Spica: Virgo’s Light

The Hermit from The Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon & Brian Clark

Spica; Virgo’s Light

My eyes search the darkened cosmos
Searching for a light to lead me
Orion, he is always there, and
Ursa Major dominates the night sky
I recall an ancient phrase;
“Arc to Archturus, then speed on to Spica.”
Following the Arc of the Great Bear
(once the pure and chaste Callisto, princess of Arcadia; Raped by Zeus and cursed by Hera)
Past her protector, Archturus
To find Spica, brightest star of Virgo –
A yellow sheaf of wheat,
Golden ear of corn
White Spark of light
Fire of Hearth,
In the hands of a something so Pure
That one name will not suffice.
She is the Virgin, Virgo
Astraea; Goddess of Purity and Innocence who clung to hope for human kind longer than any other
Shala, Goddess of Grain
Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home
Vesta, Keeper of the Flame
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Time has watched her transform,
Watched her name change,
Watched as Man’s study of Spica
Brought the knowledge of the Equinoxes.
What other secrets may she hold?
Father Time, the Hermit only nods and winks
As if to say
“Time Will Tell,”
And he turns to walk away “but don’t give up the search”.
And suddenly I know
I am beautiful
I am pure
You are beautiful
You are pure
And Astraea can return;
Through us.

~ Wendy @Hestia’s Muse
08/01/2010

Notes:  I wrote this poem in 2010, inspired by the image and meaning of The Hermit Tarot card from The Celestial Tarot (pictured above).  The booklet that comes with that deck described the Star called Spica as the central star of the constellation Virgo. Quote from the booklet to The Celestial Tarot: “At this point in the journey we meet the Hermit, the Major Arcana card associated with Virgo, the harvest maiden, intertwining the paradoxical themes of fertility and purity. In the Celestial Tarot she holds the wheat in her left hand and disseminates seeds with her right. The card depicts the season of withdrawal. For psyche the time of harvest has come; it is time to withdraw and prepare and reflect. In the background is the traditional image of the hermit holding the lamp of inner guidance necessary during this time. Virgo embodies the wisdom of cycles, a respect for fate and an openness to destiny. The Hermit augurs a period of meditation where the inner world is fortified to prepare for a major shift on the life path.”
Original poem post at my old blog.

At the time, I did some research on the star Spica, and the Virgo constellation and was inspired because I was also working closely with Hestia / Virgo – Virgin Goddess of the Home & Hearth.  Astrea is the Greek Goddess of innocence and purity – known as the Celestial Virgin.  Ovid wrote that Astrea fled the earth during the Iron Age -“fleeing from the wickedness of humanity”, she maintained her innocence and ascended to Divinity and became the constellation Virgo.  Legend states that one day Astrea will return, bringing with her the next Golden Age.

Here are some highlights on the star Spica from Constellation Guide:

“Spica, Alpha Virginis, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the sky.  The name Spica (pronounced /ˈspaɪkə/) comes from the Latin phrase spīca virginis, meaning “Virgo’s ear of grain.” The Latin word spicum refers to the ear of wheat Virgo holds in her left hand. In Greek and Roman mythology, the constellation and the star were associated with Demeter (Ceres), the goddess of the harvest.”

“Spica can be located by following the arc of the Big Dipper‘s handle. The first bright star along the imaginary line is Arcturus, the Bear Watcher, and following the same curving path, the second bright star that appears is Spica. The apparent distance from Arcturus to Spica is roughly equal to the distance between Arcturus and Alkaid, the star marking the tip of the Dipper’s handle.”

“Along with Regulus in Leo, Alpha Virginis is believed to be one of the bright stars that made it possible for Hipparchus (160 – 120 BC) to discover the precession of the equinoxes, after comparing his data to that of the Alexandrian Timochares, who had observed Spica and Regulus around 300 BC. Spica was later observed by Nicolaus Copernicus, who also used it to study precession.”

“A number of temples were oriented to Spica’s setting, including the temple of the Sun at Tell el-Amarna (2000 BC), two temples at Rhamnus in Greece (1092 and 747 BC), another two at Tegea, Hera’s temples at Olympia (1445 BC), Girgenti and Argos, the temple of Diana of the Ephesians (715 BC), and the temple of Nike Apteros at Athens (1130 BC). The temple orientation indicates that these cultures had knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes far earlier than Hipparchus documented his discovery.”

“Babylonian observers called the star Sa-Sha-Shirū, meaning “the virgin’s girdle.” The star represented the wife of Bel.”