laying out her garden beds, layering organic matter, allowing at least four months for decomposition to create a Microbe Rich soil ecosystem that won't need destructive mechanical tilling in the spring.

I know Virgo well. I'm basically a Virgo times-four. When I was born, Virgo was on the horizon so it's my "Ascendant" or "Rising Sign," and the sun, Saturn and north node (the point where the orbit of the Moon crosses the ecliptic path of the sun) were also all in Virgo. However, I'm a unique Virgo because learning to balance it with opposing elements in my birth chart has been a huge lesson. For astrology aficionados, not only is my south node in Pisces, but Neptune (the planetary ruler of Pisces) is conjunct to my Sagittarian moon.
Megan Riley at M R Gardens,  by Vickie Burick
In plain English, I once resisted using my logistical side. It's more natural for me to be dreamy, visionary and idealistic, expecting my expansive dreams to come magically true without much forethought. I've had to learn how to cope with pesky details and how, over time, these details weave together to make a beautiful tapestry.

Gardening has been the perfect way to learn this lesson. Plants grow well if we pay attention to details, namely their growing requirements—spacing, timing, and soil and moisture needs. They grow even more beautifully if we think about how they interact and look next to each other in the landscape.

Virgo is considering all of these elements well ahead of planting, so when spring energy arrives, she can use Aries drive productively. At that time, she doesn't have to strategize, she just follows through with the plan. Then, in the crucial fertile period of Taurus late April to May, she can slow her movements so that she can tap into her intuition to feel what the plants need.

To me, who often feels like a Pisces at heart, this ease in gardening is essential, as I like my visions to unfold seemingly effortlessly. I like to take breaks, relaxing on my deck enjoying the beauty of the gardens and the taste of my harvest.

I should mention, there is also a danger of too much Virgo. If we're analyzing too many details at once, we might become overwhelmed and immobile. That's why balancing it with other energies such as ambitious Aries, expansive Sagittarius or outgoing Leo (which conveniently arrives the month before Virgo so Leo can inspire Virgo while Virgo can reel in Leo's grand visions) is so important.

Since I've learned to work with my Virgo side, I realize my visions more easily. I also use these Virgo skills, along with my Piscean insight, to assist my clients. They are more likely to be successful if they contact me in summer and fall to discuss the landscape they are dreaming of next spring, or even a spring five years down the road.

Together, we can envision their landscape, designing it to match their particular goals and lifestyle. In planning ahead, we ensure gardening is an enjoyable activity with minimal frustration, so they continue gardening for life.

This article is an extended version of one that ran in the September issue of WNC Woman. If you'd like to learn more about your natal chart, a reading with evolutionary astrologist Patty Morris Stebbins is highly recommended.